The anatomy of an epiphany

Basically, an epiphany is the result of the human mind gaining some new intuition or perceiving some new meaning concerning the essence of a topic. A “light bulb” flashes on inside our heads. The topic in question could have remained quite boring and humdrum without this sudden neural synapse in the brain.

Many potent and exciting ideas lie outside our normal, habitual consciousness. They go over our heads, leaving only a seemingly dull residue.

Many have found Emanuel Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia (Secrets of Heaven) to be an excruciatingly boring read. The following passage concerning Swedenborg’s deeper interpretation of Exodus 4:27 serves as a good example:

And Moses told Aaron all the words of Jehovah. “That this signifies the influx of the truth proceeding immediately from the Divine of the Lord into the truth which proceeds mediately, and instruction in the details of doctrine, is evident from the signification of “telling” as being influx; from the representation of Moses, as being the truth proceeding immediately from the Divine of the Lord; from the representation of Aaron, as being the truth proceeding mediately from the Divine of the Lord; and from the signification of “all the words of Jehovah,” as being the details of doctrine. Instruction is signified by “Moses told the words to Aaron,” for instruction from the Divine is effected by means of influx, which influx is signified by “telling.” From all this it is evident that by “Moses told Aaron all the words of Jehovah” is signified the influx of the truth proceeding immediately from the Divine of the Lord into the truth which proceeds mediately, and instruction in the details of doctrine. There is instruction in the details of doctrine, when the truth proceeding immediately from the Divine of the Lord is conjoined with the truth which proceeds mediately, for then there is perception.”

Frustrated readers often blame Swedenborg for this mind-numbing writing style rather than admit that he is talking way over our heads. Swedenborg, while he attempted to bring angelic knowledge down to our level of reasoning, felt we must also make the effort of bringing our understanding up to the level of the angels. Swedenborg states that angels have an exquisite understanding of these two kinds of influx or divine influence, called immediate and mediate. Hmmm?

Having studied Swedenborg for over 35 years, I found the above paragraph “eye-popping!”

In a nutshell, immediate influx is God’s living influence flowing directly into our hearts and minds from the spiritual world. Mediate influx is a similar influence flowing indirectly by external means—like from books or from teachers and wise individuals. These two influences become conjoined and act as one when we apply what we learn from the outside world to our life choices—from inner convictions. Otherwise, mediate influences coming from the outside world remain stagnant in the human memory where they do not penetrate any deeper into our psyche.

The information about the joining or conjunction of these two kinds of influences into a spiritual ”marriage” holds even deeper secrets about the development and evolution of what Swedenborg described as one’s “remains,” which serves as a plane on which conscience develops and is perfected.

But this topic also contains clues as to how God created the physical universe. Swedenborg concurs that the universe was created—therefore God existed prior to creation. So how was God’s infinite creative activity changed to allow for the physical universe to finally appear?

Swedenborg states in his theological work, Divine Love and Wisdom, that God is perfect love. However, in order for love to be perfect it had to be reciprocated. That means God had to love something outside of Himself—something that had the intelligence and potential to love God back.

Before the creation of the world, God’s love and wisdom emanated as rays from a Spiritual Sun. These primal emanations represented immediate influx. But God made conscious adjustments whereby truth would proceed and manifest in such a way that it could re-enter and support the system as an external or outside force. This not only caused time and space to be introduced into the scheme, it set the stage for creation to proceed by mutual support—that is, all law and order ensured that the universe, in its unfolding process, would follow the dynamics of reciprocal and mutual love. Nothing came into existence without coexistence. This is why nature is in an incessant endeavor towards self-organization and greater complexity.

The evolution of humankind, with the capacity for spiritual transformation through sincere mutual love, represents the ongoing perfection of this divine patterning principle (Conjunctive Design). We can each become the mediate influence of God’s truth for another individual.

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
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2 Responses to The anatomy of an epiphany

  1. Forrest Dristy says:

    Excellent essay. Thank you.

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Forrest,

    I enjoyed writing it!

    Spiritually yours,

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