A bitter pill

One of my very favorite human phrases is “swallowing a bitter bill.” This statement tells me that we “humans,” in spite of all our flawed dreams and motives, have deep within our psyche, a real bead on a universal truth.

These words are usually said to us when we need to step back, look into the mirror and admit with our whole heart and mind that there is indeed some unflattering truth about our behavior.

This “bitter pill” concept is a universal truth, because we can hear it said anywhere—in the workplace, the home, church, the AA meeting, etc., etc., etc.

While this principle is universally understood by the human intellect, it is not universally embraced by the human heart. But the way to God’s heaven is precisely through the process of uncomfortable self-discovery!

Many people wrongly use religion to cheer them up—at the first sign of any personal discomfort. (And ministers want to keep their membership numbers up.)

However, the most theologically blatant communication of this misguided condition is in a strange passage from the chapter Revelation in Holy Scripture. In Revelation 9:9-10, John is given a sacred book to eat by God’s angel! While it was in his mouth it tasted sweet as honey. But when it was swallowed, it turned his stomach sour.

John had swallowed a heavenly bitter pill! More importantly, he endured it!

The essential spiritual message contained in these two passages is that our first encounter with God, Divine Wisdom and Love is indeed a sweet experience—we are open to it. But when we begin to digest God’s tenets more intensely and get deeper into the nitty-gritty of self-examination, things can get a bit upsetting.

In fact, the Lord stopped discussing further details of the Second Coming, even with His disciples because “they could not bear these things now.” Hmmm? What is it that humans find so difficult to bear?

God doesn’t simply want us to worship him and hope for the best. God wants us to “go through the mill” of spiritual transformation!

Are you ready?



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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6 Responses to A bitter pill

  1. PTM says:

    That’s a great message GodGuy. So true! No need to fear taking the bitter pill. It’s good medicine after all.

  2. Roger says:

    Consistent with my (and your) Catholic background, although both of us now have a Swedenborgian twist. The Catholic church teaches about structured self-mortification – not as a masochistic endeavor to snuff out the lower nature, but to assimilate our egocentricity and our physicality to our higher, spiritual nature. Self-examination and mortification are meant to put innocent physical things (food, sex, warmth, wine, coffee, exercise, health, walks in the woods, movies) in the category of the “things that will be added unto us” if we first seek the “Kingdom of God and His Glory”, rather than being ends in themselves.

    Babylon or no Babylon, I think Swedenborg is closer to Catholicism (praise the Lord!) than to sola fide Protestantism.


    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Roger,

      Welcome back! Yes, Catholicism is closer to Swedenborgianism – especially when it comes to self-examination/confession (bitter pill). Protestants who believe that “faith alone” saves have no need to explore their faults – they admit to every evil. However, Swedenborg was adamant that each person had to explore SPECIFIC flaws and evil compulsions in their hearts and minds, then resist these self-discovered evils (asking for the Lord’s help). Such an exercise is a sign to God that we are sincere at wanting to have these flaws removed.

      Spiritually yours,

  3. trudom22 says:

    THE genius of the present age in matters spiritual is towards simplicity, and the hunger of the human heart is for Truth naked and uninvolved. That hunger will eventually bring about (is already bringing about) its own satisfaction, and here and there are men and women who, passing through the Gateway of Self-conquest, are entering into possession of the Transcendent Righteousness.

    • thegodguy says:

      Simplicity is understanding that the “Gateway of Self-conquest” is the “bitter pill.”

      Spiritually yours,

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