We know that our physical body requires food, water, air and light to survive. When we lack these natural foods, our physical body begins to disintegrate. It should not therefore surprise us to learn that our soul also needs mental, emotional and spiritual substances to survive and develop. We require mental and emotional stimulation of all kinds in order to have an inner intellectual and emotional life. We have loving relationships with our colleagues, family and friends. We read newspapers, magazines, books, surf the internet, listen to the radio, watch television, go to concerts, receptions and ceremonies. All this social interaction, information and affection is knowledge that we let into our mind and heart. In fact, all these ideas and feelings are feeding our soul for better or worse. And we are often disturbed by some of the information that enters our mind and the negative emotions that fill our heart. Like our physical body becomes ill from consuming toxic food, our soul is contaminated from ingesting and digesting harmful knowledge and negative emotions.
Many ages ago, our human ancestors lived in the Garden of Eden (a state of Celestial innocence). In this heavenly state, their mind and heart could feast on the fruits of Divine Wisdom and the bread and meat of Divine Love. But, when these ancestors FREELY chose to rely upon their own self and turned their backs to God, they were chased out of the Garden of Eden and compelled to survive on the husks of self-love and self-intelligence. Thus, their existence became arduous, loveless and meaningless; spiritually, they were dying of thirst and starving to death:
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;...Genesis 3:18-19
This is why all the knowledge and emotion that we are consuming today does not satisfy our mind and heart; it only leaves us more confused and disheartened. If we make sure that the natural food we eat is good for our body, should we not also ascertain that the intellectual, emotional and spiritual food we ingest and digest is good for our soul? In fact, the Lord has left us a banquet of good food when He manifested as the Messiah on Earth.
"Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53
“My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink.” John 6:55
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” John: 6:56
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
Why would a physical man say such strange things? Jesus said this because he was the Word manifested and his flesh was Divine Love and his blood was Divine Truth. The internal sense of the Bible is Divine Truth; it is good and nourishing food for our soul. And this truth or meaning is the form of Divine Love. When we read the Bible’s literal sense, we are quenching our spiritual thirst by drinking Truth (pure water) and, when we understand its higher meaning, we are invigorating our mind with the most satisfying mental substance (delicious wine). But it is only when we put this Wisdom into practice by useful and loving works that our heart is fed by the bread of Divine (or unselfish) Love .
That "food" signifies celestial good, is because the food of the angels is nothing else than the goods of love and of charity, by which they are not only made alive, but are also refreshed. These goods in act, or the practice of them, serve especially for the refreshment of the angels, because they are their desires; and it is known that when the desires are realized in act, they afford refreshment and life. That such things yield nourishment to the spirit of man, while material food yields nourishment to his body, may also be seen from the fact that food without delights conduces but little to nourishment, but together with delights it nourishes. It is the delights that open the passages or ducts which receive the food and convey it into the blood; whereas things undelightful close them. With the angels these delights are the goods of love and of charity, and from this it can be inferred that they are spiritual foods which correspond to earthly foods. As goods are food, so truths are drink.
"Food" is mentioned in many places in the Word, and one who is not acquainted with the internal sense cannot know but that ordinary food is there meant, whereas it is spiritual food; as in Jeremiah:
All the people groan, seeking bread; they have given their desirable things for food, to refresh the soul (Lam. 1:11).
Everyone that thirsteth, go ye to the waters, and he that hath no silver, go ye, buy, and eat; yea, go, buy wine and milk without silver and without price (Isa. 55:1).
The day of Jehovah is near, and as devastation from the Thunderer shall it come. Is not the food cut off before our eyes? gladness and joy from the house of our God? The grains have rotted under their clods; the garners are devastated, the barns are destroyed, because the corn is withered (Joel 1:15-17).
Our garners are full, bringing forth from food to food; our flocks are thousands and ten thousands in our streets. There is no cry in our streets; blessed is the people that is in such a case (Ps. 144:13-15).
All things wait for Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in its time. Thou givest them, they gather; Thou openest Thy hand, they are sated with good (Ps. 104:27-28).
In these passages celestial and spiritual food is meant in the internal sense, while material food is meant in the sense of the letter. From this it is plain in what manner the interiors and exteriors of the Word, or those things therein which are of the spirit, and those which are of the letter, correspond to each other; so that while man understands these things according to the sense of the letter, the angels with him understand them according to the spiritual sense. The Word has been so written as to serve not only the human race, but also heaven; for which reason all the expressions therein are significative of heavenly things, and all the things are representative of them, and this even to the least jot.
That "food" in the spiritual sense is good, the Lord also plainly teaches in John:
Labor not for the food that perisheth, but for the food that abideth into life eternal, which the Son of man shall give to you (John 6:27).
My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink (John 6:55);
where "flesh" is the Divine good (n. 3813); and "blood" is the Divine truth (n. 4735). And again:
Jesus said to His disciples, I have food to eat that ye know not. The disciples said one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat? Jesus saith to them, My food is that I do the will of Him that sent Me, and that I perfect His work (John 4:32-34);
"to do the will of the Father, and to perfect His work," is the Divine good in act or exercise, which as before said in the genuine sense is "food." [AC 5147] Emanuel Swedenborg
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