One of the things I admire about Emanuel Swedenborg’s theology is that he always found ways to explain highly abstract ideas with tangible biological processes. Blood-flow is just one such example that he used to make an analogy between the various changes and states of the human body with that of the human mind.
Swedenborg discovered that one’s blood circulation corresponds with one’s psycho-spiritual state of mind. Each state of mind produces a representative and mimetic blood flow in the human anatomy. In fact, he discovered that there is a biological equivalent of blood circulation in the human anatomy that mimics the mental process of separating one’s reasoning from emoting and feeling.
We can each mediate on a topic before we bring it into the heart (will) and act on it. This discernment allows us to elevate our minds and take advantage of knowledge that is superior to our habitual leanings and rise above our normal mundane lives. If we apply such superior knowledge to our habits and proclivities, it is analogous to the organic process of the lungs purifying our blood from the heart.
The downside to this process is that the human intellect can function so independently from our true feelings that it can be used to simply move the lip muscles to say the “right things” and the body to act outwardly in the expected moral ways of the culture we find ourselves in. This is hypocrisy—and Swedenborg described a blood-flow that was adopted to allow such pretense to exist in human affairs.
Hypocrisy manifests in humans by allowing high ideals to be expressed without interfering with or affecting the hidden qualities of our heart and intentions. This is like blood in the body going through the lungs from arteries outside the heart, such as the bronchial arteries from the aorta and vena cava. A spiritually evolving person, on the other hand, has their predominant blood-flow from the heart through the more direct routes into the lungs from the pulmonary arteries. (The former circulation allows the blood to be rarefied, but not scrutinized.)
So there are two types of blood-flow into and out of the lungs. There is a corporeal (bodily/physical) circulation and a circulation of the spirit (external and internal).
Years after Swedenborg, Dr. Anton Mesmer (a Viennese physician) discovered through careful observation that his patients had two kinds of blood circulation. He then invented methods (like using magnets) to artificially make one species of circulation more dominant than the other. This led to his discovery of hypnotism and trance.
At the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century George Gurdjieff made a rigorous study of hypnotism. He claimed that the human predilection for suggestibility came from one type of blood circulation dominating over the other— which influenced how one reacts to sensory data coming from the outside world.
Gurdjieff’s experiments with hypnotism led him to discover that one type of blood flow was created by a corporeal level consciousness and the other ruled over one’s subconscious. He not only found that the subconscious mind was locked into a primitive and underdeveloped state (because it is overlooked) but that sacred data was safely stored in this deep realm of the mind. This sacred data is exactly the same as Swedenborg’s description of “remains.” And it stays primitive and undeveloped until an individual intentionally engages in the process of spiritual transformation.
This process allows two different states of mind and both species of blood circulation to be re-united, whereupon combat arises between our outer knowledge and what we inwardly are. The outcome of this personal conflict determines one’s true spiritual quality.
(I have supplied a more detailed explanation of this process of spiritual “regeneration” in my award-winning second book Proving God and my third book, Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links—Anti-intuitive Essays for Personal Transformation.)