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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

THE WORD

solarInspiration implies that in every particular of the Word (as well in the historicals as in the other parts) there are celestial things which are of love or good, and spiritual things which are of faith or truth, thus Divine things. For that which is inspired by the Lord descends from Him, and does so through the angelic heaven, and so through the world of spirits down to man, with whom it is presented such as it is in the letter; but in its first origin it is altogether different. In heaven there is never any worldly history, but all is representative of Divine things, and there is no perception there of anything else, as may also be known from the fact that the things which are there are unutterable. Unless therefore the historicals were representative of Divine things, and in this way were heavenly, they could not possibly be Divinely inspired. The Word as it exists in the heavens can be known solely from the internal sense, for the internal sense is the Word of the Lord in the heavens. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 1887]

How is the Internal or Spiritual Sense of the Word related to the External or Literal Sense ?

Answer. The relation is the vital one of the soul to the body in man. The internal sense is the pure truth of life; it reveals God as he really is and as he always appears to the pure in heart; a God of unchanging love; our Heavenly Father, full of tender compassion for all His children. The internal sense is free from all apparent contradictions and inconsistencies.

In the literal sense, on the other hand, the truth is veiled in accommodation to appearances and the various states of men. In the letter [or literal sense] , God is depicted as he appears to men in conditions of order and of disorder, now as a loving Father, and now as a God of wrath and vengeful anger. The letter [literal sense] is in correspondence to the states of men. The letter [literal sense] is the Lord's outer garment which is stained with blood by reason of the violence done to the Word.

As in nature, so in the letter [literal sense] of the Word, the real truth is often just opposite to the appearance. The sun appears to rise in the East by reason of the earth's opposite motion. We speak according to the appearance. God appears angry to the wicked by reason of their turning away from his unchanging love. The Bible speaks according to the appearance. To get at the truth we must look beyond mere appearances to the inner spiritual sense. Thomas French (The New Jerusalem, Vital Questions, Briefly Answered, 1900)

Many people are disappointed by the Bible when they read that God is angry and revengeful. But this is not how God is; it is how God appears to us when we are in self-love  and self-intelligence. Similarly, from our own perspective on earth, the sun appears to rise and set but it is in fact the earth’s motion that is causing this. The Truth is that the sun is always at the center of the solar system and shining its Light upon the Earth. By correspondence, the Lord’s Divine Truth is always flowing into our mind and His Divine Love  is always flowing into our heart. And, in order to experience  God’s true nature, we are the ones that must change our mind and purify our heart. When our mind is reformed and our heart is regenerated, we experience God as He is in Reality: a God of Mercy and Love.

It seems odd that the Bible, a book of stories, should be considered so holy, sacred and powerful. But this is because the Bible is unlike any other book written by human beings. In the Bible itself, we are told that the Bible is the Word of God, that the universe itself was created by the Word (or Bible), that Jesus is the Word (or Bible), that “the Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God.” In the New Testament, Jesus says that the Old Testament was about Him. These are amazing facts about a book of stories. The Bible must be very important.

Now, a book  is not just ink and paper. It is words. And these words convey meaning and ideas to our mind. Swedenborg tells us that, besides its obvious literal sense (or meaning), the Bible contains two other senses: the Spiritual and  Celestial senses. The literal or Natural sense contains the spiritual history and prophecy of humanity, the Spiritual sense is about the Lord’s kingdom (or Heaven) and the Celestial sense is about the Lord Himself. If the higher dimensions of the universe are dimensions of mind and spirit, we can see how the Bible corresponds to the universe.

UNIVERSE

THE WORD

MAN

CONJUNCTION

CELESTIAL HEAVEN

CELESTIAL SENSE

CELESTIAL MIND

LOVE THE WORD (LORD)

SPIRITUAL HEAVEN

SPIRITUAL SENSE

SPIRITUAL MIND

UNDERSTAND THE WORD (TRUTH)

NATURAL HEAVEN

NATURAL SENSE

NATURAL MIND

OBEY THE WORD

EARTH

BIBLE

HUMAN BRAIN

DO WHAT IS USEFUL / WISE / JUST

 

Swedenborg says the Bible or Word is the means by which we can be conjoined with the Lord, Heaven and angels in Love and Wisdom. When we read the Bible and understand its higher senses, we are in effect entering the corresponding Heavens in our mind and heart. The Word in fact descended from the Lord and into the various levels of Heaven by correspondence before it was manifested as a book of stories on earth. This also means that all the natural objects, places, lands, tribes, nations, minerals, plants, fish, birds, animals and persons that constitute those strange Bible stories correspond to Celestial and Spiritual realities.

The Spiritual sense is about the Kingdom of Heaven and how human beings can reform their mind and regenerate their will. We are reformed through repentance and regenerated through spiritual temptation.

The Celestial Sense of the Old Testament is about the inner spiritual combats and temptations that took place within the Lord’s mind and heart when He was on Earth. This is how He restored equilibrium and paved a way for our salvation. This is why in the New Testament Jesus says that He came to fulfill the Scriptures.

How heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word I will illustrate by some passages from it. "The New Jerusalem" is described in Revelation in these words:

 I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And I saw the holy city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The city was foursquare, its length as great as its breadth; and an angel measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length, the breadth, and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The building of the wall was of jasper; but the city itself was pure gold, and like unto pure glass; and the foundations of the wall were adorned with every precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. Rev. xxi. 1, 2, 16-19, 21.

 When man reads these words he understands them merely in accordance with the sense of the letter, namely, that the visible heaven with the earth is to perish, and a new heaven is to come into existence; and upon the new earth the holy city Jerusalem is to descend, with all its dimensions as here described. But the angels who are with man understand these things in a wholly different way, namely, every particular detail that man understands naturally they understand spiritually.

By "the new heaven and the new earth" they understand a new Church; by "the city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven" they understand its heavenly doctrine revealed by the Lord; by "its length, breadth, and height, which are equal", and "twelve thousand furlongs", they understand all the goods and truths of that doctrine in the complex; by its "wall" they understand the truths protecting it; by "the measure of the wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel", they understand all those protecting truths in the complex and their character; by its "twelve gates, which were of pearls", they understand introductory truths, "pearls" signifying such truths; by "the foundations of the wall, which were of precious stones", they understand the knowledge on which that doctrine is founded; by "the gold like unto pure glass", of which the city and its street were made, they understand the good of love which makes the doctrine and its truths transparent. Thus do angels perceive all these things; and therefore not as man perceives them. The natural ideas of man thus pass into the spiritual ideas with the angels without their knowing anything of the sense of the letter of the Word, that is, about "a new heaven and a new earth", "a new city Jerusalem", its "wall, the foundations of the wall, and its dimensions". And yet the thoughts of angels make one with the thoughts of man, because they correspond; they make one almost as the words of a speaker make one with the understanding of them by a hearer who attends solely to the meaning and not to the words.  

All this shows how heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH307]

Image Credit: NASA

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