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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 spiritual awareness (7)


We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets 

Drugs, alcohol, and the following mental illness went hand in hand with religion and spiritual experiences for Dave. As he worked on moving away from one he moved closer to the other. But the conflict between the two and lack of resolution on either front led to further conflict. Ultimately he has found change in the 12 steps program of AA and the ideas of regeneration, as we read in his article for this week. -Editor.

I found myself deceiving others about the double life I led. Drugs and alcohol were a large part and they led to all kinds of horrible behavior. This resulted in spiritual and mental insanity.

I believe a large part of the insanity was because I was violating deeply held moral beliefs that I held for myself. But I was trapped in a cycle of addiction that I couldn’t break free of.

From time to time, I would resolve to stop putting the chemicals into my system and detox on my own. At some point shortly following that, I would ‘confess’ my secrets to an inappropriate person and I would be thrown into spiritual upheaval.

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Misery and the Search for Happiness

How can we address misery within ourselves in a way that elevates our perspective and frees us from wallowing in an emotional underworld? Rachel cautions us to be tender with ourselves. If we let our pain teach us, we will be bettered by it. -Editor

Often I think the hells trick us into being more miserable than we need to be. Perhaps we don’t feel as energized or as happy as we would like some days. And some days we feel a little depressed and down. But do we say to ourselves, “Oh hello, sadness how are you today? What do you need?” No. Not usually. Most of the time we say, “Go away misery! I want happiness! Leave me alone. I hate you.” And then we begin to get mad at ourselves for being so miserable. And it spreads to those around us and sometimes we feel guilty for lashing out at others just because we are miserable. And the hells have a party because our misery becomes a toilet bowl being flushed—an endless spiral downwards.

How can we stop this downward spiral? Plugging it up often seems like the easiest way. Bottle up that emotion! Ignore irritation! But Thomas Moore in his book Care of the Soul cautions: “Hiding the dark places results in a loss of soul” (148). As tempting as it is to ignore or bury the things that bother us, we actually are stifling a part of ourselves that needs listening to. Moore also says: “Care of the soul begins with observance of how the soul manifests itself and how it operates...Observance is a word from ritual and religion. It means to watch out for but also to keep and honor, as in the observance of a holiday” (5). So when negative states are manifest in our life, does observing and honoring those states help?

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Meditate | Who's Watching? Finding Access to the Lord

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

The term ‘intermediate self’ is used because the heavenly and spiritual traits in us, which belong to the Lord alone, supply us with an internal self, as shown earlier. Our rational processes, on the other hand, supply us with an intermediate self, or one midway between internal and external. And our responses to goodness, and the facts in our memory, create an external self for us…

The reason that reproducing and multiplying have to do with the intermediate self—the rational self—is that we do not feel the operation of the internal self except in a very general way, at that intermediate level. A single general impression or even a comprehensive general impression is created in our intermediate self by a boundless number of individual components. Just how far beyond counting they are, what they are like, and how they create a dim, general impression can be seen from the demonstration offered earlier at §545. (Secrets of Heaven 1015)

Going with the language of the passages quoted, if I’m having good thoughts, true ideas or good feelings, that’s not me experiencing the internal self—that’s me receiving influx from it into my intermediate self. This is a revelation to me, that if I’m feeling these things, then the goodness and truth that live in the internal self actually have already made the trip to my intermediate self! The connection is there and open or I wouldn’t be feeling those things. That’s a comforting thought.

Let me draw you a scene: We’re at our little, wooden dinner table. There are toys strewn about on the wooden floor. It’s dinner time. The sun has set in the cold winter sky and the shades are drawn in our warm dining room. We’re all hungry and just sitting down to the meal at hand. Kids are yelling, melting down, and I’m grumpy, bursting with short-tempered directives, all the while having negative thoughts about myself and the situation because of it. Hit pause. Take a step back, a step deeper within my mind—who’s noticing all this going on?

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Meditate | Bad Weather

“The fact of the matter is that no one has any understanding of truth or will to do good… When people develop a heavenly nature, they seem to have a will to do good and an understanding of truth, but the capability is all the Lord’s, as they themselves see, acknowledge, and perceive… The independent self of every human being and every angel—even the most heavenly—is mere falsity and evil… All good and all truth belong to [the Lord] alone” (Secrets of Heaven 633).

“People are unaware that each of us has a deeper level inside, and another level deeper than that, and another level that is deepest of all… Our bodily urges and sense impressions form the outermost surface; our passions and memories, a deeper layer; our loves and rational thoughts, a still deeper layer; and a will to do good and a comprehension of truth, the deepest” (Secrets of Heaven 634).

I want to invite the Lord in. Looking inward in meditation today everything inside feels cloudy or foggy. I can see the first two levels mentioned in today’s reading and have a sense of the third, but the inmost was clouded over in fog. This felt sad to me, but I remembered and thought about how the rational can serve the outer or inner self. I want it to serve the inner. In the passages I read today it also said how we invite the Lord’s mercy, truth, and goodness in by how we live. And so I feel a longing in me to be a heavenly person, to have the way opened. Thinking this, I then was reminded that I can’t just choose to be good today in my life because goodness and truth are the Lord’s alone; they flow in. So how do I make it so that they can flow in? Remove evil. I also got the message that one evil is enough. Just pick one. So here’s what I choose—the evil, the falsity associated with that evil, and the action that results:

Evil: Self-love leading to hatefulness and a love of putting myself above others and my needs above others.

Falsity: The moment requires impatience. The Lord isn’t taking care of my day and life. The Lord doesn’t give enough time so I need to worry and control to get my time.

Action/Result: Impatience with my daughter and a lack of compassion and mercy towards her.

So I can focus today on removing this evil from my life. Choose not to do it or give it action, pray for the Lord’s help, and notice when it happens, or when it is about to take over and pray to the Lord for another option. The Lord has overcome all evil so he can give me the power to overcome this in my day and life. Thank you, Lord. 


Meditate | State-Shifting

“We are the ones who turn away from the Lord’s mercy; the Lord never turns away from us” (Secrets of Heaven 588).

“The innermost recesses are where heavenly joy comes from. I also perceived that joy and pleasure seemed to come from my heart, gently permeating all the inmost fibers of my body and thus all the bundles of fibers. The sensation of this joy at the deepest levels made it seem as though each fiber was composed of nothing but joy and pleasure and all the perceptiveness and sensitivity that comes with joy and pleasure. The fibers seemed alive with happiness” (Secrets of Heaven 545[2]).

A regular beginning pattern to my meditation is that I focus on the breath and get physically restful and relaxed, then for a long time my natural focus is mental or thought-based: repeating words or thinking of ideas. Then today this led me to think of a friend of mine with love and how much I want to call her and see how she is doing. This thought reminded me that love brings union and my whole state shifted—I became focused on the love I have for my friend, but it expanded to love I have for lots of things—my marriage, my children, my life. And this shift brought with it a deepening of my whole being.

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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.