Rev. Steve Sanchez

Rev. Steve Sanchez
Swedenborgian Minister

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Little known Biblical Theme of 'The Captives' in Movies

 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'.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Repetition of Biblical Themes in Movies fills an Intrinsic Need In our Psyche

In seminary my class was given the assignment to write a paper on our personal theology. In response to my paper the professor said that I had a ‘Star Wars’ theology. I suggested to him that “I think it is the other way around; Star Wars got its ideas from the Bible”. I believe Biblical themes have an intrinsic place in the human soul and psyche, and it is fascinating to observe how this comes out in stories and film. What follows below is not by any means a scientific survey of the subject, but simply the observations from an average man’s engagement in pop culture.
 The most moving theme of the Bible, and also of life, is redemption; redemption is the central theme of the Christ story, and all the other themes circle around it. Whenever we hear a story of true sacrifice for love, honor, or the life of another we can not help but be moved deeply; it is a basic response of the goodness in the human soul to honor true sacrifice - and deep down I believe this universal response comes from the Lord within us. A good example of this is in superman: as the military captain flies the ‘package’ into the world engine (to destroy it) he says, “a good death is its own reward”. This affirms the spiritual value of honor, and giving one’s life for another. On this point Swedenborg writes:

Every citizen or subject is united to his king by obeying his commands and precepts; and more so if he endures hardships for him; and still more if he suffers death for him, as men do in war. In the same way friend is united to friend, son to father, and servant to master, by acting according to their wishes; still more by defending them against enemies; and more yet by fighting for their honor. Is not one united to the maiden whom he is wooing when he fights with those who defame her, and contends even to wounds with his rival? It is according to an inherent law of nature that they are united by such means.

(The word King, which was appropriate for Sweden in the time of Swedenborg, could be replaced with ‘nation’ or ‘community’). The principle Swedenborg expresses above relates to the Lord saying in the Bible: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. Therefore doth My Father love Me” (John 10:11- 17). The depiction in stories and movies of heroes that are willing to sacrifice themselves and save the world evoke the intense love and bond that comes with the acknowledgement of the heroes deeds, know-how, and skill. We are moved to tears by their skill and deeds even if we have seen the same story a hundred times, and even if it is not great art. There is perhaps nothing more internally compelling to a child then a father or mother who cares for them so much that they will die for them. And everyone of us still has this child inside that yearns for this care, and hopefully is willing to do it for another. Here are some examples in movies: In the movie ‘Armagedon’ there is the self sacrifice of the Father Figure (Bruce Willis) who forcible takes the place of his future son in law so his son in law can live and marry his daughter; he is left behind on a meteor by himself to ignite the bomb that will save the world; in the Matrix there is the wondrous skill and spiritual mastery of ‘The One’ (Keanu Reeves) that saves the world. In ‘Signs’ the young girl helps save the world because she has been intuitively led to leave water cups around the house (and it turns out that water destroys the aliens); also the young man in ‘Signs’ saves his family with his prodigal skill for swinging the bat; in ‘Independence Day’ the drunk, worthless father sacrifices himself by flying into the power source of the alien ship; There are similar themes in the Terminator, The Fifth Element, Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America, Men In Black, and many others. There are also great stories of personal sacrifice in more life-like stories. In these stories we are deeply moved because of the battle we all go through to find ourselves, overcome hardships, and see meaning in our lives. We see this in movies like ‘Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Lone Survivor’, ‘The green Mile’, and thousands of others. These stories so often center around Military and police men and woman, because they are the ones most often in harms way, and most of them have dedicated themselves to the honor and safety of their country or community, and are willing to sacrifice their lives for others. When we hear the story of the soldier that jumped on a grenade to save his companions we cannot help but feel love and honor for the man and his deed. How much more are we moved to honor Jesus Christ - for He from his own might saved all humanity from eternal darkness.
It may seem odd that I am bringing comic book stories, fantasy, and pop movies into a study of the Bible. But it is really not so odd. G.K. Chesterson wrote a long time ago an essay called, “In defense of Penny dredfuls”. (Penny dreadfuls are stories for adolescents that can be compared to pulp fiction in America.) In it he writes: “The simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more inportant. Every one of us has constructed such an invisible dramatis personae. Literature is a luxery; fiction is a necessity”. He argues that common novels that engage these themes are invaluable to the imagination and inner development of youth and adults wether they are well written or not: “That is to say, they do precisely the same thing as Scott’s Ivanhoe and Lady of the Lake, Byron’s Corsair, Wordworth’s, Rob Roy’s Grave, Stevenson’s Macaire, Mr. Max Pemberton’s Iron Pirate, and thousands of more books…It is the modern literature of the educated, not of the uneducated, which is avowedly and aggressively criminal…The vast mass of humanity have never doubted and never will doubt that courage is splendid, that fedelity is noble, that distressed ladies should be rescued, and vanquished enemies spared. There are a large number of cultivated persons who doubt these maxims of daily life.”
Although circumstances have changed when Chesterson wrote this, the spirit of what he is saying very much applies today. In a later essay called Orthodoxy he extends his argument to Christianity and attempts to explain the immediacy that continually fuels the inner need to engage Biblical themes:

All Christianity concentrates on the man at the cross-roads. The vast and shallow philosophies talk about ages and evolutions and ultimate developments. The true philosophy is concerned with the instant. Will a man take this road or that?...The instant is really aweful: and it is because our religion has intensely felt the instant, that it has in literature dealt much with battle and in theology dealt much with hell. It is full of danger, like a boy’s book: it is at an immortal crises. There is a great deal of similarity between popular fiction and the religion of the western people (Jacobs, 124).

It is inevitable that Biblical themes are told by our most creative people. Pop culture is market driven. Whether the writers and producers of these movies are Christian or not, or whether they are conscience of the source of these themes, they know what moves people inside – they know what sells to the masses.  Sex sells, but so does the deep inner desire for redemption by superheroes. Carl Jung made a big point of revealing story tellers that wrote genuinely from the creative imagination; he made the distinction of stories that were archetypal from the collective unconscious, and thereby had universal appeal to people, and those that were conscious creations (more manipulative). This is certainly an important point, but I don’t think we have to concern our self laboring to identify this quality with each book or movie. Rather, for our purposes we can go by the receiving end, that is, what is continually compelling to people in the market place.
In regard to the subject of the Bible and myth I think Carl Jung missed something essential; he seemed to believe in Christ as a real man, but not as divine. To my knowledge he treated the Bible as Myth, and psychologized it. He believed in God within the individual but not in God as both within and without, and that He is the creator of all things. C. S. Lewis was also a master of myth, Medeival literature, fantasy and loved these kinds of books. In the early part of his life he considered himself an atheist. But unlike Jung, he gradually come to the conclusion that the Bible was true history, not myth, he had to come to intellectual terms with the Bible as history. This made all the difference for him. C.S. Lewis became a passionate Christian while retaining his love of myth and fantasy. He strove to live the Christian values.
Most people assume that C. S. Lewis wrote his stories, especially the Narnia Chronicles, with a conscious intention to create Christian allegories (as I did). But he writes over and over again that it was not this way; in regard to the Narnia stories he writes:

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I would write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out “allegories” to embody them. This is pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all (The Narnian, Jacobs, 244).

Lewis strove to do something far more risky, courageous, and self revealing in these stories. He wrote: “It is better not to ask the questions (what allegories are god for children) at all. Let the pictures show you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life”. This is very profound to contemplate. Lewis biographer, Alan Jacobs, writes about this:

The moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life”. This is terrifying, or liberating: liberating in that one need not expose oneself to the sanctimonious drudgery of drawing up lists of Christian truths…But terrifying because as those images rise from your mind you discover what you are really made of…Trusting the images, you find out who you are” (Jacobs, 244).

In the spirit of these ideas below in my next bog I will attempt to identify themes from movies that are likely Biblical in origin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Science of Correspondences is Universal and a Wonderful Spiritual Tool

         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.
            This idea bears repeating in another way so that it might penetrate our understanding. 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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Concept of Equilibrium - An Esential Key to Understading the Bible, History, and the Cosmos

Therefore my people have gone into captivity,
Because they have no knowledge;
Their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude dried up with thirst.
Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself
        And opened its mouth beyond measure; (Isaiah 5: 13,14).

This article is a challenge to absorb because it involves a very spiritual and essential concept of the universe. (Reading this article along with the one on 'The Science of Correspondences' will be cool, that is, helpful for understanding.) I will do my best to make it concise, and I hope you will take the time to take in slowly and meditate on it.
Equilibrium is a term that applies to all life, and I want to show it here in its most important context – the loss of equilibrium in the cosmos due to an overabundance of evil that led to the incarnation of the Lord. It is worth taking time to understand this term for it is fundamental to the structure of the universe. (This understanding is pioneered by Swedenborg.) On a cosmic level, the Lord maintains equilibrium between heaven and hell and governs both by his might alone. A single man or woman fighting against the forces of evil on his own is like a fly against a giant; there is no chance without the Lord. Before the Lord was born there was an accumulating darkness. As people died and entered the spiritual world, even if they were good, evil spirits intercepted them by artful deceptions and led them into their false heaven. These suedo heavens were in the spiritual world which is between heaven and hell. Once evil began to tip the tables in their favor, their power increased and increased. The over acumulation of spirits (people) in hell, and in this suedo-heaven eventually caused a dark cloud between heaven and earth that greatly blocked the reception of heavenly influx to humanity. This is what is meant by “Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure”. Here is another verse that refers to the loss of equilibrium between heaven and hell:

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (John 6:12).

This verse refers to evil forces infultrating and occupying heaven; ‘high places’ meaning heaven. They were like a murading army ransacking the first levels of heaven, taking residence, and deceiving the people in a thousand horrid ways. Matthew describes this when he says “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat. 11:12).  The power of evil was overwhelming heaven. When this happens a measure of freedom is lost. Freedom on earth exists at the pinnacle of the balance between heaven and hell. When equilibrium is lost so is freedom. Under normal circumstances neither the angels of heaven nor the demons of hell can compel human beings one way or the other, but both can influence within the laws of freedom. During life it is up to each person to will and choose their way as they are exposed to the influences of heaven and hell. Thus freedom is the very means of salvation, and it is also the cause of hell. It is the cause of hell because freedom of will is total and complete; the consequences are real, otherwise freedom would not be real, and life would not be real. The structure of the whole universe is based on this equilibrium between heaven and hell. The Lord maintains equilibrium, subjugating evil and keeping heaven in divine order with His omnipotent power for the sake of human freedom. Understanding this is a profound key to understanding the nature of the universe, history, and the Bible. If Jesus had not come and reversed the process, the over-abundance of evil would have progressed until humanity was consumed in total darkness.
         This situation is frequently depicted in movies such as the Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many super hero and Sci fi movies.
A similar loss of equilibrium took place at the time of Noah. The story of Noah describes how the whole earth was becoming wicked, that is, the over-accumulation of evil was on the verge destroying the entire human race. The Lord solved the problem by wiping out the wicked with a flood, and using Noah and his family as the seed of the new human race. He started over with Noah and his family, and the pairs of animals. This process of renewing from a remnant is called ‘remains’ in the Bible. Noah, his family and the pairs of animals were the remains from which the Lord started a new church with true charity in it. On an individual level the word ‘remains’ refers to the innocence from love stored on a person’s soul from childhood from which the Lord works to regenerate the whole person. So the collective sense it refers to the few left in a society who still possess true charity in their heart by which the Lord can establish a new church. After the Lord destroyed the people at the time of Noah the Lord promised he would never destroy people wholesale ever again, so when the loss of equilibrium took place again at the end of the representative Jewish church, the Lord chose to be born on earth in order to redeem humanity and put all things back into order.
It is often asked, why did the Lord choose or need to be born on earth? I beieve the answer can be approached from understanding how essential freedom is to salvation. God in his essence cannot approach a person or angel without destroying them. As the scripture says, no man can look upon God and live. It is like a person approaching the sun, the pure love of the Lord would destroy them. In the soul and the body of every human being there is hereditary evil, and this evil shrivels and burns in the presence of the pure good and love of the Lord. This is why in the Bible every time the glorified presence of Jesus appears those around make themselves postrate to him. By being born on earth Jesus became ‘the bridge’. He made God accessible to humanity. If instead God had waved his hand and made earth a paradise it would mean nothing, because in that case people would have done nothing from their own will. A bond only forms reciprocaly. The Lord himself operated within the laws of freedom during his life on earth so that people could ‘become’ from themselves in a reciprocal way.
An important scripture which speaks to the inevitability of equilibrium in the universe and our place in it - is this: “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Freedom speaks to the essence of being human, yet from freedom it is inevitable that there will be evil, because their are consequences to freedom.  Equilibrium, in battle between good and evil - is the only way life can exist! There must be contrast and variety for there to be life, growth, bonding, and perception. Also, in the nature of the Lord there is infinite variety and divine order, therefore there is continual contrast and meaning in life. If everything were monotone as in a white-out or black-out, there would be no perception or individual identity. Nevertheless, this philosophical truth does not take away from the terrible consequences of evil choices in life. This is what is meant by, ‘woe to that man by whom the offence cometh’. In the battle between good in evil it is paramount that we favor the good in our heart, whether it bears fruit or not - we must still try.

Clint Eastwood's 'American Sniper' and Balls.

     In American Sniper Clint Eastwood does a great service for our country. Near the end of the movie Chris Kyle is helping a former soldier learn to shoot better and they are bullshitting while having a productive time. The man misses a couple of shots and with a little guidance from Chris he then hits two in a row. He says to Chris, "Wow, I feel like I got my balls back".
    In this creative art form of film Clint Eastwood helps the country get its balls back - at least its a start. Clint's position toward Obama is well known. It would seem it is no accident that the movie came out at the same time as the State of the Union address. As President Obama continues to seek an ounce of credibility - his speech stretching the truth, claiming credit for things, ignoring a hundreds of inconvenient truths - it is a stark contrast to a man who sees a problem and goes to do something about it. Chris was a man, like most Marines, who was willing to put his life on the line, and be the one to do the job of eradicating enemies and terrorists. Not many of us can do that.
    American soldiers and their allies have an incredibly hard task; they have to protect and kill, while playing by the rules of decency, but the enemy usually has no such scruples. This takes an incredible amount of self-control and good judgement in the most intense situations. There is another dynamic American military men are working now. Recently an American general (speaking mostly of campaigns in Africa) said half the fight for the American soldiers now is to try to win the good will of enemy fighters who have nothing, and so they join insurgent groups. By winning hearts, they win the war. This takes spiritual strength.
         In the movie Clint reveals another dynamic - the man whose beliefs are adrift and lost. In the movie one of Chris's fellow soldiers begins to have a distant look about him. This man dies in battle, and a letter he wrote is read at the funeral in which he reveals he didn't believe in what he is doing, he seemed to be wondering if he belonged and if they were doing the right thing. Chris tells his wife as she desperately questions him that his friend died because he lost his heart and gave in. This is a remarkable scene to depict and is a commentary on personal idealogy and its effect. Content of ideology aside, it shows that a soldier needs to believe in what he is doing, the goodness and purpose of it for His country. Chris' belief is clear - he believes in God, country, and family. He is a protector, and his heart is in the right place.
     Chris Kyle is not perfect. His struggles are magnified because of the intense decisions he has to make - at what to shoot in war, and between his family and his call to defeat evil men that he knows are causing havoc. He feels inside that he is best suited to do this, and he proves to be right. In the movie in the end, he loves God, his country, his wife, his family, and he finds use in his fellow soldiers who are struggling after the war. He channels his energy into helping others.
      The movie shattered the box office record books because it strikes a deep cord in the American psyche and heart. The movie helps us look at our love priorities as Americans, - and as men and woman. It helps us to get our balls back.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Movie Trilogy 'The Matrix' Provides the Greatest Representaion of the Glorification Process of all Movies

The theme of the glorification I think is hinted at in many movies at the end when they show the hero or situation fading into pure light as in ‘Platoon’: the hero in a  helicopter fades into the pure light of the sun as the voice-over submits to seeking goodness; in ‘The Peaceful Warrior’ the master passes away by turning into pure light. But this is pretty remote from the real thing. The common way the glorification is represented is by the superhuman feats the hero performs to save humanity; as in the matrix when Neo saves trinity by hanging on to the cable from a falling helicopter trusting she will cut it and hang on; or in the Avengers when Iron Man swoops in and carries the atom bomb into the heart of the enemy ship and thereby saves the world; or when superman saves several men from certain death when he walks through fire and holds up an enormous tower while men are saved in a helicopter; and many, many others. This is glorious because the one has the skill and awareness to perform the feat that saves the world. The theme of superhuman powers is most like the glorification when it is combined with the willingness to sacrifice one’s life for others. But there is much more to the process of the glorification that the Lord went through and there are only a few movies I know of that depict greater particulars of the glorification.
A specific way the glorification process is represented is by the hero having the the power to enter the heart of the enemies abode when this seems the most impossible thing to do, but by doing it he destroys the evil forces from within. Superman does this when (he does what no other man possible could) and enters the power beam from the world engine that is transforming earth into Kripton. With incredible determination superman flies up through the heart of the beam - withstanding its massive force, and begins to move upward. He strains higher and higher into the light until he reaches the world engine and destroys it. When it is done the captain of the army is shown saying, “He did it”, which compares to Jesus saying, “It is finished”. (Similarly in the Matrix when Neo has finally destroyed Smith, the leader of the Machine world says, “It is done”). In the Bible these words signify Jesus accomplishing the glorification. Superman is then shown in a peaceful colorful scene laying down with the rays of the sun on him and he reaches to the pure light of the sun, which is something many movies do with the sun. One of the reasons this is so meaningful and powerful is that Jesus is the divine human in the midst of the spiritual sun in the spiritual world, and from it provides life for all living things. In the transfiguration and other places the Lord is described as shining like the sun.
Though to a lesser extent, the new version of  ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ exemplifies this theme when ‘the one who can save the world’ (Keanu Reeves) becomes convinced of the goodness in humanity and fights his way against the swarm into the heart of the alien mothers hip. He is shown fading into pure light, and the swarm recedes and leaves.
The movie that represents some of the details of the process of the glorification the greatest is the Matrix. There are several movies that portray the theme of prophecies about the one who will deliver the people from darkness. Prophecies are an important part of the Glorification. In the Matrix the theme of prophecy is essential and well developed. ‘The one’ is defined by the fact that they are the one who can and does fulfill the prophecies. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies told about him in the Old Testament. Simply put, prophecy is divine truth from God, and He who fulfills prophecy is from God and as he gradually accomplishes each fulfillment he comes into oneness with God. The Lords process was not a forgone conclusion, which is a common misconception; it was an enormous battle and struggle in doubt from moment to moment. He fulfills all of these in the New testament gospels, and when he fulfills the last temptation on the cross He says, “It is finished”, meaning that He made his human body divine and returned to oneness with the father, which is the culmination of the glorification. In the first movie Neo’s status as the one is constantly in doubt but he gradually performs the deeds as no-one but the divine can. His status as the one is confirmed when he resurrects from the dead and has exponentially greater powers then even the agents.
Then at the end of the trilogy, Neo travels into the heart of the evil realm of the machines. As he is walking closer to face the power center of the machines, the picture switches between a realistic view of metal walkways, scrambling insect machines, grey cables and such – to Neo’s inner vision, which is burning light that depicts perceiving and entering the internal of all things. He transcends the power of the machines, and does what they and no-one else can. He gives himself up, and trusting in the truth he persuades the machines to allow him to do battle with the evil agents by himself. He has a royal battle with the evil agents, and defeats them by the power of his light and truth. This represents Jesus decent to hell where he defeats all evil forces and releases the captives. All of these events are allegories of the Glorification.
One of the reasons the matrix is the greatest representation of the glorification is that at the end of the battle between Neo and the agent the agent presses his hand into Neo and he is consumed in blackness (hereditary evil). This is the moment Neo was waiting for: for he then enters the power of hereditary evil that has extension into everything and defeats it with the greatest power in the universe that he embodies – Divine love and truth. Neo is then shown in the machine city laying in the cross position, in pure burning light, and the machine voice says, “It is finished” just as Jesus says when he has accomplished the glorification. This corresponds to Jesus purifying his body of all hereditary evil, subjugating all the forces of evil, and especially expanding his presence infinitely by entering the natural level of reality, that is, the innermost of all things in all the universe. In this way they both renewed all things of heaven and earth. Jesus, by His supreme act of love and skill made His human body divine, merging it with the divine of God. Neo also did these things by his might alone: he redeemed all of Zion, and released all the captives that were held so long in the pods. This release is confirmed at the end of the movie where the Oracle asks the Architect if he will release all the people in the pods, and he says, “What do you think I am – Human”.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Personal Reflection on Depth of Feeling in the Movie Interstellar

       There is dark stretch in Interstellar in which it looks like all is lost. Murph learns from the dying Dr. Brand that all their efforts are based on a lie; there never was a plan A, which involved Cooper and Brand establishing a colony and coming home. Murph feels she has been abandoned by her Father. Cooper and Brand learn of the old Brands deception and must absorb this horrendous news. They must also deal with the thought that Murph believes Cooper and Brand have betrayed her. When Cooper decides the team must return and the mission has failed Dr. Mann also betrays them and tries to prevent them from leaving. Mann kills their partner Ron, and attacks Cooper. Meanwhile on earth Murph knows she must go back to her room to help bridge the gap between the equation and the quantum data from inside the black hole which is the only way to save earth. The music during these scenes is dissonant and disturbing; it is very disheartening.
      It is awful how cruel life can be at times. We put our trust in to something and find it was all a lie. This happens in business deals, in relationships, in religion, in many things. I was once in a psychic/religious organization that I dedicated myself to for many years, but the place was not what it appeared to be and gradually became very abusive. It was a severe cult that worked mind control on all of our hopes, ambitions and good intentions over many years. It was very hard to get out, but I finally left at age forty, my daughter having been turned against me, divorced, no money, no job - just starting over in life. It was traumatic and devastating. I wrote a book about his whole experience, and recovery from it - called "Spiritual Perversion".
    In one way I was glad to be out, but recovering from all this seemed impossible, the pain, loneliness, anger, and trauma was a nightmare. I simply persevered. It took a long time, and the years of trauma never completely leaves. But the depth of suffering and processing feelings cracked me open to compassion for others, humility, and deep sense of the presence of the Lord. I am now a hospice chaplain and all this helped me to become a very good chaplain, to absorb insight from the Word, to have a love for life and others. For a time after leaving I wanted nothing to do with religion, but deep down I loved the Lord and this love grew and helped me to pursue a career.
     The wounds in me were and are very deep. I have found that feeling the depth of the wound is very healing. The hardest thing to do is stay with faith and love when injustice is so undeserved and painful. But if we do stay with it, it brings about the deep healing and an unbreakable bond  of love for the Lord. Many times as a chaplain people have asked me why did a terrible thing happen to them, and they assert that they hate God for allowing it. (We can discuss the theology of why God allows bad things to happen another time) But the promise the Lord gives to us is this: He is closest when we are at our lowest. He asks us to trust Him, even when appearances seem so bad and others have not been trustworthy. Through deep feeling we can move toward healing pain and anger, and bring love and awareness to our soul.
     In the movie the efforts of evil to destroy their lives turns out to give them one last chance to be the bridge that will save the world. After being betrayed and abandoned Cooper, Brand and Ron make the tremendous effort to stick with hope and keep working the process to save themselves and the world. From the depths of loss the movie moves to the joy of love from exercising persistent effort and faith. The beautiful and redemptive music evokes very deep feeling in many of these scenes.
        In my last article on interstellar I talked about how love is a container that has within it all the wisdom and knowledge to achieve its end purpose. This wisdom is tapped by feeling, effort and activity. The correspondence for this spiritual process in nature is this: In every tree there is a seed, and in that seed is all the information and potential for an enormous tree to live. For this to become real requires nutrients, water and persistence.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Description of the Greatest Event in History Using Einstiens' Physics

In this article I hope to explore the correspondence between the process of the glorification of the Lord, and Einstein’s theory of particle acceleration, which states that as matter approaches the speed of light its mass increases, and theoretically approaches infinity. This was demonstrated in the Berkeley cyclotron. I will begin by describing the process of the glorification.
         Jesus was tempted and assaulted by evil during the course of His whole life. The 40 days and 40 nights that the Lord was tempted are symbolic of temptations that actually took place his whole life. These temptations and battles that took place were of an intensity far beyond what we could even imagine. The process of overcoming these temptations is how Christ purified his human and accomplished the glorification. Christ could be tempted by evil because he had a human body from his mother. All humans have Hereditary evil; it is passed on from generation to generation through the body, and the soul. The evil that comes from the father is more interior, because of the soul; and the evil that comes from the mother is more exterior, because from the body. Interior evil from the soul can be regenerated, but cannot be removed. Therefore, because Christ soul was divine, or Jehovah himself, he had no interior evil, but he did have hereditary evil from the body. The result of this is that He ‘entered the fish bowl’, so to speak, that is, He made himself accessible to all humanity, and at the same time to all evil. But the brilliance of this is that Jesus also access to evil. He needed to be able to be tempted by the evil so He could subjugate all evil.

The Lord grew like other men. He learned and grew in skills, except at a much greater rate and power. With his exceptional spiritual and intellectual skills he was tempted by spiritual pride, and every other vice during his growth. Day by day, step-by-step, He overcame all temptations. Evil forces tempted Him with power, fame, greed, wealth, and comfort. The reason he could be tempted but did not sin, is that as long as we a mulling a deed over in mind, it is not yet sin, but when we intend to do, or do he deed, it has entered our will and it is sin. They tempted Him to rage, vengeance, lust, pride, and self-love. They unrelentingly tried to persuade him to sinful actions by incredible magical arts. But Christ was able to see and reject the evil of men and women, especially in the spiritual world. He defeated the forces of  all hell by making them surrender to him.
To give some insight to the depth of these assaults, Swedenborg writes that even the angels of heaven tempted Him because angles, even though good, are former humans and have remnants of hereditary evil. Swedenborg writes: “He foresaw and overcame the most subtle of all temptations from the angels”. It took the power and might of His Divine Soul to overcome and do what no human could do.
Christ’s greatest temptation had to do with his boundless love and compassion for humanity. The evil forces knew this, so like terrorists on earth, they sought to destroy that which He loves the most.
Now it is very important to note that evil attacks according to ones innermost love, for from this they can destroy a person’s life; and because Christ was the greatest love to ever be all the greatest forces of hell sought to destroy him. But from the power in his soul each time Christ overcame a temptation He took another step in purifying His human body of all hereditary evil. And each time He removed hereditary evil, He entered a greater state of light, and the quality of his love rose to a higher level.

         Now lets examine the implications of this process. The progressive temptations the Lord underwent and overcame, and the ever-increasing love He opened to, sets up an exponential equation. As said above, it is a law of the hells that they seek to destroy a person by attacking their innermost love, and every time a temptation is overcome one’s state of love increases. In the case of Christ His soul possessed infinite potential because His father was God. Swedenborg writes, “Because this love (of Christ toward humanity) was not human but Divine, and temptation is great in proportion as the love is great, it is evident how grievous were His combats, and how great the ferocity on the part of the hells. That these things were so I know of a certainty”. So the ever-increasing formula is this: the more Christ overcame temptations and purified his human the higher his quality of love became, which in turn led the hells to attack with increased force at the higher level, and when He overcame that temptation, His quality of love increased again, and so on to the point of infinity.
     Having described Swedenborg’s conception of the Glorification process we can now compare it to Einstein’s theory of particle acceleration, which states: the closer a particle approaches the speed of light, the greater its mass becomes, and this increase continues exponentially to the horizon of infinity. Max Born writing on this subject says:
A glance at formula 78 for the mass tells us that the values of the relativistic mass m become greater as the velocity v of the moving body approaches the velocity of light. For v=c the mass becomes infinitely great.
From this it follows that it is impossible to make a body move with a velocity greater than that of light by applying forces: Its inertial resistance grows to an infinite extent and prevents the velocity of light from being reached (Max Born, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, 277).
The primary difference between the Glorification and Einstein’s formula, is the infinite inertia of mass. But I believe the infinite love of Jesus could overcome the the law of the infinite inertia of mass.
In Einstien’s formula I would suggest that m (mass) corresponds to the body of Jesus, and v (velocity) corresponds to the accelerating love and wisdom of Jesus; c (the speed of light) corresponds to reaching the infinite potential, or making his body divine. The inertial resistance corresponds to the barrier between the natural world and the spiritual world, which physical substance (a body) cannot cross. Max Born’s statement about the infinite resistance of inertia preventing the speed of light being reached is a difference, but in a way it helps us appreciate the miraculous nature of the resurrection. The exact correspondence is that between mass becoming infinite and Jesus taking his human body into the spiritual world and merging with the divine, which is what Jesus accomplished in the resurrection. Jesus was able to do this because he entered into a love that never existed before, his love was divine and by utterly purifying his body of all hereditary evil he as able to enter the innermost of all things. His divine body merged with the divine essence of God. This is the mystery of all mysteries and the greatest event in all History.
Swedenborg writes that Christ was the only one to raise His corporeal body into the spiritual world and the only one who ever will:
He rose again on the third day with His whole body; which does not take place with any man, for man rises again only as to the spirit, but not as to the body. That man might know and no one should doubt that the Lord rose again with His whole body…He showed himself in His human body to the disciples, saying to them, when they believed they saw a spirit: Behold, My hands and My feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see, for spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have. And when He said this, He showed them his hands and feet (Luke 24:39,40) (A.C. 5078).
The Bible is careful to show that the Lord’s has a divine body in transition after the resurrection. When Christ first appears to Mary after the resurrection and she mistakes Him for a gardener, He says to her, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet risen to My Father”. Afterward He invites the disciples to touch His body. As in the above quote to prove to the disciples further that He rose with His whole body He told Thomas to thrust his hand into His side (John 20:27,28). For the same purpose, in front of the disciples, He ate fish and honeycomb proving He had natural qualities (Luke 24:41-43). He also ‘appeared to them while the door was shut’ (John 20:19,26), in other words, He walked through walls indicating his body had divine qualities. It is also significant that after He had been with the disciples for some time, suddenly ‘He became invisible’ (Luke 24:31). The Bible is laying out the attributes of the Divine Human so that all generations can know that he resurrected His human body and merged with the divine, thus becoming the divine human.
 This process describes the resurrection of Christ. In physics when the velocity of mass equals the speed of light then theoretically mass becomes infinite, but this would mean infinite mass would occupy all space and thereby destroy everything, which of course is impossible. But in a spiritual way this makes sense, because Swedenborg writes that the whole unverse is in the form of the Grand man, the divine human. This is another subject, which I will write about in my next blog.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Spiritual Meaning of Gravity and the Planets

This article is a continuation of the article on the meaning of how the universe is expanding at the speed of light from all points. The value of the correspondence we spoke of in that article has not only to do with science but also in the encouragement they offer in caring for our souls and the meaning of life. It is a deeply held value that every person that ever lived is gifted with unique use and attributes and talents to serve life, and the correspondence in that article deeply supports this. It affirms a view of the cosmos many cultures value, a view that is full of wonder, intellect and wisdom. The ancient and modern practice of astrology that sees meaning and character in all of the planets is a good example. It is a well developed practice, full of detail, and connects people lives to the heavenly bodies. The vision of ‘The Music of the Spheres’, began with pythagoras, and was developed through history, especially during medieval times. It incorporates a geometrical and mystical meaning to the movement of the planets. The Hopi Indians see the universe with great wonder and a deep metaphysic of their own.          
Astrology tells us that the personal attributes of a person are influenced by the formation of the planets and sun at the exact moment of their birth. It believes that the position of the planets in their orbit at the time of a new born baby on earth forms a unique constellation according to the moment and place of birth, and the result is that the attributes of the person’s soul and personality are reflected in this constellation. Astrology doesn’t speak of God but the whole philosophy of its science melds with the idea that everything in the universe is orchestrated by the infinite love and wisdom of the Lord. At the moment of birth there is a need in the universe, (or a use to be filled), and the person born is imbued with unique character by God to contribute to that need. Swedenborg expresses this on a cosmic scale in a very beautiful way when he says: “The more people who enter heaven, the more complete it becomes”. It is inherent in this statement that every person born has unique meaning for the whole, and that if they seek this in good faith and use, they will enter a fulfilment of greater use in heaven. For instance, Swedenborg writes that there is a providential reason for each persons time of birth and death, it could be that they still need to learn something here, or they have some use for others to learn here, or it could also be that they are needed in heaven for a purpose to people there, and this use somehow balances equilibrium.
Lets look further at how the scientific knowledge of the planets is imbued with meaning by correspondences. Every object has gravity based on its mass. The planets are so enormous that their gravities are dominant in our solar system, though less than the sun, but they are also much closer to us. Here we often say that a person ‘gravitates to their love’, which speaks to a great truth. In the spiritual world gravity corresponds to the attractive force of love. In the spiritual world like attracts like; ‘gravity’ (love, affection) is the force that draws people to the society they belong to and holds them there based on the quality of love they possess. This is made more understandable when we see that every society in heaven has its own atmosphere. Atmosphere’s are composed of the spiritual substance of love and wisdom, particularly how these two are married together in a unique way in each society. Swedenborg tells how each society has its own breathing pattern, and someone not from a soceity who enters it finds it difficult to breath unless they can come into harmony with the affections of that society, because breath and speech correspond to affection. The practice of astrology, the Music of the Spheres, the cosmology of the Hopi Indians - each of which give distinct qualities to the planets, movements, and their atmospheres - are examples of these qualities bleeding through to us.
Because gravity corresponds to the attractive force of love I think it is important to reflect on the nature of love. Love and wisdom proceed from the divine heart of the Lord in the spiritual sun; they are the source of life and sustain all life. Swedenborg says there is a cosmic pulse from the spiritual sun that extends throughout the universe and governs living hearts. Love from the Lord is married to wisdom and contains infinite things, but we receive it according to our love. Love is a container that holds innumerable particulars of knowledge and wisdom. For us love is a desire and yearning that seeks an end and all the wisdom necessary to achieve the end is contained in that love and desire. This is difficult to grasp in the abstract so lets give an example. Swedenborg tells the story of a man he knew in the world who was simple and who had little education, but who was pure of heart and loved the Word. He met this man again in heaven and was amazed that the man was able to discourse greatly on the nature of things and the Word with great wisdom. The reason being that in the spiritual world his love expanded to its fruition, for love opens our internals and the wisdom that comes with it becomes our own. In common language we say it this way: to love is to know, and to know is to love. Love by nature is deep affection not only for the beloved but also for wisdom. Both increase and elevate each other. Gravity corresponds to love, and so it makes sense that the unique quality of love and wisdom in heavenly societies corresponds to the unique qualities attributed to planets in the solar system by humnaity. It also makes sense that the constellation of planets at the time of a person’s birth form distinct qualities that are part of God’s expression of that person’s potential gifts.
This also melds beautifully with the medieval conception of “the music of the spheres”. In ‘The Narnian’ Alan Jacobs describes C.S. Lewis love of the spheres and their nature: “Among the ‘old lore’ of our world there is one tradition that Lewis found especially fascinating, and that turns up repeatedly in his fiction…The spheres are in medieval astronomy the abodes of the planets. These spheres surround the earth, moving outward from us in concentric circles; beyond them is the Empyrean, the heaven of heavens, where God’s presence dwells most fully. But what is there music? That music is made by the friction of their contact as they ceremoniously rotate at their various speeds; it is of extraordinary beauty.” This kind of system engages a deeper view of the universe than science, and intuitively engages the universal principles Swedenborg witnessed in heaven. The spheres surrounding the planets are like the atmospheres of the spiritual world and the planets correspond to societies in heaven that have character, use, love and meaning.
Whether astrology or the sphere of the planets can be scientifically proven is not the point. The universe is full of wonders in very particular ways that we can endlessly learn. Astrology, the sphere of the planets, the Hopi Indians express how some of the spiritual qualities of the universe bleed through into nature and into our mind and soul’s perception. And the wonders we will some day see in the spiritual world far far outshine what we know now.