May 30, 2016

Correspondence Between Spiritual and Natural Birth

Excerpt from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Regeneration is effected in a manner
analogous to that in which man is
conceived, carried in the womb, born and educated.
In man there is a perpetual correspondence between what takes place naturally and what takes place spiritually, or between what takes place in his body and what takes place in his spirit. This is because man as to his soul is born spiritual, and is clothed with what is natural, which forms his material body. Therefore when this body is laid aside, his soul, clothed with a spiritual body, enters a world where all things are spiritual, and is there affiliated with its like. Since then, the spiritual body must be formed in a material body, and is formed by means of truths and goods which flow in from the Lord through the spiritual world, and are inwardly received by man in such things in him as are from the natural world, which are called civil and moral, the way in which its formation is effected is evident; and since, as before said, there is in man a constant correspondence between what takes place naturally and what takes place spiritually, it follows that this formation is like conception, gestation, birth, and education. It is for this reason that natural births in the Word mean spiritual births, which are births of good and truth; for whatever is mentioned in the sense of the letter of the Word, which is natural, involves and signifies what is spiritual. ...
(True Christian Religion 583)

May 22, 2016

Birds of a feather flock together...

Selection from Heaven and Hell ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Like are drawn spontaneously as it were to their like; for with their like they are as if with their own and at home, but with others they are as if with strangers and abroad; also when with their like they are in their freedom, and consequently in every delight of life.
(Heaven and Hell 44)

May 18, 2016

Charity, or Love to the Neighbor, and Good Works

From True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Faith and charity are conjoined like truth and good, and these two like light and heat in spring. This is said because spiritual light, which is the light that goes forth from the sun of the spiritual world, is in its essence truth; and consequently in that world wherever truth appears, it shines with a splendor proportionate to its purity; and spiritual heat, which also goes forth from that sun, in its essence is good. This too is said because it is the same with charity and faith as with good and truth; for charity is the complex of all things pertaining to the good that a man does to his neighbor, while faith is the complex of all things pertaining to the truth that a man thinks respecting God and things Divine.

As, therefore, the truth of faith is spiritual light, and the good of charity spiritual heat, it follows that it is the same with that light and heat as with the light and heat of the natural world, that is to say, as by the conjunction of the latter all things on earth spring forth, so by the conjunction of the former all things spring forth in the human mind; but with the distinction that on the earth this growth is effected by natural heat and light, but in the human mind it is effected by spiritual heat and light, and this latter being spiritual, is wisdom and intelligence. Moreover, as there is a correspondence between these, the human mind in which charity is conjoined with faith and faith with charity is in the Word likened to a garden, and this is what is meant by the garden of Eden.

... faith without charity is not faith, nor is charity without faith charity, and neither of them is living except from the Lord; also that the Lord, charity, and faith make one, like life, will, and understanding, and if they are divided, each perishes, like a pearl reduced to powder; and finally, charity and faith are together in good works.

It is an unchanging truth, that,

for man to have spiritual life, and therefore salvation, faith and charity must not be separated.
This is self-evident to any man's understanding, even if it is not enriched with the treasures of learning.

When one hears it said, that whoever lives well and believes aright is saved, does he not see this from a kind of interior perception and therefore assent to it with his understanding? And when he hears it said that he who believes aright and does not live well is also saved, does he not reject it from his understanding, as he would a piece of dirt falling into his eye? For from interior perception the thought instantly occurs, How can anyone believe aright when he does not live well?  In that case, what is believing but a painted picture of faith, and not its living image?  So again, if anyone hears it said, that whoever lives well is saved, although he does not believe, does not the understanding, while reflecting upon this or turning it over and over, see, perceive and think, that this also is not consistent, since right living is from God, because all good that is essentially good is from God? 
What then is living aright and not believing, but like clay in the hands of a potter, which cannot be formed into a vessel that would be of use in the spiritual kingdom, but only in the natural? Furthermore, cannot anyone see a contradiction in these two statements, namely, that he is saved who believes but does not live well, and that he is saved who lives well but does not believe? ... living well, which pertains to charity, is at this day both understood and not understood - living well naturally being understood, while living well spiritually is not ....
(True Christian Religion 392-393)

May 15, 2016

The Abodes of the Lord in Man

From Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Man's soul, which lives after death, is his spirit, and is in complete form a man; the soul of this form is the will and understanding, and the soul of these is love and wisdom from the Lord; these two are what constitute man's life, which is from the Lord above; yet for the sake of man's reception of Him, He causes life to appear as if it were man's; but that man may not claim life for himself as his, and thus withdraw himself from this reception of the Lord, the Lord has also taught that everything of love, which is called good, and everything of wisdom, which is called truth, is from Him, and nothing of these from man; and as these two are life, that everything of life which is life is from Him.

Since the soul in its very esse is love and wisdom, and these two in man are from the Lord, there are created in man two receptacles, which are also the abodes of the Lord in man; one for love, the other for wisdom, the one for love called the will, the other for wisdom called the understanding. Now since Love and Wisdom in the Lord are one distinctly, and Divine Love is of His Divine Wisdom, and Divine Wisdom is of His Divine Love, and since these so go forth from God-Man, that is, from the Lord, therefore these two receptacles and abodes of the Lord in man, the will and understanding, are so created by the Lord as to be distinctly two, and yet make one in every operation and every sensation; for in these the will and understanding cannot be separated. Nevertheless, to enable man to become a receptacle and an abode of the Lord, it is provided, as necessary to this end, that man's understanding can be raised above his proper love into some light of wisdom in the love of which the man is not, and that he can thereby see and be taught how he must live if he would come also into that higher love, and thus enjoy eternal happiness.

But by the misuse of this power to elevate the understanding above his proper love, man has subverted in himself that which might have been the receptacle and abode of the Lord (that is, of love and wisdom from the Lord), by making the will an abode for the love of self and the world, and the understanding an abode for whatever confirms those loves. From this it has come that these two abodes, the will and understanding, have become abodes of infernal love, and by confirmations in favor of these loves, abodes of infernal thought, which in hell is esteemed as wisdom.

The reason why the love of self and love of the world are infernal loves, and yet man has been able to come into them and thus subvert the will and understanding within him, is as follows: the love of self and the love of the world by creation are heavenly loves; for they are loves of the natural man serviceable to spiritual loves, as a foundation is to a house. For man, from the love of self and the world, seeks the welfare of his body, desires food, clothing, and habitation, is solicitous for the welfare of his family, and to secure employment for the sake of use, and even, in the interest of obedience, to be honored according to the dignity of the affairs which he administers, and to find delight and refreshment in worldly enjoyment; yet all this for the sake of the end, which must be use.  For through these things man is in a state to serve the Lord and to serve the neighbor.

When, however, there is no love of serving the Lord and serving the neighbor, but only a love of serving himself by means of the world, then from being heavenly that love becomes hellish, for it causes a man to sink his mind and disposition in what is his own, and that in itself is wholly evil.

Now that man may not by the understanding be in heaven while by the will he is in hell, as is possible, and may thereby have a divided mind, after death everything of the understanding which transcends its own love is removed; whereby it comes that in everyone the will and understanding finally make one. With those in heaven the will loves good and the understanding thinks truth; but with those in hell the will loves evil and the understanding thinks falsity. The same is true of man in this world when he is thinking from his spirit, as he does when alone; yet many, so long as they are in the body, when they are not alone think otherwise. They then think otherwise because they raise their understanding above the proper love of their will, that is, of their spirit. These things have been said, to make known that the will and understanding are two distinct things, although created to act as one, and that they are made to act as one after death, if not before.

(Divine Love and Wisdom 394 - 397)

May 12, 2016

Desiring and Longing to Change

Selection from Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Any one may confirm himself in favor of the Divine from things visible in nature, when he sees larvae - from the delight of some impulse, desiring and longing to change their terrestrial state to a certain likeness of the heavenly state, and for this purpose creeping into corners, and putting themselves as it were into a womb in order to be born again, and there becoming chrysalises, aurelias, caterpillars, nymphs, and at length butterflies; and having undergone this metamorphosis, and each after its kind been decked with beautiful wings, they ascend into the air as into their heaven, and there disport themselves joyfully, form marriage unions, lay eggs, and provide for themselves a posterity, nourished meanwhile with pleasant and sweet food from flowers.

Who that confirms himself in favor of the Divine from the visible things in nature can help seeing a kind of image of man's earthly state in these as larvae, and in them as butterflies an image of the heavenly state? Those who confirm themselves in favor of nature see the same things, but because in heart they have rejected the heavenly state of man they call them merely natural instincts.

(Divine Love and Wisdom 354)

May 11, 2016

Doing Uses From the Lord

Excerpt from Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The essence of spiritual love is doing good to others, not for the sake of self but for the sake of others; infinitely more is this the essence of Divine Love. It is like the love of parents for their children, in that parents do good to their children from love, not for their own sake but for their children's sake. This is especially manifest in a mothers love for her offspring.
Because the Lord is to be adored, worshiped and glorified, He is supposed to love adoration, worship, and glory for His own sake; but He loves these for man's sake, because by means of them man comes into a state in which the Divine can flow in and be perceived; since by means of them man puts away that which is his own, which hinders influx and reception, for what is man's own, which is self-love, hardens the heart and shuts it up.
This is removed by man's acknowledging that from himself comes nothing but evil and from the Lord nothing but good; from this acknowledgment there is a softening of the heart and humiliation, out of which flow forth adoration and worship.

From all this it follows, that the use which the Lord performs for Himself through man is that man may be able to do good from love, and since this is the Lord's love, its reception is the enjoyment of His love. Therefore, let no one believe that the Lord is with those who merely worship Him; He is with those who do His commandments, thus who perform uses; with such He has His abode, but not with the former.

(Divine Love and Wisdom 335)

May 8, 2016

By Abusing Rationality and Freedom

From Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The origin of evil is from the abuse of the capacities proper to man - rationality and freedom.
By rationality is meant the capacity to understand what is true and thereby what is false, also to understand what is good and thereby what is evil; and by freedom is meant the capacity to think, will and do these things freely. ... every man from creation, consequently from birth, has these two capacities, and that they are from the Lord; that they are not taken away from man; that from them is the appearance that man thinks, speaks, wills, and acts as from himself; that the Lord dwells in these capacities in every man, that man by virtue of that conjunction lives to eternity; that man by means of these capacities can be reformed and regenerated, but not without them; finally, that by them man is distinguished from beasts.
(1) A bad man equally with a good man enjoys these two capacities.
(2) A bad man abuses these capacities to confirm evils and falsities, but a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths.
(3) Evils and falsities confirmed in man are permanent, and come to be of his love, consequently of his life.
(4) Such things as have come to be of the love and life are engendered in offspring.
(5) All evils, both engendered and acquired, have their seat in the natural mind.

(Divine Love and Wisdom 264,265)

May 5, 2016

Conquering 'Infernal' Freedom

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
To compel oneself is not contrary to rationality and liberty.
Man has an internal of thought and an external of thought, and that these are distinct like what is prior and what is posterior, or like what is higher and what is lower; and because they are so distinct they can act separately and can act conjointly. These act separately when from the external of his thought a man speaks and acts in one way while interiorly he thinks and wills in another way; and these act conjointly when a man speaks and acts as he interiorly thinks and wills. The latter is generally true of the sincere, the former of the insincere.

Inasmuch as the internal and the external of the mind are so distinct, the internal can even fight with the external, and can force it by combat into compliance. Combat arises when a man thinks that evils are sins and therefore resolves to refrain from them; for when he refrains a door is opened, and when it is opened the Lord casts out the lusts of evil that have occupied the internal of thought, and implants affections for good in their place. This is done in the internal of thought. But as the enjoyments of the lusts of evil that occupy the external of thought cannot be cast out at the same time, a combat arises between the internal and the external of thought, the internal wishing to cast out these enjoyments because they are enjoyments of evil and not in accord with the affections for good in which the internal now is, and to bring in, in place of these enjoyments of evil, enjoyments of good that are in accord. The enjoyments of good are what are called goods of charity. From this contrariety a combat arises; and when this becomes severe it is called temptation.

Since, then, a man is a man from the internal of his thought, for this is a man's very spirit, it is clear that when a man compels the external of his thought to acquiescence or to an acceptance of the enjoyments of his affections, which are goods of charity, he is compelling himself. This evidently is not contrary to rationality and liberty, but is in accord with them, for rationality excites the combat and liberty carries it on. Moreover, liberty itself with rationality has its seat in the internal man, and from that in the external.

When, therefore, the internal conquers, as it does when the internal has reduced the external to acquiescence and compliance, the Lord gives man liberty itself and rationality itself; for the Lord then withdraws man from infernal freedom, which in itself is slavery, and brings him into heavenly freedom, which is in itself real freedom, and bestows upon him fellowship with the angels. That those who are in sins are servants, and that the Lord makes free those who accept truths from Him through the Word He teaches in John (8:31-36).

This may be illustrated by the example of a man who has had a sense of enjoyment in fraud and secret theft, and who now sees and internally acknowledges that these are sins, and therefore wishes to refrain from them. When he refrains a combat of the internal man with the external arises. The internal man has an affection for sincerity, while the external still finds an enjoyment in defrauding; and as this enjoyment is the direct opposite of the enjoyment of sincerity it only gives way when it is compelled; and it can be compelled only by combat. But when the victory has been gained the external man comes into the enjoyment of the love of what is sincere, which is charity; afterwards the enjoyment of defrauding gradually becomes unenjoyable to him. It is the same with other sins, as with adultery and whoredom, revenge and hatred, blasphemy, and lying. But the hardest struggle of all is with the love of rule from the love of self. He who subdues this easily subdues all other evil loves, for this is their head.

(Divine Providence 145,146)