Friday, December 16, 2016

Wise in doing evil

Alcazar, Seville

I woke up at 3:30 AM this morning and really didn't get back to sleep.

I want to be more open to the inward flow. Of course, not much of this is up to me; yet I can relax and attend. 

The only real part of life arises in accordance with the flow of the inward energy, the "higher" energy, as Jeanne Salzmann called it; and I suppose that that word, "higher", may do. But in reality, the energy is the energy of love and the energy of God, which flows into our being through our innermost parts in what seems to be, most often, sheer defiance of our sin and spiritual poverty. 

Even then, having said that, the words are useless, worthless, and pointless, because what God sends is so great and so good that it is impossible to actually use any word whatsoever to describe it. It is life itself and Love itself; this is what flows into me constantly, and when I am allowed to sense it, the gift is so great that I rightly ought to offer my life itself in exchange for it. It is right and good to sing it in hymns and say it in prayers; but it is only when it softens my body and I feel it in the marrow of my bones that I know its full truth.

I've been reading in Swedenborg's Secrets of Heaven over the past few days, in particular, on the inner meaning of Genesis (a fascinating subject.) in it he reminds us of a quote from Jeremiah:

My people are dense; they do not know me. They are stupid children, without understanding. They are wise in doing evil but do not know how to do good. I looked at the earth, and there—void and emptiness; and to the heavens, and these had no light. (Jeremiah 4:22, 23, 25) 

 I think this point, that we are wise in doing evil, is a telling one. It describes not just the condition of the outer world, but the struggle I engage in within my own Being. 

Just yesterday, during my morning prayer, it struck me quite forcefully that no matter what I did — and no matter how generous the bounty of Grace that God sent me was — I would go forth that day and sin. 

The shocking thing, to me, is that there is no alternative – there is no real goodness in me. Only in proportion to how much I open my spirit to the inflow does goodness arrive; it isn't mine. 

So I am left to suffer the fact of my fallen nature.

 This is a stubborn thing that I don't think any of us want to face. A persistent part of our personality has a wish that goes against God; and we want to live in it. We do live in it, in point of fact; and we find far too much comfort there.

It is only by turning back towards this inward energy that flows into us, this Grace, this abiding force of Love that underlies all of The Reality, that we can find any real truth and hope. 

This is the action of faith; that we turn back towards the spark of true light in the soul, that we intentionally face towards it, that we open our hearts, and that we hope against the earthly and worldly hopes of our own follies and fallen selves, that more of the energy of Love will flow into us and lift us up towards a better Love for others, and for God.

 I said to Neal yesterday that I am not even alive, except insofar as I come into relationship with the energy of the inflow. There is no other life but life in God and for God; and so I fall back into death a thousand times a day when I fall out of relationship with it. Without it, the salt loses its savor and food yields no taste; it is both the water and the wine of life. It transforms everything ordinary into an eternal act of worship, which ought to be my usual state.  

When it is gone, I suffer it; and this is the burden that one has to share in the face of God's love.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

 PS. A note to readers:
 It consistently surprises me how few people appreciate Emmanuel Swedenborg's works in any measure whatsoever.  The man was the preeminent Western esoteric spiritual authority of his age, and with good reason.  It seems certain that Gurdjieff (along with many others) was influenced by him, given how much of his material shares an identity with Swedenborg's teachings. There are times, in reading Swedenborg, when I feel a full two-thirds of Gurdjieff's teaching was quietly cribbed from him in one way or another.

You can use the link in the above text to download a copy of the first volume of Secrets of Heaven free. For those familiar with Maurice Nichol's The New Man (which some consider to be a seminal work on the esoteric meaning of biblical texts), Swedenborg did important work on this matter several centuries earlier; and while his insights can tend to be repetitive (he often cites dozens of examples when one will do) they are powerful.  

The first chapter of Secrets of Heaven, the inner meaning of Genesis, is quite extraordinary all by itself, and if you don't read any other part of the book, that alone will be worth the time you take to download it. But while you are there, by all means, download all the free books you can. After all, they are free.

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