The Arc of Life, the Innocence of Childhood and the Innocence of Old Age: We begin in God and Return to God

January 12th, 2021

 

The Arc of Life, the Innocence of Childhood and the Innocence of Old Age: We begin in God and Return to God
 
“Because innocence attributes nothing of good to itself, but ascribes all good to the Lord, and because it thus loves to be led by the Lord, and is the source of the reception of all good and truth, from which wisdom comes,-because of this man is so created as to be during his childhood in external innocence, and when he becomes old in internal innocence… And when a man becomes old he dwindles in body and becomes again like a child, but like a wise child, that is, an angel, for a wise child is in an eminent sense an angel. This is why in the Word, “a little child” signifies one who is innocent, and “an old man” signifies one who is wise in whom is innocence (From ‘Heaven and Hell’ by Swedenborg).
 
This leads us to contemplate the arc of life, a symmetry between the beginning and the end. We come into life helpless and innocent, and, in old age, we return to a state of being helpless and innocent. Only in old age we have intelligence and experience added. In a way the whole trick of life is to retain and incorporate innocence with our intelligence and experience – in spite and because or the harsh battering of life in a material world that is in the balance of good and evil.
 
Intelligence in union with innocence is true wisdom. The innocence of infancy and early childhood is an external innocence because it has not yet bonded into our soul from our own will and conscience. Feeling, embracing and thus incorporating internal innocence into our intelligence is invaluable because it allows us to receive God and bond with God. God can only be received in humility and innocence is the soul of humility. To enter heaven ‘we must be like a child’ means that we have incorporated innocence into our adult intelligence.
 
An old person returning to being helpless and more like a child is, I believe, part of God’s plan to prepare us for heaven. In old age the compelling ambitions and uses of life have slowed to a trickle. Ambitions are appropriate and good for their time but now that time is over. Outwardly, very old people appear useless, but there is a purpose. It exists as a universal pattern therefore it has use, for God made it. One must turn inward.
 
As a hospice chaplain I work with lots of old folks at the end of life. Many people lose much of their function physically and mentally. We are brought to our knees and must submit to the condition given us. This humility helps ones soul to receive God. In the story of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, the angel comes to him and gives a magnificent speech about what is to come, and the purpose of the son that will be born to them -even though they are old and barren. Zachariah questions Gabriel; doesn’t believe him, wants assurances. Gabriel, the great angel, says, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
 
Who would contest with such a presence and speech? We trust in God, that he gives us what we need, we may not understand it, but true faith is to strive to trust it. In old age He gives us less choice, and more humility. In old age so many people lose speech, hearing and many other abilities. It is a time for submitting to God, which brings greater peace.
 
Old age is a sort of pre-vastation. In the spiritual world everyone must be prepared for heaven (or hell); vastation is a ‘cleansing’ process. That which is of evil, pride, lust and greed must be removed from our soul before one can enter heaven.
 
To understand that everyone has innocence inside is very useful in reaching a person; in my work as a chaplain it helps me to see the good in them, to not identify with the appearance of the ‘old and crusty’, but the best part of them. Holding a person in this way helps them to feel safe and to be open (if at all possible). I look for what excites their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm means God within. And there are many folks who receive and give so beautifully. The filters are gone and the innocence there. A woman recently passed who is a marvelous example. She was Catholic and well educated, and had some levels of dementia and incontinence and other issues, but these are just circumstances. I talked to her about how god loves her, and sang her songs full of affection. among other things I sang her this song – https://stevesanchez.bandcamp.com/track/just-to-say-hey She received this with precious delight. It was like playing the strings of her open affections. Our time together was a celebration of God’s deep, playful and flowing love for us. I would say ‘He loves you’, and she would say, ‘He loves me, I know’; or Hallelujah and she would say it back with the light and excitement of a child. This is a wonderful use and unique experience of intimacy between two and God. We come from God and we return to God.

Description of the Darkness on the Earth Before Jesus Was Born, and the Internal Sense of the Scriptures that Refer to this Darkness: How Evangelical Religion Misinterprets the Scriptures With Doom and Gloom in Present Times

November 25th, 2020

The impact of the imbalance of evil over good in the time before Jesus is demonstrated on Earth in the lives of people in many ways. We will examine several of these. When Paul, Isaiah, John, and Jesus all speak of the light and the dark, we tend to think they are speaking in metaphors. This is part of the truth, but I also believe they are speaking of a palpable presence and a constant threat much more than we might think. They are urging and guiding the people to see the way out from under the spell of the dark imbalance. No person could fight the force of the evil imbalance by his or herself. However, by acknowledging the divinity of Jesus, they could come into His presence and protection. First let us look at some examples in scripture that refer to the cosmic imbalance:

 

Arise, shine, for your light has come. Behold, darkness is covering the earth, and thick darkness over the peoples, but Jehovah will arise upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

Behold the savage day of Jehovah will come, a day of the rage of his anger. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:9,10)

The day of Jehovah is coming, a day of darkness and blackness. The sun and the moon will be blackened, and the stars will withdraw their splendor. (Joel 2:1,2)

 

Each of these passages refers to the end of the universal church (Jewish church) and to the destruction that would come upon the people if imbalance were not corrected. It all sounds very mythical, and some people take it that way. These scriptures, however, are examples of prophecies from the Old Testament describing the dire situation before Jesus was born. The following scriptures are examples of the language in the Bible that describe the end of the church, and they give a more palpable feel of the force of darkness clashing with the light in the New Testament:

 

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat. 6:23)

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Mat. 4:16)

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mark 15:33)

When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:53)

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)

 

The palpable sense of this darkness is most clearly seen in the way the people believed in sin and death. The ancient people did not think about sin and death as moderns do. They spoke in a way that shows sin and death to be cosmic forces. Ehrman explains the historical situation of the darkness at this time very concisely:

“It (sin) is instead a kind of cosmic power, an evil force that compels people to live in alienation from God. The human problem under this model is that people are enslaved to this demonic power and are unable to break free from their bondage…The power of sin is related to another power, the power of death. In the participation model, death is not simply something that happens when a person stops breathing. It is a cosmic force that is intent on enslaving people; when it succeeds, it totally removes a person from the realm of god. Here again the situation is desperate; all people are subject to the overpowering force of death, and there is nothing they can do to set themselves free”. (Ehrman, 355)

 

This description is a representation of the effects of the cosmic over-abundance of evil as the people experienced it. Imagine a Mediterranean person’s situation at this time. Evil had undue influence in their lives. The oppressive force, the dread of death and the cosmic force of sin, was something to which they were subject, and from which they could not escape. Death for them was not a ‘passing-on to a better place,’ but was a fearful place to be avoided at all cost; it was the most dreaded of all cosmic forces (Ehrman, 355). This is why, as I pointed out above, people of honor developed a sort of ‘popular natural science of the gods,’ which they used to seek knowledge of cosmic patrons for protection from evil forces (Malina, 112).

In Thessalonians, Paul paints a picture of this situation from the people’s perspective:

“For when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep in the night; and those who are drunken are drunken in the night”. (1 Thessalonians 5: 2-7)

When Paul describes the people being drunk and asleep, he sees that, without the protection of the Lord, the people are swallowed up. They are shadows of themselves because of the excessive infuence of evil. It might be comparable to people that take drugs for too long. Eventually, they become something else, exhibiting a dangerous vacancy in the eyes and behavior that cares for no-one. There is a tragic loss of identity in these cases. But, in the time of which we are speaking, it is a communal loss of identity threatening humanity. This is the influence of evil run amok in the imbalance.

Some people, when they read the points I make about the times before Jesus, say, “Those times are no different from now.” But there is a big difference. Times of imbalance in equilibrium are very rare. At that time, the presence of evil was out of control on earth, whereas now, good and evil must play within the laws of freedom. The darkness on the planet before Jesus came was the greatest it had ever been and will ever be, so the power and effect of evil was much greater. In Matthew, it is said: “The abomination of desolation will come, and an affliction such as has never existed before and never will again. The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven” (Matthew 24:15, 21, 29). And, in the Book of Revelation: “Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out to lead astray the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, whose number is like the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7, 8). This later verse refers to the Second Coming, yet gives an idea that both are apocalyptic times of cosmic imbalance.

Evangelicals commonly use the scripture from Thessalonians above and some of the others I quoted as proof for the rapture; that is, at the end times of the Second Coming there will be a time of trial and darkness in which half the population will die, and the Lord will come back to earth in person. They claim that those who express faith in the Lord will be taken up to be with the Lord in a rapture, similar to the way Elijah was taken up. They say that the Lord will show up riding on a white horse leading an enormous parade. This is a literal interpretaton of the Bible. I believe this literal interpretation is greatly mistaken. All these scriptures have an internal sense and are not referring to earthly events, but heavenly events in which the captives are released from the evil forces that have intercepted them in the world of spirits and put in false heavens during the imbalance. Evangelicals mistake the great joy of those released from the false heavens for what they call the ‘rapture’ which they falsely interpret as an earthly event. For evangelicals the rapture means that the ‘elect’ on earth will be taken up to heaven after Jesus gathers them from around the earth in the great parade.

Also, the extreme language of the light and darkness used in the Gospel of John, and especially in Paul’s letters, addresses the immediate, dire situation of evil oppressing humanity around the times of Christ. Evangelicals mistakenly interpret this language, formulating a doctrine of terrible times coming in the future, known as the millenium. This intense language about dire times is also a big source of ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching. This preaching has truth to it in the sense that it warns of the consequences of hell, but it is often applied in a very external way that has turned many people off. It is a misinterpretation to a degree, because, as we shall see in the chapters on the Second Coming, the Second Coming has already happened, and we now live in the Church of the New Jarusalem in which everyone can have a direct relationship with Christ, and we are not subject to an imbalance of evil as then. As everyone in modern times has seen, the end times and the Second Coming have been predicted to occur on certain dates several times, and much to the predictors embarrassment it never happens. All of this is to show that interpreting the Bible in a purely literal sense causes mistakes, which is understandable since most people are not aware of the internal sense.

But with the internal sense we can understand these verses very deeply. When Paul writes to the people, “Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” We can see how he is urging the people to come out from under the spell of sin. They felt sin as a communal, cosmic force oppressing them, which is the direct effect of the cosmic imbalance. Paul was showing them that Jesus defeated these forces, and he was giving them the great promise that they can be free from that by receiving the teaching and presence of Jesus. Theologically, Evangelicals see this language as meaning that Jesus removed sin ‘en mass’ from all humanity, that He did it unilaterally. They say that He sacrificed himself as payment, or ransom, for our collective and individual sins and that He removed these sins from the body and soul of each person. But this is not the case. This is not even possible because, as said above, the relationship between God and man is reciprocal, and man must work out his salvation in cooperation with God in freedom. In reality, Jesus’ acts of redemption were to battle and defeat the oppressive cosmic forces of evil, to judge and destroy the false heavens, to put all hell back into its place, and to restore order in heaven, thus restoring freedom and making Himself immediately present to us without representation. He indeed did these things by the might of His divine soul alone in the spiritual world, while at the same time teaching people on earth how to be internal men and women and to live with charity in the new church. By restoring equilibrium, humanity could live in freedom and have the opportunity to live in direct relationship to God (Himself). These are His works of redemption – redemption is not the cleansing of sin from the bodies of all people and taking it into Himself. Everyone must cooperate with and respond to God by exercising their own will for a change of heart to be real. It is understandable that these misunderstandings have stood so long when we consider the fact that humanity mainly knew only the literal sense of the Bible. Without an understanding of the internal sense of the Word, the literal sense seems to indicate that Jesus will show up on earth and lead the people on a white horse, bear their sins, and lead them into the new millenium. So, the constant preaching about Jesus bearing our sins and the constant waiting for Jesus to show up in a white cloud goes on and on. It has become tradition to believe this, but it is not the message of the Bible. In the chapter on the captives and the Second Coming, I will show from the Bible the time and the process of the Second Coming.

Why Is it Significant To Explore Deep Issues Concerning the Lord? How Does the Way We Conceive of God and Love Him Effect Our Place in Heaven?

March 15th, 2020

Why is it significant to explore deep issues concerning the Lord?

The deeper the conception and love we have for the Lord while here on earth the more wonders and truths will be open to us in heaven. Here is an extraordinary condition Swedenborg relates about his journeys in heaven that gives us insight to this process. Swedenborg tells that in his journeys to heaven he could only visit realms that he had some knowledge of rooted in his memory. He says that if he did not have knowledge in his memory of a place or the thought of a thing he could not go to that realm in heaven. This shows how profoundly connected the mind is to heaven! I believe this is a consequence of the universal principle that the natural world is the foundation of the spiritual world, and for anything to exist it has to have a root in each. The human form is a little heaven in potential, and since the whole of heaven is in the human form, all things are connected by correspondence between the micro and the macro; – including access to ‘places’ – which in the spiritual world means ‘state of being’.
To the degree we understand and love the particulars of how Jesus redeemed all of humanity, (and redeemed ourself), seeds are planted in our mind and soul. In the spiritual world these seeds of perception are set – their constellation can no longer change – but, to whatever extent it reached from there it will grow. The more intimate the love we developed of the Lord the more expansive are the roots, stem, and shoots that grow from the constellation. In the light of heaven, it gradually blooms into a great tree with leaves, fruits, and flowers – far beyond what we could ever imagine. We leave our former life behind, and, in wholeness, move forward into ever-increasing joy. These seeds are avenues that lead down expansive paths of joyous wonder ever deeper and deeper. Great mysteries are opened that lead to greater and greater mysteries! The single greatest factor that forms our soul and determines where we go is the belief we have of God and the love we have for Him. It is essential we understand He is the divine human, not a spirit or a cloud or supreme being or something like that. The later has very little correspondence with heaven and the universe – for remember heaven and the universe themselves are in the human form – known in the macro as the Grand Man! So we are, in truth, in His body. Thus, our conception of the Divine human moves us into particular places (states of being) in heaven! God, the Lord is a genius. The Bible gives us intimate knowledge of His astounding acts of love and wisdom, and His teaching. In the internal sense from beginning to end the Bible relates how the Lord made His human divine – the greatest part of the greatest story ever told. As long as we make it to heaven we will be in great joy and where we belong, but there are many degrees to heaven and to joy. There is an article (one of many) in this blog I wrote detailing the Glorification process called: “Source Superhero – The Extraordinary Brilliance of the Glorification Process of Jesus: Mystery of Mysteries”, that you will love.

Correspondences in the Skin of the Grand Man and the Development of the Universe that Show How the Entire Universe is Both Infinite and Contained

July 11th, 2018

We have been studying how it is that the universe is infinite and yet at the same time contained. The universe is contained in the sense that it is in the shape and form of the Grand man, which is God himself. At the same time the universe is a real and utterly particular infinity which includes every minutest detail. The universe is truly infinite in that there is no end to it that can ever be reached and it is expanding and ever increasing continually. I think this paradox is is also resolved by the points where the natural universe crosses over into the spiritual world.

So now studying the correspondences in the skin of the Grand man reveals several interesting insights. We study the skin because it is the outer layer of the Grand man, so it is the boarder point and we need to see what happens here. As I said in my last article on this subject the reason, I believe, that the universe can be both contained and infinite at the same time is that the natural world cycles into the spiritual world where there is no time and space, and the spiritual world cycles into the natural world, and between the exchange there is an equilibrium and continual increase. The skin is a major component where this takes place, (although there other major ones as I mentioned before, particularly the breath and the anus to be studied later). Our main mode of study here is by correspondences. We are looking for the connections between the spiritual and physical uses of the skin, principles of the the big bang and astrophysics, and spiritual principles about the Grand man and heaven and hell.

Science has made great progress understanding the universe as it goes back in time to the big bang. Like a human has a brith the universe has a birth and this brith is from the spiritual sun in the spiritual world. Science calls the birth of the universe the ‘big Bang’. As science well knows everything that comes into being does so by a process; and this is equally true, if not more so, of the spiritual world.

It is a universal principle that everything has its beginning in outermost, meaning material structure is the base and container that first takes form. Swedenborg writes: “the spiritual is actually evolved out of the natural, and when evolved, the natural surrounds it as bark surrounds a tree and a scabbard a sword. It also serves the spiritual for protection against violence”. (Conjugal love 449.) Science shows that the early universe just after the big bang was a ‘boring’ place, that it was basically a big fog of hydrogen clouds. It was monochromatic, just a big gas cloud without any suns yet, but dark and bland.

In an embryo science tells us that the first parts to form in the baby are the endoderm and the ectoderm, which is largely the skin and the tissue linings that are the beginnings of the inner skin, some of the organs, the nervous system and arteries. Without being a doctor it is too complex to try and do a study of the physiology of embryonic development, though its helpful in general to see these are the beginnings. Let us get straight to the point and look at the correspondence Swedenborg makes on the matter. There are layers to the skin and the inner layer has many nerve endings. In Physiological Correspondence, Worcester (The great Swedenborg pastor and author) writes: “Microscopic investigation shows some of the nerve fibres ending in the papillae, in loops or “tactile corpuscles”, and many more divide into little brushes; and what they do there, it is difficult to determine from science, here Swedenborg’s more than microscopic insight takes up the subject: “What the fibres do in those most delicate of fleshy forms (can be known) when you know that the vessels are woven from the fibres, and that the intermediates are formed by the extremes! The nervous fibres are weaving there the beginnings of the blood-vessels, or the fleshy fibres. They coil themselves into minute invisible tubes, called corporeal fibres, and these again into larger tubes which are the finest fleshy fibres of the papillae, and are the last subdivisions of the arteries, too fine in their ordinary state to carry red blood, and these combining extend their delicately woven walls to the lining of the arteries; and thus through the arteries, the heart, and again the carotid arteries, the nervous fibres return to the brain.” He is describing here how the beginning of the vascular system begins in the skin. This is a great example of the universal pattern that life begins in outermost, that is, how external material elements develop and move toward the internal. We can visualize and understand this more easily by looking at the correspondence between the core of trees development in leaves and the vascular/nervous systems of humans in skin and linings. In Physiological Correspondences, Worcestor continues:

“The idea that the beginning of the arterial system is in the skin, not the heart, at first may seem surprising; but it is illustrated by the similar and well-known fact that the beginnings of the woody fibres of trees are in the leaves, not the stem or the roots. Through the pith and the delicate fibres of the bark, nourishment ascends to expand the first tender leaves, and from these descends the first woody fibres between the bark and the pith, as well as new fibres of bark, and extend themselves to the extremities of the roots. Through these woody and cortical fibres sap afterwards ascends to the leaves, and by their means new buds and leaves are formed, which in turn send down other fibres, and thus the trunk of the tree grows in concentric layers of wood, every fibre of which has descended from the leaves”. In a similar way, according to Swedenborg, the materials and strands of the nervous system, beginnings of blood vessels, tissues of the organs are produced in the skin, and then sustained and reproduced from these. In Swedenborg’s view the process of membranes being produced in the ‘ultimates of the body, and especially from the skin’ is manifestation of universal principle that applies to all the universe. Worcestor continues: “Before the heart exists in the embryo, ramifications of blood-vessels are seen, which indeed soon unite in the heart and afterwards act from it; and these undoubtedly assist in the formation of other vessels and tissues, which are everywhere woven from the nervous fibres, the blood-vessels cooperating and afterwards sustaining them”.

That all birthing begins from the outermosts first is consistent with the beginning of the universe as scientists describes it. Now that we have some understanding of the process that takes in the skin we are going to look at the correspondences with the skin on three levels – the universe, the body, the spiritual world. The outer skin, which is part of the the outermosts, is scaly and comparable to the quality of tendons. Spirits (former people) from societies in the spiritual world that correspond to the skin are dim and almost completely external minded; they have little consciousness. They are very fixed in their ideas and only discern whether something should or should not enter. The people of these societies think they know everything but know almost nothing. The quality of the early universe was like this in that it was just a undifferentiated cloud of hydrogen without much distinction or variation, – and it was in the dark. Gradually the gas clouds clumped together, formed into strands, and eventually caused gravity as they formed into spheres. The formation of strands of material in the universe (which are fundamental to its structure) corresponds to the formation of the nervous system and arteries. These strands are fundamental in forming the cosmic web which is the basic form of the universe that has been mapped out. It is these strands no doubt that correspond to the function of transferring material from the external to the internal, as we showed in the pith of trees and in the tissues and nervous system of the body. The spheres of gas clouds perhaps correspond to the beginnings of the hearts and perhaps other organs. The large balls of hydrogen became dense and their gravity increases, and when gravity becomes immense in their core nuclear fusion is ignited and stars were born. The ignition of stars in the early universe, I would suggest, corresponds to the beating of the heart and the beginning of consciousness. Eventually the cosmic web we see now in the universe was formed in all its incredible variety of dark and light. The Cosmic Web is the overall picture of the universe that scientist have accumulated – and it looks exactly like microscopic pictures of the nervous system, synops, and the brain!

In speaking of the period of star formation scientists say that it was a magnificent time in the universe’s history. They describe it as a fireworks show taking place, because of all the stars suddenly igniting. The clouds of hydrogen stayed for a time but were gradually organized and clear space later became dominant. This compares with the statements in the Bible, where it is says: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep”. (Gen. 1:1) “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years”.

With the formation of stars tremendous differentiation took place. Scientist say that the early stars were enormous, far larger than most stars today, and that they did not last nearly as long. It is in the core of stars that all the variation of elements are made; and the higher elements are made only when huge stars explode in a supernova. All the materials and elements of the periodic table are produced in the core of exploding suns. Only the biggest stars produce supernovas, and depending on how big the star is, supernovas produce all the higher elements on the periodic table, like copper, silver, gold and others. A supernova sends new elements, light and gas far and wide throughout the universe when it explodes. These clouds of gas again congeal, and form a second generation of stars and along with planets, asteroids, gases and all. This gives an idea of the incredibly complex differentiation that took place and formed the infinitely complex universe we see today; just as there is an in infinitely complex differentiation in the formation of the body mind of humans.

Now it is important to see how it is that the skin is a large part of the point where there is a cross-over between the spiritual and natural worlds. We will study the correspondences in this in the next article. This point is very important in that it is essential in showing how the universe can be both contained and infinite.

 

The Union of Love and Wisdom: Why the Orgasm is Most Transcendent Experience of the Body

January 13th, 2016

In some ways it may seem simple to the reader that there is a marriage of the natural and spiritual, – and so it is – , but what is most simple is also most profound and complex – for it is the most universal. There are thousands of places to quote from Swedenborg about the principle of union; here is one that expresses the nitty-gritty of the union of the natural and spiritual, and that demonstrates how it is the essential of all spiritual growth. I pick this because it is about spiritual birth, or in Christian parlance, being ‘born again’. This quote from Swedenborg comes from a discussion of the meaning of the word midwife in scripture.

‘That the midwife said to her, Do not be afraid’ means perception received from the natural…when the interior man undergoes temptations, the natural is like a midwife. For unless the natural assists no birth of interior truth is possible, since it is the natural that receives interior truths into its bosom once these are born; indeed it is the natural that enables them to push their way out. The same applies to instances of spiritual birth, in that reception must take place wholly within the natural. This is the reason why, when a person is being regenerated, the natural is first of all made ready to receive, and to the extent it is then able to receive, interior truths and goods are able to emerge and multiply. This also explains why, if the natural man has not been made ready during the life of the body to receive the truths and goods of faith, that person cannot receive them in the next life and so cannot be saved. This is the implication of the common saying ‘As the tree falls, so it must lie’, meaning, what a person is when he dies, so he comes to be. For a person has with him in the next life his whole natural memory, that is, the memory belonging to his external man, though he is not allowed to use it in that life. In the next life therefore that memory serves as the groundwork on which interior truths and goods rest; but if that groundwork is not able to support the goods and truths which flow into it from within, interior goods and truths are either annihilated, or perverted, or cast aside. From all this it may be seen that the natural is like a midwife (AC 4588).

This quote shows that spiritual birth or being ‘born again’ is a gradual, rigorous, and painful process, and as we know from life this growth is recognized at certain seminal moments. In this process the spirit must lead while the natural is the means as we know from the interaction of the spirit, mind, and body. The master example of what Swedenborg is saying here is the life of Jesus himself, because the glorification process begins with God being born on earth in a material human body, and His body is the vehicle for the astounding wisdom and acts of love he achieves. This is what makes Him knowable and lovable to all humanity. As He overcomes every temptation, and fulfills each prophecy by his loving acts of service in His natural body, He manifests (or births) new levels of love and wisdom in the world. The resurrection is the ultimate birthing in that Jesus raised his human body into the spiritual world, making it divine.

In us humans for change and salvation to take place our body and feelings need to be prepared for it; the sensation of feelings in the body are the means by which spiritual change becomes rooted and substantial. Thoughts and affections are part physical and part spiritual and how we process them determines whether our soul is gradually formed into a heavenly (or hellish) state. The essential function of the natural can also be seen in the way the sense of touch is the universal medium for love; love yearns to be expressed and fulfilled through touch. Indeed there is no greater pleasure than true love expressed in the sex act; love and touch together in harmony increase pleasure and intimacy, and bring a sense of spiritual fulfillment in our soul. The orgasm in Sex is the most transcendent experience the body can feel because of its use, and because of its corresponds to the active union that takes place in marriage love. True marriage love and sex in heaven are from pure innocence with wisdom, and produce an unspeakable goodness and delight. They are the essential part of the union of love and wisdom of a man and woman, a man predominantly being a form of wisdom and a woman a from of love. The attributes of the physical body of a man and woman correspond to the attributes of the soul qualities of each; for instance a man’s physique is usually stronger and rougher as he corresponds to a intellectual form, and a woman’s is softer and more comely as they correspond to a form of love. When there is love between them they perceive each other in greater and greater detail, and their will is filled with the same desire of giving to the other; at the same time they are in spontaneously gratitude to the Lord. Since the will is the essential thing of the self, in the Bible it is said, “the two shall become one”. The two become one in that their will’s become ever closer. This oneness is not vague but involves every particular of the individuals character, soul attributes, and life skills, all of which grow and come into greater and greater distinctiveness and intimacy for eternity. Each particular bond is a struggle into birth, and is experienced in the body with incredible delight. Indeed the orgasm of the body, and true marriage love of the soul are the most transcendent experience of the body, and the soul respectively; because the end purpose of each is part of the continuum of correspondences that serves the highest use in the universe; that continuum moving from the procreation of the human race to the ultimate purpose of life in the universe – which is to populate the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.