"The Lord regards nothing else in a person but the person's aim or purpose. Whatever the thoughts and deeds may be, varying
in countless ways, they are all good provided the purpose is good. But if the end in view is bad, they are all bad.
. . . . A person's aim is his very life."
Emanuel Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia, from paragraph 1317
"Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil. Man does not know this while he is living in the world, but nevertheless
as to his spirit he is in some society; otherwise he cannot live... If he is in an infernal society he can only be led
out of it by the Lord according to the laws of His Divine Providence, one of which is that he must see that he is there,
must desire to go out and must himself endeavour to do this of himself. This he can do while he is in the world, but not
after death, for then he remains to eternity in the society in which he has placed himself while in the world. This is
the reason why man is to examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins and repent, and afterwards persevere right on to
the end of his life."
Emanuel Swedenborg: Divine Providence 278:6
A UNIVERSAL AND WHOLISTIC SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY
It is well recognised and accepted today by people everywhere that life is multifaceted and very complex. There are no easy
answers for coming to terms with who we really are, or with the purpose of our life, or with our various relationships,
let alone the bigger questions concerning a Divine Being and the spiritual domain. What we can sense is that all these
issues are interconnected and any degree of understanding will only come as the larger picture emerges.
The spiritual philosophy in Swedenborg's writings draws together the many and varied dimensions to life in a universal and
wholistic way at both the micro and macro levels; universal in the sense that it has application for every individual
in whatever circumstances they find themselves, wholistic through the drawing together of the many aspects in a way
that each supports the other. The atom exists through a complex interrelationship of energy forces and the same pattern applies
at the level of the human mind.
This summary is simply an outline of some of the basic concepts analysed by Swedenborg, each of which relate to the whole.
Divine Love and Wisdom continuously creating and maintaining
what is created
The Divine Itself is the unity of love and wisdom. Whilst in reality
one does not exist without the other, our intellectual mind
sees them as distinct. Divine Love, being the very substance
of creation, is invisible; Divine Wisdom, which gives form
and direction to Divine Love, is visible in what is created.
United Love and Wisdom is not static but a source of power
which continually creates and sustains what it has created.
The closest example that we have in this world is through
the heat and light of the sun acting together and providing
the power for sustaining natural life. The Divine is outside
the constraints of space and time, which exist only in this
natural realm, and our own reflecting on the Divine nature
must recognise that this is so.
We are each a unique soul receiving and responding to
the Divine Life which animates us.
We are finite spiritual beings born with a material body in
order to function in this natural world. As a unique soul
formed at the time of conception, we each continuously receive
the Divine Life of Love and Wisdom enabling us to live as
feeling and thinking beings. As the highest form in creation,
we have the ability to reason and make choices about spiritual
matters as if we had our own life. The true person - the spirit
- is immortal and on discarding the material body we become
fully conscious of the spiritual realm. The qualities of love
and related intelligence - our ruling love - that we have
made our own in this world remain with us and become the basis
for our spiritual development to eternity.
We are constantly under positive and negative influences
from the spiritual realm
As spiritual beings living in the worldly plane of existence,
our internal minds are open to both positive and negative
influences from spirits in the same way that our conscious
minds are directly affected by our external circumstances.
These influences - positive from spirits in heavenly states
and negative from those in hellish states - are kept in equilibrium
by the Lord to preserve our freedom. As part of the total
mind processes, the spiritual influences filter into our consciousness
and impinge on our choice processes. But we need to become
aware of them, especially the subtle and persuasive hellish
influences, and only take on board those influences for good
in our decision making if we want to be in tune with the Divine
to achieve lasting spiritual growth.
The Divine constantly works in every detail of life according to spiritual laws that look to our eternal
Just as this world operates in accordance with natural, scientific,
laws which apply consistently and coherently, so there are
corresponding laws which govern all aspects of our spiritual
life. These laws are the Divine Providence in action, which
has for its end the eternal happiness of every person. The
purpose of our existence here is to become sensitive to the
Divine Will and act in ways that are harmonious with the laws
of Providence. When we do live in accord with the Divine plan,
as we understand it to be, our lives will be blessed ultimately,
if not at once. Yet, even if we do act contrary to them, the
Lord works untiringly giving us countless opportunities to
return to the stream of Providence. In this world we always
remain open to the possibility of misfortune but that will
not be detrimental to our eternal welfare if we respond positively
to these apparently adverse circumstances.
We cannot always choose what happens to us; we can choose how we respond to it
We are all creatures of our heredity and environment. The
worldly life of most people is determined by circumstances
outside of their own immediate control - the law, governments
and social expectations all impinge. Nevertheless, our internal
response to such circumstances is something over which we
have total control.
The God-given gift of freedom to choose rationally how we
will act and react in any given situation remains available
to us at all times unless our mental capacity becomes impaired,
at which time we are no longer responsible spiritually and
our eternal welfare is protected by God.
All of these internal choices placed before us are character
building and we gradually build up the type of person we want
A purifying process which through an inner struggle to
overcome selfish motives we can enjoy the peace
and joy of the Divine within
The whole purpose of our life in this realm of existence is
to grow spiritually and achieve a transformation of our inner
self - a lifetime of choices and change! We are born with
inclinations towards selfishness - clearly displayed in early
childhood behaviour - which if left to develop unchecked will
eventually dominate our whole being and motivation. We can
do something about it.
Temptations - the inner struggle of choosing between higher
and lower motives - are very much part of the process even
being something we should expect and welcome. Nature is full
of examples of beauty and perfection coming through struggle;
it is the same spiritually. We may only just begin the process
here, but in doing so we will engage in dynamic and expanding
awareness and growth patterns to eternity.
Through loving what is good and true and applying in life our understanding of it for the eternal welfare of others
All health and disease have spiritual origins. Bodily ill health often appears to result solely from external reasons
but nothing in this material world exists which does not have
a spiritual cause and connection. The spiritual plane is the
plane of causes, the physical one is the plane of effects.
Thus, all types of disease are caused by states of evil and
falsity either coming from specific spiritual states within
us or from the general causes of evil inflowing into the world.
Irrespective of our bodily condition, we are in a state of
spiritual health when our mind or spirit is in the love of
what is good and truth - those things which bring us lasting
delight and thoughts we love to dwell on. If we are caught
up in fear, worry, hatred, greed, lust for power, revenge,
and so on we are in spiritual ill health.
Spiritual health automatically involves our own personal growth
and a genuine concern for the welfare of others which, in
turn, brings inner peace, humility and joy - spiritual riches
The Divine reveals Itself through the imagery of sacred
scriptures and in the functioning of created forms
"God" has always provided communication with men and women both by divine revelation and through nature.
Without direct revelation we cannot know of, or acknowledge,
the existence of a Divine Creator. Sacred scriptures, especially
the Word, give us this knowledge even if rather obscurely
at times until we accept them in a psychospiritual framework
concerned with our inner world - spiritual truths contained
symbolically within natural images and stories.
This relationship between the outer and inner worlds also
applies to nature, being the result of the continuous divine
creative process. The functioning and usefulness of each individual
part reflects the love and wisdom of the Divine so that through
an understanding of how the material world operates we can
gain insights into the nature of the Divine.