Both men promoted the central idea that more love was needed in the world. Love would transform the world. While this idea is true, scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg would have challenged the notion that “all you need is love.” Something more is required.
John Lennon seemed to believe that one must simply embrace a more loving lifestyle and belief-system. In other words, increased love was there for the taking (and giving). Swedenborg, on the other hand, understood that one must first tackle one’s inner flaws and negative traits before love could actually become a part of an individual’s true fabric.
Anyone familiar with John Lennon’s life knows that he was plagued with inner demons and had a dark side (the animated movie “Yellow Submarine” even has Lennon morphing out of Frankenstein’s monster). It seems that his advocating love did not change this predicament. He had the right idea about love but was unaware of what personal obstacles stood in the way of obtaining it and making it a stable fixture within his inner world.
Swedenborg not only discussed these obstacles throughout his many theological writings, he made an impassioned effort to find and dig up his own personal inner dirt and clean the “inside of the cup.” He discovered that the more effectively we participate in this process of unflattering self-examination and removal of ignoble traits, the more we attract love into our life and the more our actions can then become genuinely good.
The reason why “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” is that we fail (or fear) looking into our dark side and dealing with it. Love and good actions then become merely a way to hide our faults and dark side from the world, and even from ourselves.
True personal transformation requires that we deal with our dark side—not just cover over it with a warm smile, lots of hugs or civility.
Swedenborg maintained that there is a heaven and there is a hell. These two realities influence and form the quality of our inner spirit (hearts and minds) based on our life choices. Angels are individuals who made efforts, while on earth, to purify their hearts and minds from spiritual principles. This effort is an intentional kind of “suffering,” because you are put up against yourself and your faulty self-image.
As more and more people preach the need for greater love in the world I can only wonder if they are following John Lennon’s paradigm or Swedenborg’s.