Bible Everything Should Be Done In An Orderly Fashion Swedenborg – Secrets of Heaven

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Swedenborg – Secrets of Heaven

Secrets of Heaven (also the title Arcana Caelestia) by spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, provides a verse-by-verse interpretation of the first two books of the Bible – Genesis and Exodus. Swedenborg claims that such narratives as the six-day creation story and the picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden are does not about historical individuals or places, yet contains a deeper kind of truth.

Swedenborg and biblical symbolism

To the 21st century reader, the idea of ​​evolution taking place in a week is ludicrous. Likewise, it is generally believed that the narrative of other stories such as Noah’s ark and the flood, the escape of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt and their wanderings in the desert may not be historically correct. Nevertheless, many readers of the Bible have sensed something in these stories that is profound about the mystery of life.

You can say that the creation account is a general picture that we can relate to in human terms of the Creator’s work week, after which a day of rest is needed. Who among us doesn’t need a rest now and then? However, according to Secrets of Heaven there is much more to be learned from biblical imagery, which is said to contain rich symbolic meaning. For example, the six days are claimed to correspond to six different stages in personal growth.

Swedenborg and the Garden of Eden

According to Secrets of Heaven, The Garden of Eden represents an orderly state of mind where selfless love inspires intelligent perception. We find the idea that when people instead rely on being sensual, they fall into all sorts of misunderstandings and unwise behavior. This is said to be the meaning of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge instead of from the tree of life. In other words, instead of taking the story of Eve in the garden as an account of woman as the root of all evil, Swedenborg perceives an ever-present tendency in both men and women, represented by Eve, to ‘fall’, from intelligent perception , when it is guided by the senses.

Swedenborg and the Flood

The story of the flood, which Noah’s ark survived, has generally been seen as God’s judgment on a corrupt society, but again we find in Secrets of Heaven a deeper analysis. It states that the inner conflicts and personal crises that many people experience during their lives are testing times during which personal growth can take place for each: bad habits and adopted illusions are gradually laid aside, while what is good and sensible . is preserved.

Swedenborg as psycho-spiritual teacher

In other words, what Swedenborg found in the Bible is an unsuspected psycho-spiritual textbook. Written between 1749 and 1756, Secrets of Heaven consists of 12 volumes translated into English from Latin of over 5000 pages. In my opinion, it has rightly been thought of as one of the world’s masterpieces, being a great storehouse of spiritual understanding.

Not only does the reader get a detailed explanation of a symbolic meaning of each verse, but this is often followed by an elaboration of related spiritual teaching. There seems to be no randomness in the order of ideas presented.

Traditional church theology has gone out of fashion and is off-putting to many. Any spiritual seeker regardless of their religion – or no religion – would find Secrets of Heaven less of a barrier. This is because psycho-spiritual ideas appeal to a wider readership than just Christians, introducing as they do spiritual concepts that transcend religious culture. For example, the story of the Hebrew people wandering away from slavery in Egypt is presented as mirroring our own inner wanderings to find true freedom for the soul.

Two examples of psycho-spiritual concepts used are proprium and residual states.

Proprium

In discussing the rib taken from Adam to form Eve, Swedenborg introduces the concept proprium means the self-awareness of man’s self-hood. This is said to mislead one into believing that one lives from oneself rather than from the divine source of life.

“It involves people believing… in themselves and their imagining that what they do not perceive through sensory evidence or through facts does not exist at all. They… as a consequence… have a skewed view on everything.” (E. Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven, Section 210)

In other words, people tend to rely on self-intelligence rather than on divine providence and thus assume that they are each separate beings independent of others. Although it appears that their thoughts are their own, in fact nothing is their own: it merely appears as if it were.

Residual states

According to history, despite Adam and Eve’s fall from a state of spiritual innocence and into wicked ways by their descendants, there was a blameless person named Noah. This person is said to represent what Swedenborg called residual states of good thoughts and impulses. He said, in relation to each of us, these remain from childhood, when the individual had an innocent grasp of what is heavenly.

“Good states are what are called remnants which are…implanted in a person’s natural disposition, and this is done when a person is not aware of it. Later in life he is assigned additional new states; but these are not as many states of good as of truth, for as he grows up truth is bestowed upon him, and these are likewise hidden away within him.” (E. Swedenborg, Arcana Caelestia section 1906)

Remnants of what is good and true thus enable us to develop a deeper kind of conscience as we mature. If we choose to listen to them, they can guide us toward what is loving and reasonable. Swedenborg maintained that without residual spiritual states no one can be inwardly transformed in adulthood.

Conclusion

One difficulty in reading Swedenborg is his calm assurance and his sense of conviction. It is therefore easy to get the wrong end of the stick from the general statements which give a misleading impression of dogmatism.

I spoke for myself and I found several passages I could not understand and had to put aside. This should not be surprising given the deep nature of the content. Nevertheless, I discovered a tremendous amount to enlighten and elevate my mind. And what I understood made me realize that there are further depths to understand.

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