FR43

THE SCIENCE OF LIGHT

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Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty:  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment... Psalm CIV

Divine love and wisdom are substance and form in themselves, thus the one and only absolute. E. Swedenborg

PERSONS

For a person to be a person, no part that occurs in a complete person can be lacking either from the head or from the body, since there is nothing there that does not belong to and constitute that form. It is actually the form of love and wisdom, which in its own right is divine. It contains all the specific forms of love and wisdom that are infinite in the Divine-Human One but finite in his images -- in us, in angels, and in spirits. If any part were missing that occurs in that person, then some specific corresponding form of love and wisdom would be missing, some form through which the Lord can be present with us from our core to our boundaries, providing for lives of service in the created world out of his divine love, through divine wisdom. Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 389]
 

In his writings, Swedenborg defines a person or human being as a being that consists of WILL (substance), UNDERSTANDING (form) and FUNCTION (use). And the only reason we are finite persons is because we are an image of God who is also an Infinite or Divine Person. This Divine Person consists of DIVINE LOVE, WISDOM and POWER.  

Now, most people are surprised when they hear that God is a person. And many people still believe that God is an abstract concept in their mind.   For example, some people believe God is Truth. However, Truth, by itself, is only a  spiritual form or abstract idea. In order for anything to be real, it must have SUBSTANCE, FORM and USE. God is real because His substance is Divine Love, His form is Divine Truth and His Power is expressed in the universe through useful actions. The only reason we can be spiritually conjoined with God and other humans in a Heaven of mutual Love is because God is a Divine Person or Divine Human. We cannot be spiritually conjoined with an abstract God.

Although God is personal, He is a very different person than we are. He is an Infinite person or a Divine Human. This means that His will or Divine Love is omnipresent. His understanding or Divine Wisdom is omniscient. And His action or Divine Power is omnipotent.

God created us in his own image so that would eventually have a close and personal relationship with Him. Our humanity stems from God's Divine Humanity. And God proved that He is a Divine Person by manifesting in the flesh as the Messiah on Earth. By coming down in the flesh, embodying the sins of humanity, resisting the temptations of human flesh and restoring spiritual equilibrium, He proved that His love for us is unconditional, Infinite and Divine. 

In the world, in order to interact with another person, we have to meet with them. However, since God is omnipresent, we do not have to travel somewhere to meet with God. He is immediately present with us in our heart whenever we need Him. We can also immediately communicate with God because He is omniscient. He knows what is going on in our mind and He speaks to us through the Wisdom that flows into it. God can also help us do useful things because He is the Divine Power and Energy that flows into our hands.

When we read the New Testament, we discover what kind of person God is. Although Jesus was rejected and mistreated by many persons, He continued to love and heal everyone with a Love that was unconditional, infinite and divine. And, since our divine purpose is to become a perfect image of God, we can also use Jesus' life, intentions, behavior and actions in the New Testament as a model for our own life. This is the other reason God manifested as the Messiah on Earth. He came down to show us the WAY to Heaven.  

God is the essential person. Throughout all the heavens, the only concept of God is a concept of a person. The reason is that heaven, overall and regionally, is in a kind of human form, and Divinity among the angels is what makes heaven. Further, thinking proceeds in keeping with heaven's form, so it is not possible for angels to think about God in any other way. This is why all the people on earth who are in touch with heaven think about God in the same way when they are thinking very deeply, or in their spirit.

 It is because God is a person that all angels and spirits are perfectly formed people. This is because of heaven's form, which is the same in its largest and its smallest manifestations. (On heaven being in a human form overall and regionally, see Heaven and Hell 59-87 [59-86], and on thought progressing in keeping with heaven's form, see 203-204 there.)

 It is common knowledge that we were created in the image and likeness of God because of Genesis 1:26, 27 and from the fact that Abraham and others saw God as a person.

 The early people, wise and simple alike, thought of God only as a person. Even when they began to worship many gods, as they did in Athens and Rome, they worshiped them as persons. By way of illustration, here is an excerpt from an earlier booklet.

 Non-Christians--especially Africans--who acknowledge and worship one God as the Creator of the universe conceive of that God as a person. They say that no one can have any other concept of God. When they hear that many people prefer an image of God as a little cloud in the center, they ask where these people are; and when they are told that these people are among the Christians, they respond that this is impossible. They are told, however, that Christians get this idea from the fact that in the Word God is called a spirit; and the only concept they have of spirit is of a piece of cloud. They do not realize that every spirit and every angel is a person. However, when inquiry was made to find out whether their spiritual concept was the same as their earthly one, it turned out that it was not the same for people who inwardly recognized the Lord as the God of heaven and earth.

 I heard one Christian elder say that no one could have a concept of a being both divine and human; and I saw him taken to various non-Christians, more and more profound ones. Then he was taken to their heavens, and finally to a heaven of Christians. Through the whole process people's inner perception of God was communicated to him, and he came to realize that their only concept of God was a concept of a person--which is the same as a concept of a being both divine and human.

The ordinary concept of God among Christians is a concept of a person because God is called a person in the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity. The better educated, though, claim that God is invisible. This is because they cannot understand how a human God could have created heaven and earth and filled the universe with his presence, along with other things that pass the bounds of understanding as long as people do not realize that Divinity is not in space. Still, people who turn to the Lord alone think of one who is both divine and human, and therefore think of God as a person.

We may gather how important it is to have a right concept of God from the fact that this concept is the very core of the thinking of anyone who has a religion. All the elements of religion and of worship focus on God; and since God is involved in every element of religion and worship, whether general or particular, unless there is a right concept of God there can be no communication with heaven. This is why every nation is allotted its place in the spiritual world according to its concept of a human God. This [understanding of God as human] is where the concept of the Lord is to be found, and nowhere else.

 We can see very clearly that our state after death depends on our avowed concept of God if we consider the opposite, namely that the denial of God, and in the Christian world, a denial of the Lord's divinity, constitutes hell.

In the Divine-Human One, reality and its manifestation are both distinguishable and united. Wherever there is reality, there is its manifestation: the one does not occur without the other. In fact, reality exists through its manifestation, and not apart from it. Our rational capacity grasps this when we ponder whether there can be any reality that does not manifest itself, and whether there can be any manifestation except from some reality. Since each occurs with the other and not apart from it, it follows that they are one entity, but "distinguishably one."

 They are distinguishably one like love and wisdom. Further, love is reality and wisdom is its manifestation. Love occurs only in wisdom, and wisdom only from love. So love becomes manifest when it is in wisdom. These two are one entity in such a way that although they can be distinguished in thought they cannot be distinguished in fact; and since they can be distinguished in thought and not in fact, we refer to them as "distinguishably one."

 Reality and its manifestation are also distinguishably one in the Divine-Human One the way soul and body are. A soul does not occur without its body, nor a body without its soul. The divine soul of the Divine-Human One is what we mean by the divine reality, and the divine body of the Divine-Human One is what we mean by the divine manifestation.

 The notion that a soul can exist and think and be wise without a body is an error that stems from deceptive appearances. Every soul is in a spiritual body after it has cast off the material skin that it carried around in this world.

The reason reality is not reality unless it is manifested is that before that happens it has no form, and if it has no form it has no attributes. Anything that has no attributes is not really anything. Whatever is manifest on the basis of its reality is one with that reality because it stems from that reality. This is the basis of their being united into a single entity, and this is why each belongs to the other reciprocally, with each being wholly present in every detail of the other, as it is in itself.

It therefore stands to reason that God is a person and in this way is God manifest--not manifest from himself, but manifest in himself. The one who is manifest in himself is the God who is the source of all.

In the Divine-Human One, infinite things are distinguishably one. It is recognized that God is infinite: he is in fact called the Infinite One. But he is called infinite because he is infinite. He is not infinite simply because he is intrinsically essential reality and manifestation, but because there are infinite things in him. An infinite being without infinite things within it would be infinite in name only.

 The infinite things in him should not be called "infinitely many" or "infinitely all," because of our earthly concepts of "many" and "all." Our earthly concept of "infinitely many" is limited, and while there is something limitless about our concept of "infinitely all," it still rests on limited things in our universe. This means that since our concept is earthly, we cannot arrive at a sense of the infinite things in God by some process of shifting it to a higher level or by comparison. However, since angels enjoy spiritual concepts they can surpass us by changing to a higher level and by comparison, though they cannot reach infinity itself.

Anyone can come to an inner assurance about the presence of infinite things in God--anyone, that is, who believes that God is a person; because if God is a person, he has a body and everything that having a body entails. So he has a face, torso, abdomen, upper legs, and lower legs, since without these he would not be a person. Since he has these components, he also has eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and tongue. He also has what we find within a person, such as a heart and lungs and the things that depend on them, all of which, taken together, make us human. We are created with these many components, and if we consider them in their interconnections, they are beyond counting. In the Divine-Human One, though, they are infinite. Nothing is lacking, so he has an infinite completeness.

 We can make this comparison of the uncreated Person, who is God, with us who are created, because that God is a person. It is because of him that we earthly beings are said to have been created in his image and in his likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27).

The presence of infinite things in God is even more obvious to angels because of the heavens where they live. The whole heaven, made up of millions of angels, is like a person in its overall form. Each individual community of heaven, large or small, is the same; and therefore an angel is a person. An angel is actually a heaven in its smallest form (see Heaven and Hell 51-87 [51-86]).

 Heaven is in this form overall, regionally, and in individuals because of the divine nature that angels accept, since the extent to which angels accept the divine nature determines the perfection of their human form. This is why we say that angels are in God and that God is in them, and that God is everything to them.

 The multiplicity of heaven is indescribable; and since it is Divinity that makes heaven, and therefore Divinity is the source of that indescribable multiplicity, we can see quite clearly that there are infinite things in that quintessential Person who is God.

We can draw the same inference from the created universe if we turn our attention to its functions and the things that answer to them. However, this will not be comprehensible until some examples have been offered.

Since there are infinite things in the Divine-Human One, things that are so to speak reflected in heaven, in angels, and in us, and since the Divine-Human One is not in space (see 7-10 above), we can see and understand to some extent how God can be omnipresent, omniscient, and omniprovident, and how, even as a person, he could have created everything, and how as a person he can forever keep everything he has created in its proper order.

. Further, if we look at ourselves we can see a kind of reflection of the fact that these infinite things in the Divine-Human One are distinguishably one. There are many things within us--countless things, as already noted [18]; yet we feel them as one. On the basis of our feelings, we have no sense of our brain or heart or lungs, of our liver or spleen or pancreas, of the countless components of our eyes, ears, tongue, stomach, sexual organs, and so on; and since we are not aware of them, we sense them as all one.

 The reason is that all these organs are gathered into a form that precludes the absence of any one of them. It is a form designed to receive life from the Divine-Human One, as explained in 4-6 above. The organization and connection of all these elements in this kind of form give rise to the feeling and therefore to the image of them not as many or countless but as one.

 We may therefore conclude that the innumerably many components that constitute a kind of unity in us are distinguishably one--supremely so--in that quintessential Person who is God. Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 11-23]
 

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