Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Spiritual Symbolism and Health Benefits of Hyssop and Cedar

The smallest of details in scripture has meaning, and for the first time the revelations of the New Church reveals the internal spiritual sense of the Word which until now has been unknown to the Christian Church. Hyssop is a plant used in Jewish cleansing rituals, and I was asked why hyssop? And what does it mean? I was asked this question, and very few can go to this level of meaning, but with the revelations given in the New Church we can easily explain this. Hyssop was used in a cleansing ritual for leprosy, and like all Jewish rituals, it is representative of something holy, and even the Jews did not know the meaning of it:
" in a house where there was leprosy, [the priest] was to take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet and with the blood of the bird sprinkle seven times (xiv. 6, 7, 27, 51). Here any one may see that there is nothing at all in the cedar-wood, the scarlet, the oil, the blood of a bird, nor yet in seven, except from the fact that they are representative of holy things. Take away from them what is holy, and all that remains is dead, or profanely idolatrous. But when they signify holy things there is Divine worship therein, which is internal, and is only represented by the externals. The Jews could not indeed know what these things signified; nor does any one at the present day know what was signified by the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet, and the bird (Heavenly Arcana, n. 716)
Hyssop first appears in the ritual where Jews were commanded to use hyssop and dip it in the blood of the Passover sacrifice and spread the blood on the lintel and doorposts of their houses (Ex. 12:22). The spiritual meaning of the Passover concerns the liberation from evil which is discussed in detail in a previous blog (see The Spiritual Meaning of Passover). It is in this ritual where the spiritual meaning of hyssop is first explained:
"And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop. That this signifies an external means by which is purification, is evident from the signification of hyssop, as external truth which is a means of purification — of which in what follows. It is said that they should take a bunch of hyssop, because bunch is predicated of truths and their arrangement (n. 5530, 5881, 7408). That hyssop is external truth as a means of purification, is because all spiritual purification is effected by truths. For the earthly and worldly loves, from which man is to be purified, are not recognized except by means of truths" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 7918)
"External truth" is a truth that is followed in its most simplest form, without a spiritual understanding of that truth, such as in acts of simple obedience from what one has learned from religion. Swedenborg gives several examples (see Heavenly Arcana, n. 3820), where people may do good to others according to their religion but without spiritual discrimination of who that person is. Or they follow the religion because of tradition or authority without exploring it for themselves. The understanding of those who follow external truths is weak, and thus they can be easily misled by the evil. But we all begin by simple obedience to the "rules" without understanding, and later one's spiritual understanding is opened to those who wish and ask for it.

That hyssop signifies external truths by which one is purified from evils, is shown in the ritual where it is applied on the exterior door of the house. The house signifies one's mind, and the door is the external entrance to it. Blood is used in the ritual for it also signifies truth in general by which one is purified, for it is truth that tells us what is right and what is wrong. In other rituals, hyssop is combined with cedar wood:
"Because hyssop has this signification, therefore it was applied in cleansings, which in the internal sense signified purifications from falsities and evils — as in the cleansing of the leprosy, in Moses: The priest shall take for the leper that is to be cleansed two living clean birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet and hyssop . . . and shall dip them . . . in the blood of the bird that was killed . . . and he shall sprinkle upon him who is to be cleansed (Lev. xiv. 4-7); and in like manner in the cleansing of a house, if the leprosy be in it (verses 49-51). For preparing the water of separation by which cleansings were wrought, cedar wood and hyssop were also employed (Num. xix. 6, 18); by cedar wood was signified internal spiritual truth, and by hyssop external; thus by cedar an interior means of purification, by hyssop an exterior. That hyssop is a means of purification, is very manifest in David: Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (Ps. li. 7) — where being purged with hyssop and made clean stands for external purification, being washed and made whiter than snow for internal purification: snow and whiteness are predicated of truth (n. 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319). That hyssop is lowest truth and cedar higher truth, is plain from these words in the First Book of Kings: Solomon spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall (iv. 33) — where cedar stands for internal truth of intelligence, and hyssop for external truth of intelligence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 7918.2)
So while hyssop represents external truth that purifies, in these rituals cedar wood represents internal truths that purify.  So why is this? Here we would need to look at the classification of hyssop and cedar in the plant kingdom. Hyssop is known as Origanum Syriacum, belonging to the Clade of Angiosperms, which means it is a flowering plant:

In spiritual terms, flowers correspond to memory knowledges of the truth, which is the same as external truth:
"And its flowers. That this signifies knowledges of truth, is evident from the signification of flowers, as knowledges of truth. Flowers have this signification, because flowers are growths which precede and in their manner produce fruits and seeds, for, as is well known, trees and plants blossom before they bear fruit. The case is the same with man as to intelligence and wisdom. Knowledges of truth precede and in their manner produce with man those things which are of wisdom; for they serve as objects to his rational, and thus as means for growing wise. It is for this reason that knowledges of truth are as flowers, and that the good of life, which is the good of wisdom, is as fruit. Since all things which are in the spiritual world have reference to such things as are in man, for the reason that heaven represents one man and corresponds to each and all things with man, therefore also all things which are in the natural world, according to their agreement with such things as are with man, correspond, represent, and signify" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9553)
As for the cedar tree, it is a coniferous tree:

As the cedar tree grows to a greater height towards the sky, so it represents cleansing by internal spiritual truths. It is also a Gymnosperm, which means that unlike flowering Angiosperms their seeds are unenclosed - as the seed is exposed it again represents internal truth.

That hyssop signifies external truths by which there is purification from evil can finally be seen in the spiritual significance of the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross:
"Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled said, I thirst. And there had been placed a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge and placed it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. And when Jesus had received the vinegar He said, It is finished (xix. 28-30). 
Those who think of these things only naturally and not spiritually may believe that they involve nothing more than that the Lord thirsted, and that vinegar was then given Him; but it was because all things that the Scriptures said of Him were then finished, and because He came into the world to save mankind that He said, "I thirst," which means that from Divine love He willed and desired the salvation of the human race; and that "vinegar was given Him" signifies that in the coming church there would be no genuine truth, but truth mixed with falsities, such as there is with those who separate faith from charity or truth from good; this is what "vinegar" signifies; "they placed it upon hyssop" signifies some kind of purification by it, for "hyssop" signifies an external means of purification" (Apocalypse Explained, n. 386e).
Thus the significance of the crucifixion means that the Christian Church, throughout its history, would only be familiar with truth in its most external form signified by hyssop, and mixed in with false ideas signified by vinegar. The fact that Jesus was crucified alongside two thieves would also signify that the Christian Church would falsely invent the idea of a tripersonal god, not recognizing that the True Trinity is in the soul, body and spirit of Jesus Christ who is Jehovah in human form. For thieves in the spiritual sense represent those who steal away and deprive others of spiritual truths, or those who take away from the truth that God is one personal Being who became incarnate in human form.


Plants do not just signify spiritual things, but their spiritual significance also corresponds to their health benefits. Hyssop, or Origanum syriacum or Lebanese oregano, is used in the Middle East for flavoring their foods. However it has the following health benefit, from Lebanese Oregano (Origanum Syriacum) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects -
It is worth mentioning here that the Lebanese oregano is one of the sources of the essential oil called carvacrol. This essential oil has antiseptic and other terpenoids with properties as thymol is effective in inhibiting different types of harmful bacteria, for example Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This oil works by corrosion of the cell wall of bacteria.
Thus external truths that purify one from evils corresponds to how the ingredients of hyssop corrodes the external cell wall of bacteria. But what about the health benefits of the cedar tree? From 14 Cedarwood Essential Oil Uses for Wisdom, Beauty & More -
Who knew that the oil from a tree could be so beneficial to your health and wellness? Surprisingly, cedarwood essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antifungal, tonic, astringent, diuretic, sedative and insecticidal properties.
There are a number of surprising benefits of cedar oil, for which I recommend the above web site, but the one that corresponds to purification by internal truth would probably be the following health benefit:
Because cedarwood essential oil is a sedative, it has the power to relieve tension and stress that can negatively affect your health. It has a soothing and calming effect on the mind, reduces inflammation and muscle pain, and minimizes skin irritation. Research published in 2017 demonstrates that the scent of cedarwood essential oil ,which contains cedrol, can promote sleep by increasing parasympathetic activity and increasing serotonin production.
Thus when Jesus healed a person, we would often command them to sin no more. He also compared Himself to a physician:
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Thus our spiritual health is directly connected to our physical health. Some in the medical field have recognized the connection between the mind and the body and term this as "psychosomatic." But there are three levels of health - spiritual health, mental health, and physical health. While most focus on their physical health, we should look at our soul, mind and body - and start with the spiritual health of our soul, for our eternal life depends upon it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

An Explanation of Swedenborg's Extraterrestrial Encounters

Emanuel Swedenborg was a scientific genius of the 18th century, who later in life experienced a spiritual awakening and was introduced to the spiritual world. He was given new revelations concerning Christianity, and wrote volumes concerning a systematic and rational Christian theology that reveals the spiritual sense of scripture. Time and time again, it was verified that he had some clairvoyant abilities, one of which was verified by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. However he attempted to keep these private, as spiritual truths should be examined on their own merits, without external "miraculous" proofs.

In his 27 years of waking visions of the spiritual world, Swedenborg was surprised to encounter angelic spirits of the human race that were not from our planet but from other planets. In his attempt to determine where they originated, Swedenborg concluded that some originated from planets of this solar system, based on his limited astronomical knowledge of the 18th century. This has caused many to offhand reject the revelations that Swedenborg received, and many who study the theology have questions about this.

So what is the explanation? Swedenborg's visions of extraterrestrials were first published in interspersed passages in a massive multi-volume work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia, meaning "Heavenly Secrets"). He then republished these experiences in a smaller work, Earths in the Universe. Both of these are available in the multi-volume set, The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem. However, the original encounters with extraterrestrials were first recorded in his private diary, which I have published separately in The Spiritual Diary of Emanuel Swedenborg. This Spiritual Diary contains details about these extraterrestrials which were not in the published accounts, and in fact provides some insightful answers.

Although I have discussed extraterrestrials before, I realized I never gave an overall assessment of Swedenborg's work, Earths in the Universe. So, using the resources at hand, lets examine this closely, point by point, to give others the proper background in this area.


At times Swedenborg had remote clairvoyant visions of physical locations. However these are rare. These particular waking visions took place in the spiritual world, where physical concepts such as time and space become irrelevant. In this state, the physical natural world is invisible. Swedenborg states that the light of the sun in the natural world is complete darkness to the angelic spirits of the spiritual world:
"It is to be known that the sun of the world does not appear at all to any spirit, nor any of its light. The light of that sun is to spirits and angels like thick darkness. That sun remains only in the perception of spirits, from their having seen it while in the world, and is presented to them in idea as something dusky and this behind at a considerable distance" (Earths in the Universe, n. 42).
Also Swedenborg admits that he could by no means see the planet, only the spirits from that planet:
"no earth is anywhere seen by those who are in the spiritual world, but only the spirits and angels who are from it" (Earths in the Universe, n. 47).
So this obviously leaves room for error as to one's exact physical location or dimension. At times Swedenborg tries to get around this limitation which does not always provide a correct answer.


In the spiritual world, ideas are elevated to an abstract level, where a person, place or thing is not thought of, but what that person, place or thing signifies in a spiritual sense. For example, our physical idea of "light" is translated into a higher level concept of "truth." Every physical idea we have corresponds to a higher level concept. And this would include the planets of our solar system. When Swedenborg saw from afar what the solar system looked like, it looked nothing like our physical solar system (see Earths in the Universe, n. 42), for things appeared according to their symbolic spiritual relationships.


In Swedenborg's visions, he saw that all of heaven were arranged into individual societies, and sometimes he references particular stars. However in the spiritual world it is known that stars in the physical world correspond to societies of angels in the spiritual world. Swedenborg briefly notes this in a couple of passages in Heavenly Arcana:
"The very stars correspond, the societies of heaven and their habitations being what they have correspondence with; not that they are there, but that they are in a similar order." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5377.2)
"That the Divine was signified by what is high, was because by the starry heaven was signified the angelic heaven, and it was also believed that it was there, though the wiser among them knew that heaven was not on high, but where the good of love is, and this within man, wheresoever he may be." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8153)
Thus the stars in the natural world correspond to angelic societies in the spiritual world. But in Earths in the Universe, Swedenborg did not indicate this, and when he speaks of an extraterrestrial society, he talks of their star system as a physical star system. In The Spiritual Diary, Swedenborg also explains that an angelic society, although few, can represent an entire planet in its form:
"It is to be observed that in heaven a few may represent themselves as if they were all, and that some few from a globe represent, as it were, the whole planet. Such is the representation in heaven, for the individuals are images of the whole, as a few are images of all." (Spiritual Diary, n. 1444)

Another point that plays a major role in the revelations concerning Christianity is that all of the heavenly societies in the spiritual world correspond to an aspect of the human form, which is termed as the "Grand Man" or "Greatest Man" -
"It is most hidden in the world, yet nothing is more manifest in the other life, even to every spirit, that all things in the human body have correspondence with those that are in heaven; and this so fully that there is not the smallest particle in the body, to which something spiritual and celestial does not correspond... Hence it is that the whole heaven is called also the Greatest Man; and hence it is that it has been so often said that one society belongs to one province of the body, another to another, and so on. The reason is, that the Lord is the Only Man, and heaven represents Him" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2996)
An important corollary point to this is that if a particular society is lacking or deficient in representing a full and complete human form, angelic spirits from other earths will be brought into spiritual communion with our society to "fill the gap" -
"That the universal heaven has the form of one man, which is therefore called the Greatest Man, and that all things and everything pertaining to man, both exterior and interior, correspond to that Man, or heaven, is an arcanum not yet known in the world; but that it is so, has been abundantly shown. To constitute that Greatest Man, spirits are required from many earths, those who come from our earth into heaven not being sufficient, being comparatively few; and it is provided by the Lord that whenever and wherever there is a deficiency in the quality or quantity of correspondence, those are summoned at once from another earth who may supply the deficiency, so that the proportion may be preserved, and thus heaven be kept in due form." (Earths in the Universe, n. 9, also Heavenly Arcana, n. 6807)
So, what Swedenborg saw as "our solar system" was probably a communion of different spiritual societies, so that each society represented a different aspect of the human psyche. In comparison with other extraterrestrial societies, Swedenborg saw that we are the most external and materialistic of most other societies, corresponding to the external senses of the body. Other extraterrestrial societies have to be brought into communion with ours to represent the full aspect of the spiritual levels of the human psyche. Some of this is summarized in the Spiritual Diary:
"In like manner the spirits of the earth Jupiter represent rational ideas... The spirits of the earth Saturn correspond to interior sense, or reason; The spirits of the earth Mercury to knowledges; The spirits of the earth Mars to thought." (Spiritual Diary, n. 1558)
Our earthly society corresponds to what is most external, that is the external sensual of the body, and spiritual concepts and ideas are relatively ignored or absent. Most people put up an external appearance in front of others, and are concerned about external appearance, or material things. But overall most ignore the internal thoughts, intuitions, dreams, conscience and feelings inside of us. To make up for this imbalance, other extraterrestrial spiritual societies have been drawn in to rectify this imbalance.


In Earths in the Universe, Swedenborg starts off describing an interstellar wandering group of extraterrestrials, whose sole purpose in life is to gather knowledge. Swedenborg simply says they are from the planet Mercury. But when we read of the original encounter in The Spiritual Diary, the answer is not so clear. In fact we can see Swedenborg jumps to the conclusion that they must be from a planet in our solar system, but the answer was never once given to him:
"When I represented the planets to them - because they could not say from what planet they came - they said that they know that there are many earths, and they know various things pertaining to the inhabitants of those earths, for they are delighted with cognitions. And when I represented in a spiritual manner the planets which are called Mercury and Venus, they directed my sight to the planet Venus, but I could perceive that they wanted to conceal [where they came from]. Thus I could perceive that they were from the planet nearest the sun" (Spiritual Diary, n. 1425).
This account is omitted in Earths in the Universe. Swedenborg first assumes they are from our solar system, even though they are telling him there are many planets in the universe. He then picks Mercury and Venus, they say "not Venus" and Swedenborg then assumes it must be Mercury. And this from a group of extraterrestrials that we would perhaps call "habitual liars," because it was their custom to give either an opposite or indirect answer to a question. This they did not consider a "lie," but rather it was to excite the curiosity to know:
"They said that when they speak with the men of their own earth, they do the same, and this not with the intention of deceiving, but to inspire the desire of knowing. For when they suggest what is opposite, and conceal things in a certain manner, the desire of knowing is excited, and thus from the endeavor to examine into what is presented, the memory is perfected." (Earths in the Universe, n. 35, also Heavenly Arcana, n. 7074)
As to why Mercury was selected, this is explained in the myths of Mercury and Hermes who are associated with travel, knowledge and trade, which would correspond to an extraterrestrial society that travels the universe to gather knowledge. When one knows how physical ideas correspond to spiritual ones, the identification makes perfect sense.


Swedenborg talks extensively about the extraterrestrials from the planet Jupiter, and like the ones from Mercury he says he was told that they were from Jupiter. Again there is a more nuanced explanation in The Spiritual Diary that explains why Swedenborg associated this particular extraterrestrial society with the planet Jupiter. First, there is this entry from Jan. 3, 1748:
"representations were shown me of those who are worshipped as saints and gods. The gods and goddesses of the ancients are still represented, as Venus, Diana, Phoebus, Jupiter, and indeed each in his or her own peculiar attire... Moreover, of the men who were worshipped as saints and thus as gods, three kinds only were represented to me. Namely, there were those who are averse to that worship, who were among the angels and guarded by them. Then there are those who do not wish to be among the gods and to be worshipped as gods, but who still retain something of the outward appearance although they repudiate it with the mouth. The third kind are the profane who receive such worship and want to be acknowledged as saints and gods." (Spiritual Diary, n. 440, 443)
Soon after this entry, in the same month Swedenborg encounters the extraterrestrial society "of Jupiter," where they described that some of their society wished to be worshipped as saints or gods. As the myths of Jupiter indicate that Jupiter or Zeus is the head of the gods, it makes perfect sense for Swedenborg's idea of "Jupiter" corresponds to such a society. Jupiter, or Zeus, is the god of thunder, and a representation of that was also shown:
"Jupiter was represented with a continuous power, as it were, of lightning, which cannot be described because it cannot be conceived, by which all are driven away" (Spiritual Diary, n. 440)
And, it just so happens that Swedenborg sees lightning in his interactions with the extraterrestrial society of Jupiter:
"They said that when any little disagreement arises among them, there appears as it were a slender bright ray like that of lightning, or like a little belt in which are gleaming and wandering stars; but any disagreement among them is soon adjusted. Stars gleaming and at the same time wandering signify what is false, but stars gleaming and fixed signify what is true; and thus the former signify disagreement" (Earths in the Universe, n. 50, also Heavenly Arcana, n. 8112).
Lightning, in the spiritual sense, also signifies a heavenly revelation that is dissipated by falsehood (see Heavenly Arcana, n. 3900.9). As in this society there were some disagreements about religion, so it was associated with the god of thunder.


This is a subtle alternate explanation. Since every physical terrestrial object corresponds to something in the spiritual world which is living or alive, every physical planet or star will have a spiritual society associated with it whether that system is actually inhabited or not. As Swedenborg had limited scientific knowledge at the time, he assumed all planets were inhabited. However he does make this alternate conclusion when he realizes that the moon of our earth does not have an atmosphere to support life:
"but still that the human race was there, because there is nothing without an end: thus [so] nothing without the human race, to be a [the] bond between terrestrial and natural things, and celestial things: for otherwise, never can an earth, whether planet, or moon, or satellite, exist" (Spiritual Diary, n. 3244)
The natural world exists and subsists from the spiritual world, which Swedenborg explains further throughout his works. This is an alternate conclusion which unfortunately he did not publish in his work Earths in the Universe.


This is another alternative explanation. In the last 10 years or so, scientists now know much more about Venus and Mars, and there is strong evidence that they were previously inhabitable. While this is now recently known to be true for Mars, one model suggests it is also true for Venus: see NASA Climate Modeling Suggests Venus May Have Been Habitable. Both Venus and Mars once had a breathable atmosphere, and both once had water on the surface. The environment of Venus gradually changed as our Sun grew hotter, and Mars suffered a cataclysm on a grand scale in its distant past. So, in this theory, Venus and/or Mars were previously inhabited, and Swedenborg may have described societies there that have long since died out. That, of course, would entail a radical revision of our human history.


In this theory, some of the societies that Swedenborg is seeing are not extraterrestrial at all, but represent former civilizations from planet earth. Swedenborg saw that angelic spirits are associated with planets from where they are from, since they are of a similar genius and character to those living on the planet. But what happens to former civilizations on earth that have died out, which are of a different character than those living on the planet in the present? If they are of a different character, then the angelic societies of these former civilizations would start to form their own spiritual community, and appear from a different "planet" in the spiritual world.

There are only two "extraterrestrial" societies that Swedenborg describes that are candidates for this theory. One concerns the society of "Mars." For Mars, Swedenborg describes their character and he himself makes the observation that they are of a similar character to the antediluvians that existed on our planet before the flood of Noah. Both the antediluvians and this extraterrestrial society had a similar way of breathing, and were of a "celestial" character as they both were in close contact with heaven, which is described in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Some, similar to the story of Adam being cast out of the garden of Eden, or Cain being forced to wander, are cast out of their society when they begin to act selfishly. Also like the antediluvians, they are vegetarian.

So what is it about the planet Mars that corresponds to the Adamic race that existed before the flood? For one, the name "Adam" means not only earth but also is related to a word meaning red, and Mars of course is known as the "red planet." As Mars appears red from earth, in ancient mythology he was considered the god of war since they associated the color red with blood. Thus the physical idea of "Mars" corresponds with Adam, and thus in the spiritual world would become associated with the ancient society of the antediluvians. In the spiritual realm, physical ideas get translated into their corresponding abstract ideas independent of the place.

There is one other physical correspondence between the planet Mars and the ancient antediluvians from our history, and this is a little weird because it was not known to Swedenborg. Mars, as it turns out, experienced massive flooding in its distant past. And this is a recent discovery, and it is quite obvious from the analysis of recent probes there. See Remnants of a Mega-Flood on Mars for detailed pictures. Mars happens to have the largest flood channels in the solar system. But this was not known to Swedenborg - the ancient floods of Mars is a recent discovery.

Other than Mars, Venus is the other "extraterrestrial" society that Swedenborg describes which may actually be a spiritual society from our own planet earth. The spiritual society of Venus is divided into two societies, one gentle and humane on the far side, but the one facing our earth is of a savage nature. When describing them, Swedenborg compares them to savage people living on our earth 3000 years ago:
"I have been told by angels what their quality is, and whence they have so savage a nature — namely, that their chief delight is in plundering, and especially in feasting on their plunder. Their enjoyment when thinking of feasting on their plunder, was communicated to me, and was perceived to be extreme. That there have been inhabitants on our earth also of such a savage nature, is plain from the histories of various nations; also from the inhabitants of the land of Canaan (1 Sam. xxx. 16), and from the Jewish and Israelitish nation even in the time of David — in their making yearly excursions to plunder the nations and feast with rejoicing on the spoil. It was also said, that those inhabitants are for the most part giants, and that the men of our earth only come up to their middle" (Earths in the Universe, n. 108, also Heavenly Arcana, n. 7248)
This may just happen to be describing the "Nephilim" - an ancient race of giants that inhabited the land of Canaan during the time of David. They were the descendants of the "sons of God" mating with women during antediluvian times:
"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose... There were giants (Nephilim) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Gen. 6:1-2, 4)
These same giants were encountered in the land of Canaan at the time the Israelites spied upon the land (Num. 13:32-33). There is one ancient theory, popular among the Essenes of ancient Israel, that states that the "sons of God" in the passage of Genesis were extraterrestrial beings. They are described in the apocryphal book of Enoch. They are described as "angels" who descended from heaven, but as they have physical bodies, this ancient work is actually proposing an extraterrestrial origin from a race similar to ours. These beings mated with women to produce giants through illicit sexual relationships. Thus it would make sense for the idea of "Venus" to be associated with this society since Venus is the goddess of love and sex. However this is admittedly strange since this ancient theory was unknown to Swedenborg and even Swedenborg gives an alternate explanation for Genesis 6. The apocryphal book of Enoch was rediscovered in the year 1773, a year after Swedenborg had died. In the latter half of the 20th century remnants of the book were also recovered from the Dead Sea Scrolls. So like Mars, this correspondence is a bit odd as it is based on knowledge unknown Swedenborg.


Besides Swedenborg's other clairvoyant experiences, which were highly accurate according to numerous witnesses, is there any information that was given to factually validate that he indeed came into contact with other extraterrestrials in the spiritual world? Sadly very little. However an exception arises when Swedenborg asks the extraterrestrial society of "Saturn" what the rings looked like to them, for these angelic spirits had retained their memory from their physical lifetime. He gives the following description:
"They were asked about that great ring which appears from our earth to rise above the horizon of that planet, and to vary its situation. They said that it does not appear to them as a ring, but only as a snowy light in the sky, varying in direction." (Earths in the Universe, n. 104, also Heavenly Arcana, n. 8952)
Back in the 18th century, it was thought that the rings of Saturn were solid rings. The rings were first discovered in 1655, but it was not until 1787 after Swedenborg died that Laplace proved that a solid band of rings would be unstable. And it was not until the 19th century that the nature of Saturn's rings became more well defined. From Wikipedia:
"In 1859, James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated that a nonuniform solid ring, solid ringlets or a continuous fluid ring would also not be stable, indicating that the ring must be composed of numerous small particles, all independently orbiting Saturn. Later, Sofia Kovalevskaya also found that Saturn's rings cannot be liquid ring-shaped bodies. Spectroscopic studies of the rings carried out in 1895 by James Keeler of Allegheny Observatory and Aristarkh Belopolsky of Pulkovo Observatory showed Maxwell's analysis was correct."
And now, in the 21st century, the observations of the Cassini probe show that the rings of Saturn are almost entirely composed of particles of water ice, and when seen up close it would look like "snowy light." Here is an image from Cassini:

Like Mercury and Jupiter, Saturn may have misidentified by Swedenborg, and was shown a society that also happens to have rings around its planet. It is now known that it is not unique to Saturn - see Which Planets have Rings?


Since the explosion of the atomic bomb at the end of World War 2, there have been multiple witness accounts of encounters with human or humanoid extraterrestrials. In some of these accounts, it is explained that the human form is common throughout the universe, confirming Swedenborg's statement. Although there is a large body of evidence in this area, it is an active area of counter-intelligence, where frauds and hoaxes are invented every day. It takes discernment to see beyond the methods of "poisoning the well" and "character assassination" as well as the social taboo of ridicule. The methods of secrecy around this subject serve to protect the spiritual truths revealed to Swedenborg against profanation:
"The case is this: When men have become inverted orders of life, and are unwilling to live and be wise except of themselves and from their proprium, then whatever they hear that relates to faith they reason whether it is so or not; and as they do this from themselves, from their sensual ideas and knowledges, they cannot but deny, and when they deny they blaspheme and profane. And at length they do not care if they commingle things profane with those that are holy. When a man has come into such a state of profanation, he is in the other life condemned beyond all hope of salvation" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 301).
In other words, these accounts of extraterrestrials may have been revealed so people would simply not believe and reject anything Swedenborg had to say. For it would be better for them to not to believe, than to take the revelation and then reject or distort it. And the amount of effort that goes in to keep any extraterrestrial contact secret serve to keep the spiritual revelations given to Swedenborg hidden in plain sight.

What is interesting about some of these witness accounts is that some report feeling an intense, irrational anxiety or fear before and during the encounter. Some break out into a sweat before the encounter. And this comes from independent accounts. It is unexplainable, even to those who think they are rationally or intellectually prepared for it. It is very similar to some of the encounters Swedenborg described, in which angelic spirits from our earth started to experience a fear when encountering those from another planet:
"These spirits were altogether unwilling to think of their body, and indeed of any thing corporeal and material — quite unlike the spirits from our earth. This was why they were not willing to come near. And yet after the removal of some of the spirits of our earth, they came nearer and spoke with me. But then anxiety was felt, arising from collision of spheres; for spiritual spheres encompass all spirits and societies of spirits; and as they flow forth from the life of the affections and of the thoughts therefrom, so where there are opposing affections there arises collision, and thence anxiety" (Earths in the Universe, n. 148)
Swedenborg explains that there is an unseen spiritual aura that surrounds each and every living thing. Thus when something foreign is encountered, it engages a "fight or flight" biological response (see Fight-or-flight response). This, as well as other factors, would explain why extraterrestrials would choose not to contact us even though they would become aware of us.


So this sums up my current view on the extraterrestrials that Swedenborg encountered in the spiritual world. Given Swedenborg's other confirmed clairvoyant experiences, it means somewhere out there there are other intelligent and loving human races. None of Swedenborg's experiences by any means discounts any of the other revelations he received, but one has to study the spiritual revelations in order to understand Swedenborg's accounts. Without understanding spiritual correspondences, one is going to get hopelessly lost in the literal account.

As to why these revelations were given to Swedenborg, it is my belief that they were given to help prepare us for eventual extraterrestrial contact. It was also explained to Swedenborg why God chose to become incarnate on our earth and not on others. It serves to expand our limited view to a more universal view, one of understanding of others who are different from us. It is a logical revelation for us to grow in the love for others, to create a bridge across the gulf of separation.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Quantum Physics, Virtual Reality and the Revelations of Emanuel Swedenborg

Recently physicists have proposed that the universe is more like a virtual reality simulation created by a universal consciousness, rather than a mechanical machine that runs like a ticking clock without any intervention or interaction.  At first I thought this was just an analogy of order seen in physics and nature proposed recently due to the increased usage of virtual reality games in the age of the internet, but this is actually based upon philosophical ideas from the 18th century as well as modern findings in quantum physics at the beginning of the 20th century.

The surprise here is that there is actually evidence in modern physics that indicates that we indeed live in a virtual reality of sorts overseen by a vast orderly consciousness. It is summarized in the article Is the Universe a Vast, Consciousness-created Virtual Reality Simulation? and there is a full PDF article here. It is a thought provoking read. There are two simple experiments involving photons of light that are easy to replicate:

  1. Measuring the amount of light that reflects off a pane glass window, and,
  2. Examining the diffraction pattern of light in what is known as the "two slit experiment."
What is interesting is that light behaves in a predictable way, independent of the time factor.  It does not matter if the stream of light is slowed down to a trickle. Photon by photon, always 4% of the photons will reflect off the pane of glass, as if each photon "knew" that 96% of the photons did not reflect. Same for the two slit experiment: photons will "know" that there are two double slits ahead in its path and will "know" where previous photons have gone before it.

This of course is preposterous, but it is true and verified by experiments, and physicists are at a loss to explain it.  Moreover, quantum physics tells us the following:
  1. There is no such thing as an elementary particle. Each sub-atomic particle is a manifestation of a wave function. These "wave functions" are actual manifestations of probabilities that they are there, or not there.
  2. Two sub-atomic particles can become "entangled," similar to the light photon experiments above, and no matter how far they are separated they can communicate their state together. This feature can be used to achieve faster than light communication. This of course disrupts Einstein's equations on light, and Einstein thus called it "spooky action at a distance."
So physicists are confronted with the fact that there are no elementary particles, but instead probabilities and manifestations of a probability. Thus the reality we see is an "illusion." And this caused several quantum physicists to become attracted to eastern mysticism, which states that the reality we see, the world of sensory perceptions, is an illusion. This is discussed in an interesting book, a favorite of mine, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. The "virtual reality" explanation is just another way to communicate the same idea in the age of the internet.


So all of this I knew before encountering Swedenborg in a university library while I was attending U.C. Berkeley.  Swedenborg lived in the 18th century, and I knew had described experiences concerning the after life in the 18th century that are similar to the modern Near Death Experience that was encountered by medical doctors with modern revival procedures beginning in the 1970s. As part of the revelations, he actually received information that was later verified by quantum physics.  Here is what Swedenborg said about atoms:

"it is a fallacy of the merely natural sense, that there are simple substances, which are monads and atoms; for whatever is within the range of the external sensual, the natural man believes to be such, or nothing" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5084.4, from The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem)

"They who do not know these things, and do not thus distinguish the objects of reason, cannot avoid terminating the ideas of their thought in the atoms of Epicurus, the monads of Leibnitz, or the simple substances of Wolff, and thus closing up their understandings as with a bolt, so that they cannot even think from reason concerning spiritual influx" (Interaction between the Soul and Body, n. 17, from The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem).

In the 19th century, with the discovery of atoms, it looked like Swedenborg was wrong. But then it was discovered that atoms are composed of neutrons, protons, and electrons. Then later even these subatomic particles can be broken down into further sub-atomic particles, which are not even particles, but wave functions.

The main discovery of quantum physics is that energy is released in discrete packets, known as quanta. Also at this level, particles have a property called "spin", which has discrete values of 0, one half, 1 and possibly 2 (for the hypothetical graviton). Up until that time everyone thought all reality was continuous.  But before this discovery Swedenborg explained that reality is composed of continuous and discrete degrees:

"There are continuous degrees and there are discrete degrees. Both of these are in every form in the spiritual world and in the natural world. All are acquainted with continuous degrees; few, however, have any knowledge of discrete degrees, and those who have no knowledge of these grope as in the dark when they are investigating the causes of things." (Divine Love, n. 11).

The knowledge of discrete degrees is a primary foundation that allows one to understand not only how the spiritual world interacts with the natural world, but also in how the elements of the natural world. What Swedenborg described are entire discrete degrees of reality, with our natural world being the lowest plane of reality.  Heaven, and hell, are other planes of reality that reside in the spiritual world. And what is the spiritual world? The spiritual world is the realm where time and space do not exist:

"God is infinite, for He was before the world, thus before spaces and times arose. In the natural world there are times and spaces, but in the spiritual world, not so actually, and still apparently... In the spiritual world, however, there are not material spaces, and times corresponding with them; but still there are appearances of them, which appearances are according to the differences of states in which are the minds of spirits and angels there; wherefore, times and spaces there conform themselves to the affections of their will, and thence to the thoughts of their understanding; but those appearances are real, because constant according to their states." (True Christian Religion, n. 17, from The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem).

This statement is remarkable, because in modern cosmology the best theory we have of the origin of the universe is from the Big Bang, where all things begin from a singular point that explodes in an enormous explosion, leading to the creation of all things in the universe. But it is more than that - this Big Bang began at a specific point in time, 14 billion years ago, and as part of that Big Bang, space and time were created. As to what came before that, scientists cannot answer, but Swedenborg already was given the answer in the 18th century. As from the revelations we now know there is an existence where space and time are meaningless, it is quite possible that from this spiritual realm there have been multiple Big Bangs, to create an even larger reality of multi-verses.  Each Big Bang would create its own "space-time" cone:

This inflationary universe, according to Einstein's theory, is an expanding space-time cone:

Up until the 16th century many had thought of heaven as the literal sky above us. But it is within us, as it pervades all of creation outside of space and time. Instead of time, there is state, and shared state where things of similar state are in the same location. And this provides an explanation for quantum physics, where particles of nature behave outside of space and time. And "entanglement" is nothing other than shared state.


So back to the question, is the universe a virtual reality, a product of a God-mind consciousness? The answer to that is a resounding yes, according to the revelations received by Swedenborg - except by "virtual" we would mean a lower plane of reality that corresponds to a higher one.  However its more vast and beautiful than the analogy of a virtual reality simulation that we are all familiar with. The concept of discrete degrees pervades several "overlapping reality dimensions," where a higher reality dimension will flow in by spiritual influx into our lower reality, the natural material world of space-time. What happens in the higher realm affects the lower realm. To understand the higher realm, one has to realize that things such as love, though, emotion feeling are real spiritual things that have substance and affect the things around us. "Abstract thought" - for all abstractions are abstracted from time and space - are real things, and all things of "abstract thought" - and its corresponding love or affection, pre-existed in the spiritual world. The things we feel inside are very real spiritual realities that have an effect on ourselves and our surrounding reality. The abstract conceptions of the spiritual world lead to the created thing that corresponds to it. For example God is Love itself and Truth itself, and in the physical world this corresponds to heat and light. We can say it corresponds to the explosion of the Big Bang, which was of enormous heat, and the light of the space-time cone. All things of nature are a theatrical representation of the Divine:

"Whatsoever is anywhere seen in the universe, is representative of the kingdom of the Lord, insomuch that there is not anything given in the atmospheric and starry universe, or in the earth and its three kingdoms, which does not in its own mode represent. The things in nature are, one and all, ultimate images, inasmuch as from the Divine are celestial things which are of good, from celestial things spiritual things which are of truth, and from both celestial and spiritual are natural things. From this it may be evident how gross, how earthly, and also inverted, human intelligence is, which ascribes everything to nature separate or exempt from influx prior to itself, or from the efficient cause. Moreover, they who so think and speak, seem to themselves to be wiser than others, that is, in attributing all things to nature; when angelic intelligence on the contrary is, to ascribe nothing to nature, but each and everything to the Divine of the Lord, thus to life, and not to anything dead. The learned know that subsistence is perpetual existence, but still it is contrary to affection for falsity and thence to reputation for learning, to say that nature continually subsists, as it originally had existence, from the Divine of the Lord. Inasmuch now as each and everything subsists, that is, continually exists, from the Divine, and all and each of the things which are therefrom must needs be representative of those things whereby they had existence, it follows that the visible universe is nothing else than a theater representative of the kingdom of the Lord, and that this kingdom is a theater representative of the Lord Himself." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3483, from The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem).

So yes, we live in a virtual reality. And whoever learns to love others and overcome their lower selfish nature, "wins" the game.  For God is Love itself, and as such Love desires to love someone other than his or her self. However death is not "game over" - its an advancement to the next level, and our growth and progression continue to eternity.