Is spiritual growth gentle or harsh?

biblical_battleDepends on how we approach religion.

When Emanuel Swedenborg tells us that the Lord God and His angels always work gently to bend our flawed desires into something that is more, noble, this does not mean that we are separated or immune from any suffering or discomfort whenever the Heavens act and try to purify us.

While The Lord removes many undesirable traits from our lives secretly and without our knowledge, conscious spiritual transformation requires real knowledge and difficult choices.

Swedenborg tells us that the trajectory of Divine Providence is to take humanity from states of evil to less evil, and even to good. But this cleansing process is lawfully intensified by our reciprocation and partnership with the Creator. We must consciously choose and endure the “ego-popping” self-discoveries that spiritual challenges bring upon us.

Our reactions to this divine cleansing influence can often be intense and lead to real agony because of what we most strongly identify with (self-centeredness—or that which we believe belongs to us from lower, worldly principles) is being criticized and challenged from above.

As the saying goes, “old habits die hard.”

Furthermore, the higher, psycho-spiritual interpretation of the Apocalypse in Revelation and other biblical battles represents the inner intensity of genuine spiritual confrontation. It is a cosmic war. Even Jesus was in a sweat as he prayed in the olive grove at Gethsemane about his future challenges (because his finite human form still contained some doubts and physical fears).

The belief that spiritual growth is always a joy can delude us and make us complacent to our spiritual responsibilities, where it becomes a real struggle to see God’s help and providence working through our various misfortunes.

Spiritual transformation is a life and death struggle between our old self and the new self that God has planned for us. So one of those selves has to die! This process can only be gentle if we receive truths sparingly and let our inner battles simmer slowly over a long period of time.

There is real evidence that Swedenborg’s own spiritual journey was harsh (especially since he left the world with a completely new dispensation from heaven—that is not yet accepted).

The more truth we acquire, the greater the battle (spiritual conflict) to incorporate those truths into genuine love and action, which emerges from a growing conscience.

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Serving others

feed-hungry-childTheologian Emanuel Swedenborg said that the way we serve others is the way we ultimately serve the Lord God. Service determines where one’s heart really is and where our actions stem from.

Therefore, we must sincerely evaluate our way of giving and sharing. Is it temporary or is it eternal? You see, giving food, clothing, money or any other support may not reach the Lord God in heaven. God only cares about lasting, eternal help.

What is temporary help, and what is eternal help?

Temporary help is merely physical help that never lasts, but eternal help represents the raising up of another person’s inner values and promotion of his or her spiritual future. (The latter principle does not preclude the former.)

Our acts of kindness and concern for others must come with an eternal lesson.

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When “Love,” “Faith” and “Hope” no longer works!

praying-handsOnly Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff have focused on the human consequences of having two distinct kinds of minds—an inner and an outer mind. This dual nature in humans has rendered the spiritual impulses of “Love,” “Faith” and “Hope” ineffectual in modern times, and particularly useless from a traditional religious point of view in individuals who do not take this split into account.

Both Swedenborg and Gurdjieff claimed that the dual nature of human consciousness forms in childhood. This actual splitting of minds naturally occurs when children learn pretense from adults and the world around them. This causes a new personality (outer mask) of insincerity and deceit to develop and cover over their original (and more innocent) birth-consciousness, where it then becomes the new master and automatically takes over their dealings and interactions with the outer world.

Unfortunately, the noble concepts of “Love,” “Faith” and “Hope” have also been thrown into this outer, artificial mind/mask of pretention (and serve as vices). Now everyone can also manipulate these original sacred impulses merely to fool others into thinking positive things about them.

According to Swedenborg, the Lord God made wise use of this split mind by secretly implanting genuine spiritual feelings and knowledge (called remains) into just that mind which had been covered over and replaced—where they will be kept safe. God only works in human lives through this deeper, inner plane of the mind and this is the only place where genuine spiritual growth occurs, that is, the creation of a new will and heart. (Gurdjieff called this covered-over mind the subconscious, which holds and protects spiritual conscience from becoming atrophied by the vanities and allurements of the material world and human egoism.)

“Love,” “Faith” and “Hope” have not escaped this outcome and have become mixed with the human egoism (proprium).

When humans sincerely begin to notice their inconsistencies of behavior and resist temptations, the inner mind—with its God-given remains and conscience—begins to re-surface in our daily affairs. This is the “Dry Land” and the inner ground represented by “Day Three” of the Seven-Day Creation Story in Genesis that develops further, and brings forth, a heavenly garden in our lives!

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An incomplete metaphor

gm-monarch-hatchingout_24312_600x450One of the most familiar metaphors used to depict human spiritual growth is that of a lowly caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly.

While it is true that we all can manifest greater beauty in our lives, it is wrong to assume that the process itself is a painless and purely beautiful experience. The caterpillar doesn’t just grow colorful wings—it completely dies (in the tomb of its cocoon)!

This death must be included in the metaphor and is more challenging and painful than one might expect, because it deals with some old principles that we are usually slow to let go of—like our own self-importance.

But real beauty always deals with those who have chosen to live for the sake of others by making themselves to be less important. Unfortunately, we remain as caterpillars if we help others without acquiring genuine innocence, that is, to increase our status, reputation or bank accounts through the art of pretense.

It is genuine innocence that is hard to come by and its beauty only appears after the death of our “caterpillar” or “old self.”

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Make a wish upon a “star”

nativity-starAlmost everyone has heard that phrase for successful wishing while he or she was growing up. But what does it really mean to make a wish upon a star?

It seems more enchanting than even throwing coins into a wishing well (unless it requires three coins).

Symbolically speaking (psycho-spiritually) a “star” represents knowledge and feelings that are beyond our habitual earthly experience. (Physically, a star resides “above” us and our earthly plane, and represents an influence that comes from above—like a heavenly influence). A “star’s” light can also provide us with direction when we travel at night. Similarly, higher knowledge and heavenly affections can show us the way (enlightenment) through tough times of inner darkness and mental obscurity.

Therefore, “wishing upon a star” is the desire to obtain some noble goal that lies outside our usual self-centered and worldly nature.

God gives special attention to these higher wishes, and therefore, they have a better chance of coming true!

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When “means” become “ends”

1-3-2All religions have strategies to battle “sin” and “wrong-doing.” But how does a rationally thinking person verify what is really (objectively) a sin?

“Sin” and “evil” can be understood scientifically as doing something against true order. But if you do not know what the true order in the universe is (and there is order in the universe), you won’t know when you are transgressing its laws.

Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg provided a simple view of universal order as “ends, causes (means) and affects.” The “end” is in the cause, and both are in the affects. (The “affect” brings the “end” into the manifest world as a formal result.)

However, when this order is challenged and changed, hazard (evil) enters into the process. For instance, when we become more interested in the means or causes than in the affects, we are uprooting universal order.

This uprooting of order can best be seen with sexual intercourse, whose designed purpose in nature is obviously to continue the species. But if we strive for the pleasure of sex as our only goal, this order is uprooted and we have taken part in thwarting nature’s grand “end-design” for our mere personal satisfaction.

In such a sexual process, where pleasure is sought for more than reproduction, the “means” takes over the function of the real universe’s “ends.”

Over history, humankind has similarly switched this divine order in almost everything they do. This is why worldly success, money, celebrity and status trump being a genuinely good person.

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Faith Includes Laws

318-955Most worshippers who believe in The Lord God leave many mysteries in a zone of mental vagueness. But scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that we are now living in an era where all the mysteries of faith can finally be explored by the rational mind.

This means that it is now permitted (from Above) that scientific laws (universal and objective scientific laws, that is) can be linked to otherwise invisible spiritual processes. One such universal scientific law is the Law of Triads. This law states that in order for anything real to come into existence, three principles must take part.

These three principles correspond to the Lord God’s Trinitarian, or three-fold character of “Father,” “Son” and Holy Spirit.” In Nature, these three Holy forces become active, passive and reconciling principles, which take part in the creation of all things.

In creation (entropy) the trajectory is from God, outward to the natural world. In evolution, a reverse movement (reverse entropy) is established whereby created things return inwardly to the Creator (in heaven).

How is this turnaround explained by the ubiquitous Law of Triads?

Simply put, it takes place when the Law of Triads becomes incomplete. In terms of evolution, a point is reached in the descending trajectory of Triadic forces where there are no longer any passive principles at hand. But since God’s action is continuous, the Triadic dynamic must also continue. So, the active principle reaches a point where it must become a new passive principle and this change brings about a new reversal of directions.

In human spiritual growth, this same process is accomplished when the ego (formerly an active force in our lives) now becomes passive to another active principle (like obeying God’s dictums).

All true religion concentrates its doctrine on this reversal.

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The Devil starts a new educational program

devilThe Devil looked at all the attendees of his new hellish workshop and, with a cavity-filled smile, said, “We can no longer simply trick earth-humans into making overt acts of wrongdoing. That’s getting too obvious. From now on, you must stay away from influencing people to openly ignore and challenge the Ten Commandments.”

The evil-embracing students looked at each other with quizzical expressions. Was their hero-teacher going mad and losing his touch?

“The world is getting smarter, so we have to be more subtle when applying our craft. We don’t want human society to become the least bit suspicious about our actual existence and aims,” said the Devil with a big evil grin.

“So instead, when you go inside people’s neural networks, I want you to search through all the ideas within your victim’s memories and identify what that person really loves the most in life. Then, interject flattery concerning these loves and slowly lead their hearts and minds into our community. Once you lure them into our circle you can easily mold similar—yet ever so slightly different—affections out of that original love, whereby you can slowly dim its power until you turn it into its opposite and destroy it. Ha, ha, ha! By using these subtle tactics the victim will even believe that these new desires and contentions sprang from his or her own heart and mind. Remember, when you destroy a person’s love you destroy that person. And you know, this destruction will give you the greatest of all delights imaginable. So let’s stop pushing overt acts of evil and start getting our kicks from destroying people’s lives!” said the Devil with a sly and harsh voice.

The Devil looked around the classroom. His students were taking notes furiously.

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Psycho-spiritual flora and fauna

floraScientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg made the claim that the evolution of the human spirit mirrors the evolution of organic life (plants and animals) on earth. Both “upward” processes involve a similar principle of the rules and order in the trajectory of increasing levels of awareness.

In other words, the human mind and spirit evolves just like plant life and animal life did when it emerged from the mineral kingdom of the earth. By knowing the order and sequence of this physical process one could then determine the steps in the growth of the non-material human mind from analogy, or correspondences.

The mineral kingdom of the human mind are the principles one adopts in life which forms the “ground” or foundation of one’s character.

The psycho-spiritual plant kingdom represents the intellectual ideas (or faith-system) that is derived from, and grows out from one’s chosen principles.

The animal kingdom of one’s inner world represents the qualities of one’s feelings and loves—the things that move us into action.

So the emergence of “dry ground,” “plants” and “animals” in the Seven Day Creation Story of Genesis actually represents the orderly and sacred (God-given) steps of our spiritual evolution.

Relatively few people know this. In the future, many more people will gain and embrace this higher, heavenly knowledge.

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Does your Astral Body stink?

smellyThe strange word formulation, above, was uttered by George Gurdjieff, but it could have been said by Emanuel Swedenborg, as well. Both men were concerned about humankind’s inner (or spiritual) development.

Humans, if they ignore their spiritual responsibilities, will literally give off a foul-smelling sphere in the “other” (or spiritual) world.

This “smelly sphere” represents the inner quality of one’s heart and mind, which becomes organized into a real body for the soul. (The human form is ultimately the reflection and organization of all one’s loves.) Gurdjieff called the rarefied (magnetic) blood, which constructs this higher bio-organization (like the Astral or preliminary spiritual body), Hanbledzoin, while Swedenborg called it the Animal Spirit.

During the process of genuine spiritual transformation and regeneration, it is this inner blood that gets purified (Divine Love & Wisdom, n 423). This higher blood, in turn, purifies the lower, corporeal (red) blood. During the organic processes of life this higher, magnetic blood, gives off and eliminates its dregs through perspiration and is connected to our sweat glands.

I predict that someday we will develop the technology to measure this bio-cleansing process and, from subtle odors released, determine whether we are spiritually evolving or just fooling others through pretense.

Now that would be a great improvement over the current lie detector!

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