Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Symbolism of the Stone of the Tomb of Easter

It is Easter, and I thought I would share here the spiritual symbolism of the stone that the Jews used to seal the tomb of Jesus before He rose from the dead.  Swedenborg offers an interesting explanation of it which I thought was rather insightful, as we can take this meaning and apply it in our lives today:
"An angel of the Lord was seen sitting upon the stone which he had rolled away from the entrance to the tomb (Matt. xxviii. 2)... These things seen were representative of the Lord's glorification, and of introduction into heaven by Him; for the "stone" that was placed before the sepulchre, and that was rolled away by the angel, signifies Divine truth, thus the Word, which was closed up by the Jews, but opened by the Lord. (That "stone" signifies truth, and in the highest sense, Divine truth, may be seen above,[†] n. 417a, and in the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 534)." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 687.15)
Thus the spiritual significance of the sealing of the tomb with a stone is to cover up and hide the true spiritual meaning of the Word, which is done by religious leaders who have power. In the time of Jesus, the Word was closed up by the Jews with their many traditions and external rituals; so how does it happen today?

In the history of the Catholic Church, we can see that they were guilty of this: they had attempted to prevent the translation of the Bible into languages people could understand, and attempted to keep it in Latin so that only the priests could explain it. For their interest was to place power in the priesthood, and this interest still remains today: some place Divine authority in their priesthood, rather than seeing the priesthood as a means of serving and representing God's truth. This was foreseen in scripture:
"The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate
and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’
Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard
." (Matt. 27:62-66)
The guards placed around the tomb were of course Roman soldiers, and Rome would later become the center of the Roman Catholic Church, which would place guards around the Word of God by having them be the only ones to interpret scripture, and leave the Word closed to the masses. For Jesus Himself is the Word incarnate; for Him to lie dead in the tomb sealed by a stone would be to exterminate it from view to the public.

Swedenborg explains a portion of the above passage, and indicates that every single detail of the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection has spiritual significance:
""The angel rolled away the stone from the mouth and sat upon it" signifies that the Lord removed all the falsity that had shut off access to Him, and that He opened Divine truth, "the stone" signifying the Divine truth which the Jews had falsified by their tradition; for it is said that:—
The chief priests and Pharisees sealed the stone with a guard; but that an angel from heaven removed it and sat upon it (Matt. xxvii. 66; xxviii. 2).
The things that have been said respecting these earthquakes, and the veil of the temple, and the stone before the mouth of sepulchre, are but a few, but the things signified by them are many, for each and everything that is written in the Gospels respecting the Lord's Passion involves arcana and is significative." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 400.14)
If we look at the state of Christianity today, the majority of Christians are completely unaware of what is in the Bible. And if they do actually read it, most ignore the Old Testament. It is thus, except for a minor set of verses, a closed book, or subject to misinterpretation.

However this has changed in the present day: for the complete spiritual symbolism of the Word has been revealed in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who was allowed to have continuous waking visions for 27 years.  This is explained in the multi-volume work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia or Heavenly Secrets) as well as in his other theological works, especially Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained.

With the spiritual meaning of the Word disclosed, this is the modern "rolling away of the stone" of the tomb, so that we can now all see the Word in its true glory. This is the spiritual resurrection we can all experience; it is in fact the Second Coming - for it is a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, whereas the First Coming was a revelation of the Word in the flesh (see Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?)

But be aware - as in the day of Jesus, there will be religious leaders in power who will attempt to cover up this great truth - who will utter the word "heresy" to attempt to hold on to their own traditions. These are represented by the Jewish leaders who spread the false report that the disciples stole the body once the stone was rolled away.

And what does it take to see it? What is required is an affection for the truth, and the desire to seek it. Thus the first witnesses who saw the empty tomb were women - and in the spiritual sense, women represent affection for the truth. Their weeping and crying represents an acknowledgment of the lack of truth. Thus if one has the desire, and if one seeks, then in this very present moment we ourselves can make the journey and see the empty tomb, and the glory of the Word risen in our lives.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Purpose of Creation is from Divine Love

In the revelations of the New Church, it is revealed that there is One God-Man is Divine Love and Divine Truth who manifests Himself in human form. Moreover, Divine Love and Wisdom manifests itself in the substance and form of everything that exists. This was revealed to Swedenborg which he describes in his work Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Love and Wisdom, however he could not demonstrably prove it as at that time (18th century) the knowledge of science was limited (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 40). He then demonstrates this through our interaction with the material world through our senses, where substance and form are the results of the affection and thoughts of the mind. The ultimate Substance and Form is Divine Love and Wisdom (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 43), from which all things exist:
"Now because this Very and Only Reality is Substance and Form, it follows that it is the very and only Substance and Form. Because this very Substance and Form is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, it follows that it is the very and only. Love, and the very and only Wisdom; consequently, that it is the very and only Essence, as well as the very and only Life; for Love and Wisdom is Life." (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 45)
The substances and forms of the material world is not the Divine Love and Wisdom itself, but rather all substances and forms correspond to Divine Love and Wisdom, forming an image:
"the created universe is an image representative of God-Man, and that it is His love and wisdom which in the universe are presented in an image. Not that the created universe is God-Man, but that it is from Him; for nothing whatever in the created universe is substance and form in itself, or life in itself, or love and wisdom in itself; and neither is man a man in himself; but all is from God, Who is Man, Wisdom and Love, and Form and Substance in itself. That which is in itself, is uncreate and infinite; but that which is from Him, because it has nothing about it which in itself is, is created and finite, and this presents an image of Him from Whom it is and exists. Of things created and finite may be predicated esse [essence] and existere [existence], also substance and form, as also life, and even love and wisdom, but all these are created and finite. The reason that such things can be predicated of them is not that anything Divine belongs to them, but that they are in the Divine, and the Divine is in them. For all created things in themselves are inanimate and dead, but they are animated and made alive by this, that the Divine is in them, and they are in the Divine." (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 52-53)
So how exactly does Divine love correspond to substance in the material world? From modern physics, we now know from Einstein's theories that mass and energy are equivalent. Energy corresponds to Divine Love, as energy represents the ability to do work, and the essence of love is to do. It took a massive amount of energy to create the universe, and this energy originated from the Divine Love. Our modern physical concept of energy began to be developed in the early 19th century, after Swedenborg died, so he did not have a chance to incorporate it into the theology of new Christianity which was revealed to him. But we have enough of a rational theological foundation to do this.

Energy manifests in a variety of forms. Just as Swedenborg described different degrees or levels in the spiritual theology that was revealed to him, so we can classify energy into different levels: subatomic, atomic, molecular and macroscopic, as follows:

LevelEnergy FormParticle
SubatomicElectromagnetic or Radiant EnergyPhoton
SubatomicNuclear or ChromodynamicGluon (Strong Force)
SubatomicWeakW/Z Boson (Weak Force)
MacroscopicMechanical, Mechanical/Sound Wave, Elastic, Thermal

Normally energy is described in different ways according to the different branches of science, but no one attempts to describe everything in a unified whole.  The first four forms of energy are at the subatomic level, and these are the four fundamental forces of the universe. It is mediated by force particles or bosons. At the atomic level, ionization energy is the amount of energy needed to decouple a valence electron from an atom or molecule. At the molecular level the chemical energy is stored in chemical bonds, where energy is release or absorbed through chemical reactions.

Food energy is the amount of energy living things obtain from food. From food we have energy to do things, thus in scripture, whenever food is mentioned it corresponds to love. This is mentioned throughout Swedenborg's exposition of the spiritual sense of scripture, but again the physics behind food had not yet been described at the level where this could be proven.

The macroscopic level are the forms of energy we are familiar with in everyday life, which manifests as mechanical, mechanical/sound wave, elastic and thermal. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. The laws for energy at the macroscopic level are mainly governed by mass which mostly originates from the strong force, and resistance which mostly originates from the electric force. Although the modern concept of energy and its association with motion was formulated after Swedenborg died, he indicates that it has a spiritual origin:
" all and each of the things in nature and her three kingdoms [animal, vegetable, mineral], there is an inward active force from the spiritual world; and unless this were so, nothing whatever in the natural world could act as cause and effect, and consequently nothing could be produced. That which from the spiritual world is in natural things, is called a force implanted from the first creation; but it is an endeavor, on the cessation of which, action or motion ceases. Thence it is that the whole visible world is a theatre representative of the spiritual world." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5173.2)
We now know that the "force implanted from the first creation" are the four known forces of the universe at the subatomic level. The forces or energy of this world is spiritual in origin. We can say at the macroscopic level, a world has been created for us to do things. Our life is governed by our love, and our love defines who we are.

Energy corresponds to love, and manifests in a variety of forms. The physical concept of energy was not known to Swedenborg, but we can easily see now that substance in itself, since it is a manifestation of energy which is the ability to do something, corresponds to love. Thus we can conclude that creation came into being not only from God's love but its very existence corresponds to Divine love. Since its purpose is to manifest the Divine Love, our purpose in life is to love. Jesus said that the greatest commandment, on which the entire law and prophets are based, is to love God, and to love others. We can extend this further: all of creation, with its different forms of energy, is an image of the Divine love. God is Divine Love, who seeks to love others outside of Himself, and that is why creation was created to create a reality in which there is a potential to love others and to love God. To realize that potential, and to actually make it kinetic, can only happen by following God's laws, for these laws are the ones that govern the universe. Inasmuch as we love, God live within us, and we in Him.