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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 work (4)


Meditate | Free Sunlight

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 better yet, your own article. Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

Our whole spirit is desire and its consequent thought; and since all desire is a matter of love and all thought a matter of discernment, our whole spirit is its love and its consequent discernment. This is why our thinking flows from the desires of our love when we are thinking solely from our own spirit, as we do when we are in reflective moods at home…We are drawn to what is evil (which amounts to a compulsion) if our love has been a love for what is evil, and we are drawn to what is good if our love has been a love for what is good. We are drawn to what is good to the extent that we have abstained from evils as sins; and we are drawn to what is evil to the extent that we have not abstained from evils.

Since all spirits and angels are desires, then, we can see that the whole angelic heaven is nothing but a love that embraces all desires for what is good and therefore a wisdom that embraces all perceptions of what is true. Further, since everything good and true comes from the Lord and the Lord is love itself and wisdom itself, it follows that the angelic heaven is an image of him. (Divine Providence 61)

No one can become an angel or get to heaven unless he or she arrives bringing along some angelic quality from the world. Inherent in that angelic quality is a knowing of the path from having walked it and a walking in the path from the knowing of it. (Divine Providence 60)

Meditating on these passages, I recognize clearly in my experience how evil is compulsive. In my interactions with my kids, I am powerless over my negative reactions to their behavior. “Knee-jerk,” like a reflex, is a good description for how this negative reaction feels compulsive.

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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 | Is it Merciful?

“It is the inner contents, or the Lord working through the inner contents, that give the outer shell life” (Secrets of Heaven 349).

“Charity means love for our neighbor. It means mercy too, since if we love our neighbors as we do ourselves we have mercy on them when they are suffering, as we would on ourselves” (Secrets of Heaven 351).

These ideas give the phrase “living from the heart” new meaning. How can I live from my true heart? What would that look like and consist of? One possibility is that I can ask myself before taking actions in my daily life, “Would the action be loving, kind, useful, and merciful?” Or does it have the fiery, tense edge of intense desire? Actions taken that are in alignment with the inner self taste different than the urgency and graspingness of the feelings behind actions that arise from intense desire, or the outer self’s purely self-oriented concern. First off, the former way is not attached to the results of the actions taken. It has a gentleness and patience that the latter lacks. If I can be sensitive to the feeling that is giving rise to the idea of a specific action, then perhaps I can distinguish between these two sources and make choices that bring greater blessings and happiness to everyone involved.


Meditate | Burning Bridges

“It is our outer self, or the feelings and memory of our outer self, that the seeds of goodness and truth are planted in. They are not sown in our inner self because the inner self lacks anything of our own; things of our own exist in the outer self.

Our inner being holds good qualities and true thoughts. When they seem to have departed, we are then shallow, body-oriented people. Still, the Lord stores those things up in our inner self without our knowing. They do not come out of hiding until our outer self dies, so to speak, as frequently happens in times of trial, misfortune, grave illness, or imminent death.

The ability to reason also belongs to the outer self. In its true character, that capacity is a kind of bridge between the inner self and the outer, because the inner self directs the outer, body-centered self by means of it. But when the rational mind consents [to self-dependence], it separates the outer self from the inner; so that we no longer know the inner self exists. As a result, we also fail to see what understanding and wisdom are, belonging as they do to the inner realm” (Secrets of Heaven 268).

I can make a practice in awareness out of how I am using my rational mind: whether I am using it to connect to the inner self or to block myself from it. My rational capacity needs to be honest and willing to humbly do the work of clearly stating what the inner self has to say; it needs to serve as a clear bridge and just communicate the message, without commentary, even though my outer self is terrified and just wants my rationality to keep serving it through stoking the fire of its negativity with corroborative thoughts. My rational mind needs to be a bridge and not a fire-stoker.

My rational mind tends quickly toward self-dependence when I don’t make time to read the Word. Over the past seven weeks since our son was born I’ve been predominantly in the experience of seeming detachment from the inner self.  I also haven’t had much time for reading the Word and even less for reflection. My posts before our son’s birth were all about learning about the dynamic between the outer and inner self. These last seven weeks have given me ample opportunity to live those teachings and experience trials that to me are all little “deaths” of the outer self steadily making way for goodness and truth to flow in from the inner realm more freely.

Brewing resentment is a hallmark of my rational mind having consented to self-dependence, blocking the bridge to the inner realm; it’s the best stuff for fire-stoking around. Recently, it was the first of the twelve steps (from the Twelve Steps program) as used for becoming free from resentment that showed me a way out: “I am powerless over my negative thoughts and feelings.” This simple statement was a message of truth making its way across the bridge. It contains within it the premise that I am not my negative thoughts and feelings. If I am not my negative thoughts and feelings, then what am I? I am free, free to choose a different tune to live by. I am powerless over my negative thoughts and feelings—I cannot control their constant din—but with the Lord’s power I can see my resentment for what it is and be free from its grip because I am not it. Using my rational mind to acknowledge this truth, the way to the inner self widens and the binds of resentment are loosed. I’m sure I’ll be given the option to take them on again very soon, but with this brief respite I feel renewed strength and confidence in my ability to handle the confrontation, keeping the way of the bridge clear and remembering the Lord’s Word.