This is Section 9.1d of Moses, Paul, and Swedenborg: Three Steps in Rational Spirituality by Dr. Leon James (2003).
The book is available on the Web at: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/moses.html
The Web address of this document is: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/proof.html
Email comments to email@example.com
Can There Be a Scientific Proof that the Threefold Word is Divine
Quoting from Swedenborg where he discusses the inner meaning of numbers in the Old and New Testament:
 As these passages are historic it can hardly be believed that the numbers in them are significant as the number "five thousand" of the men, and also the number "five" of the loaves, and "two" of the fishes, as also the number "one hundred," and the number "fifty," of the companies that sat down, and lastly "twelve" which was the number of the baskets containing the fragments; when yet there is a secret in each number. For every detail happened of providence, in order that Divine things might be represented. (AC 5291)
In other words, numbers in the Threefold Word have a double meaning, one literal, the other coded by means of correspondences. Unless this code is known, one cannot figure out what each number refers to regarding spiritual things or meanings. A careful observer may discover the inner meaning of some numbers when juxtaposing the passages in the Testaments where that number is used, and then inferring what its spiritual referent may be. An example is the number 40, which is mentioned in connection with temptations – have you noticed that? You may also have noticed the use of the number 12 to refer to a complete set of truths, and perhaps the number 10 as referring to remnants of truths. At any rate, this approach would yield only a few results while the majority of numbers would remain obscure as to their spiritual referents. Then consider all the words – names, places, objects, actions, etc., and you can see that one would not be able to figure out by this means the spiritual referents for most of the words in the Threefold Word.
Therefore it is such a wonderful development for the human race now that the Lord has seen fit to reveal the code of correspondences through the Writings. Now we can apply these correspondences to the Threefold Word and begin to uncover, or extract, the endless database of knowledge it contains. This knowledge is True Science, revealed by God to humanity. It is endless because each word contains an endless series of ordered truths, so that endless numbers of generations to eternity can continue to extract scientific revelations in the Threefold Word. Such is the awesome significance of the human race being in possession of the Writings. You can see that to a few people to whom this is known and understood, it is hard to contain one’s enthusiasm in telling others about it. Even harder is it to see people’s reactions of disinterest or derision. Yet to you, dear reader, if you compel yourself to continue with this book till the end, it will be given to you to know and understand this great open secret. Then it will be your turn to feel amazed when you tell others, and they turn aside. But eventually, over some number of generations, the Writings will become the norm in society, like the dictionary and the encyclopedia. Then this present book will be read as a curiosity of the past where the future was anticipated.
In the quote above (AC 5291) note especially the last sentence: “For every detail happened of providence, in order that Divine things might be represented.” This sentence alone, when understood, is amazingly inspiring and empowering. It is like taking an elevator to the penthouse of a tall apartment building. When you look out the window, either day or night, you see an uplifting picture of the city from a lofty perspective that only the rich can afford in the bedroom. The “rich” in the Threefold word is a code word for those who have spiritual truths, for it is truths that enrich the individual to eternity, while material riches are temporary. When the Threefold Word mentions the activity of ascending to the top of a mountain it is a coded reference to elevating the consciousness by means of spiritual truths from the Word. This sentence functions like a spiritual elevator, raising our understanding of reality. The sentence reveals that God managed to have certain specific events in history to occur so that when these are recorded by the prophets, the words and sentences in their inner secret code, will form just the correct series for representing spiritual truths needed for our regeneration.
This in itself, if you understand it, is sufficient scientific proof that the Threefold Word is Divine and that God orchestrates every single detail of an event – the time, the place, the people, the weather, the accidental events, the sequence of the events, the thoughts and feelings of the participants, and all the rest.
Prior to this, it was known generally that God manages all details of the universe. This is the Trinitarian concept of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But now we can know this in particular detail, hence, scientifically. We can study it as a scientific object. The Three Testaments span three millennia in their writing, and the code of correspondences has been frozen in time to eternity, so that we may study its endless tracks through what has been revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. This is why the Third Testament, or the 27 volumes of the Writings, is called The Crown of Churches by the Lord. “The Crown of Churches” is a code reference for the uppermost anatomy of the human mind. The Writings are called that because those who study it as Divine Truth, are taken up in their consciousness to the top of their mind, which is called heaven.
Now consider the next passage which will demonstrate that the code of correspondences in the Three Testaments is not an arbitrary linguistic device or convention. This is what one thinks when thinking about a code in a natural way. Computers are very fast in being able to break such codes. But the code of correspondences is not a linguistic code but a reality code, if I may call it that. Correspondences are laws of creation and existence. This idea is related to what the New Testament reveals about how the universe was created, namely, by Divine Truth:
That God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent through the wisdom of His love is meant by the words in John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the world was made by Him. And the Word was made flesh (John 1:1, 3-4, 10, 14);
"the Word" here meaning the Divine truth, or, what amounts to the same thing, the Divine wisdom; and for this reason it is called "life" and "light," "life" and "light" being nothing else than wisdom. (TCR 50)
 In heaven Divine Truth has all power, and apart from it there 1a11 is no power whatever. From the Divine Truth all angels are called powers, and are powers to the extent that they are receptions or receptacles of it. By means of it, they prevail over the hells and over all that oppose them. A thousand enemies there cannot endure a single ray of the light of heaven which is Divine Truth. Since angels are angels from their reception of Divine Truth, it follows that the entire heaven is from no other source, for heaven consists of angels.
 That there is such power latent in Divine Truth is incredible to those who have no other idea of truth than that it is thought or speech, which have no power in themselves except as others do them from obedience. But Divine Truth has power in itself, and such power that, by means of it, heaven was created and the world with all things therein. That there is such power latent in Divine Truth may be illustrated by two comparisons, namely, by the power of truth and good in man, and by the power of light and heat from the sun in the world. (HH 137)
One of the most impressive scientific revelations in the Writings, at least to me, is the fact that truth is a substance streaming out of the spiritual Sun, and corresponding to it, is the sunlight streaming out of every sun in a galaxy. Light and heat from the natural sun are material in the form of physical particles and wave energies. This corresponds exactly to light and heat streaming out of the spiritual Sun, and these are not material in form but substantive. They are substances. Light from the spiritual Sun is a spiritual substance while the heat that is within it, is a celestial substance. The spiritual substance activates our understanding where it is experienced as truths we are conscious of. When we talk about truths in a natural way, we think about the logical condition of statements, and surely these are not like matter or substance.
But thinking more rationally, and scientifically, we can know that truth is a substance that produces logic and rationality as phenomena. It is like electricity that streams into the thin wires of a light bulb and sets them aglow with light from the heat inside. It is the electricity streaming into the wire that makes it white hot. The light streaming out is therefore an effect or phenomenon produced by the electricity being absorbed into the material of the tungsten wires. The absorption of energy in the form of electricity, causes the atomic particles of the wires to move faster, which causes particles and waves of energy to flow from the wires across the glass bulb into the surrounding air, and these then carry the light to the eye.
A similar corresponding sequence of tiny events take place when spiritual light is absorbed into the receptor organ called the understanding, so that the end result of the process is the phenomenon of understanding or conscious awareness. Truth substance activates the cognitive organs of the mind so that it produces thinking operations governed by a rational syntax. So the action of correspondences is what creates effects in the natural world by means of causes in the spiritual world. This is not an arbitrary code but the genetic code of reality itself. This is the code of the Threefold Word is written in, and no other human work has this unique Divine and infinite property. This is why it is said that the universe was created by means of the Word. This is Divine Truth within which is Divine Love that activates it.
Now consider the demonstrable power of correspondences. Quoting from the Writings:
Third Memorable Relation
The next day an angel came to me from another society and said, "We have heard in our society that on account of your meditations about the creation of the universe you were summoned to a society near ours, and there told things about creation which the society then assented to, and have since remembered with pleasure. I will now show you how all kinds of animals and vegetables were produced by God."
He led me away to a broad green field and said, "Look around." And I looked around, and saw birds of most beautiful colors, some flying, some perched upon the trees, and some scattered over the field plucking little leaves from roses. Among the birds were doves and swans. After these had disappeared from my sight I saw not far from me flocks of sheep with lambs, and of kids and she-goats; and round about these flocks I saw herds of cattle, young and old, also of camels and mules, and in a kind of grove, deer with high horns, and also unicorns.
When I had beheld these things the angel said, "Turn your face towards the east." And I saw a garden containing fruit trees, as orange trees, lemon trees, olive trees, vines, fig-trees, pomegranates, and also shrubs bearing berries.
The angel then said, "Look now towards the south." And I saw fields of various kinds of grain, as wheat, millet, barley, and beans, and round about them flower beds containing roses of beautifully varied colors; but toward the north I saw thick groves of chestnut trees, palms, lindens, plane trees, and other trees with rich foliage.
 When I had seen these things the angel said, "All these things that you have seen are correspondences of affections of the love of the angels who are near." And he told me to what affection each particular thing corresponded; and moreover, that not these only, but also all other things that presented themselves to their sight were correspondences, as houses, the articles of furniture in them, the tables and food, the clothing, and even the gold and silver coins, as also the diamonds and other precious stones with which wives and virgins in the heavens are adorned. "From all these things," he said, "the character of every person in respect to love and wisdom is perceived by us. The things in our houses that are of use remain there permanently; while to the sight of those who wander from one society to another these things change as their associations change.
 These things have been shown to enable you to see, in a special example, the entire creation. For God is love itself and wisdom itself; the affections of His love are infinite, and the perceptions of His wisdom are infinite; and of these each thing and all things that appear on earth are correspondences. This is the origin of birds and beasts, forest trees, fruit trees, crops and harvests, herbs and grasses. For God is not extended, and yet He is present throughout all extension, thus throughout the universe from its firsts to its lasts; and He being thus omnipresent, there are these correspondences of the affections of His love and wisdom in the whole natural world; while in our world, which is called the spiritual world, there are like correspondences with those who are receiving affections and perceptions from God.
The difference is that in our world such things are created by God from moment to moment in accordance with the affections of the angels. In your world they were created in like manner in the beginning; but it was provided that they should be renewed unceasingly by the propagation of one from another, and creation be thus continued.
 In our world creation is from moment to moment, and in yours continued by propagation, because the atmospheres and earths of our world are spiritual, and the atmospheres and earths of your world natural; and natural things were created to clothe spiritual things as skin clothes the bodies of men and animals, as outer and inner barks clothe the trunks and branches of trees, the several membranes clothe the brain, tunics the nerves, and the inner coats their fibers, and so on. This is why all things in your world are constant, and are renewed constantly from year to year."
To this the angel added, "Go and tell the inhabitants of your world what you have seen and heard, for hitherto they have been in complete ignorance about the spiritual world; and without some knowledge about it no one can know, nor even guess, that in our world creation is a continuous process, and that it was the same in yours while the universe was being created by God."
 After this we talked about various matters; and at length about hell, that no such things are seen there as are seen in heaven, but only their opposites; since the affections of the love of those there, which are lusts of evil, are opposites of the affections of love in which angels of heaven are. Thus with those in hell, and in general in their deserts, there are seen birds of night, such as bats and owls; also wolves, panthers, tigers, and rats and mice; also venomous serpents of every kind, dragons and crocodiles; and (where there is any herbage) brambles, nettles, thorns, and thistles, and some poisonous plants grow: and at times these disappear, and then nothing is seen but heaps of stones, and bogs in which frogs croak. All of these things are correspondences; but as has been said, they are correspondences of the affections of the love of those in hell, which affections are lusts of evil. Notwithstanding these things are not created there by God; nor were they created by Him in the natural world, where like things exist. For all things that God has created and does create were and are good; while such things on the earth sprang up along with hell, and hell originated in men, who by turning away from God became after death satans and devils. But as these terrible things began to be painful to our ears, we turned our thoughts from them and recalled to mind what we had seen in heaven. (TCR 78)
This remarkable report by Swedenborg gives us a number of illuminating facts from True Science. The angels are the people who inhabit the highest portion of their mind, which as often discussed above, is called “heaven” by the Lord in the Threefold Word. When we have attained that level of thinking and feeling, our consciousness and understanding are filled with nothing but knowledge of True Science. This information is instantaneously present in their conscious understanding whenever it is desired or needed. They do not have to read, study and memorize, thus do not make mistakes of perception or reporting. What Swedenborg records in the quote above about what the angels said, may be taken as having been said from the Lord because angels only think and speak from affections that inflow from the Lord’s Own Proprium and are adapted uniquely to each angel. Hence it is that angels talk as we do, not knowing in advance what another will say, so that social occasions are maintained in their integrity in all heavenly societies.
Further, what has been written in the Writings must follow and complete the sequence of coded meanings started in the Old Testament, continued in the New Testament, and completed in the Writings. The threefold Word has an unbroken inner sense in its coded sequence, word by word, phrase by phrase, verse by verse, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, book by book, and so on, since the Threefold Word in its entirety makes one complete perfect representation of the in finite variations of Divine Truth. Every human being – soul, mind, body -- may be taken as a unique variation of Divine Truth, and human beings can be produced endlessly since the variations of Divine Truth are endless or infinite. This indeed is the Lord’s purpose for creation – an endless production of immortal human beings whose consciousness and life can rise to the top of their mind called heaven, where they live in conjugial happiness that increases daily to eternity. This purpose is what Divine Love is.
Let us summarize some of the main points in the passage quoted above:
(1) Swedenborg participated in an experiment in the spiritual world. He was the subject-observer or witness, and an angel was the experimenter. The demonstration consisted of showing the power and mechanism of correspondences so that Swedenborg could report them from experience (“These things have been shown to enable you to see, in a special example, the entire creation ...”).
(2) The angel produced different effects in different directions around Swedenborg. Around him he saw a green field, flowers, colorful birds, and useful domestic animals. Told to look towards the east, he saw a garden with fruit trees. Looking to the south, he saw various kinds of grain, thick groves of trees with rich foliage.
(3) These effects were produced at will by means of correspondences, well known to angels. General effects are produced by the general disposition or “the character of every person in respect to love and wisdom.” Particular effects are produced by each particular affection of an angel who is near, as for instance the detailed architectural structure of a house or adornment jewelry.
(4) Visitors in a heavenly society see similar things to the inhabitants if they are in similar disposition. Houses, cities, etc. remain in permanent place to the extent that the inhabitants there retain the same general disposition of character. Daily changes, or increases, in their love and wisdom, are marked by corresponding changes in the details of the things already in permanence, so that a wall may change its appearance, a new jewelry piece may appear on the earlobe of an angel wife, or a new type of fruit tree may appear outside the window. Heaven is a state of mind in which we are given the power to produce these natural-spiritual appearances by means of our affections and cognitions.
[ A side note: Is this not truly amazing – and I for one, am looking forward to such a state. I’ve got to make sure I stay on course with my rational spirituality! My wife is the essential component in my not getting lost! Even if I possess the enlightenment of heaven, I cannot stay the course without her – so I found out.]
(5) The origin of all correspondences is God’s love and wisdom (“the affections of His love are infinite, and the perceptions of His wisdom are infinite; and of these each thing and all things that appear on earth are correspondences”. Obviously, this is the reason that the Threefold Word is written in correspondences since the Word is God Himself speaking to humanity. Everything that God says in speaking to us is in correspondences. Why? Because when we read His Word in a printed book, what is it but a natural object in which is contained holy spiritual things. A Bible verse rendered in some natural language like Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, is a natural object and all natural objects are created by correspondences. But a sentence in the Threefold Word contains encoded heavenly secrets, while other objects do not. Such is the unique character of the Threefold Word. It would not be able to serve its function were it not Divine. This function is to keep open the life-line connection between God and the human race.
(6) Correspondences produce effects by discrete degrees and all created things are created into three discrete degrees of structure. This principle is called “from firsts to lasts,” which indicates that God operates the universe by a successive sequence of mechanisms operating together in simultaneous order, which is some particular object and function in existence.
(7) The same mechanism of correspondences that produces natural effects from spiritual causes, operates with spirits, angels, and devils, in producing environmental appearances. The world we are in, when cut off from the physical world, is a mental world called the spiritual world. The memories and knowledges we bring with us from earth fills the lower portion of our mind. As we lose the physical body, our consciousness in the eternal spirit-body must either ascent to the higher spiritual-rational portion of our mind, or else descend to the lower natural portion. Which we do depends on the affections and cognitions we brought with us in the natural mind. These affections or mental states draw us near others with similar mental states and together we make a spiritual society which consists of cities and lands instantiated in accordance with the affections and cognitions of those present with each other.
(8) What’s important therefore for consciousness raising to heaven, is not the knowledge of correspondences but the acquisition of affections and cognitions that project a heavenly sphere or existence. The projection, production, or instantiation of our external environment in the spiritual world – whether heaven or hell – is achieved not by our knowledge of correspondences but by the very laws of correspondences, whether we know them or not.
(9) Whatever first comes into existence in the natural world is by means of correspondences from the love and wisdom of the Lord, but afterwards, it is reproduced by means of new mechanisms such as geological formations or reproduction of species by new births. These new mechanisms are produced by different spiritual affections and cognitions which the angels have.
(10) The angel knew about our ignorance of correspondences and tells Swedenborg to make the facts known (“Go and tell the inhabitants of your world what you have seen and heard”).
With this introduction, consider a set of facts about correspondences and the Threefold Word:
(a) The Threefold Word, composed of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings, was written by dozens of authors over nearly three millennia or thirty centuries.
(b) Each author wrote as-of self a record of what they saw and heard. Unbeknownst to them however, every sentence they wrote down has a double meaning, one literal, the other inner and spiritual.
(c) The inner spiritual meaning of every sentence of the Threefold Word can be extracted from the literal meaning by applying a special translation code to it. This code is called the code of correspondences and is described fully in the Writings.
(d) Swedenborg learned the code from his special observations of the spiritual world through dual consciousness from age 57 to his passing on at 84 (1688-1772). He observed repeatedly that the thoughts and feelings of those who are there, are projected outward by the laws of correspondences. For instance, evil loves and false ideas project an outward appearance of darkness, caves, marshy lakes, noxious animals and stenches. Good loves and true ideas project light, gardens, palaces, friendly animals, and wonderful fragrances. Hence it is that people with good love who pass on are able to find and live in a heavenly environment, while people with evil loves find a hellish place to dwell in. The same correspondences that exist between the mind and the environment in the spiritual world, also govern the relation between the literal meaning of the Threefold Word and its inner spiritual meaning. Correspondences are therefore universal, governing all things between the natural and the spiritual worlds.
(e) Even though the Threefold Word is written in a code, every historical or descriptive detail mentioned is accurate. In other words the Threefold Word is not poetic symbolism but accurate history and science. Despite this, it has a hidden code and an entirely new meaning through that code. This inner meaning was not known to the writers. Correspondences are not symbolic interpretations. Correspondences are scientific principles of creation that govern all natural phenomena by means of spiritual phenomena. They are objective, not subjective or interpretive. They give knowledge of the causes of natural phenomena.
So now the logical question arises: How can you explain that the Threefold Word is written entirely in a hidden code of correspondences when none of the authors of the Old and New Testaments knew anything about correspondences?
If this is not proof, what is? What can be more certain to the rational mind? If this doesn’t impress you it’s because you are thinking only about sensuous consciousness of God, when yet it is rational consciousness of the Lord that elevates our consciousness all the way to heaven.
Furthermore, Swedenborg who knew about correspondences, illustrated their use with the Old and New Testaments. He was not conscious of the fact that he was also writing in correspondences. He was just writing down his analyses of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the travels and interviews he conducted in the spiritual world. And yet, because the Writings are the Word, the sentences Swedenborg wrote down are also in a code of correspondences, even if he did not himself try to write in a code. To what extent he was aware that what he wrote spontaneously came out in a code, I do not know, but it’s not possible for me to think that Swedenborg did not know that the Word of the Second Coming had an internal sense just as the first Two Testaments. The fact that he never mentions it indicates that this is something the Lord reveals to each individual (see the discussion on profanation in the previous section). There are many places in the Writings where Swedenborg announces that he’s going to reveal something later in the text, “by the Lord’s mercy.” But sometimes he writes that he is not allowed to reveal more things about some particular subject. Why wouldn’t he? The reason is undoubtedly as explained in relation to profanation.
And furthermore, there is the teaching in several places of the text that the degree of interiorness of truth understood in the Writings, is proportional to one’s progress in regeneration. This too indicates that the Lord is in immediate charge of the degree of truth that we can derive from the literal of the Threefold Word. In the 12-volume Arcana Coelestia, we are given a phrase by phrase and verse by verse analysis of all of Genesis and Exodus. The purpose is to show the existence of an underlying spiritual meaning that can be accessed by knowledge of correspondences. Just a few of the thousands of instances may be cited:
And there was given unto them power as the scorpions of the earth have power, signifies their ability to persuade, and its effect and might. This is evident from the signification of a "scorpion," as being an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness (of which presently); and from the signification of "power," as being might and effect, here the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness, and the effect which is infatuating and suffocating. (AC 544)
The "blood" because it signified charity, signified what is holy; and the "flesh" because it signified man's will, signified what is profane. And because these things are separate, being contrary, they were forbidden to eat blood; for by eating flesh with the blood was then represented in heaven profanation, or the mingling of what is sacred with what is profane; and this representation in heaven could not then but strike the angels with horror; for at that time all things existing with the man of the church were turned, among the angels, into corresponding spiritual representations, in accordance with the signification of the things in the internal sense. (AC 1001)
That the "mountains of Ararat" signify light [lumen] is evident from the signification of a "mountain" as being the good of love and charity (n. 795); and from the signification of "Ararat" as being light, and indeed the light of the regenerate. (AC 854)
In the exposition of the inner coded meaning of the Old and New Testaments, the Writings frequently employ a basic rational formula that can be rendered;
“A” signifies B,
where A=a word or phrase in the original text of the Old and New Testaments that refers to natural things
and B=a word or phrase describing the inner spiritual meaning of A, derived by applying the code of correspondences.
Thus, in the quoted passages above, we have:
"scorpion" = an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness
“power” = the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness
“blood” = charity and what is holy
“flesh” = the will
“eating flesh with blood” = mingling of what is sacred with what is profane
"mountain" = the good of love and charity
"mountains of Ararat" = light [lumen]
From this repeatedly used formulaic pattern, readers of the Writings first form the impression that they are learning to decipher the Divine code of correspondences. And of course this is true – but only at the natural level of thinking. Readers of the Writings can memorize and apply correspondences to art, poetry, linguistics, medicine, education, etc., but this is as far as it goes. The understanding of correspondences remains natural and formulaic, and has not yet matured to the level of operation that is both rational and spiritual. The Writings say that unless the existence of this natural-rational is fully appreciated, all further progress in rational spirituality is arrested. The stalling of one’s spiritual development occurs because we take the literal meaning of correspondences to be the same as the spiritual meaning. This is a natural error and tendency that is discussed in the Writings, along with antidotes and methods of overcoming it. The Lord Himself as a Child underwent this tendency and believed that his natural-rational understanding of the Old Testament was “it,” until He received the inner call from His “internal Man” called Jehovah, whereby He informed Himself that the spiritual-rational meaning of the Old Testament words are to be revealed to His Mind from within. Since that moment, all of humanity must take the same course of internal and progressive revelation from within regarding the spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word.
Hence, after we memorize and comprehend the code of correspondences in a literal way, we must then apply this knowledge to our own states of mind – our moment to moment stream of thinking and feeling all day long. The contrast here is between a theoretical knowledge of correspondences and an applied understanding. Now the formula can be represented as follows:
“A” = B = C
C is the new factor in the equation when it matures. “A” is some text from the Threefold Word. B is the memorized database of correspondences extracted from the Threefold Word (theoretical knowledge of the Writings). C is the perception of the spiritual sense of “A.”
You will note that the spiritual meaning is a living perception available only when our understanding is ‘online’ or “tuned in” to the spiritual world and its “influx “of spiritual information. This perception of the spiritual influx is called “enlightenment” and is discussed in the Writings in many places. Without this enlightenment from the Lord, the spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word (“A”) cannot be understood. Even if we write down our perception of the spiritual sense (C), the spiritual meaning of that sentence cannot be recovered by reading it, which only yields the literal and natural description of the spiritual sense, but not the spiritual sense itself.
No one can see the spiritual sense except from the doctrine of genuine truth; from this doctrine the spiritual sense can be seen, when there is some knowledge of correspondences. He who is in false doctrine cannot see anything of the spiritual sense. He draws out and applies the correspondences which he sees to the falsities of his doctrine; and thus he can still more falsify the Word. Wherefore the true spiritual sense of the Word is from the Lord alone. This is the reason why it is not permitted anyone in the natural world, nor in the spiritual world, to investigate the spiritual sense of the Word from the sense of its letter, unless he is wholly in the doctrine of Divine truth and in enlightenment from the Lord, wherefore from the doctrine of Divine truth confirmed from the sense of the letter of the Word, the spiritual sense can be seen, but doctrine can never first be seen from the spiritual sense. He thinks falsely who says with himself, I know many correspondences, I can know the true doctrine of the Divine Word, the spiritual sense will teach it to me. This cannot be done. But, as has been said, let him say with himself, I know the doctrine of Divine truth, now I can see the spiritual sense, provided I know correspondences. But still this must be in enlightenment from the Lord, because the spiritual sense is Divine truth itself in its light, and is meant by glory, and the sense of the letter by a cloud in passages in the Word where these are mentioned. (DE VERBO 21)
This passage asserts that the spiritual sense of the Threefold Word can be seen when four conditions are met simultaneously.
(1) First, reading the Writings and extracting genuine Doctrine from it, which is rationally understood and remembered. Genuine Doctrine must be confirmed again by the letter to prevent inventing one’s own heretical doctrines.
(2) Second, decoding the literal sense of some text in the Threefold Word by means of the laws of correspondences described in the Writings.
(3) Third, giving the decoded passage a context from a knowledge of Doctrine from the Writings, and applying the resultant understanding to one’s own mental states – the stream of our thinking and feeling operations all day long.
(4) Receiving enlightenment from the Lord which gives a direct and immediate perception of the spiritual sense.
Note the segment: “He thinks falsely who says with himself, I know many correspondences, I can know the true doctrine of the Divine Word, the spiritual sense will teach it to me. This cannot be done.” This informs us that it is not possible to perceive the spiritual meaning of a passage from a knowledge of correspondences and explanations of doctrine. I’ve seen some attempts by writers considered to be experts on Swedenborg, to discover the spiritual sense of passages from Earths in the Universe (EU), and the results I saw could not be taken seriously as they were wild speculations and led to false ideas and doctrines. This is why all the elements of Doctrine in our understanding must be confirmed by the literal sense when compared to various passages from the writings. This prevents the contrary direction of procedure whereby we try to discover the spiritual sense by reasoning with correspondences and false assumptions or doctrines.
Furthermore, once genuine Doctrine is in the understanding and memory, it is still powerless to give us a perception of the spiritual sense of a passage. We may read the precise descriptions in the Arcana Coelestia of “A” = B, as explained above, and use these descriptions of correspondences to try to get to the spiritual sense. But we are told that this is in vain. The spiritual sense is given neither in “A”, nor in B, but in C, which is the actual living ‘online’ perception in time of the spiritual influx that is its sense or meaning. This perception is given by the Lord only in connection with one’s regeneration struggles.
The person who receives enlightenment is one who refrains from evils because they are sins, and because they are against the Lord and are endeavors opposed to His Divine laws. In such a one and in no other the spiritual mind opens, and in the measure that it opens, in the same measure the light of heaven enters (all enlightenment in the Word being from the light of heaven). The reason is that the person then has a will for good. When this will is directed to that useful end [namely, to reading the Word], it produces in the intellect first an affection for truth, then a perception of truth, afterward with the help of rational sight, thought of truth, consequently a determination and conclusion; and as soon as this enters from the intellect into the memory, it enters also into the life and so remains.
This is the way all enlightenment in the Word proceeds, and likewise a person's reformation and regeneration. But first there must be in the memory concepts of both spiritual and natural things; for these concepts are the receptacles into which the Lord operates through the light of heaven. The fuller they are and the freer of falsities that have been affirmed, the more enlightened the perception and the surer the conclusion. (DE VERBO 12)
It’s important to realize that enlightenment is specific not general. One normally assumes that enlightenment is general and reflects a person’s spiritual status, achievement, and perception. But in the Writings, enlightenment is not of the person but of the particular perception. It is the “will for good” that produces enlightenment through “perception of truth,” by which is meant perception of spiritual truth, which is enlightenment. The will for good is always applied, not theoretical. When doctrine and correspondences are applied to a particular act of the will for good, then only is perception of spiritual truth given as enlightenment. Merely reading a literal description of Doctrine, correspondences, and the explication of the spiritual sense, do not give perception or enlightenment.
The method of lifelong progressive regeneration by temptations is often discussed in the Writings. As this regeneration progresses, the Lord enlightens the individual mind with higher and higher light, and from a natural understanding of correspondences we receive perception of the spiritual meaning of correspondences, and from a natural understanding of the Heavenly Doctrine we acquire a spiritual understanding of the Doctrine of the Church, the Doctrine of Life, the Doctrine of Charity, the Doctrine of Conjugial Love.
To see the main point again, consider the correspondences that are explicated in a passage quoted above:
And there was given unto them power as the scorpions of the earth have power, signifies their ability to persuade, and its effect and might. This is evident from the signification of a "scorpion," as being an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness (of which presently); and from the signification of "power," as being might and effect, here the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness, and the effect which is infatuating and suffocating. (AC 544)
You will notice that the “A” terms are physical things -- like “scorpion” and “power,” -- while the B terms are mental things -- like “suffocating persuasiveness” and “the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness.” This shows that the Writings explicate the literal sense in terms of mental states. These mental states are referred to by means of words and phrases in a natural language. Clearly, these terms for mental states come from the dictionary of natural usage in a particular culture. Hence we have the B terms given here for scorpion – “suffocating persuasiveness” which is the language of psychology apart from the language of the Threefold Word. In other words, the Writings make use of the ordinary register of psychology to refer to mental states. This makes sense. Anyone familiar with culture and everyday psychological thinking can read the explication of the Word given in the Writings, and understand them. This is true regardless of their state of reformation and regeneration. This is why you can read about a summary of the Heavenly Doctrine and about correspondences in an encyclopedia article on Swedenborg.
It is common to point to the literal text of the Writings (“A”) and to say: “This is the Heavenly Doctrine. It is the spiritual sense of the Word.” This is natural because the Writings themselves introduce themselves as such at the very start of Arcana Coelestia:
1. [AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTORY NOTE] The Heavenly Arcana -- the matters in Sacred Scripture or the Word of the Lord that have been disclosed -- stand in explanatory sections entitled THE INTERNAL SENSE Of the Word.
A common formulaic sequence it follows is:
First Section: THE CHAPTER (text of the Old Testament)
Second Section: THE CONTENTS (an outline of the spiritual meaning to be given)
Third Section: THE INTERNAL SENSE” (explanations in detail based on the formula “A” = B)
Fourth Section: Experiences and Doctrinal materials (appended to each chapter)
In the “A” = B formula, the “=” sign is rendered as “A signifies B”, “A represents B”, and “A corresponds to B.”
From these structural and literal indications it is normal to conclude that what we are reading in the “B” category is in fact the spiritual sense of the Old Testament passage. As for example, “scorpion” in the spiritual sense means “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness.” We imagine that when we read “scorpion” in the Word, the angels with us get a perception of “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness.” But upon further reflection we can see that this is not accurate. The expression “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness” is a natural idea of a natural mental state. It is not a spiritual idea of either “scorpion” or of “persuasiveness.” It would be impossible for us to have any idea that is like an angel’s idea, but only a correspondences of an angel’s idea. This is repeated in many places in the Writings. And so when we read “scorpion” the angels do not perceive “persuasiveness” in the natural sense we know it, but they think of “persuasiveness” in the spiritual sense. And to this sense of “persuasiveness” we have access only by immediate enlightenment form the Lord. When we perceive the sense of “persuasiveness” in this spiritual sense, then we understand what the angels perceive, thus the spiritual sense.
When reading the Writings we must therefore relate to both the literal and the spiritual, but in different ways. We relate to the literal of the Writings when we struggle to understand it rationally. We are thereby building “vessels” in our mind that are suitable to receive later the perception of enlightenment. Having built up these vessels, we want to arrange them in a hierarchical and consistent series of linked principles. This is called taking up Doctrine in the understanding. This is a theoretical Doctrine or theoretical knowledge of the Heavenly Doctrine. With this theoretical Doctrine in our conscious understanding and memory, we can undergo reformation, which is the conscious and active rearrangement of our concepts and attitudes to fit the order of the theoretical Doctrine in our mind. When reformation is more or less completed, we begin our regeneration. Now for the first time we are going to be in a position of being enlightened by the Lord, to the extent that we follow the appropriate procedures specified in the Writings.
When the theoretical Doctrine is established in our mind, we can read the Writings with a new motivation called “the will for good.” This time we go to the next step, B = C, which was discussed above. The natural understanding of the mental state (B) that is contained in the physical object (“A”) (e.g., persuasiveness contained within “scorpion”), can now be turned into a spiritual understanding. In other words, to understand “persuasiveness” in a spiritual way, we must be given perception of it (C) by enlightenment.
Now you can see that the spiritual sense of the Old Testament that has been disclosed in Arcana Coelestia, has only been disclosed at the natural operational level, by necessity, since it has been disclosed in writing in a natural language. And if you can see this about the Old Testament, you can extend this to cover the Threefold Word. The Writings must also necessarily contain a spiritual sense that is visible only by perception given from enlightenment. Perception of the spiritual sense is the only way to see the spiritual sense, which cannot be given in the nomenclature of a natural language. This can only give natural meaning perceptions.
At first, it appears that Swedenborg is proposing that we read the Bible in a symbolic way so that we become aware of the spiritual message and how it applies to self. But this attitude we already possessed in phase 2 thinking and worshiping the Lord. Many intelligent readers and scholars of the Bible were able to write commentaries that presented new insights to other readers. Not all commentaries were truly insightful, but some were, because they were focusing on how to apply the spiritual message to one’s own living and behavior. But no matter how advanced we get in this deepening of the meaning and message in the verses (phase 2), we do not get to the beginning of the next phase (3). The idea of correspondences at level 3 thinking is scientific and particularistic, which means that they are seen as a mechanism by which the Lord produces natural phenomena and events. Consider the history and evolution of a planet – the Lord must be using determinative mechanisms to produce these very complex sequences, to compel the physical matter to organize itself in specific ways at specific times under specific conditions, which themselves are also similarly produced. Every natural event, object, or quality is an effect produced by the Lord by means of a spiritual-rational mechanism. This mechanism, along with many other Divine mechanisms, have been revealed as True Science in the Writings.
It’s important to realize that the notion of correspondences is different from “Platonic idealism” which was the idea that every form on earth was an imperfect rendition or model of the perfect thin in heaven. Thus, all roses on earth are imperfect copies of the perfect rose which exists in ideal reality. The idea of correspondences is very different. A rose is not produced as a model of a rose in heaven. A rose is produced by the quality of the affections of angels in heaven. A rose, a tree, an animal, a mountain, a planet – these physical objects exist as effects of spiritual causes in the spiritual world such as the mental states of angels. The laws of correspondences, from creation, are such that mental states produce physical objects. You can understand this better when you consider dreaming, and how this consists of producing images and apparently physical environments in the dream. These objects in the dream that you take for real, are produced by your mental states while dreaming. Similarly, the Lord produced the physical world by means of the rational laws of correspondences in His Mind. Similarly, the naturally looking environment of angels in heaven and devils in hell, is produced by the mental states of the inhabitants there.
“Correspondences” is a mechanism the Lord uses to create the dual universe and to maintain it in its created order. It is the genetic code of creation and maintenance of the universe. In other words, the Lord created a spiritual-rational genetic code that determines the laws of correspondence between spiritual and natural phenomena, qualities, objects, or events. A rose is a rose because its body and scent correspond to conjugial love in heaven, as testified by these observations Swedenborg made:
Then one of the seven wove a garland of roses, sprinkled it with spring water, and placed it on the boy's hat around the crown, saying, 'Receive the delights of intelligence. You should know that a hat stands for intelligence, and a garland from this garden for its delights.' The boy went off with this adornment, and was seen again at a distance looking like a dove in flight, but this time with a crest on his head. (CL 293)
Eliminate conjugial love from heaven and you eliminate roses from existence on earth. As the race on earth regenerates more and more in the ensuing centuries, people will see a corresponding change in the appearance of planet earth. The geographic environment in each location will reflect the virtues and qualities of the people living there, so that the forests, plains, and deserts will be transformed into paradises with harmonious vegetation, rock formation, and animal population. Future research in True Science will no doubt show what the specific correspondences are as they measure and correlate the race’s mental and geological changes.
Further, once you start deciphering the code of correspondences, you begin to notice that the code is presented in a rational series or developmental hierarchy. Pieces of text in the Old and New Testaments fit together chronologically, making up an inner series of ideas held together step by step by what comes next. These hierarchical series of meanings are for the mind what genetic code or DNA is for the physical body, hence they can be called the “genes of consciousness” (see this article:
You can see how astonishing this entire picture is when you consider that the pieces of the series in the inner sense are supplied by successive authors or prophets over many centuries merely by describing historical events and private visions they experienced.
There is no other scientific explanation possible except that the Threefold Word is Divine and has actually been written by God for humanity.
True Science has been evolving since the beginning under God’s careful tutelage. After the Fall which marked the end of the old celestial race and the beginning of the new spiritual split-brain race, science was the new method God provided for the human race to acquire rational spirituality, hence it had to be guided in its growth in the history of civilization. Prior to the Fall, the celestial people on earth were prepared for heaven by means of sensuous consciousness – direct perception into the spiritual world and direct communication with those there. But after the Fall preparation for heaven was by means of rational consciousness produced by means of reading and understanding the Threefold Word. The first growth of science was the development of taxonomic nomenclature by which the things in the natural environment were identified and classified. Then came the development of scientific theory which required a method of its own. The theories became materialistic so that God’s presence in natural phenomena was only acknowledged in the Preface, but God was not mentioned as part of the explanatory chain of causes. As a result, science went through several centuries in the materialist modality.
In the 18th century Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) began a new paradigm of science that may be called “scientific dualism.” He broke with tradition and put God back into the body of the book, not just in the Preface. No reputable scientist before him or since, has done what Swedenborg has done, namely, to include scientific revelations in his theory of how the universe was created and how it is being maintained in existence. It is not possible to exaggerate the importance of this new scientific paradigm, the paradigm of the future.
case, I have been a career scientist for the past 42 years and a professor of psychology
at some of the top psychology departments in the world (e.g.,
The scientific method is universally taught today throughout the planet. The version of this method practiced today is explicitly biased against absolute truth. This is ironic given that science ideally searches for truth. The version of scientific method practiced today is actually against truth for it denies that there is absolute truth. This phase 1 level of thinking can clearly be seen as incorrect when viewed from phase 2 and 3. At phase 2 we are sufficiently rational to understand and accept dualism. Dualism is from the Threefold Word, and all religions are based on the dualism between God and creation, God being absolute, while created things are temporary. In phase 2 thinking we can also see from the Word that truth is from God and therefore it is absolute. In phase 3 thinking we can see that truth is part of science, and therefore science is part of God. The science of God is the knowledge that God has revealed to humanity. God created the universe by science, and runs it by science through rational laws of discrete correspondences. God is therefore the True Scientist and the Threefold Word is therefore True Science containing the scientific revelations God has made about Himself, creation, existence, correspondences, discrete degrees, resuscitation, operation of the laws of Divine Providence and Permissions, immortality, life in the afterlife, the anatomy of the mind, the history and development of the human race, and other scientific matters of deep concern to our future and our control of the social and physical environment.
Hence it is that the version of the scientific method practiced today is holding back the development of the rational human mind. The highest form of the natural-rational mind operates by means of dualist concepts and abstract explanations of the world. These are the higher-order natural cognitions that can be compatible with spiritual truths. These spiritual truths inflow from within, from heaven into the spiritual mind, and thence into the conscious natural mind. The elevation of the human mind into rational spirituality depends on a version of the scientific method that is compatible with spiritual-rational truths from revelation. This is why a new scientific method has been emerging through those who are able to see the Writings as a Divine scientific revelation of dualism.
current atheistic and monist version of the scientific method is inherently
biased against absolute truth such as is implied in the use of the phrase “True
Science” and “Divine scientific revelation.” I was trained in the scientific
method as a graduate student at
The idea of “Divine scientific revelations of absolute truth” would not be considered a good theory because it leads to no data or research – so goes the politically correct argument. But as I pointed out above, the existence of the dual world, of the spiritual Sun, of the afterlife, of resuscitation, of heaven and hell, of correspondences, of the Divinity of the Threefold Word – these scientific revelations are verifiable by every scientist who passes on, and even by non-scientists. If there were a conference of scientists in a hotel at night in some city, and they were divided in opinion as to the existence of sunrise, the debate can only last a few hours, for soon each one of them, regardless of opinion, can verify that there is sunrise at dawn. And they continue to repeat their observations as long as they find it of interest. Swedenborg was an eyewitness reporter of observations that every individual gets to verify. In some cases the verification process must await a few decades, and in other cases, much less time than that.
The fact that the verification process must be postponed is no valid argument against the integrity of the process of verification. All experiments depend on replication of appropriate and significant conditions in order to obtain the scientific verification desired. To replicate these conditions takes some time. The majority of conditions can be replicated with technical expertise in a matter of days, weeks, or months. Some take years of preparation and observation before the right conditions are attained. In the case of verification of resuscitation after the death of the physical body, the preparation period may be long or short, depending on the time of death. Verification of geological and astronomical calculations and predictions may take decades and even centuries.
One of the trigger points of resistance to dualism in science is the general persuasion of traditionally trained scientists that it is against the ethics of science to introduce concepts and explanations that are not sensory bound. Abstraction that is removed from the sensory is allowed in science, but it must be shown how it is emergent from the sensory, usually by means of some predicted measurement under specified enabling conditions – or else it is labeled as “pseudo-science” which means “fake.” Nevertheless, an idea that is abstracted from the sensory order remains in the sensory order no matter how complex the abstraction is made to be. In the Writings of Swedenborg this is discussed as the discrete separation between the natural and the spiritual order. A very important contrast is made in True Science between the sensory order of the rational called the “natural-rational” order on the one hand, and on the other, the spiritual order of the rational called the “spiritual-rational.”
These two orders are in correspondence of discrete degrees, which means that nothing of one element can penetrate the other element. They are created separate forever. But also, they are created tied to each other forever. And the laws of interaction between them is a one-to-one, point-by-point mapping of phenomena in the two orders. The natural order imposes itself upon all existing things that are constructed of material elements in time and space. The spiritual order imposes itself upon all existing things that are constructed of substances from the spiritual Sun, and thus are not part of the fabric of physical time and space. One is called the natural world and the other, the spiritual world. The universe is therefore made of dual worlds, natural and spiritual, tied to each other by the laws of correspondences of discrete degrees.
Swedenborg’s new paradigm of science introduces scientific theories that explain how natural phenomena are effects produced by spiritual phenomena. The spiritual phenomena are not part of the physical sensory order and therefore the spiritual order must be accessed some other way. The source of all information about spiritual phenomena, the spiritual order, or the spiritual world, is scientific revelation from the Threefold Word. As a scientist I can state without violating ethics or truth, that the universe was created by God who has revealed Himself to the human race in many ways. The people of the earlier generations and civilizations had a sensuous consciousness of God, the spiritual world, and its phenomena. They were citizens of a dual world, one temporary, the other eternal, and they passed on from one to the other without anxiety or fear, or death, but with full consciousness. The subsequent generations evolved into a new form that cut off sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world.
The new human race was born in complete darkness as to sensory perception of anything but the physical world. Now a new method had to be evolved by God in order to prepare earthlings for heavenly life. Sensuous consciousness was no longer possible. Every individual of the new race had to acquire a rational consciousness of the spiritual world and of God. This was done by means of scientific revelations that elevated the human mind on this earth from a sensuous intellect to a rational intellect. God created a new heaven which would fit this new human mentality. It may be called rational spirituality and its systematized knowledge may be called True Science. The scientific revelations God has given for the development of rational spirituality were given in collections of writings called The Threefold Word. Its major groupings are known as the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Third Testament (the Writings of Swedenborg).
It has not been widely acknowledged that the Threefold Word contain scientific revelations. Resistance comes from the concern that if the Writings are identified as a science book, it will be discarded now or later, just as any science book is, in the course of science’s march to the future. But this concern falls to the wayside once it is seen that True Science and science are constitutional parts of each other. Materialist science was a monism based on the physical sensory order. This science was guided by God into rational abstractions that were capable of reflecting or representing the spiritual order. This type of rational order or mental operation, is called in the Writings the “natural-rational” order or mind. The natural-rational concepts and the syntax of reasoning with them, belongs to the natural mind and is set in a natural order. Nevertheless, it is capable of representing spiritual concepts and syntax of reasoning. This belongs to the spiritual mind and is set in the order of the spiritual world. These higher-order discrete concepts are called “spiritual-rational.”
Here then lies the basis of scientific dualism, namely the correspondential interaction between natural-rational concepts and reasoning, on the other hand, and on the other, spiritual-rational concepts and reasoning. The Threefold Word is a source of information about the relation between these two orders. As a scientist I can say that I have available to me a database of information about spiritual phenomena that I can relate to the database of information about natural phenomena. Knowledge of the details of this interaction allows me and others to produce new scientific theories that are dualist.
A new age in science is now at hand. True Science connected to science is now a new paradigm that actually exists and has already began to develop and evolve. True Science is actually within science, though this was not know until the Writings revealed the structure. Until now, science appeared on the surface to be materialistic and monistic and atheistic. But this is an outward appearance, and illusion of the actuality. True Science was always within science because that’s the only life science has. There is no rationality apart from True Science, and whatever rationality science achieved, it was due to the direct and immediate cause of True Science within. God guided and developed science to where it is now through True Science concepts hidden within every genuine science idea. Swedenborg lauded those scientists whose goal was the accurate capture of true facts in the biological and physical sciences, who did not put their pet theories ahead of the facts. This is the kind of genuine science that was guided within by True Science.
The hidden presence of True Science in the minds of scientists since Aristotle and before, suddenly bursts open in the conscious awareness of Emanuel Swedenborg. He had a rational consciousness that allowed him to work within the dualist paradigm. He loved the Bible and knew it thoroughly from his own studies and reflections. He considered the Bible the Word of God, the Divine Truth. He saw that it was Divine Truth adapted to the human intellect that was responsible for human rationality, and therefore science. He therefore took the information in the Bible as scientific information about God, heaven, hell, the spiritual world, the Divine Human Person, revelation, creation, regeneration, resuscitation, eternal life, and so on. He realized that it was worse than useless for people to speculate on their own as to what the spiritual was, or to rely on their sensations or feelings. He took the Bible seriously as a source of scientific revelation. He took whatever information he could decipher from the Bible and incorporated them in his scientific theories in physics, astronomy, anatomy, and psychology.
The future ahead is bright because the Writings have now explicitly unveiled the content of spiritual-rational concepts of True Science. From now on both science will be the external framework while True Science will be the inner framework. Science is the sensuous and natural-rational component, while True Science is the spiritual-rational component. True Science is on top and governs science at the bottom. The spiritual-rational order we know from scientific revelations, is to be hooked up to the natural-rational order we know from sensory observation and abstraction. Everything in science that is not compatible with True Science is therefore to be discarded. This filtering process will take some time no doubt but the process has been created and is now evolving.
A person's internal resides in heaven, thus where the Lord is (Swedenborg, AC 10505)