June 16, 2017 § 1 Comment
Our western culture appears to worship self-worth. We are encouraged to have a positive self-image of ourselves. Yet the Heavenly Doctrines teach us repeatedly that we are all nothing but evil. This is not a popular teaching. Yet the acknowledgement that we are nothing but evil is necessary if we are to live angelic lives.
It is true that evil spirits associated with us don’t mind if we cripple ourselves with overwhelming guilt and depression over this fact. But the acknowledgement of our evil nature does not have to involve such guilt and depression. It can be a simple recognition of a fact.
People who die in childhood do not have actual evils, as those who die in adulthood; but they do have hereditary inclinations to evils. Since they have not acquire any actual evil, it is easy for those who died in childhood to think that they are good. They have to be disabused of that idea.
I have spoken to angels about young children, whether these are free from evils since no evil of their own doing clings to them as it does to adults. But I have been told that they are just as much immersed in evil; indeed that they too are nothing but evil, but that as with all angels they are withheld from evil and maintained by the Lord in good, so much so that it seems to them as though they abode in good from themselves. This also is why, after young children have become adult in heaven, they are sometimes allowed to return to their evils which they acquired by heredity – lest any false notion should exist in them that good with them is derived from themselves and not from the Lord; and they are left immersed in those evils until they come to know, acknowledge, and believe that the truth is as has just been indicated. A certain person also who had died as a young child but who had grown up in heaven possessed a similar notion and was therefore taken back to the life of evils that was innate within him. At this point I was given to perceive from his sphere that he had an inclination to dominate others and that he thought nothing of lustful acts, which were evils that he possessed by heredity from his parents. But after he acknowledged that such was his character he was received back again among the angels with whom he had been previously. (AC 2207)
June 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
Who of us, as parents and grandparents, who watch and care for children has not grown frustrated by their being uncooperative? The passage below suggests that there may be more good in their uncooperativeness than we are aware of!
On many occasions when young children who were still mere infants were present with me in groups (chorus) they have sounded as something gentle but without order, so that they were not yet acting as one in the way they would do later on when they had become more grown up. And what astonished me, the spirits present with me could not refrain from trying to direct their thought and speech. Such a desire comes naturally to spirits, but I have noticed every time that the young children resisted, being unwilling to think or to speak as the spirits directed. Quite often I have detected a kind of anger accompanying such refusal and resistance; and once they were able to say anything at all they merely said, No! I have been told that young children undergo such temptation in the next life so that they may become accustomed and disciplined not only to resist falsity and evil but also not to think, speak, and act from any other, and so not to allow themselves to be directed by anyone but the Lord alone. (AC 2294)
June 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
Below is a telling revelation of how children in heaven are educated to become angels. I cannot but help believe that when children on earth say or hear the Lord’s prayer, the angels who are with them are also instilling tender ideas.
People who know nothing about the state of the life after death may think that young children acquire angelic intelligence and wisdom the moment they enter the next life. But I have learned through much experience that this is not so at all. Those who die not long after birth have the minds of young children, almost the same as on earth. Nor is the amount of what they know any greater, for they possess no more than the capacity to know, and from this to have intelligence and from this to be wise. Yet that capacity is more perfect because they are not living in the body but are spirits. That this is the mental condition of young children when they first enter heaven I have not merely been told but have also been shown, for on several occasions, in the Lord’s Divine mercy, groups of young children have been sent to me, and I have been allowed to read the Lord’s Prayer to them. As I did so I was given to perceive how the angels whose company they were in were instilling into their tender and newly-formed ideas the meaning of the things that are in the Lord’s Prayer – filling their ideas with it in the measure that the young children were able to receive it – and after that how the young children were given the capacity to think about things such as these as if from themselves. (AC 2290)
June 10, 2017 § 1 Comment
The teaching below, it seems to me, can mostly only be done when reading the Heavenly Doctrines.
‘Jehovah appeared to him’ means the Lord’s perception. This becomes clear from the fact that historical events as described in the Word are representative, and nothing else, and the actual words used there serve to mean the things that occur in the internal sense. Featured at this point in the internal sense are the Lord and His perception; and that perception was represented by the event of Jehovah’s appearing to Abraham. Every appearance, every utterance, and every deed recorded in the historical sections of the Word is in this manner representative. But what each represents becomes apparent only if attention is paid to historical descriptions solely as objects – as when objects of sight serve solely to give one an opportunity and the ability to think about more sublime things, as for example when people look at gardens and yet think solely of fruits and their uses, and also of the delight of life given by these, and think still more sublimely of the happiness of paradise, or heaven. When their thoughts are on those things they do, it is true, behold the particular objects in the gardens, yet with so little interest in them as mere objects that they pay no attention to them. It is similar with the historical descriptions in the Word. When people’s thoughts are on the celestial and spiritual things contained in the internal sense, just as little attention is paid to the historical events described or to the words themselves used to describe them. (AC 2143)
I am often struck by the beauty and wonders of the Lord’s creation, but I seldom think about their celestial and spiritual meanings. This is largely due to not knowing what their celestial and spiritual meanings.
I confess, my knowledge of correspondences is too general to have any really coherent thought about the celestial and spiritual meanings of what I am seeing around me.
The same is true when I read the Old and New Testaments. For the most part, my knowledge of correspondences is too general for me to have any really profound and extensive thoughts about the celestial or spiritual means of the passages I am reading.
On the other hand, when I am reading the Heavenly Doctrines my mind focuses on the celestial and spiritual meanings being revealed. I do not pay much attention historical meanings of the passages from the Testaments that are being quoted.
It seems to me that while the above teaching is outwardly referring to our reading of the Old and New Testaments, it is speaking more to our reading of the Heavenly Doctrines themselves.
June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Without Divine revelation we would know nothing about eternal life or God.
WITHOUT a revelation from the Divine, a man cannot know anything concerning eternal life, or even concerning God; and still less can he know anything concerning love to God and faith in Him; for a man is born in utter ignorance, and everything from which his understanding is to be formed he has to learn from worldly objects. Hereditarily, also, he is born into every evil which arises from the love of self and the world. The delights arising therefrom prevail continually, and suggest to him such things as are diametrically opposed to the Divine. This then is the reason that man knows nothing concerning eternal life; and hence the necessity of a Revelation, from which he may have such knowledge. (NJHD 249)
The Lord who loves us and who desires our eternal welfare has revealed to us what we need to know to be saved.
Since a man, therefore, lives after death, and then lives to eternity; and since a life awaits him according to his love and faith; it follows that the Divine out of love towards the human race, has revealed such things as will lead to that life, and conduce to a man’s salvation. What the Divine has revealed is the Word with us. (NJHD 251)
We know from these teachings that the Lord is talking to us. The question is, are we listening to Him? There are many factors that are involved in our listening to the Lord. One of which is belief, discussed below:
the human rational as regards truth is such that it is not able to understand what the Divine is, for the reason that that truth is immersed in appearances, and consequently that which it cannot understand it does not believe, and that which it does not believe does not affect it. (AC 2203)
Our rational understanding more deeply immersed in appearances of truth than we realize or acknowledged. We take the appearances as being the genuine truth. From this we secretly harbor a disbelief in the Divine and we fail to understand what the Divine is.
Here, I am only going to discuss one appearance of truth and how it affects are belief in the Lord and our ability to listen to the Lord.
The Heavenly Doctrines were revealed in the 18th century. It is an appearance that their teachings reflect 18th century thought. Certainly the way in which the Lord speaks to us was influenced by the fact that the Heavenly Doctrines were revealed in the 18th century. This is evident from this teaching:
the sense of the letter of the Word would have been different if the Word had been written among a different people (AC 10453.3)
It is also true that an understanding of 18th century thought and life helps us to understand what the Lord is saying to us.
Sometimes when the Lord says something we don’t like, we are inclined to dismiss it as being simply a reflection of 18th century thought and custom, and therefore, of no importance to our spiritual life. It is, however, it not always so easy to disentangle 18th century thought and custom from Divine directives. This can be seen from this teaching below:
For that reason we consider in the present chapter a number of practices which are accepted customs. For example, that choosing whom to court is a prerogative of men; that parents should be consulted; that gifts should be given as pledges; that a marriage covenant should be established before the wedding; that this covenant should be sanctified by a priest; that a wedding should be celebrated; and so on. These and more are considered in order to enable a person to see in the light of his rationality that such practices are engraved on conjugial love as its prerequisites, which promote it and bring it to fulfillment. (CL 295.2)
We need to read the Heavenly Doctrines with an affirmative attitude that they are Lord talking to us and that we need to take His words seriously. Otherwise our disbelief will close our ears, our hearts and our minds to His words.
I am not saying that we should read the Heavenly Doctrines with a blind faith. We need to read them with understanding. Reading with understanding, however, is work. One needs to read passages in their context, not just their immediate context, but also in the context of the whole work they occur in, and also their context in the whole of the Heavenly Doctrines. We need to compare specific teachings with other relevant teachings. But always we need to listen to what the Lord says to hear His will and not our own.
May 26, 2017 § Leave a comment
I was not born in the New Church.
As a child I was sent to church. I don’t recall my parents actually going themselves. I wasn’t very old when I told my mother that I did not want to go to church anymore. She asked me why. I told her that they tell you to believe in God, but they don’t tell you the nature of God. They tell you to be good and not evil, but they don’t tell you the nature of either. After that I did not have to go to church anymore.
Later, through a business acquaintance of my father’s, my family came in contact with the new church. I read some of the Heavenly Doctrines, and decided for myself that they were Divine revelation. I was 16 when I was baptised as an adult with my family.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been an atheist if it were not for the Heavenly Doctrines. The passage below describes why the Heavenly Doctrines are for people like me.
The previous chapter and the present chapter up to this point have dealt with the conception and birth of the Rational within the Lord; and how this was made Divine is also dealt with in what follows. But some may possibly suppose that knowing these details does not contribute very much to faith, provided one knows that the Lord’s Human Essence was made Divine and that the Lord is God as regards both Essences. The position however is this: People who in simplicity believe it to be so do not need to know how it became so, for the only reason for their knowing how it became so is so that they may believe that it is so.
 There are many at the present day who do not believe anything unless they know it to be so from reason, as is made quite clear from the fact that few believe in the Lord, although they make lip confession of belief for the reason that the doctrine of faith so teaches. Nevertheless they tell themselves and one another that if they knew it could be so they would believe. The reason they do not believe and yet say this is that the Lord was born as any other is born and to outward appearance was like any other. These people cannot possibly receive any faith unless they first of all grasp in some measure how it can be so. This is why these matters have been explained. Those who believe the Word in simplicity do not need to know all these details because they have already arrived at the end which those who have just been described cannot reach except by becoming acquainted with such details. (Arcana Celestia 2094; Elliot)
Having the Heavenly Doctrines is truly a blessing. Yet having the Heavenly Doctrines is also dangerous if one is not going to live by what they teach:
The arcanum is that purification from those foul loves is absolutely vital inside the Church, for the reason also that people inside the Church are capable of rendering sacred things unclean, something that those outside the Church, that is, gentiles, cannot do. For this reason those inside the Church stand in greater danger of condemnation. What is more, those inside the Church are capable of formulating and adopting false assumptions that are contrary to truths of faith themselves, whereas those outside the Church cannot do so because they have no knowledge of those truths. Thus those inside the Church are capable of profaning sacred truths, but not those outside. (Arcana Celestia 2051; Elliot)
May 7, 2017 § Leave a comment