Click here to see List of Swedenborg's Writings
See also: Substantive Dualism
I use this expression to refer to the science found in Swedenborg's Writings. "Dualism" refers to the premise that there are two worlds -- natural and spiritual, or that we are "dual citizens," that is, at birth we are born into two worlds -- the body in the natural world, the mind in the spiritual world.
|"Now because it has been granted me to be in the spiritual world and in the natural world at the same time, and thus to see each world and each sun, I am obliged by my conscience to manifest these things; for what is the use of knowing, unless what is known to one be also known to others?" E. Swedenborg ISB 18|
The Good News of Our Dual Citizenship
There is a profound difference between psychology and religious psychology. Psychology is in the negative bias methodology; this means that all its theories and facts about the human self are based on material mechanisms or models of the human mind. This approach makes us into mortal automata or biological robots. In contrast, religious psychology is in the positive bias methodology; this means that all its theories and facts about the human self are based on spiritual mechanisms or models of the human mind. This approach recognizes our immortal humanity.
In the psychology of the negative bias our dual citizenship is not even granted a respectable possibility. Neither Skinner nor Freud, nor any of the professionals who base their craft upon the theories of these two, take any notice whatsoever of:
God as a Person, His governship through Divine Providence in all things of nature and spirit (e.g., the concepts of Omnipotence and Omniscience, both of which are Human attributes, not "blind forces of un-managed evolution").
His governship of our minds through the mediation of the minds of angels and spirits, that is, people in the afterlife phase of eternal existence in the spiritual world (e.g., see the concept of Vertical Community or the Grand Human).
the function, in human intelligence, of revealed facts through Sacred Scripture or the Word, and the consumption of these revealed facts in science, societal laws, education, and religion (e.g., the Ten Commandments leading to human rights concepts and applications in economics and law).
and the science of correspondences long known to the ancients.
The modern professionals of psychology consider these issues either irrelevant to scientific psychology, or else,some old superstitions that persist in not going away. Yet these are indeed rational trues that may be seen by any one who espouses the positive bias, such as was the eminent case with Emanuel Swedenborg, the 18th century scientist-engineer-revelator. During his lifetime Swedenborg published numerous scientifically respectable treatises on space, time, motion, magnetism, nebular formation, atomic theory, metallurgy,neuroanatomy, economics, poetry and algebra; most of these have been translated into modern English and are available in public libraries. In so far as we can judge all of this enormous erudition was meticulously worked out so as not to contradict the religious tenets -- that is, they were in the positive bias methodology. Swedenborg worked out a coherent scientific system that begins with the natural phenomena of the world and the body and ends with their connectivity to God and the soul. The positive bias led him onward; he was able to release his lower rational due to his intense religious affections, whereupon he was intellectually empowered to do what no other scientist has been able to do before or since.
It is reported by Swedenborg's biographers that the celebrated German philosopher Immanuel Kant, one of Swedenborg's contemporaries, wrote to him to obtain details of Swedenborg's experiences in the other world. Swedenborg wrote back saying that Kant will be able to obtain the information he wanted from the Arcana Coelestia, a work in several volumes which was about to be published by Swedenborg. It is reported that Kant's reactions to the Arcana Coelestia (which is Latin for "Heavenly Secrets") were mixed. On the surface he appeared to ridicule it as the work of a demented personality; on a deeper level, some of Kant's biographers say they recognize in Kant a deep intellectual indebtedness to Swedenborgian ideas and concepts, especially those of space, time, and morality. Kant is considered by many historians of science to be a key figure in the intellectual foundations of modern science, especially its negative bias methodology. So we can see that this brilliant man was given the opportunity through Swedenborg's works to obtain rational answer to all his philosophical and scientific puzzles, yet he failed to study and judge them properly and thus missed out on his goal for truth.
Another noteworthy example is that of Emerson, the brilliant American founder of transcendentalism and architect of a whole new language and way of thinking about the ordinary things of life. Emerson's aphorisms appear to sparkle with wisdom and introject an element of spirituality in the most common things of everyday concerns. Emerson appears to transform the value of the small and shows the enduring importance of the-subtle. This great mind read Swedenborg's The Economy of the Animal Kingdom, a major work in three volumes on anatomy, physiology, psychology, and spirituality. Emerson records his enchantment with this work and elevates Swedenborg to the status of one of the greatest minds in the history of humankind. Yet Emerson was not capable of receiving the positive bias method that was central to that work. He eventually concludes that Swedenborg was really a mystic and cannot be fully trusted; only some of his ideas are to be taken seriously. Biographers of Emerson recognize Swedenborg's deep influence on his ideas of duality; yet on the surface, Emerson like Kant, had to reject Swedenborg as a deranged mentality.
A third interesting case is worth
mentioning here, that of William James, one of the most influential figures in American
psychology. In an article written at the turn of the century, James discusses the issue of
"immortality" (reprinted in a recent paperback titled The Will to Believe).
James shows that it is a logical fallacy to assert that our mind ceases to exist upon the
death of the brain. James was talking to transcendentalists and was giving them logical
ammunition from their beliefs; he himself remained neutral on the issue, it appears from
his remarks. James identifies himself as a physiological psychologist and feels competent
in judging the matter. In retrospect we can support this confidence since his Textbook
of Psychology, also published at around the turn of the century, was used and
acclaimed by several generations of psychologists in the 20th century. -In his talk on
immortality,James cites the Swedenborgian solution which is that the mind is a spiritual
influx into the brain where its effects can be felt in experience, perception, learning,
and so on. This idea was precisely the opposite of many who argued that the mind was an
epiphenomenon of the brain, hence when the brain ceases to exist so does the mind. James
correctly points out that the influx idea does not require the cessation of the mind with
the death of the brain since, at death, the mind which has an independent existence, may
find another type of brain within which to live.James concludes that immortality of the
individual is not therefore an unscientific idea or an idea contrary to known
We know from Swedenborgian scholars that Henry James,the elder, was a declared admirer of the Writings of Swedenborg and openly participated in a written polemic involving the New Church (Swedenborgian). Both William and Henry, the brothers, were thus familiar with what William James calls ideas from "Swedenborgian circles." Yet having come this close to the Writings of Swedenborg, this brilliant thinker, one of the major architects of American psychology and philosophy, failed to recognize them as a major new revelation of truth in the history of civilization. James does not refer or cite Swedenborg in his famous Textbook or in his scientific and philosophical articles; nor does he discuss anywhere the concept of our dual citizenship. James wrote all his scientific works in the negative bias.
There is thus an interesting repetition of failures on the part of Kant, Emerson, and James regarding their ability to relinquish the negative bias method. Perhaps great men of thinking, the giant mountains of intellectual work in our history of science and philosophy, have more difficulty in releasing their lower rational from the bondage of self-made trues. Others, less tied to the defense of their attained intellectual edifice, may more easily slip back into childhood feelings of religion and thus come to espouse the positive bias approach. When this is done, there is a notable change in perspective that begins to accumulate and becomes obvious and permanent.
As religious psychology is in the positive bias, the religious psychologist acknowledges right at the outset that, though we must remain empiricists, yet we cannot discover by ourselves what are rational-spiritual phenomena and facts. Instead, we must receive these from the other world through orderly revelations from the Word. Swedenborg tells us that through his communications with the other world, he was able to discover that the most ancient culture son this earth were in conscious communication with their departed ancestors who came to them as angels in their dreams and meditations. This was a common activity for all, not just a few priests or prophets; in a sense, every individual was a prophet; in them, the Word was written upon the heart. They did not have to become educated in knowledges, as we now do, or else we remain ignorant. They had their knowledges from direct influx of correspondences so that whatever natural event they were observing, the understanding of it flowed into the lower rational and the automatic self.
Religious psychology, through its positive bias, offers the means whereby we can regain to some extent these fabulous mental powers possessed by our foremost ancestors on this earth. This regain of lost territory will be achieved through the new gains society will achieve when the rational self is released from its materialistic bondage and is given to discover its dual citizenship, the one temporal-natural, the other spiritual-eternal. This transformation is now possible through the Writings of Swedenborg which offer a complete religious psychology in the positive bias with all the details of fact and theory to keep the scientists busy with it for centuries. This enormity of meaning or information source is due to the quality of the difference there exists between natural and spiritual, or between physical and mental: we can easily picture mentally a pile of rocks and boulders reaching to the stars and beyond but it would be a physical enormity to accomplish. This is the rational spiritual quality of these Writings, an infinite information bank. This assertion cannot be comprehended with the lower rational since it is only filled with rooks and boulders as ideas, sense impressions from the natural world of matter, space, and time. But our upper rational is filled only with the spiritual, that is, what is eternal and ubiquitous. So we must release the lower rational from the material theories of the negative bias, so that it can amalgamate with its upper rational and become one rational, newly ordered through the facts and theories of the Writings. Thus a superior reality is attained; thereby one's life becomes more precious; one's usefulness more genuine; one's loves more pure.
Religious psychology is the study and practice of this achievement so that we may reach this state more fully and with less suffering. It is a scholastic discipline shared by those who make the love of truth in themselves a priority issue in everyday living. This truth is genuine, hence Divine Truth, for only Divine Truth is genuine. We are certain that it is genuine because we witness it ourselves; we would not be sure of it on the basis of Swedenborg's authority no matter how illustrious he may be. We insist on our witnessing this dual citizenship.
Unlike psychology in the negative
bias, religious psychology starts with the truth already given. There is only one truth.
This assertion is a rational perception. The lower rational, if given a chance in this
matter, would prefer to argue that this so called "rational perception" is just
an abstraction, a figment, a principle in theory, and so on. But this opinion is not given
any weight whatsoever since it is based on a total ignorance of our dual citizenship. The
negative bias insures that we hold in our beliefs only those cognitive elements that have
been admitted by the negative bias razor. This razor shaves off from all incoming concepts
whatever is not purely material in origin. Thus when one hears of spiritual things one
instantly imagines that it is thinner,more remote, and less concrete than what we see,
hear, and touch. One certainly does not wish to consider that, in fact, what is mental,
rational, spiritual, is more concrete, more real, more hot, more true, more perfect, and
earlier in origin than the here-now, rock bottom things of touch and taste.
However, when the automatic self releases the lower rational through the positive bias presupposition, we begin to pay serious attention to religion as an intellectual and scientific endeavor, one that society sorely needs to win. This intellectual empowerment is not magic or abstract: it rests entirely on the Word of God Which was given us from influx through our dual citizenship. For instance, the Old Testament specifies that God governs our lives, that angels speak to people, that we have an immortal soul, that we ought to keep God's Commandments regarding how we live so that we may be protected from spiritual infestations from the hells. The New Testament subsequently reveals that God came to visit us here on this planet in the form of a Jew in the Land of Israel about 20centuries ago; the purpose of this visit was to save human kind which had fallen into dreadful materialism. The Roman civilization and those of the rest of the planet no longer accepted the reality of our dual citizenship. They either denied it altogether as Skeptics and Philosophers or Astrologers, or else, substituted some pseudo-spiritual fantasy such as idol worship, mythology, sorcery, atheism. These are all materialistic views of the spiritual; they are based on imagined heavens, and fantasized realities, on speculations born out of anguish and hunger for the actual truth, the Divine Truth.
The Third Testament, which appears in the Writings of Swedenborg, was given to humankind in the Second Advent of God on this planet. In His First Advent, God explained that He would have to come back to impart the final, ultimate Divine Trues which people were not yet capable of receiving or understanding. This Second Advent occurred in the year 1757 as a symbolic gesture in the spiritual world; Swedenborg was given to be the sole witness from earth to be a direct participant in it. This occurred because Swedenborg had been earlier admitted by the Lord into conscious experience of dual citizenship. This was made possible for him through his life long endeavor to order human ideas of dual citizenship in such a way that they harmonize and do not conflict.This is what we mean by the positive bias approach. As a distinguished and serious scientist-engineer-legislator he had to be practical in the building of a totally new body of concepts, one that would not contradict the tenets of the Old and New Testaments. Given this lifelong labor of love he was able to actualize the theoretical trues he was led to formulate with his intellect. He was admitted into the simultaneous conscious presence of dual citizenship.
From this vantage point of seeing into both worlds through our two selves, one natural, the other spiritual, he was in a good position to check out his earlier theories. He found that the positive bias was indeed the right approach because it led to the greatest scientific discovery of all times: the fact that the Old and New Testaments were written, unbeknownst to the prophet-writers, in a special spiritual language that contains three meanings rather than our usual one. An analogy may bethought of when we consider that jokes, innuendoes, songs, poems, often have two meanings: the surface meaning which is ordinary, and an underlying or implied meaning which is unusual -- hence creating in us a feeling of contrast which may be judged funny,clever, admirable, enlivening. In this manner was the speech of our most ancient ancestors who invented oral and written literature. Swedenborg was given to speak to them in their heaven where they now live and thus confirmed that what the Word says about them is indeed a precise and accurate description.
In Arcana Coelestia (12 vols.), Swedenborg analyzes a large portion of the Old Testament and New Testament, verse by verse, and word for word. This includes specifically the entire Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, The Book of Revelations, and significant portions of the other Books of the Christian Bible.The Index of Quotations based on Swedenborg's Writings shows an entry for most of the chapters of the entire Bible. The overall effort runs to about 50 volumes in modern English; this includes the Bible commentaries, extensive eyewitness reports of his travels in the other world describing a full spiritual geography and anthropology, and as well, a full rational system for humankind. Swedenborg was the architect who built the scientific concepts, in western scientific standards, that would enable the Lord to effect His Second Advent in our rational self. From that zone of the self, the Lord can be present with our conscious awareness, and instruct us in wisdom and understanding, and in the power of love within us. This Divine, one on one instruction, is possible since the laws of reality in our other cities and lands are spiritual, which is to say, eternal and ubiquitous.
|"Unless spirits were organic and angels organic substances they could neither speak, nor see nor think." Swedenborg: Arcana Coelestia 1533|
By Divine creation and order, the Word of God is the only object on this planet that has dual existence in a mode available to our intellect, hence understanding. There is no other way provided for the reason that the other world is ordered upon the patterns and harmonies of love -- love from God to God and to each other. When we come into the acceptance of this love we are empowered to see into the other world, to some extent. This makes a huge difference to our love and intellect inasmuch as we love most that which is from ourselves, and we understand best that which is of our own creation. Hence it has been arranged by Divine compassion and mercy that we always have available to us a means of forming our own ideas about the Word of God. This interconnection between our newly born rational and the Word of God is organic: the Second Advent of God, Who is the Word,created this organic connection between the two. This connection between the Word and our rational self forms the organic basis for our dual citizenship. It is the structure, the nonmaterial or spiritual substance which gives us the new functions of conscious awareness of the other world.
This conscious awareness was not possible before the year 1757 A.D. The dual citizenship had not been officially inaugurated before then; everything needed for its official birth had been carefully prepared. Swedenborg on earth was busily reporting what he had been witnessing in the spiritual world. To the inhabitants of the spiritual world the appearance of Swedenborg was a totally new phenomenon: this was the first time since their departure from earth that they could converse openly and face to face with an automatic self still living on earth. Swedenborg reports he was quite a hit!
A caution ought here to be mentioned. Over enthusiastic people who received the Writings of Swedenborg from their interest in spiritism, are reported to have invented the theory that Swedenborg was only the first of a new breed of men, the historical forerunner of those who, like him, would develop powers to communicate with spirits in the other world. This fabrication has absolutely no basis in fact and Swedenborg himself cautions that no one should attempt to seek such communication, first because it is abnormal, second because it is harmful. The method of religious psychology protects us from infestation by enthusiastic spirits that insinuate in our rational self all sorts of fanciful notions that have the external appearance of being sensible but are only delusions.Swedenborg explain in great detail why such direct communication is not permitted. The foremost principle in religious psychology is that we cannot by ourselves come up with a single fact or phenomenon of the spiritual world, but must rely exclusively on the Word.
By Divine Law and Order we have been provided with only a single access point to our dual citizenship: this is the Word of God as revealed in the Old Testament, the New Testament,and the Third Testament (that is, the Writings of Swedenborg).The threefold Word is the door for our rational self to become informed about our dual citizenship. Even after death, when we acquire full citizenship in the spiritual world, we continue to draw all our knowledge and intelligence from the written Word,copies of which exist there and are studied by spirits end angels. Swedenborg reports seeing these copies in special mausolea in the cities of the other world; a stupendous light, surpassing even the light of the spiritual Sun, emanates from these places where the inhabitants often congregate for worship and study. Eternally, the Word in its Three Testaments, as given on this earth, is to be the source of all knowledge,intelligence, wisdom, faith, and truth which our rational-spiritual self needs for its nourishment and never ending development. This relation is organic.
In religious psychology the Word becomes the only textbook for ever. It is an in exhaustible library for all the possible knowledges and trues that our rational-spiritual self will ever be capable of receiving. Relative to the knowledges from earth, such as we get from literature and science, the Word is infinite. Though it has a finite external body, such as the printed book or spoken verse, the Word has an infinite internal.This internal is God Himself. When we read the Word in the positive bias attitude, the externals become transparent and our rational understanding can see the spiritual world shining through it: its habitations, its inhabitants, their activities and conversations, their thoughts, and feelings, and aspirations. But note: this is a rational seeing, not a material seeing. An analogy may make this clearer. Think of the difference between reading a play and seeing it in a movie or onstage. We become quite aware of this difference when we happen to first read a play we later get a chance to see in a movie. We can then contrast our feelings towards the characters in the play, first as we read it, then as we see the actors and scenery in the movie. The fact that there is such a difference in our feelings proves that,while we were first reading the play, we were able to see through the text into the inner world created by the writer of the play. Our imagination has this ability to see into the interiors of the text through which the play is written.
This seeing through the text of the play is analogous to the seeing through the Word in that an inner world is then viewed -- but the difference is that the inner world of the play which we see by means of the imagination is a natural world composed of material ideas, while the inner world of the Word which we see by means of the rational self is a spiritual world composed of rational-spiritual ideas. This is because the imagination belongs to the automatic self and the rational belongs to the spiritual self. The inner worlds of the imagination are dreamy, wispy, insubstantial, abstract, temporary entities or ideas, but the inner world of the rational-spiritual is substantial, real, concrete, eternal,unchanging yet variable and prolific.
The Writings of Swedenborg contain a full set of instructions, with numerous examples, illustrations, and demonstrations of how a reader of the Word might learn to use it as a rational window into the spiritual world. Take for example the relation between the circulation of the blood and respiration in the body.The automatic self and the lower rational are conscious of this activity: we can change our breathing, we can feel our pulse, and we can study drawings and photographs of our anatomy and body functioning. This organic physical activity is actually the effect mirrored upon a correspondential activity in our spiritual body. Our spiritual body also has blood circulation and respiration (along with everything else); this spiritual activity is actually the origin and cause of the physical activity and maintains the latter as cause maintains its effect. Swedenborg was quite familiar with the physical body having written several expert textbooks on anatomy and physiology prior to his intromission into the other world. From this vantage point he was able to check out empirically that there indeed was such a correspondence between the spiritual and the natural. He discovered that the spiritual circulation of the blood depended on the heat coming from the spiritual Sun and was homologous with the will or voluntary part of the spiritual body. The operation of respiration was dependent on the light of the Sun there and was homologous with the understanding or intellectual part of the spiritual body. In other words, the spiritual Sun gives rise to spiritual heat and light which is received directly into the spiritual body where these forms of energy are converted into the operations of the will and understanding; there upon, the activities of the will give rise and sustain the circulation of the blood in the physical body on earth, and the activities of the understanding give rise and sustain the respiration of air in the physical body. These organic interconnections are detailed in the Word when its interior meaning is comprehended through the method of analysis outlined and taught in the Writings of Swedenborg.
We cannot, like Swedenborg, see directly into the other world and become aware of these organic interconnections between the physical body, the spiritual body, the will and understanding,and the Word's interior meaning; but we can confirm them in the Word after we learn the method of analysis called "correspondences in the Word." Thus we can see rationally and confirm in ourselves what Swedenborg was uniquely given to see directly and empirically. When the Word is thus seen into, through the rational and systematic method of correspondences, we gain some understanding of the stupendous reality we live in. For instance, we can confirm in the Word Swedenborg's eyewitness reports regarding the Grand Man organization of the other world; that is, from a distance, or distance in appearance, Swedenborg could see that the lands and societies of the other world appear as a giant human body called the Grand Man of Heaven. Each city and society of angels is situated in the pattern of human anatomy and physiology: some societies are in the region of the head, some in the region of the legs, some in the region of the liver, some in the region of the eyes, and so on. Each society derives its occupations from the corresponding functions of the anatomical parts they reside in. Thus the angels of the head region are more sublime than those in the region of the feet; the spirits and angels in the region of the circulation of the blood incline towards an attitude of love towards God and each other, while the angels and spirits in the region of the respiratory organs are more inclined towards the intellectual functions, and so on. In fact, all the physiological and intellectual operations of the physical body on earth depend in a direct way upon the proper operation of the angel societies located in the corresponding regions of the Grand Man.
This fabulous interrelation existed since the creation of the universe but was not revealed to our knowledge until the Second Advent of Christ. The import of Christ's Second Coming lies in the fact that it has created the rational-spiritual self which is the only function within us that can comprehend and receive this actuality. It now remains for humankind on earth to confirm this actuality through the Word so that it no longer is a fantastic claim but a self-confirmed truth we can see for ourselves. And upon death, we will have the opportunity to see this truth directly through the external senses in the spiritual world as Swedenborg did. We will now consider in greater detail what the method of correspondences is, and where in the Word we can confirm all these fabulous details.
Teaching a History of Psychology seminar to psychology majors allowed me to introduce Swedenborg's scientific dualism and to see how students might assimilate it to their existing psychology concepts. Would their horizons on scientific thinking expand, like mine has after reading Swedenborg, or would the students merely reject his views, as some in the literature have, on the grounds of being mystical, abstract, allegorical, fantastic or abnormal?
I gave several lectures on Swedenborg's life and works, his historical position, and his concepts of the Spiritual World, life after death, and psycho-spiritual development or "regeneration." I also showed a half-hour videotape called Swedenborg: the Man Who Had to Know, a biographical docu-drama distributed by the Swedenborg Foundation. The students in class met in small discussion groups to exchange reactions to the videotape showing. After the lectures and discussions, students wrote a brief report reviewing Swedenborg's psychology and their own intellectual assessment of him.
I was most pleased by those who were able to remain positive in the face of a proposal that was clearly in opposition to the 'background culture' of the rigid and one-sided atheistic psychology to which they had been exposed as majors. These students praised Swedenborg's courage and erudition, expressed amazement that he was excluded from their education, and felt a strong and exhilarating sense of relief about their death concerns; specifically, that there is now authoritative and scientific proof of life after death and that heaven is universal rather than sectarian. I was happily surprised that a classroom experience can be this meaningful to some students. I do not know how deeply this limited experience went.
Student reactions and resistance to Swedenborg's ideas are further explored here:
However, the majority of the students remained unimpressed. They did not buy my arguments that Swedenborg was sane, objective, and authoritative. Paraphrasing together the reactions of many:
"They expressed disbelief that I, a professor and scientist, would believe the experiential accounts of a distant 17th century Swedish writer, even if this man was a recognized genius in his generation, and even if numerous scholars and biographers had decided that he was sane and honest. They concluded that he must have been simply delusional, sincerely thinking that he was visiting heaven and hell, or that he was actually talking to Aristotle, King David, and Isaac Newton. Why should we believe him? And on top of that, he is not in any of the textbooks we've had to study and none of the other professors, or even the TV, mentioned him. So no one believes this Swedenborg, why should we?"
Trying to get beyond that was very difficult. You may witness a portion of this polemical debate in e-mail archives. You can also read selections from students' written reports. I should state here that my 'comeback' to "Why should we believe him?" is to agree that in science we should indeed not believe anyone just because of the person's sincerity or reputation. In science, if the person has credentials, we impartially examine the proposals and submit it to various tests of validity according to the standards of a particular scientific field or research area. Here I was appealing to their sense of responsibility as sincere scholars. They ought to examine Swedenborg's proposal impartially without the prejudices that we tend to pick up when studying scientific debates and disagreements.
This is where the exchange breaks down. Students, and people generally, are not willing to put up the effort to examine a complicated proposition such as: It's not rational to believe that the universe can be constructed out of nothing. It takes effort to focus on the implications of a statement like: If thoughts are not made of physical matter or energy, then they must be made of spiritual substances.
My attempt to explain Swedenborgian concepts to psychology majors required that I find suitable translation equivalents in contemporary scientific literature. This is what I have to do myself when studying Swedenborg's writings in order to make them comprehensible within the framework of my own behavioral psychology. If interested, you may view a list of my publications in scientific journals in my field.
Further details are given in this article
Substantive Dualism: Swedenborg's Integration of Biological Theology and Rational Psychology
Quoting from Swedenborg:
ISB 19. To these things I will add this Relation. After these things were written, I prayed to the Lord that I might be permitted to converse with disciples of Aristotle, and at the same time with disciples of Descartes, and with disciples of Leibnitz, in order that I might draw forth the opinions of their minds concerning the interaction between the soul and the body. After my prayer, there were present nine men, three Aristotelians, three Cartesians, and three Leibnitzians; and they stood around me, the admirers of Aristotle on the left side, the followers of Descartes on the right, and the supporters of Leibnitz behind. Quite a distance away, and at intervals from each other, were seen three persons as it were crowned with laurel, and I knew from an inflowing perception that they were those three great leaders or teachers themselves. Behind Leibnitz stood one holding in his hand the skirt of his garment, and I was told that it was Wolff. Those nine men, when they beheld one another, at first saluted and spoke to one another in a courteous tone. But presently there arose from below a spirit with a torch in his right hand, which he shook before their faces, whereupon they became enemies, three against three, and looked at one another with a fierce countenance; for they were seized with the lust of disputing and discussing.
Then the Aristotelians, who were also scholastics, began to speak, saying, Who does not see that objects flow in through the senses into the soul, as one enters through the doors into a chamber, and that the soul thinks according to such influx? When a lover sees a beautiful virgin or his bride, does not his eye sparkle and carry the love of her into the soul? When a miser sees bags of money, does he not burn for them with every sense, and thence convey this order into the soul, and excite the cupidity of possessing them? When a proud man hears his praises from another, does he not prick up his ears, and do not these transmit those praises to the soul? Are not the senses of the body like outer courts, through which alone there is entrance to the soul? From these things and innumerable others like them, who can conclude otherwise than that influx is from nature, or is physical? To these statements the followers of Descartes, who had held their fingers on their foreheads, and now withdrew them, replied, saying, Alas, you speak from appearances.
Do you not know that the eye does not love a virgin or a bride from itself, but from the soul? Likewise that the senses of the body do not covet the bags of money from themselves, but from the soul? and similarly that the ears do not seize on the praises of flatterers in any other manner? Is it not perception that causes sensation? and perception is of the soul, and not of the organs. Tell, if you can, what else makes the tongue and lips to speak but the thought? and what else makes the hands to work but the will? and thought and will are of the soul, and not of the body. Thus what makes the eye to see, and the ears to hear, and the other organs to feel, but the soul? From these things, and innumerable others like them, everyone whose wisdom is above the sensual things of the body, concludes, that there is no influx of the body into the soul, but of the soul into the body, which we call occasional, and also spiritual influx.
When these had been heard, the three men who stood behind the former triads, who were the supporters of Leibnitz, lifted up their voices, saying, We have heard the arguments on both sides, and have compared them, and we have perceived that in many particulars the latter are stronger than the former, and that in many others the former are stronger than the latter; wherefore if it is permitted, we will settle the dispute. And on being asked how, they said, There is not any influx of the soul into the body, nor of the body into the soul, but there is a unanimous and instantaneous operation of both together, which a celebrated author has distinguished by a beautiful name, calling it preestablished harmony. Hereupon there appeared again the spirit with the torch in his hand, but now in his left, and he shook it at the back of their heads, whence their ideas of everything became confused and they cried out together, Neither our soul nor body knows what part to take, wherefore let us decide this dispute by lot, and we will favor the lot which comes out first. And they took three pieces of paper, and wrote on one of them, physical influx, on another spiritual influx, and on the third, preestablished harmony; and they put these three pieces into a hat.
Then they chose one of their number to draw, and he, putting in his hand, took hold of that on which was written spiritual influx; and when this was seen and read, they all said, yet some with a clear and flowing, some with a faint and smothered voice, Let us favor this because it came out first. But then an angel suddenly stood by, and said, Do not believe that the paper in favor of spiritual influx came out by chance, but from providence; for you do not see its truth because you are in confused ideas, but the truth itself presented itself to the hand of him that drew the lots, that you might favor it.
I was once asked how from a philosopher I became a theologian; and I answered, In the same
manner that fishermen were made disciples and apostles by the Lord; and that I also from
early youth had been a spiritual fisherman. On hearing this the inquirer asked, What is a
spiritual fisherman? I replied that a fisherman in the spiritual sense of the Word,
signifies a man who investigates and teaches natural truths, and afterwards spiritual
truths rationally. To the question, How is this demonstrated? I said, From these passages
in the Word:
Then the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be dried up and become dry, therefore the fishers shall mourn, and all that cast a hook into the sea shall be sad (Isa. 19:5, 8). In another place:
Upon the river whose waters were healed, the fishers stood from Engedi; they were there in the spreading forth of nets; according, to its kind was their fish, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many (Ezek. 47:9-10).
And in another place:
The saying of Jehovah, Behold, I will send to many fishers, who shall fish the sons of Israel (Jer. 16:16). Thence it is evident, why the Lord chose fishermen for disciples, and said:
Come ye after Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-19; Mark 1:16-17). And to Peter after he had caught a multitude of fishes: From henceforth thou shalt catch men (Luke 5:9-10).
Afterwards I demonstrated the origin of this signification of fishermen from The Apocalypse Revealed; namely, because "water" signifies natural truths (n. 50, 932); likewise "a river" (n. 409, 932); "fish," those who are in natural truths (n. 405); and thence "fishermen" signify those who investigate and teach truths. On hearing this my interrogator raised his voice and said, Now I can understand why the Lord called and chose fishermen to be His disciples, and therefore I do not wonder that He has also called and chosen you, since, as you have said, you were from early youth a fisherman in a spiritual sense, that is, an investigator of natural truths; that you are now an investigator of spiritual truths, is because these are founded on the former. To this he added, because he was a man of reason, that the Lord alone knows who is adapted to receive and to teach those things which are of His New Church, whether someone among the primates, or someone among their servants. Moreover, what theologian among Christians does not first study philosophy at college, before he is inaugurated as a theologian; and from what other source has he intelligence? At last he said, Since you are become a theologian, explain what is your theology. I replied, These are the two principles of it, That God is one, and that there is a conjunction of charity and faith. To which he replied, Who denies these? I answered, The theology of the present day, when interiorly examined. THE END
Student reports on studying Swedenborg:
Human Behavior and
Human Spirit: Quest for the Good and Truth
by Michael K. Choi
Function Without Structure by Michael K. Choi
Personal View on Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom
by Robert Cooksey
Rationalism: Do We have Free Will by Jacqueline Fernandez
Heaven Is A Place On Earth: A Religious Self-Examination Experiment by Kerri Kahapea
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