This imagined goodness was nothing more than an evasion of who I really am and all my contradictions of character. Hanging out with others, who were also supposedly on a spiritual path, only served to titillate and affirm my false sense of myself through a kind of consoling belief. Why not? I was a follower of Swedenborgian theology and had access to the most potent new spiritual doctrines the world has ever seen! Was I not special?
Then I came across a curious notion.
I remember Emanuel Swedenborg writing about how rare it was that people experienced actual spiritual temptation on earth. Rare? The Lord God wisely reserves this uncomfortable state for those who are willing to explore their inner reality and bravely do battle with themselves.
Over the years I have verified that my inner reality contained lots of vile and vicious leanings—originating from nasty spirits in the other world. I didn’t notice that these shady characters found a sanctuary in me until I started to observe myself minus all the self-deception. My success with this procedure is why I feel less noble today than I did when I started the process.
Now, nothing is more apparent to me than my being absolutely rotten to the core—which is what Swedenborg maintained about the entire human race. He wrote that as of ourselves we are nothing but evil (Arcana Coelestia n 9980). True goodness only comes from the Lord God in heaven and that salvation and wisdom is obtained by being constantly reminded of our imperfections, un-rooting those imperfections and making room for God’s genuine love to enter into our hearts and minds. (That certainly popped my hypnotic bubble!)
From my objective observation of our human predicament, I believe that even many well dug-in Swedenborgians wouldn’t know what hit them if the uncomfortable process of actual spiritual temptation and regeneration kicked in. We tend to protect our illusions through our friendships and organizations rather than challenge them. Our self-worth and esteem is closely tied to such illusions. Many people go to church simply to find affirmations of their self-relevance.
Stressing community, sharing and togetherness, before this uncomfortable process takes hold, only adds to the illusion of personal spiritual evolution—no matter how much of a calming effect it may produce on a person’s psyche. I know this from first-hand experience. I was once warned, by a Swedenborgian minister, that I would be barred from the church if I continued to make comments that were potentially discomforting to the other members of the church.
(It seems that being led out of hell is imagined to be as enjoyable as attending and observing church ritual with sentimental devotion and friendly behavior.)
I can only conclude that Swedenborg’s theological ideas are not spreading quickly throughout the world because they have been misrepresented and rendered ineffectual.