Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations

Theistic Psychology: 
The Scientific Knowledge of God
Extracted from the Correspondential Sense
of Sacred Scripture

by Dr. Leon James
Professor of Psychology
University of Hawaii
Published on the Web in 2004
Last update: 2007

For Permissions Note and Conditions of Use see Volume 18

The Topical Index to Sections, the Subject Index, and References are found in Volume 18

This is Volume 7

Character Reformation

(version 47i)

7.0   Character Reformation
             7.0.1      The Method of Affective Realignment for Character Self-modification
             7.0.2      The Affective--Cognitive Interaction
                      What is "Charity"?
                      Double State: Inwardly a Devil and Outwardly an Angel

             7.0.3       The Role of the Sensorimotor Mind
             7.0.4       The Source of Anxiety, Worry, and Depression
                      Psychobiology of Conscience
             7.0.5       Struggle Between the Natural and the Spiritual Mind
                   The Law of Karma of Good and Evil
             7.0.6       As-of Self Principles of Living: The Power of Self-Regulation  
             7.0.7       The Power of Affective Positivity: The Positive Bias Glow
             7.0.8       Anger and the Spiritual Function of Mood
             7.9       Sacred Scripture in Relation to the Mental World
             7.0.10      Independent Empirical Confirmation of the Dual Meaning in Sacred Scripture
                          Extracting the Inner Sense of Deuteronomy Chapter 1
             7.0.11      Moral Intelligence and Evolution 

             7.0.12     Self-Witnessing Exercises

7.1     Focusing or Attending to Corporeal Wisdom

7.2    Swedenborg's Character Reformation

            7.2.1     Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams

7.3    Collective Behavior

            7.3.1      The Vertical Community

            7.3.2      Emotional Contagion

              The Media -- Information, Entertainment, Advertising
                    7.3.2..2    Inherited Tradition -- Ritual, Song, Dance, Food
                    7.3.2..3    God Substitutes -- Idols, Gurus, Saints

            7.3.3      The Grand Human
            7.3.4      Leadership Qualities
            7.3.5      The Hexagram of Consciousness and Reality
                      Level 1 Consciousness (Infancy) – Sensuous Incorporation
                      Level 2 Consciousness (Childhood) – Sensuous Absorption
                      Level 3 Consciousness (Adolescence) – Sensuous Belonging
                      The Inversion
                      Level 4 Consciousness (Young Adulthood) – Rational
                                                        Acknowledgment of God

                      Level 5 Consciousness (Adulthood) – Rational
                                                        Conjunction with God

                      Level 6 Consciousness (Old Age) – Rational Love of God
            7.3.6      The Heavenly Law of Diversity and Unity
            7.3.7      Subject Spirits
            7.3.8      The Spirits of Mercury
            7.3.9       Earths in the Universe
            7.3.10     The Perizonius Thesis
            7.3.1 1    The Perfection of the Created Universe

The Topical Index to Sections and Reading List is in Volume 18

7.0   Character Reformation

Psychology thus far has not been able to explain what is a feeling. What is it made of? How does it act? Since non-theistic psychology has no access to spiritual objects it therefore has no direct access to feelings. There is therefore a tendency to reduce feelings to brain hormones and action. This cuts off any avenue for research on feelings directly. But in theistic psychology feelings and thoughts are organic operations of spiritual fibers constructed out of the efflux of the Spiritual Sun, as explained before. Swedenborg had access to observations on the spiritual body or mind by being conscious in the spiritual mind. He could therefore confirm this as a daily observation for many years that feelings are visible to the "spirits," the name by which we are designated when we enter the afterlife or spiritual world.

Theistic psychology brings to us  two new important properties of feelings. First, feelings are real substances that can be seen by the spiritual body just like the physical cortex can be seen by the eye of the surgeon. Second, feelings are active and operational only when the fibers are stimulated by the efflux of substances from the Spiritual Sun streaming into the spiritual body.

Feelings are therefore "online" like email and the electric bulb. Cut off the influx and you cut off the light bulb or the email file. The difference is that feelings are operations going on in spiritual fibers that depend on the Spiritual Sun for activation and operation. The same is the fact with thoughts in the cognitive organ. As the streaming efflux from the Spiritual Sun enters the spiritual body the light of the rays is received by the cognitive organ and activates mental operations. The heat of the rays of the Spiritual Sun are received in the affective organ and activates feelings and goal-related needs. The cognitive operations are connected to the affective operations, and there is a constant growth process by which the two sets of operations get more and more integrated as the individual develops personality and character.

Our mind receives input from both a natural and a spiritual source, but in different locations of its anatomy. The lower portion of the mind is called the natural mind and its input is exclusively from the physical world through the senses. The upper portion is called the spiritual mind and its input is from the spiritual world through the spiritual body and its organs. Both lower and upper input is necessary to make the mind grow. The input into the natural mind from the physical body is conscious, but not the input into the spiritual mind from the Spiritual Sun. The natural and spiritual portions of the mind are both spiritual organs but the source of their content is different. Both portions of the mind are located in the spiritual body, hence when the physical body dies, we awaken in conscious awareness in our spiritual mind. Even then we retain our natural mind and all its content.

It should be noted that the spiritual body cannot have any injuries and maladies that the physical body can have. Swedenborg confirms that people born physically blind, deaf, or brain damaged awaken in the spiritual body at death as fully operational in every organ. If this were not the case it would be grossly unjust and irrational for some people to be born defective and to suffer from that condition to eternity. Theistic psychology is theistic because it incorporates the action and character of God in human affairs and the universe. God's motivation for creating and managing the universe is Divine Love through Divine Wisdom, and these spiritual substances make it impossible for injustice to occur in the spiritual world. It is different in the natural world where God permits injustice for the sake of people's rational and spiritual mental development. Many possibilities of injustice and cruelty are not permitted to come into existence because they are conducive to the spiritual good of people. God's overall purpose for the universe is to cause people to be born in a natural world so that they can develop their heavenly mind, with which they can live in eternal happiness and joy in an immortal spiritual body.

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

AC 3321. For I am weary. That this signifies a state of combat, is evident from the signification of "weary," or of "weariness," as being a state of combat (see n. 3318).

Mention is here again made of being weary, for the sake of confirmation that the conjunction of good with truth in the natural is effected by spiritual combats, that is, by temptations. In regard to the conjunction of good with truth in the natural, the case in general is this: Man's rational receives truths before his natural; and this to the end that the Lord's life, which as before said is of love, may flow in through the rational into the natural, and dispose the natural, and reduce it to obedience.

For the rational is purer, and the natural grosser; or what is the same, the rational is interior and the natural exterior; and as may be known it is according to order that the interior or purer can flow into the exterior or grosser, but not the reverse.

[2] Hence it is that man's rational can be accommodated to truths and receive them before his natural, as may be plainly seen from the fact that with one who is to be regenerated the rational man battles much with the natural; or what is the same, the internal man with the external. For as also is known, the internal man can see truths and also will them, but the external refuses assent and resists; for in the natural man there are memory-knowledges which are in a great measure derived from the fallacies of the senses, and which notwithstanding their being false the man believes to be true; there are also things innumerable which the natural man does not apprehend; for he is relatively in shade and thick darkness, and that which he does not apprehend, he believes either not to exist, or not to be so; there are likewise cupidities which are of the love of self and of the world, and all things that favor these he calls truths; and when the man yields to these the dominion, all things that result are contrary to spiritual truths. There are also in the natural man reasonings that are grounded in falsities impressed from infancy.

Moreover, man apprehends by manifest sense what is in his natural man, but not so what is in his rational, until he has put off the body. This also causes him to believe the body to be everything; and all that does not fall into the natural sense, he scarcely believes to be anything.

[3] From such causes and many others, it results that the natural man receives truths much later, and with greater difficulty, than does the rational man. Hence arises combat, which continues for a considerable time, not ceasing until the vessels recipient of good in the natural man have been softened by temptations, as before shown (n. 3318); for truths are nothing but vessels recipient of good (n. 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269), which vessels are harder in proportion as man is more fixedly confirmed in the things which have been mentioned; and if the man is to be regenerated, the more fixedly he has been confirmed, the more grievous is the combat.

As the case with the natural man is such that the conjunction of truths with good therein is effected through the combats of temptations, it is therefore here repeated, "I am weary." (AC 3321)


7.0.1  The Method of Affective Realignment for Character Self-modification

Knowing the anatomy of the affective organ of the mind gives us the ability to influence its growth and operation.  This is a critical issue for psychology regarding better techniques for education, counseling, and therapy. Modest success has been achieved in these areas by the use of principles of psychology but everyone recognizes the limitations of psychology in terms of improving the human condition and social ills like crime, obesity, depression, anger, spouse abuse, child abuse, discrimination, and so on. The reason for psychology's limited success is clear from the perspective of theistic psychology. These behavior problems in society come about by the malfunctioning of the affective organ in many individuals, perhaps the vast majority of the population.  Anger, rape, child abuse, habitual violence, are negative behaviors resulting from negative emotions and malfunctioning cognitive operations. The key to their control is the affective operation.

Theistic psychology can bring new power for the management of feelings and emotions. One method that deserves immediate research effort is something that may be called the method of affective realignment.

This involves a basic dynamics of personality, namely, to change the rank order of the affections in an affective hierarchy. Modifications in affective hierarchy results in new thoughts and new behaviors. According to many leading personality theorists and therapists, the way to change affective hierarchies is by appropriate cognitive activity. Therapy is based on this idea which is that patients and clients get better through the therapy exchange, most of which is verbal. By talking out our problems and receiving good advice we can have new feelings -- that has been the general assumption so far. But some therapists realize that the talking through is not effective unless the affective hierarchy also changes.

 Consider the dynamics involved in affective reorganization. All feelings are arranged in hierarchies and sub-hierarchies in a top down order by the ruling love which occupies the top position. Consider the following sample affective hierarchy ruled by altruism.

Character Reformation Through the Integration of the Threefold Self






  Love of Being Useful

  Marriage Love











Critical thinking


Awareness of others

Knowledge of Scientific Revelations

Doctrine of Life




Body Care





Being Handy


Team Synchrony



Play Acting

In theistic psychology altruism or "charity" is defined as the motive to be useful to others in their needs. This contrasts with selfishness and selfism which is the motive to do things for the sake of oneself, not others. When we are in an affective state of altruism the affective alignment may be as indicated above.

This is the essence of Divine Love which is the source of all altruism through influx from the Spiritual Sun into the affective organ This influx is turned around in self.

7.0.2  The Affective--Cognitive Interaction

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

In man love and wisdom appear as two separate things, yet in themselves they are one distinctly, because with man wisdom is such as the love is, and love is such as the wisdom is. The wisdom that does not make one with its love appears to be wisdom, but it is not; and the love that does not make one with its wisdom appears to be the love of wisdom, but it is not; for the one must derive its essence and its life reciprocally from the other. With man love and wisdom appear as two separate things, because with him the capacity for understanding may be elevated into the light of heaven, but not the capacity for loving, except so far as he acts according to his understanding. Any apparent wisdom, therefore, which does not make one with the love of wisdom, sinks back into the love which does make one with it; and this may be a love of unwisdom, yea, of insanity. Thus a man may know from wisdom that he ought to do this or that, and yet he does not do it, because he does not love it. But so far as a man does from love what wisdom teaches, he is an image of God. (DLW 39)


AC 3833. And it came to pass in the evening. That this signifies the state as yet obscure, is evident from the signification of "evening," as being an obscure state (see n. 3056). Among the ancients, who were in congruent rituals, the feasts that were made in the evening, that is, the suppers, signified nothing else than the state of initiation which precedes conjunction, which state relatively to the state of conjunction is obscure. For during man's initiation into truth and thence into good, all that he learns is obscure to him; but when good is being conjoined with him, and he regards truth therefrom, it then becomes clear to him, and this successively more and more; for now he is no longer in doubt as to whether a thing exists, or whether it is so; but he knows that it exists, and that it is so.

[2] When man is in this state, he then begins to know innumerable things, for he now proceeds from the good and truth which he believes and perceives as from a center to the circumferences; and in proportion as he proceeds, in the same proportion he sees the things which are round about, and successively more and more widely, for he is constantly pushing out and widening the boundaries. Thenceforth also he commences from every subject in the space within the boundaries; and from these as from new centers he throws out new circumferences, and so on.

In this way the light of truth from good increases immeasurably, and becomes like a continuous lucidity, for the man is then in the light of heaven, which is from the Lord. But with those who are in doubt and in discussion as to whether a thing exists, and whether it is so, these innumerable, nay, illimitable things do not appear one whit; to them all things in both general and particular are utterly obscure, and are scarcely regarded as one really existing thing, but rather as one thing the existence of which is doubtful. In such a state is human wisdom and intelligence at this day, when he is deemed wise who can reason with ingenuity as to whether a thing exists; and he is deemed still wiser who can reason that it does not exist.

[3] For example take the proposition that there is an internal sense of the Word, which is called mystical: until this is believed, it is impossible for men to know the least of the innumerable things which are in the internal sense, and which are so many as to fill the whole heaven with an infinite variety.

Another example is that the man who reasons concerning the Divine Providence, as to whether it is only universal, and not in the singulars, cannot possibly know the innumerable arcana of Providence, which are as many in number as are the contingencies of everyone's life from first to last, and from the creation of the world to its end; nay, even to eternity. Again: he who reasons as to whether it is possible for anyone to be in good, seeing that the will of man is radically depraved, can never know all the arcana relating to regeneration, nor even that a new will is implanted by the Lord, nor the arcana relating to this implantation; and so with everything else. From this it may be known in what obscurity such persons are, and that they do not even see, much less touch, the first threshold of wisdom. (AC 3833)

AC 3834. The man who is in the affection of internal truth, that is, in the desire to know the interior arcana of the Lord's kingdom, has not at first these arcana conjoined with him, even although he knows them, and at times acknowledges, and as it were believes them, for as yet there are present with him worldly and corporeal affections, which cause him to indeed receive and as it were believe these arcana; but insofar as these affections are present, so far the interior truths in question cannot be conjoined.

It is only the affection of truth from good, and the affection of good, that applies these arcana to itself; and insofar as man is in these affections, so far interior truths are conjoined with him, for truths are the vessels that receive good.

[2] The Lord also provides that celestial and spiritual truths (such as are all interior truths) should not be conjoined with any other affections than genuine ones. For this reason the general affection of truth from good precedes, and the truths that are insinuated therein are nothing but general truths. The states of truth are altogether in accordance with the states of good, that is, the states of faith with the states of charity.

For example: it is possible for the wicked to know that the Lord rules the universal heaven, and also that heaven is mutual love and love to the Lord; also that by such love those who are there have conjunction with the Lord, and wisdom, and likewise happiness; nay, it is possible for them to be in the persuasion that it is so; and yet the truth of faith may not be conjoined with them, and still less the good of love. From the life it is known whether these have been conjoined, just as a tree is known by its fruit. The case in respect to this is like that of grapes in which there are no stones, and which, when buried in earth however fertile, dissolve into mere mold; or like that of an ignis fatuus in the night, which is dissipated as soon as the sun rises. But of the Lord's Divine mercy more on this subject hereafter. (AC 3834)

AC 3839. There are two things which constitute the internal sense of the Word, namely, affections and actual things; the affections that lie hidden in the expressions of the Word are not manifest to man, but are stored up in its inmost recesses; nor can they be made manifest to him, because during his life in the body he is in worldly and corporeal affections, which have nothing in common with the affections in the internal sense of the Word; these latter being affections of spiritual and celestial love, which man is the less capable of perceiving because there are few who are in them, and these few are mostly simple persons, who are not able to reflect upon their affections, while all the rest do not even know what genuine affection is.

These spiritual and celestial affections are contained in charity toward the neighbor, and in love to God. Those who are not in them believe that they are not anything, when yet they fill the whole heaven, and this with unspeakable variety. Such affections together with their varieties are what are stored up in the internal sense of the Word, and are there, not only in each series, but also in each expression, nay, in each syllable, and they shine forth before the angels when the Word is being read by those who are in simple good and who are at the same time in innocence; and this, as before said, with unlimited variety.

[2] There are principally two kinds of affections which shine forth from the Word before the angels, namely, affections of truth and affections of good-affections of truth before the spiritual angels, and affections of good before the celestial angels. Affections of good, which are of love to the Lord, are altogether unutterable to man, and are therefore incomprehensible; but affections of truth, which are of mutual love, may in some measure be comprehended as to what is most general, yet only by those who are in genuine mutual love, and this not from any internal perception, but from such as is obscure.

[3] For example, in regard to the affection of indignation, which is here treated of-whoever does not know what the affection of charity is, in consequence of not being in it, can have no other idea than of such indignation as a man has when anything evil is done to him, which is the indignation of anger. The angels however have no such indignation, but an indignation altogether different, which is not of anger, but of zeal, in which there is nothing of evil, and which is as far removed from hatred or revenge, or from the spirit of returning evil for evil, as heaven is from hell; for it springs from good. But as before said the nature of this indignation cannot be expressed by any words. (AC 3839)

AC 3849. Exterior affections are natural affections which are subservient to internal ones. The reason why these exterior affections are means serviceable to the conjunction of truth with good, is that nothing which is of doctrine, and indeed nothing which is of memory-knowledge, can enter into man, save by means of affections; for in affections there is life, but not in the truths of doctrine and of memory-knowledge without affections.

That this is the case is very plain; for a man cannot even think, nor so much as utter a syllable, without affection. He who pays attention to the matter will perceive that a voice without affection is like the voice of an automaton, and thus is but a lifeless sound; and that in proportion to the amount and the quality of the affection therein, such is the amount and the quality of the life in it. This shows what truths are without good; and that the affection is in the truths from the good.

[2] He who pays attention may also know, from the nature of man's understanding, that it is no understanding unless the will is in it; the life of the understanding being from the will. This again shows what truths without good are, namely, that they are no truths at all; and that truths derive their life from good; for truths belong to man's intellectual part, and good to his will part.

From all this anyone can judge what faith (which is of truth) is without charity, which is of good; and that the truths of faith without the good of charity are dead; for as before said the amount and the quality of the affection in truths, determine the amount and the quality of the life in them. But that truths nevertheless appear animated, even when there is no good of charity, is from the affections of the love of self and the love of the world, which have no life, except that which in the correspondential sense is called death, that is, infernal life. It is said affection, and thereby is meant that which is continuous of love.

[3] From all this we can see that affections are means subservient to the conjunction of truth with good; and that affections are what introduce truths, and also dispose them into order-genuine affections, which are of love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor, into heavenly order; but evil affections, which are of the love of self and the love of the world, into infernal order; that is, into the opposite of heavenly order.

[4] The most external affections are those of the body, and are called appetites and pleasures; the next interior affections are those of the natural mind, and are called natural affections; but the internal affections are those of the rational mind, and are called spiritual affections. To these last-spiritual affections of the mind-doctrinal truths are introduced by means of exterior and most external, or natural and bodily affections. Hence these affections are subservient means. (AC 3849)   What is "Charity"?

AC 379. The fact that such things are meant by these statements is clear from what has gone before, and from the fact that 'one who is cursed' means one who became alienated, as also shown already in 245. For it is forms of iniquity and abomination, which are forms of hatred, that alienate a person and cause him to look downwards only, that is, towards bodily and earthly interests, and so to things that belong to hell. This takes place when charity is banished and annihilated. Indeed the bond that exists between the Lord and man is in that case put asunder. Charity alone, or love and compassion, is what joins the two together. Faith without charity never does so, for that is not faith, but mere knowledge such as even the devil's crew is able to possess and by which they are able to deceive and mislead the upright and pretend to be angels of light.

Very wicked preachers are sometimes accustomed to act in a similar way; they preach with a zeal that seems to be an expression of inner godliness but is in fact nothing more with them than that which they bear on the lips. Can anyone be so lacking in judgement as to believe that faith alone residing in the memory has the power to achieve anything, or that mere thought from the same source has? Everyone from personal experience knows that nobody places any value on another person's words and assentings if these are not an expression of his will and intention. It is will and intention that make them acceptable and join one person to another.

The activity of the will is the real person, not thought and utterance of that which he does not will.

From the activity of his will he acquires a particular nature and disposition, for his will is what moves him.

If his thoughts are of good, the essential element of faith, which is charity, is contained in his thinking, because it contains the will for good. But if he asserts that his thoughts are of good and yet lives wickedly, the activity of his will cannot possibly be anything else than the will of evil, and as a consequence faith does not exist. (AC 379)

"Charity" refers to acting from spiritual-rational motives rather than from natural-sensuous and natural-rational motives (see Section xx). Every individual acts from a hierarchy of motives, some lower, some higher. The "lower" motives are called "corporeal" because they have to do with satisfying pre-civilized needs and enjoyments, while "higher" motives have to do with satisfying acquired needs and enjoyments regarding relationships, community, morality, and the afterlife of heaven and hell (see Section xx). For instance, consider what happens in daily situations where people annoy each other by making excessive noise or sounds. They have a decision to make and this shows whether they are trying to satisfy their inborn lower needs or their acquired higher needs.  It's common for people to satisfy their lower needs for enjoying their loud music, partying with friends, or vacuuming their apartment late at night, or even just talking loud in a restaurant or on the cell phone in a waiting room. This is called a "corporeal" outlook that involves thinking and feeling that is oriented to satisfying self at the expense of others. This is from hell, and takes the person to hell in the afterlife of mental eternity (see Section xx).

All human beings on this planet are born with corporeal needs and enjoyments. But as we become socialized in a civilized society we acquire more noble personality traits that orients towards the survival of the community and thence the survival of self. In other words our survival as individuals becomes the result of our efforts in the survival of the group. This orientation is called "charity" because altruism is a feeling of love for others and not just for self. One way this plays out in daily life is our behavior and thinking regarding how we affect others around us when we manufacture some sort of noise or sound they can hear.

The passage quoted above in AC 379 discusses the phenomenon known in social psychology as behavioral intentions (see Section xx). Through socialization we all possess the acquired needs of becoming honest, moral, upstanding citizens and neighbors, and many also acquire religious rules of life. These acquired needs become behavioral intentions only when we put up the mental effort of intending to act from these higher altruistic principles. The passage above has this:

The activity of the will is the real person, not thought and utterance of that which he does not will.

From the activity of his will he acquires a particular nature and disposition, for his will is what moves him.

If his thoughts are of good, the essential element of faith, which is charity, is contained in his thinking, because it contains the will for good. But if he asserts that his thoughts are of good and yet lives wickedly, the activity of his will cannot possibly be anything else than the will of evil, and as a consequence faith does not exist. (AC 379)

"The activity of the will" refers to the individual's behavioral intentions. This is "the real person" rather than what the individual claims to be to self and others. People may actually convince themselves that they are "basically honest and fair" or that they "support this or that cause." But when their actions are examined one finds that they do not act in accordance with their claims, principles, and reputation they have with themselves about themselves. They are inconsistent. The passages refers to "the will for good" which is the behavioral intention of performing the act in the external world. For instance, if it bothers you that the neighbor is bothered by the noise you are producing, you will not be able to enjoy what you are doing. The altruistic intention will then result in your overt action. You will reduce or eliminate the offending sounds coming from you into the neighbor's ears. Doing this is "charity" and this is from heaven and leads to heaven.

In other words, in order for you to live a heavenly mental state when you are resuscitated (see Section xx), you need the ability to feel happy when you are being altruistic all the time without exceptions.

Can you learn to enjoy being good and doing good to others all the time without exceptions?

This is the challenge of life and the job we have to do while our conscious life is still here connected to the physical body. Once we are resuscitated, just 30 hours following death, we continue life in a mental world of eternity, which is our mental world for there is only one mental world for the entire human race (see Section xx). When they are resuscitated people can choose to "ascend" to their higher acquired intentions and enjoyments, in which case they are in the heavenly layers of the human mind; or, they can choose to "descend" to their lower corporeal intentions and enjoyments, those they were born with and those they acquired in their daily living, in which case they are in the hellish layers of the human mind. Every individual is capable of making this choice as often as wanted. You can go up to the heavenly layers in your mind or you can descend to the hellish layers. It is completely a free choice of personal preference.

Swedenborg gives us some observational data concerning this. On some occasions he saw "novitiate spirits" (as we are called when resuscitated), ascend in consciousness to the heavenly layers in the mind, which they had formed on the basis of their religious beliefs and teachings. But once they were in that consciousness they complained that they didn't feel good and wished to leave. When prevented from leaving, they started feeling like they were dying and fell into a comatose state. As soon as their consciousness was taken back to their hellish layers, they revived, became active, and refused ever to go back to their heavenly consciousness.

Similar phenomena occurred when the direction was in the other way. Swedenborg observed some people who were in the heavenly layers of the mind, leave that state in order to be with their children who were in the hellish layers. The parents had attached themselves to their children unconditionally while raising them on earth. They made their choice for heavenly life in eternity but when the children died and were resuscitated, they became aware of this, as often is the case, and they were drawn by their feeling to meet them in the world of spirits where everyone is resuscitated. The children chose to continue their life in the hellish layers of the mind and the parents were unable to break away from them. They thus had to also join them in the hellish layers where they were in great pain and suffering. Eventually the parents were able to break their attachment to their children and returned to their heavenly life.

As you can see it is critical for each of us to observe and monitor our behavioral intentions in daily living. While doing this we need to keep practicing altruistic behaviors and intentions so that we may break our inborn captivity to selfish enjoyments. You need to realize rationally that being altruistic is not a self-sacrifice at all. Remember the difference again:

  • selfish        =  to do something for self without regard for others
  • altruistic    =  to do something for others that also benefits self

For example, you can wear wireless earphones when you watch television. You will enjoy doing this for the sake of your room mates or neighbors. It is a higher enjoyment, altruistic, heavenly. This is what the human heavens are -- the maximum enjoyment you can experience for doing things for others. Another example is the enjoyment you get when you take care of your body by eating right and consciously following a healthy exercise program. Here it may appear at first that you are doing something selfish since you are taking care of your own body. But this is wrong thinking. As you can rationally understand, you need to be healthy and able to be a good citizen, worker, friend, or family member. If you neglect your body you reduce your ability to be altruistic and heavenly. Similarly with your education and lifelong striving for more knowledge, more truth, more rational understanding. This is a heavenly motivation, altruistic in intention because by taking care of your education and mental development you are better able to serve community, family, and friends.

Note that there is another meaning to the word "charity" that we also learn, especially from religious instruction. It means "giving" of your time or money to benefit those who are poor and less fortunate than you in their life circumstance. Charity in this religious sense means volunteering and fellowshipping with others on various community projects. It is in this sense of charity that people practice giving to charitable organizations and also practice praying for one another for health, safety, or success. This meaning of "charity" needs therefore to be distinguished from the meaning of "charity" as used in theistic psychology, which has to do with general altruism rather than specific giving. General altruism is similar to "being useful to society." Some people prefer to keep to themselves and don't socialize, don't volunteer, don't give their money to charitable organizations. And yet these people may be altruistic if they follow mental habits that are moral and dignified. This means that they honor people's dignity in the privacy of their thoughts and feelings. They feel compassion for people generally even though they choose not to get together with them. For instance, they hope for people's success and they are not envious of people's good fortune. They avoid contributing in any way to people's misery and they are happy when they hear that something good has happened to someone. This type of outlook and practice will allow them to choose a heavenly lifestyle after they are resuscitated.

In contrast there are other people who also keep to themselves but in their thoughts and feelings they live in the hellish layers of their mind. They denigrate people in their mind and they do not feel happy when others are successful and happy. This type of outlook and practice will not allow them to choose a heavenly lifestyle after they are resuscitated.

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

TCR 589. It must be appreciated that the capacity for raising the understanding to the level of intelligence enjoyed by the angels of heaven is inherent in every person from creation, the wicked as well as the good; in fact even in every devil in hell, for all who are in hell were once people on earth. I have had this shown me by direct experience on numerous occasions. However, in spiritual matters devils are not intelligent but in the grip of madness, because they do not will good, but evil. As a result they loathe knowing and understanding truths, since these favour good and oppose evil. This too makes it clear that the first stage of re-birth is the reception of truths by the understanding, and its second stage is willing to act as truths direct and eventually doing these things.

All the same, no one can be called reformed by only getting to know truths, since the capacity a person has for raising his understanding above the love of the will enables him to learn truths, and also to talk about them, teach them and preach them. A person is reformed if he has an affection for truth for truth's sake, for this affection links itself with the will, and if it continues, links the will with the understanding. That is when regeneration begins. The subsequent progress and development of regeneration will be described in the following pages. (TCR 589)    Double State: Inwardly a Devil and Outwardly an Angel

The following passage deals with the double state that we can be in, partly devil partly angel, but in different layers of one's personality. Heavenly and hellish traits cannot reside in the same layer of one's personality for they would destroy one another. Hence our inborn lower hellish traits and our acquired higher heavenly traits exist in different layers of anatomy in our mental world (see Section xx). Swedenborg is relating some of his observations of life in eternity to which he had access by becoming conscious in his spiritual mind, something that happens to us only after we are resuscitated (see Section xx).

CL 269. Afterwards we went up from this underworld into the south, where we had been before, and the angels there told me a great deal worth recording about the longing which is not just a vision or induced by fantasy, that everyone has from birth. 'While people are in this state, they are like fools, though they seem to themselves as if extremely wise. From time to time they are brought back from their folly into the rational state they have outwardly. In that state they see, acknowledge and confess their folly, but they still hanker after returning from their rational to their foolish state, and they plunge into it, as if escaping from compulsion and unpleasantness into freedom and pleasure. So it is longing that inwardly delights them, not intelligence.

[2] 'There are,' they said, ' three universal loves of which every person is from creation compounded: the love of the neighbour, which is also the love of performing services, and this is a spiritual love; the love of the world, which is also the love of possessing wealth, and this is a material love; and self-love, which is the love of ruling over others, and this is a bodily love.

[3] A person is truly human when the love of the neighbour, or the love of performing services, makes up the head, and the love of the world makes up the body, and self-love makes up the feet. But if the love of the world makes up the head, a person is only human in the way a hunchback is. And if self-love makes up the head, he is not like a person standing on his feet, but like one standing on the palms of his hands with his head down and his haunches in the air.

When the love of the neighbour makes up the head, and the other two loves duly make up the body and feet, the person as seen from heaven appears to have the face of an angel with a lovely rainbow around his head. But if the love of the world makes up the head, seen from heaven he seems to have a pale face like a corpse with a yellow ring around his head. And if self-love makes up the head, seen from heaven he seems to have a swarthy face with a white ring around his head.'

This led me to ask, 'What do the rings around the head represent?' 'Intelligence,' they replied, 'the white ring around the head of a person with a swarthy face represents his intelligence being limited to externals or around him, and his craziness being in his internals or inside him. Also a person of this sort is wise when in the body, but crazy when in the spirit. No one is wise in the spirit except by the Lord's doing; this happens when he is born again and created anew by the Lord.'

[4] When this was said, the ground opened up on the left, and through the opening I saw a devil rising with a shining white halo round his head. 'Who are you?' I asked. 'I am Lucifer,' he said, 'the son of the dawn. I was cast down for regarding myself as like the Most High.' He was not really Lucifer, but he thought he was.

'Since you have been cast down,' I said, 'how can you rise again from hell?' 'There,' he said, 'I am a devil, but here I am an angel of light. Don't you see I have a sphere of light round my head? And you will see, if you wish, that among moral people I am more than moral, among rational people more than rational, among spiritual people even more than spiritual. I can also preach, and have done so.'

'What did you preach about?' I asked. 'I preached against cheats, against adulterers, and all the loves of hell. In fact it was then I called myself the devil Lucifer and invoked curses on myself as such, so that I was praised to the skies. That was how I got the name of the son of the dawn. To my own surprise when I was in the pulpit I could think of nothing but speaking correctly and properly. But I discovered the reason, that I was in my outward state, and this was separate from my inward one. Yet although I had discovered this, I still could not change myself, because my pride prevented me from looking to God.'

[5] 'How then,' I asked next, 'could you speak like that, when you are yourself a deceiver, an adulterer and a devil?' 'I am different,' he replied, 'when I am in my outward or bodily state from what I am in my inward or spiritual state. In the body, I am an angel, but in the spirit I am a devil. For in the body I am under the control of the intellect, but in the spirit under that of the will. The intellect carries me aloft, but the will drags me down. When under the control of the intellect, I have a white halo round my head; but when my intellect makes itself subservient to the will and becomes its creature, as ultimately happens to us, then the halo turns black and disappears. Once this has happened, we can no longer come up here into the light.

Later he talked more rationally than anyone else about his double state, inward and outward. But suddenly on seeing I had angels with me, his face and voice caught fire, and he became black, even the halo about his head doing the same; and he fell back into hell through the same opening he had come up by. On seeing this the bystanders arrived at this conclusion, that it is a person's love which determines what he is like, not his intellect, since love easily carries the intellect away to support it and makes it subservient.

[6] Then I asked the angels, 'Where do devils get such powers of reasoning?' 'It comes,' they said, 'from the radiance of self-love, for this is enveloped in radiance, which can even raise the intellect into the light of heaven. For everyone's intellect can be raised, depending on what he knows; but his will cannot be raised except by living in accordance with the truths taught by the church and by reason. This is why even atheists, who have a radiant reputation as the result of self-love, and are therefore proud of their own intelligence, enjoy higher powers of reasoning than many other people. But this happens when they are engaged in intellectual thinking, not when their will is engaged in affection. The will's affection controls a person's interior, but the intellect's thinking controls his exterior.'

The angel went on to explain the reason why a person is a mixture of the three loves mentioned above: the love of service, the love of the world and self-love. This is to enable him to think from God, although as if from himself. He said that the highest level in a person is turned up towards God, the middle level outward towards the world, and the lowest level downwards towards oneself. Since this level is turned downwards, he thinks as if his thoughts came from himself, yet in fact they come from God. (CL 269)


Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

AE 1147. "Of brass and of iron" signifies natural goods and truths also that have been profaned.

This is evident from the signification of "brass," as being natural good (see n. 70); also from the signification of "iron," as being natural truth (see n. 176).

But as what is here presented relates to the natural man [ = the natural mind ], it is to be known that the natural of man is threefold-rational, natural, and sensual; the rational is the highest in it, the sensual is the lowest, and the natural is the middle.

The genuine rational [ = rationality originating from theistic psychology ] is from influx from the spiritual world [ = spiritual mind ], the sensual is from influx from the natural world [ = sensory input from the physical body through the corporeal mind ], and the mediate natural is either of the rational or of the sensual [=corporeal mind].

That the natural is threefold can be seen [ = empirical confirmation ] in men who while they are in the world [ = prior to resuscitation ] are either rational or sensual or intermediate. Which of these they are is clear especially from their perception of civil, moral and spiritual laws.

Those are rational who think, judge, and conclude well from reason, and the thoughts of such are raised above material things; but those who are sensual think from material things and in them [ = negative bias in science or materialism ], and what they speak from thought is only from the memory [ = without understanding what they believe = to think from authority and persuasion ].

As there are these two degrees, there is also an intermediate degree which is called the natural. What men are can be known also from their understanding of the Word [ = theistic psychology from Sacred Scripture ].

The rational draw [ = extract scientific knowledge by applying the correspondential sense ]  from the sense of the letter [ = literal meaning ] such things as pertain to doctrine [ = theistic psychology or the doctrine of truth from Sacred Scripture ], while the sensual abide in the letter only [ = the literal meaning without extracting the correspondential sense ] and draw from it nothing more interior [ = from the spiritual mind ].

The same distinctions exist in the spiritual world [ = the mental world of eternity in the spiritual mind ], since in the lowest heaven [ = lower layer of the spiritual mind ] there are the same degrees of natural men; the lowest there are the sensual, and the highest the rational; but of these more will be said elsewhere.

That natural goods and truths, which are signified by "iron and brass," have also been profaned by Babylon [ = motivated by self-interest when interpreting Sacred Scripture ], is evident from the profanation of the sense of the letter of the Word [ = interpreting Sacred Scripture without applying correspondences ] by such; the sense of the letter of the Word is the natural sense.

(Continuation respecting the Athanasian Faith)

[2] On this subject also we [ = Swedenborg reporting what he sees in his spiritual mind ] will speak from experience [ = empirical observation and scientific revelation ].

The angels of the higher heavens [ = our state of mind in the highest layer of the spiritual mind ] have a clear feeling and perception that their goods [ = operations in the affective organ of the spiritual mind ] and truths [ = operations in the affective organ of the spiritual mind ] are from the Lord [ = the Divine Psychologist in each human mind ], and that they have nothing at all of good and truth from themselves [ = see it as a scientific fact that their affective and cognitive organs operate by influx from the Spiritual Sun ].

And when they are let down [ = returning in consciousness to the operations of the natural mind ] into the state of their self or proprium [ = our character prior to reformation and regeneration ] as is now and then done, they have a clear feeling and perception that the evil and falsity belonging to their self or proprium they have from hell [ = inherited and acquired connections with those in eternity who live in their evil affections ].

Some angels of the lowest heaven, who did not comprehend that evil and falsity are from hell, because they had believed in the world [ = natural mind ] that they were themselves in evils from birth and from actual life, were led through infernal societies [ = a variety of hellish affections ] from one to another, and in each one while they were in it [ = while they were enjoying hellish traits ] they thought just as the devils there thought [ = falsified cognitive operations are produced by corrupted affective operations ], and differently in the several societies, thinking in opposition to goods and truths [ = heavenly traits ].

They were told to think from themselves, and thus otherwise [ = as we think in our spiritual mind ], but they said that they were wholly unable to do so. In this way they were made to comprehend that evils and falsities flow in from hell. It is the same with many who believe and insist that they have life in themselves.

Also it sometimes occurs that angels are separated from the societies with which they are connected, and when thus separated they are unable to think, will, speak, or act, but lie like newborn infants; but as soon as they are restored to their societies they revive. For everyone, man [ = our natural mind ], spirit [ =  our spiritual mind] or angel [ = the highest layer of our spiritual mind ], is connected as to his affections and thoughts therefrom with societies, and acts as one of them; and for this reason it is known what each one is from the society in which he is [ = mental state in which we are ]. All this makes clear that the quality of each one's life flows in from without.

[3] With regard to myself I can testify [ = Swedenborg reporting from his spiritual mind ] that for fifteen years I have clearly perceived that I have thought nothing and willed nothing of myself [ in the natural mind ]; also that every evil and falsity has flowed in from infernal societies, and that every good and truth has flowed in from the Lord.

Some spirits [ = people after their resuscitation ] reflecting upon this declared that I had no life. It was permitted me to reply, I am more alive than you are, since I feel the influx of good and truth from the Lord and see and perceive the enlightenment. I also perceive from the Lord that evils and falsities are from hell, and not only that this is so, but also from what spirits they come; and it has been granted me to speak with these, to rebuke them, and to reject them with their evils and falsities, and thus I was delivered from them. Furthermore, it was granted me to say that now I know that I live, and before I did not know it. From all this I have been fully convinced that every evil and falsity is from hell, and every good and truth, together with the perception of them, is from the Lord; and moreover, that I have freedom and thus perception as if from myself.

[4] Again, that every evil and falsity is from hell it has been granted me to see with my own eyes. Over the hells there is an appearance of fires and smoke; evils are fires and falsities are smoke. These are continually exhaled and rise up, and the spirits that dwell in the midst between heaven and hell  [ = our mental states prior to resuscitation ] are affected by them according to their love [ = according to our motives and intentions ].

It shall be told briefly how evil and falsity have power to flow forth from hell, when there exists only one acting force, which is the life that is God; this also has been revealed. There was uttered with a loud voice out of heaven a truth from the Word, which flowed down to hell and through it to its lowest part; and it was heard that this truth in its flowing down was successively and by degrees turned into falsity, and at length into such falsity as is wholly opposite to the truth; then it was in the lowest hell.

It was so changed because everything is received according to the state and form; so truth flowing into inverted forms, such as are in hell, became successively inverted and changed into the falsity opposite to the truth. From this it is clear what hell is from top to bottom, also that there is but one acting force, which is the life that is the Lord. (AE 1147)


AC 4247 [2] From what has been said several times before on this subject, it may be seen how the case is with good and truth [ = spiritual heat and spiritual light substances streaming forth from the Spiritual Sun and simultaneously entering the minds of all human beings ], and with the influx of good into truth [ = spiritual heat is a discrete degree within spiritual light ], and with the appropriation of truth by good, namely, that good is continually flowing in, and that truth receives it, for truths are the vessels of good [ = just as physical light from the natural sun carries physical heat within it and inflows into all earth objects ]. The Divine good cannot be applied to any other vessels than genuine truths, for they correspond to each other [ = spiritual light flows into the cognitive organ and if it is not distorted there it can receive goods from the Divine Psychologist. Spiritual goods that inflow into the affective organ gives us all our human abilities.]

When a man [ = our natural mind ] is in the affection of truth [ = being interested in growing in knowledge and understanding ] (in which he is in the beginning before he begins to be regenerated), even then good is continually flowing in, but as yet has no vessels (that is, truths) into which to apply itself (that is, to be appropriated); for in the beginning of regeneration man is not as yet in knowledges [ = knowledges of spiritual truths from the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture, or theistic psychology ]. At that time, however, as good is continually flowing in, it produces the affection of truth; which is from no other source than the continual endeavor of Divine good to flow in [ = Divine good or spiritual heat in endless variety continuously flows into the mental world of eternity where our spiritual mind is located, and gives each person the motivation and interest to seek truths, both natural truths from daily study and experience, and spiritual truths from Sacred Scripture ].

From this it is evident that even at that time [ = in the natural mind prior to reformation ] good is in the first place, and acts the principal part, although it appears as if it were truth that did this [ = it appears that first we think of something then act it out, but in reality, first we have the motivation to think about something, and then we think about it ]. But when a man is being regenerated (which takes place in adult age when he is in knowledges) [ = when we acquire spiritual truths from Sacred Scripture and commit ourselves to think and live accordingly ], good then manifests itself; for the man is not then so much in the affection of knowing truth, as in the affection of doing it [ = to commit ourselves to living according to the doctrine of truth for the sake of character reformation or becoming a heavenly person ]. Heretofore truth had been in his understanding [ = operations in the cognitive organ without being connected to the corresponding operations in the affective organ ], but now it is in his will [ = cognitive and affective operations are now connected and act together ] ; and when it is in the will, it is in the man; for the will constitutes the man himself [ = our character in the affective organ is not affected by good until we follow through with our behavioral intentions based on the spiritual truths that we understand. This is how we become more and more spiritual in our thinking and willing ].

Such is the constant circle in man [ = developmental stages of our natural mind as we become more spiritual in our thinking and willing ] that everything of knowledge is insinuated through the sight or through the hearing into the thought [ = sensorimotor input from the physical body into the natural mind through the corporeal layer there ], and from this into the will [ = affective organ ] , and from the will through the thought [ = cognitive organ ] into act [ = sensorimotor organ ].

Or again from the memory [ = in our cognitive organ ], which is like an internal eye [ = e.g., as in the expression: I see what you mean ], or internal sight, there is a similar circle-from this sight through the thought [ = cognitive organ ] into the will [ = affective organ ], and from the will through the thought into act; or if anything hinders into the endeavor to act [ = prevents the behavioral intention from coming out into the act ], which, as soon as that which hindered is removed, goes forth into act.

[3] From this it is evident how the case is with influx [ = inflow of spiritual heat and light from the Spiritual Sun into the spiritual mind, and from there into the natural mind ], and with the appropriation of truth by good, namely, that first of all the truths of faith [ = the truths of life we extract from Sacred Scripture ] are insinuated through the hearing or through the sight [ = sensorimotor mind ] , and are then stored up in the memory [ = in the cognitive organ ] ; from which they are successively elevated into knowledge [ = in the cognitive organ ], and at last flow into the will [ = affective organ ], and when in this they proceed thence through thought [ = cognitive organ ] into act [ = sensorimotor organ ]; and if they cannot go into act, they are in endeavor, which is itself an internal act, and whenever there is an opportunity this becomes an external act.

Be it known, however, that while there is this circle, nevertheless it is good which produces the circle [ = the affective organ is primary, as in the saying: it is the heart of the matter ]; for the life which is from the Lord [ = God ] does not flow in except into good, thus through good, and this from the inmosts [ = from the highest layer of the spiritual mind down to the lowest layer of the natural mind ] .

That the life which flows in through the inmosts produces this circle, may be seen by everyone, for without life nothing is produced; and as the life which is from the Lord does not flow in except into good and through good, it follows that good is that which produces; and that it flows into truths, and appropriates them to itself, insofar as the man is in the knowledges of truth, and is at the same time desirous to receive them. (AC 4247)

(to be continued)

Regarding the Affective-Cognitive Connection discussed in this Section, see these entries in the Encyclopedia of Theistic Psychology and related articles:

Revelation About the Affective and the Cognitive || The Will and Understanding  ||  The Heart and Lungs  ||  Good and Truth  ||  Religious Behaviorism   ||  Religious Psychology  ||  Comprehensive Discourse Analysis and Its Applications   ||  Driving Behavior  ||  Phases of Development in Becoming Internet Literate ||  In Psychotherapy   ||  The Threefold Self || Symbols and Drawings ||  Topical Organization in Social Psychology || Titles of Articles  ||  Resistance to Health Behaviors  ||  Language Teaching   ||  Song Analysis  ||  Genetic Culture  ||  Cross-cultural Atlas of Affective Meanings ||  Swedenborg's Theory of Trisubstantivism  || The Genes of Consciousness 


7.0.3  The Role of the Sensorimotor Mind

The sensorimotor organ in the mind has its own function or role to contribute in the integration of the three domains of the self. ACS integration (affective=A, cognitive=C, sensorimotor=S) is the key to character reformation, and thus to optimal adaptability and to eternal happiness. In order to succeed in the perfect integration of our personality we need to understand the role of the sensorimotor mind and how the affective reacts to changes in its operations.

A built in feature in human development is that we are permanently affected or influenced by the affective quality of influx into our spiritual mind, and from there into our natural mind. What influences the quality of affective inflow into the spiritual mind? There are two forces at work, one at each end of the mind. The upper part of the organ is the spiritual mind and the lower part is the natural mind, as explained before. The spiritual force or inflow reacts by correspondence to the natural input from the physical world. The content of the sensorimotor mind depends on the physical events around the body, e.g., food, light, sounds, speech, music, touch, taste, smell, proprioceptive motion, etc. This physical input into the sensorimotor mind occasions the quality of the affective inflow into the spiritual mind. The two input forces are completely determined by each other through the universal laws of correspondence. These laws are built into the substantive dualism of the universe.

For instance, you're surfing the Web and you come upon a Page that suddenly starts playing music. The music inflows through the senses into the brain and the neural patterns of firings occasion a particular sensorimotor operation or reaction. This the dualism crossover between the physical and the spiritual worlds. Note carefully that there is no crossover of matter into the mind, nor of sensation into the brain, for this would be impossible and contrary to rational order. Instead, the laws of correspondence determine which operation in the mind will occur in correspondence with which physical sensation occurs.

It appears as an illusion that the physical energy stimulates the physical organs, transmitting it to the brain, and from there transmitting it to the mind so that the electro-chemical energy becomes mental sensation in consciousness. But Swedenborg proved in different ways that there is no continuity or transfer of matter between the body and mind. In his book Rational Psychology (1742) he describes each cortical cell as a mini-brain in full, and then describes the "finer natural" materials like natural "ether" that intervenes or mediates between the cortical cell and the sensorimotor mind.

Another way of describing what happens in the build up of our personality is to think of our spiritual body in the spiritual world as an automatic switchboard organ. Which spiritual societies will have access to inflow into your spiritual body? Numerous or countless societies in the spiritual world are eager to communicate with any spiritual body whose owner is still conscious in the physical body. Only a few societies on any occasion can have access at any moment. What determines their position in the queue?

Spirits, as we are called when we enter consciousness into our spiritual body, congregate together by the quality of their feelings in conjunction with the content of their thoughts. Swedenborg visited many such cities and described them. In point of fact spirit societies "send out" one individual who will act as a medium for the entire society. Whatever that medium experiences everyone in that society experiences. this is characteristic of all spiritual societies, namely that they normally share each other's feelings and thoughts, though individuality remains private and unique. It's more like everyone being online on the same mental network but still retaining themselves as the unique self taking all that in and reacting individually and uniquely to it. Here is a paragraph from Swedenborg's 12-volume series Arcana Coelestia ("Heavenly  Secrets") in which he discusses the role of these "emissary spirits":

That man has communication with hell and with heaven through the two spirits and the two angels, may be seen from the fact that in the other life one society cannot have communication with another, or with anyone, except through spirits who are sent forth by the societies. These emissary spirits are called Subjects, for through them as subjects the societies speak. To send forth subjects to other societies, and in this way to get communication, is one of the familiar things of the other life, and is very well known to me from the fact that subjects have been sent to me a thousand times, and that without them the societies could not know anything appertaining to me, and could communicate to me nothing appertaining to themselves. This shows that the spirits and genii with man are nothing but subjects through whom he has communication with hell, and that the celestial and spiritual angels are subjects through whom he has communication with the heavens. (AC 5983)

So you can see the lineup of the emissary spirits around your spiritual body ready to inflow and communicate when possible. What occasions a particular spirit's inflow? It is the state of the sensorimotor mind. For instance, you're entering a public bathroom and you're hit in the nose by a bad smell lingering there. In order for you to recognize that it is a bad smell one of the emissary spirits must be allowed to rush in to communicate with your spiritual body. Depending on who it is, or which spirit society is involved, you can then experience revulsion or enjoyment. The affective reaction of the spirit society must first be allowed to instantiate before you can experience either revulsion or enjoyment. Their affective reaction is made possible by the "occasion" of the smell hitting your brain and having the sensorimotor mind react by correspondence. That reaction in our sensorimotor mind is simultaneous with the reaction of the spirit society that inflowed through the emissary spirit communicating with your spiritual body.

There must therefore be three conditions that must be satisfied before you can experience the revulsion or the enjoyment. First, an event in the natural world, which gets recorded in the brain through the sensory organs. Second, the application of the built in laws of correspondence by which a particular brain reaction occasions its corresponding spiritual counterpart in the sensorimotor mind (this is experienced as a sensation). Third, an event in the spiritual world, which consists of an emissary spirit inflowing into our spiritual body simultaneously with the reaction in our sensorimotor mind.

Note that I'm using the "occasions" in the same sense as Skinner used it. I acquired this idea from Skinner. I always thought it was a brilliant way of looking at behavior. No doubt he would have been shocked to see how his term has been applied by me to spirit societies, though he would not be shocked today, where he is now, in one of those spirit societies! The idea of "occasions" works very effectively in theistic psychology as well.

You can see from this description of how a single bad smell experience (and also a single good odor experience) involves many other human beings in different states of life in their mind. This is one of the most astonishing and liberating of the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg. It's the idea I call vertical community (discussed in several places before). We are never alone in our thoughts and feelings. For a single sensation, thought, or emotion to occur, our spiritual mind must be in communication with emissary spirits from different societies involving numberless people. Ultimately no thought or emotion in one human being can be contained, but instantly spreads and reverberates into the entire rational ether that constitutes the spiritual world. This is analogous to the light of stars in the physical world which spreads out into the entire space at near-instantaneous velocity. Also like the sound of two people talking in a room spreads throughout the room. A feeling, thought, or sensation by one individual communicates itself to all other individuals in the spiritual world. This is because thought and feeling are spiritual substances that permeate the rational ether in which all human minds are born and carry on life to eternity.

Hence, we are never alone in our thoughts and feelings. They are community produced and maintained. And yet we are not capable of being conscious of this amazing universal interaction until our spiritual mind becomes conscious at the death of the physical body. Then it becomes a normal habit to observe, as Swedenborg did for 27 years, according to his carefully kept records.

What we need to do is to use this new knowledge from scientific revelations to manage better our daily emotions, feelings, intentions, motives, and attitudes. This is discussed in the sections that follow.

Animals also depend on spiritual influx which enters their natural mind. They do not possess a rational or spiritual mind, and only the lower portion of the natural mind such as humans have, called the corporeal mind, sometimes called the instinctive mind or just instinct. However because animals do not have a spiritual mind they cannot have immortal life. Their spiritual components or "soul" dissipate when they die. Swedenborg reports that animals can be seen in the spiritual world in great abundance but these are not the same animals that were born on earth. Instead they are instantaneously created by human affections and thoughts, not unlike what we do in dreams when we run from a bear or hug our cat.  Animals in the spiritual world disappear when our affection and thoughts change involvement to something else.

7.0.4  The Source of Anxiety, Worry, and Depression

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

AC 759. That the "rain" here is temptation is evident from what has been said and shown above, concerning a "flood" and an "inundation;" and also from the signification of the "fountains of the deep were broken up" and the "cataracts of heaven were opened" as being temptations. (AC 759)

AC 760. That the "forty days and forty nights" signify its duration, was shown above, at verse 4. By "forty" as before said, is signified every duration of temptation, whether greater or less, and indeed severe temptation, which is of the things of the will.

For by continual pleasures, and by the loves of self and of the world [ = the inherited character of our natural mind before it is reformed and regenerated ], consequently by the cupidities that are the connected activities of these loves, man has acquired a life for himself of such a kind that it is nothing but a life of such things. This life cannot possibly accord with heavenly life [ = the spiritual order in which our spiritual mind is through influx from the Spiritual Sun ]; for no one can love worldly [ = what is not yet regenerate, hence remains attached to our enjoyments of evil traits ] and heavenly things at the same time [ = the order of mental states in our natural mind when it is reformed and being regenerated ], seeing that to love worldly things is to look downward [ = towards the lower layer of the natural mind, which is corporeal or animal, and not rational or human ] , and to love heavenly things is to look upward [ = our study and knowledge of the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture, i.e., theistic psychology ] .

Much less can anyone love himself and at the same time the neighbor, and still less the Lord.

He who loves himself, hates all who do not render him service; so that the man who loves himself is very far from heavenly love and charity, which is to love the neighbor more than one's self, and the Lord above all things. [ = for instance, to lower the volume on your radio or TV for the sake of the neighbors, and similar things that we do for the comfort of others rather than insisting on our comfort, etc. ]

From this it is evident how far removed the life of man [ = unregenerated natural mind ] is from heavenly life [ = regenerated natural mind ] , and therefore he is regenerated by the Lord through temptations [ = once the person undergoes reformation as of self ], and is bent so as to bring him into agreement [ = when we use our knowledge of doctrine to resist spiritual temptations ].

This is why such temptation is severe [ = experienced with strong emotional conflict, being pulled by the the love of enjoying evil traits and the love of becoming a heavenly person ], for it touches a man's very life, assailing, destroying, and transforming it, and is therefore described by the words: "the fountains of the deep were broken up, and the cataracts of heaven were opened." (AC 760)

AC 761.That spiritual temptation in man [ = our conscious natural mind in daily life ] is a combat of the evil spirits with the angels who are with him [ = combats going on in our unconscious spiritual mind. The results of these unconscious combats determine by correspondence the emotional conflict we experience in our conscious natural mind ], and that this combat is commonly felt in his conscience, has been stated before, and concerning this combat it should also be known that angels continually protect man and avert the evils which evil spirits endeavor to do to him.

They even protect what is false and evil in a man, for they know very well whence his falsities and evils come [ = those who have been regenerated and who are already present and conscious in the spiritual mind of the afterlife, can see and empirically observe how our unregenerate natural mind while we are still here on earth, is tied and influenced by those who are in the spiritual mind and in evil enjoyments ], namely, from evil spirits and genii. [ = these psychological, moral, and spiritual battles during temptations in our mind occur without us being consciously aware of the confrontations taking place in our spiritual mind ].

Man does not produce anything false and evil from himself, but it is the evil spirits with him who produce it, and at the same time make the man believe that he does it of himself. Such is their malignity. [ = we are born with the enjoyments of evil traits that we inherit. It seems to us that those are our own traits and that we enjoy them. But they are not our own traits. We actually enjoy the traits of those with whom we are spiritually connected in our spiritual mind by mental inheritance. ]

And what is more, at the moment when they are infusing and compelling this belief, they accuse and condemn him, as I can confirm from many experiences. [ = Swedenborg being conscious in his spiritual mind was able to observe the actions of the evil spirits who were connected to the individual by inheritance ].

The man who has not faith in the Lord cannot be enlightened so as not to believe that he does evil of himself, and he therefore appropriates the evil to himself, and becomes like the evil spirits that are with him. Such is the case with man. As the angels know this, in the temptations of regeneration they protect also the falsities and evils of a man, for otherwise he would succumb. [ = there is a useful purpose prior to regeneration for having intermediate beliefs and doctrines, that are not yet genuine spiritual rational ].

For there is nothing in a man [ = the inherited character of our natural mind before it is reformed and regenerated ] but evil and the falsity thence derived, so that he is a mere assemblage and compound of evils and their falsities. (AC 761)

AC 762. But spiritual temptations are little known at this day [ = prior to our reformation and regeneration ]. Nor are they permitted to such a degree as formerly, because man is not in the truth of faith, and would therefore succumb [ = to be in temptation without having the rational truths of doctrine to be able to resist ].

In place of these temptations there are others, such as misfortunes, griefs, and anxieties, arising from natural and bodily causes, and also sicknesses and diseases of the body, which in a measure subdue and break up the life of a man's pleasures and cupidities, and determine and uplift his thoughts to interior and religious subjects.

But these are not spiritual temptations, which are experienced by those only who have received from the Lord [ = our doctrine of truth extracted from the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture ] a conscience of truth and good. Conscience is itself the plane of temptations, wherein they operate. [ = people who do not have the opportunity or ability to study the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture, nevertheless can accept influx into their conscience from the spiritual mind, and if they honor and obey their conscience, they are being regenerated and prepared for heavenly experiences in the afterlife of eternity ].

Here is a passage from the Writings Sacred Scripture that discuss the role of the vertical community in experiencing anxiety:

 I have also been permitted to know the source of human anxiety, grief of mind (animus), and interior sadness, which is called melancholy. There are spirits not as yet in conjunction with hell, because they are in their first state; these will be described in the following pages where the world of spirits is dealt with. These spirits love things undigested and unprofitable, such as pertain to food becoming foul in the stomach. Consequently, they are present where such things are with man, because they find delight in them; and they talk there with one another from their own evil affection. The affection that is in their speech inflows from this source with man; and when this affection is the opposite of man's affection it becomes in him sadness and melancholy anxiety; but when it is in agreement it becomes in him gladness and cheerfulness.

These spirits appear near to the stomach, some to the left and some to the right of it, and some beneath and some above, also nearer and more remote, thus variously in accordance with the affections in which they are. That this is the source of anxiety of mind has been shown and proved to me by much experience. I have seen these spirits, I have heard them, I have felt the anxieties arising from them, I have talked with them; when they have been driven away the anxiety ceased; when they returned the anxiety returned; and I have noted the increase and decrease of it according to their approach and removal. From this, it has been made clear to me why some who do not know what conscience is, because they have no conscience, ascribe its pain to the stomach. (AC 299)

Here you see Swedenborg's empirical attitude and his attempt to use experimental manipulation as a way of confirming hypotheses. Note also that this was written some 200 years before the role of the stomach in anxiety was understood by modern medicine. Anxiety is frequently felt in the stomach due to the correspondential action between the stomach and the sensorimotor mind into which the spirits inflow who are delighted by the breakdown products in the stomach. In fact Swedenborg mapped out the relationship between every body part and the spirit societies that specialize in relating to each part of the body. The physiology and biochemistry of the physical body are so many detailed ways in which spirit societies communicate with the sensorimotor mind. The physiological operations are effects whose causes are the inflow of the various spirit societies.

In the 1960s when I was teaching at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), one of my colleagues was the well known behaviorist Hobart Mower. He had been suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety for several years despite drug treatments. He then had an insight that reversed the Freudian idea that people feel anxiety in response to an overactive super-ego or conscience. Freud's classic treatment consisted of trying to weaken the demands of the super-ego or of conscience to offer relief from guilt and anxiety leading to depression. But Mower discovered that the opposite was the case, namely, that instead of having an overactive conscience most people disregard their conscience in many situations and go ahead and do what they feel like at the moment. At the same time many people are oriented towards reducing guilt by weakening the power of one's conscience. Mower started arguing that instead what we need to do is to strengthen our conscience so that we keep ourselves from violating its injunctions. He developed a new form of group therapy called "integrity groups" which I attended for two years. It is there that I learned that if I strengthen the voice of my conscience I can keep myself from acting against my principles and thus not run into guilt, anxiety, shame, or depression. I was greatly relieved.

Here is a further description about the function of anxiety:

With every man there are two spirits from hell, and two angels from heaven; for man being born in sins cannot possibly live unless on one side he communicates with hell, and on the other with heaven; all his life is thence. When man is grown up and begins to rule himself from himself, that is, when he seems to himself to will and to act from his own judgment, and to think and to conclude concerning the things of faith from his own understanding, if he then betakes himself to evils, the two spirits from hell draw near, and the two angels from heaven withdraw a little; but if he betakes himself to good, the two angels from heaven draw near, and the two spirits from hell are removed.

[2] If therefore when a man betakes himself to evils, as is the case with many in youth, he feels any anxiety when he reflects upon his having done what is evil, it is a sign that he will still receive influx through the angels from heaven, and it is also a sign that he will afterward suffer himself to be reformed; but if when he reflects upon his having done what is evil, he has no anxious feeling, it is a sign that he is no longer willing to receive influx through the angels from heaven, and it is also a sign that he will not afterward suffer himself to be reformed. (AC 5470)

You can see that anxiety is produced by conscience for the purpose of maintaining us in freedom of choice and reminding us of spiritual responsibility. We have the power to disregard or inhibit this built in effect. However it is clear that we will suffer negative consequences when we weaken the motivational force of conscience. If we kill or weaken our anxiety Freudian style, we lose the ability to benefit from positive spiritual influences and we fall into mental states that are negative, injurious, and self-defeating.

Here is a similar paragraph discussing the source of anxiety:

Since worrying about the future produces feelings of anxiety in a person, and since such spirits appear in the region of the stomach, feelings of anxiety therefore have a greater effect on the stomach than on all other internal organs. I have also been allowed to recognize how those anxious feelings have increased or diminished as those spirits have become present or been removed. I have noticed that some anxious feelings exist more internally, others more externally, some higher up, others lower down, depending on the differences in origin, derivation, and direction taken by such kinds of worry. Here also lies the reason why, when such feelings of anxiety take hold of the mind, the area around the stomach is tense and sometimes pain is felt there, and also why feelings of anxiety seem to surge up from there. The same also explains why, when a person ceases to worry about the future or when everything is turning out right for him so that he no longer fears any misfortune, the area around the stomach is free and relaxed, and he has the feeling of delight. (AC 5178)

Anxiety is therefore "a natural effect in the body from a spiritual cause in the mind" (AC 7217). Anxiety is the resultant effect when an individual is deprived of spiritual heat (love) and spiritual light (truth). Such deprivation is self-initiated by ignoring conscience or principles of right living. When we obey conscience and our principles of doctrine for life we gain a new freedom and a new power which we have by virtue of the influx of good (spiritual heat) and truth (spiritual light) from the Spiritual Sun.

Anxiety is a built in spiritual operation in our natural mind. There are hierarchies of anxiety caused by falsifying truths that flow in from the spiritual mind. All falsification or distortion of truth has consequences for the mind's health and functioning. In non-theistic psychology we do not discuss "truth" in this way. Instead there is a tendency to avoid the concept of 'absolute truth' in favor of 'relative truth.'  People associate the idea of absolute truth with dogma, not science. non-theistic science hates the idea of absolute truth while theistic science considers all Divine scientific revelations as absolute truth. The expression "absolute truth" is often invoked within the context of religious fundamentalism. Dogma however is not absolute truth because it comes not from sacred scripture but the incomplete wisdom and rationality of human beings who formulate dogma from sacred scripture. The dogma and the sacred scripture are as different as the number 1 is far apart from infinity.

Because of dogma the concept of absolute truth has a bad reputation, but what people mean to reject is not absolute truth revealed by God but dogma invented by human beings misguided by their religious fervor. The fact is that everything God communicates to the human race in terms of revelation is absolute truth since it is Divine and God is absolutely perfect and infinite -- omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, as defined by most dictionaries.

Here is further evidence Swedenborg presents about types of anxiety:

 I have also noticed another kind of influx which does not take place through the spirits present with a person but through others who are sent out from some community in hell to the sphere emanating from that person's life. They talk among themselves about the kinds of things that are unacceptable to the person, which results generally in a flowing into him of what is in many different ways troublesome, unpleasant, dejecting, and worrying. Such spirits have often been present with me, when I have experienced in the province of my stomach those who poured in feelings of anxiety - not that I knew where the feelings came from. Yet on every occasion I found out who they were, and then I heard them talking to one another about the kinds of things that were unacceptable to my affections. Avaricious spirits in the same region have sometimes been visible, though in a slightly higher position; they have poured in the kind of anxiety that results from concern for the future. I have also been allowed to rebuke those spirits and to tell them that they correlate with undigested food in the stomach which produces bad breath and so is nauseating. I have also seen them being driven away; and once they were driven away, anxiety completely disappeared. I have had this experience a number of times so that I could be quite certain that those spirits were the source of the trouble.

[2] This is the kind of influx that takes place among those who for no good reason are anxious and depressed, and also among those who are undergoing spiritual temptation. During temptation however there is not only a general influx of such spirits but also a particular stirring up by spirits from hell of the evils the person has put into practice. 'Those spirits also pervert and put a wrong interpretation on the forms of good that the angels use to fight with in temptation. A state such as this is what the person who is being regenerated enters by being let down into what is wholly his own. And this happens when he immerses himself too much in worldly and bodily interests and needs to be raised towards spiritual ones. (AC 6202)

In otter words when spirits are in a situation to inflow into our spiritual body they do so and the resultant effect is felt as negative emotions. Note also that spirits who communicate with our spiritual body are able to perceive the content of our memories and affective inclinations. This is a common way spirits interact with each other. Swedenborg's dual consciousness put him in the position of observing two interconnected events simultaneously, one spiritual and the other natural. The spiritual event was observing the spirits approaching his spiritual body and hearing what they were talking about. The natural event was the reaction he felt in his physical body, in this case the stomach. In this way he proved the effect of the spiritual mind over the physical body, an effect produced by correspondence. Furthermore, when they withdrew, the sensation of nausea from the stomach ceased instantly, but when they approached again, the sensation was back.

From the next paragraph we can see that anxiety and worry are resultant emotions when the mind is "deprived of the affection of good and the thought of truth": The more internal the love and truth, that is the more spiritual-rational they are, the greater the fear, anxiety, and worry at the thought of losing them:

Those who cannot be reformed do not at all know what it is to grieve on account of being deprived of truths; for they suppose that no one can feel in the least anxious about such a thing. The only anxiety they believe to be possible is on account of being deprived of the goods of the body and the world; such as health, honors, reputation, wealth, and life. But they who can be reformed believe altogether differently: these are kept by the Divine-Human in the affection of good and in the thought of truth; and therefore they come into anxiety when deprived of this thought and affection.

[2] It is known that all anxiety and grief arise from being deprived of the things with which we are affected, or which we love. They who are affected only with corporeal and worldly things, or who love such things only, grieve when they are deprived of them; but they who are affected with spiritual goods and truths and love them, grieve when they are deprived of them. Everyone's life is nothing but affection or love. Hence it is evident what is the state of those who are desolated as to the goods and truths with which they are affected, or which they love, namely, that their state of grief is more severe, because more internal; and in the deprivation of good and truth they do not regard the death of the body, for which they do not care, but eternal death. (AC 2689)
    Psychobiology of Conscience

 Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture: (notes and emphasis not in original)

AC 5145 (...) Interiorly the human being is divided into separate degrees, and each degree has its own termination that serves to separate it from the degree beneath it. This is so with every degree from the inmost one to the outermost.

The interior rational constitutes the first degree, the degree in which celestial angels are, that is, where the inmost or third heaven is. The exterior rational makes up the second degree, the one in which spiritual angels are, that is, where the middle or second heaven is. The interior natural makes up the third degree, the one in which good spirits are, that is, where the last and lowest or first heaven is. And the exterior natural, the level of the senses, makes up the fourth degree, in which man is. ((four descending degrees in the mind))

[3] These degrees also exist within man, each degree completely distinct and separate. ((mental anatomy = spiritual geography))

Consequently, if he leads a good life, he is interiorly a miniature heaven; that is, his interiors correspond to the three heavens. ((the degrees mature into full separation by means of physiological terminations – see below))

Also, if he has led a life of charity and love he can be taken after death all the way up to the third heaven. But if he is to be someone like this, each degree within him must be furnished with its own specific termination that makes it separate from the next one. When those degrees do have those terminations, making them distinct and separate from one another, each degree has a floor on which good flowing in from the Lord can rest and where it is received.

Without such terminations acting as floors that good is not received but passes straight through, as if through a sieve or through 'a basket with holes in it', down to the sensory level. There, because it has not received any direction on the way, this good is turned into something foul, though it is seen as good by the recipients of it at that lowest level. That is to say, the good is turned into the kind of delight that belongs to a selfish and worldly love, and consequently into the kind of delight that belongs to hatred, revenge, cruelty, adultery, and avarice, or into sheer self-gratification and personal extravagance.

This is what happens if the degrees of a person's will exist without a termination anywhere at all in the middle, that is, if 'they have holes in them'. (([spiritual psychobiology -- the levels of the mind must be formed at each level into discrete terminations which are our loves, either heavenly or hellish]))

[4] One can also actually know whether these terminations and therefore floors exist; people's abilities to perceive what is good and true point to the existence of them, as do their consciences. ((empirical test of spiritual development and maturation))

In the case of those who, like celestial angels, have the ability to perceive what is good and true, terminations exist in every degree, from the first to the last. Unless each degree has its own termination, no perceptive abilities such as these can exist. Regarding these abilities, see [Numbers omitted]. ((level three maturation))

In the case of those who, like spiritual angels, have conscience, terminations likewise exist, but only in the second degree or else in the third down to the last. For them the first degree is closed. One must say in the second degree or else in the third because conscience is twofold - interior and exterior. Interior conscience is one that concerns itself with what is spiritually good and true, exterior conscience one that concerns itself with what is just and fair.

Conscience itself is an interior floor which provides inflowing Divine Good with a termination; but those who have no conscience do not have any interior floor to receive that influx. In their case good passes straight through to the exterior natural, or the natural level of the senses, where it is turned, as has been stated, into foul delights. ((spiritual psychobiology of conscience))

These people sometimes feel pain like that of conscience, but this is not conscience. The pain is caused by the loss of what they delight in, such as the loss of position, gain, reputation, life, pleasures, or the friendship of others who are like themselves. They suffer pain because the terminations which they possess consist in those kinds of delights. From all this one may see what is meant in the spiritual sense by 'baskets with holes in them'.

[5] Particularly so in the next life one can discern whether or not the degrees of a person's will have been furnished with terminations. ((Sub-heading: “Furnished With Terminations – The Mental Physiology of Conscience”))

In the case of one who has been furnished with them, a zeal exists for what is spiritually good and true or for what is just and fair. For such persons had done what was good for the sake of what was good or for the sake of what was true, and had practised what was just for the sake of what was just or for the sake of what was fair, not for the sake of gain, position, and the like. ((heavenly traits = zeal for human “virtues” – q.v.))

All whose interior degrees of the will have been furnished with terminations are raised up to heaven, for the inflowing Divine is able to lead them there. But all whose interior degrees of the will have not been furnished with terminations make their way to hell, for what is Divine passes straight through and is turned into that which is hell-like, as when the heat of the sun falls on foul excrement and a disgusting stench is given off by it. Consequently all who have had conscience are saved, but those who have had none are incapable of being saved.

[6] Degrees of the will are said to have holes in them, or to have no terminations, when there is no affection for goodness and truth, or for justice and equity, and when these virtues are considered to be of little or no value at all compared with anything else, or are esteemed solely for the sake of acquiring gain or position. ((DOW provides terminations for celestial loves))

The affections are what supply terminations and serve to close off, which is also why they are called bonds or restraints - affections for what is good and true being internal bonds, and affections for what is evil and false external ones, 3835. ((affections for celestial things furnish terminations for the first degree))

Unless the affections for what is evil and false acted as bonds or restraints the person would be insane, 4217; for insanity is nothing else than the removal of such restraints, so that no terminations are present in such persons. ((the enjoyment of hellish traits furnishes terminations for life in hell))

Even so, though these people do not possess any internal restraints (( = affections for heavenly traits)) and are therefore inwardly insane, so far as their thoughts and affections are concerned, an eruption of these is held back by external restraints (( = affections for hellish traits)), which consist in affections for gain, position, or reputation for their own sake, and consequently in a fear of the law or of loss of life.

(...) (AC 5145 )

SE 1706. CONCERNING AN INDETERMINATE STATE OF SPIRITS. I, together with the spirits around me, was in an indeterminate state, which state was such that they could not reflect at all upon themselves, but became, as it were, reduced to nothing in the universe, which accords with the popular idea of spirits. As relates to myself, I could scarcely tell whether I was in the body or out of the body, for I perceived nothing of the body, inasmuch as it was not given to reflect upon it.

Thus the perception I had was independent of the body, for the ideas were determined to a vague universality [in universum], and thus, as it were, dissipated, having no determination in myself. Determination in one's self causes that the subjects of it should seem to themselves to be such as they think themselves to be. In a word, the state was altogether different from the ordinary state, nor was there anything but bare speech, for the spirits spoke and I spoke, but the speech was as if it proceeded not from any particular man, but was a mere voice sent forth into vacuity. [Above] there appeared nothing but the celestial blue vault [sprinkled] with little stars. (SE 1706)

SE 1707. Hence it may be inferred that whatever spirits may appear to themselves [to be or to possess, they have it from the determination of ideas in themselves; and from reflection upon the things which they say, and that without such determination neither spirit nor man appears to himself to be anything. - 1748, March 26. (SE 1707)

HH 434. A man cannot think and will without there being a subject that is a substance out of which and in which he can think and will. Anything that is supposed to come into existence apart from a substantial subject is nothing. This can be known from the fact that a man is unable to see without an organ which is the subject of his sight, or to hear without an organ which is the subject of his hearing. Apart from these organs, sight and hearing are nothing and are not given existence.

The same is true of thought, which is an internal sight, and of perception, which is an internal hearing; unless these were in substances and from substances which are organic forms and subjects, they would have no existence at all. From these things it can be confirmed that man's spirit as well as his body is in a form, and that it is in a human form, and enjoys sensories and senses when separated from the body, the same as when it was in it, and that all the life of the eye and all the life of the ear in a word, all the life of sense that man has, belongs not to his body but to his spirit, which dwells in these organs and in their minutest particulars.

This is why spirits see, hear, and feel, as well as men. But after being loosed from the body, they do this not in the natural world, but in the spiritual world. The natural sensation that the spirit had, when it was in the body, it had by means of the material part that was added to it; but even then it also felt spiritually in thinking and willing. (HH 434)

NJHD 134. Man has a conscience of what is good, and a conscience of what is just. The conscience of what is good is the conscience of the internal man, and the conscience of what is just is the conscience of the external man. The conscience of what is good consists in acting according to the precepts of faith from internal affection; but the conscience of what is just consists in acting according to civil and moral laws from external affection. They who have the conscience of what is good, have also the conscience of what is just; but they who have only the conscience of what is just, are in a faculty of receiving the conscience of what is good; and they also do receive it when they are instructed. (NJHD 134)

NJHD 135. Conscience, with those who are in charity towards the neighbor, is the conscience of truth, because it is formed by the faith of truth; but with those who are in love to the Lord, it is the conscience of good, because it is formed by the love of truth. The conscience of these is a superior conscience, and is called the perception of truth from good. They who have the conscience of truth, are of the Lord's spiritual kingdom; but they who have the superior conscience, which is called perception, are of the Lord's celestial kingdom. (NJHD 135)

NJHD 136. But let examples illustrate what conscience is. He who has possession of another man's goods, whilst the other is ignorant of it, and thus can retain them without fear of the law, or of the loss of honor and reputation, and he still restores them to the other, because they are not his own, he has conscience, for he does what is good for the sake of what is good, and what is just for the sake of what is just. Again, if anyone can obtain an office, but knows that another, who also desires it, would be more useful to his country, and gives way to the other for the sake of the good of his country, he has a good conscience. So in other cases. (NJHD 136)

NJHD 137. From these instances it may be concluded, what quality they are of who have not conscience; they are known from the opposite. Thus, they who for the sake of any gain make what is unjust appear as just, and what is evil appear as good, and vice versa, have not conscience. Neither do they know what conscience is, and if they are instructed what it is, they do not believe; and some are not willing to know. Such are those who do all things for the sake of themselves and the world. (NJHD 137)

NJHD 138. They who have not received conscience in the world, cannot receive it in the other life; thus they cannot be saved. The reason is, because they have no plane into which heaven, that is, the Lord through heaven, may flow in, and by which He may operate, and lead them to Himself. For conscience is the plane and receptacle of the influx of heaven. (NJHD 138)


Concerning Conscience.

Those who have no conscience, do not know what conscience is, nos. 7490, 9121 [all Numbers here refer to AC]. There are some who laugh at conscience, when they hear what it is, no, 7217. Some believe that conscience is nothing; some that it is a natural feeling of pain causing sadness, which arises either from causes in the body, or in the world; and some that it is something with people generally which arises from their religion, no. 950. Some do not know that they have a conscience, when yet they have one, no. 2380.

The good have conscience, but not the evil, nos. 831, 965, 7490. Those have conscience who are in love to God and in love towards the neighbour, no. 2380. Those chiefly have conscience, who have been regenerated by the Lord, no. 977. Those who are in truths alone, and not in a life according to them, have no conscience, nos. 1076, 1077, 1919. Those who do good from natural good, and not from religion, have no conscience, no. 6208.

Conscience with a man is from the doctrine of his Church, or from his particular religion, and it is according thereto, no. 9112. Conscience with a man is formed from those things which belong to his religion, and which he believes to be true, nos. 1077, 2053, 9113. Conscience is an internal bond, by which a man is induced to think, speak, and do good; and by which he is withheld from thinking, speaking, and doing evil; and indeed not for the sake of himself and the world, but for the sake of what is good, true, just, and upright, nos. 1919, 9120. Conscience is an internal dictate, that a man ought to act so, or not so, nos. 1919, 1935. Conscience, in its essence, is a consciousness of what is true and right, nos. 986, 8081. The new will with a spiritual regenerate man is conscience, nos. 927, 1023, 1043, 1044, 4299, 4328, 4493, 9115, 9596. Spiritual life with a man is from conscience, no. 9117.

There is true conscience, spurious conscience, and false conscience, concerning which see no. 1033. The more that conscience has been formed from genuine truths, the more it is true, nos. 2053, 2063, 9114. In general, conscience is twofold, interior and exterior; interior conscience is that of spiritual good, which in its essence is truth, and exterior conscience is that of moral and civil good, which in its essence is what is sincere and just, and in general what is right, nos. 5145, 10296.

The pang of conscience is an anxiety of the mind on account of any injustice, insincerity, and evil which a man believes to be against God, and against the good of the neighbour, no. 7217. If there is a feeling of anxiety when a man thinks evil, it arises from conscience, no. 5470. The pang of conscience consists in an anguish felt on account of any evil which a man does, and also on account of the privation of good and truth, no. 7217. Inasmuch as temptation is a combat of truth and falsity in a man's interiors, and as in temptations there is a feeling of pain and anxiety, therefore none other are admitted into spiritual temptations, except those who have conscience, no. 847.

Those who have conscience speak and act from the heart, nos. 7935, 9114. Those who have conscience do not swear in vain, no. 2842. Those who have conscience are in a state of interior blessedness when they do what is good and just according to conscience, no. 9118. Those who have conscience in this world, have conscience also in the other life, and are there among the happy, no. 965. The influx of heaven takes place with a man into conscience, nos. 6207, 6213, 9122. The Lord rules the spiritual man through conscience, which with him is an internal bond, nos. 1835, 1862. Those who have conscience have interior thought, but those who have no conscience, have only exterior thought, nos. 1919, 1935.

Those who have conscience, think from the Spiritual, while those who have no conscience, think only from the Natural, no. 1820. Those who have no conscience, are only external men, no. 4459. The Lord rules those who have no conscience through external bonds, such as are all those things which belong to the love of self and of the world, and as consequently relate to the fear of the loss of reputation, honour, office, gain, or wealth, and to the fear of the law, and of the loss of life, nos. 1077, 1080, 1835. Those who have no conscience, and still suffer themselves to be ruled by those external bonds, are able to discharge in the world the duties of high offices, and to do good, just as well as those who have conscience; but the former do so in an external form from external bonds, but the latter in an internal form from internal bonds, no. 6207.

Those who have no conscience are desirous of destroying conscience with those who have it, no. 1820. Those who have no conscience in this world, have no conscience in the other life, nos. 965, 9122. Wherefore, those who are in hell do not feel any pang of conscience on account of the evils they have done in the world, nos. 965, 9122.

Who, and of what quality, and how troublesome, the morbidly conscientious are, and to what things they correspond in the spiritual world, nos. 5386, 5724.

Those who are from the Lord's spiritual kingdom, have a conscience, which has been formed in their intellectual part, nos. 863, 865, 875, 895, 927, 1043, 1044, 1555, 2256, 4328, 4493, 5113, 6367, 8521, 9115, 9915, 9995, 10124. It is otherwise with those who are in the Lord's celestial kingdom, nos. 927, 2256, 5113, 6367, 8521, 9915, 9995, 10124.
(NJHD 139)

The first plane is the inmost of the rational, and pertains to perception; thus to love to the Lord; consequently, to good and the truth of good. The second plane is the middle of the rational, and pertains to the conscience of good and truth, thus to piety, and is of the Church and the Lord's kingdom. The third plane pertains to the conscience of justice and right; thus to employment in civil life, consequently to society and the common good: it belongs to the inferior rational. The fourth plane pertains to propriety and decorum; thus to interaction; consequently, [to the relations] amongst friends and acquaintances: it belongs to the corporeal faculty. These planes can be conjoined, and the interior inflow into the exterior; and, then, the last plane, namely, that of propriety and decorum, is good, because it inflows from a good origin. (SE 4545)


7.0.5  Struggle Between the Natural and the Spiritual Mind

Here is how Swedenborg describes this struggle:

AC 5650. Before the natural man is joined to the spiritual, or the external man to the internal, he is left to consider whether he wants the strong desires that spring from self-love and love of the world, also such ideas as he has used to defend those desires, to be done away with, and whether he wants to surrender dominion to the spiritual or internal man. He is left to consider this so that he may choose in freedom what he pleases. When the natural man without the spiritual contemplates this possibility he rejects it; for he loves his strong evil desires for the reason that he loves himself and the world. Such a contemplation fills him with anxiety and he imagines that if those desires are done away with his life would be finished; for he locates everything in the natural or external man. Alternatively he imagines that after they have been done away with he will be left with no power of his own and that all his thought, will, and action will come to him through heaven, so that he will no longer have any responsibility for these.

Once the natural man has been left to himself in this condition, he draws back and becomes resistant. But when some light flows from the Divine-Human through heaven into his natural he starts to think differently. That is to say, he now refers the spiritual man to have dominion, for then he is able to think what is true and to will what is good and so is able to enter heaven, which is not possible if the natural man has dominion. And when he considers that all the angels in the whole of heaven are like this and as a consequence experience joy defying description, he goes to war with the natural man and at length wishes to make the same subject to the spiritual. This is the condition into which someone who is to be regenerated is brought, so that he can in freedom turn where he wills; and insofar as he does in freedom turn in that direction he is being regenerated. (AC 5650)

The "natural man," which is also called the "external man," refers to the natural mind while the "spiritual man," which is also called the "internal man," refers to the spiritual mind. The conscious natural mind is filled with the things we enjoy about ourselves and our life style ("love of self and the world"). The unconscious spiritual mind is filled with the love of good and truth streaming in from the Spiritual Sun. In order to be "saved" for a heavenly life in eternity it is absolutely necessary for the natural mind to give up its loves and beliefs acquired from heredity and experience. The only way we can live in heaven is for our loves to be heavenly, that is, that we love good and truth.

The conscious external natural mind must be willing to give up its earthly loves which are contrary to heavenly loves. This arouses great anxiety and resistance because we consciously fear that if we give up our earthly loves we will have no happiness left. However after the victory of reformation of character the natural mind is realigned so that all its loves and thoughts are from the spiritual mind and compatible with it. There is literally a spiritual war taking place for our ultimate fate. Both sides are us, but one side of us is in heaven while the other side of us is in hell. The part of us that is in heaven is unconscious and consists of the love of good and truth. But the part of us that is in hell is conscious and consists of the love of self and the world.  The Law of Karma and Fortune

In Section Buddhism as a Religion -- the Buddha and the Dharma, the idea of karma is discussed from a Buddhist perspective, and karma is there defined as "good or evil action, whose inevitable consequences return to the individual." In theistic psychology we can examine in more scientific detail how God operates the laws of karma, which are called the Laws of Divine Providence and Permissions (see Section 4.1).

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

AC 7984 [3] It must also be told briefly what a full state is. Everyone, whether damned or saved, has a certain measure which is capable of being filled. The evil, or they who are damned, have a certain measure of evil and falsity; and the good, or they who are saved, have a certain measure of good and truth. In the other life this measure is filled with everyone; but some have a greater measure, some a less. This measure is acquired in the world by means of the affections which are of the love. The more anyone has loved evil and the derivative falsity, the greater is the measure he has gained for himself; and the more anyone has loved good and the derivative truth, the greater is his measure. The limits and degrees of the extensions of this measure are clearly seen in the other life, and cannot there be surmounted, but they can be filled, and also actually are filled, namely, with goods and truths in the case of those who have been in the affection of good and truth, and with evils and falsities in the case of those who have been in the affection of evil and falsity. Hence it is evident that this measure is the faculty gained in the world for receiving either evil and falsity, or good and truth. (AC 7984)

SE 2714. But the truth is this, that the Lord rules the universe by a providence, an infinite one, than which to rule more infinitely and more wisely is inconceivable. And because this is the truth, it follows that thoughts which oppose are false, for there is one truth.
Also, there is not a point of a person's thought and action that does not have with it, and ordinarily has, a series of consequences one after another to eternity. Every single moment of life is the starting point of consequences in life, and like a single seed from which countless results ensue to eternity. This also is true.
Since these are truths, it follows that all things in lowest nature that appear to oppose them are fallacies of the senses and fantasies. (SE 2714)

It was perceived, and I said to angels, that every most minute moment of man's life has a series of consequences to eternity, and, unless all of them were over-ruled by the Lord, in the smallest moments, man would never have any salvation; and that, hence, it may be evident, that the Lord's eternity, or foresight and Providence to eternity, is from the Lord; and so, that man is over-ruled in every one of his smallest moments. Without such Providence, in the minutest particulars of all things, no one could have any salvation - for, of himself, man rushes to hell, every moment - nor [would there be] any foretelling of the future, nor general civil love of country, nor state of the Church, nor Kingdom of the Lord. Hence, also, it may be evident, that man is led of the Lord by continuous constraints to foreseen ends; and, yet, by means of his freedom.) (SEM 4652)

AC 5122. The three shoots three days are these. That this signifies continuous derivations down to the last or ultimate one, is evident from the signification of "three," as being one period and its continuation from beginning to end (n. 2788, 4495); from the signification of "shoots," as being derivations (n. 5114); and from the signification of "days," as being states (n. 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2788, 3462, 3785, 4850). From this it follows that by "the three shoots three days are these" is signified the state of the rebirth of this sensuous which is represented by the butler, from its first down to its ultimate; its successive derivations being signified by the "shoots."

[2] The states of the rebirth of each sensuous, and of each thing in the natural, and also in the rational, have their progressions from beginning to end; and when they come to the end they commence from a kind of new beginning, that is, from the end to which they had striven in the former state, to a further end; and so on; and at last the order is inverted, and then what was last becomes first, just as while man is being regenerated both as to the rational and as to the natural, the periods of the first state are from the truths which are of faith to the goods which are of charity; and then the truths of faith apparently act the first part, and the goods of charity the second, for the truths of faith look to the good of charity as their end. These periods continue even until the man has been regenerated. Afterward charity, which was the end, becomes the beginning, and from it new states commence, which proceed in both directions, namely, toward what is still more interior, and also toward what is exterior; toward the former being toward love to the Lord, and toward the latter being toward the truths of faith, and further toward natural truths, and also toward sensuous truths, which are then successively reduced to correspondence with the goods of charity and of love in the rational, and thus into heavenly order.

[3] These are the things which are meant by continuous progressions and derivations down to the ultimate one. Such progressions and derivations with the man who is being regenerated are perpetual, from his infancy even to the last hour of his life in the world, and also afterward even to eternity; and yet he can never be so regenerated that he can in any way be said to be perfect; for there are things to be regenerated that are innumerable, nay, illimitable in number, both in the rational and in the natural, and everyone of them has shoots illimitable, that is, progressions and derivations toward interior things and toward exterior things. Man knows nothing at all of this; but the Lord knows all things and every single thing, and provides for them every moment. If He were to pause even for an instant, all the progressions would be disturbed; for what is prior looks to what follows in a continuous series, and produces series of consequences to eternity. From this it is plain that the Divine foresight and providence are in everything, even the very least; and that unless this were so, or if they were only universal, the human race would perish. (AC 5122)

AC 6490. Unless the Lord's Providence was in the veriest singulars, it would be impossible for man to be saved, or indeed to live, for life is from the Lord, and all the moments of life have a series of consequences to eternity. I was once given plainly to perceive the sphere of ends which is of Providence from the Lord. (AC 6490)

AC 6491. That the Lord's Providence is infinite, and regards what is eternal, may be seen from the formation of embryos in the womb, where lineaments are continually projected toward those which are to come, so that one lineament is always a plane for another, and this without any error, until the embryo is formed; and after it has been born, one thing is prepared successively toward another and for another, in order that a perfect man may come forth, and at last such a man as to be capable of receiving heaven. If all the details are thus provided during man's conception, birth, and growth, how much more must this be the case with regard to the spiritual life. (AC 6491)

AC 6492. In a dream my father appeared to me, and I spoke with him, saying that after a son becomes his own master he ought not to acknowledge his father as father, as before; for the reason why the father is to be acknowledged during the bringing up of the son, is that the father is then in the Lord's stead, nor does a son know at that time what he ought to do except by the direction of his father. But when a son becomes his own master, and competent to think for himself, and seems to himself to be able to direct himself from himself, then the Lord must be his Father, whose vice-regent his natural father had been. These things I spoke in my dream. When I awoke, there seemed to descend from heaven a long roll fastened to rods, and tied by most beautiful woven knots of an azure color; the beauty of this object was indescribable. It was said that the angels make such presents to one another. (AC 6492)

AC 6493. I have often spoken with spirits about fortune, which in the world appears like chance, because men know not whence it is; and because they do not know this, some deny that there is such a thing. When something happened to me which seemed to be by chance, I was told by the angels that it had happened because spirits of that kind were present; and that when it was a mischance, the sphere of spirits of a corresponding kind had prevailed. Moreover evil spirits have found out how to produce by their arts a sphere giving rise to misfortunes, which appeared exactly as if of chance. And it was further said that all things, nay, the leasts of all things, down to the leasts of the leasts, are directed by the Providence of the Lord, even as to the very steps; and when such a sphere prevails as is contrary thereto, misfortunes happen. They also confirmed the fact that there is no such thing as chance, and that apparent accident, or fortune, is Providence in the ultimate of order, in which all things are comparatively inconstant. (AC 6493)

AC 6494. For a number of years I have carefully observed whether fortune is anything, and I have found that it is, and that sagacity then availed nothing. Moreover all who have long reflected on this subject, know and confess this, but they do not know whence it is: scarcely anyone knows that it is from the spiritual world, when yet this is the source of it. I once played in company a common game of chance with dice, and the spirits who were with me spoke to me about fortune in games, and said that what is fortunate was represented to them by a bright cloud, and what is unfortunate by a dusky cloud; and that when a dusky cloud appeared with me, it was impossible for me to win; moreover by this sign they predicted to me the turns of fortune in that game. From this it was given me to know that what is attributed to fortune, even in games, is from the spiritual world; much more that which befalls man in relation to the vicissitudes in the course of his life; and that what is called fortune is from the influx of Providence in the ultimates of order, where it so comes forth; thus that Providence is in the veriest singulars of all things, according to the Lord's words, that not even a hair falls from the head without the will of God. (AC 6494)

AC 6495. From all that has been adduced it may be seen that the influx from the Lord is immediate, and also mediate through heaven; but the influx which is from the Lord is the good of heavenly love, thus of love toward the neighbor. In this love the Lord is present, for He loves the universal human race, and desires to eternally save every member of it; and as the good of this love is from Himself, He Himself is in it; thus He is present with the man who is in the good of this love. But when a man suffers himself to come into such a state as to receive influx from hell, he then feels the life of the love of self and of the world to be delightful, and the life of the love of the neighbor (unless it is in favor of himself) to be undelightful. And because a man who is in this state desires nothing but evils, and thinks nothing but falsities about the spiritual life, therefore to prevent his acting as he desires, and speaking as he thinks, he is kept in bonds by his loves themselves, whose loss he fears, thus by the fear of the loss of honor, gain, reputation, and life. Into these bonds which constitute the lowest plane, the Lord then flows, and through them rules the man; and hence he appears moral and civil in act, sometimes like an angel, and does no harm to society and his neighbor; and if he does harm, there are civil laws to punish him. But in the other life this plane is nonexistent; there man is in the spiritual world, consequently in the sphere of his interiors; thus such as he had been inwardly, such he is there, and not such as he had appeared in externals; for externals are taken away from him, and when these are taken away, his quality in the world, whether that of a devil or that of an angel, is manifest. (AC 6495)

AC3854. [3] And from this we can see how greatly the man errs who believes that the Lord has not foreseen, and does not see, the veriest singulars appertaining to man, and that in these He does not foresee and lead; when the truth is that the Lord's foresight and providence are in the very minutest of these veriest singulars connected with man, in things so very minute that it is impossible by any thought to comprehend as much as one out of a hundred millions of them; for every smallest moment of man's life involves a series of consequences extending to eternity, each moment being as a new beginning to those which follow; and so with all and each of the moments of his life, both of his understanding and of his will. And as the Lord foresaw from eternity what would be man's quality, and what it would be to eternity, it is evident that His providence is in the veriest singulars, and as before said governs and bends the man to such a quality; and this by a continual moderating of his freedom. But concerning this subject, of the Lord's Divine mercy more hereafter. (AC 3854)

DP 212. Who does not speak of fortune? Who does not acknowledge it, since he talks of it and knows something about it from experience? But who knows what it is? That it is something, because it exists and presents itself to view, cannot be denied; and a thing cannot exist and present itself without a cause; but the cause of this something, that is, of fortune, is unknown. Lest fortune, however, should be denied merely from ignorance of that cause, take dice or playing cards and play, or consult players. Does anyone of these deny fortune? For they play with it and it with them in a wonderful way. Who can do anything against fortune if it opposes him? Does it not then laugh at prudence and wisdom? When you shake the dice and shuffle the cards does it not seem to know and dispose the turns and twists of the hand and wrist to favour one player more than another, from some definite cause? Can the cause have any other source than the Divine Providence in ultimates, where by means of things constant and changing it works in a wonderful way along with human prudence, and at the same time conceals itself?

[2] It is well known that the Gentiles in days gone by acknowledged Fortune and built a temple to her, as did the people of Italy at Rome. Concerning this fortune, which is, as has been said, the Divine Providence in ultimates, it has been granted me to know many things that I am not permitted to make public. From these it was made clear to me that fortune is not an illusion of the mind, nor a sport of nature, nor something without a cause, for this has no reality; but that it is ocular evidence that the Divine Providence is in the most individual things of man's thought and action. As the Divine Providence presents itself in the most individual things, so insignificant and trifling, why should it not do so in the most individual things, not insignificant and trifling, such as matters of peace and war on earth, and matters of salvation and life in heaven? (DP 212)



7.0.6  As-of Self Principles of Living: The Power of Self-Regulation

The traits of our personality or character are determined by the hierarchy of loves or affections that we build up in the course of daily living. This build up is under the joint guidance of the individual and God. The property of God as omnipotent makes it rationally necessary that God participates in the management of every detail of our character traits. If God were removed from co-managing these details in the mind of every human being, could God still be omnipotent? It is a scientific fact therefore that God co-manages the build up of our character and personality.

God's co-management style has been revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. God uses orderly and rational principles in this co-management operation. One such principle is to keep the individual from being conscious of God's co-presence and co-management. A second principle of co-management is to refrain from compelling the individual to make certain choices. A third principle is to prevent the occurrence of any event or decision we make that cannot be turned into good to the individual and to others. A fourth principle God uses in co-management of character is to influence decisions without the person's awareness by using the person's affective hierarchy already in place. When we make a decision on the basis of preference we have the sense that we are free since when we are free we choose what we want. Hence God activates the preferences already built up at crucial moments of decision making. In the same way God makes certain memories unavailable and certain others are primed so as to pop into consciousness.

This experience of thoughts popping into our consciousness is a common and very familiar way we live our days. Few people wonder, including psychologists, about "where" thoughts come from into our conscious awareness, and if they do wonder about it, there are no rational explanations available. For instance, in non-theistic psychology today it is taught that memories are located in neuronal fibers and patterned actions, and that these are reactivated by new sensory input under conditions of similarity, contiguity, and repetition. But in non-theistic psychology we can see that the activation of thoughts and their directional course of mental reasoning is done by God with a specific purpose and mechanism.

At first we want to reject the idea that God is involved in co-managing our thoughts and feelings second by second all day long and all night. We don't like this idea because it suggests to us that we are merely robots activated by God. But this resistance and puzzlement are overcome when we consider the issue scientifically. Elsewhere I discussed the new concept of "as-of self" and how it differs from "self." The concept of "self" is constructed out of the idea we form of ourselves when consider our experience, which is that the self is a private unobservable entity or subjective agent that is in charge of "me." But psychologists have come to the realization that the "self" as a conscious agent is only a portion of the "me." We cannot equate "me" with "self" because "me" includes all sorts of operations the "self" doesn't even know about, like sub-conscious, unconscious, and super-conscious operations in our mind.

In theistic psychology we want to work with the concept of an omnipotent and personal God who is the co-manager in every part and operation of the "me." This means that the "self" is a surface appearance rather than an underlying reality. The new concept of "as-of self" has been introduced in the Writings of Swedenborg in order to allow us to accept both these things simultaneously and without logical contradiction, namely: (a) God co-manages our thoughts and feelings with absolute power; (b) We are held responsible for every decision we make. At first our natural mind sees these two proportions as contradictory, but this is without the concept of "as-of self." By introducing this new concept in our thinking we are able to develop strategic ways of cooperating with God in the co-management of our personality and character.

In order to understand this better consider how we train a child or adult to acquire a particular skill like playing chess. At first the trainee is passive, merely doing what the trainer says to do -- move your pawn here or capture the bishop with your knight, and so on. As the trainee begins to understand the overall rudiments of chess, there is a desire to "let me do it by myself now." This is especially strong with children and young people. Unless you let them do their own moves they quickly lose interest and stop being involved or wanting to go on with the training. This reaction is from the "self" of the trainee who refuses to be a robot like agent. Unless you allow this appearance to continue the trained will not cooperate and the training effort will be unsuccessful. Making mistakes and recovering from them is a necessary part of the learning process.

If God's co-management were actually sensed with awareness we would lose all motivation to be active, to initiate, or to react. We would sit in a coma waiting for God to move us and to give us thoughts to think about and feelings to experience. For this reason God never allows an individual to become aware of God's presence and co-management control operations. As a result most people simply deny that God is a hands on manager of daily events, and that God's intervention in detail only happens as an exception known as a "miracle." But the fact is that miracles are special occasions when God allows an awareness of God's co-presence. this awareness is what is unusual, not the intervention, which is constant and ceaseless.

This is also the reason why it would be against God's order and rationality for God to make an external visible appearance in this world, such as at the United Nations in New York or Jerusalem or the back seat of your car when driving. Such an event would completely destroy any possibility for many people to end up in heaven, which is God's primary motive or love for which all other things exist in the universe. The reason is that the physical appearance of God, or clear demonstration of presence, would destroy the function and role of the as-of self. We would no longer be able to live with ourselves. We would feel outrage at God and go against Divine order, precipitating ourselves into the hell of our mind. Therefore theistic psychology cannot accept as valid the reports of those today who claim that they talk to God externally, with a living voice.

Swedenborg is the only modern exception, and he had to be prepared for it since childhood and only for the express purpose of integrating the experience into a scientific record. In the era prior to modern science it was possible for selected individuals to experience God's presence and voice in an external way, through the sensuous and natural mind. The earlier understanding of the world permitted people to have direct interactions with God or angels and miracles. Those people did not know that God was co-managing their thoughts and feelings moment by moment, though they believed that God was aware of their thoughts and emotions. Still, they would have reacted badly had they been told that God co-manages their thoughts and feelings.

In still earlier times called the "Most Ancient Church" or civilization, people had a single brain (no left or right brain fissure) which was the consequence of their inability to lie or dissimulate. Whatever they felt and thought automatically showed and they could not modify it. They are called "celestial minds" and Swedenborg had occasion to visit them in their heavenly habitations in order to study their marriage relations. Celestial minds are capable of being conscious in both worlds simultaneously while living on earth. The most ancient people were thus instructed by their ancestors and teachers directly from their heaven. Later they lost this ability in waking states because they had begun to abuse the power and thus to injure themselves spiritually. The capacity was therefore removed except during dreams and visions. Subsequently the celestial race died out on earth, thought they are of course all present in the spiritual world to eternity as living evidence of their nature and character.

The new race that took its place was an evolutionary opening of a new branch of people who had a split-brain. The left brain specialized in the cognitive area while the right brain specialized in the affective area. Swedenborg was the first scientist who understood the difference in function between the two brain hemispheres, and his conclusion was reached prior to his intromission into the spiritual world, on the basis of evidence gathered by the anatomical research in the 16th and 17th centuries. But after he gained conscious awareness in his spiritual mind Swedenborg was able to confirm the functional difference between  left-right brain hemispheres, some 100 years prior to others in the scientific literature.

We are today remnants of that original split-brain race. The change in our brain structure was merely an effect or consequence of the change in mental function. The original human race had a mind that was incapable of specializing separately in the cognitive and affective areas. These two had a built in connection so that every thought that came into the mind had to be selected by an affective operation. If they wanted to accept something offered by someone they could not say No thanks, when they wanted it. If they thought some action is evil they could not then perform it. If they didn't like someone they couldn't hide it. If they wanted to kill someone they could not stop themselves. But the split-brain race was now able to think furiously about something and to plan something without letting it show on the outside in their way they acted or talked. Hypocrisy, deception, simulation now became not only possible, but common.

The purpose why God created the split-brain race is to allow the new generations to escape from the biologically inherited traits of a decadent ancient race. If our thinking and our feeling were not independently operational we would never be able to regenerate and undergo character reformation. In that case every human being born on earth would be a devil and would remain a devil in hell after entering the spiritual world. Obviously this result would have been totally unacceptable to an omnipotent rational God motivated by Divine Love for the human race. God provided therefore an evolutionary mechanism for regeneration.

Since we can have cognitive operations that are not directly attached to particular affective operations, it is possible for us to be taught principles of order for living through sacred scripture and doctrine of life based on it. This is called character reformation, as discussed above. Here is an example of how Swedenborg states this point:

How strongly principles operate, may be evident merely from this: if any one believes that the food in which he has delighted is injurious to him, he then, by virtue of that principle, abstains from that food, and, at length, turns away from it in dislike - if he only adopt that persuasion, or be in it from some physician whom he supposes to know. It is thus in many other cases: so that principles subdue affections. Hence it may be evident, of how great importance it is to be acquainted with the knowledges of truth, and to believe that what is here stated is true. (SE 4613)

In other words if we learn orderly and rational principles (cognitive operation) we can "subdue" the affections or loves that are contrary to these principles. All we need to do is to attach a high ranking love to these principles. The higher the love ranking we assign to principle the more it has power to modify the habitual affective hierarchy. This is why there is such an emphasis to have the addict to rely on a "higher power than myself" in  the well known and effective "12 Step Program" for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. The word God is mentioned 12 times in this program. Addiction is a powerful love that is hard to dislodge. Only a more powerful love can dislodge it. Appealing to God as "a higher power than myself" allows the individual to enthrone a strong high-ranking love that can receive the superior Divine power and thereby defeat the love of addiction.

Since "principles subdue affections" by means of still stronger affections that we attach to them, we are able to permanently change the love hierarchy that maintains the addictive love. Psychology has discovered the power of self-regulatory sentences in the self-control and management of behavior. It is common today to teach self-regulatory control in therapy, counseling, education, and training. Athletes have reported benefits from visualization and self-regulatory sentences. Religious communities have discovered the "power of affirmations" to alter and control behavior. How do self-regulatory mechanisms work?

Since the cognitive operation is partially independent of the affective alignment, we can learn rational principles of behavior such as morality and ethics. Children can learn a lot that they don't really understand until later, if ever. You can study the Writings and thereby elevate you conscious awareness to the spiritual and celestial levels of knowing and understanding. You can teach the Writings and write articles and books about it. Our consciousness can be raised all the way to our heaven so that we can understand reality in a scientific way. But by the time we close the book or the lesson, we experience a certain lassitude or fatigue from it and we are ready for some "relaxing," which normally include corporeal things like eating, being entertained, or just hanging out with no plans. We could be eating food that is unhealthy for our body and we could be having fun with disorderly and injurious activates such as enjoying portrayals of violence, deception, abuse, and illicit sex. When we are sated of these corporeal and disorderly sensuous involvements, our cognitive mind is ready to resume the lofty study of the Writings. Once again we rise in consciousness to a heavenly perception, wisdom, and rational understanding, only later to fall back again on the unhealthy and injurious affective satisfactions.

But we have the power from God, who is an active partner in our activities, to interrupt this noxious cycle, by applying powerful rational principles from revelation. To be successful we must as-of self, from commitment and dedication, attach a strong love to the rational principles. To the extent that we are willing to do this, to that extent our love is empowered to hold on to the principles by acting according to them instead of against them. By doing this as daily habit there is a connection established between the love and the principle. The higher we place this love in our affective hierarchy the more we can begin living consistently with the principles until it becomes an automatic habit. At that point our character is being reformed.

7.0.7  The Power of Affective Positivity: The Positive Bias Glow

Psychologists have documented the power of positivity in many areas of our lives. The popular adage "Laugh and the world will laugh with you" reflects a property of emotions known as "emotional contagion" (Elaine Hatfield et. al.). "Possibility thinking" is an expression popularized by Robert Schuler to refer to an orientation of positivity and faith in God's cooperation in our strivings. Positive self-confidence and feelings of self-efficacy boost performance and success relative to people who have strong self-doubts. Optimism has been show to make success more probable while pessimism inhibits cognitive flexibility and depresses our performance as well as our mood, as for instance the "positive psychology" research of Martin Seligman on what he calls "the science of optimism and hope." He has shown that optimism and pessimism are learned orientations that can also be unlearned later. Children who are taught optimistic ways of thinking achieve higher "emotional intelligence" and more adaptive interaction styles, as is shown in the work of Daniel Goleman. The practice of keeping a "gratitude journal" has been linked to "self-actualization" and "self-realization" insights, e.g.,

"Today I am grateful that I get to spend time with my children."
"Today I am thankful for a generous heart that loves to spill over to others...and is constantly replenished by my beautiful family."
"Today I am Grateful for the joy of friends. Today I am grateful for the light in the eyes of my friends. Today I am grateful for the roses in my garden. I am so very grateful I met you."

While the power of affective positivity has been well documented, the mechanisms by which positive affect has this power, has not been clearly understood. Theistic psychology has better access to the underlying spiritual structure of feelings and thoughts and will bring new insights to this promising area of research. From scientific revelations we know for instance the universal law that opposite loves cannot exist together in the spiritual world because they are opposed and each strives to destroy or neutralize the other. Swedenborg observed that not a single negative affect can occur in the heavens of people's minds. The highest portion of the human mind consists of a sphere of good and truth kept there by the inflow of the substances from the Spiritual Sun. Negative affect cannot enter that sphere and this is one of the reasons that people's perfect happiness in their heaven can never be interrupted except by lowering consciousness towards the bottom of the mind. Then negative affect begins.

There are no loves possible in the hells of people's mind, but only a form of negative affect called "lusts" and "cupidities" in the eWritings. These are feelings and motives that are contrary to rationality and community. Negative affect allows enjoyments of this lower kind. For instance we can feel enjoyment in hurting others or seeing others being hurt. Some people enjoy being cynical, pessimistic, negative. there are even people who enjoy being depressed, abused, and victimized. As noted before, these are not their own enjoyments but the enjoyments of those who are in their hells and are communicating with our spiritual body. The enjoyments in our hell contrast with the enjoyments in our heaven. For instance, lusts have the property of never being satisfied enough. There is a built in self-defeating mechanism in lusts and cupidities because they tend towards irrationality and hatred of everyone and of everything.

Positive affect comes from our communication with good spirits or angels who inhabit their heavens and are allowed to communicate with our spiritual body. We then feel their positivity as our own.

A second principle by which we can understand the positive glow effect is the spiritual law that the affect is primary and controls the cognitive in our mind. Positive feelings are rational because they come to us through the rational ether that carries the inflow from the Spiritual Sun. Positive feelings are heavenly and they have the power in our mind to select elements of our cognitive knowledge and memory that are basically rational. Good seeks out truth and enters into a spiritual marriage with it, as explained in the Writings. Similarly, evil seeks truth falsified so that they can enter into an "infernal concubinage" in our mind and produce there an active virulent hell. Pessimism, cynicism, and arrogance are ways in which we are taught to reject the marriage of good and truth in our mind.

Optimism can exist as a principle in our mind at different levels--natural, spiritual, celestial. Optimism in the natural mind is enhanced when we read sacred scripture and learn that God co-manages our life for the sake of developing our heavenly life for eternity. Reliance on Divine Providence creates a general positive affect the bans doubt, stress, fears, uncertainty, anxiety, depression, resentment. These negative emotions are the daily detractors in human lives and strive to keep us captured in their spiritual web.

A question arises here: How can people who have immersed themselves in negative affect succeed in what they are doing? Many pessimists and cynics have successful careers and are as clever as others in promoting themselves and competing with others who have more positive feelings and orientation. Many of them even claim that cynicism and rebellion  leads you further than optimism and obedience. This puzzle can be understood in theistic psychology when we consider God's management techniques. The fact is that every moment of our lives is a co-production between us and spirit societies that God brings near to our spiritual body. The result is that the natural mind is inspired or led into this or that direction without our conscious awareness. To us it seems that we are leading ourselves.

This mechanism insures that God brings out only those results that will be useful to the individual and to all who are affected. When we are in a state of cynicism and arrogance we are still led to act rationally in an overall ultimate sense, though not in the appearances of the moment. God retains a complete control over what happens in the universe. Hence all people, regardless of their state of mind, are led by God to achieve rational results in the direction that history and evolution must take. This accounts for how society evolves rationally and positively despite the failures of negative affect in the individual case. But the overall rational outcome of society and civilization has different effects on negative and positive states in human minds. Every person still retains the ability to reject what is good and true. Those who reject the order of the universe created by God are compelled by the laws of the spiritual world to end up existence in their hells, while those who live according to Divine Order and reality end up in existence in their heavens. Though society and the world continue in an inevitable course of rational and positive outcomes, the individuals who go through their lives in the world retain their choice of going either way. Hence this may be called "a perfect world" even though it appears flawed when viewed without understanding.

It has been known for some time, in medical science and psychology, that  mood swings occur cyclically, though it is not yet known why. Theistic psychology can bring a whole new perspective on this important issue that affects the majority of people on a regular basis and just about everybody on an occasional basis. As already discussed before, our moods and feelings are not dependent solely on the individual but on the vertical community with which the individual is connected, disconnected, and reconnected to various societies of spirits each of whom specializes in a particular mood or affection. Simply put, mood swings are created by the spirit societies to which we are connected moment by moment. God does the switchboarding on the basis of individual requirements for regeneration of character.

In other words, God determines what cycle of feelings we are to experience at any moment. If God had not revealed the methods, mechanisms, and purposes of these mood changes, we would not understand ourselves and we would not be able to undergo character reformation as-of self, as already discussed. But God's purpose in managing the universe is for individuals to be born on some earth and then develop heavenly loves in which we can live to eternity with maximum joy, wisdom, rationality, and understanding. It makes sense therefore for God to explain mood switching mechanisms used to effect character reformation as-of self.

7.0.8   Anger and the Spiritual Function of Mood

The purpose or function of a mood change is for the individual to become aware of the feelings and desires lodged by inheritance in the spiritual fibers of the mind located in the spiritual body. Change and contrast brings awareness which would not be possible in a steady mood state. For instance, one of the most common mood switches we experience every day is the sudden oncoming of anger. Out of nowhere we seem to be inundated by a wave of intense emotion that is directed against a particular source. As the intense wave splashes over us we get wet with anger, as it were. It is a feeling in which we are instantaneously immersed. Our body reacts in intense ways by producing new concentrations of particular hormones aroused by anger. These chemicals quickly travel to the muscles of the body and energize its fibers for gross and powerful movements. Suddenly we bang down on the table, our face contorted in a characteristic style that we learn from parents and other models. Our breathing becomes shallow. The hair on the skin raise themselves like so many prickles. Our cheeks discolor and recolor in violent swings of passion. Our thoughts are taken over by a type of reasoning that compels us to visualize violent advances against the enemy who is the source of our emotion. How this plays out depends on the occasion and the individual.

Depending on the situation, we may be motivated by self-preservation to hide our anger. With a little practice most people are able to do this. Babies and young children at a moment's notice fly into a rage called temper tantrum. Clearly they have not had the opportunity to learn these extreme behaviors. They inherited these behaviors. Some children inherit intense syndromes while others seem to be much reduced. If you observe children interacting in schools and playgrounds you will notice that anger is used by them to negotiate power interactions and status negotiations. Forms of anger include rage, resentment, hate, cruelty, bullying, striking, damaging property, taking away property, plotting, premeditating, yelling, spitting, kicking, throwing, looking mean, and many other varieties of emotions and behaviors related in a cluster around anger. Emotionally impaired thinking is part of the effect anger has on the person. Illogical conclusions and biased reasoning are consequences of anger. Impulsive and risky behavior is part of the maladaptive syndrome brought about by anger.

What's more, when anger cycles through, decreases, and finally goes underground in our awareness, its effects continue without our conscious awareness. One of the long term consequences of daily anger is physiological stress, discovered by Hans Selye around 1950, and subsequently confirmed by other researchers. Elevated stress hormones in the blood induce a breakdown of cell activity in the organs and the individual falls prey to sicknesses leading to complications affecting the integrity of the body. Life is less satisfying and eventually the body self destructs under stress.

 Sacred scripture has much to say about anger since it is a spiritual tool God uses for the benefit of the individual. Scientific revelations about the nature of anger give us the ability to understand it spiritually, and thence naturally. Here is an example from the Writings of Swedenborg:

"Wrath" and "anger" are frequently mentioned in the Word, but in the internal sense they do not signify wrath and anger, but repugnance, and this for the reason that whatever is repugnant to any affection produces wrath or anger, so that in the internal sense they are only repugnances; but the repugnance of truth is called "wrath," and the repugnance of good is called "anger;" and in the opposite sense "wrath" is the repugnance of falsity or its affection, that is, of the principles of falsity; and "anger" is the repugnance of evil or its cupidity, that is, of the love of self and the love of the world. In this sense "wrath" is properly wrath, and "anger" is anger; but when they are predicted of good and truth, "wrath" and "anger" are zeal; which zeal, because in external form it appears like wrath and anger, therefore in the sense of the letter is also so called. (AC 3614)

Note the principle that "whatever is repugnant to any affection produces wrath or anger." In other words every feeling has the built in capacity to turn into anger when that feeling is opposed or threatened in some way. Anger is the outward natural form corresponding to the internal spiritual form of repugnance. When the source or trigger of the repugnance is in the cognitive organ the outward form of anger is called "wrath"; when the trigger is in the affective organ it is called "anger." Cognitive anger (or wrath) is a repugnance triggered by the falsification of truth. Affective anger (or anger proper) is a repugnance triggered by the corruption of good called cupidity and lust. A behavior that outwardly resembles anger is called "zeal" which is triggered by the desire to protect the good rather than to attack the bad. When the good is protected, zeal disappears, whereas anger lingers long after the provocation and the vengeance in the form of venting, rehearsing, and rekindling.

Repugnance is a characteristic of affect whereby it turns itself away from that which is opposed or incompatible. An affection is a particular operation of the affective organ. An affection or love has a built in affinity for that which agrees with it and a built in repugnance for that which is opposed. As revealed in the Writings:

That "anger" denotes aversion, is because so long as a man is in anger against anyone, he averts his mind from him; for anger exists or is excited when anyone or anything is contrary to one's love, by which there is conjunction with anyone or anything. When this conjunction is broken, the man becomes angry or wrathful, as if something were lost from the delight of his life, and consequently from his life. This sadness is turned into grief, and the grief into anger. (AC 5034)

Anger is an aversion directed at someone who threatens our love. Love conjoins while anger separates.

Anger is a general affection resulting from whatever is opposed to self-love and its cupidities. This is plainly perceived in the world of evil spirits, for there exists there a general anger against the Divine-Human, in consequence of evil spirits being in no charity, but in hatred, and whatever does not favor self-love [amori proprio] and the love of the world, excites opposition, which is manifested by anger. (AC 357)

Anger is located in the hell of our mind and is experienced whenever something opposes our cupidity or selfish love. People who are in the hell of their mind are continuously and ceaselessly angry because they sense spiritual truths and heavenly loves inflowing from the Spiritual Sun. These truths threaten the lifestyle of hell and anger is therefore a reaction against this threat and a permanent background context for the quality of life there.

"To be kindled with anger" signifies to be indignant. Real spiritual indignation (and especially celestial indignation) derives nothing from the anger of the natural man, but from the interior essence of zeal; which zeal does indeed appear in the outward form like anger, but in internal form is not anger, nor even the indignation of anger; but is a certain sadness that is attended with a prayerful wish that it be not so; and in a form still more interior it is merely a certain obscure feeling that breaks in on the celestial delight on account of something not good and true in another. (AC 3909)

Anger is relatively gross or animalistic and is part of our natural mind. In the spiritual mind anger is actually indignation which a milder more rational form of raw anger. In our celestial mind, or heaven, we do not experience anger or even indignation, but sadness accompanied by the "a certain obscure feeling" that interferes with heavenly joy. Anger-indignation-sadness constitutes a scale of interiorizing emotion, and as it ascends or internalizes, it becomes less and less hostile and rough.

People sometimes attribute anger to God especially because this is so said in sacred scripture. The Writings reveal that anger or wrath is not possible in the heaven of human minds, let alone in God from whom heaven is through the Spiritual Sun. The Spiritual Sun is the way God appears to humans so that the love we have is the spiritual heat from this Sun entering our spiritual body. It is not rationally possible for Divine Love to feel anger or wrath. In the same way it is not rationally possible for Divine Love to punish, for in punishment there is wrath, if not anger. Wrath is the repugnance of truth in the face of falsification. Truth turns away from the subject. But love cannot. God cannot turn away from a human being regardless of the hell and evil that is in this human being. Therefore God cannot punish because only pure mercy and eternal forgiveness can be inside Divine Love. This character of God must be understood rationally and theistic psychology discovers the character of God through the scientific revelations in sacred scripture.

Nevertheless it is said in sacred scripture that God gets angry, becomes furious, repents of creating human beings, takes revenge on transgressors, punishes, and sends people to hell. The Writings reveal that sacred scripture is written at two levels. The literal style is historical, natural, and poetic, sometimes figurative. This is what the prophets or revelators wrote down from inspiration and spiritual dictation. It was intended by God to provide instructions on how people can prepare themselves for heavenly life, which was the purpose of their being born on earth. Obviously these instructions had to be in the style and level of rationality that the people were able to relate to and to accept as Divine. But there was another meaning hidden within the literal, a spiritual meaning that was intended for the people in the spiritual world. It would have been impossible for God to deliver instructions to the people on earth and not at the same time to people in the spiritual world.

One of many reasons is that every sentence and word that was dictated to the prophets' spiritual mind, was merely the result or effect of a prior spiritual sentence and word. This follows the universal law of correspondences by which natural events are the effects of causes that are located in the spiritual world. The cause of each sentence of sacred scripture is a sentence in the spiritual language that God gave out, first to the people who are in the highest region of their mind, then from them descending to the people who are in the spiritual region of their mind, and from there descending into the natural conscious mind of the selected prophets who wrote it down. This is the genesis and production of all sacred scripture. I have just given here a general sketch. All the details are put together in a rational and empirical manner in the Writings.

7.0.9  Sacred Scripture in Relation to the Mental World

Part of Swedenborg's mission was to demonstrate this property of sacred scripture using two methods. One was by internal analysis and comparison of the text in the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Judaeo-Christian Bible. He did not demonstrate this with other sacred scripture that have been given to other religions. However future research in theistic psychology could include the task of demonstrating the proposition that all sacred scripture has this characteristic of containing a surface literal meaning that is natural and a hidden meaning that is spiritual. Swedenborg compared various passages to show that the same figurative image or name or object or number is used to designate something about how the mind works for character reformation.

For instance wherever the number 4, 40, or 400 is mentioned it always signifies in the scientific meaning, temptations, which refers to the opposition we put up when we try to obey conscience or God's commandment. Or, when the name "Jacob" is mentioned it always signifies the external natural mind, but when "Isaac" is mentioned it always signifies the spiritual mind. Similarly, "Esau," Jacob's brother, signifies the affective organ of the natural mind. "Egypt" always signifies natural sciences or knowledge, while "Jerusalem" signifies knowledge about spiritual truths from sacred scripture. The snake in paradise represents materialism in our mind. "Adam" is the cognitive mind while "Eve" is the affective mind. The "Tree of Life" signifies heavenly life achieved through character reformation. A "mountain" signifies spiritual -rational thinking about God, "fruit" in general signify the benefits of character reformation and a new life in accordance with the principles of doctrine form sacred scripture. The number 3 refers to that which is complete while 10 refers to that which remains of good traits when one is vastated prior to reformation. A "lamb" means innocence, a "horse" intelligence, and a fish represents natural ideas.

Here is a typical way in which Swedenborg analyzes a verse in the Old Testament, bringing out the scientific meaning hidden in the literal historical meaning by applying the law of correspondences:

And he clave the wood for the burnt-offering [Genesis 22:3]. That this signifies the merit of righteousness, is evident from the signification of "wood" and of "cleaving wood." That "wood" signifies the goods that are of works, and of righteousness; and that "cleaving wood" signifies the placing of merit in the goods that are of works, but "cleaving wood for a burnt-offering" the merit of righteousness, appears too remote to be known without revelation. That "cleaving wood" denotes placing merit in the goods that are of works, was made clear to me by what I have seen and have described in volume 1 (n. 1110) respecting the hewers of wood, as being those who had desired to merit salvation by the goods which they had done. Moreover there are others also, in front, above, a little to the right, from a certain world, who in the same way had claimed all good to themselves, and appear in like manner to cut and cleave wood.

When these seem to themselves to be laboring, they sometimes shine in the face from a kind of fatuous fire, which is the good of merit that they attribute to themselves. The reason of its appearing so is that wood is a representative of good; as was all the wood in the ark and in the temple, and also all the wood upon the altar when the burnt-offerings and sacrifices were made. But they who attribute good to themselves, and make it self-meritorious, these also are said in the Word to "worship wood," or a "graven image" of wood. (AC 2784)

Here we see Swedenborg extract the scientific layer of meaning of the word "wood" which appears throughout the Old Testament. Throughout sacred scripture the word "wood" is used consistently to refer to "the goods that are of works" which designates a person's cognitive attribution process regarding one's merit for accomplishing something. The phrase "cleaving wood" designates the attribution of merit to oneself rather than to God who supplies the power for our accomplishments. This entire chapter deals with the mental consequences of self-attribution of merit. When we do this we close our rational understanding to spiritual things. It is not rational to attribute any power to self when we know that all power is God's power. To think that meritoriously leads to a degrading series of false beliefs and assumptions that prevent us from being successful in character reformation. This and similar themes regarding the negative dynamics of self-attribution, is discussed in many different books of the Old and New Testaments, always using the exact same correspondential meaning despite the different authors and centuries in which the books were written by the prophets.

Note also in the passage quoted above that Swedenborg confirms the correspondence by objective and independent observation. When he encountered people in the world of spirits who were "hewing wood," he talked to them and they expressed their desire to enter heaven by means of the merit of their actions. He refers to Number 1110 where we find this:

Those who have assumed righteousness and merit on account of their good works, and so have attributed the efficacy of salvation to themselves, and not to the Divine-Human and His righteousness and merit, and have confirmed themselves in this in thought and in life, in the other world have their principles of falsity turned into phantasies, so that they seem to themselves to be hewing wood: this is exactly as it appears to them. I have spoken with them. When they are engaged in their labor, and are asked whether they are not fatigued, they reply that they have not yet accomplished enough work to be able to merit heaven. When they are hewing the wood there appears to be something of the Divine-Human under the wood, thus as if the wood were merit that they are getting. The more of the Divine-Human there appears in the wood, the longer they remain in this condition; but when that appearance begins to cease, their vastation is drawing to an end. At length they become such that they too can be admitted into good societies, but still they long fluctuate between truth and falsity. Great care is taken of them by the Divine-Human, because they have lived a dutiful life, and He from time to time sends angels to them. These are they who in the Jewish Church were represented by the hewers of wood (Josh. 9:23, 27). (AC 1110)

Swedenborg often observed that when a person on earth reads the Bible with reverence and worship, the natural mind of the person only thinks of the history and poetry in the literal meaning, and sometimes even more deeply, the implication of that history to oneself. But never about the spiritual meaning, and yet, the spirits that are connected the person doing the reading, only think of the spiritual meaning. They are unable to think "Jacob" or "Esau" or the number 4, because these ideas are purely natural, not spiritual, and spirits can only think in a spiritual language that does contain names, numbers, cities, time, which are natural things that are useless in the spiritual world. In fact one of the ways Swedenborg was able to contact specific spiritual societies is by reading a verse of the Bible. He discovered that every verse of the sacred scripture communicates permanently with a heavenly society due to the fact that the truths and affections contained in that sentence are most loved specifically by them. In the spiritual realm the meaning of sacred scripture, even of a single word of it, contains infinite love and wisdom, because it came from God who is infinite Love and Wisdom and the source of all love and wisdom in the universe.

The proof that sacred scripture in its scientific meaning is Divine Speech is established when you consider that the same law of correspondences applies equally to the books of the Old Testament and New Testament even though (a) they were written independently over many centuries, and (b) the writers did not suspect that their sentences had a hidden meaning. When you line up the books of the Old and New Testament in their spiritual meaning using the law of correspondences, there is given a complete series that is consistent and cumulative across all the books. This would be analogous to taking one chapter from books written centuries apart, putting them together into one book, and having readers read it as one single coherent novel. Obviously this would not be possible. But in the case of sacred scripture it has been so proven, given that the Author is God.

It has now been disclosed that the sentences of sacred scripture have two meanings, one religious, the other scientific. It's important to note that this disclosure is not an attack on religious fundamentalism. The Writings reveal that the literal meaning of sacred scripture is historically accurate and doctrinally valid. Nothing is taken away from religion by disclosing that sacred scripture is even more than what religion knew about. The revelation that sacred scripture has an underlying spiritual meaning that gives the science of the mind is for the modern world of today and the future. Whoever has a religious feeling for sacred scripture can only be overjoyed that science at last can prove that it is the Divine Word of God.

7.0.10  Independent Empirical Confirmation of the Dual Meaning in Sacred Scripture

Swedenborg used a second and independent method to prove the dual style of Sacred Scripture. This involved observing and recording the laws of correspondence between mental events and the visual events that they produce in the spiritual world. This was not difficult for him in his dual state. All he had to do is to note what the scene around him looked like when he thought or felt something, or when someone he was talking with, thought or felt something. For instance, when he was talking to someone who had irrational ideas and hostile feelings, the surrounding scape became cloudy, dark, cold, dry, and devoid of any vegetation. When he was talking to someone peaceful  whose mind was in a rational order, the environment around them was sunny, warm, and filled with pleasant plants and trees. When the conversation was about spiritual topics beautiful herds of horses appeared around them. When wicked people were plotting together to do someone harm there appeared all kinds of noxious and dangerous animals around them--scorpions, wild bears, dragons, black birds, vultures, snakes, as well as sickening odors of corpses and feces.

For 27 years Swedenborg lived in the spiritual world and was able to learn the laws of correspondences between particular feelings and thoughts and objects, scenes, and animals that mimicked their counterpart in the natural world. Having learned independently and empirically the laws that govern spiritual-natural correspondences he was now in a position of reading the Old and New Testaments in a new way that he had not known of during the prior 57 years of his life. Now he was able to read Sacred Scripture both as a natural man and as a spiritual man. When he saw the name "Jacob" he perceived that it refers to "the natural mind," and when he saw something about a "serpent" he perceived that it refers to "materialism," and so on.

You will note that the laws of correspondences that reveal the dual meaning of Divine Speech is not at all similar to other proposals having to do with the Bible containing a secret code. It is being claimed that computer programs have discovered mathematical patterns of the distribution of the Hebrew alphabetical letters in the books of the Old Testament, and that these patters are the same across all the books that were written independently centuries apart. If this is true, it is another kind of proof, a natural kind, not a spiritual proof like that of Swedenborg.

The discovery that Sacred Scripture has a dual tract, one religious and the other scientific, is the biggest new development in science since Copernicus discovered that earth is not the center of the physical universe but one of the many planets that revolves around a stationary sun. The idea that God communicates scientific revelations through Sacred Scripture has been opposed in modern science because of the style and content of the literal meaning of Sacred Scripture. There is very little that science can hang on to as empirical and rational, and very little seems to be revealed about the natural world that science knows well and is interested in. The rejection of the idea that scientific revelations exist is based solely on the literal meaning of Sacred Scripture (see Section xx).

If it could be proven that Sacred Scripture has a hidden underlying meaning extractable by scientists using an objective methodology, then science would have to accept the idea, as long as the content of the scientific revelations was scientific.

This is precisely what Swedenborg has accomplished. He has given two types of proof, one internal and one external, as discussed above (see also Section xx). Both types of proof are objective and empirical. For instance, the proof that Sacred Scripture must be Divine Speech otherwise there could not be a rational cumulative series in the inner sense of books written centuries apart and without the knowledge of the authors or readers. And also, that Swedenborg provided the empirical corroboration of the laws of correspondences that allow us to extract the hidden scientific meaning from the literal historical and poetic meaning (see Section xx).

There is therefore a close relationship between the laws of correspondences and how the mind functions.

The mind is divided into three layers--celestial-rational, spiritual-rational, and natural-rational (see Section 5.1). This same structure is observable by anyone in the spiritual world which is also divided in the same three layers. The layers of meaning of Divine Speech are also divided into these three, so that Sacred Scripture necessarily embodies these three layers of meaning. The first layer of meaning is natural, but the second layer of meaning is spiritual, and the inmost or highest layer is celestial meaning. These three layers are locked into each other functionally and none can exist without the others (see Section xx).

The natural layer of Sacred Scripture contains the literal content of history, injunctions, affirmations, commandments, and quotations of what God said and what others said. This level serves for religious instruction and worship. This level by itself cannot serve for scientific revelations. Scientific understanding requires special training in its more abstract concepts and rational argumentation. This would not have been suitable for the majority of the people in any one generation. The literal meaning of the Old Testament served the minds of people in a pre-scientific mentality. The literal meaning of the New Testament served the minds of people in a pre-modern civilization. They were capable of understanding more rational ideas and a less materialistic outlook on God and heaven than the people of the Old Testament. The literal meaning of the Writings now serves the minds of people in a scientific civilization.

The Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings of Swedenborg form a logical unit as Sacred Scripture (see Section xx). The literal level of meaning in the Writings of Swedenborg is suitable for rational and scientific discourse today. Theistic psychology is based on this literal meaning. It is only in the last portion of the threefold Sacred Scripture that scientific revelations are revealed in the literal meaning. The content of the literal meaning of the Writings covers two categories of scientific information. One category is the method of correspondences applied to extracting science from the Old and New Testaments. In other words, the scientific revelations in the Writings originate from the hidden layer of meanings in the Old and New Testaments. The second category of scientific revelations in the Writings consists of the observations and experiments Swedenborg conducted in the spiritual world through his special ability to be conscious in both worlds simultaneously.

These observations are also scientific, especially because Swedenborg ties the observations into a rational system of scientific explanation that is completely integrated, consistent, and enlightening. Swedenborg's observations are empirical and include direct observations of repeated phenomena, interviews with samples and groups, descriptions of geographic layout, and experiments where certain variables were held constant while others were systematically manipulated.

There is also the issue of the internal layers of meaning in the Writings of Swedenborg. This is a complex area of research in theistic psychology. For more details please consult my book A Man of the Field, especially Volume 2:  Extracting the Inner Sense of Deuteronomy Chapter 1

This Table is based on Payne (1881) available at:

DEUTERONOMY 1  Chapter 1

Verses 1-8. A General Summary.
Verses 9-18. The selection of right principles in the mind.
Verses 19-21. Invitation to enter upon the heavenly life.
Verses 22-25. A search into what constitutes the heavenly life.
Verses 26-40. The unwillingness of the unregenerate heart to enter upon it.
Verses 41-46. The attempt to do so from selfhood and defeat in temptation.


INNER SENSE (by Payne)


(1) These be the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

These are the instructions given by Divine truth for all those who are regenerating before they have entered into the heavenly state, and while the soul still suffers from a defect of true spiritual life, and is in externals, though in sound doctrine after it has been delivered from the falses of evil (Red Sea) by the power of the Lord, and entered into the first state of spiritual love (or the love of genuine truth) after victory in temptation (Paran), and is in a state midway between worldly and heavenly affections and thoughts. (See AC 1676.) [Note.—The meaning of some of the proper names in this verse is obscure as they do not occur elsewhere; it must be gathered from the context. The person Laban indicates the good in which man is held while worldly and heavenly affections are both entertained by him (AC 4063, 4145).]

Character reformation proceeds by willing and thinking in agreement with our rational understanding of theistic psychology and motivated by the desire to manage our immortality. The first state is initiated by the Divine Psychologist after consciously and deliberately rejecting the old intention or thought when it occurs. (see Section xx)

(2) (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir to Kadeshbarnea.)

This state, in which the soul is in truth from the Divine law, is the one immediately preceding the complete state of the affection of interior or rational truth, which is approached by the exercise of truth from love. [Note.—The number eleven signifies a condition just preceding the complete state denoted by the number twelve.]

The first state of character reformation is to intend well because this is required by the truth of doctrine in our understanding. The second state more mature state, is to intend well because this is required by our love of intending in accordance with the truth of the Divine Psychologist. (see Section xx)

(3) And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them;

It comes to pass in this state, when the period of temptations which precedes the commencement of the regenerate life is nearly completed [Note.—The number forty signifies temptations. (See AC index, "Numbers.")], and when a new order of things is being planted in the soul, that the minds of those regenerating receive these instructions by means of Divine truth from the Lord out of heaven.

Our consciousness is elevated by spiritual light from the Divine Psychologist as we struggle to interrupt the old feelings and thoughts because they are evil and unregenerate, that is, connected to the hells in the vertical community. (see Section xx)

(4) After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:

After that the Lord has destroyed the love of self, the chief of evils which dwell in the natural affections, as far as it opposes the commencement of the regenerate life, and the love of the world which bears rule in the unregenerate mind and has its seat in the fallacies and pleasures of the senses.

The chief motive in the old character is to intend only that which benefits oneself. This orientation is inherited by the natural mind and is reinforced there by self-serving justifications that maintain the old character. (see Section xx)

(5) On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,

Before the soul has entered upon the truly spiritual life, while it is yet in external things, it begins to receive this mandate by perception derived from the Word, namely:—

In this first state of character reformation we are still attached to the old pleasures and intentions, but we are also willing to accept the truths of doctrine from our study of theistic psychology. (see Section xx)

(6) The LORD our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying, You have dwelt long enough in this mount:

That the Divine goodness and truth of the Lord teach, when the soul receives the true doctrine of the Church from heaven, that it must not remain in a state in which the acquisition of knowledges has been accounted the chief thing in the spiritual life.

However, in this initial state, we already need to acknowledge that there is going to follow a more mature state in which the study of theistic psychology is going to be subordinated so that it is done for the sake of acquiring altruistic intentions and desires, and not for its own sake of knowing and understanding truths, which is characteristic of the initial state when we feel an attraction for studying theistic psychology. (see Section xx)

(7) Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and to all the places near thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and to Lebanon, to the great river, the river Euphrates.

And that the state of the mind must now be inverted, and progression made in the heavenly life, it is necessary to explore the evils existing in the mind from self-love, and its kindred evils, and that the new regenerate principles received from the Lord must pervade all things of doctrine, and all things of life, the conduct of external business, and the way in which truth is to be received, and the acquisition of knowledges, and the whole extension of the Church in things rational and in all that pertains to contemplation and thought. [Note.—"The reason why the river is twice mentioned, namely, the great river, the river Euphrates, is, because by the great river is signified the influx of things spiritual into things rational, and by the river Euphrates the influx of things rational into things natural, thus by both is signified the influx of things spiritual by the rational principle into things natural" (AE 569).]

Making progress in our character makeover occurs to the extent that we monitor our thinking and willing minute by minute and hour by hour all day long every day. This continuous monitoring or self-witnessing, produces awareness of our individual acts of thinking and willing, which we perform thousands of times each day of our lives. When we witness ourselves being mean, unkind, selfish, biased, careless, negligent, disorderly, etc., we become conscious of our actual operational connectivity to the hells in the vertical community. In each case we then gain the opportunity of judging that mental act in the light of the truth we understand from the study of theistic psychology. To the extent that we engage in this process all day long, to that extent will the Divine Psychologist interrupt and paralyze those disorderly intentions in our willing and biases in our thinking. (See Section xx).

(8) Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them and to their seed after them.

It is perceived that the Lord has placed the blessings of the heavenly life within reach of the soul that is regenerating. It is for man himself to work out his salvation, and to appropriate in his measure what has been provided by the Lord when He glorified His Divine Humanity (the Lord Jesus Christ) both as to the celestial, spiritual, and natural principles, and which is promised to those who follow Him in the regeneration (AE 768). [Note.—For those who are unacquainted with the writings of Swedenborg it may be mentioned that the internal or spiritual meaning of the histories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as referring to the glorification of the Lord when incarnate on earth is elaborately unfolded in the "Arcana Coelestia.'']

To the extent that we are cooperating in this way with the Divine Psychologist, to that extent we are able to become consciously aware of the actual presence of a heaven in our mind which is in Divine order, and of seeing an actual method of progressing in character reformation towards that state of eternity through self-witnessing and self-judging. This method of character reformation was created and initiated by the Divine Child when He established in His Own Divine Human Natural Mind, the spiritual layers of organic connections between the affective and cognitive organs throughout the three layers of the mind – natural, spiritual, celestial. (See Section xx).

(9) And I spoke to you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:

And it is also perceived in that state that it is not sufficient for the regenerating soul to be under the guidance of the Divine truths proceeding immediately from the Word alone.

We become aware of our progress in character reformation when we notice new concepts and new ways in which we understand theistic psychology. (See Section xx).

(10) The LORD your God has multiplied you, and, behold, you are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.

The goodness and truth of the Lord have filled the mind with new perceptions and thoughts, and already in this state there is a plenitude of truths in the soul.

In addition to new and higher understandings of Divine Speech, we also experience new and more celestial perceptions of what is good and loving to intend and think. (See Section xx).

(11) (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as you are, and bless you, as he has promised you!)

And the Lord, who is Father of all the regenerate, will increase these truths more and more indefinitely, and bless the spiritual life therewith as promised in the Word (AC 2575).

The Divine Psychologist is actively involved in managing every moment of our monitoring and judging what we are intending and thinking moment by moment. This process of co-management between us and God, is made available to every human being and takes place from birth to eternity. (See Section xx).

(12) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?

All the difficulties and doubts as to the right course of action in external things and disputes as to truth which now arise in the soul cannot be always determined by the direct application of the Divine Word.

We make progress in our character reformation to the extent that we cooperate by self-monitoring and self-judging according to Divine doctrine of truth that we understand rationally. We must proceed according to what we know about the prescribed Divine order that applies to character reformation. (See Section xx).

(13) Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.

The soul must select from the faculties of the mind such as conduce to wisdom and intelligence in both the rational and natural faculties, and the external life must be governed by them under Divine truth. [N.B.— "Knowing or known among your tribes"—wisdom and intelligence brought down to the natural principle (AC 5287).]

This involves devoting time and effort in the daily study of theistic psychology, while at the same time applying all new understandings of it to our daily self-monitoring and self-judging procedures. Our goal must be to deconstruct bit by bit, the inherited and acquired little hell in our mind, and to reconstruct it in the new order of heavenly good and truth, which means, to intend and to think only in accordance with Divine good and truth. (See Section xx).

(14) And you answered me, and said, The thing which you have spoken is good for us to do.

And it is perceived throughout the whole mind that this is a wise course.

The more we make progress in our character reformation, the more clearly and powerfully we perceive the spiritual truths and goods of theistic psychology. This means that our mind is being regenerated into an eternal conjugial heaven. (See Section xx).

(15) So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.

Thus by influx from Divine truth the best principles are selected to conduce to true wisdom and rationality and made rulers over the mind, primary truths in successive order from the truth proceeding immediately from the Divine to those communicating with the most external things. [Note.— This subject will be found more particularly explained in the explanation of Exodus 18:17-23 in the "Arcana Coelestia," and particularly in Nos. AC 8712-8717, etc.]

To create an eternal heaven in our mind means to acquire the permanent habit of thinking only that which agrees with Divine truth and rationality, and of intending only that which agrees with Divine good and love. Our motives, excitements, desires, and intentions are then arranged in a heavenly order, that is, a hierarchical taxonomy of affective states, with altruism being kept as our chief motive or orientation that enters into every single intention or desire. Our affective and cognitive organs are then united into an eternal conjugial heaven to which we will have conscious and permanent access soon after we are resuscitated, which takes place about 36 earth hours after the death of the body. (See Section xx).

(16) And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.

And in this state these primary truths receive illustration from the Divine truth of the Word, which gives them a just understanding of the subordinate goods in the mind, and enables them to determine rightly what is really good and true and what is in accordance with those principles in natural things.

Zzz (to be continued)

(17) You shall not respect persons in judgement; but you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgement is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it.

No worldly end is to be had in view in deciding on the best course. Those which would be disadvantageous from a worldly point of view must be considered equally with those which would be advantageous, nor must the mind be careful about the result in this world, for all things are overruled by the Lord's Divine Providence; and if the thing is too hard to be decided by a man's own rationality, it must be brought to the truth flowing immediately from the Divine principle, and wisdom will be given.


(18) And I commanded you at that time all the things which you should do.

Thus was a state induced in which all things in the mind were under the influence and government of Divine truth from the Word.
[Note (verses 9-18).—If a man had simply to follow certain dictates given him from the Word, and found them ready applied to every difficulty arising in life, he would be as far as spiritual thought is concerned a mere machine. It is by having apparently to decide for himself and to work out difficulties by his own reasoning powers, with the Divine truths of the Word as an ultimate Court of Appeal, that he attains true understanding in spiritual things.]


(19) And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which you saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.

And when the soul left the state in which it had been instructed in truths from the Word, it passed through temptations in which, the mind appeared deprived of all joy and happiness, and was oppressed by evils and falses. These are perceived to be in the soul when it is in a state of self-love, and for this reason it is remitted into this state by the Lord, after which the regenerating soul comes into the affection of interior or rational truth (Kadesh-barnea).


(20) And I said to you, You are come to the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God does give to us.

And the soul is instructed by Divine truth that it is of itself in a state of self-love, and that it is able to overcome it by means of good and truth from the Lord.


(21) Behold, the LORD your God has set the land before you: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has said to you; fear not, neither be discouraged.

It is perceived that the Divine Love and Wisdom (the God of those regenerating) provide opportunities for them to enter into the heavenly state. The soul must make use of them and strive to obtain it, according to the perception given to those who are in good from the Divine Love and Wisdom; it must not doubt the possibility of overcoming evil or be discouraged by it. [Note.—It is the doctrine of the New Church that the Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the Divine Love and Wisdom; so that whether we say the Lord Jesus Christ is the God of those regenerating or the Divine Love and Wisdom, it is the same thing.]


(22) And you came near to me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.

And the whole soul in such a state earnestly consults the Divine truths of the Word, and desires to direct all its powers to inquire into what constitutes the heavenly life, that the soul may know how to attain it and what doctrines are conducive thereto.


(23) And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:

And this desire is approved by the conscience instructed by Divine truth; and it selects from the faculties of the mind every thought and volition which is suitable for the purpose.


(24) And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came to the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.

And they direct the thoughts within towards the interiors of the mind and its motives, and all things derived from them and towards the doctrines of the Church which produce good and search them out.


(25) And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down to us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God does give us.

And they examine into the results of those principles in the life, and by their means the soul is illustrated as to these things, and perceives that it is being conducted by the goodness and wisdom of the Lord to such states as produce real happiness.


(26) Not-withstanding you would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:

But the evil will of the proprium does not relish or desire to be elevated to these heavenly states, but rebels against the perception given through the understanding by the goodness and wisdom of the Lord.


(27) And you murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he has brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

And produces discontent in the inmost recesses of the heart, and suggests the thought that it was an evil thing that the Lord had permitted the mind to have a clear light of heavenly things, and delivered it from the thraldom of old fallacies to show to the soul the evils of the will which would now destroy it.


(28) Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.

And doubted to what state the soul was being led. The inclination towards evil discouraged all the faculties of the mind and turned its affections away from heaven, suggesting that the falses which favour hereditary evil are more powerful and influential than the truths of the Church, and that the doctrinals or principles of action in their favour are strong, and will prevent the soul from entering into heavenly things; and, moreover, in them the soul had some perception of the gigantic power of the persuasions lying rooted in the hidden springs of action, and ever favouring some selfish end.


(29) Then I said to you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.

Then the perception of Divine truth given to the soul from heaven replies that it is not to dread these things or succumb to them.


(30) The LORD your God which goes before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;

The goodness and wisdom of the Lord's providence which lead the soul will contend for it against them, according to all that has been already done upon the falses by which the natural mind was bound, as has been manifestly perceived.


(31) And in the wilderness, where you have seen how that the LORD your God bare you, as a man does bear his son, in all the way that you went, until you came into this place.

And in states of defect of truth and temptation, when it has been manifestly perceived how the soul has been supported by the Divine goodness and wisdom as a man does bear his son (or as the genuine desire after good ever upholds truth in the mind) [N.B.—The love of what is good begets and educates truth in the soul, which is as it were its son] in all the changes it has gone through in its progression to its present state.


(32) Yet in this thing you did not believe the LORD your God,

But in this the unregenerate heart is unwilling to rest in the assurance given it by the Divine Goodness and Wisdom,


(33) Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, and in a cloud by day.

Who Himself when incarnate trod the path of regeneration before each soul to prepare for each a suitable state of heaven and peace (John 14:2), and is present with His Divine love in states of obscurity and trial to show the regenerating soul the path it should tread, and tempers also states of illustration according to the reception of each.


(34) And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was angry, and swore, saying,

Thus the unregenerate heart rejects the guidance of the Lord, and hence it is a law of Divine order proceeding from the Providence of the Lord which foresees and arranges all things.


(35) Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I swore to give to your fathers.

That it is impossible for any of the thoughts and affections of the unregenerate natural heart to enter into those heavenly states which are promised by the Lord in the Word to those who will receive real goodness from Himself.


(36) Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he has trodden upon, and to his children, because he has wholly followed the LORD.

Only those who are in good derived from such truths as they possess, these shall have a clear perception of good, and shall possess permanently all those holy states which they have patiently practised, and all things derived from such principles, because they bring out into the life the truths learned in the mind. [Note.—Caleb afterwards dwelt in Hebron (see Numbers xiv. xv.), which signifies the spiritual Church. (See AC 2909.)]


(37) Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, You also shall not go in thither.

Divine truths themselves are dissipated from the mind unless they are carried out into the life, and it is a law of heaven that truth alone cannot save.


(38) But Joshua the son of Nun, which stands before you, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

But truth which combats without ceasing against evils and has Divine truth present with it, this shall lead the soul to heaven. Let this principle have full play, for it will cause the whole man to become spiritual and possess heavenly happiness.


(39) Moreover your little ones, which you said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and to them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

And, moreover, all those innocent principles which the mind had persuaded itself would succumb to evil, and whatever thoughts and affections in the soul in former states had nothing in them of self-wisdom derived from the proprium, these shall be with the soul in heaven, and to them will the Lord give those blessed states that they may possess them. [Note.—As to the knowledge of good and evil derived from self-wisdom or science, see AC 122-130.]


(40) But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

But it is necessary, in order that the evil cravings of the unregenerate heart may be removed, that the soul should be brought back into a state of temptation and trial, and where evil spirits will infest it and draw those evils forth.


(41) Then you answered and said to me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when you had girded on every man his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the hill.

And when this is perceived the soul comes into a state of external humiliation and confession of sin from fear of punishment, and desires to enter into the heavenly state and combat with its evils, and to carry out in its own strength all the dictates of Divine Love and Wisdom. It calls to mind all the maxims of virtue and doctrinals which have been learned, and thinks itself quite prepared with these to enter at once into an interior and spiritual state.


(42) And the LORD said to me, Say to them. Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest you be smitten before your enemies.

But the Lord says to the soul through the Word that it should not attempt to attain heaven or fight against evil in its own strength; for the Lord would not be with it in such case, and it would succumb to evil in temptations.


(43) So I spoke to you; and you would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.

And though this is declared to it, the unregenerate will will not hear, but rebels against the warning given from heaven, and exposes the soul to temptation, and endeavours presumptuously in its own strength to enter into states for which it is not prepared.


(44) And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even to Hormah.

And the evils of self-love which lie latent in such a state rush out upon and overflow the soul with falses derived from evil, destroying all that was celestial and spiritual in the natural good in which it had trusted, so that the soul is reduced to despair.
[Note.—There is an allusion here in the simile to wasps, which endeavour to take the honey from the hive and are chased and driven away by bees. So the natural unregenerate heart would desire the joys of heaven without the labours necessary to attain them, and finds that joy on such terms brings a sting with it.]


(45) And you returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear to you.

And the soul is brought back to its former state, and, being full of grief, cries to the Lord, and it seems as though the Lord would not hear nor regard.


(46) So you abode in Kadesh many days, according to the days that you abode there.

And the mind was then remitted into a state of acquiring rational truths to the full from genuine affection, as far as it was able to receive them.

7.0.11   Moral Intelligence and Evolution

The three levels of moral intelligence are indicated by the three stages of Divine revelation in Sacred Scripture. This is a principle that I refer to as "biography recapitulates history and evolution" (see Section xx). In other words individual mental growth follows the same pattern as the development of human civilizations in the course of history. There are three major evolutionary steps marked historically by the giving of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings of Swedenborg.  These three collections of books form an unbroken series of scientific revelations that took thousands of years to deliver from God to the human mind. Each sub-unit of revelation marks the beginning of a new consciousness in humankind, and delivers the scientific information that fundamentally alters human understanding and perception, and through this, the rebuilding of a new human character that is celestial and immortal.

The Old Testament level of moral intelligence is the rational perspective that individual human behavior has a universal significance in relation to God. This perspective ties the individual to God. It is the bottom line of spiritual life and growth. This is the idea that what I'm doing with my hands when I touch someone is of relevance to God. Or, the words that I'm saying out loud have a relationship to God. This knowledge makes me responsible to God and validates God's existence to me. Swedenborg points out that most of the Ten Commandments were already incorporated in the legal system of a number of nations prior to the event in on Sinai when God gave them to Moses, as recorded in the Old Testament. The Writings explain that the giving of the Ten Commandments by God Himself on Mount Sinai indicates a new consciousness about those laws, namely, that they are not merely secular laws of the land, but Divine Laws by Commandment (see Section 5.7). This is a totally new status for the prohibition against murder, theft, deception, or adultery. God is saying to humankind: These are Divine prohibitions and when one individual does these prohibited actions, it will be accounted as a spiritual sin with bad spiritual consequences in the afterlife.

A new level of rational consciousness about God is introduced by the New Testament revelations. They raise the moral intelligence or consciousness of humankind by distinguishing between external behavior and mental behavior. The Old Testament stage of morality is reflected in our early years of development covering the first decade of life. Children are taught that God exists and that He knows and sees everything we do. God also punishes if we are bad and rewards if we are good. This is the bottom line of moral life and rational intelligence. Without this socialization process, the Writings say, humanity could not survive. It also instills a basic rational framework giving meaning to life and the world, linking the individual to God, the afterlife, and immortality. Refer to the following chart.

  ↑↑↑  Read Chart from bottom up    ↑↑↑
Moral Intelligence


3 Writings of Swedenborg
The afterlife or spiritual world is a mental world determined by our character, and stays fixed to eternity 21+
2 New Testament
Mental behavior has spiritual consequences in relation to God and the afterlife
1 Old Testament
Individual behavior has spiritual consequences in relation to God and the afterlife
1 to 10

But when we enter our second decade of life, become teenagers and adolescents, we begin to examine the rational implications and assumptions of our beliefs about God. Now we can experience a radical shift of focus from external behavior to internal behavior. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. This means that what I'm thinking and desiring and fantasizing and longing for are not private behaviors just in my mind. They are known to God, and therefore I'm a hypocrite if I behave publicly by obeying the commandments, but privately by disobeying them. A new height of moral reasoning is reached when I become rationally aware that my mental behavior is as crucial to God and to my immortality, as my overt behavior.

Sometimes our reaction to this new realization is to reject God altogether because it's just too inconvenient to have this Super Being breathe down our necks all the time even when we are privately enjoying some fantasy or train of thought. What harm could there be in just thinking of an affair with that married woman, or just enjoying the fantasy that we steal the Crown Jewels or the Picasso worth 45 million dollars. Or what would be so wrong as to despise the street beggar whom we just tipped, or to earn our money illegally as long as we give a lot of it to charity. So we abandon God altogether and lapse into a moral level of zero. Why is that?

The Writings demonstrate that secular moral philosophies that deny God do not establish a permanent moral character in immortality. non-theistic forms of morality remain in the outward portions of our character and do not survive the second death (see Section xx). When people are resuscitated a few hours after the death of the physical body, they begin  a new life of immortality within the mental world (see Section xx). There are no external forms of authority and sanctions as in this world. The survival of society and the environment is no longer governed by the consequences of people's external behaviors in relation to each other and the environment. The old secular morality we had on this earth is of no use in the spiritual world. There is no conservation and sustained development of nature. There are no longer any evolutionary consequences to how society and individuals act toward one another.

And so what is there to keep the individual from acting selfishly and unjustly? There are no rational reasons to do so in terms of the consequences.

Therefore all secular morality drops away from the surface of one's character, and in its place, a new character emerges, the one that lay beneath the surface all along, but was not faced and dealt with consciously  in the individual's life on earth.

On the other hand, theistic morality enters the inward component of our character so that we can rely on it after the second death. The morality that is explicitly and consciously based on our relationship to God is permanent and enters our life of immortality.

Hence, instead of giving up God altogether because it is too inconvenient to have Him snooping around in our mind, we can solidify our spiritual growth by adopting the New Testament level of thinking about God and mental behavior. This motivates us to put up effort in our character reformation (see Section xx).

But we encounter much resistance. In the New Testament stage of our morality we can have an intention to reject our evil enjoyments and yet fail to do so over and over again. Clearly our desire to leave the bad behind is not deep enough so that other, more powerful desires, lead the way back to our evils and we seem never to be free of them. One reaction to this moral difficulty has been to develop legalistic justifications for the retention of evil enjoyments in our life. For instance, we might reassure ourselves that we are "saved" for heavenly life as long as our faith in God is pure and sincere. We tell ourselves that surely God will not throw us into hell just because we were human and weak and full of sin, as long as we show repentance after sinning, and as long as we keep love for God and neighbor in our hearts.

But Swedenborg saw the consequences of such a justificatory faith. It doesn't sink deep enough into our character to survive the second death. The Writings reveal a new scientific morality that makes this understandable and takes us into the third and ultimate stage of spiritual development where we can see rationally why justificatory faith is powerless to defeat the deep corruption of our inward character, with which we are born by inheritance.

In the Writings God has now revealed to humankind that moral reformation of the inherited character is only possible through a process of regeneration through temptations (see Section xx).

What is it that enters the state of heaven or hell at our second death? It must be a pure character either way. No mixed character can survive either in heaven or in hell. Upon the first death, we awaken in the world of spirits where we undergo a series of significant experiences arranged for us by the Divine Psychologist (see Section xx). The purpose of the experiences is to have us discover who we really are on the inside and what our inmost loves are. These are the determining conditions for our life in immortality. Can we abandon every single evil enjoyment or hellish trait we still have after the first death? That's the question of importance.

Some people can live by abandoning every heavenly trait. What's left is the unrelenting pursuit of their infernal loves, which are called cupidities and lusts. In these they now have their full life to eternity. Other people can live by abandoning every hellish trait. What's left is the unrelenting pursuit of heavenly loves, which are called rational loves because they are the result of a marriage in our mind between our rational thinking and altruistic motives. This way of thinking about our future in terms of what ruling loves we possess is now a new stage of moral thinking and reasoning.

The morality at the level of the Writings (level 3) is a scientific understanding of how the mind works and what is its relation to heaven and hell. In this state of thinking and feeling we have come a long way from the two prior stages of morality. We are concerned about our overt behavior (as in level 1) as well as our mental behavior of intentions and enjoyments (level 2), but in addition, we can see that this is not a matter of our sin and its forgiveness by God through our faith and good intentions. We can see that God automatically forgives everything to everyone. Rather, it has to do with how willing we are to let God regenerate and reform our thoughts and feelings by giving us temptations (see Section xx). These refer to experiences God puts us through on a daily basis in which we are faced with a rational choice as to whether we are giving in to our evil enjoyment and motive, or whether we reject it because it is contrary to God and contrary to our future.

When we enter this new stage of rational thinking we feel greatly empowered to resist our evil enjoyments. We realize that we have zero power to resist them from ourselves. We give this power to God and ask for it so that our effort to resist the temptation may be successful. Gradually, victory by victory, our character is basically changing. The old motives are blocked and rejected; the new motives are enhanced, implanted, and nourished by means of rational thinking and heavenly mental states God gives us as a foretaste of the real thing.

The Writings tell us that salvation, or empowerment for heavenly life, consists of two steps to be made in this order:

  • (1) shunning evils as sins against God, and
  • (2) doing good instead.

This allows the process of regeneration to go on so that our character is rebuilt and will be ready for its second death. One cannot do good (step 2) without first shunning evils (step 1).

People may think that the good they do can outweigh the bad they also do. But this way of thinking is a level 2 morality based on justification by faith by a Divine King who is pacified and forgives us. But this is not what sin is. God always already wants to forgive anyone anything. Why not? God is pure love and mercy and has no ill will or ill feelings towards His creation. He cannot be angered for He is perfect. He cannot forgive or not forgive, for He already has forgiven. The only reason God is not taking some people to heaven is because they refuse to go there. Heaven is in our mind where we can live in heavenly loves from God. It is open and free for anyone who wants to abide there. The great human tragedy is that there are so many of us who refuse, no matter what, to abandon their hellish loves and thoughts. Hence God is powerless to change their will without destroying them. Therefore God provides for their type of life in hell to eternity (see Section xx).

7.0.12     Self-Witnessing Exercises

EXERCISE:  Add more examples to each.  Give a self-assessment or your direction in life and character.

Progression along the directions is accomplished through GOOD AFFECTIONS; TRUE COGNITIONS; AND USEFUL ACTS.


-         I love idea of being studious vs. lazy

-         I strive to improve myself vs. I’m good enough

-         I fight against my weaknesses vs. I like them

-         I force myself to be nice to everyone vs. I’m choosy

-         I like being useful vs. that’s not an important thing

-         I wish everyone well vs. only my side

-         I try to be a good neighbor and citizen


-         I acknowledge the trues of my religion

-         I follow the dictates of my conscience

-         I respect the wisdom of experience

-         I argue myself out of prejudice opinions

-         I keep up with studies and getting educated

-         I explore the arts and the sciences


-         I avoid the appearances of evil or corruption

-         I act practically and with common sense

-         I act with moderation and tradition always of doing

-         I act with loyalty, honesty, and hard work

-         I support the community and the law

-         I enjoy life: its pleasures and beauty


-         I love to dominate others

-         I must have the last word

-         I consider myself No. 1

-         I avoid putting myself out for others

-         I deserve more than I have

-         I feel others should accommodate to me

-         I love to loaf and be lazy

-         I wish well only to my own friends, family, or country


-         Entertainment is by for more interesting than art or literature

-         I reject all religion and ideas about life after death

-         My conscience is not to be heeded all the time

-         I don’t believe in absolute truth

-         A little bit of prejudice is good

-         A little bit of corruption is good

-         I don’t like studying and do it as little as possible

-         My first loyalty is to myself and friends

-         I insist on my rights all the time


-         I totally let myself go for awhile, once in a while

-         I deserve to be pampered

-         Complete honesty is not my way of doing things

-         Money, power and pleasure are the most enjoyable pursuits in life

Behavioristic Methods of Navigation for the Self

1.  Right Self-Examination vs. Self-Deception Left


A.  What would I rather do?                             I don’t care.

      Where would I rather be?                           I deserve better.

      How would I rather have it happen?            I’ve got it coming.

      What would make me happy?                     It’s my turn now.

      What are my cherished delights?                 I’d rather win.

                                                                                Me, No. 1.

                                                                                Why not?  Go ahead.

2.  Up Reformation: vs. Self-Confirmation Down

I’m sorry I did it.                                              I can do it on my own.

I’m ashamed of it.                                             I did it my way.

I should try harder.                                           I hate this.

I’ll get help.                                                      I could hit you, or worse.

I’ll rely on God to get me out of this.                 You deserve to be shot.

I’ll make up.                                                     Power is what counts.

I’ll volunteer.                                                    Ends justify means.

3.  Up and Right Regeneration: vs. Degeneration Down and Left

I love the good.                                                I’ll kill.

I believe the true.                                              I’ll run them down.

I like to serve.                                                   I’ll shame her.

I deserve nothing on my own.                            I’ll destroy them.

I try to be patient.                                             I’ll disagree and disrupt.

I trust in God.                                                   I’ll dominate and overpower.

I’m always happy.                                            I’ll enslave.

                                                                        I’ll make suffer.


7.1  Focusing or Attending to Corporeal Wisdom

"Focusing" is the name of a self-witnessing technique that strives to capture in awareness the sensorimotor activity of the body. Dr. Eugene Gendlin wrote a book with that title in 1978 and today in 2005 the Web site by that name evidences both professional and popular interest in that technique. This specialized self-witnessing technique is relevant to theistic psychology because it allows us to obtain data on our corporeal memory. Ordinarily in regeneration we need to practice self-witnessing of the sensual and rational memory (see Section xx). We are responsible for our character habits in so far that we are aware of them. We are responsible to acquire skills or techniques that give us a clearer awareness of our character traits.

For instance, verbalizing our thoughts, either out loud or mentally, is a self-witnessing technique that gives us more awareness of our thought processes, how we think and reason, and how we rank order our priorities and intentions, as for example, whether we would chose to get less of something for the sake of others, or whether we would get as much as we can for ourselves, not caring about others. There are probably hundreds of such choices we make every day, each choice being a battle between the heavenly or altruistic option, vs. the hellish or selfish option. By training yourself in self-witnessing techniques, you are empowering yourself to achieve greater awareness of your routine daily choices in the flow of behavior. This greater awareness of your mental habits enlarges the sphere of your spiritual responsibility. This enlargement of the sphere of our responsibility in daily areas of choice making, is a direct consequence of progress in our regeneration.

The further we go in our regeneration, the larger becomes the sphere of our spiritual responsibility. Prior to reformation in early adulthood (see Section xx), we live life unconsciously of its spiritual or eternal dimension. Even if we read about our eternal state and immortality, we only understand these spiritual ideas in a natural way. But after reformation, we become spiritually enlightened, which means that "heavenly light" flows into our conscious understanding. Through this spiritual light we can consciously see and think from a higher rational perspective or system of logic (see Section xx). Now when we read and reflect upon immortality, God, Sacred Scripture,  heaven, hell, regeneration, theistic psychology, and other spiritual subjects, we begin to see from the perspective of enlightenment, that is, from a higher rational sight or conscious understanding of these spiritual subjects (see Section xx).

In theistic psychology, Gendlin's technique of "focusing" is interpreted in the context of regeneration and character reformation with a view to preparing for our immortality in heaven and avoiding the states of hell (see Section xx). Focusing can become an aid in the spiritual discipline of regeneration (xx). In particular, the focusing self-witnessing technique helps us enlarge our sphere of spiritual responsibility to the pre-verbal level called "felt body sense." We know from the Writings Sacred Scripture that the heavens in human minds are not just individual areas of our mental world. They are objective clusters of spiritual societies coalescing into the human shape called the Grand Human (see Section xx). Each spiritual society is formed by minds that have a similar mental structure of feelings, loves, and affections. In other words, human loves and affections are arranged in a unitary whole that outwardly makes the shape of the human body (see Section xx on Theistic Astronomy).

Focusing as a self-witnessing technique for regeneration can provide us with data on the configuration of the Grand Human in the objective mental world of the human race. Swedenborg's spiritual mind was opened when he was 57 and for the next 27 years he experienced dual citizenship, being conscious in the natural mind and in the spiritual mind (see Section xx). He was able to observe the shape of the Grand Human and he was able to "travel" mentally through its regions or spiritual societies. He kept rack where he was by his detailed anatomical knowledge of he human body. He would say that he was in "the province of the eye" etc. In each, different ruling loves and affections. Focusing can give theistic psychology another source of confirmation for Swedenborg's empirical observations. In the Writings Sacred Scripture the Divine Human has revealed that the human body or form is the actual shape of the mind and its affections or loves. The form of our physical body is therefore a theater of the Grand Human, and thus of the human mind in its highest and purest state. The body, in its form, contains all the knowledge of the universe. Focusing is a technique for obtaining data on the rational shape of the universe which causes by correspondence, all the details of the body form.

Let us first explore how focusing is described by its current adherents. Quoting selectively from the  Web site:

Focusing comes from philosophical works called The Philosophy of the Implicit.

Focusing is direct access to a bodily knowing.

With training you can find the entry point to this embodied knowledge. After you find this entry, then you become able to stay long enough to interact with it. Then you can do many different things when you reach such a profound level

Today people live at various distances from this bodily source.

We offer well-developed and tested instructions for direct access to embodied knowledge and the new steps of change and resolution that come from it.

After you find this deeper level, it takes practice to stay here. In a difficult moment most people cannot hold on to the body-sense of the situation long enough for steps to come. We can help you learn how to do this.

Then the unclear felt sense can "open" into a whole field of intricate detail, from which surprising steps of change come.

You can check yourself. Notice where in the next few sentences you no longer know what we are talking about. We can take you on further, from there.

You have a bodily orienting sense. You know who you are and how you come to be reading this page. To know this you don't need to think. The knowing is physically sensed in your body and can easily be found. But this bodily knowing can extend much more deeply. You can learn how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any problem or situation. Your body "knows" the whole of each of your situations, vastly more aspects of it than you can enumerate separately.

You can sense your living body directly under your thoughts and memories and under your familiar feelings. Focusing happens at a deeper level than your feelings. Under them you can discover a physically sensed "murky zone" which is concretely there. This is the source from which new steps emerge.

At first, this murky "something" may seem opaque. Although concretely there, it may not seem promising. With certain teachable steps of bodily attention it opens. How you sense the situation shifts. New possibilities of action arise beyond the already-given alternatives. The whole scene changes. An intricate territory of factors, events, conditions, and new questions emerges where there was only a slight bodily sense at the start.

The book Focusing describes six steps of Focusing to get you started and offers trouble shooting for the difficulties, one or another of which most people encounter in learning the process. The book has been translated into many languages.

You can focus alone, but Focusing can be easier and deeper with a partner. Many people have regular Focusing partnerships by phone. It is helpful to Focus with someone who is not closely involved in your life. It is easier to speak and listen without judgments or personal reactions. Partners may focus on work, creative or personal issues. Focusing Partnerships are not friendships, not therapy, not family. Focusing Partnership is a new social institution. You can read about Focusing Partnerships and after a few hours of training, you can request a partner from our world wide partnership pool.

The living body is always going beyond what evolution, culture and language have already built.

The "Philosophy of the Implicit" comes after postmodernism. It goes on further from the current impasse in which the "objectivists" hold that human experience is an illusion emanating from brain structures and chemistry and their opponents, the "relativists," hold that human experience is just a product of one of the many cultures, histories and languages.

The Philosophy of the Implicit leads to new concepts in physics and biology, to understand the human body differently. Your body is not a machine, rather a wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you, which is why it "knows" so much just in being. The animals live intricately with each other without culture and language. The different cultures don't create us. They only add elaboration. The body is always sketching and probing a few steps further. Your ongoing living makes new evolution and history happen -- now.

What is Focusing? Focusing comes from philosophical works called The Philosophy of the Implicit.

Focusing is direct access to a bodily knowing.

With training you can find the entry point to this embodied knowledge. After you find this entry, then you become able to stay long enough to interact with it. Then you can do many different things when you reach such a profound level.

What's NEW Six Live Teleconferences on The Philosophy of the Implicit Judaism and Focusing Technique by Rabbi Goldie Milgram Zen and Focusing by Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels Thinking at the Edge FOLIO 17th International Focusing Conference 2005 - Back to the Future Today people live at various distances from this bodily source.

We offer well-developed and tested instructions for direct access to embodied knowledge and the new steps of change and resolution that come from it.

After you find this deeper level, it takes practice to stay here. In a difficult moment most people cannot hold on to the body-sense of the situation long enough for steps to come. We can help you learn how to do this.

Then the unclear felt sense can "open" into a whole field of intricate detail, from which surprising steps of change come.

You can check yourself. Notice where in the next few sentences you no longer know what we are talking about. We can take you on further, from there.

You have a bodily orienting sense. You know who you are and how you come to be reading this page. To know this you don't need to think. The knowing is physically sensed in your body and can easily be found. But this bodily knowing can extend much more deeply. You can learn how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any problem or situation. Your body "knows" the whole of each of your situations, vastly more aspects of it than you can enumerate separately.

You can sense your living body directly under your thoughts and memories and under your familiar feelings. Focusing happens at a deeper level than your feelings. Under them you can discover a physically sensed "murky zone" which is concretely there. This is the source from which new steps emerge.

At first, this murky "something" may seem opaque. Although concretely there, it may not seem promising. With certain teachable steps of bodily attention it opens. How you sense the situation shifts. New possibilities of action arise beyond the already-given alternatives. The whole scene changes. An intricate territory of factors, events, conditions, and new questions emerges where there was only a slight bodily sense at the start.

What Our Training Includes: How to find your bodily-sensed "murky edge." How to let your bodily sense become stable, so it does not disappear after a second or two. What to do once you can spend some time at that edge. A new kind of space opens in which you can do many things. The book Focusing describes six steps of Focusing to get you started and offers trouble shooting for the difficulties, one or another of which most people encounter in learning the process. The book has been translated into many languages. You can try out the six steps right now in your language: English, Nederlands, Deutsch, Espańol, Dansk, Japanese, Româna, íslenska, Japanese, Portugues, Russian and Suomi.)

More than 600 certified focusing trainers from 31 countries are available on your private telephone for one or several hours of Focusing training. This will let you begin. We can arrange a session for you or you can contact a trainer on our list. We also offer workshops and a nine-month training program and many books, videos and audio tapes.

Focusing Partnerships You can focus alone, but Focusing can be easier and deeper with a partner. Many people have regular Focusing partnerships by phone. It is helpful to Focus with someone who is not closely involved in your life. It is easier to speak and listen without judgments or personal reactions. Partners may focus on work, creative or personal issues. Focusing Partnerships are not friendships, not therapy, not family. Focusing Partnership is a new social institution. You can read about Focusing Partnerships and after a few hours of training, you can request a partner from our world wide partnership pool.

Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy From our list you can find a focusing-oriented therapist (FOT) who lives near you and speaks your language.

Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy is supported by many research findings which have shown that psychotherapy is more successful when people focus during sessions. The American Psychological Association has recognized Dr. Gendlin and The Focusing Institute with three awards. There are many professional articles about focusing-oriented psychotherapy and excerpts from the book, Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy in our psychotherapy section.

The Philosophy of the Implicit The living body is always going beyond what evolution, culture and language have already built.

The "Philosophy of the Implicit" comes after postmodernism. It goes on further from the current impasse in which the "objectivists" hold that human experience is an illusion emanating from brain structures and chemistry and their opponents, the "relativists," hold that human experience is just a product of one of the many cultures, histories and languages.

The Philosophy of the Implicit leads to new concepts in physics and biology, to understand the human body differently. Your body is not a machine, rather a wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you, which is why it "knows" so much just in being. The animals live intricately with each other without culture and language. The different cultures don't create us. They only add elaboration. The body is always sketching and probing a few steps further. Your ongoing living makes new evolution and history happen -- now.

Thinking at the Edge Thinking At the Edge (TAE), like Focusing, is a practice developed from the Philosophy of the Implicit.

It is a set of exact steps to develop a fresh use of language and a new kind of theory to speak from something in one's field which one knows but has not been able to say or write. This is a way to say something that can restructure the basic terms and practices in a field, rather than being able to say what fits the current viewpoint.

Current science, social policy and human relations tend to exclude the intricacy of the individual's experience. TAE is a way to think and speak about our world and ourselves by generating terms from a "felt sense". Such terms formulate experiential intricacy, rather than turning everything we think about into externally viewed objects. Language and concepts that emerge directly from experience can point to aspects of experience that cannot otherwise be formulated.

"For the first time in my life I feel that I belong to a group of people whose way of being with themselves and others expands, rather than contracts, my best sense of myself. More and more people are developing Focusing Partnerships, forming a virtual felt community throughout the world."

Currently the cultural routines and roles that used to connect us are insufficient. We have to innovate all day, find new ways to be a woman, man, wife, parent, teacher, executive, old person, young person. Our close relationships tend to fall apart. "Nobody seems to fit with me," people say. Each person is intricate inside, and lonely. Modern urban society is atomized.

With Focusing we find that the human body is much more finely ordered than the definitions of our various cultures and common phrases. Behind the usual emotions, feelings, memories, images, perceptions, and thoughts is the directly-sensed murky zone. When it opens we discover that we and others are rich, intricate, finely organized and always imply freshly emerging possibilities.

We estimate there are one million people practicing Focusing. We invite you to participate in our non-geographic felt community by joining our discussion list, volunteering to work with us, becoming a Focusing Partner.

The Focusing Institute was founded in 1986 as a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to help make focusing available to the public and to the international scholarly community through teaching, research and written materials. (From the Web site at: )

See also Eugene T. Gendlin. (1978, 1981) Focusing. (Bantam Books)


        7.2    Swedenborg's Character Reformation

Quoting an article available online at

The Nature of Swedenborg’s Preparation

by Rev. Elmo C. Acton

He who loves a use loves him by whom that use is performed. This is the reason for our celebration of Swedenborg's birthday.

It is very important to understand the means by which Swedenborg was prepared to become the revelator of the Heavenly Doctrines. From the beginning of the Church, this has been realized. Robert Hindmarsh was one of the first men to translate into English one of Swedenborg's Preparatory Works. In the middle years of the last century, J. J. Garth Wilkinson translated several of Swedenborg's anatomical works and thereby awakened a very keen interest in the means of Swedenborg's preparation for the office of revelator. With the rise of the Academy, this interest in Swedenborg's preparation was again renewed, and it reached a high point at the turn of the century with the work that was done by Miss Lillian Beekman. Lately there has been a waning of interest in the Preparatory Works.

One of the purposes of the talk this evening is to arouse a renewed interest in the works by which Swedenborg was prepared. I think one of the reasons for the decline of the interest in these Works was an over-zealousness, resulting in an endeavor to uphold every scientific fact which Swedenborg put forth. This obviously could not be accomplished.

I was very much impressed some years ago by an article that appeared in The New Philosophy, [October, 1958, p. 366. (Ed.)] written by Dr. Robert Cole, in which he asked why we did not imitate the method by which Swedenborg studied rather than trying to prove all the facts of his science correct. I thought about this a great deal, and it occurred to me that this is the proper approach to the study of the Preparatory Works.

It is of interest to note that, so far as I know, every man in the Church who has gained for himself a reputation for learning has been a keen student of the Preparatory Works. And the reason for this is that the means by which Swedenborg was prepared throws great light on many of the statements that are made in the Writings. This is similar to the work that is being done today in archeology, by which the letter of the Word is enlightened by many of the things that have been discovered, and this increases our understanding of the literal sense of the Word and therefore lays a firmer basis for following the correspondential sense.

And so I believe that there are many statements in the Writings that cannot be fully understood in their letter unless we are acquainted with the Preparatory Works. I do not say that every man, minister and layman, must be a reader and student of these works; but I do say that for the growth of the Church, it is necessary that there be readers and students of these works and, in order that this may be, there must be a general basis of interest in the work among the members of the Church. There must be an appreciation of the work that those men are doing.

I intend tonight to try to review some of the ways in which Swedenborg approached his studies. But before I do that, I wish to quote five different passages concerning Swedenborg's testimony in regard to his preparation. The first is from the Word Explained, which was written between the years 1745 and 1747; that is, after his spiritual eyes had been opened

"At the time I did not perceive what the acts of my life involved, but afterwards I was instructed concerning some of them, nay, concerning a number; and from these I could at last plainly see that the tenor of Divine Providence has ruled the acts of my life from my very youth and has so governed them that I might finally come to the present end; that thus by means of the knowledges of natural things, I might be able to understand those things which lie more interiorly within the Word of God Messiah and so of the Divine mercy of God Messiah might serve as an instrument for opening them" (WE 2532).

I would call your attention to the phrase, "by means of the knowledges of natural things . . . ."

Then in 1748 in the Spiritual Diary, he speaks of another means of preparation in regard to breathing. He says:

"I was first accustomed thus to respire in my early childhood, when saying my morning and evening prayers, and occasionally afterwards, when exploring the harmonies of the lungs and heart, and especially when deeply engaged in writing the works that have been published. For a course of years I continually observed that there was a tacit respiration, scarcely perceptible, concerning which it was subsequently given me to reflect and then to write. I was thus during many years, from the period of childhood, introduced into such respirations, especially by means of absorbing speculations, in which the breathing seems to become quiescent, as otherwise, the intense study of truth is scarcely possible" (SD 3464; Oct. 4, 1748).

And I would call your attention here to the expressions, "absorbing speculations" and "otherwise, the intense study of truth is scarcely possible."

In 1766 Swedenborg wrote in a letter to Oetinger:

"I was. introduced by the Lord first into the natural sciences and thus prepared, and this from the year 1710-1744, when Heaven was opened to me .... The Lord has granted me besides to love truth . . . not for the sake of honors but for the sake of the truths themselves" (Doc., 2:1, p. 257, Swedenborg to Oetinger).

The new thing introduced there is the love of truth.

Then in the work on Influx or the Intercourse Between the Soul and the Body, written in 1769, is the well-known passage:

"I was once asked how from a philosopher I became a theologian, and I answered, in the same manner that fishermen were made disciples and apostles by the Lord; and that I also from early youth had been a spiritual fisherman. What is a spiritual fisherman? I replied that a fisherman in the correspondential sense of the Word signifies a man who investigates and searches natural truths and afterwards spiritual truths rationally . . . . (And the interrogator commented), you were from early youth a fisherman in a correspondential sense, that is, an investigator of natural truths; that you are now an investigator of spiritual truths is because these are founded on the former" (ISB 20).

Lastly from the True Christian Religion, written in 1770:

"The second coming takes place by means of a man to whom the Lord has manifested Himself in person; that he may teach the doctrines of the New Church from the Lord by means of the Word. He will do this by means of a man who is able not only to receive these doctrines in his understanding but also to publish them by the press" (TCR 778).

What is meant by "receive them in his understanding"? A study of the Preparatory Works will throw light on that phrase.

Now in regard to the means by which Swedenborg studied or the means by which he was prepared. First, Swedenborg accepted a belief in God. Swedenborg believed in God, and he never allowed any of his studies to call it in question. He did not study the sciences or philosophy in order to see whether or not there was a God; he studied the creation in order to see how God operated in it. But there was never any question or any doubt of the existence of God. And not even of the existence of the Lord Jesus Christ as God, which I shall point out later. In the "Preface" to the Principia, he says

"Without the utmost devotion of the Supreme Being, no one can be a complete and truly learned philosopher. True philosophy and contempt of the Deity are two opposites. Veneration for the Infinite can never be separated from philosophy; for he who thinks himself wise whilst his wisdom does not teach him to acknowledge the Divine and Infinite, that is, he who thinks he can be wise without a knowledge of and veneration for the Deity, . has no wisdom at all" (Princ., Pref.).

You will note here - his knowledge of the Deity was not a pious expression of his lips. He was saying there could not be a true philosopher nor a genuine investigation of natural truth unless there is a belief in God.

And in the Economy o f the Animal Kingdom, he says:

"To be lost in silent astonishment, therefore, at this display of Divine wisdom is more becoming our nature than to overburden ourselves with proofs of its existence. In all the heavens there is nothing, throughout the whole earth there is nothing, but exhibits in most palpable signs the presence of a superintending Deity; so that he who sees nothing in all these evidences is blinder than a mole and viler than a bat" (2 Econ. 267).

Now I said earlier that his was a belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as that God. This order of the Lord's names was not used by him at that time. But in the "Preface" to the Principia, at the end, and in the work following on the Infinite, he concerns himself with the problem of what joins the Infinite to the finite, since there can be no ratio between the two. What possibly could join the Infinite to the finite? He comes to the conclusion that what is called the "nexus" (that which joins) is also Infinite, and he defines it as the Divine love of an angelic heaven from the human race. Then at the end of that introduction, he identifies this love which brings about the conjunction, as the Only Begotten Son of God, that is, in the terms of the theology of the former church, the only terms he then knew to express belief in the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The next thing that he accepted without doubt was the existence of the soul and its immortality, the fact that man is an immortal being. He says:

"The immortality of the soul is equally certain with the existence of God; the Divine end cannot fail to have immortality in it, seeing that true faith implies a belief in immortality" (Inf. 175).

So that when he studied the human body, the animal kingdom, or the kingdom of the soul, which is the body, and when he studied physiology and psychology, he was seeking to discover the means by which the soul operated in the body. He was not trying to discover the soul. The existence of the soul he unquestionably acknowledged. But he was trying to discover how the soul operated in the body, for he adopted the general principle that where you have two things - where you have a lower and a higher thing - there must be some means by which the higher operates in the lower. It is a thrilling experience to read Swedenborg's works on anatomy, on psychology, and on the brain, following his reasoning concerning their use in ultimating the purposes of the soul. The body is a living thing, a kingdom of uses, the temple of the soul; and he so examines and reasons concerning it.

The third truth Swedenborg accepted was a belief in Revelation, which he again never allowed himself to question. He says in the Principia:

"Whatever is confirmed by Holy Scripture is in no need of confirmation from reason, from rational philosophy, or from geometry, this being already sufficiently implied in the fact of confirmation by the Infinite Himself" (Princ., Vol. 1:54).

And in the Infinite he says:

"Philosophy, if it be truly rational, can never be contrary to Revelation . . . . The end of reason can be no other than that man may perceive what things are revealed and what are created; thus the rational cannot be contrary to the Divine, since the end for which reason is given is that we may be empowered to perceive that there is a God and to know that He is to be worshipped" (Inf., Pref.).

Given these three essentials - a belief in God, a belief in the immortality of the soul, and a belief in Divine Revelation - Swedenborg then asks how man is to go about his investigation of nature. He concludes that the only way that this study can be made is by experience, that is, the analytical way. It cannot be approached from above; it must be approached from below. It must be sought through experience. And he shows in many, many places how vain it is for man to try to approach by the synthetic by adopting a principle as true and then trying to confirm that principle in experience. He says in the Animal Kingdom:

"We are very easily impelled and carried away into ideal games . . . inasmuch as they are races of our thoughts from assumed starting places to the very goals we desire to reach. This also pimps to self-love and self-glory, for as nothing properly belongs to us but the produce of our own minds, when these have conceived anything and supported it by plausibilities, we suppose we have divined the pure reality, opened the pure Delphos of heaven itself, unlocked oracles which the genius of our predecessors never penetrated, and, in a word, earned an indisputable palm of victory. But those who commence with this species of scholastic exercitation, that is, who set out relying on mere reasoning, not fortified by the sure patronage of experience, will never, as I think, attain the goal; for they begin from the goal and hurry to the starting place; thus they bend their course outwards instead of inwards, contrary to the order which the nature of. the human mind prescribes for the discovery of the occult and unknown" (AK 8).

Having these, a belief in God, in the immortality of the soul, and in Divine Revelation and a thorough knowledge of the sciences from experience, Swedenborg then seeks to discover how these two bodies of truth may be united. He asks how we can discover the way in which the spiritual truths of a perceptive faith are conjoined to and operate in the world of science and experience. He concludes that there must be a body of rational truth by which this bridge can be constructed. Here we come back to the preparation that was spoken of in regard to his breathing: He says in the Prologue to the Animal Kingdom, written around 1744, shortly before his spiritual eyes were opened:

". . . the proper time has arrived; for a rich store of experience is at hand; an accumulated heap sufficient to enable us to build a palace; a luxuriant field where our sickles may reap an abundant harvest; a table where we may enjoy the most sumptuous banquets. Nor do I think we ought to wait any longer, lest haply experimental knowledge should be overtaken by age, night, and oblivion; and the arts and sciences be carried to the tomb; for unless I mistake the signs of the times, the world's destinies are tending thitherwards" (AK, Prologue, p. 9).

Several times he presents this conclusion. He likens the accumulation of experimental knowledge to a forest and says that if we continue to accumulate such knowledge without drawing some general doctrine to guide us through the forest, we will lose our way and wander about aimlessly.

We turn to another phase of Swedenborg's preparation: his preparation as to the state of his life. I would ask you, while we are considering this, to apply it to the work of every man. We are inclined to think of a study as being a purely intellectual thing, having nothing to do with the state of the man who makes that study. If we see things correctly, the state of a man making a study of anything has a definite bearing upon the results of that study and directly affects its conclusions. Unless the man is shunning evils as sins against God, he cannot come to proper conclusions. This statement will be enlightened as I run through these next series of quotations.

First, Swedenborg at a certain point in his studies says that he will no longer use his own experience. He experimented a great deal in his early years, but he arrived now at a state where he says that he will, for the most part, use the experience of other men and for the following reason. This was written in 1740 in the Economy o f the Animal Kingdom:

"I found that as soon as I discovered anything that had not before been observed, I began, perhaps from self-love, to grow blind to the most acute lucubrations and researches of others and to desire to lead the whole series of rational deduction to my one discovery" (1 Econ., 18).

In following this practice, he was shunning essentially the love of self in order that he might truly see the facts of science and put them together into an order that would reveal something of the presence of God in the universe or of the soul in the body. In one of his statements we read at the beginning, he said that he was led by the Lord "to love truth not for the sake of glory but for the sake of truth itself." In the Economy o f the Animal Kingdom, in speaking of the inward joy perceived when the mind has penetrated into the contemplation of the genuine causes of things, after it has gone through a long and diligent study, he says

"The mind that has known this pleasure . . . is carried away wholly in pursuit of it - and, in the kindling flame of its love, despises in comparison, as external pastimes, all merely corporeal pleasures, and although it recognizes them as means for exciting the animus and the purer blood, it on no account follows them as ends" (1 Econ., 19).

"Nothing whatever is more to be desired or more delightful than the light of truth; for it is the source of wisdom" (AK, Prologue, 1).

Genuine wisdom loves to know causes, and in several places of the Preparatory Works, Swedenborg mentions this. He says that if a man wishes to be wise, he wishes to know the causes of things. He sees that man cannot rightly interpret knowledge unless he interprets it in the love of arriving at the truth itself. That man is continually under the temptation to love truth on account of himself and his own glory: this to Swedenborg is a very real thing. He says:

"Nothing superinduces more darkness on the human mind than the interference of its own fancied providence in matters that properly belong to the Divine Providence.

"This faculty, however, is chiefly impaired by the thirst for glory and the love of self. I know not what darkness overspreads the rational faculties when the mind begins to swell with pride or when our intuition of objects calls up in the objects themselves the image and glory of our own selfhood. It is like pouring a liquor upon some exquisite wine, which throws it into a froth, sullies its purity, and clouds its translucence . . . . He sees little or nothing in the most studied researches of others, but everything, oh! how vain-glorious, in his own. Nor can he return to correct conceptions until his elated thoughts have subsided to their proper level. 'There are many,' says Seneca, ‘who might have attained to wisdom had they not fancied they had attained it already.' The muses love a tranquil mind, and there is nothing but humility, a contempt of self, and a simple love of truth that can prevent or remedy the evils we have described" (1 Econ. 21, 22).

This naturally led Swedenborg to a state of humility - a humility that, in the beginning, was an intellectual acknowledgment, but in the end, a humility of his will. As evidence of the humility of his understanding, we have the statement

"Thou canst be great only in this that thou art able to adore Him who is the Greatest and the Infinite" (Princ., Vol. II, p. 161).

And again:

"It is therefore the mark of the highest wisdom to know that we merely know and that our knowledge extends to a very few things" (Ibid., p. 169).

There are the three rather amusing incidents which I think are known to most of you, showing Swedenborg's fight against this love of self or pride

"I saw a bookshop and immediately thought that my work would accomplish more than the works of others but at once checked myself . . . that one is servant to another and that our Lord has many thousand ways of preparing one so that each and every book ought to be left in its own worth as a medium, near or remote, according to the state of the understanding of each and every man. Yet pride will straightway out. May God control it" (Intro., WE 70; 1746).

"At a lecture on the history of anatomy, in my thoughts I prided myself that they would mention me as one who understood anatomy better; yet I was glad that it was not done" (JD 270 [1744.], WE 71).

And the third, in speaking of the persistence of self-love, Swedenborg says:

"When anyone did not regard me according to the estimation of my own imagination, I always thought, if you knew what grace I had, you would act differently; which was something impure and had its root in self-love" (JD 75).

His humility in regard to the will resulted from his sincere and intense self-examination. He endeavored to uncover the evils of the love of self that clothed themselves in the external in apparently noble and good ends. His examination was thorough and deep and uncovered evils that few men would recognize in themselves.

"I found in myself . . . that in every single thought - yea, even in that which we believe to be almost pure - is concealed an endless mass of sin and impurity; as also in every desire that comes from the body into the thoughts which are derived from very deep roots. Even though the thought may seem pure, yet underneath it is the fact that one thinks it from fear, from hypocrisy, and much besides; which also one can come to discover to some extent by after-reflection" (JD 109).

And then the following, which reveals this still more clearly:

"Although we may be surpassingly rich in experience and accomplished in the sciences and gifted besides with a faculty of thinking with the greatest distinctness, yet it by no means follows that we shall therefore be able to rid ourselves of the mists that are involved in the fallacies of the senses and in the fallacies of sensual origin, of rational ideas, and to enjoy an insight into real truths, in simple clothing or naked loveliness . . . . The fires that extinguish this light, belong to the body, to the animal mind, and even to the rational mind itself. The fires of the body are the pleasures of the bodily senses. The fires of the animal mind are lusts or cupidities, whose name is legion. The fires of the rational mind are the ambitions and desires of ends that converge to and terminate in the love of self as the ultimate center. These heats are powers deriving their ground of activity from the body, which operating in the rational mind, extinguish that holy fire and purely spiritual altar flame. A light still remains, warm in relation to the body, but cold in relation to the soul and the superior mind. In this case although we revolve and combine ideas with distinctness and perspicuously contemplate analyses framed of reasons, yet these are only the spectres and impure phantoms of truths, which have ultimate ends in ourselves and in the love of self which powerfully and confidently persuade us that they are Delphian virgins and graces; and lead us to think that if we ourselves applaud them, the whole Parnassian band will applaud them as well; but they are far indeed from being truths, for they differ from them as much as the phantasms of the body and the mockeries of the world from the essences and forms of heaven. Thus if we wish to invite real truths, whether natural or moral or spiritual (for they all make common cause by means of correspondence and representation) into the sphere of our rational minds, it is necessary that we extinguish the impure fires of the body and thereby our own delusive lights and submit and allow our minds, unmolested by the influences of the body, to be illuminated with the rays of the spiritual power; then for the first time truths flow in; for they all emanate from that power as their peculiar fountain" (AK, Vol. II, 463).

Swedenborg in the Journal of Dreams reveals a state of humility that became receptive of influx from the Lord through which the Revelation could be given. This state is beautifully expressed by the words:

"Forgive me if I have said that I am Thine and not mine own; this belongs not to me but to God. I pray for the grace of being permitted to be Thine, and that I may not be left to myself" (JD 118).

And again:

"I pray not Thy will be done but rather I pray that I may be worthy to pray Thy will be done" (JD).

Thus Swedenborg's mind, formed according to the order of genuine natural truths and principles and cleansed of evil love and falsities, was so prepared that the Divine could inflow and, within the genuine natural truths present in his external mind, could reveal the truths of the Heavenly Doctrine. Thus he could receive the doctrines of the New Church in his understanding and give them to the world, not as the conclusions of his own reflections and meditations but as continuous truths out of the Lord's Divine Glorified Human.

Originally published in-The New Philosophy 1973;76:387-396



7.2.1    Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams


An online version of this book is available at: 



            7.3    Collective Behavior


            7.3.1    The Vertical Community


            7.3.2     Emotional Contagion


                          The Media -- Information, Entertainment, Advertising

                                7.3.2..2    Inherited Tradition -- Ritual, Song, Dance, Food

                                7.3.2..3    God Substitutes -- Idols, Gurus, Saints

            7.3.3     The Grand Human


            7.3.4     Leadership Qualities


            7.3.5     The Hexagram of Consciousness and Reality

Let us now characterize the six steps of consciousness--three descending and three ascending. You will note that we are to think generally of all mental sequences and development and not only that which applies to our age periods. This is because human consciousness is the image and likeness of the universe. The universe and its reality is rational, that is, created out of truth and arranged according to wisdom and intelligence. The underlying substance and framework that holds up the physical universe is the rational universe, which is called the spiritual world. This is one with our mind or mental world. This understanding may be rendered by a basic theistic psychology formula (see Section xx):

spiritual geography = mental anatomy = eternity

Hence you can say that the physical universe is created through the mind as its cause, and is arranged according to the order of the mind, and serves the mind as an extension of itself, just as the effect is an extension of the cause, and the cause is within the effect. Hence the mental world is within the physical world and the two are discrete, not continuous, but correspond to each other. This is why all things in the physical universe proceed into existence according to a rational sequence modeled after, and corresponding to the rational order in the human mind. Physics and chemistry are nothing but the outward natural form of psychology and theology. And this is because the human mind is a model (or “image and likeness”) of the mind of God, the Divine Human.

Here is a diagram that can help you follow the account below.

Additional diagrams and explanations are located here:   Level 1 Consciousness (Infancy) – Sensuous Incorporation

Lower consciousness, which is the external mind, is sensuous rather than rational. Its very existence and foundation is centered in the sensorimotor mind (S) (see Section xx). The infancy period of any recursive unit serves to establish the foundation of the entire unit. For instance, infants characteristically put everything they grasp into their mouth. They explore the world through touch and taste more than through hearing and sight. One might call this consciousness focus the "incorporation" phase, which is the inclination to unite bodily with the environment in order to know and experience it. This inclination is the effect of the influx into our sensorimotor mind from the celestial angels (see Section xx).

In the history of civilizations the infancy period is called the Adamic Civilization (see Section xx). They did not have a written Sacred Scripture because Divine Speech "was written on their heart." This means that they had "truth immediate" by psychic communication with their ancestors or spiritual teachers in their vertical community (see Section xx). They were in direct communication with the "departed" and had visions and dreams in which they were instructed directly in the Sacred Scripture which was in the heavens. Their sensuous consciousness was celestial and they saw in all things of nature nothing but heavenly representatives.

Level 1 consciousness properties are contained within the initial definition of a mathematical proof, a chemical reaction, the formation of a crystal in the earth or of a galaxy in space. The empirical evidence for this idea will be found in the research of Dr. Ian Thompson (  )   Level 2 Consciousness (Childhood) – Sensuous Absorption

The second component of sensuous awareness is in the cognitive mind (C) (see Section xx). This is called the childhood period of any developing sequence and its characteristic focus and function is entirely different from the infancy period. For example, children have their conscious focus centered on territoriality and ranking issues. They constantly bicker and jostle each other for who's next, who's on top, who won't make it, whose it is, who should be kept out, what's the difference between this or that, why this rather than that is to be selected, and so on. These are mental absorptions into the architecture of cultural semantics--their reward and happiness comes from navigating through these social and group distinctions of ranks, successes, losses, distances, relations. They include implications by connectivity.

See also Dr Thompson's diagram 1 below regarding additional hypotheses regarding the complexities of influx during the childhood period.   Level 3 Consciousness (Adolescence) – Sensuous Belonging

The concerns in the third step are focused more and more intensely in the affective mind of the adolescent. The affective mind is the locus of our goals, motives, intentions, feelings, and desires. In the adolescent period of development the affect becomes the center of consciousness. Teenagers are absorbed by emotionalism and feeling, love and jealousy, fear of rejection and desire for inclusion. The third level of consciousness relates to function, direction, inclusion-exclusion, coherence, uniformity, consistency, self-aggrandizement, projection, universality, conflict, equity, etc.   The Inversion

The Inversion from sensuous consciousness to rational consciousness takes place at the end of Level 3 and at the beginning of Level 4. The first three levels of sensuous consciousness belong to the external mind (“descending path” see diagram in Section xx). The next three levels of rational consciousness belong to the internal mind (“ascending path”). All development proceeds from the three heavens acting in sequence into our sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective mind. This is called descending path because there is first an influx from the third heaven, then the second, then the first heaven. This is followed by the ascending path – first heaven, second heaven, and finally third heaven (see Section xx).

Regeneration starts with the descending path then shifts to the ascending path after the inversion. We must first make a descent of consciousness in the sense that in infancy our sensuous consciousness is infilled by the celestial angels who are in the Third Heaven, then in childhood by the spiritual angels who are in the Second Heaven, and at last in adolescence by the natural angels who are in the First Heaven. This is spoken of in Sacred Scripture as the "descent into Egypt" because Egypt represents the outmost consciousness that is based on memory-knowledges or scientifics gathered through the physical senses. The literal of Sacred Scripture and the surrounding creation inflow into our external mind and this inflowing is most external with the natural angels and most internal with the celestials.   Level 4 Consciousness (Young Adulthood) – Rational Acknowledgment of God

The fourth overall step in regeneration, and the first of the ascending steps, is called the period of young adulthood, and is represented by such issues as culture, ethnicity, medium, drama, self-assertiveness, depth, inner connectedness, identity, history, etc. It is the unconscious interior presence of the natural angels in our sensorimotor mind (S) that gives a new perception of the world, a sensorimotor perception that pertains to the rational.

Level 4 consciousness is transitional. In the history of civilizations the young adulthood was the new age started by the Incarnation of the Divine Child (see Section xx), by which God became present to awareness in the natural mind formed by experience, history, and science. Rational consciousness of God in the conscious natural mind became possible when this phase of evolution was entered by the human race. God is co-present in the conscious natural mind as the Divine Psychologist or “Holy Spirit” (see Section xx).

Rational consciousness of God is a prerequisite for heavenly life in eternity. It requires the acknowledgement of dualism and Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech with the human race. This level of consciousness leads the person to reread Sacred Scripture and to find in it a new desire for commitment to God, dualism, and character reformation. From now on God is acknowledged as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.

Level 4 consciousness is our adult rediscovery of our childhood God. We see nature and all that is around us as the work of God. We are on our way to discovering the road way to heaven and embarking upon it. This is the mental state of reformation when we reorganize our principles and belief systems and force them into alignment with our understanding of Sacred Scripture and what God wants from us.   Level 5 Consciousness (Adulthood) – Rational Conjunction with God

Level 5 consciousness is focused on issues of framing, justifying, arguing, confirming, networking, tracing the roots, taxonomizing, inventorying, standardizing, evaluating, etc. In our adulthood we stand on our ability to create a life philosophy that we can justify and support ourselves. We are not satisfied with renting, we want to own. Our rationality is active under the furtherance of the spiritual angels (second heaven) who are inflowing into our internal cognitive mind (C). In childhood these angels inflowed into our external cognitive, but now in our internal cognitive 

Level 5 consciousness in the history of civilizations represents the literal sense of the Writings Sacred Scripture. This presents for the first time a new rational perspective on Sacred Scripture, justifying a “rational faith” that replaces the old “blind faith” full of mystery and obscurity. Now for the first time in human history God is revealing the rational basis of Himself and His government of the universe. The Writings Sacred Scripture announce this new age as “Nunc licet” which in Latin means Now It is Permitted; that is, now it is permitted to investigate rationally the former mysteries of religion and God.

Rational conjunction with God takes place when we are ready to use the truth we know from Sacred Scripture to battle our evil loves and their justifications. These are the battles of spiritual temptations we must fight and by which God regenerates us (see Section xx).    Level 6 Consciousness (Old Age) – Rational Love of God

The last ascending step is called the period of old age and is focused on issues such as appearance vs. reality, performance and execution, uses, ethics, goodness vs. wickedness, spirituality, holiness, saintliness, regeneration, education, character reformation, Doctrine of the Church, theistic psychology, etc.

Level 6 consciousness is furthered by the activity of the celestial angels inflowing into our affective mind. Now for the first time we come into possession of the "Crown of Civilizations" -- of the highest degree of consciousness humans can achieve – rational love of God. The spiritual heat of the Spiritual Sun carries this Divine love down into the minds of the angels. The celestial angels receive it most purely and their influx into our interior affective mind opens up our highest degree--the interior celestial. This is the most rational of human consciousness. Now all the other degrees are available and controlled by this new influx which sits in the highest position—love unto God. Love seeks the truth that is compatible with it, and this is wisdom. Love and wisdom together act out into the external mind, the body, the world, the social order.

The highest level of consciousness (Level 6) is a gradual development in rational consciousness of God and progresses over the course of one’s life on earth, and continues hereafter (see Section xx). Rational love of God is made possible by the interior truths we extract from Sacred Scripture, which we then apply to our daily willing and thinking (see Section xx). It is closely connected to the Doctrine of the Wife for Husbands (see Section xx).

For more on this topic see:


            7.3.6     The Heavenly Law of Diversity and Unity


            7.3.7     Subject Spirits


            7.3.8     The Spirits of Mercury


            7.3.9     Earths in the Universe




(I was elevated from a place where I was, for many hours, about ten, continuously; and it was granted me to observe the elevation and removal from the former place, by steps, and until at length they did not appear. I was in a wakeful state, and, throughout that time, spoke about that matter with the spirits who were near me. A certain one from this earth was adjoined to me, who, when alive, had been a celebrated preacher, and also a very pathetic writer. The spirits, from an idea of him derived from such things as I have heard and clearly perceived about him, supposed him to be a Christian in heart even beyond others; for, in the world, one is judged from his preachings and writings and not from his life, and if from the life, they excuse blemishes when they are in such an idea; for the idea, or notion, about anyone, draws all things to its side.) (When, at last, after ten hours, I was elevated, and perceived that I was outside the world of our sun, I also perceived, from the region of the elevation, that I was in a starry world towards the meridional region:) (then there spoke with me certain [spirits] from some earth there. They said that at times there come certain ones to them from other parts. The way was also pointed out by which they came; it was to the left; and I observed that they were from our earth. They said about those, that certain of the visitors disturb them by saying that they believe in three persons and one God, and, also, that they have the idea of three Gods although they say one with the mouth; for, when they represent persons by means of the ideas of thought, as happens in the other life, there appear three persons, like men, and then they make these, by agreement, to be like one, by means of something appearing, as it were, continuous, and say that the three are thus one. And the three, thus united, they call one God, but not one Divine; from which things [those spirits] perceive what sort of idea, concerning the one God, those have who are from our earth. The preacher who was with me (Scriverius), when he also was in the idea of such a thought, represented three Gods as one in a similar manner; but when he was not in the idea of thought, but only in speech, such as he had been in, in the world, he then said that God is invisible; and, when he said this, he thought of the Father alone, and not of the Lord, and then no other idea resulted from thence, than, as it were, an invisible universe, and thus the quality of nature in her first principles. He was also then examined as to whether he has believed in this way; and it was found that such has been his interior faith, thus, that, inwardly, God has been to him the inmost of nature, but outwardly only names, to wit, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was then also found, that, inwardly in himself, he has made nature God, and that still he has had concerning the Holy Spirit the idea of an angel, and concerning it the idea of a visible God, for the reason, as was discovered, that, in the world, he has so often thought, concerning himself, that he spoke from the Holy Spirit; and when [these notions] were examined as to interiors from the idea, it was seen that he understood himself rather than any angel, because he had inwardly believed that he spoke from himself and had life in himself, not [life] inflowing from the Lord.) The spirits of that earth said that spirits of such a sort come to them, and disturb them as regards their thought and faith (concerning God, whom they know and perceive to be a man, and this not only from interior perception but also from the fact that He always appears to them as a man; and that they now acknowledge Him as Creator of the universe, which also they clearly know; and that they cannot at all perceive God otherwise than in a human form; and, if they should think according to the opinion of their guests, namely, of an invisible God, that they could think altogether nothing about God. They complained of those who thus disturb

them, and prayed to the Lord for succor, which they also know they shall receive. It was granted me to tell them that the men of our earth are such, because their thought is material; and that, yet, they know that the ancients in this earth worshipped God in like manner under a human form, and called Him Jehovah, the Creator of the universe, for instance, Abraham, Gideon, Joshua, and several others; further, that the Lord Himself taught them that there is but one God, and that Himself was that God; that He was one with the Father; that the Father was in Him and He in the Father; and that the Holy Spirit, which is called the Spirit of Truth, because it is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, does not speak from itself, but from the Lord Himself; and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only names whereby, in the Word, is expressed the Divine Itself, the Divine Human and the Divine Proceeding; and that this was so said, for the reason that they might acknowledge the Lord as the only God; in a word, the ideas of the spirits of our earth are material, and disturb the ideas of spirits from that earth.)*

(It was afterwards granted me to speak with spirits from that earth. They related, that, when leave is given them, they appear to men of their own earth, and walk amongst them, and speak with them as men, which happens by their being let into the thought that they are still men in the earth, and the interior sight of the inhabitants being opened; and they said that the inhabitants do not know other than that they are men, and that they then first know them [not] to be men, when they are suddenly removed from their eyes, and disappear. It was similar in this earth, in ancient times, for instance, that angels appeared to Abraham, and also to Lot, also to all the inhabitants of Sodom at that time, and likewise to others in a similar manner, who, at the beginning, knew no other than that they were men; as, also, he who appeared to Manoah and his wife, and also to Joshua. (Let these things be cited from the Word.)

The Preacher who was with me was wholly in the negative as to other earths than our earth existing, because he had contended against others, that this could not be, because the Lord was born here. Because he was in such a negative opinion, he was brought into a state similar to that in which the spirits of that earth are when they appear to the inhabitants, and so was let go into that very earth, that he might not only see the earth but also speak with the inhabitants there. When this was done, a communication of him with me was granted thence, so that I might then, in like manner, see the inhabitants, and also, in part, some of the things on that earth.) Thus it was granted me to see, that, in that earth, were four races of men (who were successively seen, and distinguished. He first spoke [with] those who were clothed; afterwards, with those there who were naked; then, with those who appear naked, but still as if with an inflamed body; and, again, with those who had a black body.) (((When he was with those who were clothed, there appeared a woman with quite a beautiful face, with becoming dress, and a tunic hanging tastefully on her back - the arms, also, were covered by the same garment. Her head was crowned with a chaplet, entwined in the form of a garland which was also adorned with beautiful flowers. He was exceedingly delighted at the sight of that virgin, and spoke with her, and also took hold of her hand; but, inasmuch as she was then aware that he was a spirit not from her earth because dressed differently, she snatched herself away from him.

Then, at the right, appeared to him many others of the female sex, who fed sheep and lambs, which they then conducted to their drinking-place, which they had made by leading a little channel from some lake. These were similarly dressed, having in their hands shepherds' crooks, by means of which they led the sheep and lambs to their drink. They said that they [the sheep] go to that place which they indicate with their crooks. The sheep seen were large, with broad and long fleecy tails. The people's faces, also, were seen by me at closer quarters: they were full and fair. But the men are, as to the face, of a flesh-color, as in our earth; but the lower part of the face, instead of having a beard, was black, and the nose more inclining to snow-white than [to flesh-color]. Then, also, their habitations were seen: they were poor houses))), (rather huts than houses. . . They were rounded above, and extended lengthwise, having a door on both sides, and within, on both sides, they were divided into chambers, 5, 6, 7, according to the number of their family. They said that these are constructed from the soil there, and also from thick grassy sods, and the windows of grassy fibers interwoven, formed so that the light may be able to pass through, thus interwoven in various ways; also, that they could be opened and closed.) [There are] huts.** (((Afterwards the same preacher was brought farther; which, however, happened against his will, because he was delighted with that virgin, as appeared from the fact that somewhat of a shadow from him still remained in that place. He then came to those who were naked. They were there seen two and two, or in pairs, walking about. The pairs were husband and wife. None were seen who were not associated in twos.))) (They were girt about the loins with a covering; also with some covering [around the head]. There appeared there houses, or huts, of similar structure; and their fields also appeared, which were a plain of snowy-white: they said that there are grains there, which they eat and prepare in various ways. It was perceived that [they are prepared] similarly to the grain amongst the Chinese; and that such seeds are to them for bread: this they showed, and it was small, like square bits of bread. It was shown, besides, that they had herbs and flowers of various kind. Then also trees and shrubs, whereon were berries from which they prepared wine. Also, large fruits were seen, which were like pomegranates.)

((That they were thus distinct, namely, the clothed from the naked, was because they are of wholly different genius; for they who are clothed were of such a genius as the spiritual [angels] in heaven, and those who were naked, such as the celestial [angels] in heaven, concerning whom see places cited, no. [?].

When the preacher was with the naked, he was then brought into the state in which he was in the world; and, then, he wished to teach them. It was asked what)) (he wished to say. He said that he wished to preach the Lord crucified. But they said that they know of no such thing, and that neither did they wish to hear of such a thing, because they only knew a living Lord. They said that he also wished to teach about the living Lord. They also said, that, when he spoke, his speech was of such a nature that they discerned that he speaks for the sake of reputation and profit, inasmuch as there was nothing heavenly in the speech, but only earthly, which was harsh; and thus, that he could not teach them; for they do not attend to words in so far as they are from the mouth, but in so far as they are from the heart, in which aspect there was nothing angelic [in what he said]. Wherefore, he was silent; for, whilst alive in the world, he had been exceedingly pathetic, so that he was able to excite his hearers to piety; but that pathetic power was acquired by art, and from love of the world, as the inhabitants there discerned. Spirits from that earth, by whose means they perceived such things, were then with them; for spirits do not regard externals, but only internals in externals. They called his speech materialistic. See below.) (Afterwards he came to those who had an inflamed body, who so appeared from lobes of the world and luxury in living. These were naked also; but he at once proceeded to the last ones, who were black, some of them being clothed and some naked.)

(I was instructed by the inhabitants of that earth, that their sun appears to them of the size of a fourth part of our sun, and that, in appearance, it goes around their earth; also, is of a flame-color, like our sun - which sun, nevertheless, to our eyes is a star. It was also observed that their earth was about 500 miles [German] in circumference, and that their year was of 200 days, and their day of fifteen hours compared with the hours of our time, which their spirits could know by a sort of spiritual sight respecting the duration of times and extension of spaces. This happens in a spiritual manner, not capable of being expressed by words which belong to the material form; for the words of the speech of our earth are forms of material things, wherefrom spiritual ideas are indeed arrived at, but which are, all the while, founded on material things; from which things if material conceptions be abstracted, the idea perishes. This is the case, because the inhabitants of our earth relate to the external senses.) (I spoke with them concerning the inhabitants of our earth, that, being of such a character [i. e. relating to the external senses], they are unable to conceive that man can live after death, and then appear as a man, as to the face, body, arms, feet and the rest; still less that they can then appear clothed with garments, and, still less again, that they have mansions and habitations; and this solely for the reason that they think exteriorly, and only from sensuals, which are of the body; consequently they cannot be withdrawn from material things; for which reason they cannot form to themselves, concerning the soul, any idea of a man, but either an idea of wind, or another of no form; and, inasmuch as they thus have almost no idea concerning the soul, and yet, from the doctrine of the Church, they know that they are to live after death, therefore they believe they shall not rise again until a certain last judgment, and then with the body. Some believe that the soul is then conjoined to that body; some that in the interval [between death and then] man has no life, and that the soul, which belongs to life, shall then be again infused. They are permitted to believe this, because they believe that nothing lives save the body itself; wherefore, unless that is said to rise, they would wholly reject the doctrine of the resurrection. Still, this idea of the resurrection has this accompanying utility, that they believe in a life after death when they lie sick in bed and mundane and corporeal things have less weight with them. At that moment, those who have lived well uniformly think no otherwise than that they shall live immediately after death. Uninfluenced by the doctrinal concerning the last judgment, they then also speak about heaven with the hope of a life there [immediately after death].

((Those who were naked and walked about two and two, said that they perceive, at once, whether there is conjugial union between two married partners, as was also shown by means of a spiritual idea, which was of such a nature that there appears a likeness as to interiors of every sort. This [likeness] is formed by the conjunction of truth and good, and thence there is an appearance as one; for, from that conjunction, the conjugial union exists between two; and it was also perceived that similar faith and similar charity, or similar truth and good, conjoined, effect this. It was said, also, that there is no conjugial union at all if there is one husband and two or more wives and that they perceived this by that spiritual idea.)) (Infants are also seen there; and it was said that neighbors come together from their habitations especially on account of the infants; so that they may be in company with the infants of neighbors, under the eyes and authority of the parents.) I spoke with the spirits of that earth concerning the Lord, why He put on the human - just as has been written on a separate page; and they said, with affirmation, that [I had written] correctly.***

* At this place there occurs, in the original MS., the marginal note, "See what is said concerning the Lord, below, where the paper is folded" directing attention, no doubt, to the numbers mentioned in the heading to the present article, viz., 4844-4847.

** After no. 5248 there is a diagram of these huts.

*** The Latin Edition, here, incorporates in the text the following parenthesis: "(Let those things be added which are written, from heaven, below - a few pages on - concerning the Divine Human of the Lord [No. 4844].)" These things, therefore, now follow.

(SE 4832)



            7.3.10   The Perizonius Thesis


            7.3.11    The Perfection of the Created Universe




The Writings of Swedenborg are available on the Web in a searchable format at:  

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:

The Reading List identifies basic collateral works on the Writings by Swedenborg scholars.

The Topical Index to Sections and Reading List is in Volume 18

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