It would seem that from a quick read of some of my previous blog articles or from a first read of my newest book Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links (Anti-intuitive Essays For Personal Transformation) that I am offering a stinging challenge to the noble concept of mutual love in human society. Such a stance obviously runs counter to the growing cry that humans need to become more compassionate toward each other in this troubled world.
Having carefully studied the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff for almost forty years I have made the personal (and painful) discovery that spiritual growth demands more than our becoming more caring and empathetic towards others.
The mix up occurs because love of kind (and love towards God) is the goal we seek. Because this is the noblest of goals, statements by Swedenborg, like “ . . . the man is in heaven, thus with the Lord, when he is in the good of charity” (Arcana Coelestia, n. 9227) or one can “ . . . regenerate by the good of love” (AC n. 9229) can be misleading.
People want to be seen as “good” and want to feel that they are contributing to society, so they immediately try to obtain goodness directly—by simply behaving in certain ways that are outwardly recognized as good and caring. But self-love and self-importance can sneak into these “positive” actions in thousands of subtle ways that fly under everyone’s radar.
You cannot simply go from being a flawed person to a glowing angel “just like that.” And we are most definitely all flawed people. Living one’s faith requires more than putting God’s truth into action. You can do that by making use of mechanical memory.
Both Swedenborg and Gurdjieff were adamant that we have picked up lots of bad “baggage” along the way during our lives. This baggage has to be dealt with. And, while good acts towards others are indeed beneficial to society, these acts of kindness do not benefit our personal souls or spiritual future unless we sincerely deal with our extra baggage.
(Swedenborg even claimed that God’s Holy Word is spread most effectively throughout the world by individuals with the biggest egos and a magnified sense of self-importance.)
We cannot assume that acts of kindness and caring constitute spiritual re-birth. Although, when I attend some Sunday church services, this is the precise impression I get from the worshippers.
Purging and cleansing of the human spirit is the central focus of spiritual re-birth— it is not obtained simply from deciding to act more nicely around others. If good actions alone could cleanse people then every politician who ever kissed a baby would be guaranteed of becoming a heavenly angel of light!
I admit that my ideas do not fit neatly into the current view of what the world considers as “sharing.” But I am indeed sharing—on the deepest level possible. My new book is intended to be helpful in identifying the unflattering obstacles that stand in the way of our good actions becoming acceptable to the Lord God.