Spiritual Astronomy

What is spiritual astronomy? It involves looking at the discoveries of astronomy in a novel and more personal way that can lead us to making similar spiritual discoveries about ourselves.

For instance, Galileo made the claim that the sun was the center of the planetary system rather than the earth. This was proven to be true. We can also make a similar spiritual discovery that the world does not revolve around us. When the Lord was in the world he challenged people to make exactly this same important discovery—by teaching that “Loving God and loving the neighbor” were the greatest commandments.

(By the way, it wasn’t Galileo’s science that got him in trouble with the church, it was his challenge to a literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. He believed that true science would not contradict Scripture if properly understood.)

Since Galileo’s time, astronomy has made additional discoveries that our sun is one of billions of suns in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of billions and billions of galaxies far out in space. Thus, when we measure ourselves against this vast universe we become less than a speck. So there is no premise by which we can rationally support and embrace self-conceit and self-importance. Again, the Lord taught humility, and to serve others.

Are your worldly hopes and wishes merely insignificant specks of dust in God’s Infinitely wise eyes? Or are your hopes and dreams worthy of divine notice? When you sincerely love others, God can find an abode in your heart and mind. You can then provide residence for something infinitely more vast and important than the entire physical universe!


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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16 Responses to Spiritual Astronomy

  1. Glenn Schoen says:

    Galileo made the claim that the sun was the center of the planetary system rather than the earth.

    It was Copernicus who made the heliocentric claim — which is why we have the “Copernican Revolution”.

    Galileo revived Copernicus’ claim a century or so later — which is why we don’t have “Galilean Revolution”.

    But seventeen hundred years or so before Copernicus, it was the Greek Aristarchus making the heliocentric claim.

    His claim, however, was shot down by Aristotle — which is why we also don’t have “Aristarchusian Revolution”.

    Aristotle shot down Aristarchus’ claim via reasonings such as, “If the earth spun on an axis, then objects would fly off earth”, and “If the earth moved about the sun, birds flying in the air would be left behind”.

    Because Aristotle was better known and had more influence, his wrong view won out over Aristarchus’ correct view.

    And that Aristotle’s reputation enabled his arguments in support of the wrong view to carry the day, serves as one early example of seduction by way of the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”.

    As Swedenborg would say, and indeed in fact did write, “Appearances are the first things out of which the human mind forms its understanding, and these appearances the mind can shake off only by [an] exploration of the cause.”

    So, it is fortunate that empirical observation and experimentation came along and developed to the point that the truth of the matter could be objectively settled with a reasonable and reliable degree of certainty.

    But old habits die hard, and the times of the sun rising and setting are published on a daily basis — being a few mouse clicks away for anyone with access to a computer, and a few page turns away for anyone with access to a newspaper.

    The “habit” here is that of speaking in terms of the appearance, even though the reality is otherwise.

    But speaking in terms of the appearance is a matter of convenience.

    Imagine if instead of saying, “The sun will set at 5:43 his evening”, we were obligated to say, “The earth’s rotation about its axis, and its revolution about the sun, will be such that at 5:43 this evening their coordination will give rise to the appearance that the sun is setting.”

    Clearly, Twitter would not permit this.

    Speaking of speaking in terms of the appearance, another thing Swedenborg had to say is that we all think of ourselves in a pre-Copernican-Revolution kind of way. That is, we believe ourselves to be the center of, if not the world, then at least our very own lives, not realizing the reality that we are not here in order that others may serve us, but in order that we may be of service to others.

    Though we may not often give much thought to it, of this reality we are intuitively aware.

    That we are intuitively aware of this reality is evidenced by what we tend to think or say of another whose selfishness is observed to exceed certain thresholds of toleration or leeway — “He thinks the world revolves around him. Ha.”

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    Thank you for sharing further details with my readers. However, I hope my simple message is not lost to all this detail.

    For instance, it is true that we intuitively can recognize selfishness in others. However, it is in observing selfishness in ourselves that we are blind to (as if hypnotized). This reality is evidenced by the Lord telling people that they must clean the inside of the cup, look at the log in their own eye, and not throw the first stone.

    Without such self-examination even good deeds become corrupted.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Spiritually yours,

  3. Glenn Schoen says:

    …it is true that we intuitively can recognize selfishness in others.

    Yes, this is true. However, it is not what I said.

    What I said we are intuitively aware of, is the reality “that we are not here in order that others may serve us, but in order that we may be of service to others.”

    Selfishness will stand in the way of being of service to others. So, try to be of service to others, then pay attention to what makes it difficult or hard, or what inside resists the effort, and one will discover mote that is in need of removal.

    And since we can so more easily see the “character defects” of others, we should pay attention to them as well. It is a good way to learn something about what may be lurking within us.

    And if a particular character defect of another should prove to be overly irritating or vexatious, then chances are not overly long that if we feel inclined to respond to it in a negative way, we are actually responding to a mirroring of the same or a similar character defect in ourselves.

    We have all, like Aristarchus’ contemporizes, fallen for or been seduced by the “appeal to authority” fallacy. (“So and so says […], so it must be true.”)

    We have all, like Aristotle, advanced plausible sounding reasons in favor of what isn’t true (even if unknowingly so).

    We all, in many ways, speak in terms of appearances, even when we know the reality of the matter is otherwise.

    Knowing something about the traps, pitfalls, wrong turns, etc. that people in general can fall into, makes it a little easier for one to recognize his own vulnerability to the same kinds of things.

    These and like things, rather than hinder self-examination, or bury the need for it under detail, actually help in one’s self-examination efforts.

    At any rate, this has been my experience, as well as that of countless others I have known.

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    We are in agreement.

    However, I like Swedenborg, hold that proper self-examination is neither common nor exercised enough to get into the real subtleties of hell’s influence. Natural angels have explored their behavior on one level, spiritual angels on a deeper level, and celestial angels pick up proclivities that remain hidden to the others.

    Spiritually yours,

  5. Glenn Schoen says:

    I like Swedenborg, hold that proper self-examination is neither common nor exercised enough to get into the real subtleties of hell’s influence.

    Perhaps the subtlety and efficacy of the Lord’s protection likewise is not sufficiently paid attention to.

    Swedenborg didn’t say that it was.

    Do you?

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    Much of the Lord’s protection (and bending of our loves) is done in secret. However, unless people are much improved from Swedenborg’s days, I have no reason to take it for granted that most people are reaching God’s heavenly kingdom.

    Reading about Swedenborg’s experiences in the spiritual world paints a pretty grim picture concerning the general state of the human race – even though most people think otherwise.

    Do you?

  7. Glenn Schoen says:

    Swedenborg’s experiences in the spiritual world cover both the upside and the downside. And as grim as the downside is, so is the upside attractive. There is a constant equilibrium maintained between the two.

    People who prefer to focus on the downside are saying something about themselves. Same thing for people who prefer to focus on the upside, as well as for people who prefer a balanced view of both sides.

  8. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    You haven’t read all my blogs. However, it is my experience when among other Swedenborgians that the positive view is most focused on (negating a balanced view).

    When I address the dynamics of spiritual growth (regeneration) the negative aspects of our lives and obstacles must be addressed. When Swedenborg addresses the process of regeneration he uses phrases like “at the present day there are but few who SUFFER themselves to be regenerated” not “at the present day there are but few who participate in the JOY of regeneration.”

    What does this say about Swedenborg?

    Spiritually yours,

  9. Kathleen says:

    Balance is good. Part of what I like about the GodGuy blog is that it gives readers a taste of both the positive and the negative aspects of many topics. Not always in the same post, but over time, and following some of the discussion themes he’s presented. Regular readers of this blog can attest to this. I know I don’t always want to be introspective and work on cleaning up my act, but it’s nice to be occasionally reminded that I shouldn’t take my own motivation, even for doing some act of charity, for granted.

  10. thegodguy says:

    Dear readers,

    Swedenborg’s grim outlook concerning spiritual evolution and regeneration is not simply that the process involves suffering but that few participate. So let me re-emphasize Swedenborg’s quote:

    “At the present day there are but FEW who suffer themselves to be regenerated.”

    So the situation becomes even worse! If the Lord had not come into the world the human race would have morphed into monsters – then go extinct.

    Spiritually yours,

  11. Sue says:

    But it’s possible that the word “suffer” suffered in the translation. Because the way it’s used in that sentence seems to be much different than the way we use it to refer to suffering. It’s being used more like ‘allow’. So, if we knew someone who could speak Latin, we could ask them about that …
    Do you, GodGuy? Maybe that’s part of a Swedenborgian education. I’m not sure.

  12. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    Yes, “suffering” can mean “allow.” It refers to the battle of human self-love against God’s divine love. Allowing (from free will) to be ruled by God’s love instead of our own proclivities and proprium can be as painful an experience as physical suffering. We have to give up what is “our own.” This is the DEATH of our old selves.

    Remember, we must take our doctrine from God’s Holy Word. All the “battles” depicted in the biblical narratives (including Armageddon) attest to the intensity towards which we put up a fight and defend our false self-image and false worldview.

    Spiritually yours,

  13. Glenn Schoen says:

    Don’t “battles” mean spiritual combat? And don’t they refer to various things? Such as the Lord combating and overcoming the hells? and His fighting on our behalf during temptations? We too need to fight during temptations, yes indeed. But if we are fighting to defend our false self-image and false worldviews, then it isn’t temptation that we are undergoing. In temptation that is genuine temptation (rather than just ‘temptation’ in name), we, in fact, fight against those things, not for them.

  14. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    Yes, I am speaking of spiritual combat. You are speaking as a Swedenborgian idealist. However, my audience is mostly non-Swedenborgian and your attempts at clarifying things makes sense only to other Swedenborgians.

    With that said, not all of us (including Swedenborgians) are fully victorious. Not all of us fully embrace God’s dictates or at every moment. And, being finite and imperfect creatures, there is always something that we will defend concerning our false self image. In fact, Swedenborg claimed that true temptation is a rare event. This is cause for true introspection for all of us.

    Also, you must be aware of the public’s general dismissal of Swedenborg – even claims that question his sanity.

    “WE” is used to depict the human race, which indeed would protect its current worldviews and institutions from the Lord’s new disposition (descending New Jerusalem). Otherwise, Swedenborg’s theological writings would be found in every household.

    Spiritually yours,

  15. Glenn Schoen says:

    You are speaking as a Swedenborgian idealist.

    What is a “Swedenborgian idealist”?

    …your attempts to clarify things make sense only to other Swedenborgians.


    You mean only “other Swedenborgians” are capable of understanding that when someone in the 1700s says “at this day” he is referring to the societies he had exposure to in 1700s, and not necessarily referring to the 2000s? Thanks for the heads up.

    Also, you must be aware of the public’s general dismissal of Swedenborg — even claims that question his sanity.

    And, so, you seek to join his company by shouting from the rooftops that Swedenborg solved the problem of quantum gravity? And by droning on to others that they are ruled and governed by evils spirits from hell?

    If they have visiting hours, perhaps I’ll stop by one day. Do you like chocolate? I’ll bring some with me if you do.

  16. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    A Swedenborgian idealist is someone who believes everything is just fine and dandy. Swedenborgians are not immune from “deep sleep.” In fact, the Swedenborgian church(es) have manifested all the signs of hell’s ongoing influence.

    I am glad you have positive evidence that people are less prone to evil today compared to those who lived in preceding centuries.

    You certainly want me to act like a “Dr. Feelgood” rather than one who seeks to warn humanity about the predicament they are in.

    Furthermore, my well-read friend, quantum gravity and the human heart are kindred topics.

    Spiritually yours,

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