(c) 1983 Revised 1999
- All living creatures in the created universe have participatory life, not life on their own; that is, God and creature interact reciprocally to maintain life, moment by moment. Thus, as soon as God weakens His influx, or as soon as the creature closes off influx; degeneration and death result in proportion to the breaking of the reciprocal bond between creature and God. This reciprocal participation is constant and permanent, in general as well as in detail. Thus, death is the result of severe withdrawal; sickness and dysfunction correspond to the degree of withdrawal and separation of the community from spiritual influx.
- In the human creature, separation between the individual and God brings on illness, misfortune, accidents, anxieties, lack of wisdom, errors in judgment, false attitudes, and so on to all the evils of society and civilization.
- Resoration of closeness between creature and God is instantly reviving, vivifying, and regenerating. Healing, positive change, growth, development, understanding are some of the goods that result from restoration of closeness and participatory life. Once restored or regenerated, the human creature continues to evolve, progress, and expand to eternity, since human participatory life is immortal.
- In the absence of regeneration, human life continues down a gradual degeneration to eternity: the individuals who share the fantasy constructions of non-participatory life for example, "I can do what I want," "I am a god," or "I do this solely from my own power," etc., degenerate together in infernal societies, (in body form, in mental capacity, in impoverished environment, in psychological distress, and in spiritual darkness).
- Human life contains Birth of the individual on some natural earth, a first death or entry into the spirit world, and a second death or entry into heaven or hell. Birth occurs simultaneously in three worlds so that each human being is born with three bodies, each made of its own organic substance, and each subject to the laws of its world. Thus, the natural body is subject to time/space material constraints of reaction and motion; the spiritual body is in the spirit world and its laws of reaction and motion; the heavenly vs. Infernal body is in heaven or hell and their laws of action and motion.
- Each of the three bodies has its own "self" or conscious awareness of itself. Thus, the natural body's conscious self is the "me" we know in this world, what we call our "private and social self" that has a name by which I and others know me. The spiritual body's conscious self is unknown to the natural self and leads its own existence amidst some spirit society in the spirit world. These two selves, though unknown to each other, nevertheless act in conjunction. This corresponding action binds them together, each in its own way. The natural self has the hallucination that it thinks its own thoughts. Actually, the thoughts "descend" psycho-biologically from the spiritual self into the natural self's imagination and acquired memories from experiences in the earth environment. At this point the natural self hallucinates that these thoughts did not descend from some other higher world, but were produced in the natural world by the natural self's imaginative capacities and "brain power". But, actually the spiritual self produces the thoughts, as thoughts can be produced and maintained only in the spirit world, (outside time/space because visual thoughts cannot exist in time/space). The bond between the two selves established from birth insures that each individual relates only to his or her own pair of selves in the natural and spiritual worlds. In this way, the natural self and the spiritual self progress and act together. Thus, the imagination and memory of the natural self always relates to and interacts with the thoughts of the spiritual self. While in our bodies on earth, the natural self is partially aware of the spiritual self's thoughts but attributes these thoughts to itself.
- However, there is also the third self, (heavenly infernal), which is bonded to the lower two and participates in the natural self's threefold-life, (imagination and memory of experiences on earth--which is proper to itself; thought-life and reasoning--which it attributes to itself by hallucination; and striving or motivational life-which it also attributes to itself by hallucination). This third self actually lives in heaven or hell alternately, and has there a life of its own affections, loves, strivings, and goals, which descend into the thought-life of the spirit self, from where they ultimate in the imagination of the natural self.
- While all three selves are bonded together, (after birth and before first death), the natural self has a life of its own in the imagination and memory of earth experiences, while it shares in the life of thoughts from the spirit self, and it shares in the life of strivings from the heavenly or infernal self. The spiritual self has a life of its own in the thoughts and reasoning, while it shares in the life of imagination from the natural self, and shares in the life of strivings and purposes from the heavenly or infernal self. The heavenly or infernal self has a life of its own in the strivings and purposes, while it shares in the life of thoughts from the natural self. Thus while all three selves are bonded together, each self must share in the life of the other two, and none of the three selves exist on their own as a full fledged person. The spiritual self hallucinates it lives on earth as to external environment since it shares imagination and memory of earth experiences from the natural self's own life on earth. The heavenly or infernal self hallucinates it lives on earth, (from external imagination in time/space), as the natural self's well as on the spirit world earth, (from the spiritual self's thoughts it shares). The natural self hallucinates it lives in the spirit world through thoughts it attributes to itself, and hallucinates it also lives in heaven or hell, (from the heavenly or infernal self's affections it shares). Thus, we say and feel at times that we're being "spiritual" or that we experience the ecstasies of "heaven" or the sufferings of "hell".
- Upon the first death, we lose the natural body, hence, the natural self and its capacity to have imagination and memory of the natural stimuli or experiences in the natural world. A few hours following natural death, the person awakens or resurrects in the spiritual body, which of course feels entirely familiar since we are exposed to the memory of the thoughts we shared even in the natural life. However, at this point, we stop hallucinating that we are thinking on our own, and instead, as a spirit, we are keenly conscious of our actual freedom in our thoughts and reasoning. In this state, as spirit individuals, our mental life is much more keen and is capable of feats unparalleled and undreamed of by its more restricted capacities while being bonded to the former natural self, now deceased. However, the spirit-individual still hallucinates that it has a life of its own in its strivings and affections which actually are not their own but shared from the heavenly or infernal self. Thus, societies in the earth of the spirit world have a much more active life of thoughts and reasoning than societies in the earth of the natural world which are not active rationally, but rather sensuously and imaginatively. But, spirit-individuals who are liberated from the bonds of the deceased natural self's life of imagination now acquire a pseudo-natural imagination proper to the spirit world's laws. These laws operate so that the imagination and sensory input of the spirit-individual corresponds to and expresses the spirit-individual's thought-life. Thus, whatever the spirit-individual thinks, believes, or reasons about in himself or herself, that is expressed in the "pseudo-natural environment." Actually, since spirit-individuals communicate and sense each other's thought-life completely, they in effect collectively hallucinate their pseudo-natural surrounds for example, geographic features, resources, governance, and management practices.
- Upon the second death, we lose the spiritual body, hence, the capacity to think and reason on one's own as before in the life of the spirit-self. Now we are an angel in heavenly-societies or a devil in hell-societies. Each of us is then fully free to live our own strivings, loves, or purposes, and we are also given a life of pseudo-thoughts and reasoning, plus a life of pseudo-natural images and sensations.
- Actually, these pseudo-thoughts and pseudo-sensations are mere expressions or "natural-appearing correspondences" of one's own free life of loves, purposes, and affections. Again, since life in heaven and hell is collective at the pseudo-levels, (thoughts and sensations), societies in heaven and hell collectively hallucinate a common life of "thoughts" and a common life of "images" and "sensations."
- Finally, the richness of life in each of the three worlds is conditioned by the individual's morality and religiosity. While the natural self is alive, it dictates or governs in freedom how the natural body behaves towards others in community life. The more moral the natural self is, the richer the thoughts it shares with the spiritual self, hence, the more intelligent and wise it is and the more it succeeds to bring out its native potentials for happiness and achievement. Immoral behavior styles impoverish and sicken the mind or spiritual self's life. After the first death, the spiritual self uses and further develops all the capacities it evolved from the moral or immoral behaviors of the natural self. Thus, if the natural self, while alive, imagined good things regarding others then the spirit-individual will have a rich life. If however, the natural self lived a life of selfish imagination and deceitfulness towards others, then the spirit-individual will have a poor life; poor in understanding, and power of intellect.
- Upon the second death, our life in heaven is the richest yet in terms of personal capacities for achievement and fulfillment if the spirit-individual had a rich life. However, if the spirit-individual had a poor life, (from an immoral and selfish natural life), the individual now lives a wretched life in infernal societies- -bestial in appearance, mentally dull, and extremely cruel towards others. Thus, eventual life in eternity, whether sublime or wretched, is ultimately dependent on the natural self's life of morality and acquired character traits.
- Life in the natural world has both primacy of existence, (in that the natural self is the locus of our first conscious life), as well as primacy of importance, (in that the natural self's acquired character determines the individual's richness of life subsequently and to eternity). Therefore, the natural self's acquired character or morality needs to be carefully nurtured by the individual, the family, and society at large.
- Regeneration is the process of gradual restoration of union between the individual and God, ("religion" = retie). Without the reunion, the natural self's situation in society which is socio- political and competitive, drags the individual down into a spiral of increased selfishness, immorality, cruelty, and anti-sociality. With regeneration, the individual is given the power to block these negative tendencies and bonds, and gradually become more moral, more willingly forgiving, and compassionate in character.
- The regeneration process is effected through religion. Its essence is the natural self's recognition of its natural wickedness and acceptance of blind obedience to religious doctrine and Divine Commandments as revealed in religion. However, there are both authentic religious doctrines and false or pseudo-religious doctrines, (cults, idol worship, magic, spirits, etc.). Pseudo-religious and false teachings within the world's major religions offer a pseudo-regeneration process which captivates the three selves and destroys and sickens their life. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to investigate the tenets of one's religion, (or lack of them), and to try to confirm or to not confirm them in one's own personal observation of life. This process of confirming and not confirming religious doctrines is thus the principle purpose of our life in the natural world.
- This regeneration process is thus a process of self-education, self-modification, and self- training. God provides for equity in this respect regarding every individual in the universe: in one way or another, impossible for us to discern, information regarding authentic religious doctrines reaches all individuals in the natural world societies. Upon exposure to this information, the natural self is free to make it its own, in its life of imagination and memory. If it makes it its own, (by acceptance, faith, belief, and love), then the individual gradually, and surely becomes regenerated, and acquires a loving and gentle character, and lives a life of inner morality. But, if the individual does not make this authentic religious information his or her own, then there is no regeneration but instead, only gradual degeneration. A degenerated person may appear moral on account of suppressed tendencies out of fear of punishment and retaliation by others. This kind of "compliance-morality" is of no use to the individual's regeneration process, and in the spirit world after the first death, the true character comes out in accordance with the individual's inner and private actual preferences or affective bonds.
(The Ten Plagues and Guidepost to Therapists) = Degenerative Steps (- Psychological Therapy of a person who is stub-born-ly word-ly.) [The Bible is The Handbook of Psychology] MOSES = Brown (D. Truth) AARON = Blue (Reason) PHARAOH = Green (Imagination)
[The pure intellect, (our spiritual/rational) receives Divine Truth which is spoken to our Reasoning; from there we threaten/warn the imagination with degeneration, (plagues), unless the latter lets go of dominion over itself.] [((Patient feels bad in imagination, ((green plagues)), tortured by intellect - guilt, etc. because of selfishness and materialism. Therapist, (rapist), rapes the mind by weakening plagues, (see O. H. Mowrer), or helps the mind by getting behaviors and strivings to harmonize with spiritual law for example, methods issue of therapy type: green imagination - F. Perls -- subordinated to blue reasoning - Ellis - which is to be guided by brown spiritual laws.))]
|From Emanuel Swedenborg's True Christian Religion
REFORMATION AND REGENERATION
After dealing with repentance we come next in order to reformation and regeneration, because these come after repentance and it is by repentance that they advance. There are two states which a person must enter upon and undergo to pass from being natural to being spiritual. The first state is called reformation, the second regeneration. In his first state a person looks from his natural to his spiritual man and desires to be spiritual; in the second state he becomes spiritual-natural. The first state is formed by means of the truths which must become part of faith, and these enable him to look towards charity. The second state is formed by the kinds of good which make up charity, and from them he enters into the truths of faith. To put this in other terms, the first state is one of thought on the part of the understanding, but the second is one of love on the part of the will. When this state begins and develops, a mental change takes place; for there is a turning-point, following which the love of the will flows into the understanding, and drives and guides it to think in harmony and in keeping with its love. In so far therefore as the good of love then plays the leading role, and the truths of faith take second place, to that extent he is a spiritual man and a new creature. Then charity inspires his actions, faith his speech; he feels the good of charity and perceives the truth of faith. Then he is in the Lord and in a state of peace, and so he is regenerated.
 Anyone who has begun the first state while in the world can after death be brought into the second. But anyone who has not entered upon the first state while in the world cannot be brought into the second after death, and so cannot be regenerated. These two states can be compared with the advance of light and heat in spring days; the first state can be compared with twilight and cock-crow, the second with morning and dawn; and its development with the day advancing to noon, and so growing in light and heat. It can also be compared with a harvest, which begins with the blade, then grows into awns and ears and finally becomes the wheat in them. Or again with a tree: first it springs from a seed in the ground, then becomes a stalk from which branches come forth; these are decked with leaves, and then it flowers, and the inmost part of the flower is the beginning of the fruit; and as the fruits ripen they produce new seeds as their offspring. The first state, that of reformation, can also be compared with the state of a silk-worm, when it draws silk thread out of itself and wraps itself in it; and after its hard labour is over, it flies out into the air, and feeds, not as formerly on leaves, but on the juices in flowers.
Unless a person is born again and as it were created anew, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Unless a person is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God; this is what the Lord teaches in John, where this passage occurs:
Jesus said to Nicodemus, Amen, amen*, I say to you, unless a person is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And again, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a person is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit. John 3:3, 5, 6.
The kingdom of God means both heaven and the church, for the kingdom of God on earth is the church. It is the same in other places where the kingdom of God is named; as Matt. 11:11; 12:28; 21:43; Luke 4:43; 6:20; 8:1, 10; 9:11, 60, 62; 17:21, and elsewhere. To be born by water and the spirit means by the truths of faith and by living by them. For water meaning truths, see APOCALYPSE REVEALED 50, 614, 615, 685, 932. Spirit means living by Divine truths, as is plain from the Lord's words in John (6:63). Amen, amen means that it is the truth; and because the Lord was the truth itself, that is why He said it so often. He is also called the Amen (Rev. 3:14). Those who are regenerated are called in the Word sons of God and born of God; regeneration is described by a new heart and a new spirit.
573. Since to be created also means to be regenerated, it is said of one who is born again and as it were created anew. The following passages, not to mention others, prove that to be created has this meaning in the Word.
Create for me, God, a clean heart, and make new a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10.
You open your hand, and they are filled with good; you send forth your spirit, and they are created. Ps. 104:28, 30.
The people who are going to be created will praise Jah. Ps. 102:18.
Behold, I shall create Jerusalem to be a rejoicing. Isa. 65:18.
Thus spoke Jehovah, your Creator, Jacob, who formed you, Israel, I have redeemed you. Everyone who is called after my name, I have created him for my glory. Isa 43:1, 7.
So that they may see, know, attend and understand that the Holy One of Israel created this. Isa. 41:20.
This is also clear where the Lord is called Creator, He who forms and Maker. This makes it plain what is the meaning of the Lord's charge to His disciples:
Go into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15.
Creatures means all who can be regenerated; likewise, Rev. 3:14; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17
574. All reason plainly shows that man needs to be regenerated. For he acquires by birth from his parents evils of all kinds, and these are lodged in his natural man, which is of itself diametrically opposed to the spiritual man. Yet he is by birth destined for heaven, and he cannot reach heaven, unless he becomes spiritual; and the only way this can happen is by being regenerated. The necessary consequence is that the natural man with his longings must be tamed, subdued and turned upside down; otherwise a person cannot advance a step nearer heaven, but more and more he drags himself down to hell. Everyone can see this, if he believes that he has acquired by birth evils of all kinds, and if he acknowledges the existence of good and evil, one opposed to the other; and if he believes in life after death, in hell and in heaven, and that evils make hell, good makes heaven. The natural man regarded in himself is as concerns his nature not in the slightest different from an animal. He is equally untamed, but this as regards his will. In respect of the understanding, however, he differs from the animals, for the understanding can be raised above the cravings of the will, and can not only see them, but also control them. That is why man is able to use his understanding to think, and his thinking to talk, which no animal can do.
 What man is like by birth, and what he would be like if not regenerated can be seen from wild beasts of all kinds. He would be a tiger, a panther, a leopard, a wild boar, a scorpion, a tarantula, a viper, a crocodile and so on. So unless he were by regeneration transformed into a sheep, what else would he be but a devil among the devils in hell? Were it not for the restraint the laws of the kingdom impose on their innate ferocity, would not one then rush to attack another, so that they would slaughter one another or strip them of everything down to their underpants? How many of the human race are there who were not by birth satyrs and priapi, or four-footed lizards? Everyone of either class, if he is not regenerated, turns into an ape. This is the result of external morality, which is the extra lesson learned in order to cover up one's internals.
575. There is a further description of what the unregenerated person is like in the comparison and similes found in Isaiah:
The spoonbill and the vulture shall possess it, and the owl and the raven shall live there, He will stretch across it a measuring-line of emptiness, and plumb-lines of desolation. From there the thorn shall climb up its altars*, the thistle and briar in its fortifications; and it becomes a dwelling of dragons, a courtyard for the daughters of the owl. There shall meet there tziim and iyim, and the satyr shall encounter his partner; indeed lilith shall rest there. There the blackbird shall build its nest, lay eggs, gather food and hatch its young in its shadow. There indeed shall kites, flock, one with his partner.** Isa. 34:11, 13-15.
A new birth or creation can only be brought about by the Lord through charity and faith as the two means with the person's co-operation.
It follows from the proofs offered in the chapters on charity and faith that regeneration is brought about by the Lord through charity and faith; in particular, from the statement there that the Lord, charity and faith make one, just as do life, will and understanding; and if they are divided each of them perishes like a pearl collapsing into dust. These two, charity and faith, are called means, because they link a person with the Lord and make charity charity and faith faith. This is only possible if the person plays a part in his regeneration; this is why we say, with the person's co-operation. In previous sections the co-operation of a person with the Lord has been discussed several times. But because the human mind is so constituted that it cannot help perceiving this action as being effected by the person by his own ability, it needs to be illustrated again.
 Every motion, and so every action, contains an active and a passive principle. In other words, the agent acts, and the object acts as a result of the agent. So the two together produce an action. This may be compared to a mill driven by a wheel, a carriage pulled by a horse, a movement responding to an effort, an effect to a cause, inertia to energy, in general, an instrumental part responding to a principal one. Everyone knows that the two together perform a single action. In the case of charity and faith the Lord acts, and the person acts in response to the Lord, for the Lord's activity is in the person's passivity. Therefore the ability to act aright is from the Lord, so that the will to act is as if it were the person's. This is because he enjoys free will, so that he can act together with the Lord, and so link himself to Him, or he can act by the power of hell, which is outside him, and so cut himself off from the Lord. It is the person's action in harmony with the Lord's action which is meant here by co-operation. To render this even clearer, further comparisons will be supplied below.
577. A further consequence of this is that the Lord is continually in the process of regenerating a person, because He is continually in the process of saving him, and no one can be saved unless he is regenerated, exactly as the Lord said in John: he who is not born again cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5, 6). Regeneration is therefore the means to salvation, and charity and faith are the means to regeneration. The idea that regeneration comes as a consequence of the faith the present-day church upholds, that is, without the person's co-operation, is the height of folly.
 Action and co-operation as here described can be observed in everything which has any activity and power of movement. Such is the action and co-operation of the heart and every one of its arteries. The heart acts and the artery uses its coverings or tunics to co-operate; and this is how the circulation of the blood works. It is much the same with the lungs. The air acts by the atmospheric pressure which depends on altitude, and the ribs first co-operate with the lungs, and then the lungs co-operate with the ribs. This is how every membrane in the body breathes. In the same way the meninges of the brain, the pleura, the peritoneum, the diaphragm and all the other coverings of the viscera and their inward structures act and are acted upon and so co-operate, since they are elastic. This is how they come into existence and continue in existence. It is much the same in every fibre and nerve, and in every muscle, even in every cartilage. It is well known that in each of these there is action and co-operation.
 Every sense too affords an example of co-operation, for the sensory organs, like the motor organs, are composed of fibres, membranes and muscles. But it would be a waste of time to describe how each of them co-operates. We know that light acts on the eye, sound on the ear, smell on the nose, and taste on the tongue, and that the organs respond to these things, thus giving rise to sensation. Can anyone fail to perceive from this that if there were no such action and cooperation with inflowing life in the spiritual organism of the brain, thought and will could not come into existence? For life flows into that organism from the Lord, and because it co-operates the perception is possible of what is thought, likewise what is there judged, concluded and given expression in action. If all that happened was that life acted and the person did not co-operate as if of himself, he could no more think than a block of wood, or than the structure of a church can when a minister is preaching. In this case something like an echo may be experienced as the result of the reflexion of sound from the doors, but no speech. That is what a person would be like, if he did not cooperate with the Lord as regards charity and faith.
578. Comparisons too can illustrate what a person would be like, if he did not co-operate with the Lord. When he perceived or felt any spiritual influence from heaven or the church, it would be like something hostile or discordant coming in, such as a rotten smell to the nose, a dissonance to the ear, a monstrosity to the eye and a foul taste to the tongue. If the pleasure of charity and the beauty of faith were to fall upon the spiritual organism of the minds of those who delight in evil and falsity, they would be so vexed and tormented by the intrusion of that pleasure and beauty, that they would end by falling into a faint. This organism is composed of a continuous series of helices; and in the case of such people it would wrap itself into coils and writhe like a snake on an ant-hill. I can vouch for the truth of this as the result of many experiences in the spiritual world.
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