This is a Selection from Volume 1 of Theistic Psychology by Leon James
We are mental beings existing simultaneously in time and in eternity outside time.
We exist in time through the physical body and in eternity through the mental body.
Our birth involves the coming into existence of a physical body in time and a mental body outside time or in eternity. The physical body and mental body are functionally connected through the universal laws of correspondences. These Divinely created laws connect the two worlds of creation Ė the world of time and the world of eternity.
The physical world is in time and space. Its matter originates from stars that create gravitational fields or energies that operate by fixed laws. The stars are also the source of matter, heat, light, and through these, of planets and its weather systems. This arrangement of things in the physical world of time is brought about and managed by the arrangement of things in the mental world of eternity. Every single physical phenomenon, object, or property, is nothing but the effect of some corresponding mental source and cause. Everything that happens in the physical world of time is a corresponding result to something that first happens in the mental world of eternity.
For instance stars exist in the physical world of time because the Spiritual Sun exists in the mental world of eternity. You will be able to see the Spiritual Sun when your consciousness is no longer connected to the physical body. This happens at death. Following that, we are resuscitated, which occurs about thirty hours after the physical body is no longer able to remain connected to the mental body. After resuscitation our conscious awareness is entirely in the mental body. Now we begin our life of immortality in eternity.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a Swedish scientist and engineer, was prepared from childhood to develop a mind and character to be able to receive, write, and publish new scientific revelations about the two worlds and how they are interconnected by the laws of correspondences. At age 57 God appeared to Swedenborg and informed him of his Divinely appointed mission as modern scientific revelator.
Swedenborg was then given the unique and unprecedented ability of being conscious simultaneously in both worlds. No scientist in human history has ever been given such an experimental laboratory which allowed him to do experiments and view it simultaneously in its effects in time and its prior cause in eternity. For the next 27 years, until his death at age 84, he kept daily records, in Swedish and Latin, of his dualist experiments. All his works were published and translated, and the English translation today contains about 30 volumes of his reports on the world of eternity.
Swedenborg observed thousands of people being resuscitated shortly after the death of their physical body. He was able to talk to all the people he had known and had passed into the afterlife. Furthermore, he was able to talk to dozens of famous names he knew from literature going back to thousands of years (e.g., Aristotle). He interviewed people who had lived on this earth when human life first began, and despite their ancient age their mental body appeared like the body they had on earth in their adolescence.
Swedenborg discovered that the world of the afterlife is in eternity, not in time. People often imagine their afterlife as coming back on a new reconstructed earth in which they will live forever. They thus imagine heaven to be on a physical planet in an immortal physical body. Swedenborg proved that the afterlife is in eternity, outside the physical world of time and space.
When people hear about their immortal life in ďeternityĒ and the ďspiritual world,Ē they think of something obscure and without content. They think it is something difficult to understand or be clear about. But all this changes when you realize that eternity is something you are more familiar with than you are with your kitchen or back yard. Eternity is nothing else than the mental world, and what is more familiar to you than your mental world of thoughts and feelings?
People are taught from the negative bias of science that thoughts and feelings are in the brain. Few people go on to examine and observe how irrational and unscientific this idea is. In order to see it and to be able to prove that eternity is our familiar mental world, all you need to do is to consider your dreams. Where are your dreams? Where is the space and the objects in the restaurant you are dreaming eating in?
The space is instantiated by your imagination! In the mental world we have the power to create instantly as much space we want, as much wealth we want, as much fun we want Ė or, strangely enough, their opposites Ė how frightened we can get, or miserable, or powerless. We can create a heaven or a hell in our mind both while we are dreaming and while we are awake. All this is familiar to you. What you did not know is that this mental world is the same as the afterlife of eternity!
When we are born we exist as two connected bodies, one in time, the other in eternity. Only the brain and its operations can be in time and space. The sensations we have from our sensory organs are not in the brain, not in the physical body, but in the mental body. Our thoughts and feelings must exist in a non-material world that is outside space, time, matter, energy, quantity, etc. Our sensations, thoughts, and feelings are not material, not physical, not in space, not in time, not in matter. They are spiritual, outside time and space, in a mental world that is eternal, because not in time. Our mental life cannot exist in our physical body.
From birth onward, our physical body transmits neuro-chemical and electro-physical signals to our brain, and there they remain. The mental body is connected by correspondence to these physical signals. We experience the sensation of an ice cube in the mouth after the physical signal went from the mouth to the brain. The mental sensation occurs simultaneously with the physical brain signal. If the brain malfunctions due to disease or injury, the mental sensation will not be experienced. Once the brain is dead however, and we are resuscitated in our mental body, we can experience sensations far more intensely because the sensory environment in the mental world is far more distinct than in the physical world Ė as you can tell from vivid dreams and nightmares.
So our life of immortality begins when the physical body is dead and the mental body now can experience the mental environment exclusively. This environment differs greatly from the physical environment we are familiar with here. On the surface the two worlds look alike because of our ideas of the environment we must have to live. For instance, the environment in your dreams may be normal or odd, but still it is made of things we are familiar with Ė people, houses, books, beaches, horses, running, eating, etc. The things in our dreams mostly make sense because they are the things in our daily lives.
It is easy to understand therefore that our mental world does not change much in appearance after death. Swedenborg reports that when people are resuscitated they appear to themselves to be in the same place that they died in Ė at home in bed, or a hospital, or battle zone. But this appearance quickly begins to change and we realize that we are no longer in a physical world. People seem to appear and disappear, houses and roads appear, clothes seem to change automatically on our body, we mostly never think of eating, and in any case, we soon realize we do not need to eat or drink to live, for we are immortal. But if we do think about eating, food we want suddenly appears on the table or in our hand, and it tastes very delicious.
Our life in the afterlife of eternity is social life with others who are like us. People live in groups and societies made of individuals who are similar in attitude and interest. It is the harmony and similarity of thoughts and feelings that causes people to appear with each other in groups and societies. This is completely an automatic sorting out process that starts at resuscitation. There are two separate groupings or collections of people in the afterlife, those who have heavenly thoughts and feelings and those who have hellish thoughts and feelings. The heaven or hell we live in is nothing else than the life we have inside our thoughts Ė a life in mental heaven if our thoughts and feelings are heavenly, and a life in mental hell if our thoughts and feelings are hellish.
While we are connected to the physical body it is possible for us to build up our heavenly thoughts and feelings and their hellish counterparts. At some point in our adult life we must start making choices that are either heavenly or hellish. Every choice we make remains with us into the afterlife. After resuscitation we go through a period of discovering which choices we made and which ones we are willing to give up or to keep. If we are willing to give up every single hellish choice, we enter immortal life in heaven. If we are not willing to give up a single hellish trait, we cannot enter heavenly life. Swedenborg reports that many people he observed after their resuscitation, were unwilling to give up this or that cherished attitude or pleasure, even if these were hellish. And so they gave up all their heavenly traits to enter life in hell forever.
How do we know which traits are heavenly or hellish?
When we make a choice on the basis of what we love our reasoning process immediately justifies the choice as good Ė even if it is evil. For instance, when people enjoy listening to loud music or TV they want to ignore how others are disturbed by it. They convince themselves that what they are doing is right since itís their home, or since itís still not late in the evening, or some other reason. Men can rape their dates and think that they didnít do anything wrong because the girl encouraged them. People can drive drunk, kill someone, and convince themselves itís not their fault. People betray each other and think they have the right to do that.
There are so many contradictory religions and philosophies because people want to call good that which they love, want, or enjoy. And so how do we know which of our traits are heavenly and which hellish? If we are wrong about this, it can costs us heaven or hell forever!
This is why it is absolutely necessary that God give people guidelines and definitions of what is heavenly and what hellish. We cannot rely on our own judgment. Hence it is that God gives Sacred Scripture to the human race. This is the Divinely given definition and criterion for what is good vs. evil, true vs. false, heavenly vs. hellish.
In Sacred Scripture God gives us several distinct layers of meanings and definitions. Our first encounter with Divine Speech through Sacred Scripture is the literal sense of the sentences that make up the books of Sacred Scripture. These sentences can be read by anyone and be understood in the literal sense. What are the topics of Sacred Scripture at this literal level of meaning? What is God talking to us about?
At the literal level Sacred Scripture has a historical and religious content. For instance, the Old Testament Sacred Scripture reads like the history of an ancient people, and contains poetry about God, visions and dreams by prophets, various prophecies of future history, numerous commandments and rituals that must be performed, and punishments and rewards are received accordingly. This literal-historical level of meaning of Sacred Scripture forms the basis for religion and its various denominations and varieties.
What happens when people form religions and belief systems based on the literal sense of Sacred Scripture? People interpret this literal content to suit themselves and what they love. People focus on the parts they like and ignore the parts of Sacred Scripture they donít like. There is no consistency, no rational responsibility for being consistent. It is necessary therefore for people to go to the next layer of meaning in Sacred Scripture. This is called the spiritual meaning or the interior meaning, whereas the literal sense is called the natural meaning or the external meaning.
People are able to penetrate to the hidden correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture by making these steps:
(1) Acknowledging that the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture can only be understood by being received from God. No one can do this on their own or from their own. Those who try come up with much improvable fantasy rather than truth and reality.
(2) Studying Sacred Scripture by rational and scientific methods. One must be completely consistent, explain apparent contradictions, and ignore no parts. This is called forming for oneself the Doctrine of Truth from Sacred Scripture. Theistic psychology is an instance of this approach.
(3) Applying each truth and idea to our daily willing and thinking. We must monitor the hundreds of choices we make every day. Every choice must be distinguished in our mind as either heavenly or hellish, as defined by the spiritual meaning of Sacred Scripture that God reveals to us on a daily basis.
If we practice these three steps on a daily basis, we are slowly building up our heaven and cutting our ties with hell. After resuscitation we happily and easily let go of whatever hellish traits remain, and we enter our heaven.
The correspondential sense of the Old and New Testament Sacred Scriptures are revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg Sacred Scripture. The Writings Sacred Scripture teach us how to extract the correspondential sense of all Sacred Scripture. The literal sense of the Writings Sacred Scripture are the Swedenborg Reports in about 30 volumes that describe his experiments, observations, and rationale. It is revealed there that life in eternal heaven is a conjugial life, that is, everyone there is married. Swedenborg interviewed many married couples who live in their heavens. A husband and wife are soul mates and live out their immortal life in happiness and blessedness in company with other similar couples with who they form a society or city. Swedenborg describes the details of life in heaven and hell.
Why risk going to hell? Take charge of your immortality. Start studying theistic psychology and read the Writings Sacred Scripture. Gain knowledge of how to be successful in your character reformation and personality makeover. Everything depends on it!
What is God talking to us about in the hidden correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture? And why is it hidden?
The idea of ďGod talkingĒ is the same as the idea of ďDivine TruthĒ because God thinks and speaks Divine Truth and nothing else. Remember that the mental world of eternity is the world created by Godís thoughts and purposes. God has no beginning and no end, and therefore Godís thoughts are eternal, which is the same as saying that Godís thoughts, or Divine Truth, forms the world of eternity. Remember also that the physical world of time and space is an effect or consequence of a mental cause. This mental cause of the physical world is Divine Truth, which is Godís thinking.
We at first think that the physical world is concrete and solid while the mental world is ephemeral, almost non-existent in concrete reality. We have sayings in popular culture like ďItís only in his imagination. Itís not real.Ē A popular song about an island the singer is dreaming of ends with ďBut there is no island at all, Just a picture on my wall.Ē So we grow up with the idea that the mental world is less real than the physical world.
But as we progress in our rational thinking we discover from the hidden correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture that the mental world is more real than the physical world. Everything in the physical world is temporary and breaks down with time. Nothing is permanent. But in the mental world created by Godís thoughts every single thing is permanent. We are immortal because our mental world is created by the thoughts of God, that is, by Divine Truth. A human mind constructed out of Godís thoughts and feelings is an immortal being because nothing in it can die, everything in it is permanent in eternity. Animals do not have the same mental body we have.
While we have a natural mind and a spiritual mind, animals only have a natural mind. Upon the death of the animal the mental body containing the animalís natural mind cannot remain itself, cannot survive, and dissipates. It is our spiritual mind that makes us different from all animals. Our spiritual mind is constructed as a receptor organ for Godís thoughts and feelings, while animals do not have such an organ. The natural mind animals have are similar to our natural mind in that its content is constructed through the sensory signals of the physical body. In contrast to this, the spiritual mind does not receive any input whatsoever from the physical body and the natural world. All the input into our spiritual mind comes from the spiritual world, that is, the mental world of eternity.
The input or inflow of Godís thoughts and feelings into our spiritual mind is unconscious and automatic. This is the source of rationality, that is, our ability to think and reason rationally in our natural mind. We are not conscious of the inflow of Godís rational thoughts. We are only conscious of the rational thoughts as we are thinking about something or solving a problem.
Why then are we not perfectly rational all the time? Why is the Divine Truth hidden in Sacred Scripture as its correspondential sense? Why not reveal the truth to everybody?
To understand the answer you need to recall that Godís thoughts and feelings flow out into the created mental world of eternity where the minds of human beings exist and live. Godís thoughts and feelings spread out into the mental world of humanity like sunlight and heat spread out into physical space and into the planets. Divine Truth as Divine Speech, spreads into the unconscious spiritual mind of every human being, insuring the rationality and immortality of every member of the human race. But where does Divine Truth go from there? How does it go from the unconscious spiritual mind to the conscious natural mind where we do our thinking
The answer is that the natural mind and the spiritual mind are connected by the laws of correspondences. These laws govern the functional connection between the layers of reality, starting with the spiritual mind and its layers, spreading outward to the natural mind, and finally being written down as sentences in a book. At each level of descent there is a corresponding reaction so that the upper level causes the lower level to react in correspondence with itself. When Divine Speech, or Divine Truth, reaches the bottom of the natural mind, the meaning of the ideas are natural, not spiritual. The literal sense that the prophet writes down in sentences is not what God said or thought, but a correspondence to what God thought and said.
For instance the literal sense of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture often speaks of water, different forms of it, like rain, ocean, storm, flood, river, spring waters, etc. When Swedenborg read the Sacred Scripture people use in the heavens of their eternity, there was no mention of water anywhere. Instead, when Swedenborg compared the specific passages and phrases where the Old Testament Sacred Scripture mentions water, there was mention of various forms of truth, like external vs. internal truth, or mediate truth vs. genuine truth, or truth of doctrine, truth of religion, natural truth vs. spiritual truth, falsified truth, etc. In other words, Divine Speech discusses the varieties of truth in human minds, not the weather or bodies of water on earth.
Another example is the frequent mention and description of wars conducted by the children of Israel in the Holy Land. All sorts of sordid details are given, some quite revolting. In several passages God is quoted as saying that He orders the children of Israel to invade the land that was promised them, wage holy war against the inhabitants, and destroy their cities, and decimate their population. God orders that no one should be spared the sword, -- women, children, and cattle. Many people today are puzzled or offended by such a barbaric treatment commanded by God. But you can understand it if you look for the hidden spiritual meaning of these events. Every detail of war mentioned in the Old Testament Sacred Scripture can be analyzed and seen to deal with the details of the psychology of regeneration.
This is what God wants us to know. Divine Love wants each human being to live in the heaven of eternity that is constructed out of Godís feelings and thoughts. God has arranged things so that He cannot make us to be in our heaven if we donít want to. This is called spiritual freedom. God puts spiritual freedom above all other properties of human being. Through His Divine omnipotence he maintains the spiritual freedom of every human being from birth to endless eternity. God makes sure that we be totally unaware of the fact that our thoughts and feelings are nothing but adaptations in our mind of His thoughts and feelings.
God does not want us to actually sense or be aware of the fact that our thoughts and feelings are mere adaptations or extensions of His thoughts and feelings. Why not?
Because we would not like it. In order for us to feel happy it is a necessity that we feel like an independent person, and that we act from our free will according to our own desires. We donít want our thoughts and feelings to be controlled by God. And so because God has made us this way, He makes sure that we are unconscious of the source of our thinking and feeling as being from God.
God gives us the sense and feeling that we think and feel from ourselves. This is called the as-of self. In other words, we do not have a self that originates in ourselves. The collection of thoughts and feelings we call a human person is not built up by ourselves, but by Godís actions in our mind. Every human being is born from parents so that the mental world of the offspring is similar to the mental world of the parents. Our mental body contains all the qualities of our parents, and they inherited their mental qualities from their parents. Various specific genealogies thus evolve as races, blood lines, families, and nations. The inheritance of the visible physical traits are correspondences to the inheritance of the mental traits.
Over the many generations of human beings on this planet there occurred a progressive decline in mental traits because people falsified the thoughts of truth that came into their conscious natural mind. The original generations lived in a paradise on earth because this corresponded to their mental states, which were heavenly. They were in direct communication with conscious awareness, of their family and friends already in the afterlife of eternity. This was through their spiritual mind. But later generations began to falsify the thoughts of truth in their natural mind. Falsified truths serve to justify feelings and intentions that are contrary to good. In this way they created a hell in the mental world.
Hell is nothing but the perversion of heaven, because evil, which is hell, is nothing but the corruption or adulteration of good, which is heaven.
The hells of the human mind then kept growing and accumulating from generation to generation. The New Testament Sacred Scripture reveals that every human being born on this earth had become a hell by the time of the Incarnation Event, by which God made Himself be born as a human child on earth. By acquiring a Divine Natural Body, God radically changed His relationship to the human race and our evolution of consciousness. The Divine Child, while on earth, created in His natural mind a new mental organ that did not exist before in the human race (see Section xx). This organ is called the spiritual-natural mind.
In other words, God created a new area in the human mind that did not yet exist there. This new area is called the spiritual-natural mind. Note that it is both natural and spiritual. This is its new power. Before this mental organ was created by the Divine Child in Himself two thousand years ago, there was only a conscious natural mind and an unconscious spiritual mind. In this world (see Section xx). But the reverse, after resuscitation. Until our death we are conscious in our natural mind; after death we are conscious in our spiritual mind.
The Divine Child created a new mental plane of operation called spiritual-natural. This is now the meeting place between God and the individual. It is the intermediate zone, half way in time, and half in eternity. With the operation at this level of the mind we are fully conscious of God in our rational spirituality. We can see spiritual reality rationally. Theistic psychology is the content of this new spiritual-natural organ, containing our consciousness, knowledge, and awareness of eternity, of God, of heaven and hell.
Theistic psychology is the knowledge extracted from the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture (see Section xx). The unveiling of this new theistic science marks the beginning of the New Age that shall never end. Now at last the human race is complete in its creation. The creation of the conscious spiritual-natural mind was the last act of creation that completed the human race. From now on every human being possesses this spiritual-natural organ. With this organ the individual can enter heaven before death and live out a life on earth as if in heaven, and after resuscitation, in actual heaven.
Rational spirituality is the daily life discipline of dwelling consciously in the presence of God as we go about our daily activities. The spiritual-natural organ is activated more and more as we live the discipline of rational spirituality. The more this organ is activated the more we are happy, effective, and loving. We are enlightened. We can instantly recognize genuine truth from distorted truth. We cannot be led away by others or distracted by human foibles. We are most useful to others through our understanding and compassion. We are angels on earth for a time.
The discipline of rational spirituality has these components:
(1) Acknowledging Godís omnipotence and its implications for how we think about events.
(2) Acknowledging Godís Divine Speech in the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture. This is called theistic psychology.
(3) Studying theistic psychology on a daily basis in the conscious presence of God. Being a student of it. Making notes, lists, tables, charts, and diagrams. Considering this a Divine or sacred task. Developing and cumulating the Doctrine of Truth from Sacred Scripture. Acknowledging that is God who puts this Doctrine in our understanding. Acknowledging this Doctrine as Divine Truth in our mind, placed there by God, and maintained there by God.
(3) Self-witnessing our threefold self Ė (a) the affective self of feelings, emotions, and intentions; (b) the cognitive self of thoughts, plans, justifications; (c) the sensorimotor self of sensations and motor determinations. Applying the Doctrine in our understanding. Examining every thought or intention or enjoyment, asking ourselves: Is it from heaven or from hell. Applying the Doctrine of Truth to make this decision. Doing this all day, every day.
(4) Acknowledging the Doctrine of the Wife. Swedenborg has confirmed that our immortality in heaven is in the married state. No one enters the heaven in their mind except as a married couple. There are no heavens for singles. This is because the portion of the human mind called heaven in eternity consists of a conjoint self. This means that the mental body of the husband and wife are joined together and function as one unit. The husbandís respiratory system or thinking is joined to the wifeís circulatory system or feeling.
The conjoint mental body is made up on the outside, of the wifeís affective organ united to the husbandís cognitive organ, and on the inside, it is made up of the wifeís cognitive organ united to the husbandís affective organ. In order to achieve this conjoint self the husband must practice the Doctrine of the Wife as a daily spiritual discipline. As he makes progress, he begins to see that the Doctrine of the Wife and the Doctrine of Truth are the same.