Saturday, June 30, 2018

The True Spiritual Meaning of Atonement

Atonement is the removal of sins, and there are two systems of thought as to how atonement is effected:
  1. Atonement, the removal of sins, is effected by repentance and turning away from evil, and/or
  2. Atonement is the removal of sins and reconciliation of God and man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Most understand the need for repentance, but few understand how that is related to the coming of Jesus Christ. Many who practice true spirituality by living one's life according to God's commandments fail to understand who Jesus Christ is and how He is involved in one's spiritual life. On the other side of the coin, many religious people just believe and rarely practice a life of repentance.

So how is a life a repentance and self examination related to the coming of Jesus Christ, and why was His coming necessary? Here, a rational and comprehensive answer is provided in the theology of the New Church which is explained in detail in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.


The Christian life as explained in the theology of the New Church is simple: turning away from evil because they are sins against God, and doing that which is good. Before good can be done, before the Holy Spirit can enter into one's life, evils must be removed. The removal of one's evils is atonement. This can only happen through internal struggles known as temptations, and repentance. It must be preceded with an acknowledgment of truth, and self examination. It begins with an acknowledgment that the source of one's evils is one's self, and that any good originates from God alone. One must identify specific sins, and turn away from them. This is how sins are removed, and how one begins a spiritual life.


In the original Hebrew, the word "atonement" means "cover." It first appears in scripture in the instructions to Noah on how to build the ark:

Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.  Make rooms in the ark, and pitched it inside and out with pitch (Gen. 6:14)

The word "pitch" is from the word that is also translated as atonement. And from this many have invented false teachings to explain the meaning, such as, when one converts God "covers up" one's sins so that He does not see them. This is a false perverted teaching that has destroyed the essential teaching of Christianity: it is used as an excuse for a life of evil and it goes against a life of repentance. In the work Heavenly Arcana Swedenborg offers a rather interesting spiritual insight into the meaning of this word when commenting on the story of Noah's ark:
"In the original text it is not indeed said that it was to be pitched with pitch, but a word is used which denotes protection, derived from expiate or propitiate, and therefore it involves the same. The expiation or propitiation of the Lord is protection from inundation of evil" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 645)
The words "expiation" and "propitiation" are synonyms for the word "atonement." This is one of the first surprises for me when I encountered the theology of the New Church, as this is not what is taught by most churches. When one withdraws from evil, one withdraws from the influence of evil spirits, whose temptations are represented by the flood of waters that attempt to flood the ark. The ark with its different compartments represents one's will and mind. When one withdraws from evil, then one opens the door to heaven, and the Lord then withholds and protects the one who has followed Him from the influence of evil.


It is well known that animal sacrifices in the Jewish religion represented the rite of atonement. These animal sacrifices were symbolic, where the blood was withdrawn from the animal before its body was burned on the altar. The body or flesh represent one's lower desires, and the blood that was offered represented what was holy:
"In the rituals of the Jewish Church blood had no other signification than the holy proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human, wherefore when they were sanctified, it was done by blood — as when Aaron and his sons were sanctified, blood was sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, the remainder at the base of the altar, also upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, and upon his garments (Exod. xxix. 12, 16, 20; Lev. viii. 15, 19, 23, 30). And when Aaron entered within the veil to the mercy-seat, blood was also to be sprinkled with the finger upon the mercy-seat eastward seven times (Lev. xvi. 12-15)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4735.11)
When one repents from evil, one turns away from the desires of the ego and the lower self, represented by the flesh of the animal. Only after that could the priest enter the Holy of holies, which signifies that communion with the Divine of heaven is only possible once sins or evils are removed by repentance. It is affected by knowledge of the truth, thus in many Jewish rituals one is cleansed by the washing of water, and in the Christian Church it is the ritual of baptism, since water signifies the truth by which one reforms one's way of life.


Atonement, which is the removal of sins and the liberation from the bondage of evil, is effected by Divine truth, and this is represented by blood in the Jewish rituals, as well as by water. Blood in itself effects nothing, it is a symbolic representation of the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord:
"blood in the Word is signified Divine truth proceeding from the Divine good of the Lord, and by this truth all purification is effected; for truth teaches man what is good and how he should live, and when man knows this, then first can affection or love of good be implanted, and thus he be regenerated. For knowledge must precede before man can have faith and live the life of faith, which is the life of good" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10026)
Those who have no knowledge of the truth live in darkness, and the way they live will be influenced by their lack of knowledge and tend towards favoring the selfish ego and desires.


And here is where we get to the point how Jesus Christ is related to purification from evil through atonement: Jesus is the Divine truth in human form, thus He is called the Word in the flesh. There is a false teaching that states that such animal sacrifices represented a "substitutionary" or "vicarious" atonement where someone else suffers for the punishment of one's sin. This is again a false teaching, a late development in Christianity that began in the 11th century and is now popular in Catholic and Protestant thinking. So why was the coming of the Divine in human form necessary? The human race had become separated from heaven, and it is from heaven that Divine truth flows into the minds of the human race. Thus it became necessary for the Divine to descend in human form to subjugate the power of hell over the human race:
"They who have no knowledge of the internal sense of the Word, thus who do not know that by blood is signified Divine truth, and that by this from the Lord is effected purification, believe that man is purified by the blood of the Lord, by which they understand His passion of the cross. But let them know that by the Lord's passion of the cross, thus by His blood, no one is purified, but by a life according to His precepts, as He Himself teaches in many places. The passion of the cross was the last of the Lord's temptation, by which He fully glorified His Human, as He Himself also says in Luke: Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into His glory? (xxiv. 26.) For the Lord came into the world that He might subjugate the hells and bring back all things into order, even in the heavens, which was effected by temptations admitted to Himself; and the passion of the cross was the last of His temptations, by which He fully conquered the hells, and set the heavens in order, and at the same time glorified His Human, and unless He had done this, no man could have been saved" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10026.2)
This is described further in another passage:
"It is a common belief at this day that the burnt offerings and sacrifices signified the Lord's passion, and that by this the Lord made expiation for the iniquities of all, indeed, that He drew them away upon Himself, and thus bore them; and that those who believe are in this manner justified and saved, provided they think, though but in the last hour before death, that the Lord suffered for them, however they may have lived during the whole course of their life. But the case is not really so: the passion of the cross was the extremity of the Lord's temptation, by which He fully united His Human to His Divine and His Divine to His Human, and thus glorified Himself. That union is itself the means by which those who have the faith in Him which is the faith of charity, can be saved. For the Supreme Divine Itself could no longer reach to the human race, which had removed itself so far from the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith, that they no longer even acknowledged them, and still less perceived them. In order therefore that the Supreme Divine might be able to come down to man who was such, the Lord came into the world and united His Human to the Divine in Himself; which union could not be effected otherwise than by the most grievous combats of temptations and by victories, and at length by the last, which was that of the cross" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2776)
With the union of the Divine with the Human in the Lord, communion is thus now available where one may receive the truth through the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the Lord. In such a manner the coming of Jesus Christ was necessary for mankind to continue to be liberated from the dominion of hell through a life of repentance. Belief alone does not save, nor does faith alone save -- only by following the truth and turning against one's evils is one liberated to live a life according to the Divine will, which is a life of eternity that continues in heaven.

If any teaches otherwise, then Quit the Old Church, and Join the New.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Quit the Old Church, and Join the New

Here is an interesting article: a pastor is telling people to quit church: I'm a pastor and I want you to quit church. Now! He is recognizing a fact: church attendance is shrinking, apathy is growing, and there is a lot of doubt about core beliefs. And yet he is completely blind as to the root cause.

But here is the point he is missing: the core foundational beliefs of the church are simply false. True Christianity over the centuries has been falsified.  Instead of a belief in one God, there is a belief in three gods. And since it cannot be explained, ministers don't attempt to, but keep emphasizing a blind faith. And this goes against the modern age of enlightenment, where true spirituality is in agreement with reason, and not just blind belief based on tradition and authority.

What those within the traditional churches fail to see is that the religion from within is dying. The theology is inconsistent and not rational. Swedenborg pointed this out over 200 years ago:

"The rulers of the church insist that the understanding is to be kept under obedience to faith, nay, that faith, properly speaking, is a faith in what is unknown, which is blind, or a faith of the night. This is their first paradox; for faith is of truth, and truth is of faith; and truth before it can become an object of faith, must be seen in its light and understood; otherwise what is false may be believed as true. The paradoxes flowing from such a faith are many, as that God the Father begat a Son from eternity, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both, and that each of these three is a Person by Himself and a God: that the Lord, both as to His soul and body, was from the mother: that the above three Persons, consequently three Gods, created the universe; and that one of them descended, and assumed human nature, to reconcile the Father, and thus to save mankind; and that they who by grace obtain faith, and believe these paradoxes, are saved by the imputation, application, and translation, of His righteousness to themselves; and that man, at his first reception of that faith, is like a statue, a stock, or a stone, and that faith comes by the mere hearing of the Word; that faith alone without the works of the law, and not formed of charity, is saving; and that it produces the remission of sins without previous repentance; and that, merely by such remission of sins, the impenitent man is justified, regenerated, and sanctified; and that afterward charity, good works, and repentance, spontaneously follow: besides many other like paradoxes, all which, like offspring from an illegitimate bed, have issued from the doctrine founded on the idea of three Gods." (Summary Exposition, n. 54)

And since this theology cannot be explained in a rational manner, it is simply avoided by the ministers:

"the tenets of the present church cannot be learned and retained without great difficulty, nor can they be preached or taught without using great care and caution to conceal their nakedness, because sound reason neither discerns nor receives them." (Summary Exposition, n. 58)

This leads to a spiritual dilemma to those who can discern it: that there is something not quite right in what the church is teaching. They just want you to blindly believe and follow without understanding. Because they themselves do not see the truth. This is prophesied by Jesus as what will happen near the end of the age:

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)

And so ministers, who are blinded by their own faith, cannot see the source of the problem. They wonder why people attend church and do not apply it to their lives. Because they themselves teach faith alone saves, which to them is but a belief in the memory and empty words in the mouth. The paradoxes that are taught are many:

"They teach that faith without good works, as being alive, justifies; and at the same time, that faith without good works, as being dead, does not justify. They teach that faith is neither preserved nor retained by good works; and at the same time, that good works proceed from faith, as fruit from a tree, light from the sun, and heat from fire. They teach that good works being adjoined to faith make it perfect; and at the same time that being conjoined as a marriage, or in one form, they deprive faith of its saving essence. They teach that a Christian is not under the Law; and at the same time that he must be in the daily practice of the Law. They teach that if good works are intermixed in the business of salvation by faith, as in the remission of sins, justification, regeneration, vivification, and salvation, they are hurtful; but that if not intermixed they are profitable. They teach that God crowns His gifts, which are good works, with rewards even of a spiritual nature, but not with salvation and eternal life, because He crowns faith with these, without works." (Summary Exposition, n. 59)

So the answer?  Quit the old traditional church, and join the New Church.  The New Church corrects the many errors that have entered Christianity through the traditions and teachings of men. And the New Church is founded on direct revelations from Jesus Christ. The tenets of the New Church are simple:

1. Worship one God in one person, who revealed Himself in incarnate form as Jesus Christ, and,
2. Shun evils as sins, and do what is good.

Which Swedenborg says in his own words:

"But do you, my friend, snatch yourself from such contradictions, and shun evils as sins, and do good, and believe in the Lord, and saving justification will be given you." (Summary Exposition, n. 59)

True faith is living by the truth, according to God's word, and worshiping Jesus Christ as the One God of the universe. It is not a blind belief where the rational understanding is suspended. Even the apostle Peter stated we should be ready to give a rational argument:

"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Pet. 3:15)

And if you can't make a rational defense to a devil's advocate, something is wrong. Of course you cannot share your faith if you can't justify it.  Before making a defense, examine the teachings yourself: is what your church teaching true or false?  There are two kinds of people: those who believe what they are told, and those who examine what they are told to determine if they are true or not, by reading scripture themselves.

And if you want to take a shortcut, and avoid the long arduous path of searching, examine the theology of the New Church in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. It will answer all your questions, but you must be ready for one thing: be ready to admit that the way you think, what you believe, may be wrong.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and when you see it, you will quit the old church and join the new. And there is no turning back. So yes, quit the church, but for a completely different reason then what this pastor is saying: reject what is false and follow what is true. For this is the truth of the Second Coming, revealed from heaven.

And then you will have a new personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and acknowledge Him as the One Person you should pray to. For He is the One, and there is no such thing as a second or third person. For within Him the Divine itself is the Father, His human form is the Son, and the Divine proceeding from Him is the Holy Spirit. And in the teachings of the New Church, the true spiritual meaning of scripture will be opened, where one will see the light of heaven to apply it to one's daily life, to live a new life and to turn away from the old way of death, which the masses blindly follow.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Clairvoyant Dream of a Swedenborgian Golden Buddha

Last night someone had a clairvoyant dream about me, and I thought I would briefly share a portion of it here as I have been neglecting this blog lately.  The reason for the hiatus is I am working on a book that reveals a hidden numerical structure behind the poetry of the Psalms.  Hidden within the Hebrew structure of the Psalms, there is a definite numerical pattern in the verses, words and even the letters.  The evidence is conclusive, and opens up another layer in interpreting the scripture of the Psalms.  And within the Psalms there are hidden numbers which present the mathematical value of pi to a high degree of accuracy, which was left in there as a "Divine signature" of authorship. The initial discovery of the numerical design was quite by accident when analyzing the Hebrew poetry of the Psalms in preparing my other book The Symbolism of the Psalms for publication. The evidence is surprisingly conclusive, but the editing of the work is taking more time than I thought. Some of you have seen the initial research of this in an earlier publication, but it has expanded considerably.

In the dream, a group of coworkers came to visit me at my house. They saw that the flooring was of tile instead of wood or carpet, which was easier to clean. They then thought that is what they expected of me: simple and practical. But hidden within the house there were other treasures, or things they were not able to see. From the outside it looked like a simple house, but inside it was bigger than they thought, but one had to go exploring within the house in order to see it. One man was able to see the value, who was blonde and possibly of Russian ancestry. Inside the house, there was a large golden statue of a Buddha, and a small golden statue of a cat. The two items were gifts from someone, and the golden statue of the Buddha represented me, and the cat represented another woman. The woman was upset that someone thought she represented a cat. She did not see the value in either item, but when someone tried to take them, she realized they had value and decided to keep them.

So out of curiosity, I decided to look up "golden Buddha" to figure out if it had any special meaning. And indeed it does: there is this large golden statue known as the Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit in Thailand. It was made out of 5.5 tons of gold in the 13th -14th centuries. In order to hide its value, it was plastered over in stucco. And so it remained hidden for several centuries, at one time residing under a simple tin roof. And then it was moved in 1955, when the ropes dropped it and cracked the plaster, revealing the gold underneath. The statue, long forgotten, was rediscovered. Here is a picture of it:

The article on this statue can be found here: Golden Buddha. And that is why the dream is clairvoyant: it reveals facts unknown to the dreamer, presented as people thinking the house was small and ordinary but in fact it was quite big, but requiring exploration. The part I found interesting was this portion:

The Buddha is represented in the traditional pose of Bhumisparsha Mudra (touching the earth with the right hand to witness Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment at Bodh Gaya). The original statues of Sukhothai sit on a common pedestal form. The flame that crowns the ushnisha is an innovation of Sukhothai that symbolises the splendour of spiritual energy.

This would represent how Swedenborg's vision was opened to reveal the hidden secrets of Christianity, revealing the spiritual sense of scripture which is the fulfillment of the Second Coming. Here is a closer view of the head of the statue:

In symbolic visions, gold represents the highest form of Divine love, loving others for the sake of God and to make others happy. The plaster covering the gold represents the lowest level of truth, which is the literal sense of scripture. But hidden behind it there a higher spiritual truths. There are three levels of scripture - the literal or natural level, the spiritual level, and then the celestial level which is that of love represented by gold. These spiritual truths are kept hidden in order to protect it from the evil who would desire to pervert or profane them, and are revealed only to those who approach the Lord for enlightenment.

Buddhism has many similarities to Christianity. Now what is really bizarre, is unknown to the dreamer is that a Zen scholar named D.T. Suzuki compared the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg to Buddhism. The theology as revealed in visions to Swedenborg has been a life long study for me. He wrote a work called Buddha of the North:

In addition to this, there is this online essay that compares Swedenborg to Buddha: 

Swedenborg: A Modern Buddha?

Like the statue which was plastered in the 18th century around the time of Swedenborg, the article states that Swedenborg is little known to the world:

Swedenborg fell into obscurity, and today he receives relatively little attention from scholars of religion, particularly American religion. (He fares better among scholars of modern European literature and Western esotericism.)

The article discusses those who explored the relationship between Swedenborg and Buddhism. One was Albert J. Edmunds who made this interesting observation:

Edmunds also claimed that Swedenborg had predicted the early twentieth-century discovery of the massive cache of Buddhist texts at Dunhuang. In two books, Swedenborg said he had spoken with spirits from “Great Tartary,” a region that in his time was understood to encompass the entire East Asian continent. These spirits, Swedenborg said, carefully preserved and guarded ancient scriptures and religious practices predating the Hebrew Bible. This so-called “Ancient Word” provided the basis for later Judaism and Christianity. Edmunds argued that Swedenborg had actually conflated two separate visions: one concerning discoveries of ancient Hebrew texts, and one concerning future discoveries of Buddhist texts. Thus, the pre-Israelite “Ancient Word” to which Swedenborg’s vision referred was actually esoteric Buddhism.

Whether I agree with that assessment I don't know, my view is that the spirits of Great Tartary are the Jews of the Khazar kingdom, who would later preserve the ancient book of Jasher in the form of a Hebrew midrash (see The Lost Book of Jasher, the Exodus, and Emanuel Swedenborg). The article also discusses Suzuki's observations between Swedenborg and Buddhism:

In the Eastern Buddhist, Suzuki drew several parallels between Swedenborgian and Buddhist teachings. For example, Swedenborg’s most famous doctrine is that phenomena in the material world correspond to phenomena in the spiritual world, and one who can “read” this world correctly can discern corresponding divine truths. Suzuki likened this correspondence to the Mahayana teaching of emptiness, in which the world of samsara, correctly perceived, is nirvana. He also compared it to the Shingon practice of mudras, in which one identifies with the qualities of various Buddhas by visualizing them and adopting their characteristic gestures. Suzuki compared Swedenborg’s notion of innocence with the Pure Land teaching that one must utterly relinquish self-power

The author concludes that the comparison between Swedenborg's revelations and Buddhism remains "largely unexplored" and that further studies would reveal other connections providing a broader spiritual understanding to both groups.

So a remarkable dream, exploring a hidden area of the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg related to Buddhism.  Here is a youtube video for those of you wishing to dive in deeper into this matter, and hopefully if any Buddhists read this they can help shed more light on this subject.