An incomplete metaphor

gm-monarch-hatchingout_24312_600x450One of the most familiar metaphors used to depict human spiritual growth is that of a lowly caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly.

While it is true that we all can manifest greater beauty in our lives, it is wrong to assume that the process itself is a painless and purely beautiful experience. The caterpillar doesn’t just grow colorful wings—it completely dies (in the tomb of its cocoon)!

This death must be included in the metaphor and is more challenging and painful than one might expect, because it deals with some old principles that we are usually slow to let go of—like our own self-importance.

But real beauty always deals with those who have chosen to live for the sake of others by making themselves to be less important. Unfortunately, we remain as caterpillars if we help others without acquiring genuine innocence, that is, to increase our status, reputation or bank accounts through the art of pretense.

It is genuine innocence that is hard to come by and its beauty only appears after the death of our “caterpillar” or “old self.”

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Make a wish upon a “star”

nativity-starAlmost everyone has heard that phrase for successful wishing while he or she was growing up. But what does it really mean to make a wish upon a star?

It seems more enchanting than even throwing coins into a wishing well (unless it requires three coins).

Symbolically speaking (psycho-spiritually) a “star” represents knowledge and feelings that are beyond our habitual earthly experience. (Physically, a star resides “above” us and our earthly plane, and represents an influence that comes from above—like a heavenly influence). A “star’s” light can also provide us with direction when we travel at night. Similarly, higher knowledge and heavenly affections can show us the way (enlightenment) through tough times of inner darkness and mental obscurity.

Therefore, “wishing upon a star” is the desire to obtain some noble goal that lies outside our usual self-centered and worldly nature.

God gives special attention to these higher wishes, and therefore, they have a better chance of coming true!

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When “means” become “ends”

1-3-2All religions have strategies to battle “sin” and “wrong-doing.” But how does a rationally thinking person verify what is really (objectively) a sin?

“Sin” and “evil” can be understood scientifically as doing something against true order. But if you do not know what the true order in the universe is (and there is order in the universe), you won’t know when you are transgressing its laws.

Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg provided a simple view of universal order as “ends, causes (means) and affects.” The “end” is in the cause, and both are in the affects. (The “affect” brings the “end” into the manifest world as a formal result.)

However, when this order is challenged and changed, hazard (evil) enters into the process. For instance, when we become more interested in the means or causes than in the affects, we are uprooting universal order.

This uprooting of order can best be seen with sexual intercourse, whose designed purpose in nature is obviously to continue the species. But if we strive for the pleasure of sex as our only goal, this order is uprooted and we have taken part in thwarting nature’s grand “end-design” for our mere personal satisfaction.

In such a sexual process, where pleasure is sought for more than reproduction, the “means” takes over the function of the real universe’s “ends.”

Over history, humankind has similarly switched this divine order in almost everything they do. This is why worldly success, money, celebrity and status trump being a genuinely good person.

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Faith Includes Laws

318-955Most worshippers who believe in The Lord God leave many mysteries in a zone of mental vagueness. But scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that we are now living in an era where all the mysteries of faith can finally be explored by the rational mind.

This means that it is now permitted (from Above) that scientific laws (universal and objective scientific laws, that is) can be linked to otherwise invisible spiritual processes. One such universal scientific law is the Law of Triads. This law states that in order for anything real to come into existence, three principles must take part.

These three principles correspond to the Lord God’s Trinitarian, or three-fold character of “Father,” “Son” and Holy Spirit.” In Nature, these three Holy forces become active, passive and reconciling principles, which take part in the creation of all things.

In creation (entropy) the trajectory is from God, outward to the natural world. In evolution, a reverse movement (reverse entropy) is established whereby created things return inwardly to the Creator (in heaven).

How is this turnaround explained by the ubiquitous Law of Triads?

Simply put, it takes place when the Law of Triads becomes incomplete. In terms of evolution, a point is reached in the descending trajectory of Triadic forces where there are no longer any passive principles at hand. But since God’s action is continuous, the Triadic dynamic must also continue. So, the active principle reaches a point where it must become a new passive principle and this change brings about a new reversal of directions.

In human spiritual growth, this same process is accomplished when the ego (formerly an active force in our lives) now becomes passive to another active principle (like obeying God’s dictums).

All true religion concentrates its doctrine on this reversal.

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The Devil starts a new educational program

devilThe Devil looked at all the attendees of his new hellish workshop and, with a cavity-filled smile, said, “We can no longer simply trick earth-humans into making overt acts of wrongdoing. That’s getting too obvious. From now on, you must stay away from influencing people to openly ignore and challenge the Ten Commandments.”

The evil-embracing students looked at each other with quizzical expressions. Was their hero-teacher going mad and losing his touch?

“The world is getting smarter, so we have to be more subtle when applying our craft. We don’t want human society to become the least bit suspicious about our actual existence and aims,” said the Devil with a big evil grin.

“So instead, when you go inside people’s neural networks, I want you to search through all the ideas within your victim’s memories and identify what that person really loves the most in life. Then, interject flattery concerning these loves and slowly lead their hearts and minds into our community. Once you lure them into our circle you can easily mold similar—yet ever so slightly different—affections out of that original love, whereby you can slowly dim its power until you turn it into its opposite and destroy it. Ha, ha, ha! By using these subtle tactics the victim will even believe that these new desires and contentions sprang from his or her own heart and mind. Remember, when you destroy a person’s love you destroy that person. And you know, this destruction will give you the greatest of all delights imaginable. So let’s stop pushing overt acts of evil and start getting our kicks from destroying people’s lives!” said the Devil with a sly and harsh voice.

The Devil looked around the classroom. His students were taking notes furiously.

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Psycho-spiritual flora and fauna

floraScientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg made the claim that the evolution of the human spirit mirrors the evolution of organic life (plants and animals) on earth. Both “upward” processes involve a similar principle of the rules and order in the trajectory of increasing levels of awareness.

In other words, the human mind and spirit evolves just like plant life and animal life did when it emerged from the mineral kingdom of the earth. By knowing the order and sequence of this physical process one could then determine the steps in the growth of the non-material human mind from analogy, or correspondences.

The mineral kingdom of the human mind are the principles one adopts in life which forms the “ground” or foundation of one’s character.

The psycho-spiritual plant kingdom represents the intellectual ideas (or faith-system) that is derived from, and grows out from one’s chosen principles.

The animal kingdom of one’s inner world represents the qualities of one’s feelings and loves—the things that move us into action.

So the emergence of “dry ground,” “plants” and “animals” in the Seven Day Creation Story of Genesis actually represents the orderly and sacred (God-given) steps of our spiritual evolution.

Relatively few people know this. In the future, many more people will gain and embrace this higher, heavenly knowledge.

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Does your Astral Body stink?

smellyThe strange word formulation, above, was uttered by George Gurdjieff, but it could have been said by Emanuel Swedenborg, as well. Both men were concerned about humankind’s inner (or spiritual) development.

Humans, if they ignore their spiritual responsibilities, will literally give off a foul-smelling sphere in the “other” (or spiritual) world.

This “smelly sphere” represents the inner quality of one’s heart and mind, which becomes organized into a real body for the soul. (The human form is ultimately the reflection and organization of all one’s loves.) Gurdjieff called the rarefied (magnetic) blood, which constructs this higher bio-organization (like the Astral or preliminary spiritual body), Hanbledzoin, while Swedenborg called it the Animal Spirit.

During the process of genuine spiritual transformation and regeneration, it is this inner blood that gets purified (Divine Love & Wisdom, n 423). This higher blood, in turn, purifies the lower, corporeal (red) blood. During the organic processes of life this higher, magnetic blood, gives off and eliminates its dregs through perspiration and is connected to our sweat glands.

I predict that someday we will develop the technology to measure this bio-cleansing process and, from subtle odors released, determine whether we are spiritually evolving or just fooling others through pretense.

Now that would be a great improvement over the current lie detector!

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The three psycho-nuptials and spiritual growth

just-marriedIn Emanuel Swedenborg’s great theological work Divine Love & Wisdom (n 404), he discusses three levels of marriage (nuptials) or conjunction between the human intellect and heart that leads to true reasoning and rationality.

The main message here is that during the growth of the human mind, it is the level of one’s love that determines the level of one’s intellect.

For instance, when we first start learning in the world (as a child) we have a love (and curiosity) of knowing things. At this early stage we fill our memory with knowledge and all kinds of data.

At the second stage (usually as teenagers) we gain a love for understanding what we know. This leads to the deeper development of the human imagination.

The third conjunction (and marriage) between the heart and intellect happens at maturity when we desire to be wise. This stage leads to a perception that brings about rationality and true thought. Swedenborg also stated that God’s Word (Genesis 16:1-16) described this highest level of worldly and terrestrial consciousness as being represented by Ishmael, the son of Abram and his maidservant Hagar.

But a person’s love can still go higher! It can rise to having a sincere affection for God’s spiritual truth (symbolized by Isaac, Abram’s legitimate son from his lawful wife, Sarah).

This spiritual mental level of growth and psycho-conjunction, which seeks the highest truth in the universe, is where the Seven-Day Creation story kicks in and directs our inner lives toward a heavenly paradise!

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Pondering Swedenborg’s Doctrines more deeply

swedenborg_bibliographyI have been studying Emanuel Swedenborg’s theological writings for forty years. Each year I am becoming more convinced that I have wrongly interpreted Swedenborg’s insights towards spiritual transformation.

It is true that Swedenborg pointed out the incorrectness of the Christian doctrine of salvation by faith alone. The idea of justification by Faith alone simply allows individuals to hold their flaws and evil passions to be of no eternal account, because by believing that the Lord wiped away all sin, Christians can sit pretty.

But Swedenborg stressed that it is one’s deeds (good works) that lead to a real heavenly life because charity and usefulness represents the actual quality of life within one’s faith.

This later idea, although true, has been so stressed over recent years (as ways of growing a loving community and church) that a crucial step in spiritual growth has been overlooked. After all, one can do good deeds in the world from pretense, hidden agendas and egoism.

So, although justification by faith alone is a faulty doctrine, so can doing good deeds in the terrestrial world lead to a bad direction. The problem is that we humans have a dual nature—an inner and outer world. Both worlds have to change.

One cannot legitimately change both worlds towards higher, spiritual or heavenly principles without sincere self-examination and inner cleansing. This practice alone allows nothing to remain deeply hidden or masked when one is being outwardly friendly and charitable towards others.

Throughout the ages, all religion was originally designed to unify both our inner and outer worlds. This universal idea—running through all religion—has been sadly forgotten. But I, at least, am discovering (with horror) that I still cling to many self-delusions—which rely on my keeping both of my worlds separate and from observing each other!

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Unflattering self-discoveries

Argue2What many people miss about the purpose of religion is that, while living, each of us is to “die” to our old self and its ways.

Changing one’s smile, wardrobe, hairstyle or the books one reads doesn’t cut it. These are merely external modifications and don’t go deep enough to effect a change in the quality of one’s spirit.

The problem is that we are conditioned to underestimate how rotten our spirits (passions and intentions) have become. However, one extraordinary test for confirming this rottenness in our lives is if anyone or any group of people causes a feeling of indignation in us.

Theologian Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that all personal evil bubbles up from a principle of self-love. And indignation certainly comes from a feeling of superiority.

True religion was meant as a means for identifying such behavioral flaws in our lives and then removing them (causing our old self to “die” and a new one to emerge). But instead, many faith systems are giving us more reasons for feeling indignant toward others.

This kind of rottenness, if kept unchecked in one’s inner spirit, will go with us into the spiritual world.

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