Sunday, December 28, 2014
What does it mean spiritually that the universe is expanding at the speed of light from all points in space?
Physicist discovered something very surprising about the big bang theory and the expansion of the universe. As part of the big bang theory physicist observed that space was expanding, but didn’t know at what rate. In the 80’s a great physicist devised an experiment to determine the rate of expansion of the universe. The test used light from supernovas, and the scientists were very confident in the results. But the evidence produced a result they didn’t expect.
They expected to find that the expansion of the universe was slowing down, but instead found that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. They also made another very interesting discovery. The universe does not expand from one central point as one might expect, but it expands from everywhere. ‘Atlas of the Universe’ reports:
There is no centre of the expansion, the universe is simply expanding at all points. Observers in any galaxy see most of the other galaxies in the universe moving away from them.
The only answer to the question "Where did the Big Bang happen?" is that it occured everywhere in the Universe (http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/bigbang.html).
One of the great challenges of astronomy and astrophysics is distance measurement over the vast distances of the universe. Since the 1990s it has become apparent that type Ia supernovae offer a unique opportunity for the consistent measurement of distance out to perhaps 1000 Mpc. Measurement at these great distances provided the first data to suggest that the expansion rate of the universe is actually accelerating. That acceleration implies an energy density that acts in opposition to gravity which would cause the expansion to accelerate. This is an energy density which we have not directly detected observationally and it has been given the name "dark energy" (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/univacc.html).
In this article I will meditate on how these scientific theories might be interpreted using correspondences.
The universe is simply expanding at all points. Swedenborg writes that every person or angel in heaven is a heaven in them self. They are a form of heaven, and as such possess a fully unique selfhood and agency from their own perspective that is useful and meaningful in relation to everything else. Every angel is a heaven because every angel is a microcosm of the grand man, the divine human. The creature (finite humans) are imbued with the qualities of the creator (infinite divine human), because it is a universal principle that the form and nature of God is reflected in everything he creates. Since God has infinite creative power and agency, each human is imbued with personal will and understanding, and useful attributes, and freedom.
That the Divine is the same in things greatest and least, may be shown by means of heaven and by means of an angel there. The Divine in the whole heaven and the Divine in an angel is the same; therefore even the whole heaven may appear as one angel. So is it with the church, and with a man of the church. The greatest form receptive of the Divine is the whole heaven together with the whole church; the least is an angel of heaven and a man of the church. Sometimes an entire society of heaven has appeared to me as one angel-man; and it was told that it may appear like a man as large as a giant, or like a man as small as an infant; and this, because the Divine in things greatest and least is the same (79, DWL).
If we consider that there is correspondence between everything in heaven and everything in nature, and that everything in heaven is imbued with intrinsic life from the lord, then it makes sense that every point in space would have a similar ‘soverienty’. In Arcana Celestia makes this point very clearly: “The whole of heaven is such that every one is so to speak the focal point of all, for he is the focal point of influxes coming through the heavenly form from all. Consequently the image of heaven is reproduced in everyone, making him a likeness of heaven and so a human being;”. This sovereignty or focal point in heaven (Which can be expressed anywhere and everywhere) manifests by correspondence in the material world of nature as ‘the universe expanding from every point’. Furthermore, Swedenborg writes that, “unless there has been a certain free will in all created things, both animate and inanimate, there could have been no creation” (TCR 499). Free will in all created things is the soverignty that corresponds to the universe expanding from every point. Every person, spirit, and angel is tethered to the Lord like a spoke on a wheel, and recieves their soverignty as a gift of freedom from the Lord. There is a story in the Bible which expresses this principle: the Lord tells the story of the Shepard that seeks to protect the one stray sheep just as much as He would a hundred sheep, it is expressing the unlimited value that is in the one, and the unlimited value in the whole.
According to the scientific theory stated above the universe is expanding primarily by galaxy clusters. I talked to two physics grade students at Cal Berkeley and they gave me a more organic understanding of how physicist see this. They explained that scientist believe it is not just that galaxies clusters are the only thing expanding, even though that is all they can observe; theoretically everything is expanding, even a basketball, because its space is expanding, but it is so miniscule it is unobservable. They said that the universe is so immense they cannot observe the expansion in our solar system or even our galaxy, but the same principle applies within our solar system and galaxy. They can only calculate the expansion by the red light put out by supernova’s in deep space.
In the above we mostly considered the correspondence in regard to living angels, but it is important to consider that infinite variety and sovereignty is also expressed in material things:
The Divine is also the same in the greatest and in the least of all created things that are not alive; for it is in all the good of their use. These, moreover, are not alive for the reason that they are not forms of life but forms of uses; and the form varies according to the excellence of the use. (80, DLW).
This is important because it helps us see why sovereignty and expansion are in things alive and in material things, though the material world is a much lesser or remote expression of the richness of life in the spiritual world. In the principle of uses we can see the infinite variety, and the soveringty in humans and all material things. It is easy to see use in people because the human form is the highest form in all creation, and each person has a unique use for others, but everything that exists in nature also has use in the universe. Swedenborg demonstrates how everything that has use has an aura or energy field that proceeds from it because of its use, which corresponds to the aura that surrounds humans, and at the highest the Holy sphere that proceeds from the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun. Our most direct way of understanding this from our own experience is in the way love, affection, and feelings radiate from our heart and body. It is only possible to express affections from a body. From the essence in the living body or inanimate object proceeds an aura, because everything in nature exists from the effect of its first cause in heaven, and everything exists from use. Science has shown there is an aura around plants, and even around things as inert as rocks. The aura proceeds from unique use, which is an expression of the soveringty in all things. In the light of this one could see how the principle of the universe expanding from all points applies to the things of nature. The nature of the divine human is infinite variety, and there are no two things in all the universe that are exactly alike and never will be.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
A good friend of mine and I visited a comic store resently. He is a genuine geek in the best sense. He is young, good at tech, super knowledgable about comics and super-heroes; he is not very athletic, raps about Christian faith and things like pokeman, and plays a weekly dungeons and dragons game. He does funny things like let his wonderful blind friend cut his hair and then later asks me, “how does it really look?” (not good).
At the comic store there was a young black guy that was very friendly and super geeky. You could easliy tell because he was in deep, serious discussion with a girl there about Superman and Batman. I posed a question to them about somethng I was wondering about; so they both could hear I asked, “What is the force that gives superman the propulsion to fly?” They both with great enthusiasm began conjecturing on the answer to this in a way that took me completely out of the conversation, which was fine with me, because I delighted in watching their excitement and ideas. They came up with something like this: On Kripton the inhabitants have a much greater density in their body and thus greater strength, especially those who are born to be warriors. Kripton is a much harsher planet and has a higher force of gravity making their bodies stronger. On earth superman's body has the capacity to drink in the suns rays at a very high level because his boy is highly attuned to it from being on Kripton and our sun is younger and stronger; plus our gravity is less. This combination of factors exponentially increases the power in his body to the point he can effect the micro-climate of the gravity in the air moluclues around him. The power in his body, which is attached to his will, taps into the atomic energy in the atoms in the air around him. He effects the wave/partical nature in the atoms to become momentarily more wavelike. This suspends gravity before him and allows him to draw on the unaffected air around him to propel himself.
I thought this was a pretty amazing explanation and very believable. My mind being atuned to Christ allegories this explanation reminded me of a couple of episodes in the gospels. In Gosthemane when Jesus is betrayed and the soldiers are about to take him he turns to them and they all fall back to the ground. It is as if he flexed he power of divine truth within him and the power of it sent hem falling. He could do that at any time, but he only did when it was necessary. Similarly after he announced he is the Messiah in the sinogogue and the people in a rage walked him down to the cliff to throw him over, he turned and they all of a sudden were powerless and he walked through them and was gone.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
The Biblical theme of the Captives in movies, such as the 'Matrix', 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe', and 'The Lord of the Rings'
The Theme of the Captives. This major Biblical theme is repeated in movies and goes mostly unnoticed, at least as a Biblical theme, yet it is repeated over and over; which makes it more likely that is unconsciously told. This theme is a manifestation of the profound inner need to find redemption, especially from the trauma of injustice and being made blind to the truth of what is happening. In the matrix, we see that the basis of the story is that humans have been captured by the machines and they are being used as energy pods, and this has gone on for centuries. They are only released when Neo frees them all by defeating the evil agents and the machines. In the Bible this theme takes place at the flood, the incarnation, and at the second coming. At each of these times evil forces have over accumulated on earth and have over run the first level of heaven, and by so doing have trapped many of the good and innocent in their hell, or suedo-heaven. The Lord by his might and judgement, in different ways comes and frees them. Scripture refers to this when it speaks of how Christ descended to the hells and freed all the good people trapped there by the evil forces. This situation is also described by the parable of the wheat and the chaff. The meaning of this parable is that the good people who have been trapped by the evil must stay there until Christ comes to set all things right. We replay this theme in movies, because it is an archetype of trauma and redemption in the human psyche. Christ came when He did for the purpose of overcoming the immense forces of evil which had accumulated on earth because these forces threatened to consume humankind in darkness forever. In his life the Lord was continuously victorious against all temptations and attacks on him from evil forces, and by so doing he subjugated all the hells. These battles and victories of the Lord are spoken of in many places by the prophets and the in the New Testament, especially Isaiah, the Psalms, and in Revelation.
The theme of releasing those who have become captives of the evil is in many great movies, often in more than one way. We see it in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when Aragorn dares to venture into the land of the dead where all the ghost figures are trapped by a curse. Aragorn seeks to recruit them to join their great dire battle. When Aragorn demonstrated his kingly courage to the cursed throng and its leader, they realize they can redeem their life by fighting with him. They fight well for him and are released from the dark cave regain their full human nature.
We also see in the great story, ‘The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe’ (and each of the other Narnia stories) the theme of the release of the captives. In this movie the witch turns people and talking animals into stone. In her huge ice mansion she has hundreds of talking animals and creatures that she has turned to stone. After the Narnians defeat the queen in a great battle, Aslan comes and breaths on the statues which are then released from their trapped state and rejoice in being reunited with their people. In this movie the same theme is also demonstrated by the fact that the whole land is released from perpetual snow caused by the evil queen for the last 100 years.
This theme comes into play several times in Narnia: In ‘The Silver Chair’ where the prince was captured and put under a spell by the witch as were all the underground people that were her captives. This theme is a major part of the story in the Alien movies where human beings are also held in pods, kept alive for a time and used as energy and food. This same theme take place in 'I-robot', and 'Minority report'.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Here are more examples of Biblical themes. Please ad your thoughts and examples in the comment section.
Theme: The Apocalypse. In many movies – ‘A Boy and His Dog’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Silent Green’, ‘The Day the Earth stood Still’, ‘Terminator’, ‘Waterworld’ and countless super hero, science fiction, and horror movies, the Apocalypse is depicted in various ways. In ‘Man of Steel’ there is an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world. When superman is taken into Zod’s ship Zod gets into his head and tells him of his vision to destroy all the people of earth. Superman is shown sinking into a sea of skulls and screaming out as Zod reveals his hellish vision for earth. Superman is horrified at this genocide. This corresponds to the greatest vulnerability Jesus had while on earth; that is, his infinite love for all humanity, and correspondingly his pain at the possibility of their destruction. During His ministry Evil forces could effect Jesus by destroying, capturing and causing pain and suffering to humanity. This vulnerability can be seen (among other places) When Jesus enters Jerusalem the last time - he weeps, because he so loves humanity, and his great plans for Jerusalem have been lost. The evil forces are like terrorists on earth who kill and capture innocent people to horrify and control their enimies. At the end of the movie when superman has Zod by the neck Zod retaliates by using his lazer eyes to almost kill innocent people standing nearby, and Superman screams out in moral agony for him not to do it, and finally kills Zod.
Theme: Hades and Sheol. In the Matrix there are parrelels between the trainman and the god of the underworld, Hades, who ruthlessly ruled the dark realm named after himself. In mythology Hades was a lesser god who received the short end of the stick when realms were divied up to rule, but he was given total power over his realm. The train man also has total control of his dreary realm, called ‘mobile avenue’, and is said to be between worlds from which no-one can escape. Like Hades the trainmans realm of power is a place of bleak nothingness, in a kind of limbo, separate from life and God; and no one can come in or out, except by Hades will. The trainman says to Neo, “Down here, I make the rules. Down here I make the threats. Down here... I'm God”.
Theme: Humanity Rejects or Kills the ‘One’ or the Savior. In the movie ‘Starman’, in which Jeff Bridges is an alien that is a Christ figure, most of the people are afriad of him and what he can do, and the government tries to kill or capture him; but there are a few who see him and help him. Batman and Spiderman are also treated as the enemy of the police or military; as the mainstream authroites try to kill them. This happens in a lot of movies and is a very sigificant theme; They can be intrepreted as an allegory of humanities, in the Old Testament the Isrealites, rejection of the Lord. Movies often depict the trauma, loss, and tragedy associated with this rejection. Again in Superman this theme is huge; a big part of the story is that superman cannot reveal his identity untill his time comes. His father convinces him that he must painstakingly keep from revealing his identity for otherwise people would reject him, or even kill him. When he is a kid he is assualted by bullies in the presence of his father, but he does not fight back; he turns the other cheek. Indeed, his father sacrifices his own life for this principle; - when a tornado is about to destroy him, he signals to Kent to not come save him, for otherwise he would reveal his true self. This theme also demonstrates another important principle, that is, that Jesus profoundly disciplined himself to not reveal himself untill his time came. He did not use his powers to fight his enemies, but allowed all to act in freedom, both enemies and those who loved him.
These themes are also in the The Green Mile; the central character is kind, gentle, and has miraculous powers of healing - a Christ figure. He performs healing on several people, he suffers greatly from understanding love, and he sees with great pain humanities cruelty to each other. He is thought to be the enemy of society and is imprisoned and killed by the authorites.
Theme: Jesus reveals himself and teaches to good, common people. In the Bible the disciples were salt of the earth fisherman not educated men. He chooses simple good men who can be taught. It is an essential part of the Superman story that his parents are simple, honest, American farmers. Spiderman’s back story is similar in this way also. In the Hobbitt this is a very big theme. It is part of the whole meaning of the Hobbits and their shire that they are kind, innocent farmers, but in their hearts hold great courage. Gandolf gives a speech expressing how it is true to the workings of life that the defeat of evil in the darkest of times would come through simple, common, salt of the earth folks – humble hobbits.
Theme: Ressurection and Healing. This is a clear Christ allegory in several movies, such as ‘Starman’, ‘Matrix’, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and several other movies. Similarly in movies and stories there is a figure who is able to heal, such as Gandolf in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. Neo resserects Trinity; Lucy heals with her magic ointment in Narnia; in ‘The Green Mile’ the Christ figure heals the wardens wife of terminal cancer.
Theme: Overcoming primal truama. This is a large subject to include, but worth identifying because of the trauma of dealing with the darkness I dscussed above. The trauma of dealing with cruelty and unjustice, the emotional struggle of change and growth, the pain of emerging into our true identity, and the yearning to recognize and be in alingment with the goodness of the Lord – are expressed in the intense situations movies portray that ‘show what someone is made of’ in a crisis. There are inumerable movies of this kind; some examples not mentioned are ‘Platoon’, ‘Snitch’, ‘Shawshank Redemption’, and ‘Awakenings’. Also soundtracks in movies have become very effective at evoking these feelings. Many movies have intense gutteral sound-effects, and powerful, redemptive music, (matching incredible heroics on screen) that increase the feeling of truama, greif, healing and love. A great example of this is ‘Schindle’s List’, which contains such beautiful moving music set against the most intense injustice and suffering. In the end Schindler is overcome with such redemptive love he is infeebled like a baby with tears. In Captain Phillips at the end the truama he suffered is depicted very effectively along with caring treatment. In superhero movies The powerful sounds of evil machines and characters are juxtoposed with the glorious rizing musical strains while the superheros battle to save innocent people – the sounds contribute enormously to an emotional impact that taps into our deepest fears and yearnings. In ‘Man of Steel’ there are several times where Superman lets out an intense primal scream as he performs his feats, such as when he saves his mother, or when he destroys the world machine. He screams at the end - first as Zod threatens to kill innocent people, and then again after Zod is dead and the struggle is over. He is bowed in silence and then he lets out a primal scream that comes from the incredible effort and feelings of birthing into his true identiy and powers, - and mourning the loss of Krypton, - and the love of saving humanity on earth. These actions are reminiscnet of the passion of Christs when in the Garden He cries out to His father in His agony and effort to fulfill his mission.
Theme: The internal of humans reaches into Heaven, and the external is in the world. In the movie ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Elizabeth is shown in meditative states reflecting on things. In one scene her inner view is depicted by showing the colors one sees as you look at the sun through closed eyes. Then her inner vision is depicted by a scene of her standing at a beautiful precipice while music washes over in increasing waves expanding the feeling of an elavated view; she is feeling and percieving the trancedance of true love. The movie examplifies ‘love truly conjugal’, which I believe, only those whose internal is open to heaven and the Lord can expereince.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Some folks were wondering about the concept of correspondences from the Interstellar article so I thought I would write about it in regard to modern science. I hope and pray that this is helpful. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts.
Correspondence means that everything in the natural world is the result of its counterpart in the spiritual world; the object in the spiritual world being the first cause of what is in the natural world. Everything in nature that is connected to its counterpart in the spiritual world, yet separated by a discreet degree, is said to correspond. A discreet degree can most readily be understood by our experience of the separation between the earthly world and the spiritual world. For the most part we cannot see, hear, or touch across this divide, but we can at times sense, feel, or intuit across. A tree in the natural world is subject to the natural laws of time and space, while the spiritual tree exists from the meaning it portrays from the love in the soul of angels or spirits. It is more real than a tree here because it is composed of spiritual substance and derived from love and wisdom from the Lord. The very colors of flowers and homes, the plants and animals that appear in a garden, are manifestations of what is in the soul of the angel or angles present in that place. In heaven the objects are of a beauty and light that surpasses what is on earth many times over. A tree there is more real than a tree on earth because it is the internal of a tree. If one grasps the implications of this one can see that all things that exist, exist in relationship to human beings; the human form being the highest of all forms. The same is true of things in nature on earth, but they are more remotely reflected and less clear to our perception.
For instance, contemplate for a moment hiking up a wild and rugged mountain. The mountain itself is a challenge, and an experience of beauty and danger. To reach the top a person must persevere. The higher one goes up the mountain the more one can see of the landscape around. There is, in seeing an expansive view, a natural delight and exhilaration that anyone who makes the effort feels. This natural delight corresponds to the spiritual joy of gaining higher perception of life. Mountains correspond to heaven. The delight of gaining an elevated view on a mountain is the reflection (correspondence) of spiritually gaining wisdom in one’s soul. Correspondence is an essential operation in the universe, and the above is an example of how it operates in our immediate life and experience. The ground gained to reach a view on a mountain is not given up easily, but when it is it becomes one’s own achievement. Similarly, internal perception requires attention and effort and it results in real effect or change in the soul, whereas mere knowledge does not.
As another example, I will share an early personal experience. I remember after graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college, I reflected on all the friends I hung out with and came to know well. I saw that in spite of all of our shortcomings, it was through my interactions with them that I came to know myself. This thought was a beginning of regeneration. It was a beginning of being able to accept others and myself with all of our frailties, and there was a kind of beauty in this perception because it was real, and there was not a stagnant feeling that this growth could happen only with them. I had this epiphany as I looked at a rainbow in the sky, and at the same time inwardly saw the comparison between my thought and the rainbow. In a rainbow the beauty of light is revealed as it refracts through little particles of water in the air, and thus the inner qualities of light are made visible, and real to our perception. Swedenborg writes that rainbows symbolize something very like this: “The reason that the appearance of a rainbow is seen is that the natural things corresponding to their spiritual present such an appearance. It is a modification of spiritual light from the Lord in their natural things” (AC 1042). In a person this means that the spiritual and natural must grow together, to grow at all. The spiritual becomes one’s own when there is accord between the love we see and feel, and our actions in life.
Correspondences happen in three realms of life, the Word, the human form, and in nature. In each case a perception of them is a sound way of gaining understanding. Perception is the moment when the internal and external come into concordance in a person. It is very significant to realize that perception involves the whole soul, and is a deeper way of knowing. Perception is reception in the soul of truths from the Lord. In this short article I will focus on providing an opportunity of perceiving correspondences between the Sun, the earth, and the Lord.
The principle of correspondence is a universal principle through which we can confidently gain knowledge about the nature of the spiritual world and the earthly world. It is, if we apply it thoughtfully, a readily accessible resource that can be read forward or backward, that is, from heaven to earth, and visa versa. We can gain insight into the dynamics of the spiritual world by the scientific processes we observe in the natural world. This is the basic principle I am using in this essay. It is at one and the same time, a spiritual and intellectual practice. By making the effort to meditate into correspondence I have often felt light coming into my heart and mind; it is a most comforting feeling anyone can feel.
The prime example of correspondence is between the sun in the sky and the sun in the spiritual world. The heat and light of the natural sun corresponds to love and wisdom from the spiritual sun. We know the sun provides heat and light without which nothing could live. Suns are the source of all energy and raw material for the entire natural world. All the suns throughout the universe are the source of heat and light for their respective solar systems, and beyond. In the spiritual world there is only one sun and it is the one source of all life. It is the origin of life, and creates the substance of life; the fundamental substance of life being love and wisdom from the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun.
The natural suns are made of matter, are in time and space, and are innumerable, whereas there is only one spiritual sun. This one sun is the one source of everything. The reality that there is one spiritual sun and infinite natural suns in the universe is a function of correspondence, in that the natural sun cannot possibly reflect the infinite presence of the spiritual sun by size, so it corresponds by infinity of numbers. The reason for this is that in the natural world there is time and space, while in the spiritual world everything is based on state of being, or quality of love.
Science’s ability to penetrate some of the secrets of physics that occur in the sun offers the opportunity to look deep into potential correspondences. Science shows that everything that happens on earth occurs by a process, and correspondingly Swedenborg demonstrates that everything that occurs in the spiritual world occurs by a process. It is very important to grasp this concept, and we can only do so by practicing on particular examples. Humans have an ingrained habit of ‘magical thinking’ when it comes to the spiritual world, meaning we tend to think that things just happen there, that God makes them by the wave of the hand. But we know everything with humans is a matter of gradual growth, and accomplished reciprocally; and that everything in nature requires a process. It is the same in heaven: in heaven people don’t just sit on a cloud and bask in God’s light, but experience fulfillment through being useful in all the same type of occupations we have here. Everything is relational in both worlds. Only in heaven people love each other more than themselves.
Lets look at the example of the sun again. Einstein discovered that the source of the sun’s power is nuclear fusion. The sun’s mass is so enormous its gravity causes unfathomable pressure and heat in its core. The pressure and heat cause the atoms to accelerate to incredible speeds at close proximity. Hydrogen atoms normally repel each other, but the heat and pressure at the core is so enormous it causes the Hydrogen atoms to smash together and split, forming a new element – helium. In the process they release heat, and light as photons, and the massive power of the explosion seeks to expand to the surface of the sun. This is nuclear fusion, the engine in the suns core. The sun is anything but static; within the sun there is a constant tension, a raging battle between gravities crushing inward force, and nuclear fusion’s immense expansive fire. But the two forces settle into an equilibrium that lasts for billions of years, and together provide all the elements in the universe, and the heat and light that sustain life.
It is a universal principle that that which is created by the source has in it the inclination to repeat the form of the source. The master example of this is that humans are made in the image of God. The equilibrium between the forces of gravity and nuclear fusion in the sun defines the form of the sun, and because the sun is the source, the form of equilibrium is repeated in everything that exists. For anything to exist it has to have a form, and anything that has form has some kind of equilibrium that is the cause for that form. Based on this principle Swedenborg writes that just as there is an infinite largeness there is also an infinite minuteness. There is nothing so minute that there is not something smaller that is the substance within it. For instance an atom is a form that has within it electrons, neutrons and protons spinning around. As science keeps discovering, even the protons and neutrons have smaller things that compose them, and there are smaller things yet which compose these, and so on. It is beyond our ability to comprehend infinite minuteness, but based on the principle of form, substance and equilibrium we can see it must be true.
Equilibrium is in everything we see. The human body and every organ in it has a certain equilibrium between the inside forces of blood pressure and muscle tension, and the outside forces of gravity and atmospheric pressure. A leaf on a tree has equilibrium in a similar way. Anything we might look at is in a state of equilibrium, a chair, a light bulb, a cell, a fiber, anything, because they have a form, and substance inside it. The equations of Newton and Einstein work within equilibrium. The state of equilibrium can always change, for instance if a bottle is broken, but its pieces settle into another state of equilibrium. Swedenborg writes:
For any thing to have existence there must be an equilibrium of all things. Without equilibrium there is no action and reaction; for equilibrium is between two forces, one acting and the other reacting, and the state of rest resulting from like action and reaction is called equilibrium. In the natural world there is an equilibrium in all things and in each thing. It exists in a general way even in the atmosphere, wherein the lower parts react and resist in proportion as the higher parts act and press down. Again, in the natural world there is an equilibrium between heat and cold, between light and shade, and between dryness and moisture, the middle condition being the equilibrium. There is also an equilibrium in all the subjects of the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal; for without equilibrium in them nothing can come forth and have permanent existence (Heaven and Hell, 589).
Another correspondence we can see in the sun has to do with the fact that the divine contains infinite variety, and is the source of life. From the divine human in the spiritual sun manifests the infinite variety and continual abundance of life, similarly, there is nothing that exists in nature that is exactly the same as anything else. For instance, science shows that snowflakes can be very similar, but never exactly the same. It is the same with everything. There are no two human beings that are the same, or ever will be.
To see how suns are the source of all things in nature, and the cause of variety, lets look more deeply at what happens in the sun. Scientists teach that the nuclear fusion taking place in the sun is the cause of all the elements of the universe. A sun like ours is only big enough to produce helium, but stars bigger produce such massive gravity that they have enough heat and pressure to create heavier elements such as sulfur and iron. These heavier elements are only created in supernovas. The elements are made by the incredible heat and energy released when the supernova explodes. Scientists report that the heaviest of elements, such as Gold, are made by the even more enormous explosions that occur when two neutron stars collide. This is why the heavier Elements are more rare. These incredible explosions send the elements out into the universe. And from these elements and their infinite combinations, all the things in the universe originate - planets, galaxies, new stars, and all living things. Scientists describe supernovas as the mother of all substances and objects in the universe. From this information we get an idea of the essential correspondence between God as the source of all things and their infinite variety, and the sun as the source of the abundance and variety in nature.
In my experience correspondence never fails; we simply have to dig into understanding them. Below is another interesting correspondence. In this correspondence we can compare the dynamics between; one, the divine in the spiritual sun and the reception of Him where angels live; and, two, the natural sun and the dynamics of how humans on earth receive light and heat from the sun. Swedenborg writes:
Divine love in the spiritual world appears to the sight of angels like the sun, as far distant from them as the sun of our world is from men. If therefore God, who is in the midst of that sun, were to come close to angels, they would perish just as men would if the sun of the world came close to them, for it is equally burning. For this reason there are constant controls which modify and moderate the burning heat of that love, so that its radiation should not reach heaven undiluted, since this would consume the angels. When therefore the Lord makes His presence more immediately felt in heaven, the irreligious beneath heaven begin to complain, suffering torture and fainting, so that they take refuge in caves and fissures in the mountains (TCR, 691).
This corresponds to the fact that where there is life on a planet there must be the right distance from the sun, and also, a certain delicate balance of characteristics on the planet that protect the life there. Earth being at the perfect distance from the sun is a clear correspondence, but there are many more subtle comparisons to be made. For instance scientist have discovered how essential the magnetic field of the earth is to protecting life against the power of solar flares and radiation. (When solar flares are too big people on earth complain that they take out our electrical systems.) The motion of molten magma inside the earth causes a rather weak magnetic field around earth, but this magnetic field is strong enough to form a barrier around the earth that deflects harmful solar radiation. Also, just the right tilt of the earth’s axis creates the seasons around the globe, which is important for many things, especially maintaining moderate temperatures, a variety of climates for life, and especially a stable atmosphere. These factors, plus just the right amount of water on earth, produce a healthy atmosphere that provides essential protection from the sun’s radiation. The moon provides essential protection for earth by stabilizing its rotation on its axis; without this life would be thrown into dramatic cycles of destruction, mostly due to sudden huge temperature changes, and loss of a stable atmosphere. All of these factors, and many more, work together to maintain a delicate balance; they correspond to the ‘constant controls which modify and moderate’ the burning heat and light of the spiritual sun from harming angels. I am not a physicist, but we can see these correspondences readily enough on the level of principle. The more detailed one’s knowledge of science the deeper the correspondences that can be seen.
Now we look to the ultimate source of equilibrium that makes it a universal correspondence, and demonstrates the connectedness of all things. Inside the spiritual sun there is also an infinite, dynamic marriage that is the source of life. This is the Holy marriage between the Lord’s divine essence and his divine human. This is the Holy of Holies. From this marriage radiates Holy fire, which is the cause of the spiritual sun’s light and heat (wisdom and love). The powerful forces we described inside the natural sun give us a glimpse, by correspondences, of the unfathomably powerful union inside the spiritual son. The equilibrium in the natural sun corresponds to the Holy marriage in the spiritual sun; except, of course, the forces inside the natural son are not alive; they are material and energy based, but in the spiritual sun life comes from the source itself, the divine human, Jesus Christ. This is the mother of all correspondences.
In the Sun there, which is from Himself, is Divine fire, which is the Divine good of the Divine love. From that Sun is Divine light, which is Divine truth from Divine good. (AC 8644).
That the union in the spiritual sun is holy, and in its interiors most holy, is very evident from the fact that in every detail of it there is the heavenly marriage, that is, the marriage of good and truth, thus heaven; and that in every detail of the inmost sense there is the marriage of the Lord’s Divine Human with His kingdom and church; nay, in the supreme sense there is the union of the Divine Itself and the Divine Human in the Lord (AC 6343).
It is as if His body (Jesus) is the candle and his essence (God) the wick, and the marriage of them produces the Holy fire from which radiates infinite love and wisdom. This bond, or marriage, and resulting Holy fire, causes the form of the spiritual sun. The Holy bond between Jesus and God was forged (in all wonder, pain, joy, and beauty) in the glorification process while Jesus was on earth. In the resurrection the Lords body was made divine, and merged with the divine essence. What radiates from the spiritual sun around the Lord is the universal spiritual substance of life, - love and wisdom – just as heat and light radiate from the natural sun. Love and wisdom are spiritual in nature; indeed they are the indivisible spiritual substance of life, not abstractions. It is an illusion to us that the physical world is more real than the spiritual world. The spiritual world is more real than this, because it is the more internal; it is separate from this world but is also part in that it gives life to this world by constant influx. The spiritual world has no time and space, but is based on ‘state of being’. We retain our human form there, but are unencumbered by the physical body. The Lord is also in the human form, except He is divine and infinite; human beings are in His form but finite. So in the human soul there are the two faculties of will and understanding, which are receptacles of love and wisdom from the Lord. This reception provides our life and freedom. It is an extraordinary paradox that our freedom is entirely a gift from God, so much so that this is not apparent to us – which is by design so that we can be in freedom. Yet the true motion of developing spirituality is to acknowledge inwardly that all good comes from the divine and not from our self. So just as love and wisdom from the divine is reflected in humans by the will and understanding, everything that exists in the universe, no matter how large or minute has in it the image of the marriage of love and wisdom. As we have shown, this is seen in the equilibrium in the physical sun by the dynamic between the power of nuclear fusion, and the power of gravity meeting in equilibrium; and in turn is reflected in the world of nature by the equilibrium that constitutes the form of all objects.
This idea bears repeating in another way so that it might penetrate our understanding, for this is a profoundly spiritual matter. The source of life and creation is the Holy marriage within the Lord, and this core reality descends by correspondences from the divine to the physical. The equilibrium that constitutes the form of all things in nature originates from the nature of the physical sun, and more essentially from the spiritual sun. The implications of this are limitless, but we can begin by saying that spiritually the divine of the Lord is intrinsic in our life and in nature, and thus, if we are receptive to Him, can be seen or experienced through all things such as a rainbow or climbing a mountain.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Theme: The Immensity of Christ’s Battles against the forces of Hell. The most common of all Biblical themes in pop culture is that of a great battle between forces of evil and the good heroes of humanity to save the world. Hundreds of novels, comic books and movies demonstrate this over and over, from all the marvel and DC stories to Disney movies like Epic, The Harry Potter stories and the Lord of the Rings. This theme is known in the Bible, but the true immensity of the battles Christ executed from his own might is very little known. Indeed, the full extent of them could never be known, but if one takes the time to look there are many descriptions of it in the Bible. Isaiah and the prophets describe it often as do th other prophets, but the book of revelation is all about it. Even Christians and pastors seem to rarely see the extent of it. Perhaps because it has been somewhat misrepresented by fire and brimstone type preaching that has so put-off many people. I believe these stories of great and dire battles at root come from an internal need to honor the way Jesus saved the world from overwhelming forces of evil. No-matter how many times this theme is repeated it never ceases to capture the fascination of people. The limited knowledge of Christs battles in the Bible goes hand in hand with the limited idea people have of the darkness that was on the earth before Christ incarnated. In movies the dark, deceptive and insidious nature of evil is depicted and defeated in countless science fiction, horror, and adventure movies. The great battles in movies are often associated with the end of the world, which of course has to do with the well-known Biblical theme of the apacolypse. This is seen in movies like the Terminator, Independence Day, Superman, The Avengers, I-robot, Lord of he Rings, Men in Black, 1984, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and so on.
Swedenborg gives a powerful description of how intense Christ’s battles were:
Theme: Determinism in society at the time of Christ. In the latest superman movie, “Man of Steel”, this theme is a very large part of the back story of Kripton. It is told that the people of Kripton had adapted in such a way that they tightly controlled child birth. Every child was born under government control with a predetermined purpose, - some workers, some leaders, some trades people and so on. This is an allegory of the determinism we spoke of that was a result of the decline in religion and the externalization of life before the time of Christ. Zod, the military ruler of Kripton, angrily expresses throughout his scenes that his sole purpose for existence from birth was to preserve Kripton, and he is a warrior who will destroy everything in his way that would keep him from that purpose. Also, in the beginning of the movie when Zod and his officers are sentenced for their crimes by the counsel, their sentence is forever - no possibility of release or attempt to rehabilitate. This is so because the counsel knows Zod’s purpose, and that he cannot be reformed. This is significant because with the Romans and other Mediterranean nations at the time the jadedness toward cruelty was a natural extension of determinism. The belief that they have a predetermined purpose led to a great devaluing of life. This theme is also in ‘The Terminator’, and the ‘Matrix’.
Theme: David in Goliath. This theme is iconic and referred to in common language in sports and other arenas ways in society. In the movie ‘Thor: The Dark World’ there is a scene where the two armies are battling and then a giant rock-man three times the size of Thor walks in and they face-off one on one. The enemy army laughs at Thor’s demand that the giant surrender. Thor whirls his hammer and smashes the giant into a pile of rubble.
Theme: Atmospheres in the spiritual World. This is a theme in many movies such as Mission to Mars, Star trek, not to mention the reality of it on the planets in our solar system. In ‘Man of Steel’ it is told and shown that the people from Kripton cannot breath in the same atmosphere as the people on earth. The whole purpose for the Kripton war is to change the atmosphere of earth into that of Kripton. This is an allegory of a circumstance that is fundamental in heaven and the spiritual world. Swedenborg tells how every society in heaven has its own breathing pattern that is determined by the quality of love there. The difference between atmospheres in heaven and hell in this regard is total - spirits from hell cannot even begin to enter heaven for they begin to choke in a torturous way to the point of total suffication.
Theme: Hereditary Evil. In the matrix there are several scenes of agents pressing their hand into the body of people and causing a black darkness to enter them, inside and out, consuming the person in black. This is symbolic of hereditary evil accumulating and increasing to the point it consumes the person’s life. In the Matrix the agents continue to multiply and would soon consume the whole world of humans and the machines, which is an allegory of the darkness that was increasing on earth at the end of the Jewish church. This is very significant because at the end the agent does thrusts his hand into Neo; Neo receives it all and turns into an agent - and then uses it to access all evil. He battles the evil from the inside and wipes it out. As I described in the section on equilibrium this parallels that the Lord was born on earth and took on a natural body; which meant He now had access to evil, and evil had access to him to him. He gradually defeated the forces of evil, purified himself of all hereditary evil, and and put heaven and hell into divine order. This is an essential part of the glorification process which I will discuss in a moment.
Theme: Faith to be expressed in Freedom. The theological theme of Freedom is upheld in many movies. In the matrix, in the confrontation between the Architect and Neo reveals their essential beliefs: Neo upholds freedom of choice as the truth of being human, while the Architect in all his brilliance basically believes in determinism, which is materialistic and external and leads to spiritual death.
This is also a major theme in many of the Marvel movies, but none more so than in Captain America 2. The backdrop of this movie honors the men and woman of the ‘greatest generation’, especially those who defeated Hitler in WW2. The evil organization called Hydra (an off-shoot of the Nazis) corrupts sheild from within with the philosophy and technology to determine who should die before they are able to commit crimes. This is a representation of the evil of determinism and how it is the inevitable result from completely external and merely natural thinking. Captain America, coming from the greatest generation, senses from the beginning that the ideology of Hydra is destructive, because it is against freedom and the principles of the constitution and democracy, which grow from a belief in God.
At the end of the Matrix the agent believes he has won and asks Neo, ‘why do you keep on fighting’, and Neo says, “Because I choose to”. This upholds that the choice to love and fight for freedom is a Christ-like human quality. Also at the end when ‘the one who protects that which matters most’ asks the Oracle if she always knew they would be saved, she says, “No, I didn’t, but I believed, I believed.” This upholds choice and faith as essential goods. Also, it is a principle of freedom that no one is given knowledge of the future (not even the Oracle), but salvation must be worked out by choice from moment to moment. When the human soul seeks meaning it cannot but uphold these truths for the essence of being human is freedom.
The deep value of freedom is often combined with American tradition and values, demonstrating the role of America as a light to the world. ‘Independence day’, and ‘Signs’ are good examples of this, as are many of the marvel movies. In his career Kevin Costner has depicted American heartland values incredibly well. He personifies American common sense, goodness, and strength, especially in ‘Field of Dreams’, and ‘Man of steel’.
Theme: Christ is the bridge (the Logos) between the father and humanity. In ‘Man of Steel’ Superman has very good Christ allegories. There is a scene in which Superman’s father tells him who he is, and through their discussion their mind and wills become more and more united. He tells him that on Kripton they lost freedom of choice because they had adopted predetermined birth, but he (Superman) is from the ‘house of El’ where they dreamed of freedom, where people have choice and the chance to reach their full potential. He tells Superman that he could not tell him that the Kodex was in the cells of his body until the moment they were in because he was not ready for it. He then tells him that he can be the bridge between Krypton and Earth, and that he can save humanity. Jesus is the original redeemer of freedom by subjugating evil and restoring equilibrium; and He is also the bridge – the bridge between God and humanity on earth, for which He is also called the Logos. The logos is the embodied love and wisdom that makes all love and wisdom accessible to humanity. Later in the movie Superman’s father, Cal El, tells Zod that his Son is twice the man that he is, which is similar to the Bible’s when the voice of God says, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased”. After receiving the conviction to save earth (his father tells him, “You can save Lois, You can save all of them”) Superman punches a hole in the Kripton ship, and then floats slowly out holding his arms in the position of the cross – a powerful image of the savior. The miraculous feats superman performs appeal to something very deep in the human soul – the desire to be seen and valued, for the trauma we suffer to be justly redeemed; to be given hope that there is a true Father watching over who is capable of all things.Also in the movie ‘Interstellar’ the main characters are on a mission to save the world, and in the process calls himself and his daughter the bridge that will save the world. By way of an enormous and miraculous struggle he travels through a worm hole and accesses a point in time and space to inform his genius daughter of the information necessary to save the planet. There is also a profound story of love and loss between then and the primary theme of this is that love is the means that finds the way and carries the information and wisdom to find redemption. This movie deals with advanced knowledge of space, black holes and theoretical wormholes. It is acknowledged that no one knows what lies through a black hole or a wormhole, but in the story telling of the movie an answer and meaning is given to this problem by spiritual means, that is, in the movie it is said and shown that love provides the means and answer on the other side of a black hole. This can be seen as an allegory for entering heaven, and as an allegory of redemption through love. This movie shows once again that when the human psyche seeks meaning it returns to what is most intrinsically meaningful and appealing in our soul – biblical themes. The movie also demonstrates one the maxims of Swedenborg concerning the Lord; that is that love is a container of wisdom. This means that the intense desire and affection of love elevates the state and therefore the perception of a person which inherently includes wisdom.