Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Two Essentials of True Christianity

There are two essentials of True Christianity, which shows just how far many Christian churches have fallen from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Swedenborg mentions this at the beginning of his work on the book of Revelation:
"There are two essentials by which conjunction with the Lord is effected, and hence salvation, — the acknowledgment of one God, and repentance of life. But at this day, instead of the acknowledgment of one God, there is acknowledgment of three; and instead of repentance of life, there is repentance of the mouth only that one is a sinner; and by these two there is no conjunction: therefore, unless a new church rises up, which acknowledges these two essentials, and lives them, no one can be saved." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 6)
So if this is true, it means that most churches have departed from the true faith and are preaching a false gospel. And this is why a new revelation had to come concerning the New Church. So is true Christianity founded on one God in one person, and that salvation is from repentance? Let us examine scripture and see if it is true.


The first point, that God is one, is declared in the gospels:
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
The Lord our God is One. Not three. One. And Who is that Lord? It is Lord Jesus Christ. We know this from the book of Revelation:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8)
John hears a voice who says this:
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you see, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia (Rev. 1:11)
John turns around and sees Jesus Christ. Jesus again repeats this at the end of the book of Revelation:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. 22:13)
This means Jesus Christ is the Almighty God in human form. Moreover the title "first and last" is reserved for Jehovah alone:
I, Jehovah, the first, and with the last; I am he (Isa. 41:4)
And again:
Thus says Jehovah, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god (Isa. 44:6)
Thus inasmuch as a church teaches a "tripersonal God" has departed from the truth faith. For the Father resides in the person of Jesus Christ and is not separate from Him as they teach in their man-made theology:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
(John 14:8-10)
The modern definition of the Trinity does not fit this description in scripture. For the Father resided in Jesus Christ as the soul resides in the body. There is no definition of the Trinity as three persons in scripture. It is foreign to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And those who make the Father into another person do not know who Jesus Christ really is. They put Jesus off to the side and ignore Him. Those who pray to saints and Mary put Jesus off to the side and ignore Him. It is not true Christianity, it is a falsified version that is taught to people who do not read their Bible.

Jesus commands his disciples to baptize others in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). But what is the name? The apostles understood that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ. In all cases they baptized in the name of Jesus only (see Acts 2:38, 8:16, 19:5, Rom. 6:3). Some will argue over the words, but what is more important is to understand that God is one person in Jesus Christ.

True Christianity is a faith in Jesus Christ alone and no other: for the Father is the invisible God, and Jesus is the visible form of Him:
He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 15:)
And again Jesus is  described as follows:
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:3)
He is not another person, but the visible form of the invisible God. That Father and Son are merely the invisible and visible God, or the unknown and known God, is declared in the gospels:
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him (John 1:18).
Jesus thus calls God "Father" simply because He was born of a virgin, for this was the manner in which God could descend and become incarnate in human form (see Why Jesus was born of a Virgin, and the Origin of the Soul).

In scripture, and in the epistles of the apostles, true faith is explicitly focused on Jesus Christ alone:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12)
hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (James 2:1)
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:13)
the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)
I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus (Phil. 1:5)
we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:4) 
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:15) 
those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 3:13)
we know that a person is not justified  by works of the law (Paul was speaking of the Jewish rituals) but through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16) 
ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26)
the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22)
Thus true Christianity is a faith in Jesus Christ alone, and no other. Any other faith is a spurious faith, and is not truly Christian. The Father is the invisible God, and Jesus is the visible form, in one person:
"The invisible God is called the Father and the visible the Lord, but that the two are one. This He Himself has taught us, saying that no one has ever seen the Father's shape, but that the Father and He are one, and that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father, and that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father, consequently that these two who are Divine exist in one person. These are the Lord's own words, see John 5:37; 10:30; 14:7, 9-11." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9971)

There are many who teach of salvation from mere lip confession, from belief alone. That on a mere belief sins are automatically removed. But they are greatly deceived, and they continue to deceive many. Salvation comes through repentance, which is turning away from sins and living by God's commandments.

So what does scripture say in how sins are removed? Read this:
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, also Luke 3:3).
The word "forgiveness" can also be translated as "remission" and means the removal of sins. This was taught by John the Baptist. And Jesus confirmed it when He said this after He rose from the dead:
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46-47)
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19)
God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31)
Likewise, forgiveness of others is conditional on their repentance:
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4)
Repentance is a change of life:
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt. 3:8, also Luke 3:8)
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32)
There is much joy in heaven to those who repent:
I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:7)
But there is condemnation to those who do not repent, for which see Matt. 11:20-24, 12:41, Luke 13:3,5, 16:30, Rev. 2:5,16,21-22, 3:3,19, 9:20-21, 16:9,11.

Swedenborg explains that Jesus saved humanity by conquering the power of hell, and He works through us to redeem us in a life of repentance:
"The Lord came into the world chiefly for these two things, to remove hell from angel and from man, and to glorify His Human. For before the Lord's Advent, hell had grown up so far as to attack the angels of heaven, and also by interposing between heaven and the world, to cut off the Lord's communication with men on earth, so that no Divine truth and good could pass through, from the Lord to men. Consequently total condemnation threatened the whole human race; and further, the angels of heaven could not have long continued to exist in their integrity. And therefore, in order that hell might be removed, and this impending condemnation thereby taken away, the Lord came into the world, removed hell, subjugated it, and thus opened heaven; so that He could afterward be present with the men of the earth, and save those who should live according to His precepts, consequently regenerate and save them, for those who are regenerated are saved. This is what is meant when it is said, that, because all have been redeemed, all can be regenerated; and, because regeneration and salvation make one, that all can be saved. Therefore, what the church teaches, that without the Lord's Coming no one could have been saved, is to be understood in this way, that without the Lord's Coming no one could have been regenerated. As to the other end for the sake of which the Lord came into the world, namely, to glorify His Human, this was because He thereby became the Redeemer, Regenerator, and Saviour for ever. For it is not to be believed that, by the Redemption once wrought in the world, all men have been redeemed by that, but that the Lord is perpetually redeeming those who believe in Him and keep His words." (True Christian Religion, n. 579)
Thus those who teach one's sins are immediately transferred away upon a mere lip confession are wrong - it is a life long process of repentance in Jesus Christ, that continues with Him to eternity. Acknowledgment of one's sins, and turning away from them, is the first step on the true spiritual path to eternal life.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Swedenborg's Clairvoyance on Biblical Discoveries

In the 18th century Emanuel Swedenborg experienced 27 years of waking visions to reveal to the world the reality of the afterlife, the spiritual sense of scripture, and the true doctrines of Christianity. Although he intended everyone to examine the truth for themselves from scripture, he inadvertently at times included clairvoyant information that can be verified by facts (see The Confirmed Clairvoyance of Emanuel Swedenborg). For example, it is now well established that the first 11 chapters of Genesis have parallels in the myths and writings of ancient Sumeria, which were discovered in the 19th century. Before their discovery, and long before the creationist-evolutionary debate, Swedenborg stated that the first 11 chapters were based on earlier writings which were mythical in character:
"There are in the Word, in general, four different styles. The first is that of the Most Ancient Church. Their mode of expression was such that when they mentioned terrestrial and worldly things they thought of the spiritual and celestial things which these represented. They therefore not only expressed themselves by representatives, but also formed these into a certain historical series, as it were, that they might be the more living... These particulars concerning the creation, the garden of Eden, etc., down to the time of Abram, Moses had from the descendants of the Most Ancient Church. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 66)
"...the historic narrative concerning the creation and concerning the first man, and concerning paradise, is a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received manner in the Ancient Churches. This manner of writing extended thence also to many who were outside of that Church..." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8891.4)
For further details, see the earlier blog post Is Genesis Historical? A Revelation from Heaven.  Another was he predicted the content of the Hebrew midrash of the book of Jasher, which he states is much older than scholars think (see The Lost Book of Jasher, the Exodus, and Emanuel Swedenborg).

Combined with his other clairvoyant experiences that were verified by his contemporaries this is impressive. However I started to read again Swedenborg's extensive explanation of the book of Revelation and found another odd finding, which is hard to notice unless one uses a search engine or index of Swedenborg's writings.


From his waking visions under the guidance of the Lord, Swedenborg interpreted every single small detail in the Apocalypse, the final book of the Bible, and many still struggle to interpret its meaning. The work begins with seven epistles from Jesus to seven churches in Asia Minor:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come (Rev. 1:4).
The seven churches signify seven different types of Christianity where one can directly apply it to one's Christian walk of life (see The Symbolism of the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation for a summary). However every small detail in scripture has a spiritual significance, even personal and geographic place names. So what is the spiritual meaning about Asia, or Asia Minor? Swedenborg says this:
"Which are in Asia, signifies to those who from the Word are in the light of truth. Since by all the names of persons and places in the Word the realities of heaven and the church are meant, as said before, the same are signified by Asia, and by the names of the seven churches there, as will be manifest from what follows. They who are in the light of truth from the Word are meant by Asia, because the Most Ancient Church, and after it the Ancient, and afterwards the Israelitish, were in Asia; also because the Ancient Word was with them, and afterwards the Israelitish; and all the light of truth is from the Word." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 11)
Although Swedenborg does not mention it, another reason why Asia has this significance is that it contains Mt. Ararat, the region where Noah's Ark rested after the flood, and Noah and his descendants represent the Ancient Church that succeeded the Most Ancient Church of the antediluvians. In Apocalypse Explained Swedenborg gives a more detailed account on how he arrived at this interpretation:
"In Asia, signifies those who are in the light of intelligence. This can be seen by a spiritual idea only, such as angels have, concerning the regions of this earth. When Asia is named, angels perceive the south; when Europe is named, the north; and when Africa, the east; and as by the "south" is signified the clear light of intelligence, so that light is signified by "Asia." This perception has been granted also to me, as often as I have been in the spiritual idea and have thought of Asia. Such is the spiritual idea of Asia, because the church was there in ancient times, and then extended over many regions there; therefore, those who are in heaven from that country are in the light of intelligence. For this reason, when Asia is thought of, a light like that which is in the south of heaven flows in." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 21)
This explanation is more detailed, which Swedenborg simplified in Apocalypse Revealed. It at first seems strange, but it is actually supported in prophetic interpretations of scripture, especially by those of the Seventh Day Adventists. In the prophecy of Daniel 11-12, it is recognized by several commentators that the "king of the north" eventually refers to the Roman Empire of Europe and the "king of the south" refers to the Ptolemaic Empire of Egypt. The latter had survived longer than its other rival, the Seleucid Empire, which covered Asia Minor. The war between the king of the north and south ultimately signify the corruption of the early Church, which happened when Rome became the primary authority over the more ancient eastern churches of the Middle East (see The Prophecy of Daniel 11-12 Explained, for my personal viewpoint on the prophetic interpretation).


Focusing back on Asia, specifically Asia Minor, we now know that Asia Minor was once the center of the Hittite Empire. From The Hittites - Ancient History Encyclopedia:
"Little was known of the Hittites other than the references from the Bible and fragmentary documentation from Egypt until the late 19th century CE when excavations began at Boghaskoy (modern-day Bogazkale, Turkey) which was once the site of Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire... Hattusa was originally founded by the Hatti (an aboriginal tribe of Anatolia) in 2500 BCE, and their culture may have provided the basis for that of the Hittites.  This very important complex and those who built it along with their vast empire, however, remained almost unknown until their writings were discovered, first by the Irish missionary William Wright in 1884 CE, and then by the German archaeologist Hugo Winckler in 1906 CE."
Below is one map of the Hittite Empire, showing it covered portions of Asia and bordered the land of Canaan:

By 1912 Winckler found a huge cache of clay cuneiform tablets which were quickly deciphered. It was soon realized by scholars that they had discovered the empire of the Hittites which are mentioned multiple times in the Bible. Up until that time nothing was known of the Hittites, except also they happened to be another one of the inhabitants in the land of Canaan. They were in no way associated with the geographic region of Asia. The case for the identification is summarized in Biblical Hittites:

Apart from the similarity in names, the Anatolian Hittites were a powerful political entity in the region before the collapse of their empire in the 14th-12th centuries BC, so one would expect them to be mentioned in the Bible, just in the way that the ḤTY post-Exodus are. A stone lion relief found at Beth Shan, near the Sea of Galilee (now at the Israel Museum), dated to about 1700 BC, has been interpreted by professor Bill Humble as confirming this identification, since lions are often pictured in Hittite art. Moreover, in the account of the conquest of Canaan, the Hittites are said to dwell "in the mountains" and "towards the north" of Canaan — a description that matches the general direction and geography of the original Hittite empire, which had been influential in the region prior to the Battle of Kadesh.
Modern academics propose, based on much onomastic and archaeological evidence, that Anatolian populations moved south into Canaan as part of the waves of Sea Peoples who were migrating along the Mediterranean coastline at the time of the collapse of the Hittite Empire. Many kings of local city-states are shown to have had Hittite and Luwian names in the Late Bronze to Early Iron Age transition period. Indeed, even the name of Mount Zion may be Hittite in origin.

So, Swedenborg had absolutely no knowledge of this, as the Hittite Empire had essentially been forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 20th century. Now here is where things get interesting. If Asia signifies those who are in the light of truth as they were from the Ancient Church preceding Judaism, then the spiritual significance of "Hittite" should be similar as we now know they originate from Asia. And here is what Swedenborg states concerning the Hittites:
"There were many inhabitants of the land of Canaan, who are named in many passages of the Word and among them the Hittites (see Gen. xv. 20; Exod. iii. 8, 17; xiii. 5; xxiii. 23; Deut. vii. 1; xx. 17; Josh. iii. 10; xi. 1, 3; xii. 8; xxiv. 11; 1 Kings ix. 20: and other places). Most of these were from the Ancient Church; that this extended through many lands, and likewise through the land of Canaan... Among the better inhabitants of the land of Canaan were the Hittites, as may be evident from this, that Abraham dwelt among them, and afterward Isaac and Jacob, and had their burial-place there; also from their bearing themselves piously and modestly toward Abraham, as is very plain from what is related of them in this chapter (particularly in verses 5, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15). And thus by the Hittites, as by a well-disposed nation, is represented and signified the spiritual church, or the truth of the church." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2913.1-2)
Swedenborg had no knowledge that the Hittites originated from Asia, only that they were part of the Ancient Church. And yet the spiritual meaning of "Asia" and "Hittite" is practically the same: Asia represents those of the church in the light of truth, and Hittite always represents those who are in the spiritual truth of the church. This is reaffirmed in another passage:
"There were remains of the church from ancient times still in the land of Canaan, especially with those who were called Hittites and Hivites. Consequently by those nations are represented the truths which were of that church." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4429.3)
And again, similar to Asia the Hittite spiritually signifies the light of truth:
"That is in the field of Ephron the Hittite. That this signifies that yet there may be light, is evident from the signification of a field, as the church (see n. 2971, 3766); and from the representation of Ephron the Hittite, as those with whom truth and good may be received (n. 2933, 2940, 2969), and thus with whom the obscurity of faith may be made clear." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6454)
When explaining this passage of Ephron the Hittite among the sons of Heth, Swedenborg goes further:
"This verse treats of the new church that the Lord establishes when the former church expires; and the verses that follow treat of the reception of faith with them. A church among the sons of Heth is not treated of; but the raising up by the Lord of the spiritual church in general, after the former ceases or is consummated" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2913.1-2)
And this is the exact theme of the book of Revelation - the consummation of the old Christian churches, and the establishment of a new spiritual Christian Church, signified by the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven. This is something that Swedenborg could not have conceived on his own, and is thus evidence he was receiving heavenly revelations on the spiritual meaning of scripture. It is thus evidence that the Second Coming indeed has taken place in these new revelations, for which see Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Emanuel Swedenborg's Views on Atheism and Naturalism

Emanuel Swedenborg was an 18th century scientist who is estimated to have an IQ of over 200. He pursued a life of science until in his 50s he started to experience a series of visions, until his mind was opened to see the spiritual world and the afterlife, and answered many dilemmas that Christianity cannot explain today. He had several clairvoyant experiences, one of which was confirmed by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (see The Confirmed Clairvoyance of Emanuel Swedenborg). As a scientist and visionary, Swedenborg was in a unique position to clarify the relationship between the spiritual and natural world, and was given revelations that anticipated modern theories of space-time (see Swedenborg's Answer to Stephen Hawking: A LONGER History of Time).

As part of the many revelations Swedenborg received, he provides some interesting insights concerning not only naturalism but what becomes of atheists in the afterlife. Below is the summary view of the false idea of naturalism, followed by atheism as many become atheists by following naturalism.


Naturalism tends to prevail as most depend on knowledge obtained from the senses, and internal perceptions of the mind have been closed off or ignored. But when Swedenborg's mind was opened, he saw an entire other world in the spiritual realm that closely interacted with the natural world:
"That there is a spiritual world, in which spirits and angels are, distinct from the natural world in which men are, has hitherto been deeply hidden even in the Christian world. The reason is, because no angel has descended and taught it by word of mouth, and no man has ascended and seen it. Lest therefore from ignorance of that world, and the uncertain faith concerning heaven and hell resulting from it, man should be infatuated to such a degree as to become an atheistic naturalist, it has pleased the Lord to open the sight of my spirit, and to elevate it into heaven, and also to let it down into hell, and to present to view the quality of both. It has thus been made plain to me that there are two worlds, which are distinct from each other; one in which all things are spiritual, which is therefore called the spiritual world, and another in which all things are natural, and is therefore called the natural world; and that spirits and angels live in their own world, and men in theirs; and also that every man passes by death from his own world into the other, and lives in it to eternity" (Interaction between the Soul and Body, n. 3)
The natural world originates from the "dead sun," but all of life originates from a "spiritual sun" which resides at the center of the spiritual world. The spiritual world acts upon the natural world through spiritual influx, and is the source of all life in this universe:
"There are two things which produce all the effects in the universe, Life and Nature, and they produce them according to order when life from within actuates nature. It is otherwise when nature from within brings life to act, which takes place with those who place nature, which in itself is dead, above and within life, and devote themselves wholly to the pleasures of the senses and the lusts of the flesh, and care nothing for the spiritual things of the soul and the truly rational things of the mind. Such persons, on account of that inversion, are they who are called the dead; such are all atheistic naturalists in the world, and all Satans in hell." (Interaction between the Soul and Body, n. 10)
For this reason, naturalism cannot explain the origin of life, nor of consciousness, nor the internal thinking and emotions of our mind upon the body, nor free will. For all of these phenomenon have their origin from the spiritual world flowing into living things. Nor can naturalism explain the origin of increasing complexities of order in the natural world, nor of the origin of the laws that govern the natural world. Swedenborg had several visions of the creation of the universe, and it was shown that before the natural world existed there was the spiritual world, a dimension where time and space do not exist. All things that exist here are forms of things that pre-existed in the spiritual world, and spiritual influx into the natural world guided their creation.


Swedenborg first explains that atheists fall into the deception of their own self-intelligence, to confirm what they favour from their own fallacies, or assumptions that cannot be proven true:

"But how man's state is changed from confirmations and thence persuasions, shall now be told, and in the following order:
1. Every thing whatever can be confirmed, and falsity more than the truth.
2. When falsity has been confirmed, truth does not appear; but from confirmed truth, falsity becomes apparent.
3. Ability to confirm whatever one pleases is not intelligence, but only ingenuity, which may be even in the worst of men.
4. There is confirmation that is intellectual and not at the same time voluntary; but all voluntary confirmation is also intellectual.
5. The confirmation of evil that is voluntary and at the same time intellectual, causes man to believe that his own prudence is all, and the Divine Providence nothing; not so, intellectual confirmation alone.
6. Every thing confirmed from the will and the understanding at the same time, remains for ever; but not that which has been confirmed by the understanding only.
As regards the First: Every thing whatever can be confirmed, and falsity more than the truth. What cannot be confirmed, when it is confirmed by atheists that God is not the Creator of the universe, but that nature is the creator of itself; that religion is only a restraint, and this for the simple and the common people; that man is like a beast, and dies like one; and when it is confirmed that adulteries are allowable, likewise clandestine theft, frauds, and cunning contrivances; that craftiness is intelligence, and wickedness wisdom? Who does not confirm his own heresy? Are there not volumes filled with confirmations for the two heresies that reign in the Christian world? Make up ten heresies, however abstruse, tell an ingenious man to confirm them, and he will confirm them all. If you afterwards see them from the confirmations only, will you not see falsities as truths? Inasmuch as all falsity shines in the natural man from its appearances and fallacies, and truth in the spiritual man only, it is plain that falsity may be confirmed more than truth." (Divine Providence, n. 318)

Thus atheists get caught up in their own fallacious reasoning, which more often then not is either based on false logic or misconceptions concerning religion. They also have a tendency to make only statements to the negative. Atheists tend to be in the love their own self intelligence: They who love themselves and the world above others have a tendency toward atheism, and hold spiritual matters in aversion, for the spiritual truths are opposed to what they love most.
"...they who regard earthly and worldly things as an end, that is, who love them above all things, hold spiritual things in aversion and almost abhor the very name of them. It is nearly the same at the present day. The learned of the world indeed believe that they would receive the Word more readily if heavenly things were exposed nakedly, and if it were not written in such simplicity. But they are very much deceived, for in each case they would have rejected it more than the simple minded, and would have seen in it no light, but mere thick darkness. For this darkness is induced by human learning with those who trust to their own intelligence, and on that account exalt themselves above others. That such things are hid from the wise and revealed unto babes, that is, to the simple, the Lord teaches in Matthew (xi. 25, 26) and in Luke (x. 21). It is also very evident from this, that they who are atheists and naturalists, as they are called, are such as are learned. This the world knows and they themselves know. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8783)
And from their own self-intelligence, they will grab hold of fallacies and make them appear to be true, to favour what they love most. They will use this to attack spiritual truths:
"they who are in the loves of self and of the world see only such things as favor those loves, and call them truths, and through fallacies and appearances they also make them appear like truths; and afterward they see such things as agree with the principles they have adopted, which they love because they are from themselves. From this it is plain that both external and internal knowledges which are subjects of the memory, serve those who are in the above loves for means of confirming falsities against truths, and evils against goods, and thus of destroying the truths and goods of the church. For this reason the learned who are of such a character are more insane than are the simple, and with themselves deny the Divine, its providence, heaven, hell, life after death, and the truths of faith. This is clearly manifest from the learned of the European world at this day in the other life, where a great number of them in their very hearts are atheists; for in the other life hearts speak, and not lips." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9394.2)
Because atheists deny the Divine, they support the idea of Naturalism, that is, all things of nature are produced from nature. Naturalism at this day is supported by many because they are simply unaware of how the spiritual world flows into the natural. And some support Naturalism since they do not want to ascribe evil things to God. But atheists who confirm themselves in naturalism against the Divine cannot be pardoned, especially those who use this idea to justify their sin:
"Some indeed are to be pardoned for ascribing certain visible things to nature, for two reasons — First, because they have known nothing of the sun of heaven, where the Lord is, and of the influx thence; and nothing of the spiritual world and its state, yea, nothing of its presence with man. ...The second reason is that they could not see how the Divine could produce all those things that appear upon the earth, where there are both good things and evil things, fearing to confirm themselves in this, lest they should ascribe evil things also to God, and lest they should conceive a material idea of God, and make God and nature one, and thus confound them. These are two reasons for pardoning those who have believed that nature produces the visible world by a power implanted by creation. On the other hand those who have made themselves atheists by confirmations in favor of nature, are not to be pardoned, because they could have confirmed themselves in favor of the Divine. Ignorance indeed excuses, but it does not remove confirmed falsity, for such falsity coheres with evil, and thus, with hell. Wherefore these same persons who have confirmed themselves in favor of nature, even to the separation of the Divine from it, regard nothing as sin, because all sin is against the Divine which they have separated and thus rejected; and those who in spirit regard nothing as sin, after death, when they become spirits, being in bondage to hell, rush into wickedness according to the lusts to which they have given rein." (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 350)
When discussing Divine Providence, Swedenborg explains how the Divine interacts with man through man's freedom and rationality. Freedom and rationality are gifts from the Divine:
I. Man has reason and freedom, or rationality and liberty, and these two faculties are from the Lord in man.
II. Whatever a man does from freedom, whether it be of reason or not, provided it is according to his reason, appears to him as his.
III. Whatever a man does from freedom, according to his thought, is appropriated to him as his, and remains.
IV. By means of these two faculties man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord; and he cannot be reformed and regenerated without them.
V. With these two faculties as the means, a man can be reformed and regenerated so far as by them he can be led to acknowledge that every thing good and true which he thinks and does is from the Lord and not from himself.
VI. The conjunction of the Lord with man, and the reciprocal conjunction of man with the Lord, is effected by means of these two faculties.
VII. The Lord keeps these two faculties in man, unimpaired and as sacred, in all the course of His Divine Providence.
VIII. Therefore it is of the Divine Providence that man should act from freedom according to reason. (Divine Providence, n. 72)
Atheists, who deny the Divine, close off their spiritual freedom and rationality. For true freedom and rationality is to shun evils as sins:
"I have often heard such wonderful things in the spiritual world; and from them it has been fully proved to me that every man has liberty and rationality; and that every one can come into liberty itself and rationality itself if he shuns evils as sins. But the adult who has not come into liberty itself and rationality itself in the world, can in no wise come into them after death; for then his state of life remains for ever such as it had been in the world." (Divine Providence, n. 99)
And in the end, those who confirmed themselves in the falsehood of atheism ultimately closed off the higher regions of the mind that connected them with God, and thus were borne downward towards hell as their mind had focused on material and sensual things:
"To these things it is to be added, that those who had confirmed themselves in favor of nature from the visible things of the world until they became atheists, have been seen by me in the spiritual world; and that in spiritual light their understanding appeared open below, but closed above, because in thought they looked downward to the earth, and not upward to heaven. Over the sensual, which is the lowest of the understanding, appeared as it were a veil — in some flashing from infernal fire, in some black as of soot, and in some livid as of a corpse. Therefore let every one beware of confirmations in favor of nature; let him confirm himself in favor of the Divine, for there is no lack of material."(Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 357)

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.