This article is a continuation on the correspondences in the skin of the Grand Man, and showing how the universe is both infinite and contained. Here we will explore how it is that there is a cross-over between the natural and spiritual world by the many qualities of the skin where there is both a taking in and a putting out from the body to the atmosphere. We study this because I purpose that the way the skin exchanges with the atmosphere corresponds to the way the natural universe (which is in the form of a man) transfers in and out information from the natural to the spiritual world (the body corresponding to the universe and the atmosphere to the spiritual world).
The cuticles in the pores of the skin are of primary significance. Swedenborg explicitly states that in the Grand Man these are points of transfer between heaven and the world of world of spirits: “the societies to whom the cuticles (of the skin) correspond are in the entrance to heaven, and there is given to them perception of the quality of the spirits who approach the first threshold, whom they either reject or admit; so that they may be called entrances or doorways to heaven” (AC n. 5553). Lets form a clear picture of what this means. The pores of our body emit sweat, vapors and oils which enter the atmosphere, and they also receive these types of things from the atmosphere. The skin also acts as the border to the body and protects the inner parts of the body. (There are also layers to the skin and many other things that it does, but these important functions will be considered in essays to come.) In the statement above Swedenborg is referring to the quality of the people in the society that occupy the cuticles of the Grand Man. These societies are the outer edge of heaven and like the skin are much denser and external in character compared to the internals. Heaven is distinct and different than the world of spirits so there is a border and entry which is protected. So now we must examine how this situation corresponds to the natural universe.
Some of the biggest puzzles Science cannot solve are these: the information paradox in a black hole, the infinite density of a singularity in a black hole, the slow evaporation of heat from a black hole, the information paradox at the time of the bing bang, and the cause of dark energy in the universe. I purpose that the answer to these problems and others is that there is an energy transfer between the spiritual and natural world that is constant and never ending. In each of these cases there is much to explain and understand in their particulars. In this essay I am focusing on the skin and some on vastation, but will address each of these in subsequent posts. But it is very significant in itself to see that the transfer back and forth is the factor that helps explain these problems in particular and many things about the nature of the universe. Science is awesome and incredible in the things it discovers; I used to worry that what I could never ‘prove’ these things by scientific standards, but I don’t so much anymore. I hold myself to a high quality of reasoning and to seeking the cause of things, as does science, but I see this as seeking truth in its wholeness wherever it leads. I do not know how to do the math of science, but I can understand the principles. In a sense science has a greater limitation in that they are not ‘allowed’ to consider the spiritual world as a cause in all of this, while the spiritual world is a major cause in all material phenomenon. So, I believe it is of high value to pursue truth by the integration of science and the spiritual, and by correspondences.
In regard to the pores of the skin Swedenborg states specifically in ‘Spiritual Experiences’ 1022: “it also true that the orifices of the minute ducts, as to their function of absorbing ethereal aliment for the body, are like portals to heaven, through which they who die in earliest infancy and before the embryonic state is completed, are caught up by the quickest and shortest ways into their appropriate province in heaven”.
In this quote Swedenborg is describing that baby infants on earth that die, or die in the womb, go almost directly into heaven by the pores in the Grand. This single statement tells us a lot. This process is essentially an extremely fast vastation. (I will discuss the significance of this and the meaning of vastation in a moment below.) This tells us that there is a reception into heaven through the pores from earth and the world of spirits. This situation in heaven, like everything, has a correspondence in the natural universe and thus gives an idea of one of the ways that matter transfers from the natural to the spiritual world. How exactly this manifest at the point of transference is the challenge we have to interpret; we can do so by examining how the spiritual function of pores described above and how this relates to the form and function of the universe.
The process Swedenborg described about the pores being portals involves the pure and innocent spirits of infants, so it is logical that this corresponds to the reception of the most fine and nourishing vapors from the atmosphere absorbed by the skin. Swedenborg observes: “The swiftest, who are infants and like children, are represented by those nutrients which enter through the cuticles; these are conveyed to the brain by the shortest way, and are initiated in the cortical substance” (1022.). Nutrients that enter the pores would be vapors, fluids, oils, perhaps vitamin D from the sun. The most subtle energy of the aura that surrounds the body. It is also possible that the aura, which is the presence or energy that comes off the body is involved in this. The aura is the atmosphere of one’s mind and soul that surrounds the body.
Coming back to more solid ground it is a great insight to see that a huge theme about the points of transference in the body has to do with the process of vastation I mentioned earlier. Vastation is a cleansing or purification process. It is the refining of a substance into a more homogenous state. The primary system in the body associated with vastation is the digestive system, (although purification processes take place in many ways in nature and the spiritual world which will be important to talk about later in relation to the transfer between the spiritual and physical worlds). Vastation involves removing or extracting nutrients or impurities from a given entity. The primary example of this is the digestive system, in which, food is first chewed, treated with saliva, softened through the throat, treated in the stomach with acids and then in the intestines it is further broke down, and nutrients are extracted from it. The end of the process is that waste is excreted. The spiritual correspondent to the digestive process takes place in the ‘world of spirits’, (which is between heaven and hell) and is the place where everyone goes through (that doesn’t die as a child) after death to prepare for heaven or hell. The whole overall purpose of the world of spirits is a gradual cleansing process where each person is ‘migrating’ toward their place in heaven or hell. Briefly described, to enter heaven the falsities and hellish loves in a person that is primarily good must be gradually removed before they enter; and the opposite is true of for hell. One can see that the digestive and vastation processes are both about refining and extracting, with the end purpose of nourishment and separating waste; the one is completely natural and the other completely spiritual. There are endless possibilities for how this takes place and endless gradations of where the person ends up in heaven or hell. The extraction of nutrients into good uses for the body corresponds to entering heaven. The evacuation as excrement corresponds to entering hell.
In the light of adult vastation one can now see why I described the entering through pores as a very refined vastation. This is very interesting because it indicates that the pores are a very ‘quick’ process of vastation. The infants hardly have to go through any process of vastation because they are in innocence, ‘pure’ spirits so to speak. But most adults have to go through a much greater process of vastation which the digestive system is all about.
It is very significant to see that the function of cuticles in the pores of the skin has a very similar function to the cuticles, or villi that line the intestines. Worcestor writes: ” with ‘the cuticles’ he here includes the whole skin in general, and also the linings of the stomach and intestines” (AC 8980). By the function of the cuticles he is indicating all those in the skin and also the linings of the stomach and the intestines. The cuticles of the skin have hair in them that helps absorb and release moisture, oils and vapor. In the lining of the small intestine are microvilli, which are tiny hair-like projections that increase nutrient absorption. These projections increase the surface area of the small intestine allowing more area for nutrients to be absorbed. As Swedenborg said both of these ‘cuticles’ (as he called them) perform a very similar function and in the spiritual sense they both perform the function of being ‘portals to heaven’. They both have to do with vastation, but different states of it; the skin being a very fast vastation, and the microvilli more gradual and involved. Both have to do with the end stage of entrance to heaven in the Grand Man. Now in regard to the universe, which is the most material sense, the above corresponds to do with the point of transfer from the physical universe to the spiritual world and visa versa. The transfer the skin to the atmosphere outside the body corresponds to the transfer from the physical world to the spiritual world. (In light of this it is interesting to note that Stephen Hawking, in seeking an answer to the information paradox in a black hole, proposed that the answer to the paradox was that there are hair-like follicles and strands on the surface of the black hole that release the information).
Its good to add here for our conception that the transfer from the spiritual to natural world doesn’t happen on at the edge or the skin only but it happens in many places in the body of the Grand Man, and probably everywhere, but we will take up discussing this in another blog.
Now, I hope the reader begins to see the picture of what this means, and how correspondence works. Clearly there is so much more to study and discover, and find evidence for. In the study above we see the transfer works in the skin of the Grand Man, but we don’t yet understand how this works in the natural universe, but I hope one can see how significant this is in the realms of discovering truth about our universe and spirituality. I think the transference between the natural and spiritual is as common as can be; as I mentioned before there are many points where it takes place in the body to the outside, so therefore each of these has a correspondence to study, for instance excretion, breathing, and others. That there is a transference from the natural universe to the spiritual world explains the cause and source of dark matter, dark energy. It also gives a way to explain the information paradox in black holes and at the big bang, and the problem singularities, and the problem between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theories of relativity. If energy from the spiritual is coming into the natural world, and matter into the spiritual than this would explains the above problems science is perplexed with.
In the next article on this subject I will explore more of the many correspondences base on the way the body takes in from the atmosphere and world around us and in the way the body expels substances.