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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 outer self (3)


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 | 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.