In 1745 scientist Emanuel Swedenborg was enjoying a sumptuous meal at an English Tavern and contemplating his discovery that Holy Scripture held profound ideas, hidden from the eyes of men. Suddenly he perceived that the room he was sitting in was getting darker. Next, he noticed that a strange mist began issuing out of his skin pores. The mist then turned into noxious and disgusting crawling creatures of every kind— like spiders, slimy frogs and snakes. These creatures then began to burst into flames on the floor.
But what really unnerved the scientist was a shadowy figure and voice from a corner of the room saying to him, “Why are you eating so much?”
This caused Swedenborg to dash out of the tavern in a panic!
This should serve as a warning to all spiritual guides that love, friendship and sharing is not the answer to creating a better world.
You see, up to the time of the incident at the tavern, Swedenborg had unselfishly shared enormous amounts of knowledge with the world and helped usher Sweden into the enlightened age of science and reason. He served as a legislator and was an assessor of Sweden’s important mining industry. His usefulness and charity to the neighbor was unmatched.
Yet, this wasn’t enough to gain the Lord God’s favor.
In 1745 he was given the horrifying experience of seeing his flaws of character take form as various vermin issuing out of the very pores of his body. He also understood the statement, “Why are you eating so much?” as a warning that he was feeding his essential life with too many worldly desires. A cleansing and purification process was needed in Swedenborg’s precocious life in order to begin taking in God’s higher, spiritual food.
Two years before the tavern incident, Swedenborg was going through an intense period of self-combat with his inner demons that even affected his dreams. It was this inner combat—not his good deeds or charitable acts—that allowed the Lord God to finally open Swedenborg’s inner eyes to observe and record the wonderful things in heaven and the spiritual world.
Good deeds are not good deeds unless a person goes through a similar and unpleasant process of self-cleansing (called regeneration), otherwise the ego maintains its grip on the control panel of the human cockpit where fraud and subtle mischief occur.
I am therefore disheartened to see friendship and community being universally promoted and emphasized over the personal challenge of our getting the deepest possible look at our own motives (Ruling Love) and cleaning out the crap.
Good deeds do not lead to salvation unless those deeds acquire heavenly innocence through “going up against” ourselves and the various flaws of our behavior. Even a Devil can be friendly and helpful, if it helps his aim.