Attention to Action

February 13, 2018 § Leave a comment

I think it is useful to pay attention not just to what the Heavenly Doctrines say, but also to what they do. It is my intention to post some of my observations of what the Heavenly Doctrines do. Sometimes this leads us to modify our understanding of what they say, other times it is just interesting.

I have observed that often the Writings make an absolute or categorical statement only to modify it. Sometimes the modification immediately follows the statement, other times it follows in a later paragraph or even in a different book.

Here is an interesting example of this.

The particular provinces to which angelic communities belong can be ascertained in the next life from the positions they occupy in relation to the human body, as well as from the way they act and flow in. For angelic communities flow into and act upon that organ or member in which they are located. But their flowing in and action can be perceived only by those who are in the next life. It cannot be perceived by man unless his interiors have been opened all the way through to that life, and not even then if the Lord does not impart to him the ability to reflect on the sensations he feels and to do so with perception. (AC 5171)

First we have an absolute assertion: “their flowing in and action can be perceived only by those who are in the next life.

This absolute assertion is then repeated in a different perspective: “It cannot be perceived by man

These two absolute assertions are then followed by an exception which also appears to be absolute: “unless his interiors have been opened all the way through to that life.

Finally, this absolute exception is then qualified so that it is no longer absolute but contingent upon the Lord’s action: “and not even then if the Lord does not impart to him the ability to reflect on the sensations he feels and to do so with perception.” Actually, this may be a double qualification in that he has to not only have the ability to reflect on his sensations, but also to do so with perception.

 

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Temptation

December 27, 2017 § Leave a comment

The following teaching casts a different light on what temptation is, and suggests (at least to me) that we may undergo temptations without realizing it!

In general it should be recognized that every joining together of good and truth is effected by means of temptations. The reason for this is that evils and falsities offer resistance and so to speak engage in rebellion, and by every means try to prevent the joining of good to truth, and of truth to good. This conflict takes place between the spirits present within man, that is to say, between the spirits governed by evils and falsities and the spirits governed by goods and truths. Man experiences that conflict as temptation within himself. When therefore the spirits governed by evils and falsities are conquered by the spirits governed by goods and truths, the former are compelled to depart and the latter receive joy from the Lord by way of heaven. This joy is also felt by the person concerned as comfort; he feels it within himself. Yet the joy and comfort do not come because a victory has been won but because good and truth have been joined together. Joy is present within every joining together of good and truth, for that joining together is the heavenly marriage, in which the Divine is present. (AC 4572.2)

Repetition

December 27, 2017 § Leave a comment

Many people have complained about how often the Lord repeats Himself in the Heavenly Doctrines. I know I have. 

Of course, if the Lord is repeating Himself, He must have a good reason. Here is a passage that tells us one of those reasons:

No one can know why Jacob was called Israel unless he knows what the internal natural is and what the external natural is, and in addition what the celestial-spiritual aspect of the natural is. These matters have in actual fact been explained already, when Jacob was named Israel by the angel; but because they are the kind of things about which people know little, if anything, they need to be explained again. (AC 4570)

Good and Truth

December 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

The reason why good and truth are mentioned so many times in the explanations given is that all things in heaven, and consequently all in the Lord’s Church, have a connection with truth and good In general these two include everything that is part of doctrine and everything that is part of life, ideas that are true being part of doctrine and those that are good being part of life. Furthermore the human mind generally does not have any objects of its thought and desire which do not involve truth or good, thought in the understanding involving truth and desire in the will involving good. From this it is evident that truth and good possess a very wide range of meaning and that they have an unimaginable number of derivations. This is why truth and good are mentioned so many times. (AC 4390.2)

One thing I get out of this passage is that good and truth in individuals is so various that the Heavenly Doctrines can not describe specifically, so they use the general terms “good” and “truth.”

It is up to us, therefore, as we examine ourselves to relate our specific forms of good and truth to the general descriptions given in the Heavenly Doctrines. Since the relationship between good and truth as generally described in the Heavenly Doctrines is identical to our specific forms of good and truth, we are able apply the Lord’s teachings about good and truth to our own lives.

Temptation

December 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

Until very recently, I wondered if I had ever been tempted. I had never experience the anguish that Heavenly Doctrines seem to describe. Upon reading the passage below, however, I realized that I have in fact been through temptation. 

Perhaps, one reason for feeling that I not undergone temptation was the separation of spiritual and natural life described in my previous post.

We sustain ourselves by creating imaginary heavens. We create for ourselves not only a glorified self-image of ourselves, but we project onto our organizations, our jobs, our institutions an image of what we would like them to be. These images are fallacies and illusions. At some point in our lives these projected images clash with reality. This clash may be the result of a conflict between our values and the choices we face in our organizations, jobs, or institutions. 

The anguish we experience from this clash is a temptation. And in this state of temptation, we ponder our values and must choose between spiritual values and the values of self and the world. Our projected images of our organization, job, or institution may be shattered. Do we become cynical? Or do we become more realistic? Do we choose to trust the Lord? Or do we choose to find our own way out of the mess we are in?

How we choose to handle such “natural” situations reflect our “spiritual” values. They affect of our perception of our organizations, our jobs, and our institutions. 

The good itself which is to be conjoined with truth is not tempted, but the truth. And moreover truth is not tempted by good, but by falsities and evils, and also by fallacies and illusions and the affection of these, which adhere to truths in the natural. For when good flows in, which is effected by an internal way, or through the internal rational man, the ideas of the natural man, formed from the fallacies of the senses and the derivative illusions, cannot endure its approach, for they are in disagreement with it, and hence comes anxiety in the natural, and temptation. (AC 4341.2)

Spiritual and Natural Life

December 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

Below is an interesting passage. It shows us the importance of learning (and yes this is a skill) to see the correspondence between our spiritual and natural lives. These two lives correspond because our spiritual life is manifested within our natural life. That is, the life of our spirit is manifested in the life we live in this world. 

The reason why this procedure is not apparent in the spiritual life as it is in everyday life is that the people with whom good is being joined to truths, that is, who are being regenerated, are few; and what is more, the few who are being regenerated neither reflect on nor are able to reflect on such matters as they do not know what spiritual good is because they do not know what charity is and what the neighbour is in the genuine sense. And because they do not know these things they cannot have any interior conception about truth which is the truth of faith. In addition to this they set the spiritual life and everyday life so far apart from each other that they do not dare to infer from everyday life any notion about the spiritual life. They are totally unaware of the fact that these correspond to each other and that the spiritual life is represented within everyday life; indeed some do not even allow any comparison to be made. But the fact of the matter is that no notion of the spiritual life can be had except from the things which belong to everyday life. Once everyday life is taken away therefore spiritual life falls to nothing, until at length belief in the existence of it remains no longer. This is made perfectly clear by the fact that people no longer have any belief in the idea that spirits and angels mix with one another as men mix, or that they converse with one another, reason with one another just as men reason, though in a far more perfect way, about what is honourable and decent, about what is just and fair, and about what is good and true. Even less belief exists in the idea that spirits and angels can see, hear, and find out about one another, combine into communities and live together, besides many other things. (AC 4366.2)

The Three Heavens

December 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

It has always been clear in my mind what the essential nature of Celestial and Spiritual heavens are. The Celestial heaven (the highest heaven) is made up of those who love the Lord. The Spiritual heaven (the middle heaven) is made up of those who love the neighbor. Who makes up the natural (or lowest heaven), however has always been obscure in my mind. The obscurity, in part, is due to the fact that the Heavenly Doctrines do not talk as much about the Natural heaven.

This passage, AC 4286.2 is the clearest teaching I have seen on the topic:

  • Those in the Celestial heaven are governed by love to the Lord
  • Those in the Spiritual heaven are governed by mutual love where they love others more than themselves
  • Those in the Natural heaven are also governed by mutual love  “but they do not love others more than themselves, only as themselves.”