By Jeremy K. Finkeldey
One of the best meditations in my world view is the mindful washing of dishes. Another is mindful cooking - and no, it doesn't have to be vegetarian. Did you know that the Buddha was a meat eater? Hmmm... food for thought.
There's just something very deep about getting all those "raw" ingredients and applying heat and mixing and whatever is necessary to create something people love to eat. It's a good practice while cooking to offer a thanksgiving prayer for the ingredients and the cooking skills, and, to reflect on what constitutes spiritual nourishment within your particular sphere of influence.
And, yes - real men DO cook (and do dishes).
So here's a recipe I made up this past weekend. I thought I'd share it and get away from all the studiousness for a minute here.... Enjoy.
Spinach, Cheese, and Bacon Casserole
~Frozen Spinach, 1 6”x5”x1.5” box package
~Green Onions, fresh, sliced in 1/4” slices, 5-6
~Bacon Bits, real, about 4 tbsps (whatever seems right to you)
~Salt and Pepper
~Some fresh herbs you think might be good with the other ingredients (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme? Minced?)
~Cheese, cheddar, extra sharp, grated, enough to cover the spinach when it’s in a small baking dish
~Cheese, parmesan, crumbled (or grated), how much is up to you
~Cheese, feta, crumbled
~Bread Crumbs, seasoned
~Cream, heavy whipping, 4 tbsps
~Oil, olive, 2-3 tbsps (for sautéing green onions)
1) Microwave the spinach per the directions on the box.
2) Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the sliced green onions until slightly caramelized – throw in the bacon bits at the last minute just to heat them up.
3) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
4) Put the spinach, green onions, and bacon bits in a good sized mixing bowl – throw in some of the crumbled (or grated) parmesan, the heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, and mix it all up. Get creative and add other herbs you think might be good with spinach, cheese, and bacon.
5) Put the mixture into a baking dish small enough that the mix is 1.5-2 inches thick.
6) Cover with a layer of the grated cheddar cheese and crumbled parmesan mixed together.
7) Sprinkle some seasoned bread crumbs on top of that and then some more of the cheddar/parm mix. How much cheese depends on how much of a cheese lover you are.
8) Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
9) Switch oven to “broil” and remove casserole from oven.
10) Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and place under the broiler until the feta is melted and starts to develop browned spots on it.
11) Remove from oven and allow to cool somewhat before serving – it doesn’t have to be 400 degrees hot to eat it.
2 big eaters or 3 smaller ones (It was so good I ate the whole thing myself for lunch AND felt virtuous because it was spinach).
Sunday, August 30, 2009
When A.A. folks talk about “turning it over” this is what they are referring to.
“Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.” (Wilson, 1976, p. 164)
“We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” (Wilson, 1976, p. 59)
“We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.” (Wilson, 1976, p. 63)
“Abandon” has become one of my favorite words. It has so much more oomph! to it than “let go of”. Besides, I left claw marks on anything I ever “let go” of anyway. For me “abandon” conjures up mental images of rusting hulks slowly returning to their true dharma nature – our old, bulldozer-like ways based on self-reliance (that didn’t work) forever left behind to be broken down and turned elemental. I love the clarity of the utter, emphatic, and certain rejection of ways and ideas proven ineffective!
CHANGE! It’s a beautiful thing. And as my Buddhist friends say, “long live impermanence!”
Anyway… I was discussing with a friend recently the subject of fear, specifically, fear of economic insecurity. There is a lot of that particular strain of fear going around these days and, since we can’t all just run off to the clinic for our “fear shots”, I wanted to talk about “trust” and the practice of accepting the things we cannot change and changing the things we can. We are not in charge of change. Change has a mind of its own – have you noticed? I can’t change you. I can’t even change me! And yet the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Enough with the platitudes already! But I think I’m on to something here.
And I suppose there are SOME things we can change. For example, good material life-skills practices - such as getting up off the couch, being industrious, getting trained, finding work, making money, and managing it well; these go a long way towards relieving financial stress. If done calmly, introspectively, prayerfully, and meditatively they can become spiritual practices in themselves. But sometimes it’s just not enough. Additional spiritual practice is called for. We need to take care of the inside as well as the outside.
Now I don’t know how your financial fear and anxiety goes but for me there is usually a triggering event. It could be getting an unusually large utility, food, legal or medical bill. Or it could be something as apparently harmless as being bludgeoned by the 4,528th negative economic news report in the media.
Or, it could be totally internally generated as, for example, I’m stopped at the railroad crossing waiting for the train to pass when some little, inner cognitive imp decides to get the ball rolling by presenting the thought, “that car insurance bill is getting closer….”
These are triggering events and, well, one thing leads to another and, before you really know it, you have a great big fear-based story going on in your head about money. You’re white-knuckling the steering wheel and the guy behind you is honking his horn and making funny hand signals to you evidently wondering why you’re still sitting there with train already long past. And it’s all a story! And a non-trusting, paralyzing story to boot - in your head and nowhere else! It’s amazing – don’t you think? I mean the things we do, and the stories we tell ourselves, apparently just for the purpose of ruining our ‘present moment’ (since nothing other than that is ever accomplished by them).
So, with this understanding we can consciously work to change the stories we tell ourselves. If we’re going to tell ourselves stories that affect our emotional state (and very little else) why don’t we work at making them positive and optimistic? Anything repeated eventually becomes a habit (to state the obvious) and habits are things that we are increasingly unconscious of whether we think so or not. Simple, right? Actually – yes, maybe a little too simple for the modern materialistic mind. These little, inner, fear-mongering imps can be persistent!
Since most of my hunter-gatherer skills have largely been relegated to storage in my DNA, cash flow issues have become a part of my habit life in a strong way. I need to eat and I don’t really want to become a ‘dumpster-diver’ (some of you know what I mean by that). I heard the other day that someone once asked Mother Theresa how they could help the poor. I don’t know if this is true or not but she supposedly replied, “First of all, don’t become one of them.”
Anyway, to sum it up before moving on, we CAN consciously work towards positive change by doing things like:
1) Turning OFF the TV,
2) Getting up off the couch,
3) Being industrious,
4) Getting trained,
5) Finding work,
6) Making money,
7) Becoming an effective money manager, and
8) Being just a little more self-observational when it comes to the ‘funny’ stories we allow to run in our heads about money – and learning to consciously change them for the better.
In my experience, these were (and are) ALL ‘must do’s’ – but they are not enough. I absolutely had to develop a state of mind that included the ongoing concept that I lived in a friendly – rather than hostile – universe. I am talking about a universe in which I am taken care of by a ‘mystical’ benevolent power greater than myself. Otherwise, I would find myself repeatedly at the mercy ‘mystical’ malignant powers greater than myself. For me, this means trusting God. When I look back and consider the facts of my life, it’s as plain as day that I have been taken care of all of my 53.5 years by a mystical benevolent power greater than myself. I have always been in “the stream of Providence” whether I happened to be cooperating at the time or not (see Swedenborg, 1965, AC 8478 cited below).
Having spent about 15 years of my life as a card-carrying atheist, I empathize with those of you who are now accusing me of indulging in fairy tales. But I know that I am not trying to change your beliefs (no one could have changed mine) - I am only sharing my personal experience. You might want to move on to some other blog - as I definitely would have during my atheist period.
Dear reader (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase), at this point I would ask you to refer back to “Trust – Part One” (as needed) and just refresh the memory on all the tips and pointers contained in the selected citations from both A.A.’s “Big Book”, and, Liz Cronkhite’s work on “Developing Trust” and the “Four Habits For Inner Peace”.
I chose all of those citations because I believe they provide all the basics a person needs as he or she moves more deeply into the practice of trusting God. I like the method of first (at least) getting a general idea of what you’re about to do – and THEN doing it – prepare and execute. As I pointed out in Part One, willingness (even if only a little) is a necessary prerequisite to the process. Hopefully you won’t have to go through the emotional, intellectual, and interpersonal “beating” that I endured in order to scrape up the willingness to really begin trusting God – but you probably will (or already have) - so it won’t hurt to keep that in mind. As the A.A. crowd says, “In every case, pain [was] the price of admission into a new life. But this admission price had purchased more than we expected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We began to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever” (Wilson, 1986, p. 75).
The nutshell of my personal process of spiritual development and trust-building looks like this; I had to:
1) Learn to self-examine,
2) Make an effort to stop doing some of the things that were clearly causing trouble,
3) Accept feedback from others,
4) See the need I had to build a relationship with God,
5) Self-examine some more,
6) Clean up my relationships with myself, others, and God,
7) Learn contemplation: i.e. prayer and meditation,
8) Be of service to others, and finally,
9) Practice, practice, practice all of the above….
This nutshell could be rendered even more briefly and concisely as follows. I practiced:
1) Introspection (includes #s 1-5 above),
2) Contemplation (#6),
3) Altruism (#8), and finally,
4) Spiritual habit-formation (#9).
That is as concise as I feel I can be and still cover all the bases.
So what’s left to say? Living in the simple way described above has been an amazing journey of discovery. It has resulted in a state of mind that I will here do my best to describe. First of all, by the practice of this process almost all of the fears, worries, and anxieties have been eliminated from my consciousness. The same is true for the various forms of depression, discouragement, and hopelessness that used to be constant companions. Also, the experience of anger, hostility, and judgment-based irritation toward others has been dramatically reduced. I have become vastly more responsible to others both morally and financially than I once was. The following “promises” (as my A.A. friends describe them) have all come true in my life in varying degrees (with more development still to come). A.A. writes:
“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” (Wilson et al., 1976, pp. 83-84)
That last one is actually a most remarkable realization and experience to have! Obviously, the maintenance of our freedom of choice requires that the Divine provide us with a very powerful “appearance” that we are doing everything. Writes Swedenborg:
“Nearly everyone believes that man thinks and wills from himself and consequently speaks and acts from himself. Who from himself can suppose otherwise, since the appearance of it is so strong that it does not differ at all from actually thinking, willing, speaking and acting from himself? And yet this is not possible.” (Swedenborg, 1949, DP 308)
"The appearance is that man is led and taught of himself; but the truth is that he is led and taught by the Lord alone. Those who confirm in themselves the appearance and not at the same time the truth… are all interior idolaters, for they are worshippers of self and the world. If they have no religion they become worshippers of nature, and thus atheists; but if they have a religion they become worshippers of men and also of images… Those, however, who confirm in themselves the appearance and also the truth become worshippers of the Lord; for the Lord raises them up from their proprium [or “self-centered self”] which is in the appearance... and He enables them to perceive interiorly that they are not led and taught of themselves, but by Him.” (Swedenborg, 1949, DP 154:1-2)
The truth of the situation (explained above) is why it can come as quite a shock to realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. The appearance is quite strong - but once that realization is had, the motivation or willingness to improve one’s conscious contact with God can increase exponentially. If this willingness is consistently acted upon as outlined above, the following state of mental, emotional, and spiritual trust described by Swedenborg in the following citation is eventually achieved.
“… those who trust in the Divine… do not think of the morrow with solicitude, still less with anxiety. Unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain the objects of their desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. If they become rich, they do not set their hearts on riches; if they are raised to honors, they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others; if they become poor, they are not made sad; if their circumstances are mean, they are not dejected. They know that … they who are in the stream of Providence are all the time carried along toward everything that is happy, whatever may be the appearance of the means; and that those are in the stream of Providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him;… Be it known also that insofar as anyone is in the stream of Providence, so far he is in a state of peace….” (Swedenborg, 1965, AC 8478:3-4)
Worrying about future life outcomes destroys our joy in the present moment. Learning to live mindfully in the present moment is a critical skill in the building of trust in God. The best teachers of present moment living that I have found are the non-theistic Buddhist practitioners. I have benefitted the most from the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master of the Mahayana tradition, who is a prolific author that has spent most of his life in exile from his native Vietnam - adapting the teachings of the Buddha to the western mindset. His concept of “engaged Buddhism” turns day to day life into an act of meditation and/or prayer and encourages practitioners to live in a loving, kind, active, and other-centered way (Hanh, 1998). It was from Hanh’s teaching that I finally had the “aha!” experience about the present moment. It is a glaringly self-evident truth that if you take good care of the present moment you are automatically taking good care of the future – because the future is made up of present moments. This is an anxiety reducing notion that in itself creates a much greater degree of functionality in the human mind when consistently practiced.
Since the western religious or spiritual mindset usually includes the notion of a “God”, non-theistic Hanh accommodates to this by explaining his perspective on the Divine as follows:
“In Buddhism… God is Mind, especially the collective mind. Mind is the ground of everything… If we understand God as the ground of being from which everything manifests, then our understanding is not different from the Buddhist vision of mind….” (Hanh, 2006a)
Being experts in meditation, one of the two major components of the spiritual practice of contemplation (the other being prayer), Buddhists can be relied on to provide good examples after which to model our non-Buddhist practice (if we are non-Buddhists). Buddhists also pray. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote an excellent little book entitled “The energy of prayer: How to deepen your spiritual practice” (Hanh, 2006b) which anyone thinking of utilizing these spiritual practices for trust-building purposes would be well-advised to have at hand. His descriptions of the practice of “engaged Buddhism” (mentioned above) answer well to the third major spiritual practice of altruism. Buddhism in general is known for its commitment to ending the suffering of all sentient beings through compassionate action, community-building, and dharma teaching.
From the perspective of A Course In Miracles, Liz Cronkhite offers an elegantly simple four-fold daily practice routine for the purpose of building trust in the Divine and personal inner peace. She calls them “The Four Habits for Inner Peace” (Cronkhite, 2007). Here are the four practices (see Part One for greater detail):
1) Commune With God Daily
2) Practice the Holy Instant Throughout the Day
3) Extend Love to Keep Love in Your Awareness, and
4) Let the Holy Spirit Lead You
This is a beautiful practice. I ‘commune with God’ every morning before even getting out of bed. An important part of these Four Habits for me is memorization; I attempt to recite the four practices to myself as I go through my day. If I can’t remember one of them I look it up to aid my recall. Part of my communing with God in the morning (usually at the beginning before I stop thought) involves asking God to help me remember these practices as the day goes along. When I find myself in a situation where I need or want awareness of God’s presence I stop and practice the second habit - I step into the "holy instant." The same goes for extending love and consciously letting the Holy Spirit lead.
Finally, I want to add that the Swedenborgian theological system exceeds any other I have found in its emphasis on altruistic action. Also known as the doctrine of use, this practice involves focusing on the usefulness in the Divine design of every created thing, and, in all human endeavors. Connecting with God’s creations (especially His human creations) through uses is a major way of connecting with God Himself – which brings us nearer to God and thereby enhances the quality and quantity of trust in the Divine that we experience. In fact, the trine of love, wisdom, and use appear to be the fundamental basis of all reality. Swedenborg writes:
“Love, wisdom and use make an inseparable group of three. If they are separated, none of them is anything. Love is nothing without wisdom, but in wisdom it is formed to some purpose; and the purpose to which it is formed is use. Therefore when love by means of wisdom is put to use, it actually exists, because it is realised in action. These three are exactly like end, cause and effect; the end is nothing unless by means of the cause it is realised in the effect. Take one of the three away, and the whole falls to pieces and becomes as if it had never been.” (Swedenborg, 1988, TCR 387:3)
How this shows up in real, day-to-day life is as follows:
“God loves each and every human being, and because He cannot do good to them directly but only indirectly by means of other people, He therefore breathes into people His love.” (Swedenborg, 1906, TCR 457)
“… the Lord performs uses to man through man….” (Swedenborg, 1911, AE 1226:6)
“Someone who loves the neighbor as himself never experiences the delight of charity except in the exercise of it, or in use. Consequently the life of charity is a life of uses. Such life pervades the whole of heaven, for the Lord's kingdom, being a kingdom of mutual love, is a kingdom of uses….” (AC 997:1)
Cronkhite, E. A. (2007). The four habits for inner peace. Retrieved on 17 August 2009 from http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2007/10/four-habits-for-inner-peace.html .
Hanh, T. N. (1998). The heart of the Buddha’s teaching: Transforming suffering into peace, joy, and liberation. New York: Broadway Books.
Hanh, T. N. (Winter/Spring, 2006a). Answers of Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh to questions from Publishers Weekly magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2006 from http://www.plumvillage.org
Hanh, T. N. (2006b). The energy of prayer: How to deepen your spiritual practice. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
Swedenborg, E. (1906). True christian religion. J. Whitehead (Trans.). Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/tcr/index.htm (Original work published in 1771) TCR
Swedenborg, E. (1911). Apocalypse explained. J. Whitehead (Trans.). Retrieved August 14, 2009, from from http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/ae/index.htm (Original work written 1757-9) AE
Swedenborg, E. (1949). Divine providence. Wm. Dick & E. J. Pulsford (Trans.). London: The Swedenborg Society. (Original work published 1764) DP
Swedenborg, E. (1965). Arcana coelestia. J. F. Potts (Trans.). New York: Swedenborg Foundation. (Original work published c. 1749-1756) AC
Wilson, W. et. al. (1976). Alcoholics Anonymous. Third edition. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. (Original work published 1939)
Wilson, W. (1986). Twelve steps and twelve traditions. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (Original work published 1952)
Swedenborg, E. (1988). True Christian religion. J. Chadwick (Trans.). London: The Swedenborg Society. (Original work published 1771) TCR
Monday, August 17, 2009
Trust in God is something most people have to work on. Obviously it helps to believe that God exists but I know plenty of formerly agnostic people – and even some former atheists (myself included in this latter category) – who have come to believe in a God of their own description. Admittedly, I am decades past my own atheist phase but I definitely had a fairly lengthy one. We (former agnostics and atheists) have all developed a working, trusting relationship with that God and, as a result, have improved the quality of our lives. So what’s not to like?
I have decided to make this blogpost into a two-parter. This first part will consist simply of citations of other people’s writings which I consider to be essential to the understanding and practice of a lifestyle that builds and enhances trust in the Divine. Part two will be more of my own experience with the trust-building process. In both parts, as with my other articles, I will draw on my three currently favorite resources for the lion’s share of the material. Part Two may include other sources here and there.
What follows first is a simple statement from Emanuel Swedenborg (my favorite revelator) regarding an apparent prerequisite to trust-building – willingness. When it comes to willingness for starters – just a little dab’ll do ya (so to speak). As one perseveres and begins to get some results willingness tends to increase – it’s kind of scientific that way. Next, you will find a fairly lengthy piece from A.A.’s “Big Book” drawn mostly from its description of the practice of Step Eleven. I include it because, well, I just love it – but also because of the nuts and bolts practices it suggests. Finally, there are two pieces in full from Liz Cronkhite (my favorite Course In Miracles teacher) – one entitled “Development of Trust” and the other “The Four Habits For Inner Peace”. They both create a relationship with God that is based on trust. So without further ado, please enjoy these selections.
“It is of the Divine omnipotence to lead a person who is willing to be led according to the laws of order every moment and continually to eternity. For every minute there are infinite things to be seen, to be removed, and to be insinuated, that [the] person may be withheld from evils and held in goods, and this continually in connection according to order.”
(Swedenborg, 1911, AE 689.2)
From Alcoholics Anonymous (4th Edition)~
“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.
Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.
Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions.
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why.
If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
It works - it really does.
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.
But this is not all. There is action and more action. "Faith without works is dead." The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve.” (Wilson, 2001, p. 85-88)
From Liz Cronkhite's Blog~
“Development of Trust
Since I posted on my website my recognition of my own “Development of Trust” (M-4.I.A) (see Relationship With God at www.acimmentor.com), I’ve received a lot of questions about the six stages of building trust with the Holy Spirit. For example, what does “sorting out” and “valuable and valueless” mean in practical, everyday terms? How do you recognize which stage you are in? Do you need to know which stage you are in? And what is required of you in each stage?
What you are “sorting out” is Truth from illusion, which in everyday terms means: What is the Holy Spirit and what is the ego in your mind? The experiences of Truth (the Holy Spirit) is what is “valuable” and the experience of illusion (ego) is what is “valueless”. It is natural for you to keep what is valuable and to let go of what is valueless, but you can’t do this when you can’t tell them apart, so you have to learn to distinguish them from each other first. The sorting out process begins with you learning to hear and then to listen to what is valuable: The Holy Spirit. As you learn to distinguish the peace of the Holy Spirit from the pain of the ego, you naturally choose to follow the Holy Spirit more and more. Finally, you let go of ego completely and identify only with the Holy Spirit. This is the Course’s “gentle means of awakening”.
It isn’t important to know which stage you are in, but you do need to know what is required of you at each stage. It is the same for each stage: To commune with God daily; to practice the holy instant throughout the day; to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance; and to keep love in your awareness by extending love. This is how you “accept the atonement for yourself”. The Holy Spirit does the rest, working within you to bring about the necessary shifts in your awareness so you can advance to the next stage.
The shift to each stage is experiential, not merely intellectual. Each stage also flows naturally from the preceding stage and cannot be forced. As you shift from one stage to another they overlap and so they can be hard to sort out when you are going through them. For everyone, the particular way these stages unfold and how long it will take will be unique. But pretty much it goes like this:
Stage one, the period of undoing: You have had a shift in your experience that reveals Truth to you in some form. This may be a direct revelation of God or it may be a miracle. It’s profound enough to shake your current belief system. This may happen as you study A Course in Miracles or it may be what leads you to study the Course. It is likely your external circumstances will shift as a reflection of your new point of view. At this stage, the Voice of the Holy Spirit is buried in the constant babble of ego in your mind, so for you, the ego is you and you are very threatened by the idea you have to let it go.
Stage two, the period of sorting out: Though you may have been shaken by your “undoing” experience, you are drawn to Truth and you now know peace is possible. You open your mind to the Holy Spirit. You start slowly, asking for answers or help only in limited circumstances. The Holy Spirit may speak to you through your intuition, through a Voice you hear in your mind, and/or through wordless ideas. The ego uses the same avenues to communicate with you so you will likely take a long time learning to discern when you are hearing the ego and when you are hearing the Holy Spirit. As you do so, you find you value the experience of the Holy Spirit and you ask for help and guidance more and more. You still identify mostly with the ego, and valuing both teachers in your mind leaves you conflicted.
Stage three, the period of relinquishment: The experience of the Holy Spirit has become so valuable to you that you shift to letting the Holy Spirit lead the way completely. Many of your values conflict with your desire to follow the Holy Spirit and you realize you must let them go. You may be resistant at first, but as each old value falls away you feel tremendous relief, making the process easier as you go along. Your identity is shifting toward the Holy Spirit and you still experience a lot of conflict.
Stage four, the period of settling: Following the Holy Spirit has resulted in a profound, unshakeable peace within you. You never feel alone. You hunger for the moments of communion you can carve out of each day. Your life is much simpler as you always have the Answer to any “problem” and a Guide to lead you. You rest at this stage for a while, grateful for the peace you have, but aware you are not completely at peace yet because you still listen to the ego.
Stage five, the period of unsettling: You have sorted out the valuable (the Holy Spirit) from the valueless (ego), but you still value the ego enough for it to stand as an obstacle to your complete peace. The only step to take now is to give up what you have made (ego) to be what you are (the Holy Spirit). This stage is unsettling because you now know complete peace is up to only you. Now you must learn to keep your mind open and follow only the Holy Spirit.
Stage six, the period of achievement: Your peace is complete. You are consistent in following only one Teacher. You see through the ego easily and you let it go. You are just this side of Heaven and you stay in the world only as long as the Holy Spirit needs to work through you.” (Cronkhite, 2007a)
“The Four Habits for Inner Peace
A wise teacher teaches through approach, not avoidance. He does not emphasize what you must avoid to escape from harm, but what you need to learn to have joy. Consider the fear and confusion a child would experience if he were told, "Do not do this because it will hurt you and make you unsafe; but if you do that instead, you will escape from harm and be safe, and then you will not be afraid." It is surely better to use only three words: "Do only that!" This simple statement is perfectly clear, easily understood and very easily remembered. (T-6.V.3)
Lately some students have asked for a simplification of what they must do to “accept the atonement” for themselves and to be at peace. A Course in Miracles teaches you certain habits in the Workbook, and emphasizes certain behaviors throughout, and I have distilled these into what I call the “Four Habits for Inner Peace”. These habits are what I developed for myself first by falling back on them during “trying” times, and then by choice all the time because of the peace they brought me. By putting these habits first your life will be simpler and every part of your life will unfold naturally and easily from them.
The goal is to become only these habits. As you develop these habits you will naturally encounter your obstacles to peace. The habits themselves will help you work through the obstacles by motivating you to accept peace instead of fear. All of these habits work together to support the other habits and can be developed simultaneously, though you may wish to emphasize one habit over the others until you feel you begin to “get it”.
Commune With God Daily
Prayer is an offering; a giving up of yourself to be at one with Love. (S-1.I.5)
By “commune” I mean to just be with God. This is true prayer. You sit somewhere where you will not be disturbed, you close your eyes and you quiet your mind. You let all thoughts go by and sink into the quiet at the center of your mind. You are not asking for anything; you are not seeking anything. You are just opening yourself to God without conditions. This is the most important thing you do every day. This alone will cause amazing shifts toward peace within you.
Practice the Holy Instant Throughout the Day
I will be still an instant and go home. (W-182)
This is a mini version of communing with God. At various times throughout the day – just as the Workbook teaches you – step out of the world for an instant and remember you are in God. You don’t have to set up a rigid schedule. Just whenever you stop being busy and have a moment. You can even develop this habit of stepping out of the world and remembering your Oneness with God in the midst of busy-ness and noisiness. As this becomes a habit an awareness of God stays with you when you return to the world and you won’t have to make a point to step out so often – you are already “there”.
Extend Love to Keep Love in Your Awareness
Teach only love, for that is what you are. (T-6.I.13)
When you have established a relationship with God and feel that connection throughout the day, you feel whole and complete. Because you are resting in love, you automatically extend love. But until you have that feeling of wholeness, you must consciously choose to overlook your projections of ego and to look on God’s love instead. Extending love is how you keep love in your awareness and remember you are love.
Let the Holy Spirit Lead You
I will step back and let Him lead the way. (W-155)
There is no point in developing a relationship with God if you are going to remain separate from God. You may have moments of peace, but you will still be conflicted most of the time. Developing this habit takes the most time because you will resist this habit the most. You must let go of your personal (ego) goals and leave all judgments and decisions to the Holy Spirit. This requires that you sort out what is ego and what is the Holy Spirit in your mind (see Development of Trust). When you practice the holy instant and remember to let the Holy Spirit lead, you can be certain you are being guided even when you do not seem to feel it.
One of the first obstacles you will encounter as you try to put these habits into play is goals other than God. When you get confused, remember you only have to practice these four habits, and nothing else, no matter what is going on in your life or in which stage of awakening you are. As you experience the peace they bring, you will be motivated more and more to put them in the center of your life. When you become these habits you will truly be an instrument of God.
The full acceptance of salvation as your only function necessarily entails two phases; the recognition of salvation as your function, and the relinquishment of all the other goals you have invented for yourself. (W-65.1)” (Cronkhite, 2007b)
Stay tuned for Part Two….
Cronkhite, E. A. (2007a). Development of trust. Retrieved on 17 August 2009 from http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2007/09/development-of-trust.html .
Cronkhite, E. A. (2007b). The four habits for inner peace. Retrieved on 17 August 2009 from
Schucman, H. and Thetford, W. (2007). A course in miracles: Combined volume. Third edition. Mill Valley, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace.
Swedenborg, E. (1911). Apocalypse explained (J. Whitehead Trans.). Retrieved on 14 August 2009 from http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/ae/index.htm . (Original work written 1757-9) AE
Wilson, W. et. al. (2001). Alcoholics Anonymous. Fourth edition. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. (Original work published 1939)
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
“Who can bestow upon another what he does not have? And who can share what he denies himself? (A Course In Miracles, T-27.V.1.8-9)
First, let’s ask Mr. Webster the meaning of “forgive”. He replies that to forgive is, “to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; [to] stop being angry with; [or to] pardon” (Laird, 2002).
Now, let’s take a look at forgiveness from several other points of view. Specifically, from the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, A Course In Miracles, and Emanuel Swedenborg.
In a 1946 letter, A.A. co-founder Bill W. wrote describing the utilization of self-examination in the practice of forgiving others. The ability to see (in ourselves) the same or similar attributes that we are condemning in others makes the forgiving easier. He says:
“So, nowadays, if anyone talks to me so as to hurt, I first ask myself if there is any truth at all in what they say. If there is none, I try to remember that I too have had my periods of speaking bitterly of others; that hurtful gossip is but a symptom of our remaining emotional illness; and consequently that I must never be angry at the unreasonableness of sick people…. Under very trying conditions I have had, again and again, to forgive others – also myself.” (Wilson, 1967, Bill W.’s 1946 letter)
In the 12 Step process the practice of forgiveness comes heavily into play in Step Five. Admitting the exact nature of our wrongs in an open and honest way makes forgiveness more possible. On Step Five Bill W. writes:
“This vital Step was also the means by which we began to get the feeling that we could be forgiven, no matter what we had thought or done. Often it was while working on this Step with our sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first felt truly able to forgive others, no matter how deeply we felt they had wronged us. Our moral inventory had persuaded us that all-round forgiveness was desirable, but it was only when we resolutely tackled Step Five that we inwardly knew we'd be able to receive forgiveness and give it, too.” (Wilson, 1986, pp. 57-58)
Receiving God’s forgiveness is addressed in Step Six as follows:
“If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. That is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character. So Step Six--"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character"--is A.A.'s way of stating the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job.” (Wilson, 1986, p. 65)
Later on in the 12 Step process (Steps 8 and 9) there will be more working with forgiveness and other people – getting forgiveness from those who have been harmed by our behavior and giving it to those who have harmed us. In making amends to those we have harmed the rule seems to be that we should take a balanced approach devoid of any accusatory spirit of blame. Bill writes:
“In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not for perfection.” (Wilson, 1986, p. 91)
“If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience.” (Wilson, 1976, p. 70)
Sometimes, those to whom amends are to be made have been so damaged that they cannot find the peace and resolution of forgiveness in themselves and the relationship cannot be completely mended. If we are sure we have done everything we reasonably could to create a better relationship we can then, as they say, let go and let God. Perhaps the final A.A. word on forgiveness is contained in the following quote.
“When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself. We found that dependence upon His perfect justice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing else would.” (Wilson, 1986, p. 116)
So, how does the “Course” see forgiveness? Well, the first thing to know about “forgiveness” from A Course In Miracles’ point of view is that – guess what? – “forgiveness” doesn’t mean what you think it means! That’s right, as with most of the rest of the Course’s terminology, you have to relearn what “forgiveness” means. In case you were wondering, yes, that was a complaint – an “attack thought” (I suppose) – but really, why can’t we all just agree on the meaning of terms anyhow!? We all have had English dictionaries all of our lives, right? Life in this illusory world that doesn’t really exist would be so much simpler if all words meant the same thing to all people. OK, thanks for “letting” me share (as if you could stop me).
Liz Cronkhite, A Course In Miracles mentor, explains it well (my confession is I would be utterly lost without Liz who is a very long-term student of the Course). She says:
“The world’s version of forgiveness is “You have done this to me, but I am going to let it go.” But the Course teaches us that forgiveness recognizes nothing has happened. This requires a shift in perception away from this world as reality to the Oneness of God as Reality. Ultimately, you only forgive once and it is yourself you forgive for your illusions. Until then, you are basically preparing for this step.” (Cronkhite 2006.1.4)
So, as we “prepare for this step”, let’s look at a few more things that the Course says about forgiveness.
“Forgiveness… is an illusion… [which] leads away from error and not towards it” (Schucman, 2007, C-3.1.1, 3 and 4). It “ends all suffering and loss” (Schucman, 2007, W.249.heading). It is… “the bridge to Heaven” (Schucman, 2007, C-3.5.1 and 3). And, it is still, “and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (Schucman, 2007, W-pII.1.4.1-3).
As I read these descriptions of “forgiveness” (all of which basically work for me), I still find myself craving the “You have done this to me, but I am going to let it go” worldly version. I have found bigness, love, divinity, and peace in the practice of the worldly version – in both giving it and receiving it. It’s a version which acknowledges the reality of the pain and hurt we often cause each other as well as, dare I say it, the “separateness”. With all this "Course" work being done to achieve “Oneness” may we not be throwing out the baby with the bathwater? What if the natural world IS real - although less real than the spiritual world? What if spiritual ideas cannot be adequately expressed in natural language? What if the sometimes nonsensical and incomprehensible text of the Course is what happens when you try to express real spiritual ideas using natural language? What if the truth is that we never lose our sense of “I-ness” to eternity? What if we will always have an “own” or, as my favorite revelator Swedenborg says, a “proprium” - albeit a heavenly one? What if our “separateness” is part of the very purpose of the Divine design of the creation (a heaven from the human race) rather than a Divine ‘woops I didn’t mean to do that and now let’s have an atonement to undo it’ thing?
What if the natural world is real and the spiritual world (within the natural world and from which it continually springs) is even more real? And what if the Divine itself (both inmostly within and around the natural and the spiritual) is the most real? Once created (conceived), the human mind, although easy to damage, is ultimately indestructible and lives forever. I know, I know – there I go again with a rant....
It is the Divine Human of the Lord (in Course terms “the Son”) which is inmostly in all created things that allows for the possibility of the Oneness we can sense as “real” (Swedenborg, 1969, DLW 285). Other words for “Oneness” could be “connection”, “conscious contact”, “community” and “fellowship”. The God in me sees the God in you to eternity. But why stop there with just our 'two Gods' looking at each other? I too can learn to increasingly see the God in you – if I practice and train my “self” to do so and ask the Lord for help in doing it. The Course says, “To forgive is to overlook. Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds” (T-9.IV.1).So, I can overlook the error and as Cronkhite says, “take the situation in [my] mind to [the] Holy Spirit. Be willing to let go of what you think you already know and ask for another way to perceive the situation” (Cronkhite 2006.1.4)
While I love these ideas, I find the Course’s idea that ultimately the only forgiveness that needs to happen is the forgiving of oneself for having illusions is just not entirely satisfying. Is that my ego talking? I suppose eternity will tell….
A cyber word search of Swedenborg’s massive theological writings for the words “forgive” and “forgiveness” yields about 125 hits each – not much considering the size of his works. Swedenborg’s message on the subject can be seen as being relatively simple in comparison to the complexity of his other doctrines.
A fairly comprehensive Swedenborgian idea on the subject of the forgiveness of a person’s “sins” by the Lord will be seen in the next two citations:
“The Divine Energy and Operation, which are meant by the Holy Spirit, are, in general, reformation and regeneration; and in accordance with these, renovation, vivification, sanctification and justification; and in accordance with these latter, purification from evils, forgiveness of sins, and finally salvation. These in their order are the energies made operative by the Lord in those who believe in Him, and who adjust and dispose themselves for His reception and indwelling; and this is done by means of Divine truth, and with Christians by means of the Word....” (Swedenborg, 1988, TCR 142)
“I have heard from heaven that the Lord forgives to everyone his sins, and never takes vengeance nor even imputes sin, because He is love itself and good itself; nevertheless, sins are not thereby washed away, for this can be done only by repentance. For when He told Peter to forgive until seventy times seven, what will not the Lord do?” (Swedenborg, 1988, TCR 409)
If the forgiveness of the Divine is to be enjoyed by the recipient of it there must be a cessation of the harmful behaviors, attitudes, and thoughts. Mind-change or 'metanoia' in the Greek (translated as “repentance” in the Bible) is a prerequisite for experiencing the forgiveness of God. As Swedenborg expressed it, forgiveness and repentance not only go hand-in-hand,
“… repentance precedes forgiveness, and apart from repentance there is no forgiveness” (Swedenborg, 1949, DP 280). If we are in negative states of mind how could we possibly experience the peace and joy of forgiveness? I think that's the point.
When it comes to people forgiving other people, Swedenborg is very clear that forgiveness is a major part of the practice of loving-kindness or ‘charity’. When discussing this forgiveness, he repeatedly refers to that part of the New Testament where Peter asks the Lord how many times he should forgive a person who does harm and the answer is not seven times but seventy times seven. In the following quote Swedenborg explains that seventy times seven doesn’t really mean four hundred and ninety times (which would be silly when you think about it) but in the allegorical language of the Bible the numbers mean ‘that the forgiving should be without end, or… eternal, which is holy.’
“… the Lord said that a man should forgive his brother not until seven times, but until seventy times seven (Matt. 18:22), by which is meant that they should forgive as many times as he sins, so that the forgiving should be without end, or… eternal, which is holy.” (AC 433)
So spiritually, forgiveness is a very big deal. That forgiveness is part of charity or loving kindness can be seen in these straightforward quotes:
“… those who forgive and give to others… are impelled by the goodness of charity.” (DP 334)
“… to forgive one who sins against you is of charity….” (AE 746:15)
“Internal people, as the angels of heaven are, do not wish the retaliation of evil for evil, but from heavenly loving-kindness they forgive freely….” (AE 556:8)
“… it is by command of the church that everyone ought to forgive his brother or neighbor…” (AC 6561)
Finally, to wrap up this little post, I would like to share what I consider to be the best definition of “forgiveness” I have ever seen. Swedenborg writes:
“… to forgive is not to regard anyone from evil but from good….” (AC 7697)
To regard someone “from good” means to see them the way the Lord sees them – for He is Good Itself.
Cronkhite, E. A. (2006.1.4). Forgiveness. Las Vegas, NV: ACIM Mentor. Retrieved on 7.27.2009 from http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2006/01/forgiveness.html
Cronkhite, E. A. (2007). Understanding a course in miracles. Las Vegas, NV: ACIM Mentor.
Laird, C. et. al. eds. (2002). Webster’s new world dictionary and thesaurus. Second edition. New York: Hungry Minds, Inc.
Schucman, H. and Thetford, W. (2007). A course in miracles: Combined volume. Third edition. Mill Valley, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace.
Swedenborg, E. (1949). Divine providence (Wm. Dick & E. J. Pulsford Trans.). London: The Swedenborg Society. (Original work published 1764) DP
Swedenborg, E. (1960). The apocalypse explained (J. Whitehead Trans.). New York, NY: Swedenborg Foundation. (Original work written c. 1757-1759 and first published posthumously in the original Latin in 1870) AE
Swedenborg, E. (1965). Arcana coelestia (J. F. Potts Trans.). New York, NY: Swedenborg Foundation. (Original work published c. 1749-1756) AC
Swedenborg, E. (1969). Divine love and wisdom (C. & D. H. Harley Trans.). London: The Swedenborg Society. (Original work published 1763) DLW
Swedenborg, E. (1988). True Christian religion (J. Chadwick Trans.). London: The Swedenborg Society. (Original work published 1771) TCR
Wilson, W. (1967). As Bill sees it. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Wilson, W. et. al. (1976). Alcoholics Anonymous. Third edition. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. (Original work published 1939)
Wilson, W. (1986). Twelve steps and twelve traditions. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (Original work published 1952)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Jeremy K. Finkeldey
Greetings blogfollowers! This one will not be so long and tedious as the others. A brief read after which you may or may not be a little better informed as to the nature of the religion derived from the theological writings of the 18th century mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. This religion is alive and well today globally with three branches. Having been born and raised in the branch headquartered in Bryn Athyn, PA, I must confess to being heavily influenced by Swedenborg's theological doctrines. That does not mean that I don't appreciate other religions. In fact, I see myself as being an "Interfaith Swedenborgian" meaning that I look for and find the good in every religion. I believe this is the essential practice that will eventually create a peaceful world in which our descendants can live. Please feel free to join my Facebook group which I have named "Lay Interfaith Leaderless Alliance" (LILA for short). If you're a Facebook member become one. Then, click on this link to join the movement that will eventually make a peaceful takeover of the world and help the Lord's kingdom to arrive in the here and now.
The "Swedenborgian religion" is also known as the "New Church" and is sometimes referred to as the "New Jerusalem" which is a reference to the "New Jerusalem" mentioned in Revelation 21:9-27. It is a fact that Swedenborg (1688-1772) himself never intended for a religion to be founded in his name. He was called by the Lord to write and publish the doctrines of the New Church soon to be raised up by the Lord both among the "gentiles" (non-Christians) and among those of the Christian persuasion who were able to receive and understand those doctrines. He saw himself as a humble servant of the Lord. Swedenborg wrote his works in Latin as was fairly common with intellectual works in his day. Swedenborgian and Latin scholar Rev. Dr. Jonathan S. Rose writes, "These theological volumes were the product of more than two decades of labor. They comprised eighteen separate and quite distinctive works in twenty-five quarto volumes totaling about three and a half million words -- researched, composed, published, and (for the most part) distributed by Swedenborg himself." Additional theological works by Swedenborg have been published posthumously by his readers. To clarify what the principles of the Swedenborgian religion are I will quote from Swedenborg's work "True Christianity" translated by Rev. Dr. Rose. Listed in that work in paragraph number three, subsection two, are the specifics of faith on a person's part in the "new heaven and the new church". They read as follows:
1) There is one God, the divine Trinity exists within him, and he is the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ.
2) Believing in him is a faith that saves.
3) We must not do things that are evil -- they belong to the Devil and come from the Devil.
4) We must do things that are good -- they belong to God and come from God.
5) We must do these things as if we ourselves were doing them, but we must believe that they come from the Lord working with us and through us.
At that same reference Swedenborg makes the point that, "the first two points have to do with faith, the second two have to do with goodwill (sometimes translated as "charity"); and the fifth has to do with the partnership between goodwill and faith, the partnership between the Lord and us" (True Christianity 3:2).
It needs to be understood that, although the "New Church" is decidedly christian in nature, it does not necessarily have to be overtly so with any given individual. Because it is essentially spiritual rather than rhetorical or even doctrinal, the deciding factor on where the Lord's church truly exists is good.
All good is from the Lord Jesus Christ and wherever good is -- there also is the Lord. This is what makes the Lord's church "universal" as Swedenborg often explains in his theological works. One of the things this means is that a verbal, doctrinal acknowledgement of the Lord Jesus Christ being the one God of heaven and earth is not necessarily a requirement of salvation. In fact, Swedenborg himself writes (in another of his theological works known as Divine Providence), "the means for salvation have been provided for everyone, and... heaven is such that all who have lived well, of whatever religion they may be, have a place there" (Divine Providence 330:4).
Swedenborg reports that if people live a good life according to the teachings of their own religious traditions they can easily be led to an acknowledgement of more specific truths in the spiritual world after the death of the body. He writes in his seminal theological work Arcana Coelestia (or "Heavenly Secrets"), "although they do not know the Lord while they are in the world they nevertheless have within themselves a worship and virtual acknowledgement of him when good exists within them, for the Lord is present within all good. For this reason also they acknowledge the Lord in the next life without difficulty, and receive the truths of faith better than Christians do in whom good is not so much present...." (Arcana Coelestia 3263:2).
Arguing about theological doctrine is not recommended by Swedenborg. He repeatedly says that while goodwill joins minds together "from many making one" arguing about points of doctrine has the opposite effect. In fact, he writes, "there are... many among the inhabitants of hell who have been more expert in matters of doctrine than anybody else. But those who have led lives of goodwill are all in heaven" (Arcana Coelestia 1515).
When it comes to spiritual practice most Swedenborgians would agree that practicing the good of love through usefulness to others essentially captures what the will of God is for everyone on planet earth.