My Understanding of Theistic Psychology
By: Melissa Alcover
Instructions for this report are at:www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy23/459-g23-report2.htm
I am answering Questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
Section A: My Own Summary of the Selectionswww.alcover-selections.htm
Selection 1: Mental Biology
Theistic Psychology is mental biology. In Diagram A you will be able to see how everything connects in theistic psychology. There is a rational explanation how everything ties into each other and how each concept fits into the other. For example, eternity equals spiritual equals mental. The spiritual world, as explained by Swedenborg is all mental. We create a heaven or hell within the rationality of our minds.
In Diagram A we will see that we believe in a omnipotent God, that we have a affective organ, and a cognitive organ controlling our thoughts and emotions. We also believe that there is a heaven and a hell. There are also three levels of thinking in theistic psychology and after reaching the third level one will become enlightened.
Selection 2: The Divine Psychologist
The divine psychologist’s main motive for human kind is divine love. God gives each person spiritual truths in their mind so that we will be able to fight off evil loves and wants. He gives us the ability to deny hellish traits so that we will embrace heaven loves. The Divine Psychologist through cooperation with ourselves takes us through a regeneration process. The Divine Psychologist arranges our environments and modification principles. The Divine Psychologist follows our everyday moves and experiences.
The Divine Psychologist follows us so that he will help us develop our natural minds into our spiritual minds. There is also a heavenly feeling of remains that the Divine Psychologist gives us but it is ultimately up to us to follow through with the response. For example, if you see someone fall down you will get the feeling to go and help. But the divine psychologist takes away the feeling as fast as it was given and is stored within your spiritual mind.
Selection 3: As of Self
The As-of self in theistic psychology is the concept that the omnipotent God is the controller of our action and thoughts. While he does give us our free will whether to do evil or give into our hellish traits, he is the one who provides us with the power to do so. Without his spiritual intervene we would not be able to do anything, we would not be able to function at all. Basically, everything in the natural world including ourselves is determined by the one and only God.
Selection 4: Psychology of Cooperation
We must cooperate with the Divine Psychologist by the daily practices of self-witnessing. This can be considered a spiritual practice because it involves the motivation of doing for the purpose of our character reformation which will be very important in the afterlife. This is one of the main important topic in theistic psychology.
Self-witnessing is the self-observation of our feelings, intentions, thoughts, perceptions, focus of attention, social appearance, and actions or movements of the body, hands, legs, eyes, etc. These are the procedures that every individual accomplishes in the course of their entire life in a group or society. These procedures can be observed by our self-monitoring skills, when we are fully motivated by the spiritual discipline.
Our task in cooperating with the Divine Psychologist is to exert the mental effort of:
(a) examining our inner life
(b) judging it by means of the doctrine of truth from Sacred Scripture
(c) cease doing what is not allowed or condemned thereby
(d) start doing what is allowed or commanded
This process prepares your mind for temptations, the main method the Divine Psychologist does to regenerate our will or what is known as our affective organ, from hellish to heavenly. This will help in reformation. A new affective organ is provided which is then grown and expanded gradually as the person is regenerating. There are natural, spiritual, and celestial temptations, and each category has a developmental series that must be started or experienced. The result is a spiritual heaven in our spiritual mind that is prepared and ready for each of us, as we undergo the second death or reformation of our mind.
Section B: My Answers to the Five Questions
“The Question I am Answering is Question 1”
(a) Explain in your own words how you understand the phrase “mental biology” in theistic psychology. What makes theistic psychology “mental” and what makes it “biological”? You will need to include several related concepts to give an adequate explanation e.g., evolution of consciousness, discrete degrees, and substantive dualism. You will need to explain these related terms as well before the whole is comprehensible. Is it important for a theory in psychology to be biological?
-Mental biology in theistic psychology is the way everything ties together with the spiritual world and the mental world. I think that it what is meant by this concept. The spiritual world is equal to the mental world. Everything in the spiritual world can be linked biologically to something in the natural world.
The evolution of consciousness means the stages that one takes to enlightenment. It is when a human being evolves their natural mind into a more spiritual mind. When they become ready to be in either the heaven or hell of their mind.
There are three discrete degrees in the created universe called celestial, spiritual, and natural. The degrees are distinct because there is no connection between them. The physical body is in the natural degree while the mind or spirit is in the spiritual degree. Within these degrees one must stay and never cross over into another degree. For example, one cannot cross over the natural degree into the spiritual degree. One cannot be on earth while in heaven or hell.
Substantive dualism is dualism of the mind. This means what Swedenborg was able to do when he was earth. Every person in the universe has a dual mind. This means that they have a natural mind and a spiritual mind. Swedenborg became a dual citizen because while he resided on earth he also resided in heaven/ hell. Usually, we use our natural mind while on earth and our spiritual mind open ups in the afterlife.
(b) Diagram A in Section 184.108.40.206.1 is a portrayal of mental biology. Explain what elements of the diagram are useful for you, bringing out new aspects you haven’t thought of yet. And what elements are problematic for you and why: Is the idea too vague? Does it contradict something you believe?
-I thought the idea that we have a spiritual sun as well as a natural sun to be very interesting. I think that this diagram made a lot of sense to me. Love and good is equal to rationality and truth. I thought about this and truth is always good while lies are always bad. Rationality is love because when someone is irrational they bring chaos and hate to the world. When I first looked at this diagram I thought that it was very confusing and hard to understand. But after we discussed this for several class periods I began to understand and see the connection between each concept. The conscious affective organ is what we intend and is known as the as-of-self liberty while our conscious cognitive organ is what we think and is known as the as-of-self rationality.
I think that the idea is somewhat vague but needs to be. Theistic psychology is so complex and it has so many different layers and concepts to learn about. I think that if it were any more complicated no one would be able to understand. I grew up as a Catholic so I never learned about this. It doesn’t really contradict anything that I believe in because I am not too into religion.
“The Question I am Answering is Question 2”
(a) Discuss the concept of the Divine Psychologist. Explain it. Is this concept an essential feature in theistic psychology or should it be omitted for the sake of greater acceptance?
-The Divine Psychologist is also known as God. The Divine Psychologist’s main motive is to teach Divine Love. The Divine Psychologist follows us in our everyday living and is constantly helping us in our path to stay good and truthful. The divine psychologist builds up our spiritual heaven in our spiritual mind. The divine psychologist also gives our mind remains which means the feelings of tendencies to do good. For example, when everyone is gossiping about someone and you have the feeling to not participate or make the talking stop that is what remains is. The divine psychologist gives you that feeling of remains and stores it in your eternal mind so that feeling to do good will always be there and help you make the right, good decisions.
The Divine Psychologist is in charge of our environment and monitors our everyday living. Basically the divine psychologist is our invisible angel. I think that this concept is an essential feature of theistic psychology and should not be omitted for the sake of greater acceptance. The divine psychologist is the main thing in theistic psychology. The divine psychologist ties together the spiritual world and the natural world.
(b) It is possible for you to relate to it, or not? What would need to change in your ideas before you could accept such an idea as completely real in your life? What is the psychology of cooperation? Could this be something important to you right now?
-Actually I can relate to this because I believe in the idea of God and a guardian angel. I have always believed in this idea since I was a young child. I would not need to change in my ideas to accept the idea of the Divine Psychologist. The psychology of cooperation is our cooperation as a person with the Divine Psychologist. We must cooperate by examining our inner life, judging it by means of the doctrine of truth from Sacred Scripture, cease doing what is not allowed or condemned thereby, and start doing what is allowed or commanded. By doing this we will prepare our minds to not give into temptations and help ourselves created a more spiritual heaven in our mind.
This could be something that is important to me right now because I do not know when I am going to die and when I do I want to be prepared mentally to go to heaven. I know that I do not want to spend eternity in the hell of my mind. I think that if I start slowly not in the future choosing to do good and not give into evil tendencies will be easier and more instinctive. I think that everyone should be trying to do good and choosing that over evil temptations.
(c) In the spirit of the positive bias, pretend for a day (or an hour) that you are talking in your mind to the Divine Psychologist, assuming it is a real phenomenon in theistic psychology. Describe what happened.
-If I were talking to the Divine Psychologist and assuming it was real I would be speechless. I think he would tell me that I need to stay more focused on my path and to do more good. He would advise me to give up my bad ways such as going out late and putting off my homework in substitute for having fun. I would ask him how my little brother who died at a young age was doing. And he’d tell me that A.J. is doing fine, that he grew up in heaven, and is happy as can be. I would smile and ask about how my grandpas are doing because I never was able to meet them because they both died before I was born. The Divine Psychologist would say that they watch over me day to day and they are very proud of me. My one last question would be if I would end up in heaven or hell. In my perfect conversation with the Divine Psychologist he would tell me that I would of course go to heaven if I continued doing good and putting aside hellish traits. Than I would say goodbye and he would say until we meet again.
“The Question I am Answering is Question 6”
(a) What is the relation between mind and the spiritual world?
-The mind is the spiritual world. We create our own heaven or hell within our mind after our natural death. Our mind, our thoughts is what gets us into either heaven or hell. Depending if we have inner good or inner evil allows us to spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Our mind is the main cause of this.
(b) How does theistic psychology show their relation?
-Theistic psychology shows the relation between the mind and the spiritual world by Swedenborg talking about his mental dualism. He shows us that our mind when opened can go to heaven or hell or the natural world. Our mind is our spiritual world. After death our mind is immortal that is what theistic psychology teaches us.
(c) How can the human mind be immortal?
-The human mind can be immortal because our mind cannot die. Our physical body can die because of our organs. But, our mind cannot die. Our thoughts are free and unlimited. It is impossible for our mind to end, how can someone kill our minds? It is not logical. Our human mind will be immortal because for eternity we will be awake and conscious in either heaven or hell.
(d) Why should people be concerned about the afterlife?
-People should be concerned about the afterlife because sooner or later, at one time or the other everyone will die and leave the natural world. But where does one go after? That is the afterlife, it is almost, just as, or more important than the natural life. The afterlife is where we will reside for eternity. That is a very long time, it is forever. Where one ends up is very important. No one wants to end up in hell and spend their rest of their life in never ending torture. This is why people should be concerned: the afterlife is for eternity. While the natural life was temporary.
(e) What is the “vertical community” and why should people focus on their “dual citizenship”
-The vertical community is eternity. It is where we will live after our natural death on earth. The vertical community is either heaven or hell. People should focus on their dual citizenship because by doing that in the natural life it will prepare us for the spiritual world. While being conscious that we are in fact dual citizens we will be more aware of our options and choices. It will help us be more conscious on doing the right thing and focus on good loves. Whereas if you do not think of being a dual citizen you may be more prone to give into hellish tendencies.
“The Question I am Answering is Question 7”
(a) Discuss the concept of the “as-of self”
-The concept “as-of self” is that God is the main controller of our action, thoughts, and feelings. Whether it is heaven thoughts and good deeds or hellish actions and feelings God is what controls it. He allows us to think it, to act upon it, and to carry out our actions. Without his interference we would not be able to do anything. Our body would be useless. I think that God allows us to make our own decisions though, he can only guide each of us so far. He allows us to make our own choices.
(b) Why it is difficult for people to accept his idea?
-It is difficult for people to accept his idea because some people for one do not believe in a God. There are many people who do not have a religion and who do not believe that there is one God in control of everything. Than there are some people who do not like the idea that God has control of everything. That he “allows” us to do everything that we do. Many people believe that they are in charge of themselves. That what they chose to do and what they participate in is all their own doing. They like to believe that them and only them have control over themselves.
(c) Does the concept of as-of self imply that we don’t really have true freedom as human beings?
-I think that we have true freedom as human beings. I think that although God has control over everything he allows us to make our own choices. For example, people commit evil everyday do you think that if God had complete control over all of us and he made us do what he wanted than crimes would be committed. No right? Exactly. We are able to still make our own decisions and do what we want.
(d) Is human freedom compatible with the concept of God’s omnipotence?
-Yes, human freedom is compatible with the concept of God’s omnipotence. It must be compatible because we are currently living in the natural world living our own lives and making our own decisions. We found nothing wrong with the way we were living, never had any questions until one learned about theistic psychology. So, in that case I do believe that human freedom is compatible with the concept of God’ omnipotence.
(e) How do you react to this concept? Can you accept it? Does it make a difference whether you accept it or not?
-I do not think that is makes a difference whether I accept this or not. It does not matter whether I think it is truth or a lie because nothing would change anyways. Although, I do accept this concept. I do believe that there is a God in this world and that he controls us. I know that there is someone always guiding me, I can feel it. I do believe that while God is in control of us he gives us enough space and control to make up our own minds and form our own thoughts. I think that this concept is true and do not find anything wrong with it.
“The Question I am Answering is Question 8”
Discuss how the study of theistic psychology has influenced your thinking thus far.
(a) Make a list of the important concepts you learned and explain how they help you figure out your life.
1. Heaven Marriage- I learned that even though one is married on earth in the natural life. After natural death and while in the spiritual world one may get remarried to someone who is more compatible and suitable for that person or wait for their husband/wife if they are meant to be. I found this very surprising and interesting. It just made me realize that I need to be more aware who I chose to end up with. I hope that I find my soul mate and end up in complete happiness.
2. I learned that one must give up their hellish traits and embrace heavenly loves to get into the spiritual world. I learned about reformation and the second death. I realized that I will need to chose all my heaven loves over my hellish loves. I know now that I need to focus on all the good and rational thinking. I need to let go my evil thoughts and irrationality. It helped me learn what is important in my life.
3. I learned that there is one omnipotent God and I realized that I need to be more careful on what I do on earth because it will effect my afterlife. I learned that there are in fact angels and devils. I learned that there is a afterlife, a heaven or a hell. I learned that there is more life than this natural earth and there is more to look forward to after our physical death. It gave me more to look forward to.
I have learned so much in theistic psychology over this one semester that I do not know where to start or where to end. I have learned such valuable life information. I know that it has made me more educated and helped me know how to change my life for the better. I learned about heaven traits vs. hell traits and I think for me that was the most important. It made me realize that I need to be a better person so that I can prepare my mind for the spiritual heaven. I know what I need to work on.
(b) What is your assessment of how others in class react to the study of theistic psychology?
-I think that the class I was in was very good. We all kept a positive bias, did our readings, presented our orals, and participated in class discussions. I liked this class because I got along with my classmates and we could talk about this class during or out of class with one another. I think though that in the beginning it was hard for us to understand but over time we realized that there was logic to what Swedenborg was saying. And we got more into the subject matter. I think that the students who dropped in the beginning of the semester were the ones who was not able to take the positive bias and who had no interest in learning something different.
(c) Try sharing some of these concepts with friends and describe their reactions.
-When I tried talking to my friend Dan about Swedenborg and how he was able to open up his dual mind, Dan’s reaction was like “WHAT, was he crazy?” But after I explained everything to him, he was a bit skeptical and replied with “Umm..okay, sure whatever you say”. I don’t think he really believed what I was saying and didn’t even think that I was talking about a real university level class. He thought I was talking to him about a religion or a cult. I think that it is hard for some people to hear the logic and scientific point of view. I think my friend definitely had the negative bias.
On the other hand when I was talking to my friend Shanelle about this she found it very interesting. She liked hearing me explain about heaven and hell. I think the most important thing with her was if there would be shopping and boys in heaven. But otherwise, she took the positive bias. She thought it could be possible that Swedenborg was able to be a dual citizen.
(d) What are your reactions to their reactions?
-I think that I can understand why Dan was like that. I remember when I first started this class I had a few doubts myself. But Dan was really strong about not believing what I was saying. I do understand it though and I do not feel offended in any way by his reaction. I even thought some of his comments were funny but I realize that theistic psychology is not for everyone.
My friend Shanelle’s reaction was good because I felt more comfortable telling her stories of what I read in the writings. Plus it was fun to share my knowledge of theistic psychology with someone. I think that when I talk about something I am able to remember it more and understand it better myself. I am happy that she was interested in what I had to say and that she took the positive bias.
(e) Will you continue to study theistic psychology?
-I think that maybe in the future when I have more time I may continue to study theistic psychology. I think that it takes a lot of time and attention to understand the writings and concepts. I don’t have that much free time at the moment. I do think that theistic psychology is very interesting and I wouldn’t mind learning more about the subject. I know that I will incorporate what I learned into my living style. I know that I will try to embrace my good loves and focus on being a better person.
(f) How do you explain the apparent fact that some students seem to understand the topics pretty well in their reports, but do not necessarily accept them?
-I think that a person can learn subject matter very well but do not need to follow it or accept it. For example I know a lot of things about Buddhism by my friends and by my religion class that I had last year but I do not follow that religion at all. Another example is knowing how to ride a bike. Someone may know all the steps but not know how to incorporate them for real in life. It is easy to know something, its different to be able to practice it.
(g) What suggestions do you have for how to teach theistic psychology to college students in psychology?
- I do not have any current suggestions. I think that you are doing a wonderful job teaching this class. I find that it was easy to learn and participate in. I find it helpful that you believe in theistic psychology so much. It makes it seem so much logical and true. I think that if I had a professor who did not know what he was talking about and who did not sound like he believed in it as well I would have a very difficult time learning the subject matter. I found this class to be very enjoyable and would recommend others to take this class as well.
Section C: My Analysis of Prior Generations in The Generational Curriculum
By: David Messingwww.soc.hawaii.edu/leon459s2005/messing/459-g22-report2.htm
I. His Feelings
As I read his comments on theistic psychology. I think that he feels that our world, the society we are living in today completely closes the door on the spiritual world. He believes that is it necessary that we are opened up to the spiritual world and filled with the knowledge of it. But, on the other hand God speaks to us through our minds so whether we are educated or not does not really matter because as long as we open our minds than we will hear the Divine Speech.
He says that he always believed in the spiritual world but did not know how to open up his mind and gain access to it until he took theistic psychology.
II. His Thoughts
He felt that without learning about theistic psychology he would not have been able to gain access and open his mind to the spiritual world. He will also continue to study theistic psychology. He also plans to read all the writing and study the correspondences. He also admits that he did not take the positive bias in the beginning but had to stop disproving of Swedenborg to see that it actually made sense. He also believes that it is critical to adopt the positive bias when studying theistic psychology.
III. His Conclusion
He concludes that theistic psychology needs to be taught in a class setting. He also believes that the readings should be made mandatory to fully understand and learn about theistic psychology. It is important that a student takes the positive bias in theistic psychology class or one will never learn. It is up to every person whether or not to chose heaven or hellish loves.
IV. How His Insights Apply to Me
I agree with David Messing on the fact that is most critical for a student to adopt the positive bias. If someone has the negative bias than they will never be able to learn theistic psychology. Their mind will remain closed and nothing that is said will be comprehended. I also agree that the society today closes our mind to the spiritual world. Even religions today would say that Swedenborg was not telling the truth. From a young age we learn that while living we remain and reside on earth and it is impossible to go to heaven or hell. If I said that I did what Swedenborg did I would be going to the crazy asylum for sure.
I, like David have to admit that I did not adopt the positive bias at first and it took me a while to open up my mind. I think that people should read the writings of Swedenborg. Also, it was not until this class that I learned of the spiritual world or heaven and hellish loves.
By: Jennifer Ikedahttp://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/459s2005/ikeda/home.htm
I. Her Feelings
Jennifer felt that it is important that one learns about the afterlife and where one will spend eternity. If we do not learn of the afterlife than a person will not know how to stop from ending up in eternal hell. They will not learn how to prepare on earth and in the natural life for the afterlife. After learning about hellish loves, she feels that she has learned enough to try to prevent herself from residing in hell. She also talks about how religions teach of how sins will be forgiven by God. But in theistic psychology that is not true and not what you learn.
II. Her Thoughts
Jennifer thinks that theistic psychology makes a lot of sense because she always thought that it could not be true that someone would be able to sin a lot on earth and be forgiven just like that. She thinks that concept of spending eternity in hell is hard to accept because her family and friends may not be able to let go of their hellish loves.
Jennifer says that she took theistic psychology will a positive bias but she still has a lot to learn.
III. Her Conclusion
Jennifer concluded that theistic psychology is important because it is very important for people to learn about the afterlife. The more on studies theistic psychology and the sacred scripture the more enlightened a person will come and therefore learn how to spend eternity in heaven. She wants to use the information she learned and study to be able to help her in her natural life to give up the hellish loves and desires she has. After learning theistic psychology she has the means to be able to give up her hellish traits and loves and embrace heaven loves so that she will spend eternity in heaven.
IV. How Her Insights Apply to Me
I also feel that after I took theistic psychology as a class I got the insight as to what I need to do in the natural world to be able to spend eternity in heaven. Theistic psychology has taught me about the spiritual world and the afterlife. I was raised a Catholic and went to St. Joseph Elementary and we learned that God would forgive us for our sins as long as we prayed and went to church. I like Jennifer did not always understand how this could be possible. How can some people sin from Monday-Saturday spend one day at church on Sunday and ask for forgiveness by God. Than God was supposed to forgive you for your sins and you would get a free ticket into heaven. I never agreed with this logic. I remember that I used to get into debates about this with a friend who was very into Christianity. I am not saying their faith is wrong but I think that I agree with theistic psychology that whatever is in your mind is in your mind, that it is not about forgiveness but it is about letting go of hellish traits.
I disagree with Jennifer on the fact that it is hard to accept the concept of spending eternity in hell. I believe that there are some people in this world who are so demented that their minds are already a living hell. I don’t believe that everyone in this world will go to heaven because I don’t think that some people deserve it.
By: Sabrina Favorswww.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/459s2005/favors/459-g22-report2.htm
I. Her Feelings
She grew up in a Roman Catholic family and although she has her religion she was able to open up her mind to the positive bias. She also learned that looking for a deeper meaning when reading the bible is important and even helped her with her own religion in understanding it better. She feels that hurting people is not acceptable. Hurting people is a hellish trait and that would be a main reason why one should give up hellish loves.
II. Her Thoughts
Sabrina feels that it was hard to believe Swedenborg’s writing at first. She said that when she read everything in the beginning she was like ok it could be true but than say it was not a science. That is what schools teach us in modern day. But after time she was able to open her mind up the a new perspective. Theistic psychology can open up one’s mind and even help someone understand their religion better. That was what she was able to use theistic psychology with.
III. Her Conclusion
In conclusion, theistic psychology will be able to open up one’s mind to new things and allow you to see a different perspective. There is a deeper meaning to the bible that one must realize and try to learn and look for. Theistic psychology helped her understand her Roman Catholic religion better. Also, everyone should know that hurting someone is very wrong and should give up that hellish trait immediately.
IV. How Her Insights Apply to Me
I was also grown up as a Catholic. I remember when I did that reading on the deeper hidden meanings to the words in the bible and the translations on the side it was really interesting. I never knew about that and was surprised by how everything meant something else completely different. I agree that theistic psychology is a class that will open your mind to new things and information. It is definitely a learning experience and will greatly benefit you. I think that learning of the spiritual world and the afterlife is very important.
Section D: My Advice to Future Generations
I am a theistic psychology student of Dr. Leon James of the Fall 2005 semester. After studying Swedenborg’s writings and attending each class I feel that I have a right amount of insight to be able to lend advice. I think that the main thing a student must do to succeed in this class is that you must adopt and maintain the positive bias. You must be able not to judge and accept that there is a chance that Swedenborg was telling the truth and did partake in this dual mind citizenship. One must forget about religion and the barriers of living on earth. I think that if you are not willing to accept theistic psychology as a science than you will not be able to take this class.
You will also need to do all the readings to understand the concepts of heaven and hell, rationality vs. irrationality, and many other relations of topics in theistic psychology. There are so much experiences that Swedenborg talks about in his writings that you must read. If you want to take this class than you must not slack. You will need to be able to do a lot of writing and reading. If you are not a studious student than you may not enjoy theistic psychology.
To be able to do this report you must have done the readings so that you are familiar with the information and are able to answer the questions. I think that to do the research you must print out the writings, carefully read through them, highlight the important information so that it will be easily located, and keep in mind the questions. I think that as long as you went to class, kept up with the reading, and participated in class discussions that doing the report will be like writing down the information you have learned about through the semester on paper.
Class Home Page:www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy23/classhome-g23.htm
My Home Page:www.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/459f2005/alcover/459-g23-report2.htm