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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 the inner self (6)


Meditate | The Inner and the Outer and the Inner in the Outer

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 outer self contains attributes that harmonize [with the inner self] and attributes that clash…Even the ones in the outer self [that harmonize], since they form a unit with the inner self…belong to the inner self.

The inner and outer selves in any individual can never become one…When we have been reborn, it seems as though they exist united in us, but they are the Lord’s. Anything harmonious is the Lord’s, whereas anything discordant is ours. Secrets of Heaven 1577

In regard to separation, we need to see that it is not a separation but a muting…When it quiets down, though, it seems to go away, since it seems nonexistent. Secrets of Heaven 1581

So it turns out the outer self has qualities that harmonize with the inner self in addition to ones that clash. Who knew? That adds a nuance to the idea of the outer self described in last month’s Meditate. But there’s a twist. The twist is that the attributes or qualities that harmonize in the outer self actually belong to the inner self. What? If the qualities that harmonize with the inner self that are in the outer self are actually just the inner self, why make the confusing claim in the first place that they are the outer self’s?

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Meditate | Shoveling

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

"Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made" (Psalms 7:14-15).

"The Lord witnessed the outer self at its most beautiful, when united with the inner self. He also witnessed what it is like when not united to the inner self (verses 10, 11, 12, 13 [quoted as follows])" (Secrets of Heaven 1538).

"And Lot raised his eyes and saw the whole plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered (before Jehovah had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like the garden of Jehovah, like the land of Egypt as you come to Zoar.
And Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan; and Lot set out from the east, and they separated, a man from his brother.
Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent as far as Sodom.
And the men of Sodom were very evil and sinful against Jehovah" (Genesis 13:10-13).

Lately I’ve had ample opportunity to witness what my outer self is like when not united to the inner self. It’s painful to witness the outer self chugging along in all its falsity and compulsion. What’s worse though is the stretch of time when I’m falling for it,

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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 | 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 | Root to Rise

“Deeds inspired by charity are alive. They are said to send roots below and yield fruit above, as in Isaiah: ‘The remaining refugees of Judah’s house will put new root downward and produce fruit upward’ (37:31). To produce fruit upward is to act with charity as motivation” (Secrets of Heaven 348).

Everything living is from the inner self. The inner self is the only thing that lives. Charity, or loving others, is so central. The only source of charity or our love for others is the inner self, our tap root to the Lord. Earlier in this passage it says that “deeds of faith that lack charity are deeds devoid of faith,” and are wholly of the outer self. So we can have “faith,” or some imitation of it in our outer self, but it is not true faith until it is living by way of loving others, which requires a rootedness in our inner self, in the Lord. There is no other way to love others than from our connection with the Lord who supplies our inner self with the flow of that love. 


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.