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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in sense of self (4)


Meditate | The Context of our Human Nature

“He chose to be born and in fact to be born into a religion that had sunk all the way down into a hellish, diabolical kind of selfhood, through self-love and materialism. He was born in order to unite his divinely heavenlike selfhood to a human one, in the context of his human nature, by the use of his divine power, so that they could be one inside him. Had he not united them, the world would have ended in total destruction” (Secrets of Heaven 256).

This seems like the quintessential passage for my entire process up until now of learning about the dynamic of the inner and outer self, and how to live from the inner self versus the outer. This passage teaches what the Lord did and it is the task of our lives. This is the reason for being alive—to be sewn to heaven and the Lord the way the Lord did himself. We are that religion, that selfhood built of self-love and materialism, and the Lord uses his divine power to unite a heavenly selfhood to us, to make our human selfhood heavenly. He transforms it.

I love how it says that the Lord’s work occurred in the context of his human nature, which to me means that the Lord can bring about this transformation in me in the very context of my human nature—all of it, all of my evil tendencies, tendencies to be mean, to get frustrated, annoyed, impatient; the context of my everyday living is the stuff, the medium, through which I will and am undergoing transformation.

The Lord didn’t make an exception for himself. He didn’t remove his process, his experience, from the gritty stuff of the context of human nature. That would have made his work pointless and useless. The context is so essential. It is so essential to recognize that transformation happens in your very, current context—in your human nature.   


Meditate | Gaining a Keener Sense of Contrast

“A flying fire snake is the kind of desire felt by self-love” (Secrets of Heaven 251, in reference to Isaiah 14:29).

“The heavenly marriage is a relationship in which heaven (and so the church) is united to the Lord through its sense of self. In fact heaven and the church are to be found in the feeling of independent existence, because without it there could never be union. When the Lord in his mercy infuses our selfhood with innocence, peace, and goodness, it still seems to be our own, but it becomes heavenly and full of the greatest blessings” (Secrets of Heaven 252).

As you know if you have been reading these weekly meditations, I am reading my way through Secrets of Heaven. A major theme that has come to the fore through my reading is the dynamic between the outer and inner self, or in other words, a hellish sense of self and a heavenly one. Learning about this dynamic has fed my spiritual work in my day to day life. The practice for me has been to heighten my awareness of the contrast between what it feels like to have the outer or hellish self active versus the inner or heavenly one. These passages offer another way to contrast the two: the heavenly, inner self is full of innocence, peace, and goodness, while the desire felt when the hellish, outer self is active is likened to a flying fire snake. That’s a quite a contrast!

So, my daily spiritual work continues to include the practice of being mindful of whether what I am feeling inside, the desire that is fueling my thoughts and actions, is “intense desire” like that of a flying fire snake, or is peaceful. And my intent is to serve the Lord, serve the heart, and so choose to act only on those feelings coming from a sense of peace.  


Meditate | Am "I" Really Necessary?

“It is entirely true that the Lord governs us through spirits and angels. When evil spirits start to take control, angels put their effort into deflecting evils and falsities, and conflict results. This conflict is what we sense by means of perception, an inner dictate, or conscience” (Secrets of Heaven 227).

”On our own we cannot help doing evil and turning away from the Lord. Yet it is not we who act this way but the evil spirits present with us. And it is not the evil spirits but the wickedness itself adopted by them as their own. In spite of this, we do evil and turn away from the Lord, and we are to blame. Still, we cannot live except from the Lord.

On the other hand, we have no ability at all to do good or turn toward the Lord on our own; it is the angels who give us the power. Yet the angels themselves cannot do so. Only the Lord can. Still, we can do good and turn toward the Lord as if we were acting under our own power” (Secrets of Heaven 233).

“The heavenly marriage is something that exists in our selfhood. Moreover, it is because of the heavenly marriage that our selfhood, after being brought to life by the Lord, is called the Lord’s bride and wife…When the Lord brings it to life, our sense of self gives us the ability to perceive all the good desired by love and all the truth taught by faith” (Secrets of Heaven 155).

First, when I read how conflict is really the experience of angels fighting for the good in us and evil spirits trying to bend us toward false ideas and evil action, it makes me think that in some way I could just sit back and watch it all like a movie, confident the angels will win and good will prevail. But really, augmented by the second passage, the truth is that we must be engaged. We must choose good and give it action, as if under our own power.

The phrase “appearance versus reality” comes to mind. When I think of this phrase I want to ditch the appearance and only serve reality—because reality is better, right? Well, in relation to the ideas in Secrets of Heaven 233, appearance and reality don’t adequately capture the meaning. They might be better termed external and internal. The appearance part is our reality; it is our external experience, the “I” experience we all live in, and it is not to be ditched. As expressed in Secrets of Heaven 155, the sense of self enlivened by the Lord is the means of the heavenly marriage. So it is important to be engaged in choosing to live the “good love desires” even though we can, at the same time, recognize the true forces that are at play. 


Meditate | Me, My-self, and My-Self

“Human self-hood is nothing but evil; presented in visual form it is extremely ugly. But when infused by the Lord with charitable love and innocence, it appears virtuous and lovely.

Love for our fellow humans and innocence are what excuse self-centeredness, or a person’s evil and falsity. Not only do they excuse it, they almost eliminate it, as anyone can see in young children. When toddlers show love to each other and to their parents while glowing with childish innocence, what is actually evil and false in them does not seem so and even gives pleasure. This shows that no one can be let into heaven without some innocence” (Secrets of Heaven 164).

So, we are nothing but self-interest. Self-centeredness is what our ‘self’ or outer being consists of, whereas the Lord possesses the will, our true will, in our inner being (see Secrets of Heaven 105). This sense of self really makes for such a dangerous dynamic in our lives. Our self-hood is at once our damnation and the very vehicle through which we come into heavenly marriage with the Lord. This to me is a very powerful example of the amazing feats the Lord’s divine love and wisdom are capable of.