Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Last Temptations of Jesus: the accounts of Swedenborg and Emmerich

It is said that the devil tempted Jesus for 40 days in the wilderness - just, exactly, how bad was it?  And why would God choose to become incarnate in human form, to end up suffering miserably? The gospels are very brief on this subject, and in fact, the passages in the gospels describing the 40 days of temptation are symbolic for the temptations he experienced his whole life, to the very bitter end.

It was so bad, that all of hell was fighting against the Lord.  The temptations we experience were nothing compared to what Jesus experienced.  But how do we know this?  There are so many doubters and skeptics - maybe this is true, maybe it isn't.  The entire Muslim world states the Bible was corrupted so they don't bother to read it, or just doubt every passage as they were taught this as children.  In the western world, so called scholars parse every sentence and wonder who wrote what.

Since the Bible was written, however, a number of private revelations have been given to Christian visionaries.  One of them was Emanuel Swedenborg, a scientist of the 18th century, who had 27 years of waking visions of heaven and hell.  After he died, a Catholic nun named Anne Catherine Emmerich was also given an extensive set of visions. Whereas Swedenborg writes as a scientist, Emmerich was given a grand vision where she saw practically every detail of the life of Jesus.


We can confirm they both had extrasensory perception - Swedenborg had a number of clairvoyant experiences, one of which was confirmed by the German philosopher Kant.  What of Emmerich? For one, she was a stigmatist - a mysterious phenomenon where the visionary becomes so enraptured that they display the signs of the wound of the cross on their body, which bleed profusely, and yet are not self inflicted and can mysteriously heal as quickly as they manifest.  But for Emmerich, a priest was able to take details from her writings, and discovered the house of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus Turkey.  Here is the relevant passage from Emmerich:
Mary did not live in Ephesus itself, but in the country near it. ... Mary's dwelling was on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem, some three and half hours from Ephesus. This hill slopes steeply towards Ephesus; the city, as one approaches it from the south east seems to lie on rising ground.... Narrow paths lead southwards to a hill near the top of which is an uneven plateau, some half hour's journey.
Not only that, but she also described in detail the architecture and position of the house. This was unheard of: Catholic tradition, since the 5th century A.D., had stated that Mary had died in Jerusalem.  Many decades later, a priest took the account of Emmerich's visions and made a trip to Turkey, and made a startling discovery:

On October 18, 1881, relying on the descriptions in the book by Brentano based on his conversations with Emmerich, a French priest, the AbbéJulien Gouyet discovered a small stone building on a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea and the ruins of ancient Ephesus in Turkey. He believed it was the house described by Emmerich and where the Virgin Mary had lived the final years of her life.
Abbé Gouyet's discovery was not taken seriously by most people, but ten years later, urged by Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, DC, two Lazarist missionaries, Father Poulin and Father Jung, from Smyrna rediscovered the building on July 29, 1891, using the same source for a guide. They learned that the four-walled, roofless ruin had been venerated for a long time by members of the mountain village of Şirince, 17 km distant, who were descended from the early Christians of Ephesus. The house is called Panaya Kapulu ("Doorway to the Virgin"). Every year pilgrims made a pilgrimage to the site on August 15, the date on which most of the Christian world celebrated Mary's Dormition/Assumption.
Later, an archaeological investigation determined that the lower portion of the wall and the foundation date from the first century A.D.  Here is a picture of the house of the virgin Mary as it stands today:


So with that preface, lets compare a little between what Swedenborg was told concerning the life of Jesus, and what Emmerich was shown later.  Neither one ever knew of each other.

THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS ACCORDING TO SWEDENBORG

What is described as a mystery in most Christian traditions is explained rather rationally by Swedenborg, but a rational explanation of Christianity only makes sense if one has knowledge of the spiritual realms beyond the material one.  When discussing the temptations of Jesus, Swedenborg not only states that they were quite severe, but explains the whole reason why the Divine became incarnate in human form. He begins by stating that his human body inherited evil from his human mother Mary, something no Catholic would ever admit:
"That He derived hereditary evil from the mother, is clearly evident from the fact that He underwent temptations. No one can ever be tempted, who has no evil; it is the evil in a man which tempts, and through which he is tempted. That the Lord was tempted, and that He underwent temptations a thousand-fold more grievous than any man can ever endure, and that He endured them alone, and overcame evil, or the devil and all hell, by His own power, is also evident....
"No angel can ever be tempted of the devil; because, while he is in the Lord, evil spirits cannot approach him, even distantly, without being instantly seized with horror and terror. Much less would hell have been able to approach to the Lord if He had been born Divine; that is, without evil adhering from the mother.
"It is likewise a common expression with preachers, that the Lord also bore the iniquities and evils of the human race; but to admit into Himself iniquities and evils, except by the hereditary way, can by no means be done. The Divine is not susceptible of evil. And therefore, that He might conquer evil by His own powers — which no man was able to do, or can do — and so might alone become Justice, He was willing to be born as another man. If it had not been for this, there would have been no need of His being born; for the Lord could assume Human Essence without birth, as He did sometimes assume it, when seen by the Most Ancient Church, and likewise by the prophets; but for the very purpose of putting on evil, against which He might fight, and which He might conquer, He came into the world; also that He might conjoin in Himself the Divine Essence to the Human Essence.
"But the Lord had no evil that was actual, or His own; as He also says in John: Which of you convicteth Me of sin? (viii 46)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1573)
Swedenborg hints at some of the demoniac attacks against Jesus, which Jesus resisted from love for the entire human race.  One spiritual law: the greater the love, the greater the temptation:
"Hence also it may be evident what the Lord's temptations were, that they were the most grievous of all; for as is the love, so great is the grievousness. The Lord's love for the salvation of the whole human race was most ardent; consequently it was all affection for good and all affection for truth in the highest degree. Against these, with the most malignant wiles and venom, all the hells contended; but still the Lord conquered them all by His own power. Victories carry this with them, that the malignant genii and spirits afterwards dare nothing; for their life consists in being able to destroy. But when they perceive that a man is such that he can resist, then at the first onset they flee away..." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1820.5)
These temptations of Jesus are not well explained in the gospels, but they are laid out in more detail in the hidden spiritual sense of the Old Testament, which Swedenborg explains in detail in his massive work Heavenly Arcana (or Arcana Coelestia). The forty days of temptation described in the gospels describe all the temptations in the spiritual sense, moreover, he fought against the worst kind of evil spirits:
"That the Lord underwent and endured temptations, severe, or the most severe, above all others in the universe, is not so well known from the Word; where it is only mentioned that He was in the wilderness forty days, and was tempted by the devil. The temptations themselves which He then had, are described in a few words only; but these few involve them all; as that it is said in Mark (i. 12, 13) that He was there with the beasts, by which are signified the worst of the infernal crew" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1663.2)
These temptations, and Jesus resisting them, were the means of salvation of the human race.  The passion of the cross of Jesus did not in itself effect salvation, but it was merely the last and final temptation before Jesus overcame them all:
"It is a common belief at this day that the burnt offerings and sacrifices signified the Lord's passion, and that by this the Lord made expiation for the iniquities of all, indeed, that He drew them away upon Himself, and thus bore them; and that those who believe are in this manner justified and saved, provided they think, though but in the last hour before death, that the Lord suffered for them, however they may have lived during the whole course of their life. But the case is not really so: the passion of the cross was the extremity of the Lord's temptation, by which He fully united His Human to His Divine and His Divine to His Human, and thus glorified Himself. That union is itself the means by which those who have the faith in Him which is the faith of charity, can be saved. For the Supreme Divine Itself could no longer reach to the human race, which had removed itself so far from the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith, that they no longer even acknowledged them, and still less perceived them. In order therefore that the Supreme Divine might be able to come down to man who was such, the Lord came into the world and united His Human to the Divine in Himself; which union could not be effected otherwise than by the most grievous combats of temptations and by victories, and at length by the last, which was that of the cross." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2776.2)
As I said, Swedenborg gives a more rational explanation of Christianity, and in fact it bears similarities to the ancient healers of Shamanism who battle with evil spirits (see Jesus the Shaman - Descent into the Underworld).  Except with Jesus, it was done on a universal scale, and He continues to do it for any person who undergoes temptation and resists it.

THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS ACCORDING TO ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH

So I have given a brief account of the temptations Jesus endured from Swedenborg's visions - this was explained to Swedenborg by internal insights given to him in vision while reading scripture.  Anne Catherine Emmerich is about as opposite to Swedenborg as one can get in style - the visions were showing the life of Jesus, detail by detail, as in a movie. Several volumes were written from what she dictated, but I want to concentrate on the temptation Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion, as explained in The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, while Jesus prayed blood began to come out of his pores.  He prays and he is under distress.  That is all the gospels say, and one might say it was because he feared the crucifixion.  But Emmerich was shown that it was much more than that: Jesus was suffering from what one may call a psychic mental attack from evil spirits.  Swedenborg said the most severe temptations are the one's that are internal, more so than those from external suffering or pain, but in this day and age few experience this.  That is all Swedenborg says, but Emmerich goes through it all in agonizing detail, where it even effected her at times and she lost all strength.

It begins with a a set of constricting visions, which begin to close in on Jesus:
"When Jesus left his disciples, I saw a number of frightful figures surrounding him in an ever-narrowing circle.
His sorrow and anguish of soul continued to increase, and he was trembling all over when he entered the grotto to pray, like a wayworn traveller hurriedly seeking shelter from a sudden storm, but the awful visions pursued him even there, and became more and more clear and distinct."
And then, the onslaught of the attack begins. Emmerich describes it as a flood, and even Swedenborg describes this kind of attack of evil spirits as a flood, and this terminology is used in scripture as well:
"He fell on his face, overwhelmed with unspeakable sorrow, and all the sins of the world displayed themselves before him, under countless forms and in all their real deformity. He took them all upon himself, and in his prayer offered his own adorable Person to the justice of his Heavenly Father, in payment for so awful a debt. But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasing awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: 'Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?'
And now a long ray of light, like a luminous path. in the air, descended from Heaven; it was a procession of angels who came up to Jesus and strengthened and reinvigorated him. The remainder of the grotto was filled with frightful visions of our crimes; Jesus took them all upon himself, but that adorable Heart, which was so filled with the most perfect love for God and man, was flooded with anguish, and overwhelmed beneath the weight of so many abominable crimes. When this huge mass of iniquities, like the waves of a fathomless ocean, had passed over his soul, Satan brought forward innumerable temptations, as he had formerly done in the desert, even daring to adduce various accusations against him. 'And takest thou all these things upon thyself,' he exclaimed, 'thou who art not unspotted thyself?' Then he laid to the charge of our Lord, with infernal impudence, a host of imaginary crimes. He reproached him with the faults of his disciples, the scandals which they had caused, and the disturbances which he had occasioned in the world by giving up ancient customs. No Pharisee, however wily and severe, could have surpassed Satan on this occasion; he reproached Jesus with having been the cause of the massacre of the Innocents, as well as of the sufferings of his parents in Egypt, with not having saved John the Baptist from death, with having brought disunion into families, protected men of despicable character, refused to cure various sick persons, injured the inhabitants of Gergesa by permitting men possessed by the devil to overturn their vats, and demons to make swine cast themselves into the sea; with having deserted his family, and squandered the property of others; in one word Satan, in the hopes of causing Jesus to waver, suggested to him every thought by which he would have tempted at the hour of death an ordinary mortal who might have performed all these actions without a superhuman intention; for it was hidden from him that Jesus was the Son of God, and he tempted him only as the most just of men. Our Divine Saviour permitted his humanity thus to preponderate over his divinity, for he was pleased to endure even those temptations with which holy souls are assailed at the hour of death concerning the merit of their good works. That he might drink the chalice of suffering even to the dregs, he permitted the evil spirit to tempt his sacred humanity, as he would have tempted a man who should wish to attribute to his good works some special value in themselves, over and above what they might have by their union with the merits of our Saviour."
Similar to Swedenborg, Emmerich describes the universal love that Jesus had for humanity, and also similar to Swedenborg, describes how Jesus at times switches between his human state, under which he could be tempted, and His Divine state from which He strengthened himself.  These changes of state are described in more detail in Heavenly Arcana, and Emmerich describes them in general terms. When Swedenborg stated Jesus suffereed a thousand-fold, Emmerich states he is then shown visions of all the sins of humanity:
"At first Jesus looked calm, as he kneeled down and prayed, but after a time his soul became terrified at the sight of the innumerable crimes of men, and of their ingratitude towards God, and his anguish was so great that he trembled and shuddered as he exclaimed: 'Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me! Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this chalice from me!' But the next moment he added: 'Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.' His will and that of his Father were one, but now that his love had ordained that he should be left to all the weakness of his human nature, he trembled at the prospect of death.
I saw the cavern in which he was kneeling filled with frightful figures; I saw all the sins, wickedness, vices, and ingratitude of mankind torturing and crushing him to the earth; the horror of death and terror which he felt as man at the sight of the expiatory sufferings about to come upon him, surrounded and assailed his Divine Person under the forms of hideous spectres. He fell from side to side, clasping his hands; his body was covered with a cold sweat, and he trembled and shuddered. He then arose, but his knees were shaking and apparently scarcely able to support him; his countenance was pale, and quite altered in appearance, his lips white, and his hair standing on end."
Jesus not only foresees the sins of mankind, and is assaulted with false accusations from evil spirits, but was shown the corruption of the Christian church:
"He saw the tepidity, malice, and corruption of an infinite number of Christians, the lies and deceptions of proud teachers, all the sacrileges of wicked priests, the fatal consequences of each sin, and the abomination of desolation in the kingdom of God, in the sanctuary of those ungrateful human beings whom he was about to redeem with his blood at the cost of unspeakable sufferings."
The above is accurate - the "abomination of desolation" in Daniel signifies the corruption of the Christian church.  Emmerich goes on, and states if she spoke for a full year she could not describe in detail all that she saw, and I am skipping over large portions. She was so overwhelmed, Jesus then appeared to her:
"So great was my horror and terror, that my Heavenly Spouse appeared to me, and mercifully placed his hand upon my heart, saying: 'No one has yet seen all these things, and thy heart would burst with sorrow if I did not give thee strength.'"
Now, although in the Catholic church they will probably not admit that Jesus inherited evil in his human form from Mary, Emmerich sees something rather interesting: although Mary was in a different location from the Garden of Gethsemane, she experiences something similar:
"During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging to the house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole body bowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheld in spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus. She had sent some messengers to make inquiries concerning him, but her deep anxiety would not suffer her to await their return, and she went with Magdalen and Salome as far as the Valley of Josaphat. She walked along with her head veiled, and her arms frequently stretched forth towards Mount Olivet; for she beheld in spirit Jesus bathed in a bloody sweat, and her gestures were as though she wished with her extended hands to wipe the face of her Son. I saw these interior movements of her soul towards Jesus, who thought of her, and turned his eyes in her direction, as if to seek her assistance. I beheld the spiritual communication which they had with each other, under the form of rays passing to and fro between them."
The connection here, which Emmerich could not discern, is that Jesus could only be tempted through the human body He inherited from his mother.  This is the connection: the attack of evil spirits was so severe, even Mary felt it. But she could offer no help in this matter.

TEMPTATION AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE

At many points in time, we are all tempted in many ways, and perhaps understanding what Jesus went through, one can understand there is no sin Jesus cannot handle if we just simply repent and ask.  But, for our part we must resist temptation, and desist from the wrongs we have been committing. It is natural to experience this - for once one knows the truth, the evil spirits with each person will seek to attack the truth. This is what temptation is: spiritual warfare.  It is the way one is reborn from a natural person to a spiritual being.







Friday, August 21, 2015

The Spiritual Consequences of Adultery and the Origin of Marriage Love



From a spiritual standpoint, just exactly how bad is the sin of adultery?  Considering the free promiscuous culture these days, it is important to note here that the sin of adultery has some very bad spiritual consequences.  It is so important, that among the works that Swedenborg wrote there is one dedicated to discussing the topic of marriage - Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love.  Swedenborg had 27 years of visions of heaven and hell, and saw many, many lost souls due to the sin of adultery.

In general, a life of marriage tends to lead towards heaven, but a life of adultery leads to hell.  However, there are certain scenarios where the issue is not quite so black and white, and one should not jump to condemnation.  In fact, Swedenborg is quite rational in his viewpoints on sex and marriage, and provides advice that many religious leaders cannot.  And this advice he obtained in extensive conversations with angelic spirits, who were in the enjoyment of marriage love to eternity.

There have been discussions with the recent hack of a web site that promotes having an illicit affair, promoting the idea that "having an affair can help strengthen a marriage."  Nothing can be further from the truth.  And for consequences, people seem to only be interested in discussing the financial impact. So, from visions of heaven and hell, let's discuss the consequences of committing adultery, and why those who have no spirituality would regard it of no account.

ALL ACTIONS ARE JUDGED BY THEIR INTENT, AND ONE'S SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE

First, there are two general "spiritual laws" by which one's actions are judged:
1.  One's intent in committing the action, and
2.  One's knowledge of truth or spiritual awareness.
So let's first discuss intent.  In civil law, intent is important.  Intent governs the distinction between murder and manslaughter - was it premeditated?  As intent governs punishment in civil law, so intent governs punishment in the spiritual world.  For one's intent is governed by one's love, and one's love determines one's eternal state in the afterlife.  While in the material world people often have a habit of covering up their intent with an external facade and deception, this is not possible in the spiritual world.  All thoughts are laid bare, and shown in the light.  The evil, who seek to hide what they have done, of themselves shun God's light and seek the darkness.  In the afterlife, one's thoughts and desires becomes one's reality. But actions are governed by one's intent:
"It is to be known that the end is what determines the character of all the deeds of a man. If his end or intention is to do good for the sake of reputation, or to procure honors or gain, then the good which he does is not good, because it is done for the sake of himself, and thus also from himself. But if his end is to do good for the sake of a fellow citizen, or of his country, or of the church, thus for the sake of the neighbor, then the good which a man does is good, for it is done for the sake of good itself, which in a general sense is the real neighbor (n. 5025, 6706, 6711, 6712, 8123); and thus also it is done for the sake of the Lord, for such good is not from man, but from the Lord, and what is from the Lord is the Lord's...  From these things it is plain what it is to do good for the sake of self or the world, and what it is to do good for the sake of the Lord or the neighbor, and what the difference is between them — a difference as great as between two opposites, thus as great as between heaven and hell. Moreover they who do good for the sake of the neighbor or the Lord are in heaven; but they who do good for the sake of self and the world are in hell." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9210.1, 3)
So, discerning the moral nature of an action is governed by intent, and while we can see only the external actions, determining another person's intent is not always known to us.  Thus while someone should not jump to conclusions about someone's intent, it is a good spiritual exercise to self examine one's own intents, purpose, or end:
"If any one desires to know the ends in himself, let him attend only to the enjoyment which he perceives in himself from the praise and glory of self, and to the enjoyment which he perceives from use separate from self; if he perceives this latter enjoyment, he is then in genuine affection. He should also attend to the various states in which he is, for states themselves very much vary the perception. These things man may explore in himself, but in others he cannot, for the ends of every one's affection are known to the Lord alone. Thus the Lord said: Judge not that ye be not judged; condemn not, that ye be not condemned (Luke vi. 37); for a thousand persons may appear to be in like affection as to truth and good, and yet every one is in an affection unlike as to origin, that is, as to end." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3796.3)
The other factor to consider is the nature of one's knowledge, and one's spiritual knowledge.  Knowing and not knowing the other partner was married are two completely different matters.  Also, one's knowledge of spiritual matters governs how the action is to be judged:
"They who are without the church are in ignorance of truth and good, and those who are in ignorance may be in a kind of innocence while speaking and acting somewhat contrary to the truths and goods of faith; for they may act from a certain zeal for the worship with which they have been imbued from infancy and which they therefore believe to be true and good." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 593)
I give a general guideline here, because it is impossible to discuss every possible situation of marriage and adultery.  Everyone's situation is slightly different.

THE SPIRITUAL LEVELS OF SEXUAL MATURITY

There are two main spiritual levels of sexual maturity, and one's level will determine one's view of this matter.  They are:
1.  The love of sex, and of the other sex in general.  This is the natural love of sex.
2.  The love of one of the other sex.  This is the spiritual love of sex.
All begin in the natural love, or external love of sex.  And this can be the way love is at the beginning of a relationship.  But if the love grows spiritually, it grows into a deeper spiritual love of one of the sex.  The spiritual love of sex is hidden within the natural love of sex.  And hidden within the spiritual love of sex, are deeper levels of love - the love of heaven, the love of God.

Many, who only look at the natural desire aspect of sex, do not ever reach level 2.  If level 2 gets shut off, they can tend to develop a promiscuous sexual lifestyle.  If one remains at level 1, one may have a tendency to commit sins of fornication, which are light.  Those who are polygamists are also at level 1.  Those who remain at this level do not see the distinction between adultery, prostitution, and marriage love, and consider marriage perhaps only distinct from adultery as a matter of civil law. In many western countries this distinction has disappeared in civil law.

If one reaches level 2, and comes into a commitment of to love one of the sex, and then reverts back to level 1 - this is the sin of adultery.  One has not only betrayed their partner, but they have committed an act of profanation against that which is holy.  For hidden within marriage love is the highest love of the universe, and marriage love is the physical manifestation of it.  It is holy, for within marriage love is the generation of the entire human race, and from the human race angels are born which populate the heavenly worlds.

THE SPIRITUAL ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE LOVE AND SEX


The desire for the other sex is actually spiritual in origin.  This is one of the big surprises in the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg: they explain why humans are divided between male and female. I discussed this a bit before in previous posts: The Divine Origin of Marriage Love and Sex and The Truth of Eternal Soul Mates and Twin Flames.

There are two aspects to the Divine: Divine Love, and Divine Truth.  All things in the universe are a manifestation of the union between love and truth.  This spiritual union between love and truth is the true origin of marriage love, but this is hidden from many. Humans are a microcosm of the universe, and there are two aspects to every human: the will and the understanding.  The will is in the act of doing, and the understanding is the thought of the action.  The Divine Love flows into our will, and the Divine truth flows into our understanding.

Swedenborg explains this in detail in Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love.  He begins as follows:
"There are internal and external origins of marriage love; and the internal are many. The external likewise are many. But the inmost or universal origin of all is one. That this is the marriage of good and truth is to be shown in what now follows. That no one has hitherto deduced the origin of that love from thence is because it has been unknown that there is any union between good and truth. And the reason why this has been unknown is that good does not like truth appear in the light of the understanding; and so knowledge of it conceals itself, and it has eluded investigation. And as from this cause good is among the things unknown, no one could suspect any marriage between it and truth." (Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, n. 83) 
Just as good, or the will, hides itself from the understanding, so women never explain why they behave in certain ways to men. Swedenborg also exposes the secret ways women control men.

Males have a tendency to be rational and intellectual.  Their physical form is an aspect of Divine truth. Females have a tendency to be volitional, and in the affection of the intellect, and are thus forms of Divine love.  As love and truth are always constantly desiring to become one, this is the spiritual origin of marriage love between a man and a woman.  Marriage love is holy, because in the human microcosm it is a representation of the covenant relationship between the Lord and His Church, and with all humanity.  The Lord is the husband and master, the Church is the bride of Christ.

This is Divine order, and adultery goes against this Divine order. It is severely punished in the afterlife.  As it is a representation of the relationship between the Lord and the Church, it is especially forbidden in Christianity.  One can measure the decline in spirituality by measuring how distant one has moved away from marriage love, to the love of adultery.  The more one shuns adultery, the closer one moves toward marriage, and vice versa.

THE SPIRITUAL VISIONS OF THE HELLS OF ADULTERERS

The reality is humans can be good or evil, and in the afterlife there are separate places for both.  Everyone, in a sense, creates their own reality in the afterlife - it is a reflection of one's desires and thoughts.  In hell, there is one law: those who are in evil are in the punishment of their evil.  These punishments continue until they desist.  The punishments are designed to make them from falling into a worse state. In heaven are those who are in the enjoyment of love towards others, and love towards God.  Those who are in hell are in utter hatred towards those in heaven, and the hell of adulterers are particularly severe.  For those who have been exposed as adulterers, its not going to make them feel particularly any better.  If the hack felt like a stone, this is going to feel like a crushing boulder. But better to correct it now, then to be too late.

One man, who regarded adulteries as nothing, began to approach heaven in the afterlife, and was rejected:
"One was admitted to the first threshold of heaven, because he strongly desired it, who in the life of the body made light of adulteries. As soon as he came he began to feel distressed, and to be sensible of his own stench, like that of a dead carcase, until he could not bear it. It seemed to him that if he went further he would perish. He was therefore cast down thence to the lower earth, angry that when he came to but the first threshold of heaven he should be in such torment, because he came into a sphere opposed to adulteries. He is among the unhappy." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 539)
Here is a particularly bad description of the hell of those who seduce married wives, how they have no conscience:
"Those who ensnare by pretended regard for marriage love and love for children, so deporting themselves that the husband shall have no suspicion but that his guests are chaste, guileless, and friendly, and under such and various other pretences the more safely commit adultery, are in a hell under the buttocks, in the filthiest excrement; and are wasted until they become as bones, because they are among the deceitful. Such do not even know what conscience is. I have talked with them, and they were surprised that any one should have conscience and should say that adulteries are against conscience." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 827)
If that hell sounds bad, its about to get worse. Back in the 18th century Swedenborg began to see this hell increasing, especially from the Christian world:
"It is remarkable that those who were cruel in the life of the body were also, more than others, adulterers. Such are those who are in this hell. Unspeakable methods of cruelty are practised there. By their fantasies they make themselves vessels as for braying, like those used for braying herbs, and pestles, wherewith they bray and torture whomsoever they can; and also as it were broad axes, like those of executioners; and augers, with which they do cruel violence to one another; besides other dreadful things. Some of the Jews are there who in former times so cruelly treated the Gentiles. And at this day that hell is increasing, especially from those who come from the so called Christian world and have had all the enjoyment of their life in adulteries, who also are for the most part cruel. Sometimes their enjoyment is turned into the stench of human excrement, which exhales excessively when that hell is opened. I perceived it in the world of spirits, and at the time almost fell into a swoon from the effect of it. This noisome, excrementitious smell by turns fills the hell, and by turns ceases. It is their enjoyment from adulteries which is turned into such offensiveness. In process of time, when they have passed through a given period in such things, they are left alone and sit in torment, becoming like unsightly skeletons, but still living." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 824)
The hack of the web site exposed that 80-90% of the clients were men. The rest women. This means the women had the opportunity of many more encounters, and one confessed to a news site she had about 50 encounters, many of them with married men. What happens to women who engage in adultery? Here is one description:
"In the plane of the soles of the feet, at a considerable distance forward, is a hell which is called Gehenna, where are shameless women who have placed all their enjoyment in adulteries, and regarded adulteries as not only permissible but reputable, and who under various pretences of uprightness have allured the guileless and innocent to such things. A kind of fiery glow as it were appears there, such as overcasts the sky from a great conflagration; and it is attended with fiery heat, as it was given me to feel by the warmth from it on my face; and there is a stench exhaled therefrom, as from burning of bones and hair. Sometimes this hell is changed into dreadful serpents, which bite them; and then they long for death, but cannot die. Certain women released therefrom came to me and said there was a fiery heat there; and that when they are allowed to draw near to any society of good spirits the heat is changed to intense cold; and then burning heat and cold alternate with them, from one extreme to the other, and thereby they are miserably tormented. But yet they have their intervals during which they are in the heat of their fiery lust. But, as was said, their states vary." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 825)
A society in which marriage is disregarded and adultery is accepted, leads to shameless behavior and jealousy among women. Everyone begins to distrust the other.  See The Jealousy of Beauty among Women.  Physically attractive women tend to get ostracized from society.

I can go on about these hells, its a bit depressing, but seeing its become so accepted in society I thought it would be good to put fair warning out there considering all the permissiveness.  But one last passage, not exactly on adultery, but concerning men who entertain lustful and disrespectful thoughts concerning women:
"There are also boys, youths, and young men who from the folly and fierce desire of their age conceived abominable principles — as that wives, especially those who are young and beautiful, ought not to be for a husband, but for themselves and their like, the husband remaining only head of the household and educator of the children. These are distinguished in the other life by the boyish sound of their speech. They are behind at some height there. Those of them who have confirmed themselves in such principles, and in actual life conformable thereto, are grievously punished in the other life, by having their joints put out of place and back again, or twisted one way and the other, by spirits who can by their art induce upon them the fantasy of being in the body, and at the same time a bodily sense of pain. By these violent alternations, together with their struggles in resistance, they are so rent that they seem to themselves as if dismembered and torn to bits, with frightful pain; and this time after time, until struck with horror at such principles of life they cease to think in that way." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 829)
EXCEPTIONS TO THE CONDEMNATION OF ADULTERY

One thing I did not mention here, is that there are valid reasons why a married couple should divorce. Adultery is one of them.  And depending on the reason for the divorce, one can find a subsequent partner and experience true marriage love.

There are particular situations, where if infidelity is uncovered, it is still better to remain married for the sake of the children - a divorce would be too damaging to them. In these particular cases, especially if the man has discovered his wife to be unfaithful, separation of bed may be advisable while putting up the appearance of a continued marriage.  If this last several years, this is a special situation where it may be permissible for one to have a mistress, as long as the separation of bed is permanent.  While others may think this is adultery, its not - so not all are to be harshly judged if exposed.

Similar situations can arise if one's partner is mentally ill, or develops a physical illness, and cannot fulfill one's marital duties.  There are abusive partners where it is not really a marriage. So, everyone's case is different.  These situations are discussed in more detail in Swedenborg's work, Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love.  Not everything is black and white - there are spiritual laws of permission, where the lesser evil is chosen, to prevent one from falling into a worse state.

It is not good to keep infidelity hidden.  It is better to be honest with oneself, and honest with one's partner.  Don't let a hidden problem fester.  This kind of behavior tends to be addictive, and most avoid admitting fault and correcting it.  Better to do it now, than to be too late.

In all of this, remember one thing: Life is eternal. Stay with the one you truly love.

A DIALOGUE WITH AN ANGEL CONCERNING THE END OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

If the sin of adultery is regarded as nothing, and marriages as nothing, it is a sign that the Christian church has come to its end.  I thought I would include this short dialogue Swedenborg had with an angel, who showed how religion and marriage love are directly related:
"Again I asked the angel:—"Why did you say that those who are there are spiritual and natural adulterers? Why not say evil doers and impious?"
He replied:—"Because all who regard adulteries as of no account, that is who believe from confirmation that they are not sins, and so do them of set purpose, are evil doers and impious in their heart. For the human conjugiale and religion go together at every step. Every advance, even every step from religion and in religion is also an advance and step from the conjugiale and in the conjugiale that is peculiar to the Christian man."
To the question;—"What is this conjugiale?" he said:—"It is the desire of living with one only wife. And it is in the Christian man according to his religion."
After these experiences I was grieved in spirit that marriages, which in the ancient ages were most holy, are so hopelessly changed into adulteries.
And the angel said:—"It is the same with religion at the present day; for the Lord says,—At the consummation of the age there shall be the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. . . . And there shall be great affliction, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world" (Matt. xxiv. 15, 21). 'The abomination of desolation' signifies the falsification and deprivation of all truth; 'affliction' signifies the state of the church infested by evils and falsities; and 'the consummation of the age' of which these things are predicated, signifies the last time or end of the church. The end is now; because there is no truth left that is not falsified,—and falsification of truth is spiritual whoredom, which acts as one with natural whoredom, for they are closely connected." (Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, n. 81)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Spiritual Symbolism of the Right Hand




The true spiritual meaning of scripture is hidden from many, and if certain passages are taken literally they can draw false doctrines from it.  Scripture was written from those who had visions, and in visions spiritual truths are shown in symbolic form in ways that humans can understand.  And this is one of the reasons why there are different religions, for in different dispensations of Divine Revelation, the Divine truth is adapted to the culture of the people receiving it.  The true revelation of the internal spiritual meaning of scripture was revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century, and it is this revelation which is the Second Coming so many Christians are waiting for - and they have not yet realized it.

THE PROBLEM

For this particular post I want to concentrate on the symbolism of the right hand.  The reason for this, is that it is imperative to understand this symbolism in order to under who Jesus Christ really is.  After he rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven:
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)
The gospels of Matthew and Luke also declare Jesus would be seated at the right of power (Matt. 26:64, Luke 22:69).  In the book of Acts, the apostle Stephen had a vision which shows Jesus clearly seated at the right hand of God:
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55-56)
Paul would also declare multiple times Jesus was seated at the right hand (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1, Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2) - as he was the one who oversaw the stoning of Stephen right after he had this vision.  It is also mentioned once by Peter (1 Pet. 3:22).  Moreover, all three gospels contain a quote from Jesus of Psalm 110:1, and Jesus quotes it to demonstrate to the Jews their confusion about the identity of the Jewish Messiah or the Christ:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.  (Matt. 22:41-46)
Even back then, this raised a problem for the Jews. For there are many prophecies that declare that the Messiah would be born of king David, and some prophecies refer to the Messiah simply as "David."  And yet if Jesus is simply a son of David, he would not be calling the Messiah his Lord in Psalm 110.

Psalm 110:1 literally says, "Jehovah said unto my Lord" - where Lord is the Hebrew word Adonai which refers to the Messiah or Christ.  So is the Messiah another being seated at God's right hand?  Then what do we do about this passage:
Thus saith Jehovah the King of Israel, and his redeemer Jehovah of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isa. 44:6)
Which means there is no other Divine being seated besides the one true God.  And the other interesting point here is that here, as well as many other passages, declare that only Jehovah is the true King and redeemer, not another person distinct from Jehovah.  And yet in the New Testament, Jesus is called King and redeemer.

OTHER INTERPRETATIONS OF THE RIGHT HAND

So if Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, does this mean that the Messiah or Jesus is a separate personality from Jehovah?  And if separate, Jesus should not be worshiped? For surely God is one?  If interpreted literally, there are two ways to go with it.  One view sees it as blatant support for the doctrine of the Trinity which seeks to divide God into three separate distinct beings, yet declare with the mouth that "God is one" despite having three distinct beings in the mind.  The other view - that of Arians or Jehovah Witnesses - sees Jesus as some sort of avatar or high angel that was created before the universe, who is separate and distinct from God Himself.

This is a very good example of symbolism - presented in a vision - when taken literally leads to confusion and falsehood.  On the one hand you have many supporting the doctrine of a trinity of three persons, on the other hand many who see Jesus as an avatar, high angel, or simply a prophet.

If we take a survey of how this is interpreted, one comes across some simplistic solutions.  For example, take this one: Is Jesus literally seated on the throne at God's right hand?. The author comes close to the truth when he says this:
The "right hand" is the place of honor (1Ki.2:19Matt.20:21-23; cf. Matt.25:33-3426:64)
This is close - for there is this long standing tradition, where to be seated on the right hand is the highest place of honor.  But why is this so? Why is the right hand a place of honor?  This ancient tradition was actually instituted from things originally seen in vision, but this is something that is not generally known.  It still leaves the meaning unanswered. The author comes close to the truth with this statement, but then makes the following error based on a literal interpretation:

So, yes, Jesus is literally seated with the Father, at the right hand of the Father, but He is sharing the throne (in the chariot with the Father) rather than sitting beside it (cf. Rev.5:6: "the Lamb standing in the center of the throne") 
We also have the other problem, is Jesus beside the throne, or actually sitting on it? The author commits another error:
God's residence in heaven is temporary - earth is the original place of His rule over creation (Ezek.28:13-14; cf. The Satanic Rebellion, Part 1), and the final place of God's residence along with all the redeemed will likewise be the new earth (Rev.1:821:3; and passim in Rev.21-22).
The error comes from literally interpreting "earth" as our material earth or globe, which is not the spiritual meaning.  In scripture, the spiritual meaning of "earth" is the church, or those who are in good and truth.  But the residence of God in heaven is by no means temporary - there is an eternal conjunction between the spiritual world and the outer material creation.  This statement comes from interpreting other passages literally - where it is expected that the Lord will come down out of heaven and literally rule over the earth in the physical world.  But this is an error, drawn from interpreting scripture in a very literal manner, according to what one sees with the eyes.

Better, we have a more correct explanation of the right hand from here: Right hand of God - Let us reason ministries.  Here are some quotes:
"To sit at ones right hand means a place of authority, it was a place of honor it meant dignity and rulership. Throughout the O.T there is used what are called anthropomorphism to describe God in some function or characteristic. this is figurative language describing a certain characteristic of God it is describing his divine actions from a human view point."
"Their are examples of his arm which was a symbol of his power. the arm was used as the agency of strength, when the Bible refers the arm of the Lord it is consistently about the son, as God reaches into the Earth to do his work. Ex.6:6 the Lord redeemed Israel "with an outstretched arm." Isa.53:1 " to who has the arm of the Lord been revealed." Isa.63:5 "therefore my own arm brought salvation for me. Also in like manner his hand is used to most often symbolize an activity of service."
"The term at the right hand of God points to his exalted position he now is active on. There is numerous things that need to be considered to understand this phrase. The phrase right hand is a metaphor, God exercises his authority by his right hand."
After reading through it, I realized this web site is actually from a Pentecostal or "Oneness" church, which does not subscribe to the doctrine of a trinity of three persons.  Their doctrine is quite similar to that of the New Church, but many Pentecostals are unaware of the revelations received by Emanuel Swedenborg.

THE SYMBOLISM OF ARM OR HAND - POWER


That hand or arm symbolizes power is confirmed by Swedenborg, who references several passages:
"The reason why all things of the arm correspond to power, is that the body exercises its power by them. From this may be evident what is signified by sitting on the right hand, in Matthew: Jesus saith unto him . . . Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power (xxvi. 64); and in Luke: From henceforth shall the Son of Man be seated at the right hand of the power of God (xxii. 69) — that is, the omnipotence which is the Lord's; wherefore it is said, at the right hand of power — as also in David: Thou hast a mighty arm, strong is Thy hand, and high is Thy right hand (Vs. lxxxix. 13). From this it is manifest what light is given in the Word by the internal sense, for unless it were thereby known that by the right hand is signified power, it would be understood according to the letter of the words, that the Lord would sit on the right hand of Jehovah." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 7518)
Right hand signifies eminent power, and in reference to God, omnipotence:
"Thy right hand, O Jehovah, is become glorious in power. That this signifies that the omnipotence of the Lord was shown, is evident from the signification of the right hand of Jehovah, as omnipotence, of which in what follows; and from the signification of, is become glorious in power, as, that it was shown, for Divine power is shown by the strength by which it becomes glorious. That the right hand of Jehovah is omnipotence, is because by hand in the Word is signified power, and thus by right hand, eminent power. Therefore when the hand or right hand is said of Jehovah, it means Divine power, or omnipotence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8281)
APPEARANCES OF SPACE IN HEAVEN


Understanding the symbolism of right and left is harder.  In the spiritual world, there is no space, and appearances of space and their position is according to state.  In the last judgment, the righteous are said to be placed at God's "right" and the evil on God's "left" (Matt. 25).  It is from this spiritual appearance in heaven, and from visions, that the right hand became a place of honor and dignity.  Swedenborg directly saw this in his visions:
"As regards the situation in which spirits in the world of spirits and angels of heaven are — at the right of the Lord are angels, on the left are evil spirits, in front are those of a middle kind, at the back are the malignant, above the head are those of a lofty spirit who aspire to high things, under the feet are hells which correspond to those that are on high. Thus all are in their situation in relation to the Lord; in all directions and at all altitudes, in a horizontal plane and in a vertical, and in every oblique direction. Their situation is constant, and does not change to eternity. The heavens there constitute as it were one man, which is therefore called the Greatest Man; to which all things that are in a man correspond." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1276)
Swedenborg saw God as not something abstract as many religions do, but as a Divine Man.  This again is an appearance, as God is outside time and space, but it is only through the image of a Divine Man that anyone can approach the Divine itself.  Without such an image, there can be no idea of God in our mind.  God is not just love itself, He is a personal being who loves all. All of heaven subsists from this Divine Man, and one's apparent position in heaven will be according to one's state:
"...heaven is so ordered by the Lord as to represent Man, whence it is called the Greatest Man; and that in consequence every thing in man corresponds thereto; that man, without influx therefrom into every thing in him, can not subsist even a moment; that all in the Greatest Man hold a constant situation according to the quality and state of truth and good in which they are; that situation there is not situation, but state, and therefore those appear constantly at the left who are at the left, those at the right who are at the right, in front those who are in front, behind those who are behind, in the plane of the head, the breast, the back, the loins, and the feet, above the head and below the soles of the feet, directly and obliquely, and at a less or greater distance, those who are there, however and to whatever quarter the spirit turns himself; that the Lord as the Sun appears constantly to the right, and there at a medium altitude, a little above the plane of the right eye; and that all things there have relation to the Lord as the Sun and Centre, and thus to their only one, from which they exist and subsist, and since all appear before the Lord constantly in their situation according to their states of good and truth, they therefore appear in the same manner to every one, for the reason that the Lord's life, and accordingly the Lord, is in all who are in heaven" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4321)
THE SYMBOLISM OF RIGHT AND LEFT


But what about right and left?  We call people "righteous" which is related to the word "right", and the direction "right" is also related to right and wrong in the English language.  The origin of this is actually spiritual:
""And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left" signifies separation according to truths from good, and according to falsities from evil. They who are in truths from good, in the other life, actually appear to the right, and they who are in falsities from evil to the left. Hence to be set on the right hand and on the left, is to be arranged according to life." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4809)
The reason for this distinction between right and left is hinted at in the original Hebrew.  The Hebrew word yamiyn means both "right" and "south."  This perhaps originates from facing east, towards the rising sun - one's right hand then faces south.  In heaven, one's station as to north, south, east or west is also according to one's state:
"There are four states to which the four quarters in the world, namely, the east, the west, the south, and the north, correspond. The east corresponds to a state of good in its rising, the west to a state of good in its decline; the south corresponds to a state of truth in its light, but the north to a state of truth in shade (n. 3708). The state of good to which the east corresponds, and the state of truth to which the south corresponds, are interior states; and the state of good to which the west corresponds, and the state of truth to which the north corresponds, are exterior; for the more interior any state is, the more perfect it is; and the more exterior it is, the more imperfect, and therefore the more obscure." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9648)
Without understanding the spiritual sense, one can never understand the spiritual meaning of east, west, north, and south, and anyone reading scripture without knowledge of the spiritual world would never know there was something hidden behind these words.  North and south correspond to left and right, and as all are judged according to the Divine truth, the good an evil are so arranged on the right or left. 

THE IDENTITY OF JESUS CHRIST


All power in heaven is from Divine truth, and as the south or right signifies truth, so "right hand" signifies all power.  To "sit on the right hand" is the same as to have all power, thus Jesus said:
All power is given unto me in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18)
Only one person has all power in heaven and earth, and that is Jehovah. The meaning of this is that after the resurrection, the human that Jehovah had assumed had become glorified, and glorified to the point where it was completely united with the Divine. And one hidden truth is that once glorified, Jesus was no longer the son of Mary.  During his life his external form was that of any other man, but his internal soul was Divine:
"The interiors with Him were Divine, from Jehovah His Father; the exteriors were human, from Mary His mother." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1460)
"But the Lord wholly exterminated His first rational, so that nothing of it remained; for what is merely human cannot be together with the Divine. Hence He was no longer the son of Mary, but Jehovah as to each Essence." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2657.)
And that is why it is said all power was "given" to him - not to another person, but rather Jehovah had expelled the natural human he inherited from the human mother Mary and put on a glorified body from the Divine, that had all Divine power.  And this is the hidden meaning behind Jesus quote of Psalm 110:1 - for once He rose from the dead, he was no longer the son of Mary, nor a son of David, bur rather the Divine Human or the God Man. That this was rejected early on, even in the church, is signified by the following prophecy:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the false image of the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)
The "lamb of God" is the Divine Human, to be slain is to be rejected, and the "foundation of the world" is the foundation of the Christian Church.  For early on not only did the Jews reject Jesus, but even within the church they divided Jesus into a perpetual Divine and human nature, not understanding that His very human was made Divine. For the true Trinity is not that of three persons, but rather the Divine itself (the Father), the Divine Human (the Son) and the Divine proceeding (the Holy Spirit). All of this exists in one person, Jesus Christ - the "arm of Jehovah" (Isa. 51:9).