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Bibliotherapy

A Little Emanuel Swedenborg Sampler: Part I-Of Divine Providence & The Celestial Spheres

Emanuel Swedenborg,

a portrait by Carl Frederik von Breda

(16 August 1759 – 1 December 1818)

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🌿Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEiA is the first part of a little sampler dedicated to Emanuel Swedenborg (29 January 1688 – 29 March 1772) and his influential writings, excerpted from: ‘Abrégé des ouvrages d’Emanuel Swedenborg‘ by François-Jean Daillant de La Touche (1744- 1827), published in 1788, from page 266 to 278. Sampler part I’s theme is ‘Divine Providence & the Celestial Spheres‘, echoing Henry Corbin translating Suhrawardi, in ‘The ’Book Of The Temples of The Light’- The ‘Fifth Temple’ or in ‘The Sufi Book of the Word’ – Chapter VIII, and Thomas Vaughan, a.k.a.Eugenius Philalethes, in his treatise, ‘A perfect and full discovery of the true Coelum Terrae‘, etc., all describing the Imaginal Realm and the Celestial Spheres in their own languages and experiences🌿Of course, the collected works of Emanuel Swedenborg are available online, and in books available in any bookshop, and are widespread in long lasting influence (sometimes with unexpected places and people), so why publish it in Bibliotherapy? Because François-Jean Daillant de La Touche is from the following  generation of Swedenborg’s contemporaries and is a precious witness in his textual selections and his footnotes of how the work of Swedenborg reached an eager public and was received by those who will endeavour to implement his striking vision of a regenerated Humanity. Here, obviously it is ‘animal magnetism’ and the heirs of Anton Mesmer-Swedenborg included for the animal magnetism part but fully casted within his spiritual vision-but it is only a tree in the end of the eighteenth century and the following nineteenth century deep forest, which was such a fascinating and colorful field for pioneering alternative and experimental communities and reformative spiritual and political projects… More to come soon🌿

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Introductory Quotes:

1. Henry Corbin, Dr. Suzuki & Swedenborg

Here I should like to mention a conversation, which strikes me as memorable, with D.T. Suzuki, the master of Zen Buddhism (Casa Gabriella, Ascona, August 18, 1954, in the presence of Mrs. Frobe-Kapteyn and Mircea Eliade). We asked him what his first encounter with Occidental spirituality had been and learned that some fifty years before Suzuki had translated four of Swedenborg’s works into Japanese; this had been his first contact with the West. Later on in the conversation we asked him what homologies in structure he found between Mahayana Buddhism and the cosmology of Swedenborg in respect of the symbolism and correspondences of the worlds (cf. his Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, p. 54, n.).

Of course we expected not a theoretical answer, but a sign attesting the encounter in a con­crete person of an experience common to Buddhism and to Swedenborgian spirituality. And I can still see Suzuki suddenly brandishing a spoon and saying with a smile: “This spoon now exists in Paradise…We are now in Heaven,” he explained.

This was an authentically Zen way of answering the question; lbn ‘Arabi would have relished it! In reference to the establishment of the transfigured world to which we have alluded above, it may not be irrelevant to mention the importance which, in the ensu­ring conversation, Suzuki attached to the Spirituality of Swedenborg:

-“Your Buddha of the North, It is he [Swedenborg] who is your Buddha, for you Westerners, it is he who should be read and followed!”

From ‘Creative Imagination in the Sufism of lbn Arabi (Princeton: Princeton University Press1, 969, note pp. 354-355) & ‘Face de Dieu, face de l’homme’ (Paris: Flammarion, 1984, p. 45 n. 4.) Translation by Leonard Fox.

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2. Jacques Matter

Emanuel Swedenborg, it is the incarnation of the supernatural! The greatest effort of a conciliation between the natural realm and the supernatural realm, between the rational and the marvelous. At the time Swedenborg said the Heavens opened up to him, XVIIIth century criticism was throwing the supernatural over-board. Hence he was considered a dreamer, a weak spirit hallucinating, but during the last century, there were few men more vigorously built in body and soul, more prolific and lucid a writer than him and few richer in wealth, honors and ideas.

From Jacques Matter, ‘Swedenborg, sa vie, ses écrits, sa doctrine’, Didier éditeur, 1863.

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Emanuel Swedenborg. Opera Philosophia et Mineralia. Dresden & Leipzig. 1734.

Emanuel Swedenborg,

Of Divine Providence  & The Celestial Spheres

The Universe is an image of God; it was created for usage-and this particular usage, according to order, degree and bonding-owes its existence to the bond that exists between the beings put into usage and Man, towards him they necessarily tend as an intermediary they must be bonded with so to reach the Creator and unite with Him, as with the principle of all existences. The Angelical heaven is composed of the human kind-considered the end of Creation-and all the other beings created-also considered as medium ends, because they all in a bond with Man:

  1. For his corporeal needs, such as food, clothes and dwelling.
  2. To perfect his Intelligence through the inherited experience of his fathers and mothers, by his teachers, by civil and moral sciences and arts that have as an aim the economy of Life and finally by the frequentation of  his own kind.
  3. To receive from God, everything spiritual from religion and cult-because Man must unite with the Lord and for this it can only be achieved through what is of a spiritual nature in him, like his understanding; and the exercise of it can only happen when his body is in good health.

This is the order, that is nothing else but divine truth; the person who follows it it truly human, and in the heavens his beauty is perfect. The angels, perfect recipients of the divine order, are-in their human shape-of an extraordinary beauty; all this proceed from God’s divine humanity, which is order itself and the sole Man, properly speaking, from whom all Humanity is emanated.

Providence is the steering of the Lord’s helm throughout heaven and earth. It reaches everything, because there is only one source of life, the Lord, and it is His influence that preserves everything that exists. In Man, every good proceeds from God, any evil from hell.

The influence of the Lord is, according to the order, invisible alike providence, so that Man is not forced to believe-which would destroy his freedom, without it he can be neither regenerated nor saved. Influence is for the Lord immediate, and immediate also in the spiritual world for the angels. The Lord’s influence proceeds from the spiritual into the natural, from the inside into the outside. The Lord influences evil people as much as good people too, in the celestial spirits as much as in the infernal spirits; but, they change good into evil, truth into lies-because such is the creature, or its will, such is, in it, the reception of the influence.

In order to understand the origin and the reach of this influence, we must first know that the divine proceeding from the Lord is called sphere, which comes out of Him and fills the spiritual and natural worlds, where it achieves God’s aims which he predestined in creation, and since provides. Everything that emanates from a subject, shrouds it, surrounds it and is called sphere; for instance, the sun is surrounded by a sphere of heat and light; Man lives inside a sphere of life; the small tree is wrapped by a sphere of smell, and the magnet in a sphere of attraction. The universal spheres, that originate from our Lord, and that compose His surrounding court, proceed from the sun of the spiritual world. From our Lord, through this sun, proceeds a sphere of spiritual warmth and light, or, which is the same thing, a sphere of love and wisdom, which operates the aims and the usages. This sphere has different names, according to the different usages; there is the sphere of love that perpetuates the world through creation, and a sphere of love that raises, sustain and preserve what is being created. The usage produced by the spheres are the divine Providence, that descends from the universal to the particular, that reaches and accomplishes all aims, which are bonded by series, so much that the last one becomes the first.

Everything that is spiritual does not partake of space and time, therefore the universal sphere, which is the divine proceeding from our Lord, stretched at the moment of creation, from the first to the last. This spiritual impulse, passing by communication from the spiritual to the natural, crossed  through its activity the created world where it still remains deep into the last degrees, producing and conservating everything animal, plant and mineral.

A spiritual sphere, composed of the affections of the love of Man, reaches out of him like a torrent and surrounds him; it enters the natural sphere, emanated from the body of that Man, and the two spheres become one. The natural sphere emanates from all of these bodies of nature, of all objects of the three realms (Via-HYGEIA note: Animal, plant and mineral). It is the same in the spiritual world, with this difference that the spheres are spiritual beings, because they are the affection of love, internal perceptions; here is the source of dislike and sympathy, of union and discord, according to which between spirits there is presence or absence; because in the spiritual realm, everything homogeneous and consistent establishes union and presence; everything heterogeneous and discordant establishes strife and absence. Hence, the spiritual sphere operates in such ways in the natural world.

The angels that know Man perfectly told me that there are no parts in him that do not renew through dissolutions or repairs, from where proceeds the sphere that floods him, like a inexhaustible source; they told me that this sphere shrouds him from the back and the chest, that it was light, weak in the back, but very resistant and dense by the chest.

This sphere of influence, proper to Man, hence acts around him, in general and in particular, through the mean of the will, understanding and action; the aim belongs to will, the cause to understanding; action is the product and the content of both. This effect, or action, produced by three degrees, is essentially one; it is one in the thought, before existing in the world, it is one in the intention; this is why, in the eyes of God and the wise people who follow his laws, intention is deemed to the fact. Even though this progression of actions, even of countless series of actions, every action is one, because it proceeds from the active intelligence of the will and the understanding, two mights that compose Man, who is one. And he is one, this Man, because he was emanated from the  active influence of love and wisdom, or from the warmth and light of the spiritual sun-the first proceeding from God-Who-is-One; in all, there is only one effect, because there is only one cause.

This sphere-which proceeds from God, surrounds all men, and constitutes their might, influencing through them their kind, and overall the entire Creation-is a sphere of peace and innocence, because, the Lord, from which it originates, is the kernel of peace and innocence Himself. In Isaiah, 9:5-6, He is called ‘Prince of Peace’. He says to his disciples: ‘I leave you my peace, I give you my peace.‘ John 14:17. When entering a house, say: ‘May peace be here with you! If there is a child of peace in this house, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.’ Luke, 10:5-6. Innocence is the essence of all good; Peace is the spell of the good-This is what constitutes heaven, which is God, the cause of all effects, the source of all influences. Man, can only make his influence useful to his kind, only in the calm that follows innocence, and through his union with heaven; this spiritual union is, in the spiritual Man, is followed by the natural union, through the mean of tactile activity (Via-HYGEIA note: sense of touch and its operations) and the imposition of the hands, that animates, extend and communicate the influence from within. See those children whose influence of innocence is spreading with delight, and ceaselessly by mean of tactile activity, they like to touch and being touched; we love holding them in our arms, to cuddle them and being cuddled by them.

The soul is communicated by the body that shrouds it; the spiritual influence spreads especially through the hands, because the hands are the ultimum, the extremity of Man; and with him (as in the totality of his nature) the first is contained in the last, alike the cause in the effect; the wholeness of the soul, the wholeness of the body, which are the intermediaries of the influence, are present and gathered in the hands; this is why our Lord Jesus Christ (who loved little children) healed the sick through the imposition of the hands; this is why others where healed just by touching Him; from this comes also, from the most ancient times, the initiation of the priests and the blessing of all things sacred, by the imposition of the hands. This is the inner meaning of the saying: ‘The hands are the acting agents of Might.’

(Note by Daillant de La Touche: ‘Here, again, is another prediction made in 1768 of Animal Magnetism, in its religious nature-the only one to exists. According to Swedenborg’s celestial documents, the re-generated spirit is mighty because it is in God again, who communicates necessarily its might to the body it animates-the body it is shrouded with, the body-down-here, the only mean and agent of the spirit. Such was the ground of human might, in the primal ages of the world; How much pleased God would be if my contemporary would be aware of this ! The truest and most useful doctrine would be to believe that once Man was in a high position, all mighty and that he is now very much belittled and weak; This (animal magnetism as a mean of restoration and regeneration) is how he could redeem (Via-HYGEIA note: littéral in French: get up/se relever) himself’.)

Man believes he has thoughts and wills in himself, by himself, whereas everything rather influences him. Therefore, if he would really believe this, he would then, instead of grabbing evil, he would reject it into hell where it comes from. In partaking to the good, rather than glorifying himself of it, he would grant all merits to our Lord; through our Lord he would see the good and the evil in him and he would be happy; pride, which has denied credit to divine influence, is responsible for straying the human kind. Evil, or the wrong usage of things, was not created by the Lord; it started with hell. Spiritual evil, that perverts the understanding of Man and drives him away from God, originates from Man, who, through his parents is born among evils originating from self-love and lust for worldly things. Our parents transmit through their characters and tastes, a corrupted nature, sympathetic to evil-there goes the original sin: the first man who sinned, made his son sin.

Natural evils, which are with the animals, the plants and the minerals have their correspondances in hell whose influence produces wrong usage, pests, in places where these beings correspond, such as swamps, stretches of sand, manure, flooded or droughted lands-all have correspondances in hell, such a putride places, battle field, mass graves or infectious waste lands.

The person, who is in the purely natural degree of existence only desires natural objects, he assimilates them in himself. The more he drifts away from God, the more he becomes wicked and hostile to good. His spiritual extremity, or his natural spiritual degree, having acutely severed the bonds with the two higher spiritual degrees (as it is severed within infernal beings too), produces the wrong usages upon earth; those evils originate from Man, and through him, hell. The Scriptures here remind us that the Jews, as long as they were true to God, the land of Canaan was fertile, herds were prospering; but as soon as they turned wicked, the land became so sterile and cursed that it only produced brambles and that the domestic animals were afflicted with miscarriages and that wild beasts were multiplying beyond reason.

Physical evil is but the abuse Man does to his faculties. Moral evil, or human wickedness, the trials of the meek, happiness of the crooked, everything here does not point at the Lord’s Providence-Who does not bother with fleeting things, but is contemplating eternal things partaking to the universal order. Temporal happiness is but the natural effect of human wisdom; it is in the natural order that each of us succeeds in his/hers reasonable and free endeavour. The Lord only sees fame and fortune as tools to maintain common life; but the least of the spiritual objects is a divine blessing. Finally, Man is free; and he wouldn’t if he would be thriving on earth by doing good only.

Man’s carefulness about matters of this world, is always followed by divine Providence-who acts accordingly through the laws of granting (Via-HYGEIA note: in french: permission), alike all the evils and errors that effectively rule by order (not according to the order) because anything that would be against the divine order would be impossible.

There is Providence and foresight; the Lord provides good, and foresees evil: two necessary things, because the Lord is the only good, while Man is only evil. God does not want evil to happen, but he cannot prevent it from happening without destroying the freedom through which redemption operates, being God’s ultimate’s aim.

Human carefulness, or prudence, is like an ounce of earth in the entire universe; and compared to this human prudence, divine Providence is like the whole universe itself. Fortune, admirable in so many events, is the operation of Providence in the last degree of the order and according to the state of Man; this proves that it has its reach with even the smallest things. But, Man, driven by God, is driven by divine order.

The universe was created by divine love and divine wisdom, proceeding from the Lord-Who-Is-One. This unity exists in all created subjects-or it should-and Providence is the tension to make a subject that is not one re-unite again. This unity consists for Man in the conjunction of good and truth.

By an effect of the divine Providence, evil and fake are used as a balancing effect, of the bond and the purification.

(Note by Daillant de La Touche:Against evil there is good, against death there is life and against the just there is the sinner; hence consider the workings of the Almighty and you will see two against two, one against one‘. Ecclesiast 33:15 & 44:24-25: ‘All things are double one against another: and he hath made nothing imperfect. One thing establishes the good or another: and who shall be filled with beholding his glory?’)

Providence continuously strives to un-settle Man’s evils, which cannot be withdrawn or taken away (which would be against the order) but only displaced and replaced by benevolent goods.

It is in the divine order that all men are instructed with the Holy Scriptures, by the teaching of the Church, by prayer and this is a blessing from God: ‘And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.‘ Isaiah, 54:13.

Man denies Providence because he does not see its finality and its means; and this is a blessing from God; if Man would see the divine order, he would want to partake himself into this order and would undeniably corrupt it, destroy it and crown himself a god.

Temporal things and eternal things are, down here separated by Man but they are conjoined by the Lord and it is their conjunction that constitute divine order, Providence. Providence operates upon Man, from his childhood until the end of his life and then for eternity.

From these principles, we can gather:

  1. That there is neither fate nor predestination and mankind has been created for heaven.
  2. That there is no instantaneous salvation out of pure mercy, as it would be against the order-which is God Himself.
  3. That our regeneration, and the temporal events that are useful to it as well, is brought successively and through means.
  4. That prudence, wisdom, or purely human politics, are nothing; only the person who is wise and careful confides in the divinity-which wants what it wants– and abide by its decrees.
  5. Miracles are, alike physical ailments, allowed by the Lord; they appear alike human ailments against  the natural order; but divine influence adapts them to this very order; they exist according to the order of the influence of the spiritual realm within the natural world.
Emanuel Swedenborg. Opera Philosophia et Mineralia. Dresden & Leipzig. 1734.

(To be continued

with Sampler part II)

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Original French

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More about Emanuel Swedenborg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg 🌿 The Swedenborgian Foundation: https://swedenborg.com 🌿 The UK Swedenborg Society: https://www.swedenborg.org.uk 🌿 About William Blake and Swedenborg: http://esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeV/Blake.htm
A Little Emanuel Swedenborg Sampler: Part I-Of Divine Providence & The Celestial Spheres

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