This is part 2.
Part 1 is to be found here:
RELIGIOUS PSYCHOLOGY--A Guide to Spiritual Self-examination
by Leon James and Diane Nahl
Based on Writings of Swedenborg (1688-1772)
Organization of Mind and Spirit
The Threefold Organization of Mind and Spirit
The spiritual is the cause of the natural; therefore, the
two are in correspondence. In order to gain a better grasp of what is the spiritual,
we may study the correspondence between the outer and inner worlds we live in. We
may call the outer world relative to us our horizontal community, and the internal
world relative to us, our vertical community. These two are in
correspondence: the horizontal community is the effect, while the vertical community is
the cause. In Swedenborg's terms, what is prior is the cause of what is posterior,
which then is the effect. Let us attempt to analytically draw the relations between
our two communities in case that might give us a better and more rational comprehension of
The essential quality of our horizontal
community is the interconnectivity that shows everywhere. Take for instance the
interconnectivity of events and people implicated in a street sign. First there had
to be a city; then people; then development of specialties such as realtors, financiers,
lawyers, local government, sales outlets, workmen, and so on and so on, not to mention
schools, the alphabet system invented and perfected, and so on, so that the list of
people, events, and epochs that have been involved in putting up that sign, as an ordinary
street sign we recognize, is a vast number. This is an illustration of interconnectivity,
which is an essential quality of community life. The word "community"
is listed in the dictionary with two roots; one is co-" meaning "together
with" and the other, "-muni" meaning "striving." Hence community
is a striving together, which thus is manifested in the quality of interconnectivity.
We know from revealed principles in the Third Testament, that is,
Swedenborg's Writings, that the spiritual world our mind lives in is characterized by a
most orderly appearance of geography, government, and justice. From this we may see
that the interconnectivity of the horizontal community we live in is a resultant effect
that is caused by the interconnectivity that characterizes the spiritual world in which we
also live. There is thus a correspondence or,
harmonious order, between our outer world and our inner world. By
studying what the Word teaches about our vertical community we are enabled to see the
outer world from the perspective of the inner world. This is indeed a desirable
perspective because coming from the Word it gives only trues to behold. Thus, our
external world is then seen by us in a true perspective.
The Third Testament teaches us that the
vertical community we belong to has a threefold organization of people in the
afterlife. In the Third Testament, the people in the other world, that is, the world
we go to when we die, are called from top down, angels, spirits, and devils. The
higher angels are called celestial angels, the lower, spiritual angels. Spirits are recent
arrivals being on their way to becoming angels in heaven or devils in hell. The
latter are divided into satans and, the lowest, which are genii. These
five categories of people constitute our vertical community.
The Third Testament informs us that these people are constantly in communication with our
thoughts and feelings, though neither them nor us can perceive this relationship.
They, as well as us now, know of this inter-connection through the revelations of
Swedenborg in both worlds. Perhaps society and civilization as we know it today will come
to an end and a new civilization based on a conscious recognition of our dual community
citizenship will come into being. This may be the historical consequences of the
Lord's Second Advent.
At this point in time it is given us to think from an entirely new perspective on ourselves and on the horizontal community, of which we are quite consciously aware: of our family, our neighborhood, our nation, our external historical church. This new perspective is that of seeing ourselves as dual citizens and looking upon the horizontal external one from the vantage point of the vertical, internal one. That is, we examine what we observe in our external environment from the vantage point of our inner environment, just as we examine effects in the light of causes. This is a synthetic view and was greatly preferred by Swedenborg over the analytic view (such as that of Bacon or Kant).
In fact, Swedenborg traced the excesses of the analytic view to the spiritual insanity of his contemporaries who were bent on developing a science that excluded the spiritual world. This negative bias was introduced into the allowable methods of gathering data for theories and applications; it was made into a scientific creed that functioned to maintain the negative bias as a matter of high scientific standards. This specific exclusionary standard was so successful that it effectively kept nonconformists from a chance to make a name for themselves in the literature, which went along with earning a living. The pressure on publishers and journals is sufficient to keep nonconformists out of libraries, the literature, and history.
Swedenborgs refusal to go along with the negative bias kept him out of all three: he had to pay for the publication of the Third Testament, his supporters were blackmailed and ostracized, his admirers thought it best not to mention the connection, his name is not in any of the textbooks or classics of history of science, his name is not known by college graduates, the scientific or philosophical literature does not cite him, he ahs to be defended against psychiatrists who see him as a psychotic. Please see this article:
Overcoming Objections to Swedenborg's Writings Through the Development of Scientific Dualism
There is thus a feeling of amazement that we experience
when we go from the Old Church state within us to the New Church State within us.
This happens when we discover the Writings of Swedenborg in a library or New Church
institution and receive its message literally as the Word of God in His Second Coming
through the Third Testament.
By receiving this new perspective as
Divine truth on earth, the New Church state begins to be opened and grow. From this
new perspective we can observe our external world and see the events there as natural
effects from spiritual causes. Religious psychology helps us study and understand the
specifics of this correspondence, and hence we gain a deeper knowledge of ourselves and
of the real reasons we do the things we observe ourselves to be doing. We then a see a
contrast between the negative and positive bias because we are looking from our New Church
state) out and down, into our Old Church state. The latter is the cause of the
former; that is, the change in state in the Church within causes a corresponding change in
the state in our external self. Our external self is seen as an effect of our
By studying the Third Testament we come to know the map of our internal self; from this map we look down on our external self and see there the natural images of the map, and this in as great detail as we wish to strive to obtain it.
We may come to know the nine zones of the spiritual
community as described in the Third Testament: the three simultaneous degrees and the
three successive degrees forming a matrix or interconnecting grid of nine zones of life. After
that we may look out from this knowledge to see where we may confirm them in life so that
we may rationally see what they are and not from faith only. This indeed is the
difference when we go from the Old to the New Church state: our blind faith is transformed
into rational faith, and this new faith is more our own, it is more of love, hence more of
the Lord. This new faith empowers us with a new will, and thence, a new
understanding. Our new will shows in our daily activities and transactions: the more
the New Church state grows within us the more others can see our virtues -- more
compassion, more patience, more generosity, more peacemaking, more altruism; and from all
these, they can see more communication, more creativity, more usefulness to society, more
happiness in life, and more wisdom and understanding.
The added power of the New Church state
within us comes from more light coming in from our vertical community. As we become consciously aware of our dual citizenship in every
one of our transactional exchanges, we are empowered to use our new will and
understanding. We begin to be aware of the effects our
actions have in both worlds., and this new awareness affects us greatly in our motives and
styles. When we are apparently alone in a room or place outdoors, we know with some
reflection that we are not really alone: there are people next-door or some physical
distance away. We can never be completely alone in our horizontal external community
on earth. Similarly, we can never be alone in our vertical community: every
single thought or feeling we have is mediated by angelic and spiritual societies, hence
millions of people in the afterlife. There is no such thing as being alone in
our dual citizenship.
Of course privacy is retained
otherwise we would not feel ourselves as genuine individuals, and we would not have
genuine freedom and rationality; this is not tolerated in the Lord's order anywhere
anytime for it would destroy true religion and there would not be the Church within us,
and life eternal would be impossible. Hence the Lord insures that we retain
spiritual freedom and rationality to decide in religious matters of good and evil, true
and adulterated. From this freedom and rationality we can be regenerated as of
ourselves and become angels, unique in our history and indidual particularity to
eternity. Thus privacy is retained in both worlds.
However we are taught in the Third
Testament that the vertical community communicates through a type of telepathic speech
which we automatically possess upon resuscitation in the spiritual body. As well,
distance is always determined by inner feelings, those in similar feelings being close and
those with incompatible feelings being far. Communication is good at close distance
and similarity, but it is impossible when large distance is caused by dissimilarity in
affections. And dissimilarity in affections always produces cognitive clashes and
Because privacy is to be retained, our interconnection with spirits, angels, and devils is subconscious.
We may all know it as a true of revelation and accept it as blind faith at first, then as rational faith, when we later begin to confirm the trues. But even so, we are not permitted to perceive directly and externally the intimate details and particulars of our inter-connection, or else we would lose privacy of thought and feeling.
Nevertheless there is great benefit to be derived from
the rational understanding of the laws of order that govern our thoughts and
feelings. This new understanding is possible after we give up the Old Church state idea
that we are alone in our thoughts and feelings.
Whats in a
We all have daydreams all the time
though we are aware of only some of them, those that tend to be rather long, when we sit
quietly. But self-observation will reveal that we daydream a great deal more than we
at first suspect. In general, daydreams are made up of a dramatic sequence of
standardized imaginings. In other words, we imagine scenes mostly with ourselves
in them, though not always. Each person may examine their daydreams and see their
content: is it the sort of thing you'd rather not publicize? In that case we need to
disapprove of that particular daydream and not just let it pass by as if having no
We are taught through the sense of the
letter of the Third Testament that every single thought and every single affection is
mediated through spirits and angels who are in our spiritual sphere. Our minds are
populated by them. They are real people, and we will join them at death. They
mediate our thinking, our dreaming, our poetry, our drama, our arts, our architecture, our
science, our crime rate, our President's decisions, the earthquakes, the accidents, the
bad turns at fortune - in sum everything of this world and this body we carry.
From this perspective of the Third
Testament we may look down and out, and see our external self and its physical
environment. It is similar to the personages and characters of the Old Testament:
like them, the external self in us is fearful yet disobedient, greedy and sensuous, lonely
and generous, intertwined with others in emotional needs and interdependent in a
horizontal community wherein the external self -- through its body -- grows up, gets
married, works, acts as a citizen, and fulfills the roles of parenthood. That which
accomplishes all of that is our external self: it is our automatic habits and skills and
pleasures of daily living, as well as the sufferings, fears, and pains.
The Third Testament teaches that Jacob's
ladder in Genesis (28: 12-15; see Arcana Coelestia, 3697)
represents the focus of our conscious attention: the steps Jacob saw in his visionary
dream served for angels to ascend from earth to heaven and for angels to descend from
heaven to earth. Each step up or down represents a development in our
self-awareness. In the Old Church state we are angels-to-be) ascending the steps of
self-consciousness from earthly focus to heavenly focus; that is, from the external self
to the internal self. This growth may occur as early as post-adolescence or as late
as old age, or else, after death in the spiritual world.
The study of the Old Testament, through
the childhood remains the Lord makes available to us, is a powerful developer of this
external religious domain within ourselves, within our thoughts and affections. This
is an important reason why religious education and denominational life have been preserved
in the institutions of Christian democracies, Jewish homes, Islamic communities, Hindu
sects, and so on, in every location of our globe. As adults we return to the study
of the given Sacred Writings with a vast new understanding in comparison to our childhood
days. But we do not possess the right affections. We try all sorts of tricks to make
ourselves study the Sacred Writings, but we end up not studying them enough, or else we
end up with merely commentaries by all sorts of people who have many opinions on matters
of Sacred Scripture.
However, when our strivings for
genuineness begins to evolve fruits in our daily transactions, we receive from the Lord a
gift of remains returned. Little by little we are
given back our childhood affections regarding Sacred Scripture, God, the afterlife,
angels, devils, and commandments. These are the ideas that
captivated us in our childhood state of innocence; we did not doubt them, we did not
reason about them whether they are true or false, probable or improbable. So now as adults
we return to these religious ideas with a vast new understanding -- the rational self,
educated, literate, experienced, and self confident. We are assured in the Third Testament
that if our effort is sincere and steadfast we will create the conditions in our mind for
receiving back some of our old childhood affections regarding religious ideas. We begin to
experience them while we study or consciously apply the Word to our life. Trues from
Sacred Scripture begin to be infield by spiritual and celestial affections, and we begin
to experience a new feeling, a new life.
This new life is concrete. We have
reached the top of Jacob's ladder and enjoy a vast new perspective in the Land of Canaan
before us. We are angels-to-be who are ready to descend from the heaven of Jacob's
ladder to the earth which is the footstool. We are looking, down and out, from the
trues of faith in our rational understanding and see our feet standing on earth
intermeshed with our horizontal community of everyday living.
As we descend Jacob's ladder step by
step we are growing in the New Church state. Each step is a self-discovery. A new
perception enters; a new understanding; a new will; a new intention; a new
plan; a new style; a new enjoyment; a new success Our road to old age becomes a road back to childhood states of
delight and affections regarding our life of religion. We are
excited about our religion. We are imbued with the desire to go give it also to
others. We see ourselves visibly vanquishing such old enemies as anger, rudeness,
complaining, dishonesty, lack of compassion, prejudice, and so forth. We are
experiencing the successes of maturity and we are exhibiting this gain in our
When we reach the bottom of Jacob's
ladder we have arrived on the Lord's Kingdom on earth. The Ultimate Church is born
within us. We begin to understand that the Sacred Writings contain an infinite of
trues; all thirst for knowledge we have, all hunger for delights we have, are all to be
found in the Sacred Scriptures and nowhere else.
helps us to embark upon this Journey up and down Jacob's ladder. Through experiences
we have, and reflect upon, we each acquire explanations for life's events. We can
share the fruits of this self-witnessing, and, religious psychology represents this public
and mutual sharing. We will now consider the significance of daydreams as we go up and
down Jacob's ladder.
Our daydreams are dramatic imaginings of
short or long duration in which we picture scenes that express some inner
involvement. This picturing is plastic or organic: not just a television screen with
superb audio, but also the smells, feelings, tastes, pleasures, fears, etc., that lie in
entertainment we enjoy. Daydreams and dreams differ only in wakefulness of conscious
thought: dreams feel like real; daydreams feel like short trips to another place, another
part of ourselves that is equally real and conscious. Daydreams need not be analyzed
like dreams since we are witnessing them and can see directly into them. In
daydreams there is no veiled over symbolism to hide the obviousness of our selfishness,
our grossness, our immorality, and so on. In daydreams we can see in clear light
what is the content of our affections.
Knowing the content of our affections
offers a high vantage point on ourselves. We are in the position to judge. This was
not nice. That was selfish. This is meritorious. That is unfair. This is
lazy. That is fatalistic. This is a cop out. That is a hidden striving
for revenge. This is the right thing to do. That is the good thing to do. This
is what generosity dictates That is the guide of righteousness
This is most wonderful. That is holy. And so on; we make judgments on our
daydreams, our flashbacks, our flash forwards, our expectations, our planning, our
interpretations, our justifications, and presentations, and so on -- we judge them all
as to the affections contained in them, whether they are in keeping with the letter and
the spirit of the Commandments.
All this judging activity is the life of
our religion. This is what activates the growth of the Church within us. It is the
work of repentance and the shunning of evils as sins and insults against the Lord.
It is the process of reformation and regeneration. It is the life of worship of the
When we examine the nature of our
daydreams for the purpose of judging them, we gain a new beneficial perspective on
ourselves and society. We notice that every daydream has a surface content and
an inner motive. The external content is dramatic: things happen, feelings and
emotions are experienced. In this external content, the daydream is like a TV
docudrama, or an autobiographical book. Historical and personal events, opinions,
and emotions occur. People are characters in our daydreams and, places are exchanged
in significant ways. Outcomes are altered, alternatives happen.
In the internal of the daydream we have,
we can notice what's behind the events; that is, why do they occur. We understand
rationally why we are putting that content into the daydream: we are getting a good look
at our strivings, our loves, our real purposes, our intimate affections, the delights of
our enjoyments, the real nature of our spiritual state. Ordinarily we are not given
to know our spiritual states so that we may not come to adulterate them. However, to
the extent that we are regenerated the Lord trusts us with our remains so that we may feel
ourselves masters of our house. By seeing and perceiving our loves in our
daydreams we are presented with our temptations, and hence opportunities for spiritual
Spirits and angels are closely involved
with our daydreams. Not that they can see out daydreams and say, Look there is one
of their daydreams; but rather, they are sub-consciously affected by the content and
affect of our daydreams. When our daydream is against the letter or spirit of the
Commandments we know of from the Word, our spiritual self is being invaded by hordes of
devils who suddenly experience a new freedom for their evil machinations and pleasures.
They do not see us; or even know of us; they live in their own fantasies and hells, yet
unbeknownst to them, the daydreams we have correspond to momentous events in their lives
and environment. As we ignore or approve of revenge, hatred, untruth, unchastely, in
our daydreams, thus is their fate suddenly aggrandized: thus do they experience a new
field for their endeavors; thus are they empowered to enjoy themselves in filthy
ways. Unbeknownst to us, and unbeknownst to them, our daydreams and their daily
fate are interconnected. It is the vertical community to which our daydreams are
windows, and in which we can see the concreteness of spiritual life. Spiritual life is
here now, real, concrete, immortal, eternal, holy.
It is revealed in the Third Testament
that when we read the Word or apply it consciously in our daily transactions, we are
having a very strong effect upon the fate of spirits and angels. When we are sincere
and innocent in our attitude toward the holiness of the Word, the highest angels of heaven
draw near us and see, in the internal sense of the verses we read, all sorts of marvelous
arcane which delight them. In turn, they can communicate their delight and wisdom
to us through our rational ideas. Those are the moments of our highest vision and
understanding, of deepest perception and feeling. By reading the Word and applying it
to our daily transactions and daydreams, we enter into regular communication with the
angels of heaven that are within the affectional sphere of our spiritual self.
Thereupon we experience a new life, a new creativity, a new opportunity. The Church
within us then grows and brings us to heavenly life on earth. We begin also to understand
more interior things of the Word.
Daydreams change in content and motive
in accordance with the state of the Church within us. In the Old Church state within
us, daydreams reveal our natural temptations; in the New Church state our daydreams
reveal our spiritual temptations; and in the Ultimate Church state within us, they
reveal our celestial temptations. Old Church daydreams are crude and obvious;
New Church daydreams are sophisticated and subtle; Ultimate Church daydreams are innocent
Daydreaming is a type of spiritual flashback in our biography. They will composes a scene through the understanding. Motives get expressed through events to which we react. In this sequence we can trace back the motive, the love associated to the intention behind the daydream and which gets fulfilled in it. In the fulfillment of our loves in the events of the daydream, we experience the emotional and sensuous delights of fulfilled strivings, of desires finding their end and resting point. There is peace in the resolution of a daydream -- either genuine peace or adulterated peace. Even the delights of infernal genie are experienced within us like forbidden pleasures and horrendous fantasies. Our religious victories in daydreams are experienced within us as sweet victories, harmonious expressions, wholesome content, pure pleasures, wonderful sights and marvelous visions. Angelic love and wisdom stream into us through the daydreams we have purified and glorified through our battles of self-discipline, self-inspection, self-examination, self-judgment. Behind all this is the work of the Lord, yet, because of His love He wills that it appear to us that it is our own work; we are therefore to know and remember that it is not our work but His within us.
Change and Purification
From the perspective of the Ultimate
Church within us we can survey our earlier successive states in the light of the
interior sense of the Third Testament. This new perspective is reachable by all who
are willing to receive the idea that the Writings of Swedenborg constitute the Third
Testament of the Word, and like the rest of the Word, has an interior sense. Having
acknowledged this as a positive bias, and for the sake of the love of trues,
we enter this new perspective called the Ultimate Church within us, and can begin to
see this interior sense.
For the sake of the rational in us,
we may attempt to describe by illustration, what is it we see when we perceive the interior
sense of the Third Testament. Surely it is useful to share and compare, as in a
community of spirits, and besides, it is irresistible and inevitable that the Lord's
Kingdom on earth is growing as a direct consequence of His Second Coming in the rational
of humankind on earth.
Religious psychology includes an applied
aspect which may be called applied religious psychology" and deals with
the means by which individual discoveries about the Word may be communicated to others
in our horizontal community. For example, there are such issues to solve: How do
we achieve repentance? or How do we shun evils as sins? and, What follows repentance? and,
How do we explore ourselves for purification? How do we cooperate fully with the
Lord's work of regeneration in us? How do we communicate our findings to one another so as
to confirm that we are a vertical community of spirits?
This mutual and reciprocal
confirmation of our discoveries about the Word will enhance the status of the Church
within us. The focus of this Church within us is the attempt to manifest the love
of the Word in ultimates of life on this earth. This means that we make it foremost
in our daily transactions. That is, we strive continually all day and night to confirm
the trues of the Word in what we do in our role behaviors with others in the horizontal
community our bodies live in -- our family, our neighbor, our nation, the world and the
external church we belong to. In all these categories of citizenship we hold
specific responsibilities, duties, and promissory relations with a host of others, all
together forming the horizontal or ethnic-historical communities on this globe.
We are a united nations, united by our denominational religions and common origin in
We are thus to recognize that no single
transaction, thought, or desire of the heart is exempt from inspection from above, from
the heavenly angels through whom the Lord governs our lives and communities.
Recognizing thus the limits of our inmost privacy we need to confirm it through proof in
our own life. This is the work of repentance; we cannot avoid it. We are
journeying up and down Jacob's ladder; that means that our conscious perspective varies
from state to state -- it goes higher and deeper into understanding at times, but at other
times it goes lower and is more obscure. In other terms relating to the diagram
system, we can say that our conscious awareness travels from zone to zone in the ennead
matrix of mind. In each zone our individual self, or conscious awareness,
experiences a unique reception of feelings and thoughts from the sphere of the spiritual
world we are in. We thus view the Word in like light of understanding: each zone
has its specific spiritual sphere as defined by the organization of heaven. This is
described in great detail in the pages of the Third Testament.
Applied religious psychology is the joint
effort of members of a church to define the conditions of salvation so that it may be
attained by those who aspire to it. Considering now the Ultimate Church state
within us, we may wish to define; for practice as it were, what are the conditions of
salvation that we enjoy from this perspective. This amounts to describing how
"Faith and life walk with equal steps" (Doctrine of Life 52).
Speaking about a paper entitled
Principles and Plan of Order for the International Government of the Church"
(March 1947) Bishop Philip N. Odhner wrote as follows:
"Thus the principle there expressed is that for every genuine advance in the Doctrine of the Church there must be a corresponding advance in the seeing and living of new trues of life in the sense of the letter of the Word. A circle of life thus comes into existence whereby through the living of the trues of life, through repentance and change of the natural life, the mind is opened to see the goods and trues of the internal sense of the Word; and then through such a reception of those internal things, there takes place a descending again to the sense of the letter in which new trues of life become visible, making possible a more interior and more extensive repentance and purification of the natural mind." (Philip N. Odhner, The Trues of Life for the Lord's New church, March 22, 1984, Bryn Athyn, Pa. General Doctrinal Classes)
We must focus on our reluctance
at first to accept this view. Where does it originate? Perhaps we are afraid;
perhaps we are too tired; perhaps too busy; perhaps too idle; perhaps too
preoccupied. Whatever the source, it can be found through the regular practice of
religious self-inspection. Every transaction counts; every thought and every desire of
the heart. We are taught in the Third Testament that thoughts and desires are
the means by which the Lord is regenerating us, that is, through the temptations in them. We
are commanded in all three Testaments to love the Lord above all else; above all this is
the one focus we must adopt and strive to attain. We may feel that this is not
realistically human; that it is a view too demanding. Or we may feel that it is too
neat and pat; there is insufficient evidence, it smacks too much of delusion. Or we
may reason that we need not make such a big deal out of it; couldn't we just leave such
matters to individual conscience. After we run out of ready excuses, we decide to
turn; and immediately the perspective is switched -- our conscious mind shifts to another
zone of the ennead matrix and the interior meaning of verses of the Word suddenly appears
to us in shining light to illustrate the situation we're in, our life and what matters
To see what we are and what we have to
do -- this indeed is the prayerful striving we have in the Ultimate Church state within
us. We invoke the Lord's blessing that He may cast His light upon our lives.
In the words of Bishop Odhner, "The Third Testament places great importance on
self-exploration. It is taught that a man must repent of his evils, in order that the Lord
may save him. And it is taught that actual repentance is to explore one self, to see
one's own evils, to acknowledge them, confess them, and to desist from them. This is
called the Christian Religion itself in the Divine Providence 278. As stated
in the True Christian Religion 528, "Actual repentance is to explore self, to
cognize and acknowledge one's sins, to make supplication to the Lord, and to begin a new
life." Self-exploration is the beginning of repentance. From the
Word, and from the Doctrine of the Church out of the Word, man knows what evils are, and
that they are sins against the Lord, preventing the reception of the Lord's life, the life
of Heaven, with man. The whole purpose of man's knowing and understanding these
things is that he might see them in himself and shun them as sins against the Lord. In
this class we will treat of the teachings of the Word and of the Doctrine of the Church
(out of the Word) about the seeing of evils in oneself which is by self
exploration." (Rt. Rev. Philip N. Odhner, "Self-Exploration", General
Doctrinal Class, October 20, 1983, Bryn Athyn, Pa.) (emphases added).
As the heavens are distinguished by
general, specific, and particular characteristics thus is also our mind distinguished into
general facts about ourselves, specific facts about us, and particular facts about
ourselves. The general facts, we receive from the Word and, from Doctrine drawn
out of the Word. Specific facts are obtained through doctrinal classes and
exercises. Particular facts about ourselves are to be found in our self-exploration.
We may take up some examples of facts
about ourselves. In the Old Church state we learn from the Ten Commandments that we
ought not to do evil to the neighbor, despite our wish to do so, on many occasions.
This doctrine gives us a general fact about us: that we wish to do evil to others but are
prevented by Divine taboo. It is a general fact in that it applies generally to all
of us; no one is exempt. In the New Church state within us we are taught, in the
sense of the letter of the New Testament, that the Commandments against doing evil to
others also applies to our wishes. If we condone a deplorable wish, or desire, we
are as guilty before God as if we acted out the deplorable act. The key word here is
"condone:" we are guilty not for having the desire but for condoning it;
that is, for not treating it as an enemy to be cast out. In the New Church state,
through the help of the literal sense of the Writings of Swedenborg, we begin to accept
that all our thoughts and affections are evil; this is a specific fact about
ourselves. Each of us can say "I am that man" and feel judged: I lie; I
steal; I offend others; I ridicule holy things; I am unchaste; I enjoy lower things; I
fear for tomorrow; and many such things. We thus view the specific facts about us
in the light of the general facts given by doctrine in the earlier state of the Church
In the Ultimate Church state within us
we are given particular facts about ourselves through illustration from the interior sense
of the Word. Not only do we know that we wish to harm others, and that we wish to
harm others all the time, even when it appears that we are acting out of decency; we also
know that the interior sense of the Third Testament illustrates the particular
confirmations in our own biography. This knowledge is the ultimate we can have
about ourselves, the inmost facts regarding the source of our intentions and ends.
Within the particular facts of our individual and unique lives we can see the specific
facts of our state in which are the general facts of our humanity. The general
can now descend through the specific into the particular. We are individuals in
whom doctrine from the Word ultimates in external particulars -- the particulars of each
and every unique thought and desire we experience.
We may better comprehend the process of
regeneration by studying doctrine from the Word. We are told that there are general,
specific, and particular facts about heaven and mind. We are also told that there are
affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor domains in mind: affections are extensions of
love, cognitions are extensions of understanding, and sensorimotor facts are
extensions of uses. We are also told that these three are in simultaneous
order, like that of the Three Testaments with the literal sense, the spiritual
sense, and the celestial sense. We may summarize these relations in the
|we are such as
to wish to harm others
||we always act
out of selfish ends when we act from ourselves
|we only act
from angelic mediation and their affections
meritorious in our apparent good
||we cannot know
our spiritual state but the Word tells of nations, churches
|all our states
of life are described in the interior sense of the Word
|we are punished
for evil acts and rewarded for good acts
because of inherited evil and for the sake of others' freedom
|every one of
our acts are temptations for our instruction & reformation
This diagram makes use of the idea of
the ennead matrix as a model for the zones of mind. Each zone is defined by
an intersection of a simultaneous degree (A, B, C) and a successive degree (Old, New,
Ultimate). An example is supplied for each of the nine zones; each represents the
particular state of conscious awareness or perspective we experience when in that
state. As we oscillate throughout the nine zones all the time we are given to
reconstruct the whole through reflection and self-exploration. Reading the chart from
bottom up and) left to right we can notice that in the Old Church state we experience
natural temptations in particular, specific, and general forms. When we are in the
New Church state we experience spiritual temptations in their particular, specific, and
general forms. When we are in the Ultimate Church state we experience celestial
temptations in their particular, specific, and general forms. For instance, a
general celestial temptation is the knowledge about our affections that we only act from
angelic mediation. Or, a particular spiritual temptation is the knowledge that we
suffer because of inherited evil and for the sake of the freedom of others. And so
on) for the other zones. Note that all particular facts about ourselves, covering
all three states of the Church within us, are to be seen in the light of the literal sense
of the Word and doctrine drawn out of the literal sense. Note also that all specific
facts about ourselves are to be seen in the light of the first internal sense of
the Word, in all three states of the Church within us. Finally, note that all general
facts about ourselves in all three states of the Church within us are to be seen in the
light of the inmost sense of the Word.
The perspective we are offered on
ourselves is dependent upon the way we receive the Word. When we first read or
study the Third Testament we do not as yet know why it is called the Third Testament, or
if we know, we do not as yet understand it in clear light. Take, for example, what
we read in the Third Testament about men, spirits, and angels) and devils. We see
these categories of people from the New Church state perspective; that is, we see that we
are given information about us and what our states of life are to be in general and
specific details; we think to ourselves that when we die we shall be a spirit, and
after that we shall be angels of one of the three heavens. But as we become
conscious of the interior sense of the Third Testament we begin to see that the Word is
also telling us about ourselves in the present; so we begin to look around in our mind
and ask, Where am I a spirit? Where, an angel? Where, a devil? And it is
given us to confirm that, here I am a spirit, and over here I am a devil, and over here I
am an angel, in accordance with my thoughts and affections relating to the Lord's Divine
We are men and women in our
sensorimotor uses; we are spirits in our cognitions; and we are angels in our
affections. In particulars we are men and women; in specifics we are spirits; and in
generals we are angels. When the Third Testament speaks of angels we are seeing our
affections; when it speaks of spirits we are seeing our cognitions; when it speaks of uses
we are seeing our life of body sensations and memory of experiences.
In the Old Church state within us all three Testaments of the Word are seen to discuss natural temptations: we are punished; we are rewarded; we are deserving; we must exercise self-discipline. Though we know that there is a natural zone, a spiritual zone, and a celestial zone, yet, in actual practice, we act as if there were only a natural zone. In the New Church state within us all three Testaments of the Word are seen to discuss spiritual temptations: we suffer; we accept; we wait patiently; we study; we strive to feel humbly. Though we know that there is a celestial zone and a natural zone, in actual practice we act as if there were only a spiritual zone. In the Ultimate Church state within us all three Testaments of the Word are seen to discuss celestial temptations: we are instructed; we are given to confirm; we are illustrated; we are regenerated. Though we know that there is a spiritual zone and a natural zone, in actual practice we are always concerned with our inner development, our life of affections, its purity and degree of interiorness. Thus, our states within determine the kind of temptations that preoccupy us.
Successive and Simultaneous Degrees: The Growth of the Self
The Writings of Swedenborg teach that
the Order of Gods creation is retained in every created object or
pheno-phenomenon. Consider the chain of magnitude in physical objects. Every object
is made of small particles called molecules; these in turn are made up of smaller atoms,
which themselves are made of sub-atomic particles; these smallest parts of matter are
themselves nothing but whirling patterns of motion or energy fields. According
Swedenborg all motion in the universe can be distinguished into two basic types: vertical
and horizontal, and their mixture, such as spirals. We are taught in the Writings
that all existence has only two basic varieties: the existence that is called simultaneous
in degrees and the existence that is called successive in degrees.
These two are entirely distinct so that each gives rise to entirely different forms of
power and quality. Hence we may say that all forms of vertical motion are
from simultaneous degrees and all forms of horizontal motion are from successive
degrees. That they are simultaneous means that all its varieties are one within the
other -- like concentric circles, each circle distinct from each other yet those on the
inside being within those on the outside. That they are successive means that they
succeed one another in a complementary fashion--like a chain sequence in which the earlier
parts are distinct from the later parts, but the latter complement the former.
The following diagram illustrates the three distinct simultaneous
orders (vertical motion):
Note that there is an outermost or external circle, an intermediate or middle circle, and an inmost or inner circle. The three are simultaneously present but differ in depth: the inmost is the deepest, and the outermost is the external surface. Now if we flatten the circles we obtain a vertical hierarchy thus:
A. inmost or highest [ends]
B. middle degree (intermediate) [causes]
outermost or lowest (external) [effects]
Note that what is inmost is also highest and, what is
outermost is also lowest. This schema is applicable to the self: our deepest
values and qualities are also the highest) in that they govern the shallower,
external qualities which may be said to lie in the periphery and external parts of
Now let us represent three successive orders:
This successive order is sequential and complementary, such
as we have generally in stages of growth or development. For instance, to obtain a
fruit (which is then our "end") we first need a seedling plant (I), which grows
into a tree or vine with branches and leaves (II), and this then yields flowers and fruits
(III). The last state called the "end" is also the "origin" just as
fruits and seeds belong to the same ultimate state; the first state is called external
"effects" because they issue from the fruit-seed state, so that the seedling (I)
is but a consequence of the seed and fruit (III). The intermediate stage is called the
"cause" or the means because it is nothing but the instrument by
which the end is brought about. We can say then that in successive stages, the end
(in the future -- III) creates the current effects (I) through the intermediate means
This relationship also exists in
simultaneous order when viewed analytically: the inmost (A) brings about the outmost (C)
through the intermediate (B). For example, the heart (A) rules the body (C) through
the mind (B). Or, the ruling love (A) in our inmost, governs the external activities
(C), in our acts, through our intelligence and planning (B), in the intermediate.
Since all created things of the self and the world are based on simultaneous (vertical) and successive (horizontal) orders or degrees, we may wish to represent these two types in any object or quality by placing them in an intersecting grid or matrix, as follows:
Note that the three simultaneous degrees (A, B, C)
intersect with the three successive degrees (I, II, III) to yield a 3x3 grid called an ennead
matrix ("ennead" = nine). The nine zones of the ennead matrix
exhaust all possibilities in created motions, qualities, and conditions or states.
Each specific zone of existence creates its own specific set of quality, state, or form
and use. Thus, when we know the zone location of an object, phenomenon, or state we
can specify its essential characteristics by reference to the marginals of the ennead
matrix -- that is, whether it is composed of A, B, C, in the vertical dimension, and I,
II, III in the horizontal dimension. Each zone creates qualities and forms defined by
the intersecting marginals of the matrix. There is thus a zone of "inmost
effects (IA), a zone of" middle causes (IIB), a zone of "external
ends" (IIC), and so on. The full span of qualities and shapes of created existence
goes from "inmost ends" (IIIA) (9) to outmost or "external effects"
(IC) (a). The ennead matrix is a visual model we've constructed of the Divine Order of
Degrees in creation2as outlined in the Writings of Swedenborg.
Further, the Writings of Swedenborg
identify the zone location of thousands of things about our body, the world, the mind, and
holy things such as heaven and the things of the Church and the Word. Here are some
examples from the Word which the Writings define as to their quality and interconnections
relative to the degrees of simultaneous and successive orders:
A. Inmost Zones: IA, IIA, IIIA. (7, 8, 9)
House of wood
Roof of a house
House of God
B. Middle Zones: IB, IIB, IIIB. (4, 5, 6)
Lifting up the eye
|House of stone
C. External Zones: IC, IIC, IIIC. (1, 2, 3)
Serving the Lord
These examples are taken from the Word. Now we may
add other examples that are used in religious psychology but derive by inference from
those in the Word:
|OBJECT, ENTITY, QUALITY||ZONE LOCATION (SUCCESSIVE)|
|-the domain of religion
-the will or ruling love
-good and evil
-spiritual conscience (righteousness)
-spiritual inclinations (acquired)
-celestial inclinations (received)
IA, IIA, IIIA (7, 8, 9)
|-the domain of cognitions
-trues and falsities
IB, IIB, IIIB (4, 5, 6)
|-the domain of sensorimotor uses
-pleasures and happiness
-knowledges of the memory
-competence and skills
IC, IIC, IIIC (1, 2, 3)
These zone location charts may be read in conjunction with
the ennead matrix presented above. For instance, reasonings (lB) is a subtype
of "understanding" (IB, IIB, IIIB) and are of a "middle end"
(IB). Memory-knowledges (IIC) is a subtype of civil life" (IC,
IIC, IIIC) and are of an "external cause" (IIC) Celestial inclinations
(lIlA) cc. a subtype of "good and evil" (IA, IIA, IIIA) and belong to
"inmost effects" (IIIA). And so on.
We can now look at some examples from simultaneous order (vertical):
|OBJECT, ENTITY, QUALITY||ZONE LOCATION (SIMULTANEOUS)|
|-the celestial degree||IIIA (9)
|-the spiritual self||IIIA
|-the Third Testament||IIIA
|-the Ultimate Church state||IIIA
|-presuppositions (why things are)||IIIA
|-ends and origins||IIIA
|-the spiritual degree||IIA (8)
|-the rational self||IIA
|-the New Testament||IIA
|-the New Church state||IIA
|-implications (how things are)||IIA
|-causes and means||IIA
|-the natural degree||IA (7)
|-the natural (automatic) self||IA
|-the Old Testament||IA
|-the Old Church state||IA
|-assertions (what things are)||IA
|-effects and consequences||IA
We may now put the two charts together to form an ennead matrix of simultaneous and successive degrees (see diagram on next page). This ennead matrix allows us to summarize many of the facts about the self and the world which are taught in the Writings of Swedenborg. The numbers in each zone indicate a possible growth pattern for the self. We can review the experiences involved in each zone so as to gain some practice with this method of notation.
The Ennead Matrix or Nine Zones of Life or Self
1. Zone 1c
We may think of this zone of life as sensorimotor in domain (C} and natural in degree (I) thus, natural uses involving the senses and movements of the body (IC). This zone of life or the self encompasses external effects such as the sensory impressions of the automatic self. The literal sense of the Old Testament is in this zone of life: it deals with the natural assertions of the Old Church state within us, identifying them as to what they are. Particular examples are such things as our pleasures, our body movements, our awareness of the physical surround, our artifacts and products, our historical and biographical identities, and all
|Natural assertions about
|Spiritual implications about
about celestial affections
|Natural assertions about
|Spiritual implications about
about celestial affections
|Natural assertions about
literal sensorimotor uses
|Spiritual implications about
literal sensorimotor uses
about literal sensorimotor uses
|Note: read from bottom up and follow the numbered boxes||NATURAL
things that pertain to the external effects of sensuous
life in a civic cultural community. Regarding the Church within us, this outermost
zone of the Old Church state within us involves all the objects and rituals of the
external church to which we belong: going to church and sitting in the pews, kneeling,
saying the prayers and singing hymns, receiving the sacraments from an ordained priest,
paying a portion of the tithe, shaking hands with the other members, and so on. In
this zone denominational distinctions are most apparent.
2. Zone IIC
(to be continued)
The Method of Reflection
We ascend and descend Jacob's ladder;
that means that we journey across the zones of the ennead matrix of mind. This is a
vertical journey -- the body remains on earth but one's conscious awareness, or self,
travels across the spaces and spheres of the mind zones. There we encounter inner
experiences. Religious psychology studies these inner experiences.
Inner experiences, like outer
experiences, may be observed or witnessed by the conscious self. There is a duality
of existence in such self-witnessing. This experience of the inner self is a
spiritual experience: it is knowable, describable in concrete terms. Inner experiences
that are vivid are easily remembered, like a dream, or like having a scare in a near
accident situation. The self-witnessing of inner experience is at first startling.
When we seek such awareness for the sake of religious self-inspection it is given us to
observe ourselves ascending and descending Jacob's ladder.
Every one may develop the skill of
self-witnessing. The learning of this technique requires a variety of approaches
which we may try out for- their suitability according to one's individual judgment.
We shall consider here the approach called reflection or meditation upon the Word.
The conditions for successful reflection may be stringent; thus, we need to be able to
relax or unwind from our role obligations; we need to have several hours of protected time
so that there are no frequent interruptions; we need to be untried and undepressed;
we need to be adequately prepared in our holy attitude toward the Word and in our prior
knowledge of the Word through adequate and serious study habits. We need to be able to
slow down the pace of our day, almost to the point of being still. One begins to
relax and feel more secure, more protected. One begins to notice the physical
surrounds --body tension and pain, sounds and harmoniousness, shapes and colors, tastes,
odors, textures. This extra awareness is a sign that we are relaxing. We
discover that the body is immersed in an ocean of feeling.
Next we move deeper; we are unwilling to
stop at the merely sensuous experience. The Word teaches that the depth of mind is
as the height of heaven. The deeper we go within ourselves the higher into our
heaven we ascend. It is an interior journey, the journey to the East, where our
true love lies.
Once relaxed in the ocean of feeling,
and still feeling confident of the religious purpose of our inward journey, we press on to
the lessons of the Word. This is our true love. We rejoice in owning its holy
externals: we can read the Word from book to book until all of it is read, and we can
begin again, over and over again, to eternity. The Word is the source of all our
affections. It is by far the most precious of all our possessions. So, with this
sincere attitude, and still relaxed in the ocean of feeling, we begin the study of the
This study is the meditative
reflection. This study is the journey inward. The Word is the map and the
vehicle. We mentally follow what the Word says in its literal sense, chapter after
chapter, verse by verse, we are taken to a spiritual journey: our conscious self begins
to experience, to see, the inner world of our dual citizenship -- the one natural and
external, the other spiritual and internal. It is the power of the Word that accomplishes
When we read and study the Word in this
external frame of mind, relaxed and untried, prepared with prior study habits, with plenty
of protected time before us, we come more and more into the sphere of angelic spirits and
angels who are in the same general affective sphere that our spiritual self is in.
And we suddenly begin to receive some of their affections in general terms. The
deeper we go in our relaxation and follow our loves inside, the more significant will be
the height of our perspective in what we uncover in the arcane of the Word.
The Word will suddenly become alive.
No longer just physical substance, printer's ink and paper, phrases in our preferred
language and version. We will have the concrete, super-natural experience of the
Word as a living object of holiness. This is a startling and vivid experience never to be
forgotten. What a luxury to have such an easily available sure method of travelling
inward and discovering a new universe within us -- our dual citizenship.
The wonderful discovery
that the Word is living, that it is in reality spiritual substance from eternity, is
possible for every one who is willing to prepare for it out of love of truth and sincere
desire to do well according to one's religion. One expresses this sentiment by
making the Word foremost in our lives: by daily systematic study of the Word using
all our intellectual skills and study habits from school and personal experience. We are
to read and re-read the Sacred Writings of our religion. We are to use their verses to
pray and sing hymns to God. We read commentaries by others that help us to be better
students and develop better study methods. We are to attempt teaching its content to
children, friends, and neighbors. We are to take notes and even write some pages on
our thoughts and feelings about it. We are to use whatever methods are available to us
individually to get to know the Word, to make it familiar, to befriend it. We become
imbued with its stories, parables, commandments, doctrines. We are to reason about its
parts so as to see its reflection in clearer light; we never criticize it or suspect
its details, but always strive to confirm its perfection. We learn its lessons of
honest virtues and spiritual explanations. It is our food for survival -- that is
how we feel about it.
With this background preparation we can
enter, relaxed and protected, into the sphere of the Word. The vision and
perspective that the Word gives us on our life is delightful and useful. The sphere
of the angels with us affect us more strongly in our state of well-prepared meditative
reflection. We receive easy but profound answers to our puzzlements, questions, and
conflicts within ourselves. We come to experience the concrete proof of our dual
life -- natural and spiritual.
This is not a one time experience.
We can enter this sphere of ourselves with each succeeding period of meditative
reflection on the Word. There is a visible progression of greater depth, towards
more interior meanings of the Word. During the period of reflective study in a
relaxed and protected environment, we use our imagination and memory to relate to the
Word, to explore our relationship to it.
For example, we can mentally rehearse
telling someone we know, about what we see in the Word. We want to tell the person
that the Word is living; that it answers questions by revealing superior perspectives;
that it is loving and Divine. As we are thus engaged in the mental rehearsal of
telling this person about the Word, we experience spontaneous creativity flowing through
us from the inner world and coming out into the external world in the form of the phrases
and sentences we mentally utter to this person. We listen to our own utterances
reflect upon their meaning, and marvel at the trues we see in them, at the beauty in them,
and how interiorly we are affected by them, in our heart.
Or else, we imagine that we are in a
court of law somewhere where the Word has been put on trial by doubters and
scoffers. And we hear ourselves deliver an impassioned defense of its genuineness,
its truth, its holiness. O what heat, what zeal, what love then flows in our veins;
we enjoy our speech immensely; we find it truly eloquent and capable. We wonder at
the wisdom we exhibit in our speech -- we seem so erudite and rational. We did not
suspect such scholarship and showmanship in ourselves. We are delighted. We are
instructed. We are vindicated in our loyalty to the Word and its inner universe.
This kind of relaxed and well-prepared
reflective study of the Word will produce flashbacks during other parts of the day,
when we are not relaxed but busy and pressured by external contingencies -. A
flashback is a momentary recall of some vivid moments from our meditative reflections on
the Word. We may be driving, or walking, or having a conversation, and for a few
seconds or a couple of minutes, we again see and experience that the Word is living; that
we are dual citizens; that a verse or story in Scripture is a loving message and
explanation addressed to us personally. We thus re-experience for a few moments the
vision and feeling we had during the reflective study period, but now in a different
atmosphere, on the road, in a hallway, or in the midst of a conversation. And this
living, concrete reality within us lifts up our mood and our outlook. We feel more
confident; more satisfied with the explanations we have for our life situation.
How wonderful it is to read the Word
and experience it as the living, Divine Truth. God is the Divine Person Who is
present with each one of us through the Word. That is why the Word was given, so
that God could be present in our conscious self as we put up the effort to read, study,
and understand it. What a wonderful mystery: how can this be; how is this so?
The Word reveals this mystery to us, it teaches us the unity of all, the Oneness of inner
life. We discover that our inner citizenship is in a universe in which the
environment is the reflection, the concrete embodiment, of our thoughts and
feelings. Place and time in this natural world, is state and quality in the
spiritual world. Our dual citizenship correspond. The outside universe, which
is natural, tends to restrict us, our movements and desires: we often find ourselves in
the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things. But the inside universe,
which is spiritual, gives us more freedom: we always find ourselves in the place and time
where we can do precisely what we intend and desire. The Word thus reveals to us
the reality of our life and actual condition; it does this through our mental effort to
study it, to reason about it for confirmation, and to conform to it in habit, deed,
thought, and desire.
Because of our inherited and acquired
traits and habits, we often experience a resistance to placing the Word to the
foreground of our daily life activities. We may have difficulty devoting enough time
for its study and reflection. Or we may spend time in daily study, yet we feel
impatient and unrewarded. Or we may be led into all sorts of enthusiastic and
spurious methods which end up letting us down. Or we may feel resigned to a less
than sublime and perfect relationship to it here on earth. Or, we may experience
doubt, confusion, lassitude. By all this we will not be deterred because our love
is sincere and therefore steadfast. We always find ways of explaining our
situation through what the Word continues to reveal to our inquiring mind.
Resistance to the study of the Word is a
general temptation that we are to overcome successively in all three states of the Church
within us. In the Old Church state this resistance will exhibit itself in
natural form: we don't have enough time; we have other worthwhile things to read; it might
be enough to hear sermons and Christian songs; we need more training -- it's too
difficult; we'll do more of it as we get older; we've already done it; we don't get that
much out of it; and so on. These are excuses presented by the natural temptations
involved, each person according to their individual and unique make up.
In the New Church state the
resistance to the Word will exhibit itself in Spiritual form: I try to apply it in this
way, through my uses over here; it is for the clergy who can spend full time on it; the
Word is everywhere; we don't need it as much now; we need to publicize it; we need to
establish its relation to science; and so on. These are preoccupations which are
presented by the spiritual temptations involved according to one's occupation and family
In the Ultimate Church state the
resistance to the Word will also manifest in celestial temptations we are given to
overcome in our deep affections: do I do it sufficiently? am I seeing it
accurately? why do I keep forgetting about it; when will this process
end? and so on. These are expressive of affections we need to lay aside.
Thus we journey through the development
of the Church within us. The Church within us is our spiritual self -- that is, the
zones of the ennead matrix which govern our affective life, our life of religious purposes
and ideals. This area of the mind is built up through the study of the Word as a
form of daily worship and application. To the extent that we overcome our natural
temptations to that extent the Old Church within us will grow and prosper as the basis and
contaminant of the other two. The more the Old Church state within continues to grow
throughout life, the more it will be brilliant as it is influxed by the other two Church
states within us. This brilliance of the Old Church state within us will shine for
all to see; for we shall be like David, competent in our occupation and duties, yet given
to the adoration of the Word in scholarship, poetry, and dance.
Temptations are particular facts about ourselves. They are tailor made and individualized -- just what we need to see our self as it is in its spiritual company. Temptations reveal to us from above what we need to cast out in order to progress forward and upward to our true love. The Word reveals to each person what is his or her temptation. This revelation occurs when the person studies the Word out of love for it. From this sincere love and attraction one discovers in oneself, the person derives great rewards and the power to pursue its study with deep enjoyment. Anything short of a feeling of perfection in one s relationship to the Word is a temptation. Affections we hold interfere with its reception; we need to know what these affections are in order to willingly cast them out. As we overcome these celestial temptations we are descending Jacob's ladder within the Ultimate Church. Here we are given to purify our inmost selves, to ostracize and banish lifelong habits of the heart, those that we imbued during our adolescent enthusiasm for the things of the self and the world. This purification of the will gives warmth and brilliance to our external character and appearance; truly we are angels walking on earth, the Lord's Kingdom restored. The restoration of the Lord's Kingdom on earth refers to this warmth and brilliance of our external personality which comes from the Church within us.
The Method of Spiritual Geography
Religious psychology must have methods whereby we may use the study of the Word to be applied to our life and to confirm there what we have learned from the Word. Thus, the Word becomes a sort of a Holy tool given us by the Lord in His regeneration of us. This Holy use of the Word is personal and belongs to the Church within us. But because the Church within is universal, that is, the same internal Church of the Lord is within everyone, therefore what is personal must also be universal. This may appear startling to our natural self: how can the personal be universal? Yet, it being so since it is taught us in the Word, we are led to inquire how this is true: how is the personal also universal and, what makes it so?
The Word teaches that God is with everyone. In the Word of the Third Testament, we are given to understand that the Lord governs all our affections and thoughts; also, that He does this through spirits and angels as intermediaries. What a wonderful mystery -- yet we need to enter into it rationally, and this requires a method. We propose to call this method spiritual geography. It derives from the sense of the letter of the Third Testament. It involves the idea of correspondences, namely that what the natural self can observe through the external senses and reasonings, is always representative and significative of the spiritual self. In other words, referring to the diagrams we've been studying, zones of the mind 1,2,3 contain events that are caused by (significative) events in the spiritual self (zones 4,5,6), and as well, the two sets of events are symbolically related (representative). In these terms we can say that the historical events related in the Word's literal sense are representative of spiritual events and, caused by them. When we attempt to discover this true in ourselves, that is, to confirm it, we are engaged in the method of spiritual geography.
For example, we may ask ourselves such questions: "Where is my Noah?" or "When is my flood?" or "Why do I crucify Jesus on the cross?" and so on. This is the inquiry of spiritual geography. This idea is well known in the New Church communities who study the Writings of Swedenborg as the Word of the Lord. Many sermons and commentaries are explicit applications of this idea; one might even say that this is the very basis of worship services in the New Church. The service revolves around three readings, each reading for one of the successive inner Church states we undergo in our regeneration. The first reading is a lesson from the Old Testament, the second reading is a passage from the New Testament, and the third reading is from the Third Testament. The readings are chosen so as to allow the sermon to interconnect them through their correspondences as revealed in the Third Testament (called, in the New Church '"the Writings"). We might say then that the New Church clergy practices a method of exegesis similar to what we are calling here spiritual geography.
A particular case may be cited here. It is a talk delivered by Rev. Alfred Acton, II, at a workshop of the Mental Health Symposium he Id in Glenview, November 29, 1980, and titled "A New Church Perspective on Personality Development." This tape is available from the Catalogue of the Sound Recording Library of the General Church of the New Jerusalem in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. A method is presented that involves a step by step comparison of the correspondences in the Genesis and Exodus commentaries found in Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia, with the steps of development of the embryo and of the human maturation stages after birth. Several more talks on this subject by Rev. Acton may be found in the Sound Recording Library as this is a specialty area that has taken many years of study and theoretical development. In this particular tape, the eight stages of human development defined by psychologist Erikson is being compared to the historical steps of the first two books of the Old Testament.
This appears to be an application of the method of spiritual geography. However we want to point out a danger here. Since Erikson did not derive the eight steps of his model from the Word it is questionable whether we can then successfully reverse the process and go from Erikson's eight steps to the correspondences in Genesis and Exodus. It may be possible to show similarities between Erikson's steps and the steps derived from the Word. But this does not serve to confirm the Word, and therefore, those who employ this approach are still in need of confirming the Word.
The method of spiritual geography as described in religious psychology always starts from steps in the Word and ends with steps in ourselves, our individual daily lives. Only this can serve to confirm the Word, and hence, to love it. As we read the Word we may ask ourselves, "Where is this in me?" and then find it through religious self-inspection. It is not enough to know that the Word applies to oneself; it is not enough to know which correspondences in the Word refer to which things we do in the course of our life. We need to localize the events, to make a chart of them, to map them unto the known areas of mind. Even if we agree with the tenets of this approach it is not enough; we must practice it. That is, we must figure it all out.
The diagrams we draw in religious psychology are technical tools to help us figure ourselves out. We are enjoined to "Know thyself," and so we need to become spiritual geographers of the mind so as to better confirm the Word in ourselves, and thus to enable the Church within us to develop and grow in all its zones. There will be a variety of individual applications within this method; each of us may invent ways to help confirm the Word within our lives. The Lord surely provides for the specific needs of every unique human being; He it is Who leads us, Who gives the energy, Who chooses the propitious time for each discovery, Who holds up the discovery before our eyes and gives the ability to comprehend it and make use of it for our further growth.
The operation of regeneration is a psychiatric process; the Lord heals our insane spirit and delivers it from nasty infestations. We know how detailed the psychiatric process is as practiced by psychoanalysts and many psychodynamic psychologists. Surely this represents in external form the Lord's detailed and intimate work with our spirit. Those who go through the work with a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist are given a theory of the self to learn. They learn new ways of interpreting their own behavior and the behavior of others. This new perspective allows them to discard the older one which caused them personal problems and emotional upset. With this new theory of the self and human behavior, the patient can continue after therapy to improve and develop a more effective personality and habits. In this case the new personality may be more effective but the theory is still based on concepts from the Old Church state within us. Several New Church clergy and lay professionals in education and mental health have presented their attempts to compare things from the Word with scientific things from the world of psychology, psychiatry, and physiology. The motivation to do this comparison is a natural one: to attempt to bridge the gap between New Church and Old Church or, science art, history, and so forth. This may be a useful enterprise in some ways. However, it is important to know that such an exercise still leaves one with the requirement of confirming the Word in ourselves, a task which must be accomplished by direct observation in our own transactions with others. We may ask the question, "Where is the flood in me?" but we still need to confirm it, to localize the flood in our own mind and our own experiences in daily life.
In the Old Church state within us we do not as yet know the method of spiritual geography. Upon reception of the Lord's Second Advent, we enter the New Church state within us, during which we accumulate much knowledge of correspondences in the Word and their representations in human minds. Afterward, when we so will it, we receive the interior sense of the Third Testament and thus we are enabled to confirm the Word.
The practice of spiritual geography takes place as we are willing to enter into the Ultimate Church state within us through the interior sense of the Third Testament. We retain all the earlier states of the Church within us since the Old Church state is the basis and containant of the other two, and in which the other two attain their full splendor. Thus, the state of Moses within us (zone 1) becomes purified and Holy as it receives within itself the spiritual cognitions (zone 4) and celestial affections (zone 7). Similarly, the New Church state we begin with (zone 2) becomes purified and receives within itself spiritual cognitions of the intermediate degree from the Second Heaven (zone 5); and celestial affections from the intermediate region of the Third Heaven (zone 8). Similarly also in the case of the Ultimate Church within us: zone 3 is the basis and containant of zones 6 and 9. We may better remember this relation by studying the following diagram containing mnemonic devices:
More diagrams of spiritual geography are given in the following pages. We may study these at first, but afterwards each one of us must make our own, and in so doing we become enabled to better confirm the Word in our lives. Only then does the Ultimate Church continue to grow within us. It is the Lord's Kingdom on earth.
See diagrams in a related article here: Spiritual Gegoraphy
The Regions of the Mind
To comprehend the relation between the Word and our mind we need to consider the chain of being relating to life. We know from reading the Word that all things issue from God the Creator Who also maintains His Creation and governs it to eternity. In the Lord's Second Advent through the Third Testament, it is given us to reconstruct conceptually the nature and dynamics of this Creation of which we are part of. That is, we are given to deduce from the Third Testament the answers to such age old issues to humankind: Who is God? What is our relationship to Him? What is the purpose of life? Where are we headed from this earth? What is eternal life? and many others that regard each of us in a direct and personal way.
We may now draw a rational line of our spiritual descendent from God. We believe that we are God's children as we are told this in childhood when the Old Church state is established within us. As descendants of God we wish to know what is the line of descendent? Perhaps it might help to think of some line of descendent one could make up; to illustrate:
|1. GOD WHO IS THE ORIGIN OF LIFE OR BEING|
|======||2. THE WORD|
|======||5. THE AFFECTIONS AND IDEAS|
|======||6. THOUGHTS, WORDS, & ACTS & THINGS OF THE WORLD|
This schema conceptualizes our genetic or organic line to God. It shows six stepping zones for our removal from Him. Of course many more could be given, or different ones; what matters is that one can see the line of descent from God to us and our immediate surrounds. Note that our most familiar zone of life is zone 6, at the very bottom. This is the environment in which our Natural Self exists and grows. It is the familiar three dimensional world of earthly existence in time, space, and matter.
Thoughts are motions of the physical brain which is made of the elements of earth. Scientific Psychology in the Negative Bias studies this world of events in which our natural mind is embedded. This includes our memories built up through experiences, also called "the external memory" in the Third Testament. Of course our actions are also in this three dimensional world. Scientific Psychology studies our actions as "behavior." This includes our job activities, our mental abilities, our opinions, and the visible aspects of our relationships called "interpersonal relationships" in Social Psychology. As well, the most modern and recent techniques of the neuroscience include the capacity to affect a patent's thoughts through drugs. It is clear then that our actions, memories of experiences, knowledges or scientifics, and all conclusions and decisions based on them are all natural belonging to this world, and consequently not of the spiritual world in which the other five zones are. Thus Zone 6 of life is purely an external appearance, because temporal' or vanishing from existence. By contrast, the other five Zones of life depicted in the diagram are eternal and never vanishing, that is, they have real existence.
Realizing that our thoughts, knowledges, and decisions are but appearances we are impelled to inquire what we are in reality. That is, what lies in the other Zones of life and how are we a part of it right now, and how later. The answer to this crucial question for everyone on earth lies in the study of the Church within us. By knowing what the Church is that is within us unbeknownst to us, we will know the part of us that is real, that is not of this world.
Through the books and writings of the Third Testament it has now been given us to understand the real structure of the mind, the part of us that is eternal, that part we will know ourselves as, after death in the afterlife. This part is pictured in the diagram above as consisting of five zones. After death we arise in a spiritual world with a spiritual body that resembles the body on earth but is constituted solely of substances from the spiritual world. As we wake up in this spiritual body, we appear to ourselves to be in Zone 5, which is our external spiritual state. Ideas and affections are spiritual substances; they have external forms we call 'bodies' here on earth. In the spiritual world ideas are embodied in the environment. An analogy we can recognize is a dream: the external environment in the dream world is made of dream materials-unbound by the laws of time, matter, or logic. Thus also the world of spirits in which we then live, spiritually embodied or "materialized." Time and space are only appearances in the spiritual world, hence our ideas and feelings are also unbound by time and space. This is known to common sense here on earth since we do not think of having a lot of ideas as increasing our weight! Thus we know that ideas and feelings exist in the spiritual world, not in this world.
Zone 5 is comprehensible to our common sense right now, and so serves as a bridge of evidence to the fact that our line of descent is spiritual. As well, zone 5 gives us a definite, concrete, here-now comprehension of what is the spiritual. Scientific psychologists deny the reality of the spiritual part of ourselves because it is not concrete to them. To them, behavior is more concrete than ideas and feelings; some explicitly exclude the latter from the study of humans. This dilemma of the negative bias is familiar to us when we leave the uncritical character of childhood and take on our own made convictions; we then depart from our religion and either go through the motions of it or reject it altogether for alternative and foreign beliefs and creeds. In that state of the Old Church within us we are in a spiritual desert, through which the Lord is leading us toward the Church within us. When we, later in life, begin once again to recognize the reality of ideas and feelings, their concreteness and timelessness, then we enter Zone 5 in our consciousness. The way has then been prepared to discover the Word for oneself. We can then read the Word and believe, feel, its living reality. We have escaped from the constraints of Zone 6. We now believe and know that we are immortal. We have found a part of our real experience, real caring, real involvement in the other world to which we know we are going. No matter what happens from now on, no matter when we happen to die, we know that our individual life will continue to eternity. This is the discovery we make when we return to the Word as adults, out of our own needs, our own seeking and love.
Now we begin the self-conscious process of reformation, of the effort and self-discipline we must muster to reform our character, our habits, our thoughts. Zone 6 must be reformed, reshaped, redone all over again. This is the purpose of studying religious psychology -- to enable us to better reform ourselves here on earth. This is the work of faith, the growth of the Church within us through our own effort and with the Lord's energy and leading through the Word. That is, the Lord gives us the energy to exert the effort and He gives us the direction through our study of the Word. The more we study the Word on a daily basis and make it central to our daily hours and minutes, the more the Church grows within us, and the more we experience the wonders of life here on earth. This new experience shows itself plainly in our affections, our ideas, our reasonings, our transactions with others, and throughout all aspects of life which has now become richer and more abundant.
This rebirth we experience in these very concrete results, is managed and governed through our soul, Zone 4, of which we know nothing about since it has not been revealed in the sense of the letter of the Third Testament. However we have been given a description of Zone 3, which is Heaven. When we are in Heaven we exist in our inmost plane. That is, our external environment, our bodies and houses and mountains, are made of celestial substances, all of which are affections. This is difficult at first to conceptualize but one can do it with some practice. For example, consider the dream analogy again: the stuff of people and houses in our dreams is dream stuff -- we can see with our external eyes what is in reality deep in our own fancy or imagination. Similarly in Heaven: we can see with our external eyes as angels, the other angels and the houses and mountains -- yet this visual external scene is or reflects our inmost affections. The angels we see are our affections, the houses and objects we touch are our affections, the mountains and chariots are our affections, the animals and clouds and colors are our affections, and so on. Here on earth, when we appeal and make use of our artistic capacities, we embody our affections or feelings with artifacts we make, called 'objets d'art' or works of art. Each work of art is an affection which was externalized by the artist. Now consider a world you can live in where the people, houses, objects, and events are all works of art, that is, affections that get externalized and form the shape and quality of objects. As you consider or reflect upon this idea you will be looking upon your Heaven, in all its concrete reality and beauty and Holiness.
Now we can comprehend our relationship to angels and spirits: our concrete ideas are spirits and our concrete feelings are angels within us, or with us. We are also told in the Third Testament that we study the Word in Heaven; that the Word is the Lord; that Heaven is the Lord, the Divine Man; that Heaven is within us or with us, as our affections which are celestial substances; that each person is a little Heaven. From these trues or facts about reality we can deduce that to know the form of our mind we need to know the form of Heaven as it is given in the Word. Thus we must study the Word to discover the mind, its real concrete quality and form.
We have discussed the doctrine of degrees which we are taught in the Third Testament. This tells us that all things created are created in the quality and form of God, and that this Divine quality and form descend from God in a line of genetic transformation along three simultaneous degrees and three successive degrees. Any object or event on earth that we can possibly encounter will have this quality and form. Our mind has this quality and form; our life history or biography has this quality and form; our country and city and house have this quality and form.
This is difficult at first to comprehend in a concrete way but it is possible with some practice. For example, consider the meaning and designation of "American": a person can be an American, a custom or habit or style can be American, a house or car or satellite can be American, a victory at the Olympics can be American, and so on. What is American that it should give its quality and form to all these things? Whatever we answer here is not so crucial as the fact that there is such a thing, that American is indeed something concrete and real. Similarly, all objects and events in the created universe will have the quality and form of God. It is evident therefore what boon to humankind it is to now have the Word in its Three Testaments so that we can study the quality and form of it. Since the Word is the Lord, and the Lord's quality and form is visible in the Word, therefore we can now study and discover the quality and form of Heaven, the mind, human speech, actions, and affairs. At last we can enter the Ultimate Church within us, from which we can study and know reality, and this to eternity, without ever coming up to God's ineffable and infinite quality of One Being. Yet v-dewed and experienced from our end we get nearer and nearer to eternity and infinity, and that is all that really matters.
We can learn from the sense of the letter of the Third Testament that the Heavens are ordered in zones of three simultaneous degrees and three successive degrees. We can deduce from this that the mind will also have this organization, and since there are nine distinct zones of Heaven there must be nine distinct zones of mind. We all possess these nine zones of mind though we differ and change regarding the degree of development or maturity of each zone. Maturity of zone means perception or conscious awareness. Though we all have nine zones of mind all the time, we are only partially conscious of them. Some zones of mind are completely underdeveloped and hence we have absolutely no awareness of them; they are inactive elements in our constitution ion. The more developed the zones of mind in us, the richer our experience or life is. We are more creative, more talented, more competent, more happy, the more the zones of mind grow in us and become an active element in our living. It is not possible to look at a person we know and assess the maturity of the zones of mind within that person -- hence we are forbidden to pass spiritual judgment on others. But this also applies to the self: we are not to pass spiritual judgment on ourselves since the parts of ourselves lying in the zones of mind above us cannot be perceived. Only a study of the Word and its quality and form can instruct us regarding the zones of our mind that lie deeper or higher than our current awareness or perception.
The Word in the Second Advent through the Third Testament now appears to us unfolded into three simultaneous degrees and three successive degrees, as the Heavens are. We may picture this ninefold or "enneadic organization as follows:
|======= SUCCESSIVE DEGREES ======= >|
|OLD TESTAMENT||NEW TESTAMENT||THIRD TESTAMENT|
|INMOST SENSE OF THE WORD (Celestial)||7||8||9|
|FIRST INTERNAL SENSE OF THE WORD (spiritual)||4||5||6|
|EXTERNAL LITERAL SENSE OF THE WORD (natural)||1||2||3|
The nine zones in the diagram constitute an ennead matrix (or ninefold grid). This enneadic form is organic, just as the Heavens are organic, just as the mind is organic, just as the body is organic, just as the atom is organic. By saying that something is organic we imply that it is concrete and genetically related to other things in a line of descent. Thus the mind is organic because it is an organ made up of nine parts, each part having its own organic form and function distinct from the other parts, yet all parts working together through a common purpose or end. The brain is organic, the government is organic, the economy is organic, and so is your house and furniture. Thoughts and plans and decisions are organic: they originate from matter and atoms; ideas and affections are organic: they originate from spiritual and celestial substances.
It is clear then that our zones of the mind are organic regions of our experience. Each zone represents an area of the Church within us. We may diagram this as follows:
|SUCCESSIVE degrees of mind
STATE WITHIN US
STATE WITHIN US
|OUR SENSORIMOTOR USES||1||2||3|
The nine zones of mind correspond to the nine zones of the Word, and hence also, the nine zones of the Church within us. regions 1,4,7 the Old Testament unfolds for us in its three senses; in regions 2,5,8 the New Testament unfolds in its three senses; in regions 3,6,9 the Third Testament unfolds in its three senses. Each region of the Church within us corresponds to its zone of Heaven, as pictured earlier. Since the Third Testament gives us explicit descriptions of the nine zones of Heaven we can know and locate the nine corresponding zones of mind. The Third Heaven corresponds to affections, hence zones 7,8,9; the Second Heaven corresponds to cognitions, hence zones 4,5,6; the First Heaven corresponds to sensorimotor uses (or delights), hence zones 1,2,3. The First Heaven is natural, hence our sensorimotor life is natural; the Second Heaven is spiritual, hence our cognitive life is spiritual; the Third Heaven is celestial, hence our affective life is celestial. In other words, our feelings are in the Third Heaven; our ideas are in the Second Heaven; our thoughts and sensations are in the First Heaven. Thus, through the zones of the Church within us we live in the three Heavens. Though we all live in the three Heavens all the time we are only aware of some of the zones most of the time; our life and creativity and happiness increase the more we gain awareness of the zones of our Heaven, and this to eternity.
By looking at the diagram above it is clear that our life of affections is distinguished into three successive degrees corresponding to the external, intermediate, and inmost degrees of the Third Heaven. The external region of the Third Heaven corresponds to the Old Church state within us (zone 7); the intermediate region of the Third Heaven corresponds to the affections of the New Church state within us (zone 8); the inmost region of the Third Heaven corresponds to our affections of the Ultimate Church state within us (zone 9). The life of affections constitutes our ruling love and is received in the will. It is the life of religion in us. It is our relation to good, or the good of love. It is the life of our freedom.
Similarly, the diagram shows that our life of cognitions is also distinguished into the three zones of the successive degrees of the Second Heaven. This is our life of morality, rationality, or understanding. It is the life of the trues with us, our rational faith. The external region of the Second Heaven corresponds to our cognitions of the Old Church state within us (zone 4). The intermediate region of the Second Heaven corresponds to our cognitions of the New Church state within us (zone 5). The inmost region of the Second Heaven corresponds to our cognitions of the Ultimate Church state within us (zone 6). For example, the Word sometimes refers to our life of cognitions as "knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom;" knowledge refers to zone 4, intelligence refers to zone 5, and wisdom refers to zone 6.
Finally, our life of sensorimotor uses also has three successive degrees corresponding to the First Heaven: its external corresponds to the sensorimotor uses of the Old Church state within us (zone 1); its intermediate corresponds to the sensorimotor uses of the New Church State within us (zone 2); and its inmost corresponds to the sensorimotor uses of the Ultimate Church within us (zone 3). This is our life of natural sensations, delights, and actions, including our thoughts and speech. This is what the Third Testament calls "civic" life and refers to our competence and effectiveness in daily activities in society and family.
By studying these diagrams and seeing how they relate to the Word and are patterned on it, we may gain a fuller comprehension of the regions of our mind, of the development and growth of the Church within us. After these ideas are familiar through study and practice we are in a position to begin observing our daily transactions and how they fit into their respective zones. This allows us to practice religious self-inspection for the purpose of judging ourselves, our sins, so that we may shun them as insults against the Lord. Only then are we placed in a position to confirm the doctrines of the Word, and hence, to understand the interior sense of verses of Scripture. To the extent that we are successful and persevere in this task, to that extent we are being regenerate, that is, we can receive the indwelling of Heaven and the Lord within us. That is the new birth, the new will, the new life, the new wine we shall drink, and the new song we shall sing for ever and ever.
Interior Meaning of "Thomas" or,
The Old Church State Within Us
Religious psychology is the study of how the Church develops within us. Those who study the Third Testament with a view to teach its Doctrines to others have a good vantage point from which to identify and order temptations. These are the means by which the Lord regenerates a person and hence, the study of what they are and how they are organized, is going to be helpful to whomever wishes to cooperate in this process. To better illustrate how we may study the structure and function of temptations we shall refer to a sermon by Rev. Peter M. Buss, of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. This sermon is entitled "Thomas: An Eastern Sermon" and was delivered at Easter in 1984. It is available from the General Church sermon distribution channel.
The readings relating to the sermon are John 20: 27-29; Luke 24: 39; Arcana Coelestia n. 1676. The beginning says, "Amid the wondrous events of Easter time there is the account of doubting Thomas, a story which must surely touch responsive chords in each one of us." Later, after describing in some useful detail what the character is of people called "Thomas", we are reminded that "There are countless people in this and every other generation who are like Thomas, and there is that in every single person which prompts him or her along similar lines." And still later, it is justly pointed out that "Each one of us knows many people who fit this description, or parts of it, and probably we will recognize a lot of ourselves in it too." Thus it is plain that the sermon is teaching us that we are doubting Thomases at times.
At the same time the sermon spends most of its focus in a description of "the people who are like Thomas." This description illustrates the work of those who are engaged in identifying and ordering temptations. For example, the following observations are offered regarding them: that they "have not had the opportunity to see the Lord risen from the dead;" that "they are the doubters, like Thomas, the people whose faith is uncertain;" that "they may be men who are willing to believe, or are somewhat committed to a faith, yet waver, vacillate; not between faith and doubt, but between faith and the promptings of the sensuous;" that "they are negative, not because of the absence of testimony, but because that is the way they feel;" and other such things that are useful because they shed some light on temptations in general.
Furthermore, the sermon presents additional observations of a general sort "in order to get a picture of a potentially good sensuous man" one who is "potentially of the Lord's church" and may thus come to change ways and be reformed. Thus, "He would be be a man of strong feelings, ... capable of great warmth and would be easily touched by those whom he loved but he could also give in to anger towards them as well. He would ... look down on other races, other nationalities, political parties... His opinion might be formed on his own experience ... He would be a man who worked fairly hard at his job, but made no pretense at preferring work to his vacation and free time. He would do his duty by his wife and family, would know that he was attracted to other women, but remain faithful."
After this the sermon assures us that "Each one of us knows many people who fit this description, or parts of it, and probably we will recognize a lot of ourselves in it too." We wish now to raise the question of how might we more fully actualize this assurance that indeed all of us are partly the way those people are who are designated collectively by "Thomas." That is, how do we go about recognizing this in ourselves? What does it mean that we are "partly" Thomas: are we Thomas at times, or are we fully Thomas at times, or are we party Thomas all the time, etc. This is indeed an issue we want to deal with if we desire to cooperate with the Lord's regeneration of us.
To help us understand this issue better we may try the exercise of replacing the pronoun "they" or "he" with the pronoun "we" or "I". By doing this, and then considering its meaning, we are gaining a new perspective on the interior meaning of "Thomas." Just as King David gained a new perspective on himself when Samuel informed him that "Thou art the man!" we can gain a new perspective on ourselves when we say to ourselves that "I am Thomas!"
For instance, altering the pronouns in the sermon, we can see that when we are in the state of "a sensuous man" we' "even if we are well-disposed, stand very close to hell. Our feelings are from the earth, and we are very prone to temptation, and many times will come when we are tempted, greatly tempted, to seek a delight which is wrong. Then, because of our nature we are in danger of being swept away into evil, of giving ourselves up to it, and using a wealth of confusing arguments to justify ourselves. We (in the sensuous state) are more in danger than (in) any other (state), because our delights so easily turn to excess." The underlined words have been added for the purpose of the exercise.
As we turn our focus of attention from other people to ourselves we are entering the Church within us and this puts us in a position to confirm the doctrines in the sense of the letter of the Three Testaments. The sermon identifies Thomas as the sensuous faith and points to details of this state when others are in it, as well as when we are in it. This state may be called the Old Church state within us. Since all develop through the states of the Church within us, we are all Thomas when we are in the Old Church state and we do those things which Thomas did.
After we realize that Thomas is the Old Church state within us, we need to confirm this doctrine by applying it to our daily transactions with others. We are required to witness ourselves getting angry with our neighbor, doubting the doctrines drawn from the Word, wondering whether the Lord's Omnipotence can save us from accidents, getting bogged down with the idea of 'permissions' and feeling the fear overtake us, as formulated in our thought,"what if circumstances force the Lord to permit our demise and suffering for the sake of the freedom of others'' and other like thoughts which tempt us to justify, by our reasoning, the validity of our fear or anxiety about tomorrow. And after we thus identify the acts which we perform in the Old Church state regarding our neighbor and the Lord, we are then required to disapprove of them, to repent, to feel sorrow for them on account that they are sins against the Lord. Then, and only then, can the Lord draw near' and we feel His reassuring presence.
This drawing near of the Lord is what He refers to when saying that He knocks on the door and at last we admit Him. This, His entrance into us, is from within ourselves outward; that is, from our soul into our mind. The Lord comes from Heaven, which is in our inmost, to our rational, which is in our intermediate degree, so that this is a coming out from the interior into our exterior. The Lord's coming out into our conscious is made possible after the temptation, after we found out our doubts, and disapproved of them as sins against the Lord. Our act, of disapproving the doubts we exhibit, opens the door through which the Lord can come out into our mind. His presence then indicates and constitutes the New Church state within us. We are thus reformed in such a way that doubts cannot occur. Yet this is a process of growth since other doubts, doubts of a different species, then are opened and uncovered to our sight for further disapproval. There are as many varieties of doubts within us as there are inherited and acquired affections of our ruling love.
As an example, we may consider a doubt mentioned in the sermon as follows: "Perhaps in the terms of the New Church, such a person (or: we, in the Old Church state) might be one who wonders if the Writings themselves can be trusted completely." The Third Testament always comes to us first as "the Writings of Swedenborg, when we are still mostly in the Old Church state. And in this state we want to know who was Swedenborg, how did he come to be a revelator, and could he have been wrong on some things he wrote about. However, at some point 1ater, we are given to see the Writings as the Third Testament; this reformation occurs when we begin more and more to confirm doctrines in our day to day transactions. We thus enter that state of the Church within us which may be called the New Church state. Eventually this developmental process culminates in our regeneration and we are given to enter into the Ultimate Church state within us. This is the Heavenly Marriage to which the Lord invites us and in this state we continue to develop to eternity. It is the marriage of good and truth in our daily uses. To this marriage banquet we are invited when we put on the garments of repentance. Religious psychology is the study and practice that help us make these garments for ourselves so that we may be worthy to remain at the Lord's banquet.
The sermon ends with the assurance that, as the Lord strengthens Thomas in his sensuous faith, so He also strengthens us: "And this the Lord does to each of us, leading through His glorified Human even our most sensuous states towards the blessedness of true confidence in Him." It is important to ask how does the Lord strengthen our faith through His glorified Human? The better we understand this the more we can cooperate with His regeneration of us. We may consider what it might mean in the interior sense that the Lord invites Thomas and the other disciples to "reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20: 27). What are we to look for, here and now in our lives, so that our sensuous faith be strengthened, so that we may develop from the the Old Church state to the New Church state?
Religious psychology helps us obtain this sensuous and sensible evidence of the Lord's Divinity or Divine Omnipotence and Goodness. Our fear vanishes when we confirm His presence within us, when we open the door so that He can come out into our rational understanding of His Divine Providence in our least transactions. As we first look for and find our sins against Him, then shun them through our disapproval and become reformed, we enter the state of the Church within us in which we can sensibly, concretely, evidentially confirm His Divine operation in our every transactions. Then we behold His hands and His feet, as it were, and we see that it is Him, Himself.
Resistance to the Development of the Church Within Us
The mind is an organ of perception which informs us of the quality of the states we undergo in life. The sense of the letter of the Third Testament teaches that the mind has three regions of depth or height: the lowest or external region, the intermediate region, and the inmost or highest region. These regions of the mind correspond to the three Heavens in the Lord's Kingdom. The lowest or outermost region of the mind corresponds to the first or Natural Heaven; we may call this region of the mind by the name of "the Natural Self." The second or intermediate Heaven is the Spiritual Heaven and the region of the mind corresponding to it may be called "the Rational Self." Finally, the third or inmost Heaven is Celestial and the region of the mind corresponding to it may be called "the Spiritual Self." The following diagram summarizes this relationship between the Heavens and the regions of the mind:
|REGIONS OF THE MIND||REGIONS OF THE HEAVENS||SIMULTANEOUS
|Spiritual Self||(inmost; highest)||Celestial Heaven|
|Rational Self||(Intermediate)||Spiritual Heaven|
|Natural Self||(outermost)||Natural Heaven|
To those who accept the Heavenly Doctrine given in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg it is given to know a great deal about the Self and its regions through the study of the Word and its three senses. The Word also corresponds to the three Heavens in that its literal sense derives from the Natural Heaven, its first internal or spiritual sense derives from the Spiritual Heaven, and its second internal or celestial sense derives from the Celestial Heaven. These relations may be schematized as follows:
|REGIONS OF THE MIND||REGIONS OF THE HEAVENS||THE SENSES OF THE WORD|
|Spiritual Self||Celestial Heaven||Inmost/Celestial Sense|
|Rational Self||Spiritual Heaven||Spiritual Sense|
|Natural Self||Natural Heaven||Natural/Historical Sense|
To those who accept the Writings of Swedenborg as constituting the Third Testament it is given to discover a great deal regarding the development of the Church within us. The study of how our mind develops is called Psychology. As there are three regions of the mind a distinct kind of psychology is appropriate for each of the three selves that correspond to the mind's three regions. The study of the Natural Self may be called Scientific Psychology. The study of the Rational Self may be called Rational Psychology. The study of the Spiritual Self may be called Religious Psychology. Each type of psychology has its own content and method. Scientific psychology uses the method of experimentation and statistics; we investigate hypotheses about our sensorimotor behaviors by assuming that all hypotheses are wrong until proven right. Hence we may call this method "the Negative Bias" approach. Rational psychology uses the method of correspondences; we investigate hypotheses about our cognitive behaviors by assuming that all correspondences are correct as given in our reasoning' and the task is to accurately map out the relations between the spiritual and the natural world. Religious psychology uses the method of confirmation of doctrines drawn from the Word; we investigate hypotheses about our affective behaviors by perceiving the operation of doctrines in our lives, and for this we are dependent upon illustration provided by the Lord through Heaven.
We may summarize these relations in an overall diagram such as the following:
|Type of Psychology||REPRESENTATIVE AUTHORS||CONTENT BEING STUDIED||METHOD OF STUDY||CORRESPONDENCE TO THE WORD & HEAVEN|
|Religious Psychology (Spiritual Self)||P.N. Odhner
|Spiritual Biography (
Ruling love; affections; will; purpose; ends; etc.) (Religion)
|Perception; Illustration; Confirmation of revelation||Inmost/Celestial sense; Third Heaven|
INNER RESISTANCE: consulting the rational; denying the inner sense of the Third Testament
|Rational Psychology (Rational Self)||E. Swedenborg
|Rational Biography (Understanding; cognitions; reasonings; trues; etc.) (Morality)||Positive Bias through study of correspondences||Intermediate-Spiritual sense; Second Heaven|
OUTER RESISTANCE: consulting the sensual knowledges and logic; denying the spiritual world and correspondences
|Scientific Psychology (Natural Self||S. Freud
|Historical Biography (sense; motor acts; uses; etc.) (Civics)||Negative Bias through experiment & statistics||External-Literal sense; First Heaven|
The diagram or chart may best be studied from bottom up and from left to right. Scientific psychology is the study of the Natural Self; Freud and Skinner are two of its most influential proponents; its content focuses on the sensorimotor domain of human behavior, or what may be called the "historical" dimension of a person's life, also "civics" as it covers interpersonal life in society; its method is the negative bias approach of experimental proof and statistics; it corresponds to the historical or literal sense of the Word which comes down from the First or Natural Heaven.
At this point there is an outer resistance to the study of the Rational Self since scientific psychology in the negative bias is not capable of accepting the idea of correspondences. This idea cannot be proven through the senses only as the senses remain in the dark regarding the spiritual world. Swedenborg was a religious scientist and never limited himself by the negative bias of sensual methods of science. His theories of the mind or the self always assumed the existence of the spiritual world. This positive bias led him to the discovery of correspondences as a method by which the rational or intermediate dimension can be investigated. , His works such as Rational Psychology and The Economy of the Animal kingdom (and many others) systematically map out the interior spiritual and rational regions of the mind, and how these interconnect with the external sensorimotor aspects of our behavior and sensations. G. DeCharms is a twentieth century educator who has based on Swedenborg's method a theory of the development of the mind from childhood onward (see his The Growth of the Mind).
At this point there is a second and inner resistance to the study of religious psychology by the method of confirming in our lives the doctrines drawn from the Word, especially regarding the Third Testament. Those who consult the rational regarding this issue deny that the Writings of Swedenborg have an internal sense, and thus, though they acknowledge them as the Word, they refuse to acknowledge an interior sense in it. The works of Philip N. Odhner and Theodore Pitcairn illustrate how the inner sense of the Third Testament may be perceived when the person is willing to first acknowledge this fact. This then leads to the study of religious psychology which investigates our own spiritual biography through the revelations provided by the Lord when we adopt this point of view out of love of truth.
The three psychology exist in a simultaneous order when their proper relation to the Heavens is acknowledged. This relation may be portrayed as follows:
It may be seen from the correspondences in the diagram that the three psychology are within each other just as the three senses of the Word are within each other, and both are thus because of the exact corresponding relation of the three Heavens. Those who desire to study religious psychology out of a motive to better cooperate with the Lord in His regeneration of us may enter into an investigation of the resistance we experience in moving from an external region to a more interior region of the mind, the Word, and Heaven. This resistance is experienced in all three states of the developing Church within us.
We may begin by listing some principles we may use to identify and overcome the elements of this resistance within us. The first or outer resistance is experienced when we move from t\C lower region to an upper region. To overcome this resistance we need to acknowledge these facts as true:
(1) Sacred Scriptures, or the Word, exist through Divine revelation.
(2) The Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings of Swedenborg are Sacred Scriptures.
(3) The rational self is a region above or inside the natural, logical, and scientific self.
(4) Correspondences are universal relations between the natural world of external life and the spiritual world of inner life.
(5) There is no blind chance or randomness in anything but only the operation of Divine Providence in every single thing.
(6) We constitute both a horizontal community (cultural group) and a vertical community (spirits with men on earth).
We may now list some principles we may use to identify and overcome the second or inner resistance within us as we move from region to region. We need to acknowledge these facts as true:
(1) The Word in its structure and function corresponds to the structure and function of the three Heavens.
(2) The Writings of Swedenborg are the Third Testament.
(3) The inner meaning of the Word describes us as we are and as the Church develops within us according to Order.
(4) All doctrines drawn from the Word need to be confirmed in our daily transactions; this is the work of regeneration.
(5) We need to confirm the historical events of the Three Testaments as events and regions within our mind; e.g., we need to ask; these questions: Where is the Tower of Babel in me? When am I Jacob? When Joseph? Where is my Egypt? My Assyria? What in me is the dragon? The Fall of Jericho? The fountain of the chaste wives? etc. etc.
(6) Religious self-inspection with the end of judging ourselves is the method available to us for shunning evils as sins against the Lord.
We may now proceed to a discussion of these points.
The Clinical Issues in Religious Psychology
Religious psychology is the study of the growth and development of the Church within us. Every individual has the Church within the Spiritual Self and through it receives the capacity to be altruistic, to have a conscience, and to act honestly and competently in everyday life. There are three successive states of development of the Church within us. The y are the Old Church state, the New Church state, and the Ultimate Church state. Each state of the Church within us is founded on its own Testament of Sacred Scripture. Each of the Three Testaments has three senses: the literal, the spiritual, and the celestial. The literal sense of the Word for all Three Testaments instructs us regarding the external aspects of the Church within is: such as the external denominations and their worship rituals and creeds. The spiritual sense of the Three Testaments instructs us regarding our temptations and how we can cooperate with the Lord so that we may become reformed, that is reborn from the spirit. Finally, the celestial sense of the Three Testaments instructs regarding the inmost matters of the Lord's Church with us: how we can confirm the infinite qualities of the Divine Human with us to eternity.
This ninefold or "enneadic" order of the Church's development within us continually encounters external and internal resistance within us due to our inherited and acquired weaknesses, that is, our earthly or fallen nature. It is important for us to inquire into the details of this resistance to the growth of the Church within us. When we are given to love the truth, to love the trues of the Word for the sake of the Lord, then we want to cooperate with the Lord in His regeneration of us, and hence, we want to know how to cooperate. This know how is provided by the study of religious psychology and especially its clinical aspects which deal with the varieties and cures of spiritual insanity and celestial disturbances.
The Third Testament in its letter tells us that we are all spiritually insane to begin with and that we are to seek self-therapy through repentance and study of the Word. The Lord makes use of our temptations to cure our spiritual insanity, and thence, our celestial disturbances. Unconscious resistance on our part increases the severity of our insanity and illness. These activities are put into operation by the Lord through spirits and angels who themselves derive therapeutic value from their involvement with us.
In order to understand the clinical features of religious psychology we can examine the issue of "heresies" from the perspective of insanity and derangement. We are told in the Third Testament that heresies do not harm us as long as we do not confirm them in our lives:
"That heresies can be taken out of the sense of the Letter of the Word, but that to confirm them is very harmful."
(Doctrine Concerning the Sacred Scripture 91)
In a commentary on this passage of Scripture, Bishop Philip Odhner writes:
"The confirming of the appearances of the true which makes them harmful heresies is the confirming of them to the destruction of the genuine trues which lie within these appearances. This is done by those who believe themselves to be wiser than others when yet they are not wise at all, and who are in the pride of their own intelligence. (91) Especially they confirm apparent trues to the destruction of genuine trues who seize upon the common trues of the sense of the letter of the Word because they confirm some love of self and the world. They use it to confirm some love of the world in themselves against the loves of Heaven. (96) It is not that they twist the Word to excuse some external evil that is against the commandments in their literal sense, but that some interior evil out of their own pride and glory of self uses the common trues of the Word to build itself up." (Sermons and Doctrinal Classes on The Doctrine Concerning Sacred Scripture, Bryn Athyn, 1978, p. 57)
If we substitute the pronoun we wherever it says they in this passage, we will be given a useful perspective on the resistance we offer to the growth of the Church within us. We may say for instance that "when we believe ourselves to be wiser than others when yet we are not wise at all, but are in the pride of our own intelligence, we confirm apparent trues to the destruction of genuine trues; then we seize upon the common trues of the sense of the letter of the Word because we are confirming some love of self and the world. We use it to confirm some love of the world in ourselves against the loves of Heaven. It is not that we twist the Word to excuse some external evil that is against the commandments in their literal sense, but that some interior evil of our own pride and glory of self uses the common trues of the Word to build itself up."
We may identify the elements of our spiritual and celestial disturbances by listing the items mentioned here:
(1) to believe that we are wise when yet we are not wise at all;
(2) to be in the pride of our own intelligence;
(3) to confirm a verse of Scripture for the purpose of a selfish motive, thus adulterating the Word in us;
(4) to confirm Scripture overtly to hide unholy desires;
(5) to confirm Scripture in order to gain power or advantage over others.
These are general syndromes to which are attached innumerable disturbances in our cognitions and in our affections. The understanding and the will are weakened and darkened in this fashion leading to a continuation of our state of insanity and degeneration. In order to better understand these disturbances to our spiritual life on earth we may review some things about ourselves, or our mind, which we learn from the Word in its Three Testaments. The Third Testament in its literal sense is especially valuable in such a study where we are told in many places that the Heavens are distinguished into groupings according to three simultaneous degrees and three successive degrees. This three by three arrangement constitutes a grid or matrix, having nine zones. The following diagram is such an "enneadic" or ninefold matrix in schematic form:
|========= SUCCESSIVE DEGREE ======= >|
|FIRST HEAVEN||SECOND HEAVEN||THIRD HEAVEN|
|INMOST HEAVEN (Celestial) (Second interior sense of the Word)||7||8||9|
|INTERMEDIATE HEAVEN (Spiritual) (First interior sense of the Word)||4||5||6|
|EXTERNAL HEAVEN (Natural) (Literal sense of the Word)||1||2||3|
These nine Heavenly zones are distinct though they are in orderly communication with each other. We are also told that the mind is a little Heaven. From this we can deduce that the mind too has nine distinct zones, and further, that the nine zones of the mind will each have qualities that are distinct and corresponding to the qualities of the nine zones in Heaven. In addition, we are told that the Word descends from Heaven. From this we may deduce that the Word also has nine zones corresponding to the nine zones of the mind. Further, we are given to know what the quality of each zone is, hence what the quality of the mind. We may study these matters for a while and then, we may summarize the results of our study in some such diagram as the following:
|========= SUCCESSIVE DEGREE ======= >|
|FIRST HEAVEN||SECOND HEAVEN||THIRD HEAVEN|
|OLD TESTAMENT||NEW TESTAMENT||THIRD TESTAMENT|
|OLD CHURCH STATE WITHIN US||NEW CHURCH STATE WITHIN US||ULTIMATE CHURCH STATE WITHIN US|
SPIRITUAL SELF (Religion) (Affections) (Will)
celestial sense of the Word
|ABRAHAM (or our religious ideals; our
|ISAAC (our altruistic strivings for the
sake of the Word)
|JOSEPH (our delights in good uses; peace)
RATIONAL SELF (Morality) (Rationality) (Understanding)
spiritual sense of the Word
|AARON (our study and knowledge of the
|ELIJAH (our understanding of allegory
& parable in the Word)
|JESUS OF NAZARETH (our rationality,
NATURAL SELF (Civics) (Competence) (Uses)
literal sense of the Word
|MOSES (our care in building the external
|JOHN THE BAPTIST (our work of repentance
in everyday life in preparation for the Lord's Coming to us)
|SWEDENBORG (our religious prudence and
propriety in our worldly study and affairs)
This diagram shows some qualities of the nine zones of the mind, the Word, and the Heavens. As we study the Word more and more7its wonderful arcane are given to us for perception, bit by bit, so that we may construct conceptual schemes for our understanding to contemplate and reflect upon. After that we find that we can confirm bits and pieces in our daily transactions with others which become known to us through the practice of religious self-inspection. The following diagram summarizes some of the activities we can perform in our study and use of the Word for the purpose of striving to cooperate with the Lord's regeneration of us:
|========= SUCCESSIVE DEGREE ======= >|
|FIRST HEAVEN||SECOND HEAVEN||THIRD HEAVEN|
|OLD TESTAMENT||NEW TESTAMENT||THIRD TESTAMENT|
|OLD CHURCH STATE WITHIN US||NEW CHURCH STATE WITHIN US||ULTIMATE CHURCH STATE WITHIN US|
Celestial sense of the Word
|STRIVING TO OBEY
the Lord through verse of Scripture
|LOVING THE LORD
through verses of Scripture
|PERCEIVING THE LORD'S DIVINE HUMAN
QUALITIES WITHIN US
through confirmation of verses of Scripture
spiritual sense of the Word
|ANALYZING verses of Scripture by means of
ILLUSTRATION & CORRESPONDENCES
|DRAWING OUT from verses of Scripture
DOCTRINES &PRINCIPLES that explain event of life
|UNDERSTANDING THE OPERATION OF
TEMPTATIONS WITHIN US through verses of Scripture
literal sense of the Word
|MEMORIZING & PARAPHRASING
verse of Scripture
|INTERPRETING verse of Scripture
and APPLYING THEM TO LIFE
|ABSTRACTING & PERSONALIZING
verse of Scripture
This diagram depicts the nine zones of the mind, the Word, and the Heavens and specifies some properties of each in relation to the study exercises we may do to gain the skills we need to use the Word effectively for the benefit of the growth of the Lord's Church within us. The diagram may best be read from bottom up and from left to right. By studying the diagram the following propositions may be derived:
The study of the literal sense of the Word is done by means of the Natural Self and yields sensorimotor skills regarding it. Zone 1 involves the memorizing and paraphrasing of verses of the Old Testament. This corresponds to the Old Church state within us and derives from the First Heaven. This literal sense of the Old Testament consists of historical assertions or facts such as, some person traveled from this place to that place, or, the Lord tells someone to do something, or, some event occurs at some time in a narrative.
Zone 2 involves interpreting verses of the New Testament and applying them to our life. This corresponds to the external part of the New Church state within us and derives from the Second Heaven. This use of the literal sense of the Word consists of making historical implications or interconnections such as our duty to take Communion because the Lord enjoined it upon His disciples, or our expectation of Heavenly delights because the Lord promised it to the audiences who followed Him.
Zone 3 involves abstracting verses of Scripture so that we may be able to explain their content to children and students, and to personalize that content so that we may see in it what our duties and responsibilities are in life. This activity corresponds to the external aspects of the Ultimate Church within us and derives from the Third Heaven. This literal sense of the Third Testament consists of historical presuppositions, which are considerations we may adduce as to the goods and trues of the Word. For example, we read that the will and the understanding are to act as one, like the heart and its blood circulation acts as one with the lungs and its respiration; from this we can presuppose that a scientific theory of human behavior that violates this premise cannot be true and should not be accepted.
The study of the spiritual sense of the Word is done by means of the Rational Self and yields cognitive skills regarding it. Zone 4 involves analyzing verses of Scripture by means of illustration from the Lord and correspondences from the Writings of Swedenborg, which in this state of the Church within us, have not yet become the Third Testament for us. This activity of the Rational Self corresponds to the first internal of the Old Church state within us and derives from the intermediate zone of the First Heaven. This spiritual sense of the Old Testament consists of spiritual assertions or facts such as the explications given in Arcana Coelestia or in Apocalypse Revealed concerning the meaning of Jacob, that he represents the external worship in the church, or concerning the Dragon that it represents the Pope.
Zone 5 involves drawing out from verses of Scripture doctrines and principles that explain events of life. This activity corresponds to the first internal of the New Testament and derives from the intermediate of the Second Heaven. This spiritual sense of the New Testament consists of spiritual implications, which are like the reasonings found in New Church sermons, such as those of the General Church of the New Jerusalem in Bryn Athyn and elsewhere.
Zone 6 involves understanding the operation of temptation within us through verses of the Third Testament. This activity corresponds to the first internal of the Ultimate Church state within us and derives from the intermediate degree of the Third Heaven. This spiritual sense of the Third Testament consists of spiritual presuppositions, which are like the reasonings of the Doctrinal Lessons and Sermons of the Lord's New Church which is Nova Hierosolyma in Bryn Athyn.
The study of the celestial sense of the Word is done by means of the Spiritual Self and yields affective skills regarding it. Zone 7 involves striving to obey the Lord through verses of Scripture. This corresponds to the inmost of the Old Church state within us and derives from the inmost degree of the First Heaven. This use of the second internal sense of the Old Testament consists of celestial assertions or facts such as the details concerning the Lord's glorification given to us in Arcana Coelestia about Genesis and Exodus.
Zone 8 involves loving the Lord through verses of the New Testament. This corresponds to the second internal of the New Church state within us and derives from the inmost of the Second Heaven. This celestial sense of the New Testament consists of celestial implications. It is not possible at this point to give examples.
Zone 9 involves perceiving the Lord's Divine Human qualities within us through confirmation of verses of the Third Testament. This corresponds to the inmost of the Ultimate Church within us and derives from the inmost of the Third Heaven. This use of the second internal sense of the Third Testament consists of celestial presuppositions. No examples of this activity can be given at this point.
By studying these nine varieties of activities relating to the threefold Word, we are given to understand more fully the ways we can cooperate better, as of ourselves, with the Lord's regeneration of us. This study of religious psychology will reveal the quality of the resistance we continuously offer to the growth of the Church within us. This knowledge involves a comprehension of the varieties of temptations -- natural, rational, and spiritual -- in our reformation and regeneration. Natural temptations are sensorimotor disturbances in the Natural Self (Zones 1,2,3) and may be combated with the literal sense of the Three Testaments. Rational temptations are cognitive disturbances in the Rational Self (Zones 4,5,6) and may be combated through the first internal sense of the Three Testaments. Spiritual temptations are affective disturbances in the Spiritual Self (Zones 7,8,9) and may be combated with the second internal sense of the Three Testaments.
It is clear that the Church within us must grow gradually in all nine zones; that is, at no time is any one zone fully developed, though the rate of development reached in the nine zones at any one time does vary from individual to individual. All of us need to engage in all these activities all the time and we may learn from each other unevenly and unpredictably in accordance with the Lord's secret leading.
[end of Part 2 of 2]
Part 1 starts here under the title:
Religious Psychology: A Guide to Spiritual Self-examination
Some related articles are available here:
Spiritual Gegoraphy || Spiritual Associations or The Vertical Community || The Vertical Community || Spiritual Psychology || Cyberpsychology: Cyberspace and the Spiritual World || The Postmodern Paradigm Shift in Psychology || Swedenborg's Status and Significance: A Great Paradox || Elements of Biological Theology || Three Phases of Religious Behaviors
You may like to explore many of the concepts you encountered in this essay by looking at our Swedenborg Glossary.
You can see the outline for our book called Christ Against Road Rage if you like.
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