This is Volume 1
A Man of the Field
Volume 1: Reformation
The Struggle Against Nonduality
Volume 2: Enlightenment
The Spiritual Sense of the Writings
Volume 3: Regeneration
Spiritual Disciplines For Daily Life
Volume 4: Uses
The New Church Mind In Old Age
By Leon James
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A “field” means doctrine (AC 368)
A "man" signifies faith and truth (AC 427; 4823)
Table of Contents
Volume 2 is located at this address:
Volume 3 is located at this address:
spiritual truth in the Writings
is a Divine Commandment
“The manifestation of the Lord, and intromission into the spiritual world, surpass all miracles. This has not been granted to anyone since the creation, as it has been to me.” Emanuel Swedenborg (INV 52)
This book presents the perspective on reality given in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).
It is intended for all those, regardless of religious or intellectual background, who want to form a new mind in themselves that is based exclusively on the Writings. The book’s purpose is to assist them in undergoing reformation and regeneration in preparation for a conjugial life in heaven.
intellectual climate revelations from God, His Name, the Bible, heaven and
hell, Church Doctrine, and the like are automatically considered religious
issues. When I started reading the Writings I was well into my career as a
psychology professor, writer, and scientist. I knew that the two-dozen books of
the Writings that I was studying were categorized as religious books, since I
found them in our university library in the section on Bible Commentaries. But
the books were written by Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist of repute in
his days, and known to many influential intellectuals in
Swedenborg was a fully rational thinker with a passion and commitment for explanations of phenomena that span the entire chain of their existence from ultimates to firsts. And since it is irrational to think that firsts can be from nothing or from chaos, rationality requires that the first of all phenomena be a rational Human God.
Swedenborg’s science was therefore inclusive and centered on a Human God who runs the universe in a rational way that is discoverable by intellectual investigation.
Swedenborg relied on the revelations of the Bible for the scientific facts about the spiritual world. Since he had no direct access to the spiritual world (until age 57), he extracted the facts from the Bible using both its literal meaning and spiritual meaning. The Bible reveals many scientific facts about the spiritual world in relation to the natural world, as for instance:
q that there is a God who forms and runs the universe
q that God is Human
q that God’s personality is motivated by Divine Love
q that God runs the universe by means of rational laws
q that there is a spiritual world and life after death
q that we are immortal
q that in the afterlife we live in either heaven or hell
q that the spiritual world is within the mind, thus that the mind is in the spiritual world
q that spirit and mind are the same
q that those who make it to heaven are then angels
q that those who make it to hell are then devils
q that heaven and hell are within us
q that our character is what determines whether we are to live in heaven or hell within us
q that we inherit a degenerate character that must be regenerated
q that regeneration consists in following conscience, not doing evil to the neighbor, loving to do good
q that our mind or spirit is in unconscious communication with those who are already in the spiritual world
q that God manages the smallest details of our willing and thinking so as to facilitate regeneration
q that God manages the details of every event or outcome at the macro and micro levels, including fortuitous events, accidents, the laws of chance, randomness, regularity
q and many others
The above list of scientific facts about the universe is based only on the literal meaning of the Bible.
Swedenborg also extracted many scientific facts from the spiritual meaning of Bible verses, as for example:
q that the Bible is the Word and therefore it is Divine Truth
q that parts of the Bible are written as accurate history, while other parts are spiritual visions
q that spiritual visions are universal phenomena brought about by correspondences
q that correspondences are revealed by God to the human race
q that correspondences are Divine Truths accommodated to human intelligence
q that correspondences are ordered in discrete degrees or levels in a hierarch of truths from external to inmost
q that regeneration of one’s character is achieved by the applying the power of correspondences to one’s daily willing and thinking
q that the universe is managed by a hierarchical order of correspondences that are represented in the spiritual meaning of the Bible
q that individual regeneration and biography recapitulates history and evolution
q that the Bible reveals the intellectual history of the human race within the spiritual meaning of the details regarding names, places, numbers, and descriptions
q that we live in heaven as angel couples
q that in the afterlife we have spirit-bodies allowing us to live in society, marriage, and an active creative life
q that the human race extends beyond this planet to the entire universe
q and many more
At age 57 the Divine Human appeared to Swedenborg, held him affectionately in His arms, and announced to him the mission for which he was prepared by God since early childhood. Swedenborg was to be the revelator by whom the Second Coming of the Lord was to be effected. Swedenborg was going to write and publish a series of books called the Writings. The Writings were to be the Divine Rational of the Lord which was to be revealed to the human race as a rational and scientific system of thinking. The Divine Human was to effect its Coming within these rational truths. Any individual who read these truths and understood them, taking them to be the guides of life, would be regenerated and conjoined to the Divine Human by means of this new rational consciousness of God. Henceforth this will be the orderly method of regeneration for the human race.
In order for the revelations of the Writings to be scientific and rational it was necessary that Swedenborg have direct access to both worlds simultaneously. Swedenborg had to be given the means to make empirical and experimental observations in the spiritual world, such as the following:
q to be present in heaven and hell and to interview the people there
q to watch the resuscitation process during death and how the spirit emerges from the physical body
q to talk to people whose body was being buried
q to interview various authors well known from history and the Bible
q to conduct experiments involving spirits and their mental abilities
q to compare the language and script of the Word on earth and in heaven
q to interview angel couples in their homes
q to travel in spirit to distant planetary regions in the universe and to investigate the character of spirits from those planets, and even, to see certain physical scenes on those planets through the eyes of spirits associated with the people there
q to be given visual observation posts from which to describe the shape or form of the land masses of heaven and hell
q to witness demonstrations of the spiritual power of truths from the Word
q to attempt therapy on those in hell
q to interview new arrivals in the afterlife and what memories they bring with them
q to observe the education and raising of children who arrive from the many earths
q to experiment with correspondences, seeing which produces what visual appearance
q and many more
From all this you can see that Swedenborg’s Writings constitute theistic science. The Writings of Swedenborg are rational scientific works written in Neo-Latin by a Swedish scientist and engineer in the 18th century. They are unique in the history of humankind because they present a fully rational comprehensive scientific account of all of reality, God, and human beings.
Prior accounts in the history of literature were never fully scientific, and never fully complete and comprehensive. If Swedenborg had merely written what his own genius figured out, the Writings would remain one of the greatest collections of rational philosophy, science, and theology anywhere. But the Writings are not books from the genius of Swedenborg, but much more, something entirely different, unparalleled in the history and evolution of the human race. The Writings are God’s Rational and Scientific Revelation now given to the human race for the first time. They present a fully rational and scientific account of reality, such as God has created it. If the content of the Writings were merely Swedenborg’s ideas of reality and God, they would form part of the literature of the world. But if the Writings are from God, then the Writings are unlike all other books that could be written.
No one should decide between these two possibilities without examining the Writings. I have examined them in detail, like I would a scientific collection of books which I intend to evaluate. Having done this, I have come to the conclusion that the Writings are the work of God, the last of the great revelations intended for the human race and called “the Word.” What is astonishing is that the Word of God in this new revelation is a science encyclopedia of the spiritual world! Since the spiritual world is within the natural, and is the cause of all natural phenomena, you can see why the Writings are a total and full scientific revelation of God. The human race now possesses two sets of scientific encyclopedias, one natural, the other spiritual; one about the natural world, the other about the spiritual world and how it animates the natural.
Now in the Writings, the human race has before it a full integrated rational description of God, creation, the universe, heaven and hell, history, truth, love, marriage, and regeneration.
This new beginning in science and rationality may be called the new age of THEISTIC SCIENCE.
The Christian tradition since the Lord’s First Coming has been that He is to come again to complete the world’s makeover called the salvation of the human race. They expect the Second Coming of the Lord to take place physically, appearing in the clouds, calling on those who believe in Him, gathering them together in one place, and giving them eternal life and happiness in Him. No one can tell you exactly what this means in terms of details—except those who have read and understood the Writings. For the Lord has effected His predicted Second Coming. This Second Advent was to complete the creation of the human race. He had already appeared physically in history and science, giving sensuous proof of Himself. When He foretold that He must come again, He did not mean that He is to come again in His glorified Divine Natural. He was actually saying that He must come again in His Divine Rational. Then we can know Him fully, by knowing the Divine Rational that is within the Divine Natural. A Second Coming in the physical would retard still further the evolution of rational consciousness in the human race.
The Lord is Divine Truth, which means that the new heavens He creates are made of rational loves, and these exist only in rational consciousness. The human race must evolve rational consciousness to become spiritually enlightened and live in heaven in eternity. This rational consciousness is brought about by forming our mind to reflect the order described in the Writings. This rational order is the Divine Rational of the Lord. From creation this is what the Lord intended, a human race that would evolve into rational consciousness and capable of having a celestial mind that lives in heaven. Now these rational truths have at last been revealed in the Writings. This rational revelation of Divine Truth is the Lord in His Second Coming.
Can a neighbor of yours know you if he only knows what you look like but not what you believe in and how you think? Christians got to know the Divine Natural of the Lord in a sensuous way, tangible, touchable. Even after the first generation passed on, the ensuing generations of Christians knew the Lord in this sensuous way because they believed that He was real, that He had indeed been here on this earth as God Incarnate. But this is relatively speaking, knowing the Lord like a neighbor whom we can see with our eyes every morning exiting from the apartment building, but whom we do not know because we do not know his beliefs and attitudes.
The Divine Rational of the Lord is within His Divine Natural, which makes sense because the Lord is Human. All humans consist of a rational mind within a body. In this world, we are a rational mind within a physical body, and in the afterlife, we are this same rational mind, but now in a spirit-body. The Lord is always within His Divine Natural Sensuous Body, as humans are always within their sensuous body. The sensuous body is the outward casing for the spiritual rational mind. The Lord’s Divine Natural Body is the outward Casing for His spiritual-rational mind called the Divine Rational. This Divine Rational is the origin and source of Divine Truth, the substance from which all is created. So the Lord’s Divine Rational is the true Divine Human that we are to love and know. This Divine Rational is what has been revealed in the Writings.
Coming refers to the revelation of the Divine Rational. This revelation was
completed and published on
The Writings are God’s revelation to the human race of how He creates the universe and how He runs and manages every detail. This includes the revelation that the universe is created for a human purpose by means of truth within which is love. And it also includes the revelation of the existence of two worlds, one being a natural world where human beings are born and raised, the other a spiritual world, where human beings awaken a few hours after death and continue individual life eternally in either a celestial existence in heaven or an infernal existence in the hells. I mention these things here as general topics that have been of interest to the human race since the beginning of literature. But the Writings deal with these spiritual, philosophical, and religious topics in a rational way that give a scientifically precise and dynamic account of them. This is what I found so attractive in the Writings the minute I started reading them in 1981 at age 43, having discovered them in our university library while I was searching for Bible Commentaries.
I also found out that the Writings of Swedenborg have had a distinguished but
small following, that his books have been translated in a dozen languages, and
that several communities have been created by people who call themselves the
Well, if the Writings do not spring from Swedenborg’s genius, what is their origin?
God has created the human race to evolve to ever higher powers of life and being. The perfecting of the human race is a gradual evolution in which our conscious cooperation with God is required to increase as we evolve to higher states of life and consciousness. The method by which the human race cooperates ever more consciously in its own evolution, is the method of truth and love. God is a Divine Rational Being whose essence is love and truth in an infinite degree. Divine Rational is the same as Divine Human, because the human is defined by the rational. The spiritual is nothing but the human rational in its essence.
God creates the universe not out of nothing, for this is irrational. God is infinite in quantity and complexity, and this infinite quantity is in God as one, that is, as one coherent whole. Nothing can exist that is not created from this infinite Divine Rational Substance called love and truth united as one. All things that exist are kept in existence by God’s substance of truth, within which is love.
Since the universe is created from truth and into the order of truth, reality is a rational reality. God is a rational entity and our idea of God is a rational idea. All laws of the universe are rational laws. The spiritual world and the natural world are both rational worlds, by necessity of creation. Heaven is a rational creation. The suns and earths in the universe are rational entities. The human race is a rational creation and event, with a rational goal, and a rational method of evolution. The ultimate goal of this evolution is to reach perfection as a rational being.
Truth belongs to love. Love is the creating, driving force, power, and goal. When love creates something, it does that by means of truth. Truth is the exteriorization of love. Love is the substance, while truth is the form of this substance. Truth can do nothing by itself, but only from love. Love can’t do anything except by means of truth. Since all things are created from love by its truth into truth, the human mind is the highest element of all creation. Only the human mind is created capable of conscious understanding of truth, which can also be called rational love. The human mind is to evolve into the ability to understand ever more interior truths or rational loves, of which the most interior, is God. All things of creation are in God, yet God is separate from this creation. It would not be rational to think that God has created Himself! Neither that reality has created itself! God has created reality, which means that God is outside reality, able to create it and run it.
The method by which the human race is to evolve to ever more interior understanding of infinite Divine Truth, is the method of Divine Revelations. This has been the case since the first generation of the human race. Literature has preserved the long record of Divine Revelations to the earlier generations. Each Divine Revelation was given by God as a stepped up evolutionary leap for the human race. Each new revelation took hundreds of generations to fully digest and incorporate into the fabric of human understanding. In this way there has been steady progress in the evolution of human consciousness, as reflected by a world that has left barbaric savagery behind and has developed for itself an advanced civilization based on rational principles of mutual cooperation and treatment.
The Writings are the latest new revelation given by God to the human race.
This is a special new revelation that surpasses all other Divine Revelations.
These new revelations are for the first time fully rational and scientific. The human race had to evolve a modern scientific mind before these new rational scientific revelations could be given. At last, in the Age of Reason of the 18th century in Christian Western Europe, the human mind was ready to receive, understand, and accept a full unqualified and total revelation of God and reality in rational concepts and terms that the modern mind could readily understand. This was done through the mind of Emanuel Swedenborg, recognized as one of the great geniuses in the history of literature and science.
At age 57 Swedenborg was at the height of his scientific and professional career. His achievements have been well documented in several fields, including metallurgy, chemistry, anatomy, psychology, theology, education, and legislation. He tells how the God of His childhood and country, in the image of Jesus Christ, appeared before him and held him affectionately in His bosom for a little while. He writes that the Lord then told him that he was being prepared since early childhood for the mission of Revelator and that the time has now come, in 1741, for him to begin his Divine mission.
Swedenborg’s awesome mission was to write the 30-volume collection of books called “the Writings” or “the Writings of Swedenborg.” These Divine Revelations are going to be the last in the series of Divine Revelations that were to be given to the human race. They were therefore going to be a full and total rational disclosure of reality and its workings. Prior Divine Revelations of the Word, such as the Old and New Testaments, were given in a language of authority and mystery, but the final portion of the Divine Word for the human race, are given in a language of rationality and science. No mystery is left standing. No appeal is made to authority, but only to the individual’s rational understanding.
A Divine Revelation is given for the purpose of raising the consciousness of the race. This is accomplished by means of the truths in the Revelation. It is necessary therefore that people be able to understand the revelation. To make this possible therefore, all Divine Revelations are given through the mind of an individual human being, a capable representative of the rest of the race. The man whose mind was prepared for issuing this last of Divine Revelations had to be a product of the Age of Reason in Christian Western intellectual culture. It had to be a modern scientific revelation because the human race had evolved to this level of rational and spiritual consciousness. The modern mind was unwilling to believe in a God of mystery and authority. It needed a rational scientific account of God, reality, and our position in it. Even a sensuous God was no longer enough. This sensuous God had to have a rational explanation or else He could not be understood, and what the modern mind cannot understand, it won’t love. Without love for God, we cannot be regenerated and saved for life in heaven.
The Age of
The Christian religion was given as both a sensuous and rational revelation to the human race. The sensuous revelation was the unprecedented event of Incarnation--God born in history as a human being of flesh and blood. This event took the human race forward into rational consciousness. Now there was scientific physical empirical historical evidence and proof of God’s existence. Besides the sensuous revelation of the New Testament, a rational revelation is also made there, namely, that God is Human. This was the first time that the human race had proof that the universe was a rational universe created for a human purpose by a Human God. God was Human and Rational, thus, Love and Truth. And He created the universe out of Truth into truth, hence in a rational order. God’s Laws were rational laws. The presence of God with the human race was through rational consciousness, rational understanding, rational loves, not ecstatic emotions or animal sacrifices and ceremonies.
The First Coming was the Incarnation of God in a physical body. It was a momentous forward step in the evolution of human consciousness because the human race had never had this proof before, had never been able to face God in a physical and natural presence. Now God was part of our history, part of our science, part of our rational understanding of reality. Prior to God’s Incarnation the relationship of the human race to God was an indirect one. God could make an appearance in the sensuous human world by taking over the mind of a celestial individual and speaking through this person like a mouthpiece. The prophets and various individuals to whom God appeared in the Bible saw God through such an appearance, thus not God, but a human being possessed by the Spirit of God. But since God’s Incarnation, He can appear to human beings as Himself in His Own Divine Natural Body. This allows a far closer contact with God, hence a far higher level of consciousness and life for the human race.
The New Testament Revelations also revealed that there is going to be one more Divine Revelation necessary to complete the creation of the human race into its full perfection. This full perfection is the state in which we can cooperate consciously with God in our preparation for heavenly life in eternity. Full conscious cooperation cannot be done while there are mysteries left in religion, science, and reality.
The Last Divine Revelation, or the Last Testament of the Word, has been laid down in Latin through the mind of Swedenborg, and now we have it, I, you, and the rest of the endless generations to come. A copy of the Writings as the New Word is also to be found in every society of the numberless heavens in the spiritual world.
The Divine Rational Revelations in the Writings could not have been constructed and delivered through Swedenborg’s mind if Swedenborg had merely to take Divine dictation and to write down sentences in that way, without understanding them, without having constructed them out of his understanding. Therefore in order to have Swedenborg write those sentences he had to first understand all of reality and God in relation to the human race. He had to understand rationally so that he could compose those sentences from which others could extract the rational truths.
How was Swedenborg’s understanding to be enlightened so that he could rationally and scientifically describe reality and God in relation to the human race?
The answer is surprisingly simple: Swedenborg had to be given access to a spiritual laboratory so that he may conduct his experimental and empirical observations by which he might discover the rational truths of reality and God in relation to human beings.
These laboratory facilities were given him as part of the Divine mission, which is why Swedenborg wrote that the Writings represent the greatest miracle and wonder ever bestowed upon the human race by God’s Love. Swedenborg’s experiments with spirit subjects and geographical explorations in the spiritual world were effected through the intermediary of many people in the spiritual world. The people who inhabit the celestial regions in their mind are called angels and have many powers that Swedenborg did not have, being still a man on earth. These angels intervened of his behalf, protected him from harm, and arranged for conditions Swedenborg needed to make his observations and to write them down in a natural language (Neo-Latin and Swedish). He not only wrote down what happened but was also given the capacity to provide a scientific and theological context for his observations and reports. Thus, nothing is wanting in the Writings for fulfilling its role as the greatest intellectual boon the human race has ever received, or will ever receive again.
Within a matter of a few weeks since the Lord’s appearance to Swedenborg, he began to experience new perceptions as he was reading the Bible. His practiced genius was able to make detailed indexes of the Holy Book which he read in the original Hebrew and Greek. To his amazement he discovered that within the literal meaning of the Old and New Testaments there lay hidden a spiritual meaning that was not apparent to the reader until each word and phrase was taken as a correspondence for some deeper spiritual meaning. For example, by collating many corresponding passages from both Testaments, Swedenborg showed how any rational and educated person could discover the spiritual message in each verse. The content of these spiritual meanings hidden within the literal had to do with the rational exposition of reality and God in relation to the human race.
This systematic work of discovery was most important and impressive, and will be a benefit to humankind for all the ages to come. And yet, this work would not have been sufficient to constitute the final, total, and thus last, Divine Revelation by which everything the human race can know and understand. There also had to be a science to it. Where was the science of it? Extracting a rational system from historical Divine works in the Bible is admirable, but it is not a scientific work. The only way Swedenborg could produce a scientific report of the spiritual world was to be there when he describes it!
This was granted to him by Divine intervention as the greatest miracle in human history.
A few months after his momentous encounter with the Lord, Swedenborg began to have flashes of conscious presence in the spiritual world. He did not know what is the spiritual world. From his initial flashes it looked like a version of the natural world, with people walking about in cities and in the country side where there were forests, deserts, mountains, and lakes. It took just a few months for him to get adjusted to a full time permanent conscious awake state in both worlds simultaneously.
Never before in history has anyone ever claimed to be fully conscious in both worlds simultaneously and uninterruptedly for 27 years while carrying on their profession and normal duties and in society. This was especially a significant development because Swedenborg was an impeccable scientist of the modern Age of Reason in Christian Western Europe. He was able to connect all his vast modern knowledge of natural science and biology to his new life in the spiritual world. He wrote daily notes, forming a coherent description of the relationship between the two worlds. He was given access by the Lord to any society or individual in the spiritual world that he desired to investigate. He was given the means by which to conduct experiments, such as for example, what happens to the mind when you experimentally remove from it this or that idea or belief. Also, what happens when you supply this or that truth to an individual, or how people with different genius communicate with each other through others, in an information network, what the language of communication is in the spiritual world, how people form different cultures and civilizations can co-exist, and many such things.
He kept notes of his meetings and interviews in the spiritual world with thousands of people in all categories that were relevant to his science and culture. He was thus able to compare the understanding and state of life of many categories of people, comparing their demographics with their spiritual character. He was able to talk to authors from the ancient Greeks whose books he had read and studied, so that he could compare what happens to the author’s mind when he goes to the afterlife with these ideas. He was able to speak and travel with people in the spiritual world who had been born on other planets and thereby he gained an empirical knowledge of the varieties of the human race. He was able to visit the high places and the low places of the spiritual world, encountering there the highest level of the human, and the most depraved. Because humans retain their ideas and attitudes when they pass on, they can be explored as to the details of their life and conduct. Swedenborg was able to make precise cause-effect observations between the ideas and loves we accumulate as our personality, and the quality of our life and experience in the spiritual world.
You can see from all this that no other writings can be compared with the Writings of Swedenborg.
Now that the modern scientific Divine Rational Revelations have been given to the human race, it will take many generations before they are recognized and acknowledged by many. Since 1771, the year the last work of the Writings was published, there have been thousands of individuals who have recognized them and acknowledged them as Divine Revelations. Today, in the computer age of the Internet, the Writings have become available to anyone who desires them. The Lord manages every detail in the universe, hence also, who and when anyone gets to see the Writings, and then, what of it one can understand, love, and assimilate for life.
No one can see anything special and spiritual in the Writings who is not led by the Lord to do so. This is not some special favoritism or sectarianism of this or that new religion. The Writings are a complete work of rational science. The only requirement for access to higher human consciousness is to read the Writings as the Divine Word given to humankind for the enlightenment of rational consciousness.
No religion is necessary, no teacher or guru, no initiation ceremony, no prior qualification of personality, orientation, or character. Nothing is required except a modern scientific mind able to figure our and comprehend rational ideas laid down in a rational and scientific manner.
In this book I have taken the rational arguments and proofs in the Writings and applied them to my understanding of reality and science. As a trained professional scientist all my life I have carried my profession and science into the analysis and confirmation process of all that is in the Writings for anyone to verify. I have then taken this new understanding of reality and myself and applied it to what is every individual’s principal tasks in life: regeneration.
The human race has been for a long time in a “Fallen” or degenerate state by heredity. This is because all new human loves and tendencies accumulate in the mind and are passed on by hereditary mechanisms to one’s offspring. Today as each of us is born into the modern world and culture, we have the potential of becoming a celestial mind by means of regeneration, which goes on throughout our life in the physical body. Once we awaken in the spiritual world, a few hours after the physical body dies, we begin a new life in a spirit-body that contains our will and understanding. These two organs are filled with our experiences, knowledge, and affections or loves. We are then to continue forever being the kind of individuals we became while maturing on earth. Clearly then, it’s a matter of survival and rational self-interest to see to it that we arrive in the afterlife with a personality and character that can live in a heavenly sphere, by which we can avoid the eternal misery of those who sink down into hell because of their distorted and insane character or personality.
In the spiritual world all individuals feel totally free to be who or what they are in their loves and interests. In fact, they are compelled by the laws of the spiritual world to be on the outside what their affections or loves are on the inside. While tied to a physical body, our inner madness, rage, and insanity do not show, being inhibited by society and consequences. But as soon as we awaken in our spirit-body, nothing that is within can be kept from coming out. Therefore by necessity there are Divine laws of reality in the spiritual world that keep the order and make continued life possible in that order. And so, regions and habitations are set up in the endless expanse of the spiritual world, in order to accommodate the life for every type of human beings that enter the world of spirits from the numerous earths in the universe. There are heavens and there are hells, reflecting the character of those who live there. And within the heavens and the hells, there are innumerable sub-regions and societies, each made up of people of a similar character who live together and share one another’s fate.
This book is about regeneration, which is the conscious discipline of character change based on the scientific principles revealed in the Writings.
When we read the Writings we begin to understand regeneration in a medial, psychological, and educational perspective that is unique and new. Our prior understanding is based on the fundamental principle of nonduality, which is that all things exist in one continuum of the universe or reality. When we begin to see things from the perspective of the Writings, we can replace every concept of nonduality into a duality. Every duality is by reference to the natural and the spiritual as two separate and distinct worlds, tied together by rational laws of correspondence that have now been revealed by God.
In Volume 1 I show how rational analysis can be used to debunk and deconstruct concepts and notions of nonduality that are opposed to the dualities in our mind from the Writings. Once our mind is rearranged in this new mode, we can begin regeneration, which requires us to cooperate with the Lord by shunning evils as sins because sins prevent the preparation of our mind for eternal life. This cooperation must be in all the specifics of our willing and thinking hour by hour, every day. In Volume 3 I explain how to do this systematically and effectively by means of spiritual disciplines. These “regeneration disciplines” consist of doing ordinary things in our daily life from a new motive, which is that we are striving to obey the Lord’s Commandment that we monitor our willing and thinking, that we evaluate every particular in the light of the truths from the Writings, that we desist from willing what is evil and thinking what is false, and at last, that we detest these things that are in us from hell by heredity, culture, and unregenerate habits.
Others may also have an interest in the book, especially the wives of the men who are undergoing reformation and regeneration by means of the Writings. Women are also going through the gradual process of regeneration and have to cooperate with the Lord in that process in order to be saved for heavenly life. They may find it useful to learn what their husbands are going through from a Doctrinal point of view. Men and women have categorically different patterns of regeneration because there can be no overlap of interior nature between men and women (xx). Also, this book discusses the content and quality of everyday thoughts and feelings of husbands who are undergoing reformation and regeneration. And since husbands resist conjugial love from hereditary antipathy, often fiercely and cruelly, their wives have to endure much abuse and unhappiness in the process of their regeneration. Knowing the details of their husband’s mental struggles may be of interest and use to their wives, and to women generally.
Also, all who are interested in Swedenborg’s Writings and ideas may find much useful details and spiritual applications to daily life. People who have not read the Writings may be interested in how I analyze important lifestyle concepts such as God, religion, spirituality, heaven and hell, love, truth, personality, and especially, the process of deepening marital relations.
religious or spiritual mystery is allowed in the
For it is the case with the life of charity (which is the heavenly life itself) that with those who are being reformed and regenerated it is continually being born and growing up and receiving increments, and this by means of truths; therefore the more of truth there is insinuated, the more is the life of charity perfected …
In truth, however, there is no life, but in good. Truth is only a recipient of life, that is, of good. Truth is as the clothing or garment of good; therefore also truths are called in the Word "clothing," and also "garments." But when good constitutes the rational, truth disappears and becomes as if it were good.
Writings explain why reformation is necessary. The reason given is that we are
born with a natural mind and with the potential of developing also a spiritual
mind. This new mind becomes functional only through reformation and
regeneration of one’s old mind and inherited character. The spiritual mind is
required for a life in heaven after the life in the physical world. Regeneration is the process of character
self-modification and it goes on throughout one’s life here, and hereafter to
eternity (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102; CL 82;
SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864). The
This book presents practical methods for husbands who want to form the
All citations in parentheses are to Swedenborg’s books which collectively, are called the Writings. The places marked by (xx) are still to be filled in. If you have any of these citations at hand, please email them to me. The standard Title of the Work referred to in these citations is given at the end.
The Word is the Divine Truth which is in the Lord and from the Lord … Divine Truth has power in itself, and such power that, by means of it, heaven was created and the world with all things therein. (HH 137).
Without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. It is the same today; and therefore without the Lord's coming again into the world in Divine truth, which is the Word, no one can be saved. (TCR 3)
In the spiritual sense, a “man of the field” signifies “the faith and truth of doctrine” (AC 368, 427, 4823). This book is about the spiritual Doctrine that each man is to extract from the Word of the Writings, by applying the literal sense to oneself, to the hundreds of willing and thinking acts we perform every day in the course of our normal activities. This use of the literal sense is required for our reformation, regeneration, and salvation for eternal life in heaven. Every time we apply in this way one of the literal sentences from the Writings, we are enlightened by the Lord so that we can perceive the spiritual sense within the literal. This conscious process counts as cooperation with the Lord in our regeneration. Without this active conscious daily habitual cooperation with the Lord, we cannot be regenerated. This will be proven in the book by many citations from the Writings. It is the spiritual understanding of Doctrine that constitutes faith and truth. The Lord infills true faith with Divine Love, and from this union we have closeness with Him, love unto Him, and new interior celestial truths that make us wise like an angel, and capable of conjugial union with the wife.
To my wife
It is her internal wisdom that led me to write this book as-of myself. She brought into our marriage the conjugial love she has in her from the Lord, inborn from nativity
An inclination to love one of the opposite sex, and with it a capacity for receiving that love, has been implanted in Christians from birth, for the reason that this love comes from the Lord alone (CL 466).
Wives are by birth forms of love, so that it is innate in them to wish to be one with their husbands … But it is different with husbands; since they are not by birth forms of love, but designed to receive that love from their wives (CL 216)
The intelligence of women is by nature modest, gracious, peaceable, compliant, soft and gentle, while the intelligence of men is by nature critical, rough, resistant, argumentative, and given to intemperance. Evidence that this is the nature of women and the nature of men is clearly apparent from the body, face, tone of voice, speech, bearing and behavior of each sex. (…)
From this I could clearly see that a man is born a form of the intellect, and a woman a form of love. I could also see what the nature of the intellect is and what the nature of love is in their beginnings, and thus what a man's intellect in its development would be like without conjunction with feminine love and eventually conjugial love. (CL 218)
The Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)
Quoting from the Writings:
There are two states that man must enter upon and pass through, when from being natural he is becoming spiritual. The first state is called Reformation, and the second Regeneration. In the first man looks from his natural to his spiritual state and longs for that state; in the second state he becomes spiritual-natural. The first state is formed by means of truths, which must be truths of faith, and through these he looks to charity; the second state is formed by means of the goods of charity, and by these he enters into the truths of faith. Or what is the same, the first is a state of thought from the understanding, and the second a state of love from the will.
When this latter state begins and is progressing, a change takes place in the mind; the mind undergoes a reversal, the love of the will then flowing into the understanding, acting upon it and leading it to think in accord and agreement with its love; and in consequence so far as the good of love comes to act the first part and the truths of faith the second, man is spiritual and is a new creature; and he then acts from charity and speaks from faith; he feels the good of charity and perceives the truth of faith; and he is then in the Lord, and in peace, and thus regenerate.
The man who while in the world has entered upon the first state, after death can be introduced into the second; but he who has not entered into the first state while in the world, cannot after death be introduced into the second, thus cannot be regenerated.
means that every spiritual truth found in the Writings is to be taken as a
Divine Commandment. Every idea and concept we acquire elsewhere must be kept
separated in the external of our knowledge or memory and not allowed to
commingle in the mind that is to be formed exclusively by the Writings. The
Without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. The situation to-day is similar. So unless the Lord comes into the world again in the form of Divine Truth, that is, the Word, no more can anyone now be saved. (TCR 3)
can see from this that the
All Christian people draw their doctrines from the Word as being their one and only source. (TCR 629)
God's Word is the source whence all theology must be derived (Letters 7).
What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. (NJHD 7)
The existence of writings in the heavens is a provision of the Lord for the sake of the Word; for the Word in its essence is Divine truth, and from it is all heavenly wisdom, both with men and with angels; for the Word was dictated by the Lord, and what is dictated by the Lord passes through all the heavens in order and terminates with man. Thereby it is adapted both to the wisdom of angels and the intelligence of men. Thereby, too, the angels have a Word, and read it the same as men do on the earth, and also draw from it their doctrinals, and preach from it (AC n. 221). It is the same Word; but its natural sense, which is the sense of the letter with us, does not exist in heaven, but only the spiritual sense, which is its internal sense. What this sense is can be seen in the small treatise on The White Horse spoken of in the Apocalypse. (HH 259)
These passages teach that henceforth,
from the Writings “is all heavenly wisdom, both with men and with angels.” All
Doctrine for the
The Word is the doctrine of Divine truth, and …everything of doctrine must be from the Word (AE 612)
It is written that “the only source
of human regeneration is the Lord” (AC 10042) and the Lord is the Word (TCR
225; LORD 7; AC 2). Hence the only source of regeneration is the Word, which
The Word of the Divine Human in the New Heavens today is the Word of the Writings, and this Word is the same as the one we have on earth:
It is the same Word; but its natural sense, which is the sense of the letter with us, does not exist in heaven, but only the spiritual sense, which is its internal sense. (TCR 1)
What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. For there is a Church in heaven as well as on earth; for the Word is there, doctrine is there from the Word; temples are there, in which sermons are delivered; because ecclesiastical and civil governments are there. In a word, the only difference between the things which are in the heavens, and those which are on earth, is, that all the things in the heavens are in a state of greater perfection, because all who are there are spiritual, and spiritual things immensely exceed in perfection those that are natural. (NJHD 7)
The Word is to be found in all the heavens and is the source of the angels' wisdom. (TCR 240)
The Word in heaven is written in a spiritual style which is quite different from the natural style. The spiritual style is composed simply of letters, each one of which denotes a particular meaning; and there are dashes, curves and points above, between and within the letters, which heighten the meaning. The letters used by the angels of the spiritual kingdom resemble printed type in our world; the letters used by the angels of the celestial kingdom are in some cases like Arabic letters, in others like ancient Hebrew letters, but with curves above and below, and pointing above, between and inside them. Even a single one of these points conveys a complete meaning. (TCR 241)
It is clear therefore that the angels read the Writings and this is their only source of intelligence and wisdom—“doctrine is there from the Word”. Note that Doctrine is the same as the spiritual sense of the Writings contained within the literal language—“doctrine is from the spiritual sense of the Writings” since the Writings are the Word. The spiritual sense cannot be written down in a natural language, and neither can the spiritual Doctrine drawn from this sense, since these two are identical. Note also that the spiritual sense of the Writings in heaven also have a letter! Without an outward letter of the Word there is no writing possible. So the outward containant of the holy truths from the Lord, is the letter the angels have. The angelic writing mode varies in accordance with the level of thinking in the three heavens, as the passage above describes it (TCR 241).
It’s interesting to note what natural letters of the alphabet on earth are similar to the spiritual writing alphabets in the heavens. The written letters of the second heaven of the spiritual angels resemble visually the “printed type in our world.” The letters of the third heaven of the celestial angels resemble visually “Arabic letters” and “Hebrew letters.” These two correspond historically on this earth with the three religions of the Western world--Islam and Judaeo-Christian. “
Those in heaven pay attention to the Word in the letter and perceive things there in exactly the same way as anyone is accustomed to perceive a person's thought as it presents itself in spoken words, or in the inmost heaven as anyone is accustomed to perceive a person's aims or end in view. (AC 9407)
Note therefore that the spiritual sense of the Writings only exists in the understanding because it is impossible to render it in the letter of the Word. If it were possible, the angels would not need a letter of the Word within which they can see and receive spiritual things! But the highest angels also need a letter for the Word, written in visible script, as discussed just above. This is a rational matter to understand and follows from discrete degrees in all things created (see Chapter 5 Section 6).
Clearly then, the natural literal sentences in the Writings cannot be same as the spiritual truths.
Prior to our reformation, sometime in adulthood, we read many things about heavenly secrets, which are knowledges revealed from heaven. They are called secrets because no human being in all of history and evolution, can ever discover a single spiritual truth from self, from experience, or from another human being. Every spiritual truth comes from the spiritual world which is in a discrete degree above the natural world, so that one can never access the spiritual from the natural.
This also means that there is no conscious access possible to our spiritual mind from our natural mind. The spiritual mind is tied to heaven because all its content is from heaven, and the natural mind is tied to earth because all its content is from earth. All spiritual truths that enter our spiritual mind from the angels, is unconscious to us in the natural. But it has an effect by correspondence. The spiritual meanings enter the natural meanings that we have obtained from the Writings. This correspondential activity goes on in the interior-natural mind that is formed within the natural-rational mind.
Note carefully: the natural-rational mind reads and understand the Writings naturally, but it is the interior-natural mind that understands it spiritually, by correspondence. It is the spiritual understanding that we need in order to be regenerated and saved.
4. The Great
To be saved we must undergo reformation first, and when that is completed, we begin regeneration. The unregenerate mind prior to reformation is filled with nonduality. Nonduality is an orientation of the mind in which we are motivated to prevent the entry into the mind of absolute dualities such as compose every page of the Writings. For example, everything in the Writings is based on the idea that God is separate from created things, as He is infinite and created things are finite. Nonduality puts up a combat against this absolute duality, preferring the idea that there is a continuum between the finite and the infinite, so that if we could imagine ourselves to grow more and more perfect, we could become like God.
Another example is good and evil. In the Writings there is an absolute and eternal division between good and evil, or between spiritual truth and falsity. But nonduality in our mind desires to level them into a continuum so that evil is just a lesser form of good. Still another example is the spiritual constitution of men and women. The Writings describe the difference as an absolute duality so that nothing in a man can ever be like something in a woman, and vice versa. Nonduality is motivated to prefer a continuum between men and women that yields an overlap in traits. While this may be the appearance for natural traits, it is not so for spiritual traits.
There are many thousands of such items of nonduality in our mind as we begin our reformation. The nonduality is already ensconced, and receives the support of culture, science, and education. We therefore are faced with a great and mighty struggle to clean out our mind from these nondualities. If we leave them there, they destroy the absolute dualities we take up from the Writings, and therefore, prevent our reformation, regeneration, and salvation. The nondualities cannot be gotten rid off except by means of dualities form the Writings, and this only if we acknowledge the Writings as the Word. For only Divine Truth from the Word has the power to defeat the hells, and all of the hells are involved in maintaining nonduality in our mind.
We are in this sorry and precarious situation by birth. Our spirit or mind is born corrupted by heredity, deformed, injured, sick, and dying, on its way to hell. The most atrocious evils are within a beautiful baby, kept suppressed for a few months or years, by the presence of angels. But as soon as the child grows older, and begins to think from self, the evils break out and surround the individual, pulling like a mighty chain tied to hell. We can put on a facade of niceness for the sake of self-preservation and acceptance by others, but within the heart breathes every rage, hatred, deception, and obscenity. This sorry and troubling description is one of the most important revelations of the Lord’s Second Coming in the Writings. We must know our spiritual state in order to reform and regenerate, thus be saved for life in heaven. No religious faith or worship can save us, but only reformation and regeneration. The Writings have been given so that its truths within our mind, may have the power to battle and defeat the hells within us.
You can see that it is essential to acquire in our mind the literal meaning of the Writings. Without this knowledge of the Writings in sufficient detail, we cannot be reformed because we are unwilling to give up the nonduality which is in our unregenerate mind. The only way we have the motive power to reject our own nonduality is by reading, understanding, and believing the literal sentences of the Writings, even as we believe and worship Divine Truth or the Lord. This is the only way that the Lord has provided for salvation in His Second Coming.
Once we imbibe the letter of the Writings and honor it in our mind as the Word, we have developed into mature adult minds ready to undergo rebirth and reformation. Now the literal sentences that are in our mind become Doctrine of Life. We see each sentence as applying to ourself, even though very obscurely, and sometimes seeing not even that. But we accept rationally the idea that every sentence applies to us, in fact, is the Lord speaking to our natural mind. Now we suddenly become aflame with the desire to reform. We passionately seek out every nonduality in our mind, deconstruct it, mark it, put it in a special bin, and substitute for it a duality from those many sentences and ideas we imbibed from the Writings. Suddenly we see clearly in the light of those sentences and concepts. This is spiritual vision. For the first time we have a spiritual consciousness, the very beginning of it because we are in the reformation phase, but much more brightly when we progress in regeneration.
In the Writings, we read details about correspondences, the Lord’s Laws of Providence and Permissions, conjugial love, states of regeneration. All these subjects are spiritual topics, but they are laid down in a natural language. The literal meaning of the sentence is not the spiritual meaning that is contained within it. Because this would be impossible! It is impossible on earth as it is impossible in heaven, because the Word in both worlds is written in a visible script with letters.
This is most important to understand, and is repeated in different ways, in several places throughout this book. At first this is hard to believe and accept, regardless of how much study we have done on the Writings. This resistance is similar to the resistance Christians put up to the idea from the Writings that the Old and New Testaments have an inner sense, and the only this inner sense is actually spiritual. They have difficulty believing this because they can hardly be expected to understand it without the Writings.
Prior to our reformation in adult
life we are called Christians, but after reformation, when regeneration has
begun, we are called True Christians—as the title of the last book of the
Writings clearly indicate: The True
Christian Religion. And the last thing in a section of the Word
recapitulates all of the Word (xx). Hence The
True Christian Religion (TCR) is the special Work of the Writings that
embodies, recapitulates, and completes all that has been written in the Word
before it. All who are called “True Christians” are of the
After reformation, we develop a dual relationship to the Writings. We continue to study the literal as essential for the continued development of our natural mind. Remember that every word and sentence of the literal in the Word contains infinite spiritual secrets (xx). We need those sentences and ideas in our external memory-knowledges as an endless source of new spiritual truths that enhance our happiness and consciousness as angels to eternity. This is why the angels have the Word and read it as the source of all their wisdom (xx). But remember again how they access these spiritual truths each time they read the Word in script, or think from it in their memory-knowledge. The wisdom does not lie in the letters and sentences, but within them. This is a discrete degree above the script or letter. Therefore it is impossible to express spiritual truths in the script of the angels, even though that script is called “spiritual script” (xx).
This is the same for us on earth. The literal sentences and their meanings in our mind, are not spiritual since they are in the natural mind. We read the sentences and definitions about “the heavenly doctrine” and the sentence, “This is the Heavenly Doctrine.” These are indeed spiritual and heavenly subjects, but what’s written down is not the spiritual meaning. The Lord has provided for this: that as we and angels read the script, or think from it in our mind, He enlightens each of us. That’s how it works! Only this enlightenment is the spiritual sense. It’s like a flash of lightening in a meadow in the dark—our understanding breaks through the darkness and for an instant, we see the terrain in clear vision. After that instant we can describe what we have seen, but this description cannot recreate the vision of the terrain, but only a representation of it in language.
When does the Lord give enlightenment as we read the sentences of the Writings, or think from them in our mind?
The answer is the same for us now and later, when we are angels. The Lord gives enlightenment when we try to apply the sentence or idea in the letter, to our life, that is, to our willing and thinking moment by moment. This is the “work of charity” or the “life of good” that we must perform in order be saved. Our willing and thinking moment by moment consists of a sequence of acts we perform in our will and in our understanding. Thousands of individual acts of willing, intending, thinking, and reasoning, go on every day for every human being. Each one of these is either from hell or from heaven. Prior to our reformation, all are from hell! (xx), and to be regenerated we need to get rid of them as-of self, in our conscious mind, by a free choice motivated by the spiritual truth that they are sins against the Lord and prevent us from becoming angels. That’s a lot of work! But the Lord provides for the orderly progress within this psychobiological growth process.
Enlightenment is the flash of heavenly light the Lord sends into our conscious natural mind, whenever we examine one of our numerous acts of the day or hour, and evaluate them in the light of the sentences and ideas from the Writings.
The meaning of the flash that we try to write down or express in words, is called the spiritual Doctrine in our understanding (xx). This is the spiritual meaning of the Heavenly Doctrines now seen spiritually, while before regeneration began, we only saw their natural meaning, since we could not see what is within those sentences. Our mind was locked into what was in the outside of the sentences, namely their natural meaning. This natural meaning was essential to acquire so that we may use them to evaluate our willing and thinking acts. But now that we have applied it to ourselves, we are given to see what is within. Note carefully: the literal is till there, still true, still holy. It is still essential to imbibe it and understand it naturally with our rational understanding. NO progress can be made without this step!
But it must not be the last step! Mere memory-knowledges of the literal scientifics of the Writings does not have the power to save us, despite their holiness and essential condition for being saved. Faith cannot save, but charity within faith, saves (xx). The charity is the works of good we do by modifying our willing and thinking in accordance with the faith, the Doctrine, the understanding. The spiritual meaning is then revealed, first to the spiritual mind, of which we are unconscious, and second, by correspondence, to the interior-natural mind, of which we are conscious like a flash in the dark.
Prior to reformation, the Lord calls the works we do as “a hunter of the ground.” We have the Writings, we acknowledge it as the Word, we study and memorize it, but we do not apply it to our willing and thinking in particular, but only in general, like a confession or creed. It is in our mind for a few minutes a week or day, but then out of our mind, as we carry on intending and willing in the absence of our thinking about the Writings. But after reformation, we are motivated to change our moment by moment intending and thinking, so that they conform to what we have learned from our study of the Writings. In this new state, the Lord calls us “a man of the field.” We don’t just put the heavenly doctrines into our understanding, but into our will. This requires gradual regeneration, day by day, like a gardener or farmer toiling in his field.
Then the Writings are no longer merely the Word of our religion, but the Lord Himself in His Holy Spirit or Divine Rational. This is because we can now perceive the Lord within the letter in a way not perceivable until then. Our love for this Divine Truth develops our spiritual mind all the way to the Second Heaven of the spiritual angels. But if our love is for the Lord, and thence for His Truth, our spiritual mind is developed all the way to the Third Heaven of the celestial angels. To love the Lord’s Truth is to study the Writings and to make its concepts the governing ideas in our mind. To love the Lord, and thence His Truth, is to use this truth to modify our willing and thinking, so that we may become more agreeable to the Lord, to His Order, and closer to Him in conjunction.
Those who consider themselves in the
UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN, AND, AS
IT WERE, CREATED ANEW, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE
That unless a man is born again he cannot enter into
We need to ask ourselves: How is the
The techniques fall into two categories: critical analysis of ideas and concepts, and systematic methods of self-witnessing or objective self-observation. Critical analysis by means of the Writings as the only authority, is the work of reformation presented in Volume 1. Everything in our mind from heredity, socialization, and culture must be rearranged and subjected to critical evaluation in this heavenly light. Our moment to moment intending and thinking, emoting and verbing, must be monitored so that we may get to know the evils in our unregenerate character. In Volume 3 this is called self-witnessing and is the actual process of our cooperation with the Lord in regeneration.
The Writings were given to humankind
universally, but also to each unique individual mind in particular, as pointed
out in this
The acceptance of the Writings is an individual
The books claim to be the Lord speaking to man. It is pointless for a man to decide whether they are or whether they are not until the doctrines have had access to his mind. If his mind responds to them, he may see that he is approaching a momentous decision. “Perhaps these doctrines really are the Lord Himself speaking to me.” If they are, if he accepts them as such, a complete change comes about, for they have Divine claim on his rational mind. The reception of them becomes the supreme service to which the rational mind can be turned.
(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled
“The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service”
is written for those who read the Writings as the Lord Himself speaking to them
through the rational ideas contained in them. Since the reception of the Heavenly Doctrine must be particular to each
individual, no one can escape the main issue presented here: What
effort is required of each of us to receive the Writings? As soon as
we begin to read the Writings as the Word, we learn that we must be regenerated
to be saved, and that this process is carried out gradually by the Lord, but
only to the extent that we cooperate in the process. Clearly then, reading and acknowledging the Writings as the Word is not
enough for anyone to be regenerated, hence saved. Worshipping in the
How are we to cooperate with the Lord in our reformation and regeneration? This book presents some spiritual methods and disciplines that help us to perform this required cooperation. In the Writings, this required cooperative effort is called being “a man of the field”:
'A man of the field' means the good of life that has its origin in matters of doctrine.
This is clear from the meaning of 'the field'. In the Word reference is made in many places to the earth (or the land), the ground, and the field. … And since the Church is not the Church by virtue of matters of doctrine except insofar as these have the good of life as the end in view, or what amounts to the same, unless matters of doctrine are joined to the good of life, 'the field' therefore means primarily the good of life. But in order that such good may be that of the Church, matters of doctrine from the Word which have been implanted within that good must be present.
In the absence of matters of doctrine the good of life does indeed exist, but it is not as yet that of the Church, and so not as yet truly spiritual, except in the sense that it has the potentiality to become so, like the good of life as this exists with gentiles who do not possess the Word and therefore do not know the Lord.
 That 'the field' is the good of life in which the things of faith, that is, spiritual truths existing with the Church, are implanted, becomes quite clear from the Lord's parable about the sower in Matthew …
 With regard to the good of life which has its origin in matters of doctrine being meant by 'a man of the field', the position is that those who are being regenerated first of all do good as matters of doctrine direct them, for they do not of themselves know what good is. They learn to do good from matters of doctrine concerning love and charity; from these they know who the Lord is, who the neighbour is, what love is, and what charity is, and so what good is. Those who have come into this stage are stirred by the affection for truth and are called 'men (vir) of the field'.
But after that, once they have been regenerated they do good not from matters of doctrine but from love and charity, for the good itself which they have learned about through matters of doctrine exists with them, and they are in that case called 'men (homo) of the field'. …
 The same also applies to spiritual truths which are called doctrinal and are more interior Commandments still. For matters of doctrine are interior truths which the natural man possesses, the first truths there being sensory ones, the second truths being factual, and interior truths matters of doctrine. The latter are based on factual truths inasmuch as a person can have and retain no idea, notion, or concept of them except from factual truths. But the foundations on which factual truths are based are sensory truths, for without sensory truths nobody is able to possess factual ones. Such truths, that is to say, factual and sensory, are meant by 'a man skilled in hunting', but matters of doctrine are meant by 'a man of the field'.
Such is the order in which those kinds of truths stand in relation to one another in man. Until a person has become adult therefore, and through sensory and factual truths possesses matters of doctrine, he is incapable of being regenerated, for he cannot be confirmed in the truths contained in matters of doctrine except through ideas based on factual and sensory truths - for nothing is ever present in a person's thought, not even the deepest arcanum of faith there, which does not involve some natural or sensory idea, though generally a person is not aware of the essential nature of such ideas. But in the next life the nature of them is revealed before his understanding, if he so desires, and also a visual representation before his sight, if he wants it; for in the next life such things can be presented before one's eyes in a visual form. This seems unbelievable but it is nevertheless what happens there. (AC 3310)
This passages teaches many things, some of which may be summarized in relation to this book:
1. The “good of life” that the
2. The church in us is not made by knowledge and understanding of the Writings, but by willing and thinking in accordance with the spiritual Doctrine in our mind that we obtained from the Writings.
3. Willing and thinking in accordance with the spiritual Doctrine is only possible to the extent that we study the Writings sufficiently to have articulated in our mind an accommodated version that can guide our willing and thinking all day long. This accommodated version in our mind is called the Doctrine, and it becomes more and more spiritual as we advance in regeneration.
4. Church membership and worship do not create the spiritual mind, but only the spiritual Doctrine in our mind, and this only to the extent that we use it to guide our daily willing and thinking.
5. There are two stages we must undergo. In phase 1 we do our willing and thinking from the literal Doctrine in our mind. This is our state of reformation, of obedience to the truth. We do not yet know the Lord as to His Love, but only the Lord as to His Truth. After this phase is matured, we enter phase 2 in which we do our willing and thinking from the love of the Lord and neighbor by means of the truth of Doctrine in our mind. This truth of Doctrine is now spiritual, whereas before, it was only natural. This is actual regeneration and salvation. We must not get stuck in phase 1, for this does not lead to Heaven.
6. There are two levels of willing and thinking in the natural mind. The lower level is called scientific, based on natural truths from sensory observations and facts. The upper level of thinking is called doctrinal, that is, based on the truths from the Writings. The scientific level (“a man skilled in hunting”) is based on what’s below in our mind and is purely natural, but the doctrinal level (“a man of the field”), is based on what’s above and pertains to what is spiritual.
7. The doctrinal level of willing and thinking must be founded on the scientific or literal level. Truths about spiritual things remain rational abstractions, not genuine spiritual-rational truths, unless they are grounded in sensuous actions from our willing and thinking. The indescribable wisdom and intelligence of angels must rest in sensuous things in them and around them, which is why heaven is so rich in external life, in art and sublime conveniences (CL 12).
8. Regeneration is spiritual, therefore it must take place within the outward level of willing and thinking in our sensuous life. This outward level of life is where we can make decisions and choices based on our own philosophy, beliefs, and rational faith. This thinking from self normally starts in early adulthood. Until then we merely act from the authority of others and the things we have learned since early childhood. Regardless of the religion in which one is born, there is no reformation until early adulthood and beyond. After reformation is matured, spiritual regeneration can begin.
9. Reformation begins when we are ready to acknowledge the truths from the Writings as Divine Commandments we are required to perform daily for our salvation.
10. The Writings consist of natural truths (“scientific truths”) and spiritual truths (“Doctrine”). Both scientific truths and doctrinal truths appear or are contained in, the letter of the Writings. Doctrinal truths about spiritual things are first taken up as the literal language, understood literally or naturally. But later, we understand them spiritually.
These ten statements constitute the rationale and general content of this book.
The theme of the reformation techniques (Volume 1) is how to identify and deconstruct nonduality in our mind, which we have taken up from culture and self-intelligence. The theme of the regeneration techniques (Volume 3) is how to perform the daily discipline of self-witnessing, which consists in monitoring our willing and thinking moment by moment, keeping track of its ceaseless stream, and modifying it in accordance with the Doctrine in our mind. We must undergo reformation before we can begin regeneration.
At this point something will now be said on how the internal man is reformed and how the external man is reformed by means of it. The internal man is not reformed merely by knowing, understanding and being wise, and consequently merely by thinking; but by willing what knowledge, understanding and wisdom teach.
When a man knows, understands and has wisdom to see that there is a heaven and a hell, and that all evil is from hell and all good is from heaven; and if he then does not will evil because it is from hell, but wills good because it is from heaven, he is in the first stage of reformation, and is at the threshold out of hell into heaven.
When he progresses further, and wills to desist from evils he is in the second stage of reformation, and is now outside hell but not yet in heaven, which he sees above him. A man must have such an internal in order that he may be reformed; but he is not reformed unless the external as well as the internal is reformed. The external is reformed by means of the internal when the external desists from the evils which the internal does not will because they are infernal, and still more when the external for this reason shuns them and fights against them. Thus willing is the part of the internal and doing of the external. For unless a man does that which he wills there is within him the failure to will which eventually becomes want of will.
 From these few considerations it can be seen how the external man is reformed by means of the internal. This also is what is meant by the Lord's words to Peter:
Jesus said: If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. [Simon] Peter saith unto Him: Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. John xiii. 8, 9, 10.
By washing is meant spiritual washing, which is purification from evils; by washing the head and hands is meant purifying the internal man; and by washing the feet is meant purifying the external man. That the external man must be purified when the internal has been purified is meant by this, "He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet." That all purification from evils is from the Lord is meant by this, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." It has been shown in many places in the ARCANA COELESTIA that washing among the Jews represented purification from evils, and that this is signified in the Word by washing; and that by washing the feet is signified the purification of the natural or external man. (DP 151)
Reformation eliminates the many
nondualities in our mind and allows us to build up the
According to Rev. Rose:
Every person raised within the church must come to the time of a possession of a rational faculty… Every person raised within the church, although he has many times heard the Lord speaking, must in the privacy of the chamber of his mind know what it is to acknowledge this and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” … Even if we have accepted the Writings, we can still have wrong ideas. …
Suppose that the new truth puts light upon imperfections in our self. It exposes our evils and proves that our thoughts have been false. Our pride resists it; the habitual thinking of many years resist it. … But when we realize that it is the Lord Himself speaking, our reluctance can give way to a thrilling sense of progress and change.
(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled
“The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service”
Nonduality exists in the human mind as a property of being unregenerate. Regeneration is effected by the Lord through our persistent application of dualities from the Writings to our daily willing and thinking. This is the commandment of performing “works of charity:”
The proper and genuine uses of charity are the uses of each one's function and administration, as has been said above. These then become goods of charity, in which love to the Lord exists, or with which that love is conjoined, when man does them from spiritual fidelity and sincerity, which those have who love uses because they are uses, and who believe that every good is from the Lord. But besides these there are other general uses, as faithfully loving the marriage partner, rightly bringing up children, managing the home prudently, and dealing justly with servants. These works become works of charity when they are done from the love of uses; and in reference to a marriage partner when they are done from mutual and chaste love; such uses are household uses which are uses of charity. (D. WIS. 10)
The following two things are clear from this passage. First, that the Lord is present with us nowhere but in our love of uses, which love is called “works of charity.” Second, that works of charity refers to our willing and thinking daily as we carry out our activities and relationships. This motivation of uses in our willing and thinking cannot be merely “uses of external charity” called “piety,” for this is not itself spiritual or of our salvation:
To give aid to the needy, to widows, to orphans, solely because they are needy, widows and orphans, and to give to beggars solely because they are beggars, are uses of external charity, which charity is called piety; but these are uses of internal charity only so far as they are derived from use and the love of use. For external charity without internal charity is not charity; the internal must be there to make it charity; for external charity from internal charity acts prudently, but external without internal charity acts imprudently, and often unjustly. (D. WIS. 10:5)
We are commanded to form the
This motive for regeneration must involve all our willing and thinking, moment by moment throughout the day, in our social, professional, and recreational activities. How are we to accomplish this? We need to learn the mental discipline of accomplishing this ceaseless activity every day. This discipline must be spiritual and its justification and method must be from the Writings.
Anyone therefore who looks to the Lord and wants to be guided by Him is in a state of good. But anyone who turns away from God and wants to be guided by himself is not in a state of good (CL 444)
To look to the Lord is to reason
from spiritual truths obtained from the Word of the Lord. To “be guided by
self” is to reason from natural appearances obtained either from self or from
the ideas of others. The fundamental duality of the
Even those born in a
After reformation is completed,
regeneration begins, and continues till the end. This is the process of
gradually internalizing the truths in our memory into the choices of our life.
This new mind is appropriately called the
(1) Religious membership does not constitute salvation (TCR 254; AC 8762; NJHD 126).
those born in the
(3) Hence also, those born in any religion, and those who have no religion, are unregenerate and must undergo regeneration, either in this life or in the afterlife (HH 512, 308).
(4) Every individual, regardless of religion or belief system, is born unregenerate, and in order to be saved for eternal life in heaven, must undergo regeneration (HH 308).
The Lord provides for the salvation
of every individual (TCR 142). Every person is born for eternal life in heaven
(HH 82, TCR 574). The Lord is the same Divine Human for all people on this
earth and on all the other earths in the universe (EU 121; SE 4373, 5513). It
stands to reason therefore that the Lord provides a means for regeneration in
the case of every human being. This
The Church where the Word is and the Lord is known by means of it, in relation to those outside the Church where there is no Word and the Lord is unknown is like the heart and lungs in man in comparison with the other parts of the body, which live from them as from the fountains of their life ... Before the Lord the universal Church on the earth is as one Man ... (HH 305)
Here it is revealed that the Lord unites the entire human race into “one Man” or in the Form of one human being, even as He unites the body’s many parts into one integrated functioning unit.
There is also a conjunction of heaven by means of the Word with those who are outside the Church where there is no Word; for the Lord's Church is universal, and is with all who acknowledge the Divine and live in charity. Moreover, such are taught after death by angels and receive Divine truths (HH 308).
This passage reveals that people of all religions are part of the Lord’s Heaven, the only condition being, not religious membership, but living an individual life that is good. Good is defined universally by all religions as worshipping God, obeying God’s commandments, and loving the neighbor, that is, not injuring others for the sake of self. Further, the above passages reveal that all individuals must be taught by angels upon arrival into the afterlife. In this instruction everyone is given genuine spiritual truths, and these truths are understood with variety, depending on the genius or religious beliefs of each individual. All those who lived a life of obedience to God and love to the neighbor, are able to receive the Divine Truths from the angels. But since these truths are accommodated to the mind of each individual, the Heavens are arranged by the Lord in numberless angelic societies, each different, each unique (AC 10334). Therefore people of different religions have their own Heavens under the Lord, depending on the idea of Him they form for themselves (DLW 13).
Those born in a
They who are born where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, are not of the church, but they who are regenerated by the Lord by the truths of the Word, that is, they who live the life of charity … (NJHD 246)
see once again that Church membership is not saving. Those born in the New Church who acknowledge the Writings as the Word
of their religion, are not saved by Baptism in childhood, or by years of Sunday
Worship, and by graduating from a religious New Church school. Salvation is by
one method for all human beings: regeneration. And regeneration does not begin
until after reformation in early adulthood (AC 3518). Clearly then, the
It is clear from all this that the
Hence the crucial question: How are
we to reform our mind from the unregenerate state to the state of becoming the
then, it is not permissible for the
Take for instance the concept of “God” which is universal to all the Heavens. Universal doesn’t mean similar between the integrated parts. The New Heavens of the Second Coming are at the center of all the Heavens and closest to the spiritual Sun, or the Lord (xx). Concepts from this Heaven cannot be exported to the other Heavens in a direct way, but only in a from accommodated to their genius and willingness. Similarly, concepts from the other Heavens cannot be imported into the New Christian Heaven, which is the New Heaven established by the truths of the Writings (TCR 1).
What applies to heaven also applies
to the Church on earth (TCR 14, 119). And so, once more we see that the
Writings as the Word of the New Christian Heaven, must be the exclusive source
of all concepts regarding salvation of the
It will be shown in this volume that
every concept from the Writings is a duality and every concept not from the
Writings is a nonduality in the
the individual with a
The advantages afforded to the
Only he who knows how degrees are related to Divine order can comprehend how the heavens are distinct, or even what is meant by the internal and the external man. Most men in the world have no other idea of what is interior and what is exterior, or of what is higher and what is lower, than as something continuous, or coherent by continuity, from purer to grosser. But the relation of what is interior to what is exterior is discrete, not continuous. Degrees are of two kinds, those that are continuous and those that are not. Continuous degrees are related like the degrees of the waning of a light from its bright blaze to darkness, or like the degrees of the decrease of vision from objects in the light to those in the shade, or like degrees of purity in the atmosphere from bottom to top. These degrees are determined by distance.
 Until one has acquired for himself a perception of these degrees he cannot possibly understand the differences between the heavens, nor between the interior and exterior faculties of man, nor the differences between the spiritual world and the natural world, nor between the spirit of man and his body. So neither can he understand the nature and source of correspondences and representations, or the nature of influx. Sensual men do not apprehend these differences, for they make increase and decrease, even according to these degrees, to be continuous, and are therefore unable to conceive of what is spiritual otherwise than as a purer natural. And in consequence they remain outside of and a great way off from intelligence. (HH 38)
At the beginning of our reformation in adult life our unregenerate mind is mixed with dualities from the Writings and nondualities from self and culture. Our reformation is therefore nothing but a clash of ideas in our mind, a battle of life and death, a struggle for heaven or hell. Our own unregenerate will is dead set to lead us to hell, while the reformed will is from the Lord, hence set to eternal life in heaven.
… man when regenerated is as to the intellectual part the Lord's, but as to his will part is his own, these two parts in the spiritual man being opposed.
But though the will part of man is opposed, yet it cannot but be present; for all the obscurity in his intellectual part, or all the density of his cloud, is from it. It continually flows in from it, and in proportion as it flows in, the cloud in his intellectual part is thickened; but in proportion as it is removed, the cloud is made thin.
 This condition of things between the will and the understanding is as if two who were formerly conjoined by a covenant of friendship, as were the will and the understanding in the man of the Most Ancient Church, had their friendship broken, and enmity had arisen-as took place when man wholly corrupted his will part-and then when a covenant is again entered into, the hostile part is set forth as if the covenant were with it, but it is not with it, because it is utterly opposite and contrary, but it is with that which flows in from it-as already said-that is, with the Own of the understanding.
The "token" or "sign" of the covenant is this, that in proportion as there is the presence of the Lord in the Own of the understanding, in the same proportion the Own of the will be removed.
The case herein is exactly as it is with heaven and hell. The intellectual part of the regenerated man, from charity, in which the Lord is present, is heaven; his will part is hell. So far as the Lord is present in this heaven, so far is this hell removed. For of himself man is in hell, and of the Lord is in heaven. And man is being continually uplifted from hell into heaven, and so far as he is uplifted, so far his hell is removed. The "sign" therefore, or indication, that the Lord is present, is that man's will part is being removed. The possibility of its removal is effected by means of temptations, and by many other means of regeneration. (AC 1044)
The above passage teaches several things about how we are to undergo reformation and regeneration:
(1) All the willing we do prior to reformation in adult life is evil from hell and cannot be regenerated.
(2) Reformation is the struggle of opposites in our mind. The truths we acquire from the Writings are the Lord with us in our “intellectual part,” but our will part, or our willing and intending, is hell with us since there is nothing in it but evil affections of every kind. This evil doesn’t show in our social personality because we are motivated by selfish affections to simulate what is required, and to hide how we would desire to behave.
(3) Prior to reformation our evil affections or motives, called cupidities and lusts in the will, create falsities in the understanding, from which we have false beliefs where we see falsity as truth, and truth as falsity. This falsified mental life is called “clouds” in the mind. And as the “density of his cloud” thickens, the more is one’s mental life impaired and falsified in every intention of the will and every reasoning of the understanding. This is our unregenerate life until reformation begins in early adulthood when we can make the conscious rational lifestyle choice to rearrange our thinking in accordance with the Writings. Then for the first time the Lord becomes actually present in our understanding as opposed to being there nominally or by reputation.
(4) Our automatic progress to hell can be reversed by allowing the Lord to remove the cupidities and lusts in our will and to give us a reformed will. The Lord cannot do this without our conscious cooperation. This conscious cooperation is to learn the truths of the Writings and to consider them as Divine Commandments for living. Then the Lord is present actually and can remove the old will. He does that by Himself for we have no power whatsoever. The process of replacing the old will is gradual and proceeds only so far as is made possible by our actual daily cooperation, minute by minute. And “in proportion as it is removed, the cloud is made thin,” meaning that the life of evil and spiritual insanity is gradually removed during the years of regeneration. But nothing is removed by the Lord except that which we allow.
(5) While we are regenerating, from young adulthood to the end, our mind is in opposition, partly sane and partly insane, though not at the same level in the mind, for they are kept apart by the Lord who prevents commingling (DP 296; cf. AC 2426). Commingling would lead to profanation and a fate worse than hell (cf. AC 3757).
our understanding is filled with the dualities from the Writings, we are
expected to proceed as-of-self in our daily struggle with choices. We are to
recognize and isolate all nondualities that are in our mind from many sources. From
this categorical rearrangement, the
reformation, the childhood and adolescence of the
(8) As we struggle daily, in our willing and thinking, the Lord gives us a “sign” of His presence: It’s our awareness that the old cupidities and lusts we are familiar with, no longer appear in the same situations. We become aware of this during temptations, and in other ways.
To initiate and complete our reformation
we must examine our chief concepts as they exist in our mind, and deconstruct
them, so that we learn to distinguish between the nondualities and the
dualities. This volume is about learning the process of eliminating conceptual
nondualities and establishing dualities of life, called Doctrine, and thereby
forming as-of self the
The Lord is creating our gradual regeneration step by step, but only to the extent that we actively cooperate with Him moment by moment in our willing and thinking (TCR 371, 577; 615; cf. TCR 464; BE 15, 13). What does this cooperation consist of? What is it that we have to do in order to be considered “cooperating”? This book gives two broad answers. Volume 1 deals with Reformation, which is the struggle against nonduality in our mind. Since we internalize our culture and education, our unregenerate mind is suffused with all sorts of concepts and ideas and attractions that are nondualities.
For example, many people are attracted to Eastern nonduality in the form “self=divine,” or the idea that self is an illusion or unreality, while in reality we are God (see Chapter 1). Another example is scientific nonduality or materialistic science which asserts that only the natural world exists and denies heaven and hell. Another example is psychological nonduality which introduces and supports ideas that clash with dualities in the Writings, such as the idea of unconditional love and self-acceptance (see Chapter xx Section xx).
One final example is the cultural nonduality of pluralism and relativity which are opposed to dualities such as heaven and hell or genuine truth and adulterated truth. Our reformation consists in struggling against these nondualities in our mind from all these sources. The motive or purpose must be to replace them with the dualities we take up from the Writings. This process of replacement, if it’s going to succeed, must be done consciously, with full awareness and rational understanding. Therefore I illustrate in this volume various ways of using rational analysis to deconstruct and debunk the nondualities in our mind. To think and will from the Writings is the cooperation we must perform to be conjoined to the Lord and have heavenly life:
The freedom of choice resulting from this is the ability to will and to think from the Lord, that is, from the Word, and also the ability to will and to think from the devil, that is, contrary to the Lord and the Word. (TCR 371)
Volume 3 deals with Regeneration,
which is the struggle against our inherited and acquired lusts and their
falsities in our mind. I describe many kinds of spiritual disciplines that I
found suitable for developing the
We first are to change our thinking by studying the Writings every day and forming the Doctrine of Life in our understanding. Often readers believe that I am exaggerating when I mention that the study of the Writings should be a daily task. But consider what you do if you are going to succeed as a student, scholar, or expert at anything whatsoever. It requires many hours a week that amount to daily portions, and this, week after week, until there is accumulation. This is what needs to be done if we are going to accumulate enough Doctrine in our mind to serve as Divine Guide in our every moment of willing, thinking, and behaving. The accumulation of Doctrine can never cease because Doctrine is to be understood more and more interiorly in order to serve our regeneration. The highest angels continue to regenerate by means of more and more interior ideas they receive from the Lord when studying the Word.
Consider also what would prevent you from serious daily studies of the Writings, given that you know that it is the Lord present with you and through which He wants to regenerate you by giving you ever more interior visions and truths of Himself and of heaven.
So I am not exaggerating when I frequently repeat this requirement that we study the Writings daily as a serious student. Overcoming the obstacles that pose themselves to prevent this, is a key element of reformation. They can all be overcome by holding this one genuine idea in your focus: The Writings are the Lord in His Word of the Second Coming and every truth in it is a Divine Commandment for me. To love the Writings is therefore to love the Lord. To postpone the Writings is to love something else above the Lord. To have a distaste for studying the Writings is to love self above the Lord. Since we all start that way, we must compel ourselves to act in opposition to our resistance or avoidance of Him in His Word in which He is Himself, His Own Divine Truth.
The more interior our understanding of Doctrine from the Writings, the more we are willing to think and act in accordance with our Doctrine.
They who are being regenerated, at first do what is good from doctrinal things, for of themselves they do not know what is good, but learn it from the doctrinal things of love and charity; from these they know who the Lord is; who is the neighbor; what love is, and what charity; thus what good is. (AC 3310)
Regeneration is a gradual process over our entire life on earth, and beyond (AC 9410). It is a conscious process because it can go on only with our conscious cooperation (DP 114). This takes the form of monitoring our thinking and willing, assessing them in the light of the understanding of Doctrine in our mind, modifying our thoughts and decisions accordingly, and continuing every day to live in this manner. Doing this as-of self prepares our mind for heaven. To do it as-of self means that we struggle in the natural mind as if we were doing it alone but knowing in our rational mind that it is the Lord doing it by the infinite power of His Divine Wisdom from His Divine Love (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102; CL 82; SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864).
To the extent that we progress in our regeneration day by day, and week by week, to that extent the Lord reveals to us more and more interior spiritual truths as we study the Writings. Our consciousness is thereby enlightened and we can think and understand things in the light of heaven.
The Word is not understood except by those who are enlightened. … The human rational cannot apprehend Divine things, nor even spiritual things, unless it is enlightened by the Lord … Thus only they who are enlightened apprehend the Word … They who are in the good of life, and thereby in the affection of truth, are enlightened (NJHD 256).
This new understanding is simultaneously applied to all things around us and guides our willing and thinking, and to the extent that we are persistent and consistent, to that extent the Lord can create a new will within our reformed understanding. Now we continue life on earth in this celestial state of mind and life. Meanwhile we continue to have this new mind perfected by the Lord until His judgment of the right time, and then we pass on, leaving the physical body, and awakening in a spiritual body. Upon that momentous occasion angels are present, and help us to prepare fully for entrance into heaven. This period of preparation is fairly brief, equivalent to less than a few months in relation to the pacing we are used to from the natural world (HH 498). We then enter the heaven of our society where we find our house and our spouse. That is our bliss and happiness in eternity.
If we don’t do this daily work, there is only one other way, which is to remain infernal as we were born, whereupon when we arrive in the afterlife we are prepared for life in hell and our spirit-body sinks down to its level of miserable and inhuman life.
Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)
The Writings play an essential role
in this overall process of reformation, regeneration, and preparation. Without
the Writings the
The Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)
A human being is created for everlasting life, and any person can inherit that life, so long as he lives in accordance with the means of salvation prescribed in the Word; every Christian, as well as every non-Christian who possesses a religion and sound reason, assents to this proposition. (TCR 340)
Without the Word there is no rational conception of the Lord, and thus no salvation (SS 111)
As to the formation of faith: it is effected by man's going to the Lord, learning truths from the Word, and living according to them. (TCR 347)
I spoke with those who placed the only means of salvation in reading the Word. They were overhead, and said that they take great care that all in their society are diligent in reading the Word. But I told them, that this does not save, but that they must live according to the Word, and that nobody can live according to the Word except he be in the doctrine of truth from it; otherwise, they do not know how they are to live, for, from the sense of the letter of the Word, they are able to defend everything that belongs to their life, be it what it may, and this to protect falsities. It was shown also what is the nature of the Word in the letter, but that those who are in doctrine from the Word, see the Word and read it, quite differently; they consequently understand it, and are thus able to become rational: otherwise, this cannot take place. It was shown, also, that the reading of the Word is not attended to by the Lord, and therefore does not promote salvation, unless they are in the life of truth; and that they cannot be in the life of truth, except they be in doctrine from the Word (SE 5961).
formation of the
If we could be saved by the Old and
New Testaments then the Writings were not necessary! The salvation of the
As we have now one God in the church, who is God Man and Man God, this church is called the crown of all the churches. (INV 43)
These are evidences that this has
been granted for the sake of the
After these things, from good elevated to Himself, He founds a new heaven, and from the evil removed from Himself, a new hell; and in both He establishes order, so that they may stand under His auspices and under obedience to Him to eternity; and then through this new heaven He successively inaugurates and establishes a new church on earth. (CORONIS 0)
You can find other passages that say
similar things (e.g., AR 68, 73; TCR 786-788; AE 91-92; and others). You can
see from these considerations that there is not going to be an endless
procession of Churches in the evolution of our race. There are a definite
number of steps or phases that the Lord brings the race through so that He
might complete His creation, which is that we become celestial minds capable of
living in His New Heavens. The
The Lord in His First Coming taught that He must come again to complete His Divine mission of the salvation of the human race (AC 4060). The Lord gave the Old Testament through Moses and the Prophets. That was the equivalent of the Word’s legs and feet. It was so obscure that the Jewish Church is called a “representative of a Church.” The literal of the Word reveals the level of understanding of the people who receive it at the beginning of a new dispensation. Consider the literal of the Old Testament. By today’s standards scholars call it pre-modern, superstitious, racist, barbaric, and obscure in meaning. It is written at a level entirely unacceptable to the modern mind concerned with human rights, humanism, and rationality. You can see why I said that it is the legs and feet of the Divine Word. It does establish that there is God, and that God rules all details of the universe. It establishes that God saves human beings for eternal life in happiness and bliss if they follow His commandments, but puts away all others into an eternal hell of misery. Enough is established by this Old Testament Word to save those who obey the commandments of their religion.
But after many generations the level of thinking of the Old Testament was no longer believable to the generations that were surrounded by more advanced civilizations and intellectual traditions in the East and the West. A new Word was then given as the New Testament by the Lord Himself in His First Coming. This Word is like the entire midsection of the body, including the abdomen and the chest and the arms. The level of thinking is a discrete degree above that of the Old Testament. Enough is established in this Word to once again be able to save for heaven all those who obey its commandments as being from the Lord. These commandments, even in their literal statements, are more internal than those given in the letter of the Old Testament. The level of thinking of the Old Testament is corporeal-sensuous, while that of the New Testament is external rational.
The new truths and principles were for the rational mind, unlike the Old Testament where the truths were for the external mind that is close to the body senses. For example, the Old Testament tells nothing specific about the afterlife. The only level of thinking the people were capable of at that time was the idea that heaven is what a reformed earth will be after the resurrection from the graves. That idea of heaven was a heaven in the physical world. But the heaven of the New Testament is “within you,” thus not out there or here, but in the interior of the human mind. To go to heaven is not to go to a place but to develop a state of mind in which heaven can exist:
Heaven is in the man; and there is a place for him in heaven according to the state of life and of faith in which he is (AC 9305)
The New Testament Commandments were also at a higher level of rationality, suitable for the new mind. “Love thy neighbor” meant not just your own ethnic group or religion. “Being married” meant not just doing what you please but what God demands and consecrates. “Adultery” is not just what you do, but also what you desire and think. In the New Testament level of reasoning, willing and thinking become more important for salvation than ritual sacrifices or prayers. Not overt doing is the measure of salvation but inward thinking and intending. So a new more interior, more rational method was made available by the Lord through this new Word.
As deeds and works are from the will and thought, so are they from the love and faith, consequently they are such as the love and faith are; for it is the same thing whether you say one's love or his will, and it is the same thing whether you say one's faith or his established thought; for that which a man loves he wills, and that which a man believes he thinks; and when a man loves what he believes he also wills it and as far as possible does it. Everyone may know that love and faith are within man's will and thought, and not outside of them, for love is what kindles the will, and the thought is what it enlightens in matters of faith; therefore only those that are able to think wisely are enlightened, and in the measure of their enlightenment they think what is true and will it, or what is the same, they believe what is true and love it. (HH 473)
But in the course of time a new modern mind emerged from the successes of science and modernism. The New Testament was no longer believable to this new mentality and civilization that rejected mystery of faith and anything spiritual that could not be understood and justified by the modern mind. Those who still adhered to the New Testament as religion still were not able to be saved thereby because internally their rational mind rejected mysteries (TCR 116, 182; AE 870). When all these people across the centuries after the First Coming entered the afterlife, their mind was not at a level of reasoning that could support life in heaven which was a spiritual-rational state created by spiritual-rational truths.
These people of the “spiritual
church” were all stuck in the spiritual world, unable to go up, being kept by
the Lord from sinking down (TCR 119; AC 7975). At last the generations on earth
reached the intellectual capacity to receive and understand the last portion of
the Word. This was the Lord’s Second Coming in the Writings. This new Word was
like the head of the body, which is why the
The Lord has revealed the spiritual meaning of the Word at this day because a doctrine of genuine truth has now been revealed. This doctrine is contained in part in The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, and now in some shorter works which are in process of publication.********** And because this doctrine and no other agrees with the spiritual meaning of the Word, therefore that meaning has now for the first time been disclosed, along with a knowledge of correspondences. (De Verbo 7:8)
Add to these most manifest evidences, that the spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel; and this sense is the very sanctuary of the Word: the Lord Himself is in this sense with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human. Not a single iota in this sense can be opened except by the Lord alone. This surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made from the creation of the world. (INV 44)
Now a new way is provided again for salvation. The level of thinking of this new Word is spiritual-rational:
Without the Word there is no rational conception of the Lord, and thus no salvation (SS 111)
The Word of the Writings are the Lord’s Divine Truth in His Second Coming to humankind. This is the only way of discovering who the Divine Human is. No other door way has been provided by the Lord for the new salvation, the new Heavens. The angels read the Writings and derive therefrom their Doctrine of Life and all their ineffable knowledge and wisdom (AC 1405, 1767). They have no other religion but the Word of the Writings.
Not everyone who reads the Writings is willing to raise their level of thinking to the rational reasoning presented in the Writings. In that case one does not read the Writings as the Lord in His Word. One sees no more in it than books of excellence by a magnificent genius, if appreciated, and if not, one sees only the fantasies of a religious madman. Only those who read the Writings as the third portion that completes the Word of God, can see in it genuine spiritual truths.
[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated.
To think and reason therefore from these concerning Divine things, is to bring oneself into errors and perversions; and it is as impossible to procure faith in this way as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The error and insanity from this source are called in the Word "drunkenness."
Spirits are perfectly well distinguished from each other, as to whether they are in the faith of charity or not. Those who are in the faith of charity do not reason about the truths of faith, but say that the thing is so, and also as far as possible confirm it by things of sense and of memory, and by the analysis of reason; but as soon as anything obscure comes in their way the truth of which they do not perceive, they defer it, and never suffer such a thing to bring them into doubt, saying that there are but very few things they can apprehend, and therefore to think that anything is not true because they do not apprehend it, would be madness.
These are they who are in charity. But-on the contrary-those who are not in the faith of charity desire merely to reason whether a thing be so, and to know how it is, saying that unless they can know how it is, they cannot believe it to be so. From this alone they are known at once as being in no faith, a mark of which is that they not only doubt concerning all things, but also deny in their hearts; and when they are instructed how the case is, they still cling to their disbelief and start all kinds of objections, and never acquiesce, were it to eternity. Those who thus persist in their contumacy heap errors upon errors. (AC 1072)
Rev. Donald L. Rose has noted in a sermon that the Lord has need of our rational in order for Him to enter our mind:
As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.
In reading this story of the Word, we may picture ourselves addressed by those words: “The Lord hath need of him.” The colt has various significations and is especially related to what is rational (see AC 2782, 5741, 6376). We can see here the Lord’s emissaries sent to bring the rational mind to himself. The owner of the rational questions this action. The so-called owner of the rational is the man himself.
In this story we see especially the giving of the Writings to man (see ISB 20).
(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled
“The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service”
We accumulate knowledge about the Writings from our education and from study. Where in the mind is this accumulation? Of course it is in the organ of the understanding, but this has several discrete levels, each with a totally different psychological function. The sentences of the Writings can be understood according to one’s level of mental functioning at the time. In the lowest intellectual mentality, called the natural-corporeal mind, the Writings are understood as a storybook about heaven and hell sprinkled in among mostly incomprehensible pages. At the next level of intellectual mentality, called the natural-sensuous mind, the Writings are understood as a storybook about the spiritual world mingled with Church doctrine and a lot of history about the previous churches and the mentality of those people. At the third an uppermost level, called the natural-rational mind, the Writings are understood as the new Rational Word, revealing a coherent rational system of theology tied to the Bible and corroborated by Swedenborg’s special mission as the revelator of the Lord’s Second Coming. And the more we study the Writings at this level of understanding, the more we create suitable “vessels” or dualities, in which the Lord will implant spiritual truths. And with more and more study of the Writings, we can begin to see the marvelous rational web and framework of truths by which the Lord maintains reality.
To live from the Word is to live from the Lord, for the Lord is in the Word, yea, He is the Word. (AE 754)
These are three levels of the natural mind. This is the mind we build up totally by ourselves through experience and choice. It feels like our very own life, our very own identity, and so it is called the self. The conscious self, whom we know ourselves to be, has these three levels of mentality and functioning.
At some point in our adulthood, early on or later, we feel the motivation to undergo reformation. We have been studying the Writings before this, but it was a lukewarm thing. But now we feel a new passion for studying the Writings, excited by the thought that it is the Word of the Lord speaking through the rational mind of this awesome 17th century Swede. We now begin to think about the topics of the Writings in a personal way. For example, while you’re doing something somewhere, you begin to think about what it will be like to be an angel, what it’s like to have an occupation there, and to have friends and neighbors. Now for the first time you are applying the Writings to yourself. Before this, it was a storybook you inherited by culture and family.
Or take another example. While you’re doing something somewhere, you begin to think about the heavy emphasis the Writings place on the principle of no salvation without regeneration. Suddenly the thought occurs to you: What about my own regeneration? Now for the first time you stepped across a threshold. You applied the Writings to a vital part of yourself, your concern for your salvation. You know enough about hell to want to avoid it! You eagerly go back to the Writings and search it for passages on regeneration. You quickly find out that before you can begin regeneration you must undergo reformation. You begin to worry, feeling a vague anxiety. You’ve now crossed another threshold. The anxiety you felt was the first step you took in your reformation. It was a brief, very brief, view into the difficulty of the task that lies ahead. The thought occurs to you: Perhaps I’m not ready for all this. But you are, and you go ahead. You systematically go through all your main belief systems and hold them up to the principles of the Writings. One by one they must be rationally deconstructed and discarded, like Abraham had to smash the icons of his inherited false religion.
Sooner or later this great task comes to its completion. Suddenly the thought occurs, usually prompted by the wife, “Why am I wasting time holding on to the non-heavenly behaviors and traits?” We refuse to face, close up, so from afar we look at it and retort: “But look how much I know about heaven” or, “But look how much I love the Word and the Doctrine” or, “But look what great progress I’ve already made compared where I was before reformation” etc. But at last we find the motivation to begin our regeneration with full sincerity, though not yet with full success. You’ve just crossed the final big threshold. You’ve taken your baby step in the process of regeneration. You’re now fully committed to condemn your evil loves. From then on the Lord will fight with you in a series of spiritual temptations, precisely designed for your struggle to map out the hell within you. The temptations reveal your inner delights to yourself. Normally they’re hidden from your focus and attention, conveniently tucked away so that you can continue to enjoy them, even while you continue to declare you passion and love for the Writings.
But you also continue to study the Writings at an accelerated rate in comparison to before. You’re driven to find the relevant truths, those that can help your predicaments. They are everywhere now—in your marriage relationship, in your work situation, even in your recreation. Everywhere you feel challenged by what you passionately believe and know, and your seeming inability to align your willing and thinking with what you know is right. For example, you know that scortatory interests harm the conjugial relationship. Yet, you feel delight in them, secretly. You beg the Lord to purify you, but you find His answer in the Writings: “You have water. You have soap. Go wash yourself, like a real man.” And you feel ashamed. You’ve just made a step in a new direction. You repented of an evil delight you’re holding in secret. Like Adam and Eve who were ashamed of their nakedness after they had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
Now you feel driven out from your paradise. Nothing of the many delights you’re so attached to, can be allowed to stay around. No one. If you catch yourself arguing for mercy, that you’ve given up so much already, you feel forced to withdraw the mercy request, realizing full well, everything must go. An affection must be traced to its origins by a simple test of duality: Is this delight from heaven or from hell. There is no in between, so there is no hiding any more. Now you’ve taken your last baby steps in regeneration. You’re fully ready because fully committed to the idea that not one can be left standing. All must be exterminated, every one of our delights that are form hell. And it seems that they are all from hell. Now you begin to apply what you know form the Writings to everything of your threefold self: your affections and delights, your thoughts and style of reasoning, your outward acts of the body and its appearance. Now you begin to see new things.
For the first time you become conscious that you have an inner perception of spiritual things as you think about the sentences of the Writings, and apply them to your willing and thinking all day long. You begin to see how every sentence applies to you, though how may remain obscure for some time. But you are all excited again about your new level of consciousness. You search the Writings with trepidation and suddenly sentences you didn’t pay much attention to, now spring to life before you. You have living proof that the Lord is managing the process of your regeneration in every detail—what sentences come to your attention when, and what they say about you, about whatever you’re struggling with at the time. You feel a great relief and you recall the Lord’s statement that His yoke is light. At last you can feel the living certitude that you want to be in His hands more than in yours. It now terrifies you as you think back on your earlier period when you were anxious that getting closer to heaven is giving up all the fun in life, and begged for more time. Now you can see that your best chance is not with you, but with the Lord. So you’re relieved in your heart and your love for the Lord takes a big leap.
What is happening now as you read the Writings? You’ve almost gotten used to it now: You can see within the Letter! It just comes to you automatically. You’re reading the sentences, you’re reflecting, figuring out what they mean rationally, and suddenly you see what they mean spiritually. You now understand what is happening in a scientific way, like anatomy or physiology, and like agriculture or gardening. Regeneration is a biological process of steady growth built on spiritual truths implanted in the mind by the Lord’s activity in us through the sentences of the Writings that are firmly established in our conscious mind. These sentences are established firmly because they form the basis of our thinking, of our concluding and analyzing anything. We have appropriated those sentences and rational ideas. They are no built up as our own edifice. Now the Lord can enter into the interior of this edifice, and implant spiritual truths. We are not conscious of this activity directly, but the Lord creates a new thing in our mind, a new organ, more interior than the natural mind. This new organ is called the interior-natural.
Note that this new organ is spiritual and of celestial origin. There is nothing in it from self or the natural world. What’s in it is a correspondence to what’s in the spiritual mind. We are not conscious of the spiritual mind and its activates, but we are conscious of the natural mind. And now this new interior organ gives a new function, a new conscious awareness of spiritual understandings and meanings. Spiritual topics that before this we understood in a natural way, now we understand them in a spiritual way, like the angels of the First Heaven. This new spiritual awareness and understanding would not be possible without the sentence and their rational understanding, that we gathered for ourselves in the natural-rational mind. This is obvious because the new interior-natural organ of spiritual perception is located within the natural-rational. It cannot be located anywhere else in the natural mind.
Our prior understanding of the
Writings was external-rational or natural-rational, not yet spiritual-rational
(AC 978, 2654, 4286; AE 355:14). The spiritual only begins with regeneration
and this only begins in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:; TCR 587), if
ever. Therefore the
When a child is first instructed he is affected with the desire of knowing, not at first for any end that is manifest to himself, but from a certain pleasure and delight that is born with him and is also derived from other sources; but afterwards, as he grows up, he is affected with the desire of knowing for the sake of some end, as that he may excel others, or his rivals; and next for some end in the world; but when he is to be regenerated, he is affected from the delight and pleasantness of truth; and when he is being regenerated, which takes place in adult age, from the love of truth, and afterwards from the love of good; and then the ends which had preceded, together with their delights, are separated little by little, and to them succeeds interior good from the Lord, which manifests itself in his affection. From this it is evident that the former delights, which had appeared in the outward form as good, had served as means. Such successions of means are continual. (AC 3518)
This passage clearly shows that reformation and regeneration begin in early adulthood, and not before. The first phase of reformation starts when as adults we become rationally convinced that the Writings are indeed the third and final portion of the Threefold Word. It is a step beyond the received creed. It is the exercise of a new individual choice under the new vision of rational understanding and confirmation. It’s the confidence we have when we can explain it rationally and confirm it in our principles and philosophy. The Writings are indeed the Word. It is beyond the idea that the Writings are “divinely inspired.” This is a nonduality if the idea admits other inspired books and authors so that the Writings are seen at the extreme end of a continuum lined up with other “inspired” books.
This idea of the Writings is not yet
the stage of reformation. One must cross over to the position that “the
Writings are the third portion of the Threefold Word.” This is what the
The second phase after this is to
understand rationally how it is that the Writings are the Word in the same
sense as the Old Testament and the New Testament are the Word, not in some
lesser degree. This phase establishes the idea that the Writings are Divine
Truth, that they are the Lord Himself in His Second Coming. The worship
of the Writings is the same as the worship of the Lord. We must realize in a
rational way how it is that for the
 It is now clear from these things that the spiritual sense of the Word was to be revealed for a new Church which will acknowledge and worship the Lord alone, and hold His Word sacred, and love Divine Truths and reject faith separated from charity. Concerning this sense of the Word more may be seen* in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE (n. 5-26, and following numbers); as, in this section, what the spiritual sense of the Word is (n. 5-26); that there is a spiritual sense in all things of the Word in general and in particular (n. 9-17); that it is by virtue of the spiritual sense that the Word is Divinely inspired, and holy in every expression (n. 18-19); that hitherto the spiritual sense has been unknown, and why it was not revealed before (n. 20-25); and that henceforth the spiritual sense will be possible only to one who is in genuine truths from the Lord (n. 26). (DP 264)
Enlightenment is the influx, perception, and instruction people receive from the Lord when they read the Word. (AC 10215)
All worship of the Lord, appears from the Word (AC 440)
Where the Church is, there the Lord is worshipped, and the Word is read (NJHD 8)
The individual becomes a
In every particular of the Word there is a spiritual sense from which it derives its holiness. (DP 264)
What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. (NJHD 7)
Our illumination or enlightenment from these truths is proportional to our struggle to consciously cooperate with the Lord as He gradually regenerates us day by day and hour by hour. The rate of progress is proportional to the extent of our daily willing and thinking in accordance with the truths we take up from the Writings. The truths for our salvation that we take up from the Writings are called Doctrine in our mind:
He who does not know the arcana of heaven must needs believe that the Word is supported without doctrine from it; for he supposes that the Word in the letter, or the literal sense of the Word, is doctrine itself. But be it known that all the doctrine of the church must be from the Word, and that the doctrine from any other source than the Word is not doctrine in which there is anything of the church, still less anything of heaven. But the doctrine must be collected from the Word, and while it is being collected, the man must be in enlightenment from the Lord; and he is in enlightenment when he is in the love of truth for the sake of truth, and not for the sake of self and the world. These are they who are enlightened in the Word when they read it, and who see truth, and from it make doctrine for themselves. (AC 9424)
This clearly says that all Doctrine
is from the Word. For the
Since our as-of self role in regeneration is so crucial it makes sense to learn how to do it effectively. This learning is called performing spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines allow us to discover the innumerable things in our mind that we receive from culture and heredity. Once we know what they are we can reject them as-of self by rational considerations. The culture we live in contains a variety of nonduality traditions, attitudes, and popular followings to which we are exposed from childhood onward. It is not readily obvious how nonduality is promoted in our mind when we enjoy our favorite sit-com program or admire a book for its message, or see our teenager practicing meditation. What about Yoga or Tai Chi or vegetarianism? Sometimes the philosophy is embedded in a mere formality we follow, like “Namaste” with which my Yoga teacher ends every class. Once in a while she adds the explanation: “It means: the God in me greets the God in you.” You can see the fundamental nonduality within this formality routine since it is motivated by the idea that self=God, and that is the fundamental nonduality.
Sometimes nonduality comes to us in
a secular Western tradition like Ayn Rand’s ethics of Objectivism or
This deadly conviction, that God infused and copied Himself into men, was held by the people of the most ancient church in its final period leading up to its termination, as I have heard from their own lips. On account of their horrendous belief that they were thus gods, they lie hidden deep within a cavern, which no one can approach closely without falling victim to an inner vertigo. (TCR 470).
And sometimes we see nonduality in Christian traditions like the popular notion that there is no hell, or the idea that long and repentant prayer brings salvation and holiness. The nonduality here is the idea that prayers can be more or less effective on a measurable continuum of how long and with how much self-blame or guilt one prays with. Duality on the other hand recognizes a distinct and categorical separation between spiritual things and natural. Praying long and with much guilt is separate and distinct from the spiritual reasons the Lord grants a prayer. He grants all prayers that are inspired by Him, and this is a duality rationally opposed to the idea of “effectiveness” of prayers. (AE 325) (See Chapter 1, Section 3)
Scientific education and science reporting in the news media are also nondualist and opposed to the fundamental duality of natural world and spiritual world.
From this ordering of creation it can be seen that the coherent linkage from first things to last is such that taken together they make up a single unit; in this prior cannot be separated from posterior, just as cause cannot be separated from the effect produced by it. Thus the spiritual world cannot be separated from the natural world, nor this from the spiritual. In the same way the heaven where the angels are cannot be separated from the human race, nor the human race from that heaven. It has therefore been provided by the Lord that one should perform services for the other, that is, the heaven of angels should perform services for the human race, and the human race for the heaven of angels. (LJ 9:).
No concept or theory from dualism is allowed today into science. It remains staunchly nondualist and materialistic, that is, insisting that a world that is not physical does not exist. News stories surround us with materialistic interpretations whether they be on archeological finds, biological evolution, stellar formations, or brain scan technology. The modern culture around us continues in an intellectual climate of popular nondualities that deny all the scientific and spiritual dualities we have from the Writings--between mind and body, natural world and spiritual world, self and God, good and evil, heaven and hell, absolute truth and absolute falsity, revelation and self-intelligence, regenerate and unregenerate, uncreate and created, and many others. Without these rational dualities of reality we have a falsified science and no religion or spiritual sanity (DL 188). (See Chapter 4 Section 7)
To acknowledge that the Writings are the Lord in His Second Coming and to understand this in a rational way makes our spiritual growth and progress possible. If we are exposed to some idea or principle that runs contrary to a single sentence in the Writings, we would know instantly that we want to reject that idea. We do not need more than one statement in the Writings for what is the absolute truth. Every statement in the Writings has a Divine warrant of truth and validity. Of course, by comparing a collection of statements on a topic one gains deeper understanding of the topic. Still, one occurrence gives enough understanding to exclude from our assent any idea that is contrary to it. This makes deciding all life choices so much simpler.
They who are in the genuine doctrine of truth from the Word, and in enlightenment when they read the Word, see everywhere truths that agree, and nothing whatever that is opposed; for they do not dwell upon what is said therein according to appearances, and according to the common apprehension of men, because they know that if the appearances are unfolded, and as it were unswathed, the truth is laid bare. (AC 9424)
Those who do not acknowledge the Writings as the Lord have much more difficulty since they have to compare and weigh things in balance. It becomes a matter of equity in their mind: how many passages say this and how many say that, etc. What is the preponderance of the evidence, etc. This leaves plenty of wiggle room for going wrong and we lose the full protection of heaven. We start wondering how many mistakes are contained in the Writings. We start thinking that Swedenborg was but a limited human being hence did make mistakes, either his own or those of his age and civilization. These are murky thoughts from which we are spared merely by being totally categorical in our acceptance of the Writings as the Lord Himself in His Word.
The acknowledgment of the Divine source of the Writings brings about an entirely new state … A man must loose something of self-esteem in accepting the Writings entirely. For before that he can exalt his own intelligence, granting that the Writings are true here and true there, but still, as it were, holding himself above them. … Many are most reluctant to acknowledge this, for it is to give up too much. … If there is indeed a Divine mind, a God, then true rationality is to become a servant to truth.
This is a joyous recognition. When an individual really understand the Divine claim on his rationality, straightaway he complies. … It is a wonderful liberation and a real beginning when we acknowledge Divine Revelation. Before that we are free to say perhaps this is right and perhaps that; perhaps this is good and perhaps that. We have so-called open minds to everything, even things which contradict each other. In this state we do not make progress.
Further, this absolute affirmative attitude allows us to revere and worship the Writings as the Lord Himself. Whether we adore and worship the Writings or the Lord is the same, for the Lord is the Word (NJHD 263, DP 172). How marvelous it is to love the Lord in this way, through his Word, for the Lord speaks to us only through the Word (TCR 231). It is nonduality in our mind that weakens this absolute Divine status of the Writings of Swedenborg.
The source of all nonduality is a natural inherent opposition to the fundamental duality. The natural mind before it is regenerated is immersed in nonduality and its concepts are arranged to fit the apparent order of the physical world entering through the sensory organs and brain. This apparent order is sensuous and by its own logic excludes the spiritual that it cannot see, and is aversive to all absolute dualities that refer to things unseen by the physical eyes or undetected by physical machines (DLW 66, 92). This is why our modern mind must be regenerated, and it takes place by re-arranging the concepts from nonduality to duality by means of the rational truths we take up from the Writings.
These rational truths accurately reflect reality and serve as cognitive vessels into which we can receive spiritual truths (NJHD 51; AC 3508). There is no salvation or eternal life in heaven without undergoing regeneration while we are still attached to the physical body (HH 470). This obligatory process progresses only to the extent that we consciously cooperate with the Lord. It does not go forward at all if we do not cooperate, for the Lord cannot do it on His Own, nor can He compel us (BE 69, TCR 615, 577; DP 234). It stands to reason therefore that we ought to learn how to detect nondualities in our mind out of a desire to cooperate in our regeneration.
This book proposes two types of methods that can help us to guard against nondualities in our mind. Volume 1 deals with learning how to analyze common ideas to which we are exposed from culture and the times. I show with many illustrations how to find the nonduality hidden in the assumptions behind these ideas. Volume 2 deals with the process of enlightenment that is needed to undergo regeneration. Volume 3 deals with learning how to monitor our feelings, thoughts, and acts in our daily behaviors, also for the purpose of cooperating with the Lord in our regeneration. Many illustrations are given showing how to infuse a religious motive in everything we do, turning daily life into a series of spiritual disciplines. The approach involves tracing the implications of our daily choices and habits to see where they lead to nonduality or the denial of the fundamental dualities of our religion. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).
For example, the popular ideas of
unconditional love and unconditional self-acceptance run contrary to the
duality of unregenerate and regenerating, or to good and evil. A notion
promoted by mental health professionals is the idea of equity in relationship
between husband and wife. Equity is the policy of sharing everything
fifty-fifty—chores, contribution, responsibility, status, independence. This is
a nonduality that threatens the conjugial duality of an absolute and permanent
distinctness in all things between man and woman, or husband and wife (CL 33). Many conjugial self-witnessing disciplines for husbands are described
and related to the Writings. They all follow one principle: that the husband
should learn to love acting from his wife rather from himself. While
learning this he ought to simulate so that he always enacts the conjugial
stance: to love acting from the wife more than acting from self. Many of the
illustrations are from my personal self-observations as a husband who is
I hope that you will find in this presentation useful tools for your reformation and regeneration. If so, think about sharing the knowledge with others who may also find it helpful. For comments and questions, I welcome your email: email@example.com The Web address of this document is: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/nonduality.html and contains links to related articles that can also be accessed.
All truths are from the Word, which is spiritual light…
and nothing ought to be believed except the truth (INV 7)
Poll in 2002 reported that about 7 percent of Americans believe in “absolute
truth” when asked in a survey—among those who categorized themselves as “Christians.”
Among those who categorized themselves as without a religious affiliation, only
4 percent believe in absolute truth. What does it mean that nine out of ten
people today in our society declare that absolute truth does not exist? It
demonstrates that nonduality is reigning in the entire generation, regardless
of religious background. Nonduality has replaced the traditional dualities of
religion in the mind of the postmodern age. The
The Writings teach that all truth from the Lord is absolute truth because the Lord is absolute truth, and this is only from Him. Everything from Him is absolute truth within which is absolute love (xx). Nothing from Him can be anything but absolute truth because He is Absolute Truth Itself within which is Absolute Love. In this sense, “absolute truth” means Divine Truth. Since the inauguration of the new age of the Second Coming, the human race has received conscious rational access to Divine Truth through the Writings. Everything in the Writings is Absolute Truth, because it is Divine Truth, from the Lord, for the Word is the Lord Himself (xx). The denial of the existence of absolute truth is therefore a symptom of spiritual insanity. The unregenerate person today, regardless of religious or other background, inwardly denies absolute truth because it denies Divine Truth as the Divine Human, preferring for a God some invisible and unfathomable something called “the universe” or “the everything which is nothing” or “the energy” or whatever. There is an endless variety of ways that the unregenerate mind can fabricate denials of absolute truth. There is a big payoff at stake: Denial of God means the delight of making up our own god, even ourselves as god, or something within us as god, and even to the gross insanity of believing that one is above God.
Writings make a simple and accurate point: whatever is not from the Lord cannot
be absolute truth, but whatever is from the Lord is absolute truth. Further,
the Lord reveals absolute truth to every individual who seeks for it in His Word,
and nowhere else (xx). And for the
This is the fundamental duality that has been weakened, or suppressed entirely, in the minds of people today as a result of the severe climate of cultural nonduality.
categorical reasoning of the Writings, when presented for evaluation to a random
sample of people, would be rejected today as sectarian, fanatic, prejudiced, or
dogmatic. They point to other instances of sectarian religious groups in the
past and those of today, and see in the Writings a similar exclusionary
dogmatism, unjustified by the light of human reasoning and intelligence. We
know quite a bit of the historical record of dogmatic religions from the
Writings, and we can explain rationally why this persuasive approach to
religion is wrong headed, and impedes rather than aids the salvation of its
adherents (xx). But at last, the human race was given a Divine method for
regenerating from nonduality to duality, from a base in self, to the Lord as
the Base of reality. The
These new revelations give the rational means by which any reader can enter into all previous and future mysteries about the afterlife, the spiritual world, devils and angels, spirits from other planets in the universe, life in heaven and hell, and how the Lord regenerates every individual who cooperates, and so leads the person to eternal life in heaven. And many additional things are now revealed by the Lord in the Word of His Second Coming, relating to how the Lord manages the universe, how the Lord manages our willing and thinking through other spirits, how physical events depend completely on spiritual events, and many details about the past history of the race. The Second Coming is the final completion of the creation of the human race. At last every individual anywhere can now form a celestial mind for themselves, capable of eternal life in heaven. The only requirement is a willingness to be reformed and regenerated by a life in accordance with conscience and truth from the Writings.
Some might argue that acknowledging and worshipping the Writings as God Himself is a religious requirement for salvation, and similar therefore to previous sectarian faith. But this view is not based on the actual information in the Writings. The Writings give rational, objective, empirical, and scientific explanations and demonstrations of who God is, and the invariant mechanisms by which the universe is run and kept running by laws and principles anyone can study and understand. Reality is not something one can invent or discover. It must be revealed to be known. The earlier forms of revelation led to dogma because they were not scientific and rational revelations. They were full of mystery and unexplained workings behind the scenes by an invisible and little understood Deity. If this had been the new revelation once more, dogma would again be inevitable. But dogma can no longer exist in the light of rational explanation of religion, God, regeneration, heaven, and hell.
All anyone needs to do to verify what I’m saying here, is to read the details in the Writings. The full set is available online for searching and reading at this Web address:
Writings show why the Second Coming was necessary at this time in history and
evolution of the race. This new creation, called the
This is called reformation and is the prelude to regeneration that goes on till the end of life in the body. Then, a few hours later, the individual awakens in the spiritual world in a spirit-body and continues immortal life in either heaven or hell. All are instructed in the truths that have been revealed in the Writings, and those who can receive them, enter heaven, but those who reject the truths, enter hell. It has nothing to do with religious membership, belief system, or past misdeeds and sins. The only requirement for entering eternal life in heaven is to accept the truths that are taught to all novitiate spirits as they arrive from the earths in the universe in great numbers every day (xx).
In this new universal age, all religions and cultures have been rendered equivalent in salvation.
That means that henceforth anyone, regardless of religion or culture, has a way of salvation by undergoing reformation and regeneration in accordance with the new truths revealed in the Writings. Since the vast majority of people today go through life without having even heard of the Writings, they are instructed as novitiate spirits as soon as they arrive in the afterlife. Why the Writings? Because the Lord had to chose a revelator through whom the New Word can be given and written down (TCR 779). There is no other way possible from creation. Salvation has always been be new revelations from the Lord. All evolutionary steps of the human race were accomplished in this way, by new truths given to the race by means of a revelator who writes down and teaches the New Word of the Lord (xx). Spiritual truths cannot be discovered but must be revealed from the Lord (xx). And only spiritual truths in the mind can make it possible for an individual to live in heaven (xx).
To be saved means to develop a mind that can live in heaven. No one is saved by merit, status, reputation, initiation, birth, or membership. Who is saved is a scientific issue. It is a matter pf psychobiology, just as it is a matter of agriculture as to which plant survives and flourishes in the face of insects and the weather.
Hence no one can have any spiritual truths from any other source but the revelations from the Lord to one individual who writes them down for others to read, understand, and believe. Through this knowledge, there is contact with the Lord who can then effect actual regeneration and salvation, to the extent that we are willing to cooperate with Him. Without this conscious intellectual system obtained from the revealed Word, regeneration cannot actualize in this life. This necessary regeneration process cannot take place in the afterlife except to the extent that the individual has led a life of good in accordance with conscience that was considered from God. If conscience was thought of as the voice of self within, or the voice of our higher self within, then we refuse the truths of regeneration when instructed in the afterlife. This was empirically demonstrated to Swedenborg by much careful observation he made over many years, involving thousands of individuals arriving every day in the afterlife (xx).
Why is a revelator needed? Why does the Lord not come Himself, in the natural world for all to see, as He did at the Incarnation? Many people have this physicalistic idea of the Lord’s return and His physicalistic exercise of Divine power to flatten all objections and doubts about the Divine. Why would He not do this since this would convince everyone as they are convinced that airplanes exist and the moon is made of rock, not cheese.
The Writings explain that the First Coming was to create in the human race a sensuous consciousness of Him as God. This was accomplished by glorifying the natural human self He acquired as a Child growing up among the people with whom the Word was at that time and point in the race’s evolution (AC 1434). To glorify His natural human self means that He made it one with the Divine in Himself (xx). This act of making the human Divine, created a new reality by which the human race could see Him and understand Him. It was important for the human race to be able to have a definite view of Him in order to feel close to Him and love Him. By this love alone can the human race receive from Him what it needs in order to be saved. And now we know that this what we need to be saved: Understanding Him in scientific detail. This kind of rational and full understanding of Him makes it possible to receive from Him the eternal endless blessings of salvation. These blessings of salvation and happiness are received within the rational understanding of Him.
Heaven is made of His Truth within which is His Love. Clearly then, our access to heaven is by means of learning His truth, understanding it, and loving it. Then we have heaven or salvation. A revelation is therefore always needed to bring Divine truth to our understanding. If we reject this truth, we deny ourselves a mechanism for receiving heaven. The only thing we can receive in man-made or man-discovered truth, is hell. It’s a simple practical matter: You can hop on a real helicopter to take you up the mountain, or a wooden helicopter that will never take of the ground except when lifted and thrown back down by a hurricane. It’s not a mystery, not a secret membership of the favored, not a slot you can buy by means of power, influence, and money. Everyone has equal access through willingness to receive.
In the First Coming of the Lord at His Incarnation, the human race was able to see God in a Natural Body. Until then the Lord was not visible, though He appeared to many by taking over the spirit-body of an angel and speaking through the angel. What people then saw was not the Lord, but the angel from whom the Lord spoke to them. Many such encounters are described in the Old Testament. But this arrangement was only temporary because it did not allow the closest possible contact between the Lord and the human race. How can one love a God who only speaks through an angel, not through His Own Presence?
The Lord then came into the natural world through the virgin pregnancy of a woman who birthed the Divine Child (xx). The Lord did not allow this new natural human Form of Himself to have full perception into its interior mind so as to see who He was in reality. He wanted this Child to grow up like other children so that it would develop a natural self and personality. This could not have occurred if He had not limited the Child’s vision into Himself. He gradually taught this Child in an external way, about who He really was, doing this by means of the Hebrew Word, or the Old Testament (xx). This is how the Child gradually learned from the Word who He was and why He had been incarnated. It was a self-realization that came to Him consciously from His external environment—the Holy Book that the Jews had guarded over the centuries. The purpose of this gradual self-realization, rather than instantaneous revelation and vision, is described in great detail by the Lord in both the Old Testament and in the Writings. But in the Old Testament these descriptions were hidden by the language of correspondences, which are now revealed and rationally explained by the Lord in the Writings. This is why the Writings are called Heavenly Secrets (AC 1). These revelations about Himself could not have been given before this. The reasons are fully explained in the Writings.
The Lord’s Incarnation was necessary so that the human race could form a genuine and true “picture” of Him, without which we could not get close to Him and love Him from an inmost love. Without this inmost love unto Him from Him, no one could receive the ultimate celestial blessings that He longed to bestow on every created human being. Therefore the Lord had to Incarnate and show Himself to history, science, and physical reality. But this was only the first step in the makeover of the human mind. The final step could not as yet be taken by the human race. Seventeen more centuries of preparation had to pass, until the human race had acquired a modern rational mind. The final revelation can only exist in the human rational mind. This step was completed in 1771 when Swedenborg published the last work of the Writings called The True Christian Religion (xx).
This second step of the Lord’s revelation of Himself was to create a new mind within the natural one, that could function to give us rational consciousness of Him, not merely sensuous consciousness from His natural and physical Appearance to the race. This new rational mind is called the spiritual mind and the Lord creates it in everyone to the extent that one is willing to apply the New Truths to our daily willing and thinking--regardless of religious background! The Lord saves and elevates to Himself every individual of the human race anywhere in the universe, to the extent that the individual allows Him to do this. Spiritual freedom is maintained by thinking with rational concepts about spiritual truths.
For example, to think that there is no absolute truth is to think naturally about spiritual things. To think this is a persuasion rather than a rational opinion. Ask a random sample of those who deny absolute truth to state their justification. You will discover that they have no rational justifications. They put together various inconsistent or unrelated things they pick up here and there when they are impressed by someone or some writing. Yet they feel convinced. Hence it is a persuasion. There is no mental freedom for those who are in a state of being convinced from persuasion (xx).
Approaching the spiritual domain through sensuous consciousness leads to states of persuasion and loss of rational freedom, hence, loss of spiritual sanity. There is then an inability to recognize which spiritual propositions are true and which false. Even worse, truth is seen as falsity and falsity is seen as truth (NJHD 171). There is no exit from this hell in the mind except through one door provided by the Lord for every religion and every philosophy—reformation and regeneration. For those who are ignorant of the Writings or are unable to read it and comprehend it, the Lord provides an inner conscience through which He speaks to them and guides them in their daily willing and thinking—but only to the extent they are willing to obey the voice of conscience and to take it as God’s Voice within them. In the afterlife they are informed and instructed who this inner voice was, and those who listened to the voice of conscience as God’s Voice, recognize His voice then, accept the details of the New Truths about Him, and with these in their mind and understanding, enter their heaven and eternal bliss.
The voice of conscience is effective for salvation since it provides rational consciousness of super-human authority, that is, of God’s connection and intimate closeness to the individual.
We can only love God when we feel close to Him and connected. And only in this love can we be saved and receive eternal blessings from Him. Those who withhold and reject this love in themselves from Him, arrive with a mind unfit for heavenly habitation. They sink down into hellish habitations where they eek out a miserable existence among others who are like them. What is amazing is that the Lord does not keep them there, but they keep themselves there, for when at any time they have the desire to visit heaven, they do so, but quickly cast themselves back down, being seized with explosive and insane hatred for the life they find there. Amazingly, they find the unspeakably miserable life in hell more desirable and pleasurable than the life of love, truth, and beauty in heaven.
In the Word of the New Testament, the voice of conscience is represented as the “Holy Spirit.” The followers of the Lord at His First Coming loved Him in His physical presence, that is, they knew Him from sensuous consciousness. Seventeen centuries of intellectual development had to happen before the race was sufficiently prepared for His Second Coming, that is, in our rational consciousness of Him. This rational consciousness did not exist with the Apostles and the Christian Church, except in a slight degree, through their belief in the existence of the Holy Spirit within them. A full awareness and rational understanding of what it means to have the Holy spirit within, only became possible when the spiritual-celestial mind could be created within the modern version of the external rational mind, developed by science, education, art, and culture. Human beings had to evolve so that they might be willing to love the Lord from rational consciousness.
Until then, people were willing to love Him from sensuous consciousness—e.g., His Blood, His Tunic, His Relics, His Sacrifice, His Miracles, His Resurrection. They were unable to love Him from rational consciousness, such as the idea that He and the Father were the same Person. It takes rational consciousness to understand how the Lord manages every detail of our willing and thinking, and yet we are still full of evils. It takes rational consciousness to understand that people keep themselves in hell and that it is not a forced punishment. It takes rational consciousness to understand how discrete degrees operate in every object and in the human mind. And what cannot be understood is not revealed by the Lord since it would place people into spiritual harm far worse than they can place themselves on their own through fantasies and distortions (xx).
Further, people cannot love what they don’t understand (xx). These are the rational reasons why the revelations of the Second Coming could not be given until modern times. Sensuous consciousness of God is a type of connection that allows only a distant relationship of love, while rational consciousness of the Lord allows the inmost relationship of love capable by the human race. And every good and truth the race has, is from this rational love unto Him that we have from Him.
Even today, these ideas appear to most people as vague, imaginative, inconclusive, unbelievable. Many people are willing and able to love God when He makes Himself sensually or sensibly present through physical miracles, a physical voice form heaven, a physical pestilence brought on the people by their sins, and the like. Furthermore, people can only feel actually forgiven if they see tangible evidence of it, like sacrifices being offered as atonement, in the olden days. Today, people still expect as proof of God’s existence, physically evident miracles, special gifts and physical powers, a successful outcome to their projects and prayers, objects they consider sacred, and so on. This sensuous consciousness of God is a natural relationship, not spiritual. It has been vastated and consummated, and a new rational consciousness, serves in its stead.
Miracles close the internal man, and deprive man of all that free will, through which and in which man is regenerated. Free will really belongs to the internal man; and when this is closed up, the man becomes external and natural; and such a man does not see any spiritual truth. Miracles also are like veils and bars lest anything might enter. This bar, or this obstruction, however, is gradually broken, and [then] all truths become dispersed. (INV 6)
Rational consciousness allows the idea of the universal Church (HH 308), that is, the idea that religious affiliation cannot save but what can, is individual regeneration. Faith based on sensuous consciousness is persuasive faith, which the individual rejects in the afterlife (xx). But rational faith remains in the afterlife and saves. This is because all the heavens have been recreated by the Lord through the new rational truths He unveiled in His Second Coming. Now people must come into the afterlife with rational consciousness of spiritual things, in order to form a plane of life that supports heavenly existence. This is because He is Divine Truth, and all truth is rational, and all things are created by means of Divine Truth (xx). Unless we have rational truths of God we cannot be conjoined with the Lord. Without conjunction through our rational idea and love for the Lord, our presence in heaven is not possible.
the formation of the New Heavens there were the old heavens and their vast
outskirts where people were able to live adequately while waiting for the New
Heavens to be created (xx). Then, when Swedenborg published the last work of
the Writings in 1771, the New Heavens were completed by means the new truths
that the Lord revealed to the angels and those living in the outskirts of
heaven (xx). A vast migration was then accomplished by the Lord, instructing
everyone there in His new rational truths, and admitting and accommodating all
those who were willing to receive the new rational truths about Himself. But
here on earth things take much longer! Only a few people today are willing to
Remains are like some heavenly star, which, the smaller it is the less light it gives, and the larger, the more light. (AC 530)
Nonduality is the intellectual process of our natural intelligence when we think about God and spiritual things. This opposition between the natural sensuous mind and the rational spiritual mind, is a developmental process of the human mind—even the Lord as a Divine Child growing up on earth made Himself go through this process. When He was still growing up as a young child, the Lord consulted his natural mind or natural intelligence, about the truths of the Old Testament He was reading. He then revealed to Himself from within His Divine, that He is not to consult natural intelligence regarding the truths of the Word. Instead, He instructed Himself to rely on truths that He is going to reveal to His natural mind from His spiritual mind (HH 308). It is a natural step therefore, for everyone to first attempt to discover spiritual truths by using one’s own natural intelligence. Afterwards, the Lord reveals to us when we read the Writings, that we must no think naturally about spiritual revelations. We must read the revelations as Divine Truth already, and then, and only then, trying to understand what we read. This understanding is not passive but active. It is a rational process of figuring out what the literal language of revelation says. The goal of this understanding is to avoid doubt and questioning based on our own prior ideas and attitudes. Instead, all our mental effort must be in understanding how the details we are given are true and rational. This is the activity what builds our rational consciousness, and nothing else.
The general belief that there is no absolute truth is an instance of this nonduality operating today in the natural mind. Absolute truth is a spiritual idea since only God is absolute, and His truth is absolute truth. This is known from revelation that God gives to all people through their religion and culture. To accept genuine revelation is therefore to have an idea of God that is rational. This rational consciousness of God saves the person, as long as one obeys God’s commandments in daily life. But to deny absolute truth is to consult one’s self-intelligence in matters of spiritual truths, and this is forbidden because it leads to spiritual self-destruction:
Those things which are from one's own intelligence have no life in them, since nothing good proceeds from man's proprium (NJHD 256).
[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated. (AC 1072)
Spiritual self-destruction means that people in the afterlife refuse to let go of their self-imposed spiritual insanity, thereby keeping themselves in the hells that exist in every human mind (NJHD 256).
Self-intelligence in matters dealing with natural things is called the external rational level of thinking, or the natural-rational level of the mind. This external rational level is to be contrasted with the interior rational level, which is called the spiritual-rational level of the mind. The difference between the natural-rational and the spiritual-rational is like the difference between hell and heaven. Why then is the natural-rational capable of giving us science and civilization? Wouldn’t the natural-rational mind become insane and not capable of living a modern life of law and order in democracy? The answer is that it would indeed, were the Lord to allow that. But the Lord wills that we succeed in our physical environment with this self-intelligence based on our experience and reflection.
Our successes in the natural world is powered by the Lord, even when we deny it. He gives His power and intelligence to people’s goals and plans regardless of their acknowledging Him and regardless of whether they live wickedly or well in this world. He does this out of love for the every individual and His greatest desire to keep the individual in a state of spiritual freedom as long as possible. Only in spiritual freedom can we choose willingly to love Him. In this way He keeps everyone in a state in which they can decide freely to cooperate in regeneration and thus be saved for eternal happiness. But this Divine assist in the background, works out only for our natural activities and ideas. It would be spiritually disastrous for the Lord to do the same thing in spiritual things and ideas that we form for ourselves in freedom and rationality.
Instead of this disastrous direct intervention in the background, the Lord provides indirect management or assistance in His open revelation of the Word. This allows us to be informed in genuine truths about Him, and thereby to reject the falsities of truths we invent in the natural mind. Spiritual truth cannot be discovered like natural truth. This is a Divine Law of Providence (AC 6047 , INV 22, SE 4131). All genuine spiritual truth must come to us from the Lord into the external natural mind, by means of the written revelations of His Word. When we accept genuine revelation as Divine truth, we are allowing the Lord to create our spiritual-rational mind, the mind we must have to live in heaven.
By Adam, or man, and by Eve his wife, was there meant a new church, and by the eating of the tree of knowledge, the fall of that church from good to truth, consequently from love to the Lord and toward the neighbor to faith without these loves, and this by reasoning from their own intellectual, which reasoning is the serpent (AC 8891).
American intellectual climate we live in exposes nearly everyone to ideas of nonduality.
Some are imported from Eastern religions and philosophical systems, some are
Western in tradition and contemporary formulation. And some are indigenous to
Every one after death is immediately bound to his like, the good to their like in heaven, but the evil to their like in hell (LJ 69)
The power that governs all loves is called conjugial love, and it is based on the permanent and absolute distinction between a man and a woman (CL 44). It would be instantly destroyed by any switching around of sexual identity (to use a modern phrase), and so the duality of man and woman cannot be turned into a nonduality or a continuum of masculinity-femininity. Eastern nonduality is the opposite view that all distinctions are illusory, temporary, unreal, and to be transcended. Self=God, man=woman, individual=Divine, material world=spiritual world, corporeal=spiritual, energy=God, evil=good, angel=man, and so on. You can see that some of these equations are imported from the East, but others are indigenous to the West, as for example the idea in materialistic science of human sexuality as a continuum on a masculinity-femininity scale. Nonduality is a property of the natural mind and acts against all spiritual-rational concepts of duality. Nonduality is a corporeal-sensuous style of reasoning that looks outward and downward in the spiritual mind, seeing a continuity of degree between everything conceivable. This is why nonduality is also in science, where it is called materialistic monism (i.e., “only the natural world exists”).
Another reason that the natural mind reacts against the spiritual mind is that the natural mind consists not only of substances of the spiritual world but also of substances of the natural world, as was said above (n. 257), and substances of the natural world from their very nature react against the substances of the spiritual world. For substances of the natural world are in themselves dead, and are acted upon from without by substances of the spiritual world. And substances which are dead, and are acted upon from without, resist from their own nature, and thus from their nature react. From these considerations it can be established that the natural man reacts against the spiritual man, and that there is a conflict. It is the same thing whether it is said the natural and spiritual man, or the natural and spiritual mind. (DLW 260)
If any idea
of nonduality were to be confirmed in the
is a natural consequence of the natural mind. Rational nondualities abound in
modern science and in humanistic philosophy and psychology. The
natural-rational mind is a modern development needed for the build up of the spiritual-rational
mind. But its initial or unreformed state, is opposed to spiritual-rational
ideas to the extent that we have confirmed in our mind the theory of nonduality
of existence, that is, believing that the natural can exist by itself, without the
spiritual or God. This belief may be around in society and culture, but it is
not necessary to confirm it and believe in it within our interior mind where we
are free to believe whatever we want. If we do not confirm the ideas of
nonduality we remain open to believing spiritual truths from the Word, that are
not accessible to the natural mind. This belief opens up the spiritual mind,
and we for the first time begin to live like a genuine human. The genuine human
only begins in the spiritual-rational mind. Everything below it in the natural-rational
mind, the sensuous mind, and the corporeal mind, is not genuine human, but
animal (xx). Our natural mind is superior to animals in language and thinking
power, but this is merely a continuum of superiority in physiology and
functioning. The human begins with the spiritual rational at reformation in adult
life. Only the spiritual mind is human, and we are born with the capacity to
become genuinely human and to have our spiritual mind opened in adult life. The
spiritual-rational mind can be opened only by revealed truths from the heaven
from the Lord. This is also why the
Nonduality permeates our modern culture and is a dictating force in politics, entertainment, recreation, education, science, the arts, man-woman relations, and articulated or fashionable lifestyles. Eastern nonduality did not create nonduality in the Western mind. Rather, the enormous appetite of modernism for nonduality in Western cultures, have created a mental marketplace for the imported ideas from the culturally rich fabric of Eastern religions and philosophies, and their physical and mental disciplines and arts. The imported nonduality mixes around with the indigenous nonduality with the result that we are surrounded by a culturally rich web that enters into our mind from everywhere--into public life, mental health practices, group and individual therapy, popular followings, professional ethics, morality in relationships, and lifestyle choices relating to health, physical programs, and “spirituality.” Thus, nonduality in our mind is a significant presence that must be dealt with first when we start our reformation in adult life.
One who knows nothing about discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height, can know nothing about the state of man as regards his reformation and regeneration, which are effected through the reception of love and wisdom of the Lord, and then through the opening of the interior degrees of his mind in their order. Nor can he know anything about influx from the Lord through the heavens nor anything about the order into which he was created. For if anyone thinks about these, not from discrete degrees or degrees of height but from continuous degrees or degrees of breadth, he is not able to perceive anything about them from causes, but only from effects; and to see from effects only is to see from fallacies, from which come errors, one after another; and these may be so multiplied by inductions that at length enormous falsities are called truths. (DLW 187)
You can see
then that nonduality is the mind we have when we begin our reformation and
prior to being on the road to regeneration. The
imported element of nonduality were to be admitted and confirmed in the
When we try
to write down the spiritual insight that came in the application, we can do so,
but when we read it in another state of mind, we only see something natural in
it, and we may even believe that this natural that we see, is spiritual. But it
is not. The spiritual-rational only functions in the spiritual mind, and the
spiritual mind is closed when we fall back into a natural state. We need many
years of constant spiritual discipline to be able to remain steadfastly in a
state of mind where we are consciously living from the spiritual mind through
the natural, and not merely from the natural (see Volume 3 for spiritual
disciplines). In the unregenerate state of mind the natural mind is turned
downward towards earth, but at reformation, the natural mind is turned around,
and now faces heaven (xx). When the natural mind faces heaven, it faces the
spiritual mind, and it obeys. Prior to that, it does what it pleases from
itself, and thus, it slides easily into hell. The turning around of the natural mind is effected at reformation by
means of rational analysis of everything in our mind, comparing each element
with the truths of the Writings that we study and endeavor to understand
rationally. All that is needed a this point to make the process effective,
is to apply it to our daily willing and thinking. This application gives birth
to the spiritual mind and opens it for continued growth. By the end of
reformation, everything in the
A constant and effective mental vigilance is therefore necessary in order to manage our willing and thinking moment by moment every day. This orientation is fully efficacious against the spiritual invasion of “strange fires” in the surrounding ocean of cultural and scientific nonduality. Constant self-witnessing is also an efficacious mental management technique that gives us the ability to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration (BE 69, TCR 615, 577). I discuss this in Volume 3 under the topic of spiritual disciplines that we can use for the conscious self-management of our daily activities. Since this is the very arena of our regeneration it is crucial that we make use of available techniques the Lord puts at our disposal. I will show that the numerous resistances we experience in our daily regeneration efforts, stem from ideas of nonduality, either imported or indigenous. Rational analysis of our ideas that is informed by the Writings, creates dualities to replace every form of nonduality in the mind.
important to understand in detail, not just in general, what danger nonduality
poses to the
A persuasion of falsity extinguishes and as it were suffocates everything spiritual and celestial; as everyone may know from much experience, if he pays attention. They who have once conceived opinions, though most false, cling to them so obstinately that they are not even willing to hear anything that is contrary to them; so that they never suffer themselves to be informed, even if the truth be placed before their eyes. (AC 806)
All nonduality concepts have at their core nonduality. Search if you like and see if you can find one that is not so marked from within. Every nonduality concept is opposed to our mind because it contradicts the duality concepts that we have from the Writings.
Chapter 1, Section 2
I became aware of the dangers that nonduality might pose to the New Church mind when I was recently asked to comment on a brief article by Wilson Van Dusen titled “The Highest Insight in Hinduism and in Swedenborg” (first published in the Messenger June 2001; reprinted in ISI News, Newsletter of Information Swedenborg, March 2002, issue 54, pp. 8-9). It was about nonduality and introduces the issue as follows: (discussed further in Chapter 2 Section 1)
Hinduism's advaita vedanta or non-dual theology, probably represents the highest mystical insight possible. It is the insight that ultimately only God exists. My friends know that I regard Swedenborg's mystical revelations as the greatest ever. We can then ask the question, Can we also find non-dualism in Swedenborg? The answer is a resounding yes. The highest revelation of Hinduism is also in Swedenborg's revelations even though the two traditions had no contact.
In order to understand what this article is saying in relation to Swedenborg I needed to research how Hindu nonduality exists in the ideas of Americans today. Searching for nonduality sites on the World Wide Web yielded a large quantity and diversity of information on contemporary formulations of traditional definitions. I then went back to Dr. Van Dusen’s article and felt surprised at the opening claim, quoted above. How can nonduality be compatible with the Writings when every concept I know from the Writings is grounded in permanent and absolute dualism: God/creation; love/wisdom, heaven/hell; create/uncreate; natural/spiritual; spiritual/celestial; regenerating/unregenerate; good/evil; truth/falsity; Father/Son, Esse/Existere; infinite/finite; will/understanding; and so on. Nonduality would deny that these distinctions are absolute and a permanent feature of reality. As we read in the Writings:
Good exists from creation, and it varies in degree from the highest to the lowest. When its lowest degree reaches zero, evil arises on the other side. So there is no relationship or progress of good to evil, but it relates and progresses to what is more or less good. Evil relates and progresses to what is more or is less evil, because these are opposites in every single detail. (CL 444)
therefore an inherent clash in the
1. Evil and good cannot exist together in man's interiors; and consequently neither can the falsity of evil and the truth of good.
2. Good and the truth of good can be introduced by the Lord into man's interiors only so far as the evil and the falsity of evil there have been removed.
3. If good with its truth were introduced there before or in a greater measure than evil with its falsity is removed, man would depart from good and return to his evil. (DP 232)
Chapter 1, Section 3
is opposed to the definition of reality given by dualism because nondualism
asserts the contrary view that all dualities stem from a temporary illusion
created by the mind, which itself is an illusion created by its many
attachments to temporary things. And so, when the individual awakens from this
illusion (maya) all dualities drop off, leaving behind nonduality as the only
reality called God (Brahman). Nondualism urges that every individual mind
awaken from this illusion created by the unreal self (atman), and when all attachments
drop off and the self is emptied, there remains the only Reality (Brahman).
This is the basis and foundation stone of religious and philosophic nonduality.
Every other concept derived from this defining proposition must also be
congruent with nonduality. Therefore not a single concept in nonduality can be
similar in meaning to any concept in the Writings where dualism permeates every
concept to its core assumptions and implications. To attempt to commingle the
two by arguing for similarities leads to a clash of doctrine in the
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) (AC 5886)
This confirms what has been stated in the Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church in its universal and in its particular form, at the beginning of this work, namely, "The Lord came into the world to remove Hell from man, and He did remove it by means of combats with it and victories over it, thereby subduing it and reducing it to obedience to Himself." And further, "Jehovah God came down and took upon Him the Human for the purpose of reducing to order all things in heaven and all things in the church; because at that time the power of the devil, that is, of hell, prevailed over the power of heaven, and upon earth the power of evil over that of good and in consequence a total damnation stood threatening at the door. This impending damnation Jehovah God removed by means of His Human, thus redeeming angels and men. From this it is clear that without the Lord's coming no one could have been saved. It is the same today; and therefore without the Lord's coming again into the world no one can be saved" (see above, n. 2, 3). (TCR 121)
by the Writings, the
all truths - not only the general ones but also the particular, and indeed the most specific - must in heaven have been arranged into that order so that one truth relates to another within a form like that in which the members, organs, and viscera of the human body relate to one another. That is, their uses relate to one another in general, also in particular, as well as most specifically, and act so as to be a single whole. … When therefore truths have been arranged into an order like that into which heaven is arranged they exist in heavenly order and are able to enter good. Truths and goods exist in such order with every angel, and they are also being arranged into such order with every person who is being regenerated. (AC 4302)
Eastern and Western nonduality forever strives to empty itself of the rational order into which the celestial mind is arranged from creation (AC 5113). It grounds itself in corporeal and experiential things instead. Its religious life of discipline is in physical and mental disciplines accompanied by prescribed physical exercises and communal chanting or rituals of initiation. These are traditions that were established long before the religious civilization initiated in the West by the First Coming. From the perspective of the New Church mind the highest content it can find in the mental exercises (often called “meditation”) consist in sensuous visions and corporeal metaphors of spiritual ideas like God, heaven, sacred objects, forms of energy, action at a distance, merging into the all, divine vibration, mystical union, transcendental, universal spirit, and many such things, all of which are below the rational in the New Church mind. This is also true of all forms of nonduality including Western and scientific sources. It is one thing to think about God in a natural way, and another to think from God in a spiritual way (DP 142). To think about spiritual things in a natural way means to think of them only in metaphors.
From the point of view of the Writings, natural metaphors have no spiritual-rational content except as correspondences of each other. The knowledge of the correspondences is natural, but from them one can be introduced to spiritual meanings (AC 9280). The spiritual cannot be seen in the lower portions of the natural mind, but starts to be seen above the corporeal and above the sensuous, in the external rational region of the natural mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Below this, there is no spiritual content because no rational. Correspondences are rational only to the extent that they are understood from the idea of discrete degrees between the natural and the spiritual (D. Wis. 2). This alone is rational. Any form of nonduality cannot rise to the rational level, but sinks down to the material. Material ideas cannot be spiritually rational because they deny what is not natural. Scientific theories that assume materialism are based on material concepts or natural-rational reasonings. They reject or spew out whatever idea that is not natural. These natural things of the mind that that are the highest in nonduality, correspond to the lowest spiritual level, and is compared in the Writings to "the intestines" (AC 10030).
as a religious and philosophic discipline leads to the notion that the control
of the body and the corporeal mind, is a way to spiritual things. There is no
requirement for the rational to be initiated and developed. The spiritual is
said to develop when these physical exercises and mental feats are performed.
Hence the focus and emphasis on corporeal and mental disciplines, martial arts,
initiation rituals, and diet. It is taught that spiritual “energy” issues from
the body in particular places identified as “chakras.” Also, that performing
well practiced physical movements of a certain style help the practitioner to
become “one with the flow, one with nature.” This sensation of integration is
by itself considered as the spiritual attainment. It’s a spirituality that is
emptied of any rational content in contrast to
Chapter 1, Section 4
 The human rational - that is to say, the rational formed from images of worldly things received through the senses, and later on from images of things analogous to actual worldly ones, such as are received from factual knowledge and from cognitions - virtually laughs or mocks if it is told that it does not live of itself but only appears to itself to do so. It likewise laughs if it is told that the less anyone believes that he lives of himself, the more he is truly living, that is, the more wise and intelligent he is, and the more blessed and happy. And it also laughs if it is told that that life is the life which angels possess, especially those who are celestial and are inmost or nearest to the Lord; for these know that nobody except Jehovah alone, that is, the Lord, lives of himself.
 This rational would also mock if it were told that it has nothing of its own, and that its possessing anything of its own is an illusion or an appearance. Still more would it mock if it were told that the more it is subject to the illusion that it possesses anything of its own the less it in fact possesses, and vice versa. It would likewise mock if it were told that whatever it thinks and does from what is its own is evil, even though it was good [in its effect], and if it were told that it has no wisdom until it believes and perceives that all evil comes from hell and all good from the Lord. This is a conviction, indeed a perception, that exists in all angels, yet they possess selfhood or a proprium in fuller measure than all others. But they realize and perceive that their selfhood comes from the Lord, even though it seems to be completely their own.
 This rational would again mock if it were told that in heaven the greatest are those who are least; that the wisest are those who believe and perceive that they themselves are the least wise; that the happiest are those who wish the greatest happiness to others and the least to themselves; that heaven consists in wishing to be below everyone else, but hell in wishing to be above everyone else; and that consequently the glory of heaven does not hold within it anything at all of that which the glory of the world holds.
 This rational would similarly mock if it were told that in the next life space and time do not exist at all but states in accordance with which there are appearances of space and time, and that life becomes more heavenly the further removed it is from the things that belong to space and time and the closer it comes to that which is eternal - for that which is eternal has absolutely nothing within it that is received from the notion of time or anything analogous to it. In the same way would the rational mock at countless other things it could be told.
 The Lord saw that such things were present in the merely human rational and that this rational therefore mocked Divine things. He did so from the Divine spiritual, which is meant by the words 'Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian', 2651, 2652. The fact that a person is able from within to have insight into the things residing with him that are below is well known from experience to those who have perception, and also to those who have conscience, for they see clearly enough to reproach themselves for what they think. This exemplifies how regenerate persons are able to see what their rational prior to regeneration is like. In man's case however such perception is received from the Lord, but in the Lord's case it was Self-derived. (AC 2654)
Writings reveal that the
In contrast, the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament text in a more rational, abstract, and spiritual way. The New Testament introduces external rational concepts that can serve as vessels for containing genuine spiritual-rational ideas, not mere natural representatives of spiritual ideas (NJHD 51; AC 3508). The representations in themselves are not spiritual just as the literal sentences of the Word are not spiritual, but only the spiritual correspondences to which the literal represented.
Truth Divine is not received by anyone unless it has been accommodated to his apprehension, consequently unless it appears in a natural form and shape; for at first human minds apprehend none but earthly and worldly things, and not at all spiritual and heavenly things. Wherefore if spiritual and heavenly things were set forth nakedly, they would be rejected as if they were nothing, (AC 8783)
reading the Word without at the same time thinking of the spiritual meaning in
the sentences has then read nothing spiritual (AC 9280). Further, the content
of the spiritual meaning one thinks of must be revealed truths about God,
heaven, sin, love, faith, and regeneration. This process of rational analysis
is a necessary step for applying the rational rules of correspondence that have
been revealed. Without this rational
application, the faith of one’s religion, including the
The Christian mind prior to the Second Coming in the eighteenth century could not be regenerated from natural to spiritual by means of the ideas it obtained from the literal text of the New Testament. Christians who passed into the spiritual world between the First and Second Coming, were kept “in waiting” in the spiritual world, until such time as the Writings were completed. They then were instructed in the new spiritual-rational revelations, and by means of these in their understanding, they were at last admitted to heaven (TCR 115). All those who were willing to receive the Heavenly Doctrine were made part of the New Heavens of the Second Coming (TCR 1)
Because it is here said, "until the words of God are consummated," it shall also be told what is signified by the Lord's last words to the disciples, which are these:
Go ye and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all the days, even until the consummation of the age. Amen (Matt. 28:19-20).
"Until the consummation of the age" is until the end of the church (n. 658); and then, if they do not go to the Lord Himself, and live according to His commandments, they are left by the Lord; and being left by the Lord they become like pagans, who have no religion; and then the Lord is with those only, who will be of His New Church. These things are signified by "until the words of God are consummated," and by "even until the consummation of the age." (AR 750)
But before the Lord’s Second Coming, Christians were not able to be constituted into a new heaven because unable to receive spiritual-rational truths about the Divine Human. During the First Advent, the Lord was reticent to multiply miracles because this strengthens corporeal spirituality and weakens rational spirituality. Since the Second Advent no miracles are allowed (AC 7290). The Lord on earth frequently taught abstract and rational ideas, encouraging, challenging, sometimes teasing, the disciples to prompt them to think more abstractedly and rationally about Him, heaven, and regeneration. But these rational vessels were not yet dualist enough. The Lord was unable to bring to them concepts of absolute dualism, for they were uncomprehending and unwilling. In a matter of a few generations even these few and obscure rational concepts were diverted and turned downward towards many forms of heretical nondualities that prevent regeneration in confirmed believers. When confirmed believers of Christian nonduality arrive in the afterlife they are unwilling to be instructed in the dualities of the Heavenly Doctrine (AC 2329, 5256, 10736-10738, 10821; TCR 821; SE 408; HH 321). Thus they cannot be saved.
More gentiles are saved than Christians. For people who have thought what is good in regard to their neighbour and have willed for him that which is good accept the truths of faith in the next life more readily than those who called themselves Christians; and they acknowledge the Lord more than Christians do. (AC 2284)
The interiors cannot be so closed up with the heathen as with Christians (n. 9256). Neither can so thick a cloud exist with the heathen who live in mutual charity in accordance with their religion as with Christians who live in no charity; the reasons (n. 1059, 9256). (HH 321)
A principal example given in the Writings, is the idea implanted by allegiance to the Nicene Creed (325 AD onward) of a “Son from Eternity” which created a nonduality between “Three Divine Persons” being of “one substance” and formed into one “Godhead.” (TCR 174, CAN 43) This idea was called a “mystery” and it replaced the Father/Son duality that the Lord taught to the disciples, which was “the Son born in time” and “the Father from Eternity” and not, “the Son from Eternity in the One Godhead” and “the Father from Eternity in the One Godhead.” The generations following the apostles were unable to understand the Incarnation of the Father Himself in the external form of the Son born in time. The Divinity of “the Son born in time” within whom was God the Father Himself, could not be understood and believed, until the generations were prepared by rational science and philosophy to understand more abstract dualist concepts in discrete degrees. The Lord could say to them “The Father is in Me” but they could not but take this description in the natural sense. At this level of thinking, it is not possible to see an identity of Personhood between Father and Son. Therefore the mind is thrown back to the idea of “Two Divine Persons in One Godhead.” The only other option is that the Father is Divine while the Son is human—the “Arian heresy” that the Nicene Creed was designed to defeat. In the Writings these are also called “Socinian spirits” (DP 231; TCR 94, 380, AR 0, LJ 38).
At last, in
the Writings of the Second Coming, the Lord has brought humankind the gift of spiritual-rational
ideas that are fully suitable for being infilled by the celestial ideas of the
angels. The literal explanations of the Writings are first received in the
external rational of the natural mind. This in itself is not spiritual but is
well suited for the construction of rational “vessels” that can be infilled by
spiritual-rational truths from the Lord through heaven (AC 9280, 8783, 3508).
This infilling is the opening of our spiritual mind. It is the one and only way
Cognitions are vessels for receiving good and truth entering in from the rational. The way in which the vessels receive and the amount they receive determine the nature of their enlightenment and how far they are enlightened. Vessels which receive good and truth from the rational are the truths themselves belonging to the natural, which are no more than facts, cognitions, and matters of doctrine. From the order according to which they flow in and from the order which exists among them there they become goods. This is the origin of the good of the natural. (AC 3508)
The absolute duality of every concept in the Writings rests on the revealed existence of discrete degrees of separation between levels of creation, and therefore, between the levels in the mind.
These levels in the mind can never touch each other or be in the same sphere—they can only communicate by spiritual-rational correspondence. The natural level which includes the sensual and corporeal, is the lowest region or outmost level of the natural mind. It is closest to the body senses and identifies itself with the physical environment. The physical environment and the body are material, but the natural mind is natural-spiritual. The highest portion of the natural mind is called the external rational, which is therefore natural-spiritual, not yet spiritual-rational or celestial (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). The spiritual itself cannot exist in the external rational because it is in a discrete degree above it. The spiritual mind has its rational which is called the interior rational or the spiritual-rational, not from the natural world, but only and exclusively from the spiritual world by means of influx from the Lord through heaven (AC 9280, LJ 10).
The existence of these three degrees in people can be seen from the elevation of a person's mind even to the degrees of love and wisdom possessed by angels of the second and third heavens. For all angels were born people, and a person is, in respect to the interior elements which are those of his mind, a heaven in miniature form. Consequently there are from creation as many degrees of height in a person as there are heavens. The human being is furthermore an image and likeness of God, and these three degrees are therefore engraved on a person because they exist in the human God, which is to say, in the Lord. (DLW 231)
The angels with each person inflow into the individual’s spiritual mind by means of spiritual-rational truths. This inflow is proportional to the extent to which the individual thinks and wills daily in conformity to the external rational truths they understand. The more the angels inflow with spiritual-rational truths, the more we are regenerated, the more we become spiritual-rational and sane and wise. In this way, we are prepared for heaven, which is living in the highest level of the mind called the celestial degree. This level is constructed of interior rational truths that are an image of the Lord’s Divine Rational order in the universe. Duality is the only reality because all things in the Divine Rational are arranged into discrete order.
Chapter 1, Section 5
The difference between natural, spiritual and celestial things is such that there is no proportional relation between them. Therefore natural things cannot in any way by any approximation approach in likeness spiritual things, nor spiritual things celestial things. That is why the heavens are distinct. I have been given to know this from much experience. Again and again I have been conveyed into the company of spiritual angels, and I then spoke with them in their spiritual way of speaking, and what I said I then made a point of remembering. When I returned into my natural state-the state every person in the world is in-I then tried to recall what I had said from my earlier remembrance and write it down, but I could not. It was impossible. No words were to be found and not even any mental concepts by which to express it. The spiritual mental concepts and words were so removed from natural mental concepts and words that there was not the least approximation. Surprisingly, when I was in that heaven and spoke with angels, I then knew no other than that I was speaking in the same way that I speak with people here. But afterward I found out that the thoughts and speech were so dissimilar that the one could not approximate the other, consequently that they have proportional relation.
 There is a similar difference between spiritual and celestial things.
(De Verbo 3)
It is therefore very important to distinguish between the external rational of the natural mind and the interior rational of the spiritual mind, as discussed before. These two rational levels of the human mind are in discrete degrees (DP 154, TCR 564; AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Nothing of the spiritual can exist in the natural, but only within the natural by correspondence of discrete degrees. There is no continuity between the external rational and the interior rational (or spiritual-rational), because one is in the natural mind and the other in the spiritual mind. This means that it is not possible to keep increasing the natural-rational (or natural-spiritual) and eventually arrive at the interior rational (or spiritual-rational). In the New Church mind regeneration is going on when the external rational is turned around by our rearranging all its concepts and affections to be in conformity and obedience to the literal sentences we take up from the Writings into our understanding where it is called “the Doctrine of the Church” (NJHD 257). This is the process of being reformed and regenerated. From birth and heredity, the external rational of the natural mind is arranged according to the world and nature—thus in the appearances of nonduality:
Human rational truth does not apprehend Divine things, because these are above the sphere of its understanding, for this truth communicates with the memory-knowledges which are in the natural man, and in so far as it looks from these at the things which are above itself, so far it does not acknowledge them. For this truth is in appearances, which it is not able to put off; and appearances are born from sensuous things, which induce a belief as if Divine things themselves also were of a like nature, when yet these are exempt from all appearances, and when they are stated, this rational truth cannot possibly believe them, because it cannot apprehend them.
 If for example it is stated that man has no life except what is from the Lord, the rational supposes from appearances that in that case man cannot live as of himself; whereas he for the first time truly lives when he perceives that he does so from the Lord.
 The rational supposes from appearances that the good which man does is from himself, and yet there is nothing of good from self, but all is from the Lord.
 From appearances the rational supposes that man merits salvation when he does what is good; whereas of himself man can merit nothing, but all merit is the Lord's.
 From appearances man supposes that when he is withheld from evil and is kept in good by the Lord, there is nothing with him but what is good and just, nay, holy; whereas there is nothing in man but what is evil, unjust, and profane.
 From appearances man supposes that when he does what is good from charity, he does it from his will; whereas it is not from his will part, but from his intellectual part, in which charity has been implanted.
 From appearances man supposes that there can be no glory without the glory of the world; whereas in the glory of heaven there is not a particle of the world's glory.
 From appearances man supposes that no one can love his neighbor more than himself, but that all love begins from self; when yet in heavenly love there is nothing of the love of self.
 From appearances man supposes that there can be no light but that which is from the light of the world; whereas in the heavens there is not one whit of the light of the world, and yet the light is so great that it surpasses the world's day light a thousand times.
 From appearances man supposes that the Lord cannot shine before the universal heaven as a sun; when yet all the light of heaven is from Him.
 From appearances man cannot apprehend that in the other life there are motions forward; whereas those who are there appear to themselves to move forward just as do men on earth-in their dwellings, courts, and paradises; and still less can he apprehend if it is said that these moving forward are changes of state, which so appear.
 Nor can man from appearances apprehend that spirits and angels, who are invisible before our eyes, can be seen; nor that they can speak with man; when yet they appear to the internal sight, or that of the spirit, more manifestly than man does to man on earth; and their voices are heard as distinctly; besides thousands of thousands of such things, which man's rational, from its own light, born from things of sense, and thereby darkened, cannot possibly believe. Nay, the rational is blinded in natural things themselves, not being able to apprehend, for instance, how those who dwell on the opposite side of the globe can stand on their feet and walk; and it is the same with very many other things. How blind then must the rational not be in spiritual and heavenly things, which are far above natural things? (AC 2196)
You can see from this list that nonduality is according to appearances and the rational thinking of the external mind is not capable of believing contrary to the sensuous appearances of its life and reasoning. This is why revelation is necessary! Because from revelation the rational mind that has been formed to look only outward to the world of the sensuous body, can turn itself around and face upward to the spiritual world which enters through the interior-rational mind, and not through the external rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Therefore the source of all rational-spiritual concepts we can know is from revelation in the Writings. Those who deny and reject revelation are therefore trapped at the level of thinking of their external rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14).
The devil's hatred is against spiritual truths and goods, because merely natural truths and goods are the direct opposites of these, for merely natural truths and goods are in their essence falsities and evils, although to those who are merely natural and sensual they appear to be truths and goods (AE 754).
All ideas and affections in the external rational mind which have not been reformed, are opposed to all ideas we have from the Doctrine of the Church in our mind. When we read the Writings as Divine Truth, we acquire in our conscious mind heavenly concepts that function as external vessels suitable for being infilled with spiritual-rational truths inflowing from the spiritual world through heaven as we read the Writings (AC 9280, 3508). This infilling is proportional to the extent that our daily willing and thinking is made to conform to the Doctrine of the Church which is in our understanding.
Regarding thoughts: All the thoughts of people, including each single idea in them, involve conceptions drawn from space, time, person, or material-things that appear in natural light or the light of the world. For no one can think anything apart from light, just as nothing can be seen without light. And natural light or the light of the world is lifeless, being from the sun of the world, which is nothing but fire. Nevertheless, the light of heaven flows into that light everywhere and continually, giving it life and making possible the perception and understanding of things. The light of the world by itself cannot impart any perceptive or intellectual ability or confer any natural or rational sight, but it does so from the light of heaven, because the light of heaven comes from the sun of heaven, which is the Lord and so is life itself.
The influx of the light of heaven into the light of the world is like the influx of a cause into its effect-the nature of which will be explained elsewhere. It is apparent from this what natural thought is like, or ideas of thought in people, namely, that they are inseparably bound up with notions of space, time, personality and material. Because of this, those thoughts or ideas of thought are very limited and restricted, and so are crude, and must be called material. (De Verbo 3:6)
There are also in our natural self reasonings that are grounded in falsities impressed from infancy. Moreover, we apprehend by manifest sense what is in our natural self, but not so what is in our rational, until we have put off the body. This also causes us to believe the body to be every thing; and all that does not fall into the natural sense, we scarcely believe to be anything.
From such causes and many others, it results that we receive truths in the natural self much later, and with greater difficulty, than our reception of truth in our rational self. Hence arises combat, which continues for a considerable time, not ceasing until the vessels recipient of good in our natural part have been softened by temptations, as before shown …; for truths are nothing but vessels recipient of good …, which vessels are harder in proportion as we are more fixedly confirmed in the things which have been mentioned; and if we are to be regenerated, the more fixedly we have been confirmed, the more grievous is the combat. (AC 3321:3)
Concepts of nonduality can only enter the natural mind since they are devoid of spiritual-rational content. (How this is will be shown in the Sections below.) There they act by persuasive pressures that strive to oppose the rearrangement of the external rational ideas into absolute dualities from the Writings. These absolute dualities are at first only in our external rational mind as we read the literal of the Writings. There is nothing spiritual in itself about our memory-knowledges from the Writings (AC 9280, 8783). Yet these memory-knowledges are necessary as vessels (or cognitive constructs) which can be infilled through correspondence by the spiritual ideas from the angels that are with us. They cannot inflow except into rational concepts in our mind from the literal text of the Writings.
It will also be briefly stated how the Lord casts out lusts of evil, which beset the internal man from birth, and how He bestows in their place affections of good when a man as of himself removes evils as sins. It was shown before that man has a natural mind, a spiritual mind and a celestial mind; and that he is in the natural mind alone, as long as he is in the lusts of evil and their delight; and that during this time the spiritual mind is closed. But as soon as he, after self-examination, acknowledges evils to be sins against God because they are contrary to Divine laws, and therefore desires to desist from them, the Lord opens the spiritual mind, and enters into the natural mind through affections for truth and good; and He also enters into the rational, and from it disposes in order the things that are contrary to order below it in the natural. (DP 147)
angels understand the Heavenly Doctrines spiritually (in their interior
rational mind), while we understand the Writings naturally (in our external
rational mind). Only if we have formed these external rational vessels can the
interior rational ideas inflow by correspondence. Hence it is that we cannot be
regenerated unless we fill our external rational mind with concepts and
reasonings from the Writings. For the
We don’t want oppositional concepts or loyalties in our natural mind. Least of all do we want them in our external rational which is the highest level of our natural mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). That level must be filtered and purified to make sure that only concepts of duality from the Writings are there as vessels waiting to be infilled by spiritual ideas. This filtering and purification process is not possible through censorship, sectarianism, or dogmatism. It is only possible through rational analysis and freedom of thought. Hence the importance of studying the Writings so that we have available in our mind, its concepts or ideas, its reasoning process, and all its related affections.
Corporeal spirituality, which may also be called spirituality of the intestines (AC 10030), is the natural-spiritual level of the mind that identifies with the material body since it is built up by the sensations from the body’s interaction with the physical world. This is why their location is in the natural mind (DLW 257, AE 577). The natural mind is below the spiritual-rational level where genuine spirituality can exist, which is called spirituality of the chest (AC 10030). The natural-spiritual mind and the rational-spiritual mind are created into discrete degrees and cannot interact except by correspondences. (D. Wis. 2) Rational spirituality is formed only by the inner sensory organs of the will and understanding, and these spiritual organs are fed by the spiritual Sun and its world of events and modifications (DP.166). Corporeal spirituality is formed only by the outer physical senses which are fed by the material world through the body. The mind in the spiritual world interacts with the body in the natural world only by correspondences because the two are created into discrete degrees (DP 166; D. Wis. 2).
Writings define the spiritual as only that which is rational, while everything that is below
this level is not spiritual but natural, corporeal, and sensuous from the
natural world (AC 4667). The human begins with the spiritual- rational,
a discrete degree above the natural mind, which in itself is animal or
sub-human (AC 2196, 3570). Meditation, chanting, and initiations are not
considered spiritual activities for the
The pleasures that are in the bodily or outermost things of man have their origin in delights that are successively more and more interior. The delights that are perceived in those outermost or bodily things are relatively vile, for it is the nature of all delight to become more vile in proportion as it progresses toward the externals, and more happy in proportion as it advances toward the internals. For this reason, as before said, in proportion as the externals are stripped off, or rolled away, the delights become more pleasant and happy, as may be evident enough from man's delight in pleasures being vile while he lives in the body, in comparison with his delight after the life of the body, when he comes into the world of spirits; so vile indeed that good spirits utterly spurn the delights of the body, nor would they return to them if all in the whole world should be given them. (AC 996)
communication between the interior and the exterior occurs with the highest
level of the natural mind called the external rational mind (AC 978,
4286; AE 355:14). The ideas we have at this level are suitable “vessels” into
which the spiritual ideas can descend, but not descend directly but only in
correspondential interaction. The natural conscious understanding of what is
spiritual and celestial is achieved when we acquire external rational concepts
that are suitable for reacting correspondentially to spiritual-rational ideas
that we receive into our spiritual mind while reading the Writings and applying
its truths to life. This is how the spirituality of the
When man becomes internal and is instructed about internal things, external ones are of no account to him. He then knows what the holy is, namely, charity and the faith therefrom. According to these are his external things then regarded, that is to say, according to the amount of charity and faith in the Lord there is in them. Since the coming of the Lord, therefore, man is not regarded in heaven from external things, but from internal ones. And if anyone is regarded from external things it is because he is in simplicity, and in his simplicity there are innocence and charity, which are in his external things, that is, in his external worship, from the Lord, without the man's knowledge. (AC 1003)
The power to be regenerated starts with consciously thinking about rational issues and living according to them. At first, this rational is not yet a spiritual-rational but something representing it in the natural mind. This natural-rational can be infilled with a spiritual-natural such as the ideas found in the New Testament. The Lord frequently brought up puzzling issues that encouraged the disciples to be analytic and rational:
Before you can be saved you must born again (John 3:4)
The Father and I are one (John , John )
The Son of Man sows the good seed (Matthew )
Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)
before Abraham was born, I am! (John 8:58)
All that is in the Old Testament is about the Christ (Luke 24:27)
In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1)
John the Baptist is the Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14)
Let the man who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7)
The kingdom of heaven is made of such as the children (Matthew 18:3)
I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)
What shall we say the
And many more…
rational is crucial to the
The Lord loves man, and from love wills that he may be happy forever, and man cannot become happy except by a life according to His commandments, because by means of these a man is regenerated and becomes spiritual, and in this way can be raised into heaven. (AC 10578)
This is the burning passionate spirituality of the human rational by which the individual becomes fit for receiving Divine Rational things, which alone are spiritual-rational. These are the holy things by which we are saved and by which we have eternal life. But to nonduality these rational things of salvation are taken as merely illusory attachments to nonexistent things such as good and evil, God and self, prudent and foolish. Is it possible to transfer any idea at all across two systems that are so opposed to each other? Perhaps only by remaining superficial or most general.
Chapter 1, Section 6
There is a
state of the
these comparative interests and ideas can be harmful to the
Some months ago I received an email from someone who came across my article on dualism posted on the Web (see Note 1 at end). He wrote:
I got here by accident. I am interested in Swedenborg. Van Dusen has taught me a lot. I think I started with William James! At present, I am trying to understand more about monism - reading "Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path" - and I think you wrote that you think Swedenborg is a dualist. I want to believe that Swedenborg would be a monist.
Why, I wondered? Such is the subconscious attractiveness many Americans have for nonduality and monism. This love for nonduality is the unconscious desire to annihilate absolute duality in one’s mind and to become more mixed because this appears more balanced and fair to the natural mind—which is the external rational doing the thinking and which leads to corporeal spirituality when applied to spiritual things:
With those who conjoin the truths of the Word to the affection of the love of self, the natural mind also is closed, and only the ultimate of this mind is opened, which is called the sensual, which clings most closely to the body, and stands forth nearest to the world. Thus does man's spirit become corporeal, and then it can have no lot with the angels, who are spiritual. (AE 579)
Duality demands humility—“I am not God and I never can be. I am God’s creation and I’m next to nothing in comparison to God.” Or: “I am evil by nature but God is good. I can be saved by God from my evil nature and I can be good from Him.” The attractiveness of nonduality is the promise it gives of avoiding the suffering of regeneration. With nonduality, people don’t have to face the idea that heaven is only for the good, while hell is for the bad. They don’t have to be responsible for sustaining the idea that salvation is tied to the Word of the Lord and cannot be obtained from “strange fires.” (Lev. 10:1, AC 10244, 934) Nonduality offers the more convenient idea of “Universe as Spirit” or “God as Emptiness.” It is not as personal as the God of Abraham or the Son of God, thus easier to relate to without having to change, and it offers less demands on the self. The Writings reveal that in the afterlife, there is no belief in God in those who in this life annihilated in themselves the idea of God as Person. Without a belief in God as Person they cannot be reformed, regenerated, or saved from hell.
How important it is to have a right idea of God can be seen from the fact that the idea of God forms the inmost element of thought in all who have any religion, for all constituents of religion and all constituents of worship relate to God. And because God is universally and specifically involved in all constituents of religion and worship, therefore without a right idea of God no communication with the heavens is possible. So it is that every nation in the spiritual world is allotted its location in accordance with its idea of God as a person; for in this idea and in no other lies an idea of the Lord. (DLW 13)
introduces in the Western mind a certain peace or quietude that comes from the
idea that we need to be more detached. We don’t have to struggle so hard. We
don’t need to be so desperately always trying to be better or good. There is
the promise of a healthier consciousness, less competitive, less anxious, more
self-confident, even to the point of unshakableness. This introduces a lulling
sense of relaxing the pace of our struggles and of weakening the utmost
determination to reform. Thus it runs contrary to the most important task we
have in this world--to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration, which must
be effected through the long-term accumulation of all those little struggles
daily (BE 69, TCR 615, 577). The good news is that as we advance in our
regeneration, the Lord gives us more and more rest and peace. This is felt from
within and looks down upon the continuing struggles and stress as something far
and distant and ultimately so small. We do not wish for detachment but pray for
the Lord’s will to be done. This peace we have from the Lord is peace indeed,
whereas the lulling nonduality of some good mixed with some evil, is not peace
Chapter 1, Section 7
The universal principle of faith must be in each thing and in all things of it. … The universal principle of faith on man's part is that he should believe in the Lord (TCR 2)
or concept in the Writings contains the fundamental duality, which is here
called “the universal of faith.” In the same way every idea that derives from
nonduality has nonduality as its central core presupposition. Every single idea
of nonduality is therefore antagonistic to any idea from the Writings, which
contains only spiritual-rational ideas. This is because the ideas that derive
from the Writings have dualism as their central core presupposition. Dualist
ideas are rational, spiritual, and celestial (AE 708). Nondualist ideas are
corporeal, sensuous, and natural. By mixing these two in the
nonduality can be compared to two different cognitive trees. The trunk is the
central idea or supposition and all the branch ideas take their root from the
trunk. Every concept therefore will have at its inmost, the core supposition it
springs from. In the system of thought called nonduality, the central core is
the eradication or dissolution of all duality. Any concept in nonduality that
is admitted into the
(Sanskrit) "Dual-nondual; twoness-not twoness." Among the most
important terms in the classification of Hindu philosophies. Dvaita and advaita
define two ends of a vast spectrum.
--dvaita: The doctrine of duality, according to which reality is ultimately composed of two irreducible principles, entities, truths, etc. God and soul, for example, are seen as eternally separate.
--dualistic: Of or relating to duality, concepts, writings, theories which treat dualities (good-and-evil, high-and-low, them-and-us) as fixed, rather than transcendable.
--advaita: The doctrine of nonduality or monism, that reality is ultimately composed of one whole principle, substance or God, with no independent parts. In essence, all is God.
Hinduism's Online Lexicon.
/www.himalayanacademy.com/books/dws/lexicon/d.html (Accessed April 2002)
"Advaita" means "not two," nondual. This is the nature of Reality: it is indivisible. The Self is One. God is One. The Self and God are one and the same. This is Nonduality; this is Advaita.
(Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT) (Maharishi ). Found on the Web at www.satramana.org/sswhoare.htm Accessed April 2002)
present examples from
Second: Good and the truth of good can be introduced by the Lord into man's interiors only so far as the evil and the falsity of evil there have been removed. This is a necessary consequence of what has gone before; for as evil and good cannot exist together good cannot be introduced before evil has been removed. The term man's interiors is used, and by these is meant the internal of thought; and in these, which are now being considered, either the Lord or the devil must be present.
The Lord is there after reformation, but the devil is there before it; therefore, so far as man suffers himself to be reformed the devil is cast out; but so far as he does not suffer himself to be reformed the devil remains. Everyone may see that the Lord cannot enter so long as the devil is there; and he is there so long as man keeps the door closed, where man acts together with the Lord. (DP 232:3)
Writings teach that in the age of the Second Coming, the only way to salvation
is by instruction from the Writings, either in this world or in the afterlife
(TCR 108, DLW 429; AC 1775). Entrance to the New Heavens cannot occur without
acknowledgement and love of the Divine Human (Coronis 1; TCR 2; 121). This is
the beginning and end for the
and truth is from the Lord and remains the Lord’s even when it is in us (DLW
113). This good and truth is Divine and remains absolutely distinct and
separate from anything in us. Because the
Divine is in us we must not conclude that therefore we are Divine! The good
and truth in us from the Divine is accommodated to each individual, and our
use of it for choices is appropriated to us by the Lord. The good and truth
is never ours and we can never become part of it (AC 9338). A permissive and
uncritical attitude for nonduality can insinuate the thought that we are this
good and truth that is in us. And this false notion further insinuates the idea
that we are god. The entire intellectual thrust of nonduality is to have people
accept this identity between self and God. Once this idea gains a foothold in
The following chapters will show how nonduality creates opposition or impediments to our regeneration, hence salvation.
The Lord is present with His Divine good and truth with every person (TCR 580)
Chapter 2, Introduction
The New Age or Buddhist-like oneness blurs distinct discrete degrees between spiritual and natural light, and ends up making man the source of himself. C.S. Lewis had it right: We slide into pantheism when left to ourselves.
And esoteric experiences of channeling is inferior to the
written Word, since such contacts can happen even if the will is intent on
evil. A supernatural experience in any case just fades away, turning people
into fanatics (De Verbo 29-13). The whole cosmos snarls up between Ego and
God--anything but oneness with God! By contrast the Word is better and should
come first (AC 129), and the truths of Nature or experie4nce can then confirm
the Word (cf. SE 5709-5710; AC 2568, 2588). The New Age sees God and nature as
different colored marbles rolling in the same plate: Pick whatever you like.
(Rev. Erik E. Sandstrom, The New Age and the New Church (Part Two). New Church Life, June 2002, 251-260)
One theme resonates clearly in the Writings, reinforced in various ways in every work of Swedenborg. It is that the natural and spiritual worlds are distinct and discontinuous (non-overlapping and of different substance), but relate to each other by the laws of correspondences (D. Wis. 2). The spiritual world is not in time, space, and matter but is constructed of substances from the spiritual Sun. The natural world is in time, space, and matter and is constructed out of physical materials from the natural sun. This is one of the many basic dualities in Swedenborg’s Writings.
The dynamic relation between the spiritual and natural worlds is reciprocal. If God took away the physical world, the spiritual world would also disappear. And vice versa. The created universe is a fundamental duality: spiritual and natural, the two being interdependent, one “within” the other, both necessary to one another’s existence, yet always and forever remaining in different worlds, one natural in time-space, the other, spiritual, outside time and space. These two worlds cannot be the same or similar in a single thing; they are dual in every respect. The spiritual is the cause and the natural is the effect. Without an effect, there is no cause but something potential, imagined, or not yet real. Reality is born or created when cause and effect are brought simultaneously together by correspondence.
It is contradictory to say that nonduality can exist in our mind and not have a negative effect. All things that exist must have a prior cause (DP 157). If nonduality exists, it is an effect caused by a spiritual event to which it is related by correspondence. What has existence must be dual.
What else is there in life except "I will this, and I understand this," or in other words, "I love this, and I think this?" As a man wills what he loves, and thinks what he understands, so all things of the will relate to love, and all things of the understanding to wisdom; and since love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self. (DP 157)
Chapter 2, Section 1
Is it possible that anything in the Writings can be compatible with nonduality? Here is what Van Dusen writes:
I have long suspected Swedenborg's theology was also non-dual, only recently
did I find the real evidence. (…) Swedenborg's theology presents the non-dual
in a kind of illuminating paradox. Divine
God rules all things—this is the cornerstone of Swedenborg’s theology and science. I was surprised to see that this principle can be considered a non-dual position. The obvious duality is pictured by the concepts “God rules” and “all things.” These are in dual reality or status. God creates all things from Himself since there is nothing else from which creation can be constructed (DLW 283). The idea that created things can come out of nothing is shown to be irrational by Swedenborg, who reports that the wise angels who have knowledge far greater than ours, abhor the idea that something can come out of nothing (DLW 82, 283; DP 3). Therefore all things that are created by God exist in a reality that is outside God Himself. Duality is inherent in the idea of creation. Creation has no meaning at all if one removes duality from it. The fact that all things are created from God does not mean that these created things are God, for God and His substance and attributes, are uncreate, having no beginning, while all created things have a beginning, by definition. The distinctness between created things and uncreated is absolute, never to be transcended. Uncreate things include love, truth, and life in infinite variations. Created things include the physical world, the spiritual world, and the human mind. Created things are adjoined to uncreate but never become of one substance.
Further, it is not rational to say that God is the only reality when God creates reality, which is the universe and its order. In order to create reality God must be outside reality. Existence cannot be created from existence or within existence, but only from something prior to it and outside of it. The Writings teach that the Lord created the universe through Divine Truth from the Divine Love in Himself (DLW 290). Divine Truth is called His Existere, and Divine Love is His Esse. The Lord from His Esse created all existence through Divine Truth. From Esse, God can create existence or reality. Esse is prior to reality and is the cause of it. Esse, as source or cause, and existere or creation as effect, are in a dual relationship. One can never become the other and neither can be missing. Nonduality between God and creation is rationally an impossibility.
Everything created must needs be from an Uncreate. What is created is also finite, and the finite can exist only from the Infinite. (DLW 44)
Consider the difference in the Van Dusen quote above between “God rules all things” (an idea attributed to Swedenborg’s system) and “Brahman is the all” (an idea attributed to the Hindu perspective). These two propositions are entirely different in terms of what they assume and imply. The idea that God rules all things is the way Swedenborg phrases the creation duality. God rules all things in existence but not from existence, but from Esse or that which is prior and outside existence. This is the meaning of the Lord’s I AM (John ), or as the Lord calls Himself: I AM THAT I AM (Exodus ). Swedenborg explains that this expression refers to God’s Esse, which is infinite and uncreate, and in which infinite things form a one (DLW 17, 223). From this Esse which is outside and prior to creation and existence, God activates and rules all details in creation. This is a fundamental irrevocable duality.
The sentence “Brahman is the all” is represented as a central feature of nonduality. For example:
The Song of Ribhu: The English Translation of the Tamil Ribhu Gita. Translation
by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy and
Advaita Vedanta, or the Teaching of Nonduality … reveals the utter absence of any differentiation between Atman (the Self) and Brahman. … Advaita (Sanskrit) … teaches the oneness of Brahman … with the human spirit-soul, … and the identity of spirit and matter; also that the divine spirit of the universe is the … all-productive cause of the periodic coming into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe and that this divine cosmic spirit is the ultimate truth and sole reality … All else is maya, in proportion to its distance from the divine source. … It is also regarded as both the efficient and material cause of the visible universe, … the essence from which all beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. The entire phenomenal world of beings, qualities, actions, all manifestations, and so on, is said to be an illusory superimposition on the imperishable substratum, which is Brahman.
(Accessed on the Web in April 2002 at nonduality.com/whatis9.htm .)
It is clear from this description of Brahman that it has no relation to God as described in the Writings. And in fact it is opposed to everything said by Swedenborg about God. There is no “oneness” of God with “the human spirit-soul.” Humans are part of creation and God is not part of creation nor can ever be. God must be outside existence to create existence. God creates all things from His Esse which is the cause of existence. God and created existence form an indissoluble duality. Existence is a perpetual coming forth from God and is recreated moment by moment so that it may subsist (AC 6056).
Love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self.
All good and truth can come from no other source than Good itself and Truth itself. These things are acknowledged by every rational man as soon as they are heard. When it is afterwards stated that everything of the will and the understanding, or everything of love and wisdom, or everything of affection and thought in a man who is led by the Lord, has relation to good and truth, it follows that all that such a man wills and understands, or every activity of his love and wisdom, or of his affection and thought, is from the Lord.
The Writings reveal that the persuasive belief and insanity that self=God led to the extinction of the first human race on earth (AC 5725). This evolutionary event is described in the spiritual meaning of the Flood and the story of Noah in Genesis (AC 553). The last generation of this race is referred to as the “Nephilim.” It is revealed that their persuasion destroyed the human will so that it was no longer possible for that race to be regenerated. The Lord then raised a new race in whom the will and the understanding were separated, and by means of this independent functioning, the subsequent generations were able to be regenerated. The natural correspondence to this new creation of the human mind caused the brain to also be split from birth, the left brain corresponding to the understanding in the mind, the right brain to the will (AC 641, 4052). Henceforth the dire persuasions of nonduality between self and God could be controlled and eliminated by the absolute duality of self and God. The duality is learned in the understanding as a religious motivation, and this is called faith. Afterwards the Lord creates a new will in this faith (AC 5354). This is the mechanism by which we are regenerated today.
idea that self=God, Hindu nonduality includes the notion of a “periodic coming
into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe” (see The Song of
Ribhu quote above). This says that once creation exists, it develops, changes,
and goes through dissolution so that only “Dharma” remains. This notion of the
universe is the opposite of what Swedenborg says about creation or existence,
namely that it is permanent (DLW 168). There is no universal un-creation. Human
beings are born on some natural earth, die, and awaken as a spirit in the
spiritual world where they continue their individual existence to eternity,
either as an angel or a devil (CL 355). There can be no relation whatsoever
between Brahman and the Lord who is God-Man incarnated, showing Himself in
history and having a Human character or Proprium. God loves what is good and truth
and hates sin and evil inasmuch as “good hates evil” (AC 10618), while Brahman
is represented as separate from both good and evil, who neither loves nor
hates, who isn’t partial to human beings created and lost in existential
illusion. For the
Van Dusen argues that since God has all power in the created universe the choices we make in life for good or evil are not real but an image of the real:
when we zero in on the person in the midst of this
It is the case that we have no life from ourselves but by continuous influx from the Lord. It is the case that what we take to be our self has no power of its own, for all power is the Lord’s power activating every event and motion, and maintaining every thing in its created form. Life is uncreate hence it cannot be a substantive part of us, of our self. But from this point on one’s explanation could go in two directions: the way of nonduality and duality.
The mind in nonduality concludes that therefore there is no real self. It argues that since our prudence is not really prudence, our struggle to reform and regenerate is not real either, but merely another grasp at more illusion. This characteristic mode of nonduality always comes up against our struggle for reformation and regeneration, combating against it, hoping to weaken the burden and effort at character reformation. This feels attractive from a distance, with the seeping in of the lulling thought that maybe I won’t have to reject the delights and comforts of my evils.
The mind of duality concludes that therefore we need to get a right idea of the self from the Writings. And we already know that the Lord grants an as-of self for the sake of our contentment and freedom (xx). And we also know that we must struggle as-of self to act prudently according to our understanding (xx), and to act charitably to the neighbor according to the good in the neighbor (xx). And we are required to put up the effort of rearranging everything in our natural mind to be ordered consistently according to the Doctrine we have from the Writings (xx). And we are required to do all this with sincere motives and persistently without relenting, and with love unto the Lord in appreciation of His supplying the power and the wisdom for the process of our reformation and regeneration to be successful. If we do all this, then at last we are admitted into true human hood—a celestial mind in conjugial love in heaven to eternity. Everything about this wonderful Divine process is real and permanent. The same unique individual that lived on this earth eons ago, is that same individual who is now an inhabitant of a heavenly city, jointly with friends and citizens (xx). Nothing is lost from earth to heaven to eternity.
Consider the conclusion of nonduality quoted just above: “So our doing is relatively an image within the real doing. Our effort at conjunction with God is met by the real and substantial work of the Lord.” This belief assumes a nonduality because it detracts from the reality of our as-of self efforts. Our doing is an “image within the real doing” does not take into account of the process of reformation and regeneration, in which our doing is the primary of it, this being our initiative or willingness to cooperate with the Lord. The Lord is waiting for us to take this initiative, for without it He cannot remove the interior evils of our character of which we are totally unconscious (xx). Yet it is these unconscious affections of evil delights that pull the string in our conscious external mind.
At first one might think that this is unfair. If we are puppets pulled by unconscious strings, why are we held responsible for detesting our evil delights?
But the answer comes when we continue to seek the truth about it. The Lord sees, knows, and maintains these affectional chains to evil societies in the hells. Our inheritance and our tolerance for evil delights prevents the Lord from breaking those chains. The process is compared to agriculture or to the digestion of food in the body and its use for energy and vitality (xx). These are physiological processes in that plants and body organs are constructed out of cells and the overall energy and vitality of the body, or the health of the plant, is determined by the cumulative integrated action of billions of cells in each plant or body. The process is constantly going on, constantly stepping through to the next cycle and motion of cells and the particles below the cells that are still more numerous, and down to the biochemical action of atoms, particles, and energies. From all this there is built up a global action such as the purposeful movement of a finger or the flowering of a plant. This same type of physiological process must take place at the mental level in our willing and thinking moment by moment.
You can see why reformation and then regeneration must take the entire life we have in the physical body (xx). To be reborn, to be reformed, to be regenerated in character in thousands of areas of living, in billions of acts of willing, thinking, doing for many years for millions of seconds. There is a lot to regrow, reinstall, rewire, for the will and the understanding are spiritual organs made of coiled fibers of great number (xx). Every moment of experience, every act of willing, loving, desiring, thinking, feeling, doing over our years here on hearth is “recorded” in the spiritual mind, “hard-wired” as it is said in computer language. Swedenborg has many times witnessed the opening of a person’s mind when they arrive into the afterlife, and it was proven to him that nothing is lost and that angels can read with ease and precision a person’s book of life (xx)
The Lord has now revealed in the Writings how He manages this psychological growth process called reformation and regeneration in every individual. The central feature of this process is the as-of self effort involved in rejecting evil delights, in resisting to do them, and in holding them in aversion or detestation. This is the real part of the process. It determines the pace and the outcome. The Lord does not, because He withholds Himself for the sake of the individual, and should He determine the pace and the outcome, the individual could never be regenerated, and it would be like condemning this person to hell forever (xx). Obviously, to let us determine the pace and the outcome is in the Lord’s Divine order, from His infinite compassion for the human race. And this is what makes the process of spiritual growth real—each of us in that struggle by our own determination.
The idea that God alone has power does not imply that only God is real and that we are not real, or, our self is not real, etc.. Created things are real and define the real because they have been created in Divine rational order. Even appearances are real (AC 4882). For instance, the appearances in the spiritual world are real despite their instantaneously come and gone character. The as-of-self is an appearance of acting from self—this as-of-self is real. By saying that God alone is real, one implies that all things created are not real. And yet everything God creates is real. Creation implies reality. Appearances brought about by correspondences are real. The natural world is real. Even a dream is real: the imagined events are real spiritual productions, instantiated through the action of spiritual societies who are in communication with the sleeper. There never is a “oneness” between God and creation as supposed in Hinduism and Buddhism. Rather, God’s love is nothing unless it can be given to created others who are not God:
It is the essential of love not to love self, but to love others, and to be conjoined with others by love. It is the essential of love, moreover, to be loved by others, for thus conjunction is effected. … Divine Love must necessarily have being (esse) and have form (existere) in others whom it may love, and by whom it may be loved. … It is impossible for Him [God] to love others … in whom there is … anything of the Divine. For … it would be … God loving Himself. … Consequently, … there must be others in whom there is nothing of the Divine in itself. (DLW 47-49)
Created things are finite and are never Divine, but the Divine can be in them:
Of things created and finite Esse [Being] and Existere [Taking Form] can be predicated, likewise substance and form, also life, and even love and wisdom; but these are all created and finite. This can be said of things created and finite, not because they possess anything Divine, but because they are in the Divine, and the Divine is in them. For everything that has been created is, in itself, inanimate and dead, but all things are animated and made alive by this, that the Divine is in them, and that they are in the Divine. (DLW 53)
Every feeling in our will and every thought in our understanding is from the Lord and is real—nothing whatsoever that we do is from ourselves (DP 157).
Continuing with the Van Dusen article:
So the highest teaching of the Upanishads and of Hindu advaita vedanta also exist in what Swedenborg found in his great exploration. The non-dual position in Hinduism helped me to see it in Swedenborg's writings. But in a way, the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness. The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things. Our struggle is an aspect of Divine Providence at work. There are other ways where the writings of Swedenborg see reality in a unitary way. But this is a good first statement. All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence. We are better off to see it as such because that is the truth. In this way we can sense God working right in the midst of our situation.
Here it is
asserted that the Writings, on the one hand, and the “Upanishads and Hindu advaita
vedanta” on the other hand, contain overlapping ideas and explanations. But
this is impossible since everything in the Hindu vedanta has nonduality within
it and everything in the Writings have duality within it. In addition, the content
of the Writings are the new truths and understandings of the new age of the
Second Coming. This event of a new revelation replaces the old revelations when
there is no longer any spiritual truth left (xx). The reason the Lord must wait
for a full consummation is for the sake of the people, so that they may not
profane the new truths. This doesn’t happen when there are no more spiritual truths
because then people only see the literal of the revelation, and this cannot be
profaned, even if denied or ridiculed. So it is a spiritual necessity that old
truths and revelations are of no service to new truths and revelations (xx).
All this is said about the
Another assertion made in the above quote is that “the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness.” But there is never a move from struggle to oneness, meaning that the duality of self and God is permanent to eternity. It is further stated that “The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things.” But this is not so since the Divine Providence, although at work in the greatest and even the least of things, is not one with the things. We are not one with the Lord in our struggles for reformation, though we attribute the power to Him. Because it is His power, it does not turn us and Him into a one, for this is impossible from creation and Divine order (xx). And further, it is stated that “All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence.” This is not so. The us-versus-God duality is permanent by creation and Divine order. The very purpose of creation is for God to have others who are not Him, whom He can make happy from Himself (xx). To make a one with Him is contrary to the purpose of creation and cannot exist.
Our efforts are empowered by God, true, but the duality remains: us and God. There never ceases to be a condition or state where the duality of “us and God” ceases. Even angels of the highest heaven and closest to the Lord are yet separate and distinct from Him (DLW 202). The Lord is the all in all in heaven and in angels and yet the duality remains. The Grand Human and God is an eternal duality. Everything is from God (DLW 53). But what we have from God is not God, but things from God, and though what we receive from God is Divine and is the same with everyone, each individual receives only what it can assimilate—and this is unique with each person (DLW 54). Therefore it is written that “not the least thing is the same as another” (DLW 226).
another example from an article in the Arcana journal (Swedenborg
Scientific Association, Bryn Athyn) titled “In the Hindu Tradition: Appearance
and Reality in the Relationship Between Finite Soul and Infinite Soul” by
Michael Stanley (Vol. 1, No. 1, 22-34). The article originally appeared in the
book Swedenborg and His Influence (edited by Erland Brock et. al.,
Academy of the
The Hindu View of the Self: Much Hindu philosophy, like Swedenborg, takes the line that anything that changes or lacks permanence cannot be said to be really real. … When we look into ourselves, what do we find but changing images, thoughts, ideas and feelings? Therefore any real self cannot be any of these…
The discussion just above showed that this is a general feature of nonduality, namely to want to make the self not “really real,” which as I pointed earlier, weakens the struggle to maintain permanent duality. It cannot be therefore that anything in the Writings can overlap with anything in Hindu philosophy. Here it is asserted that because the self constantly changes there is no “real self.” But constant change is of Divine order for real things, and especially for the human self, for which the Lord creates all things in the universe, and this constant creation will never end, for that is contrary to His purpose (xx). It is said in the quote that the “real self” cannot be the self that is constantly changing. And yet it is, for there is only one self, created immortal and unique to eternity. Every individual has such a self.
may be correct to think that nonduality was a genuine revelation thousands of
years ago in
We know that the self is real. The proprium is real. Change of character (or regeneration) is real. By Divine Law all created things change and no two things can be identical. Permanence is not a condition for reality since reality consists of continuous change, and a reality without change is impossible because not rational and purposeful. Reality is the universe created into a rational order in accordance with God’s rationality or wisdom which is uncreate and has no beginning. All things in the created universe must have reality. God is not part of the reality of created things but the Creator of reality. The created universe is outside God, not within Himself. This duality between God and created things cannot be removed or transcended. It enters into every single created thing such as rocks, animals, the self or proprium, thoughts, affections, heaven, hell. Nonduality cannot exist as a property of reality since it is opposed to the fundamental duality of God and created things.
Continuing with the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:
The central reiterated teaching of the Hindu Upanishad Scriptures is that my true or Higher Self (atman) is identical with the creator of all forms (Brahman). Atman is Brahman. The appearance I have of being a separate isolated individual is an illusion. … This apparent self is termed by Swedenborg the “proprium” …Quoting Arcana Coelestia 4623: “Whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself.”
Again, what the Writings mean by unreal is opposed to what nonduality means when saying that the self is “unreal” or an “illusion.” Nonduality says that the self is unreal, and the only thing real about us is our “Higher Self” which is “identical” with God, and therefore we are God, and only illusion of self keeps one from realizing one’s divinity. The notion continues: once we learn how to empty ourselves from self, what remains is God. Once this persuasion is established in the mind, one can read the Writings in the literal and without integrating passages, one can have the impression that Swedenborg supports this type of nonduality in one or more respects. In the above quote the author uses a passage in the Writings to support the nondualist idea of the unreal self. But it is clear that the quoted Number from the Writings does not give support to the nonduality between self and the Lord. Note that it contrasts two ideas: “whatever comes from the Lord” versus “whatever comes from a spirit's own.” It does not contrast “the Lord” versus “the self.” And it says that whatever proceeds form the Lord is real because it is good and true, and only this has real existence. This is the existence we have when the Lord’s good and true is appropriated to our self. And this appropriation only happens when we reject whatever comes from self, which is evil and falsity. Therefore the contrast is between good and truth versus evil and falsity, and the latter is unreal because it is only a fantasy and an insanity.
The nondualist system does not see that it is
irrational to say that self becomes God and is God. To say that “My true self
is identical with the creator” is not a rational thing to say from the
perspective of the Writings. It is a total misunderstanding to say that
Swedenborg teaches this view. The Writings teach that the literal of the Word
can be used to support any heresy or fallacy, especially by the ingenious (TCR
254). But when these fallacies and heresies are examined from a rational
perspective such as we gain from the Writings, it is straightforward to see and
show the misunderstanding in it. Here we see a clear misunderstanding of the
notion of the proprium and what is real and not real. The proprium is real
because it is created by God and God creates only real things. The quote above
given from Arcana Coelestia says that “whatever comes from a spirit's own is
not real” and this is taken to mean that the proprium or self or ego is not
real. Instead, it means that evil, which is what comes from the proprium, does
not have within it anything from God, that is, truth and good. One can clearly see
this when we look at the full number referred to in the
AC 4623. But be it known that the life of sense with spirits is twofold, namely, real and not real. The one is distinguished from the other by the fact that everything is real which appears to those who are in heaven, whereas everything is unreal which appears to those who are in hell. For whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself. They who are in the affection of good and truth are in the Lord's life, thus in real life, for the Lord is present in good and truth through the affection; but they who are in evil and falsity through the affection, are in the life of what is their own, thus in a life not real, for the Lord is not present in evil and falsity. The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears.
 They who are in hell have sensations equally with others, and are not aware but that everything is really or actually just as it appears to their senses; and yet when they are looked at by the angels, the same things appear as phantasms, and disappear, and they themselves do not appear as men, but as monsters. It has also been given me to speak with them on this subject, and some of them said that they believe things to be real because they see and touch them, adding that sense cannot deceive. But it was given me to reply that no matter how real these things may appear to them, they nevertheless are not real, and this because they themselves are in things contrary or opposite to the Divine, namely, in evils and falsities, and moreover are themselves nothing but fantasies insofar as their thoughts are concerned, to the extent that they are in cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity; and to see anything from fantasies is to see things that are real as not real, and things that are not real as real; and that unless it were given them of the Lord's Divine mercy to have their senses affected in this manner, they would have no sensitive life, consequently no life at all, because that which is sensitive constitutes the whole of life. To adduce all my experience on these subjects would be to fill many pages.
 Therefore when you enter the other life beware of being deceived, for evil spirits know how to conjure up illusions of many kinds before those who come fresh from the world, and if they cannot deceive them, they nevertheless thereby endeavor to persuade them that nothing is real, but that all things are ideal, even those which are in heaven.
Clearly then one cannot say that self is unreal when it explicitly states that the self in heaven is only real, while the self in hell is full of fantasies that are not real. The contrast here is between the self in which the content is from hell (unreal fantasies) and the self in which the content is from heaven (real realities). What is real and unreal is not the self but the content of the self, this being fantasy (in hell) or reality (in heaven). For reality is good and truth from the Lord while unreality is turning these into their opposites.
The notion that nothing is real except God is a persuasion that puts us at risk of spiritual deception and illusion. The Writings give a clear definition: “The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears” (above quote in AC 4623). Hell is real and to the inhabitants of heaven when they look down, it appears as it is in reality—deformed and devoid of rationality. But to the inhabitants of hell the appearance there is not such as it is, and this (appearance) is what’s unreal.
To continue the thought of the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:
Swedenborg agrees with the Hindu view that although man has the ego experience he cannot be said to actually have a thing called an ego [proprium]. As opposed to the pure soul itself, ego is essentially unreal. My self as I feel and experience it to exist, is an illusion. As Swedenborg puts it, “There is not anything proper (proprium) to man, but it appears to him as if there were” DP 78:3
Here again nonduality misconstrues what the Writings say about the proprium. The full number makes it clear that the evil self doesn’t have the Divine within and yet is fully and inexorably real, permanent, and allowed to keep itself in disorder by the Divine Laws of Permission (DP 234). This is the meaning of the assertion above that this evil “is appropriated to him as his own, and remains with him”:
The reason is that man's proprium and his freedom make one. Man's proprium is of his life; and what a man does from his life he does from freedom. Further, man's proprium is what is of his love, for love is the life of everyone, and what a man does from his life's love that also he does from freedom. Man acts from freedom according to thought, because whatever is of the life or love of anyone is also an object of thought and is confirmed by thought; and when it has been confirmed then he does it from freedom according to his thought.  For whatever a man does, he does from the will by means of the understanding; and freedom is of the will, and thought is of the understanding.
Moreover, man can act from freedom contrary to reason, and he can also act according to reason and not from freedom; but such acts are not appropriated to the man, being only the acts of his lips and of his body, and not of his spirit or heart; but the acts of his spirit and heart, when they also become the acts of his lips and of his body, are appropriated to him. That this is so could be shown by many illustrations; but this is not the place for them.
 By being appropriated to man is meant to enter his life and become part of it, consequently to become his own. However, it will be seen in what follows that there is nothing that is man's own: it merely seems as if it were. Here it needs only to be said that all the good which a man does from freedom according to reason is appropriated to him as his own, because in thinking, willing, speaking and doing it appears to him to be his own; and yet, the good is not man's but belongs to the Lord in him, as may be seen above (n. 76). But how evil is appropriated to man will be seen in the proper article. (DP 78)
This passage explains that what is appropriated to the self remains forever. Further, that both evil and good can be so appropriated. Clearly then what is appropriated and belongs to the self MUST BE REAL. When evil is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation of real remains and it is permanent. When good or truth is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation that is permanent. Clearly it is not possible to have the self drop away or empty itself, as is predicated in all of nonduality.
Chapter 2, Section 3
on the Web indicates that the Hindu idea of nonduality has been incorporated
into the Western intellectual diversity. A google.com search on
nonduality yields thousands of Web sites, almost all in the
Experiencing Nonduality is the path, the means and the realization of our true nature as unqualified Oneness, Consciousness or Presence. Nondual proclaims the truth that everything is an expression of unqualified Oneness. It is the ‘pathless path’ we traverse while healing our misperceptions of separation. And it is the means we utilize in realizing this truth of Oneness. Experiencing Nonduality is the path of welcoming all that is. Ultimately, nothing needs to be changed. Everything is always unfolding in mysterious perfection—always. This is the first and final understanding.
Experiencing Nonduality by Richard Miller, Ph.D. Web document accessed April 2002: www.nondual.com/advaitayana.html
Everything in the Writings contradict this perspective on life and reality. Everything in the Writings insist on duality everywhere and always. We are born immortal spirits and God’s purpose for making us is to elevate our consciousness into the celestial spheres of our mind. Eternal life in heaven is a ceaseless growth towards human perfection (LJ 12). It never ceases for every individual who achieves this celestial state through regeneration. Individuality is unique from birth to eternity (ISB 14, AC 5354; DLW 226; CL 355). Once an individual, always an individual. Nonduality in the Western intellect advocates the “pathless path” that “welcomes all that is” because “nothing needs to be changed.” The opposite is taught in the Writings of Swedenborg. Our path is straight and narrow, and only welcomes that which is good and true. Ultimately, everything needs to be changed because we are born infernal and totally corrupted in spirit and needing to become a new creation so that we may enter the celestial state (AC 4594).
personal effort at changing our character (loves and understandings) there is
no new creation of the spirit called regeneration. The Lord cannot heal us by
His own omnipotent power, or else He would do that to all, such is His
universal love for the human race (DP 91). Our regeneration is effected
solely by means of temptations of character provided by the Divine Therapist
day by day, minute by minute (AC 227). Such is the amazing close connection
between the Lord and the
Continuing with Dr. Miller on nonduality:
Experiencing Nonduality is an exploration into the nature of Oneness and is not in the becoming process for we cannot become what we already are. There is nothing we can add to our self to make our self one iota better. We are already perfect as we are.
It is not
possible for the
Another example of the Americanization of Hindu nonduality is found in the work of Jerry Katz who founded a Web discussion community called “Nonduality Salon”:
“There is the natural state. It invites itself into itself. And this invitation of itself into itself is given many names, such as satchitananda, being consciousness bliss. It invites itself into itself. .... Bliss is generated from this coming of the natural state into itself. Consciousness is another word for the churning of the natural state. Being is being the natural state …The problem is the suffering of it. Not it. I'm sure I've done all kinds of crazy things in my life, but one understanding has never changed since the age of 7. I AM. That plainly shines forth.
(Nonduality Salon at www3.ns.sympatico.ca/umbada/ Accessed April 2002):
is a point of view that opposes the struggle of regeneration in the
Chapter 2, Section 4
Another instance of nonduality as corporeal spirituality are the notions given in relation to Tantric sex. According to one text titled “A Contemporary Guide to Sacred Sexuality and Sex Magick” (accessed in April 2002 on the Web at www.geocities.com/iona_m/Virtualtantra/ball-lightning.html ) sex is the path to immortality and divinity:
Tantra presents the ultimate Nondual reality as the sexual embrace of God and Goddess, of Shiva and Shakti, of Emptiness and Form.
"I am in
the creature's desire." –
"The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth.
It is because of their correct mating that Heaven and Earth last forever.
Humans have lost this secret and have therefore become mortal.
By knowing it the Path to Immortality is opened." - Shang-Ku-San-Tai
"Sexual love is the purest energy of the divine state,
for lovers in their embrace form one angel." – Swedenborg
What a curious reference to Swedenborg in this context! It is presented as a direct quote but we can tell that it is not (no actual reference is given). The Writings do not use the expression “sexual love” so it must be a rendering for conjugial love. Neither do the Writings talk about “energy” in relation to conjugial love. And the appearance of a husband and wife as one angel when they are seen from a distance (CL 42) is here fancifully modified to refer to the embrace of lovers.
Other similar notions are further given:
The core experience of Tantra is revelation of its sexual secrets. Sexual union symbolizes the quintessence of the elements. Sacred sex reveals eternal truth and transcendence. It is a way of redemption -- union of the personal self with the transpersonal Self.
The acts of the lovers mirror the primordial creation and subsequent fecundity. In desiring his opposite, the Supreme Being impregnates Nature. The attraction of the two principles for each other engenders all life. Neither asleep nor awake the spirit is set free by perfect exhaustion of the body. Through tantric sex a twilight state is produced. Then there is a dramatic paradoxical shift from sympathetic arousal to the afterglow of parasympathetic tranquility. This "calmed violence" is the essence of the Real.
Here it is asserted that “sacred” sex reveals what eternal truth is and is a way to redemption. Once again we see here the persistent view in nonduality that some particular act of the body has the spiritual effect of salvation and divinity.
Another version of what is called spiritual or sacred sex may be seen in this sample called Kundalini:
Orgasms CAN be used to increase spiritual/life energy. It depends what you do with the energy, your attitudes around sexuality. Especially for Women, but for men it is intensified if they learn to have orgasms without ejaculating. Partly, because you can have more orgasms, and build your energy with each one. Of course we release energy.
It's about how clear you are to the free flow of energy through you, shaping your life, not how much is stuck inside. It can be another way to love yourself and give love to Gaia. Focus on unconditional self-love, give thanks for being alive and having a body that can feel pleasure. In Orgasm, release the energy out through the top of your head, and through your feet, with love for the beautiful planet.
(“Mind Body Spirit Kundalini the Grounding” on the Web at www.domin8rex.com/serpent/spirit/gaia.htm Accessed June 2002)
Consider the statement in the Tantric Sex Guide quoted above: "The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth” In the New Church mind there already is the idea that the union of man and wife is through conjugial love—a celestial-rational concept that can be understood only by those who study the Writings and strive to live according to its rational truths. This husband-wife union is holy and angelic. On the other hand heaven and earth do not “mate” and do not form a union—ever. Heaven and earth, or the spiritual/celestial and the natural, are in correspondence of discrete degrees and no union is possible between them. There is not a “mating” between angels of the Second Heaven (called spiritual Angels) and those of the First Heaven (called natural Angels). There is only a relation by correspondence and no direct communication, contact, or overlap in substance and form (De Verbo 3). However, we say instead that there is a marriage (or union) between the Lord (or heaven) and the Church, or the church in each of us. The church within us is in the mind, not the earthly body. There can never be a “mating” between the body on the earth and the church in the mind for they are in discrete degrees. The Writings define the Church as heaven on earth, by which is meant, heaven in the mind of the person still living on earth (HH 57). All dualities must be maintained because they are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).
Comparing the union of man and wife (“woman”) to the “mating” of heaven and earth destroys the real duality of order into which the universe is created. It fudges and obscures the discreteness (duality) of the natural and the spiritual. It also empties conjugial love from its rational basis. The conjugial union between man and wife is angelic and takes place only in continuous degree. Obviously both husband and wife must belong to the same heaven or level of consciousness. All that is within one heaven is in continuous degree, not discrete. There cannot be a union between a man in the First Heaven and a woman in the Second heaven, or vice versa! Angel couples are united in a “sexual embrace” like on earth, but the offspring is spiritual (SE 6110). It is further specified:
Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)
The Writings show that the mind/body duality is the same as the duality between the spiritual and the natural. Consider the statement in the David Loy quote above: “The sense of a within apart from the world is the self-delusion that needs to be overcome”. By accepting the notion that mind and body belong to the same realm, the idea of correspondences is destroyed, and so is the idea of discrete degrees. As a result, the person sinks down into the state of corporeal spirituality discussed above, and this is an infernal state in the afterlife:
Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)
between the physical and the spiritual is clearly visible in the following
excerpts of an article on sexuality at the Web based Yoga Research and
The dynamics between biological needs (specifically genital urges) and higher evolutionary or transpersonal aspirations is a crucial part of all moral, religious, and spiritual traditions of the world. Typically we experience these two sets of wants or needs as being at war with each other: Don’t let the cerebrum know what the genitals are doing. Suppress your desires. Curb your sexual curiosity. Feel ashamed about having genitals. Feel guilty about sex.
This body- and sex-negative orientation is epitomized in the religious doctrine according to which the “flesh” is the enemy of the “Spirit.” For love to be “pure,” it must be devoid of sexual connotations. At best sex is regarded as a necessary evil. As the British mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell observed, this view has caused millions of people untold misery. For they had to suppress their sexual instincts in the hope of a better life in the hereafter where they, as sexless angelic beings, could participate in the joys of heaven beyond all genitality and sexual complications.
This dualistic [sic] idea, which splits the human being into genital or sensual and spiritual or ascetical compartments, is at home in Christianity and Judaism as much as it is in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For instance, the ancient Rig-Veda, the “Old Testament” of Hinduism, records a domestic quarrel between Sage Agastya and his wife Lopâmudrâ. Their quarrel, of course, was over sex or rather the lack thereof. Agastya, who was a renowned ascetic and a paragon of the virtue of chastity, was neglecting his husbandly duties. He preferred to meditate in solitude over making love to his wife. Understandably, she was beginning to feel frustrated and started to complain and make demands.
This struggle, which has brought many would-be ascetics to their knees, has been fought by men and women ever since religions began to propagandize the idea that in order to fulfill spiritual life one must curb the passions of the flesh. Whole traditions arose that were based on this mistaken idea, namely that communion with the Divine, or God-realization, depends on repressing or confining the sexual urge.
For the ascetic, lust is the ally of death. The reason for this is that the loss of semen signals to him the loss of power, energy, and hard-earned merit. The ascetic needs good merit to cheat the iron law of karma, and he requires the body’s energy to accomplish the magnificent work of self-transformation that is the goal of all austerities. The ascetic is a hoarder at psychosomatic energy. He guards all bodily openings, especially the genitals. Semen is, for him, not merely semen but a substance of power that must be accumulated, not squandered. The typical ascetic is always worrying about the involuntary loss of semen, or becoming sexually aroused to the point where he loses control over his thoughts.
Both the Tantric master and the Taoist adepts knew that sexuality in itself is not a hindrance to spiritual maturation. They promoted, on the contrary, the idea that an impotent eunuch stands a slim chance of realizing the supreme potential of spiritual evolution—enlightenment or liberation. Instead of recommending the anxious suppression of the libido lest it should interfere with the sacred task of spiritual transformation, they favored a sex-positive philosophy. They even designed special practices to utilize this most powerful impulse in us for the process of psychospiritual transmutation. Of course, they did not condone the kind of “sexploitation” that is the liability of the ordinary individual, particularly in our post-sexual-revolution days. Rather, they were interested in the right use of the sexual energy.
However, the left-hand approach which involves sexual intercourse with a suitable partner, has the advantage of increasing the level of psychosomatic energy and thus of including the physical dimension in the process of psychospiritual transformation. Actual sexual intercourse involves an energy exchange between the partners in the Tantric ritual, which enhances the unification process that is strived for on the level of consciousness.
At the point of enlightenment, the Tantric practitioner realizes the transcendental unity of Male and Female, Shiva and Shakti. This condition is known as “great delight” (mahâ-sukha) since it cannot be diminished by anything, not even by the act of ejaculation, which typically concludes the male partner’s experience of sexual pleasure in ordinary circumstances.
Tantra is the technology of joy on many levels—from sexual pleasure to transcendental bliss. (…)
(“Sex, Asceticism, and Mythology” by Georg Feuerstein on the Web at www.yrec.org/sex_ascet.html Accessed June 2002)
The commentator’s nonduality perspective shows in how he interprets the flesh and spirit theme in traditional religions. He calls this “dualistic” which he sees as contrary to our nature, which is that we are as much as our body as our mind—both, mixed, equal. This nonduality sees the duality model as un-natural and psychotic. This same nonduality is also responsible for the Western idea of chivalry and pure love, namely, that it is spoiled by sex when it is brought down to that level. Religious or moral purity was seen as incompatible with sexuality. On the surface this looks like a duality, as seen by those in nonduality. But actually this is also a nonduality since it assumes that spiritual chastity and natural sexuality were on the same continuum, except that one was high up and the other was low down. Duality would be different. It sees that sexuality and spiritual purity go together as integral parts to the unity of the conjugial couple. It is not sensuous sex and mental sacredness that are the opposite ends of a continuum. The Writings define chastity, not as those who are virgins, but marrieds who reject all forms of adultery or pornography (CL 152, 452). Until you practice conjugial sex, you cannot be totally chaste, pure, and holy.
If a man concentrates his love upon his wife, by shunning adultery as sin, then love with its potency increases daily; but if men take from that love and consume it with harlots, conjugial love becomes like chaff, and dies.
There is no lasciviousness in conjugial love, for lasciviousness is unchaste. There is the identical sensation with those who are in conjugial love; consequently, there is nothing unclean, but pure. It appears as if there were, but yet there is not. The reason is, because inwardly in conjugial love, even to the ultimates, is heaven, and inwardly in the love of adultery is hell; and the ultimates of each appear similar, as to their delights, but yet they are not. The difference is not perceived except by conjugial love. (SE 6110)
commentator’s details about “tantric sex” which are practices that instantly
destroy conjugial love, union of husband and wife, and consequent eternal
angelic bliss and blessedness in the
Christian spirits cannot endure the spiritual sphere of the feminine and the masculine. They cannot endure the spiritual sphere of conjugial love; and the hells, at such times, are roused to fury. They cannot endure the sphere of nakedness between married partners; and, at such times, flee away. They cannot endure any sphere of love from a married partner. They loathe the sphere of customary [intercourse]; that is, when conjunction with the wife becomes ordinary, or freely permitted, it produces nausea. (SE 6110:65)
to overcome sexual guilt became a cultural movement in twentieth century
Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)
The idea that there is no sex in heaven is a Christian nonduality. The Writings give us a rational solution to this puzzle, namely, that sex in the physical body and sex in the spirit-body are a discrete duality forever separated. Heaven is part of sex through the heavenly body which is a more perfect rendition of the physical body in its early youth (HH 414). Sex among conjugial pairs in heaven is performed through this more perfect human body (HH 386, CL 46). Angels are called holy because they operate from the Lord’s Proprium (or Character) form inward influx into their will and understanding (AC 9820). Everything they do is holy, therefore also their sexual activity.
[They enjoy] delights and pleasures by the mere touch of hands and of lips, when they think from love, such things from the Word, from objects, from various concordant delights, as are applicable. They have exquisite sensations of their separate, and of their common [states]. These arise from the delights of affection and thought, and of the conjunction thereof; and the sensation is the more exquisite as the conjunction is more interior. That there is such delight from the conjunction of female and male, is because there is such [from that] of good and truth. There are still more delights of conjunction of the external senses, as of sight, of hearing, of smell; particularly of the respiration, in which innumerable things lie concealed: they lie concealed especially in the sound itself of the speech. (SE 6110)
discussion illustrates the rational debunking process the
Chapter 2, Section 5
A popular form of Eastern nonduality in Western countries is the corporeal spirituality of the followers of Maharishi and practitioners of transcendental meditation. The Web details its activities through “Vedic Universities” dispersed through many countries, and doing research on corporeal spirituality. One instance of this may be seen in the nonduality concepts they use for the relationship between physical energy and spirituality:
"Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence, which connects modern science with ancient Vedic science, is the foundation of all knowledge -- complete knowledge -- and therefore is the basis of complete fulfillment. Introducing the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field into education is the one way for all mankind to stop violation of Natural Law and end the long tradition of problems and suffering in life individually and globally." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity, and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.
"By enlivening this most basic level of life, Transcendental Meditation is that one simple procedure which can raise the life of every individual and every society to its full dignity, in which problems are absent and perfect health, happiness, and a rapid pace of progress are the natural features of life." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
As a new science of consciousness, the Science of Creative Intelligence® provides a practical means to unfold the permanent experience of higher states of consciousness and offers the theoretical understanding of that experience which is necessary for the most rapid growth towards enlightenment.
Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature, the pure field of creative intelligence from which all of creation arises. By contacting this pure field of creative intelligence one experiences directly the nature, range, development and application of this field of creative intelligence which governs everything in creation.
The Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health offers comprehensive programs which are prevention-oriented, time-tested, free from harmful side effects, and easily applied. This approach re-establishes the balance between the body and its own inner intelligence through Vedic knowledge and its application.
Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology utilizes a refined impulse of Vedic sound, or Vedic vibration, to enliven the inner intelligence of the body and restore proper functioning.
(“Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence” on the Web at www.vedicvibration.com Accessed on the Web in May 2002)
There are two ideas contained in this approach we need especially to consider. First, the idea that what creates the universe is called “creative intelligence” (“which governs everything in creation”) and is something that the individual possesses. This comes from the idea that self and God are one and the same and forming a nonduality. Second, the idea that this “higher consciousness” can be reached by meditation and physical procedures with the body, a nonduality between the body and mind. Transcendental laws of consciousness and creative intelligence are in the same continuous degree with the physical world (“Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature”).
idea denies the absolute duality of the Lord and creation and the second denies
the discrete degrees between natural and spiritual. Either of these two denials
bar entry to the
“living Master” of nonduality who draws audiences of thousands in Western
cities and other tours, is known as Supreme Master Ching Hai. She often refers
to Jesus as a former Master and
frequently uses expressions and ideas from the New Testament like the idea that
is born of the
(“The Teachings of The Supreme Master Ching Hai.” on the Web at www.chinghai.com/TOPICS.html Accessed May 2002)
According to this notion, hell exists, but mainly for people who are very disturbed in their minds--people who are virtuous and good never experience hell, and those who are “initiated” by Ching Hai, never have to go to hell. Hell is portrayed as a great hospital to help people whose spirits and minds are sick. It is compared to
hospitals on earth where illnesses are cured. … So it is better that we always think good, do good, and talk good, think God, do God and talk God, and to realize God is even better. … So we cannot say that the evil is within or without us. It is both, just like God is within and without us and everywhere. (Ching Hai Ibid)
notions are opposed to the Biblical ideas in multiple ways. It reinterprets
what hell is to fit the ideas of nonduality. Since it sees each person as God
in reality and self in illusion, hell becomes a temporary “hospital” where the
self is healed from its insanities. Further, Satan is part of the “
Continuing with Ching Hai:
So when we
meditate, we use the technique to tune into the
It is a consistent theme in nonduality to say that “God is nothing but ourselves.” It is also common to refer to Jesus as a human being like we are who has achieved enlightenment by becoming one with God. It is asserted that when we reach this enlightenment we too can say that we are one with the Father and that we do nothing but what the Father does (“We become the author of everything”). Here is another way in which our divinity is asserted:
how good our intentions may be, we have to first seek the
Karma is a concept that sounds attractive to many Westerners because it seems logical and fair. Part of its acceptance is a superficial similarity to the oft repeated Biblical assertion of a connection between sowing and reaping (e.g., “He who sows injustice will reap calamity” (Prov 22:8.6); or: “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:8.12). But karma is always bound to reincarnation, as in this statement by Ching Hai:
There are two types of karma: human karma and universal karma. Men's laws are governed by an invisible force that cannot be grasped by human understanding. This is called in Sanskrit 'karma', meaning the Law of Cause and Effect. It is mentioned in the Bible as 'What you sow, so shall you reap.' There is good and bad karma, but both imply attachment for you on earth. After initiation, the karma from past lives will be erased, but the Master does not touch the karma from this life. If not, you would die immediately. We must stay here for a while to bless the world and to help our friends. Afterward, we can go to Heaven and return whenever, if this is our wish. Karma is an invisible force, very fair and strong. What we have created will come back to us. This is the law of cause and effect. (Ching Hai Ibid)
The reference to “initiation” designates a divine act of the “Master” or guru by which she claims to “erase karma” for the individual who is being initiated into her discipleship. Comparisons between the Master and Jesus abound, as here:
A real Master can only give and not take. His disciples are comfortable but the Master has to suffer. That is why it is said that Jesus had to uplift mankind and that He had to be crucified. He couldn't enjoy any privilege. That is why people scolded Him and crucified Him. … When you see darkness every day and he gives you the light, then that is a guru. And then the sound must also be heard, because, In the beginning was the 'Word' and the 'Word' was God. If you don't hear the sound, then you have not completely contacted yet with God. The light is only one attribute of God; not perfect. You have to also hear the sound. … By coming in contact with these vibrations, or the so-called 'Word" in the Bible, we become all-knowing, we become all-power, all-blessing, all-virtuous, all-satisfied, all-happiness and all-bliss bestowing to the people in our environment, and even to our surroundings. Our surroundings will be blessed with out presence. Everywhere we go, those beings, or those places will become sacred. … (Ching Hai Ibid)
This reflects an amazing but typical amalgam of Bible concepts and Hindu/Buddhist nonduality. The act of “remembering” that you are God bestows the divine powers of a Master:
Masters are those who remember their origin and, out of love, share this knowledge with whomever seeks it, and take no pay for their work. … When we reach this level of mastership, not only do we know our origin, but we can also help others to know their true worth. … While a living Master is on earth he takes on some of the karma of the people, especially those who believe in the Master, and even more so those who are disciples of the Master. … A Master has to manifest a physical body to take on all the troubles and sufferings. … Any Master has to go through this kind of thing [suffering for others]. You can see it for yourself, even Buddha, Mohammed, Christ and many other Masters in the East or West.
As is the case with many of the activities within guru-type relationships some of the ideas and practices are not publicized and disciples are warned not to discuss initiation details with others who are not disciples. Her followers must go through initiation steps at various levels. This is said to prepare the disciples for spiritual evolution, liberation, and enlightenment. This salvation process cannot progress without the Master’s direct intervention which is done unbeknownst and unconsciously through the spiritual powers of the Master who is present everywhere where disciples are. This includes coming to the disciples in their dreams and other secret modes not disclosed. The divine-like power of Masters lasts up to 500 years, independently of their physical body. This is why, according to Ching Hai, “the power of Jesus” has long vanished from the world.
About the claim of erasing the disciple’s karma, a relevant comment in the Writings may be this:
Truth is falsified when it is said that sins are wiped and washed away like filth by water; and truth is still more falsified when it is said that man has the power of remitting sins, and that when they have been remitted, they are altogether wiped away, and the man is pure. (…) There are countless such things as these, for there is not a single truth which cannot be falsified, and the falsification confirmed by reasonings from fallacies. (AC 7318)
The notion by which many secular truth seekers are attracted is the promise that there is something beyond human thinking that is reachable through specialized training procedures. In my thirties I once agreed to have a postal relationship with a guru who lived thousands of miles away. I would read his books and lectures, listen to this tapes, follow a prescribed dietary regimen, stay out of trouble, continue with my employment, and continue my study of the guru’s writings and communications. I would have to meditate every day and fixate my inner gaze on a visualization of the guru sitting before me, and slightly elevated and surrounded by light. It was then that the guru would “come to me” and instruct me. All I had to do is to fixate my attention on the visualized image of him.
I had to learn to imbue this image with spiritual strength, which came from full obedience and devout worship of the guru. The more I was to worship him in visualization and daily practice, the more I was to gain power to imbue his visualization with real spiritual energy. This energy is given by the guru, but sometimes by other enlightened masters who “were active” in that period or sphere. This process would then continue indefinitely. In the meantime, the guru would communicate with me by letter, or on occasion in face to face visits, and inform me how well I’m progressing. Sometimes this is to be done in statements, sometimes by super-conscious contact. The disciple is expected to experience these super-conscious contacts by peculiar sensations in the body.
There is no content to any of this, as you will notice. The result is either in the experiencing of corporeal images and sensations—called ecstatic states, or, in the experiencing of something near to emptiness of consciousness or absence of anything particular. I enacted for a few months being a long-distance disciple and then I quit, having no motivation to continue. I wanted something I could understand, not feel. From then on I was never attracted again to gurus. I gravitated to “thinking” paths to truth—Cabala, numerology, astrology, I Ching, anthroposophy—but did not stay long with any of them, until at last I read the New Testament. Here I found a thinking man’s haven for truth with explanations, parables, specific principles of living, and specific description of the end result. This made sense to me. And a year or two later I found the Writings. I saw immediately that this above anything else I’ve read, is filled with the content of truth and the specifics of the end results. I wasn’t left wondering about “the rest of it.” I wasn’t promised anything obscure or mystical or corporeal. Just the simple truth of reality such as it is created by the Lord, moment of existence by moment of existence for every single thing or detail. Hardly anything can be simpler to understand than the true reality.
Note this important reality:
It is the understanding which acts from the will, not the will which acts by means of the understanding. (TCR 105)
This is the
great heavenly secret that protects the
Of course this is only an enactment of no longer being human, not a real situation of actually not being a human. One can never lose one’s humanity, which is to be in internal liberty to act in accordance with one’s understanding (DP 87).The reality is that it is the disciple, not the guru, that keeps the relationship going. For at any moment the disciple can quit. However thinking from oneself is not easy when we are in persuasive faith (NJHD 118). As long as we hold on to the persuasive faith, we do think from our own self. Thus we lead a life in which we act like we are not really human, mimicking a zombie. When this game is carried all the way the person may lose all motivation to ever give up the delusion and thus to remain in it forever. Swedenborg has met many people who live in that state in the portion of the spiritual world called hell (SE 4875, 5015). This portion of the human mind is called hell because it is devoid of any good and truth. When disciples enter the afterlife in such inner persuasion they become spiritual slaves to those there who claim the status and power of a guru. However, they don’t call themselves gurus but “gods” (SE 4723).
This prohibitive principle has its origin in a law of the spiritual world. No one is punished in that world for evils he has done here, but for those he does there. The evil state acquired returns after death, and leads him to do similar deeds. For these he is punished, but not for those done in the former life. (See AE 989; SD 3489). If he then refrains from committing them, there will be no punishment. (Pendleton, Topics, p. 11)
(see Note 2 at end)
Karma is a mechanical concept of nonduality, while the idea of “no ex post facto punishment” is a rational and moral concept of duality. The idea of undergoing cycles of karma through reincarnated lives creates a continuum between this life and the next life. The relationship is described by a mechanical balance model—the amount you sin in this life will set you back by that much in the next reincarnation, until you can learn to balance right and wrong, and then you ascend by the amount of negative karma that you get rid of. The suffering you are experiencing now is a punishment for the sins of your former life.
But in the Writings we learn that an absolute distinct and permanent duality is created between this life and the afterlife. Nothing happens to you in the afterlife because of something you did in this life. It’s easy to fall into this false idea when we read:
He who thinks against God is rarely punished in the natural world, because there he is always in a state subject to reformation; but he is punished in the spiritual world after death, for then he can no longer be reformed. (DP 249)
When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment (HH 509; see below for the rest of the quote).
But note that this only establishes the fact that there are punishments in the afterlife. It doesn’t state what these punishments are for. These are not for misdeeds committed in one’s life on earth:
When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment; and there is no regard for person, whether one had been in the world a king or a servant. Every evil carries its punishment with it, the two making one; therefore whoever is in evil is also in the punishment of evil. And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does; although it amounts to the same and is the same thing whether it be said that men suffer punishment on account of their evils in the world or that they suffer punishment on account of the evils they do in the other life, since everyone after death returns into his own life and thus into like evils; and the man continues the same as he had been in the life of the body (n. 470-484).
Men are punished for the reason that the fear of punishment is the sole means of subduing evils in this state. Exhortation is no longer of any avail, neither is instruction or fear of the law and of the loss of reputation, since everyone then acts from his nature; and that nature can be restrained and broken only by punishments.
But good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return. Moreover, I have learned that the evils they did were of a different kind or nature, not being done purposely in opposition to the truth, or from any other badness of heart than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and that they were borne into this by a blind delight when they were in externals separate from internals. (HH 505(
It is clear from this that the punishment in the afterlife is for the deeds committed there and not on earth. Note well that if we love evils in this life, they remain forever. These evil loves, or lusts and cupidities, prompt the individual in the afterlife to commit deeds that are forbidden there. Punishment is then dispensed for those deeds. The punishment is as severe as is needed for the individual to desist from doing the forbidden acts. Experience shows that no other method but severe punishments can help those in