By Gordon Meyer
Ed Kelly of the University of Virginia (UVA) Department of Perpetual Studies said that Max Plank held that consciousness is the heart and soul of everything. This fits with Swedenborg’s idea that God is Love and Love comes forth to create everything as Wisdom, which is, by another name, consciousness in as much as we experience it. The only real difference between Swedenborg’s description and Kelly’s is the words they use to describe Divine Wisdom or Consciousness. In God the Creator consciousness is Divine Wisdom, and when it reaches our level of existence in the most general way, we experience it as consciousness or awareness which is central to our sense of being.
What Kelly is saying is that what’s causing all the trouble in this world is the selfishness that stems from a materialistic view of being. Swedenborg sees the greed and corruption rampant in society as stemming from love of the self. There is a feud going on between scientists, like Ed Kelly, and the more materialist or physicalist scientists. The materialists go to great lengths to deny the results of studies of people’s consciousness, especially in terms of near-death experiences, out of body experiences and reincarnation.
Let me start by saying the obvious: one way we differ from other animals is that we have abstract thought and understanding, and we can express these in highly developed language, both spoken and written. These are essential to change or progress, especially to what Swedenborg referred to as regeneration, the most important purpose of life on this earth.
In the first chapter of Genesis, it says “…and God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.’” That’s a tall order! It means correspondentially that we are intended to be spiritual beings, not just physical beings. The fish of the sea are truths and falsities from the physical realm, while birds of the air correspond with perceptions and thought leading to faith in God.
Given this command from God to have dominion over the earth, we might want to ask, “How are we doing?” How is our dominion over every living thing affecting every living thing? We don’t have to look far to find the answer. Watch the evening news. What are the headlines? Floods, tornados, fires, too much rain, not enough rain, and heat killing people around the globe. So, the question is not how we are doing, but why we are doing it and what effect it has?
Why are those who are charged with leading our country failing to take the steps that are so obviously needed to save this world? The answer is simple—greed! Greed disguised as a belief in prosperity. One of the candidates for President of the United States was recently in the evening news saying that what we need in this country is to get back to the prosperity we once had. In America, becoming prosperous is our goal in life, leaving our children with more than we had. The American Dream!
But what if we replaced the word prosperity with the word selfishness. Then, instead of valuing being prosperous, we could understand that the American Dream is really selfishness. We define success primarily as acquiring more things and more power to get even more things. For ourselves.
The main force behind resistance to change is the concern over profits from the very products that are destroying the environment, and we ordinary folks keep buying and using those products. They have become our necessities. So, we must ask, why has this happened?
Some of our scientists like Ed Kelly and Rupert Sheldrake have suggested an answer to that question, but they are being held at arm’s length by the mainstream scientists who are opposing and ridiculing their ideas and their research results because that research is demonstrating an entirely different explanation for our existence than has been commonly held.
Based on his research, Kelly has come to the same conclusion proposed by Max Plank many years ago, and reinforced by Albert Einstein and others that at the root of everything is consciousness. But we need to go back in the world of science to a couple of centuries ago, to the research and writings of a scientist named Emanuel Swedenborg.
Swedenborg recognized the true source of everything in this world, and scientists like Ed Kelly, while not mentioning Swedenborg, are talking about the same ideas that Swedenborg set forth.
The central idea that Swedenborg describes at great length is that what exists comes not from a material or physical source but originates from consciousness. Simply put, everything consists ultimately of Divine Love, which comes forth in the process of creation as Divine Wisdom, which we experience as our consciousness.
Before we toss this aside as being ridiculous, let’s look at it more closely. The studies being done around the world show that our true self, our real being, does not depend on the material body we live in. In thousands of near-death-experiences studied at UVA and other institutions around the world, it is abundantly clear that we people can and do live without our bodies. Because our medical abilities have made it more possible for people who have died to be revived, more and more cases of people experiencing life in a spiritual form are being reported. Netflix has a six-part series dealing with the subject, and YouTube is full of interviews with those who have come to be called “experiencers.”
Sometimes those experiences include a spiritual body similar to the one the subject had in the physical realm, but sometimes they don’t. Whether with or without a spiritual body, these people are clearly conscious in a different world, or perhaps a different level of existence than we can normally experience while we are in these physical bodies. Based on this, Ed Kelly maintains that the universe is not essentially physical, but is essentially consciousness.
Isn’t this what Emanuel Swedenborg is saying to us when he writes that God is Divine Love and Divine Love comes forth or takes form as Divine Wisdom. Isn’t Divine Wisdom what we experience as thought, and thought is based in consciousness?
Ed Kelly goes on to say that he believes that at the core of our problems on this Earth is the belief in materialism that started many centuries ago when materialistic philosophers like Rene Descartes began touting the idea that everything could be discovered in the physical sciences.
Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist himself, somewhat humorously points out that what this boils down to is that these materialists make a ridiculous request of us. They ask us to believe everything can be explained by materialism. They ask only one thing of us. They say, “Give us one original miracle and we will explain everything else.” That one miracle is that anything exists at all. If we will conveniently disregard the question of how material things ever came to exist in the first place, they will explain to us and prove everything else that follows. They will answer all our questions, except for that first one. Not very scientific. We should ignore that first one, because it tends to slow the process of discovery.
It may be that the higher angels have been shown even how God exists, but that is one question human beings will never be able to answer by scientific research, and of course, it is at the root of everything else. However, it is only our ability to ignore that unanswerable question that makes our materialism defensible, and now we are seeing the results of this deliberate ignorance.
Emanuel Swedenborg believed that Divine Love coming forth as Divine Wisdom was behind everything, and he completely gave up scientific research after the Lord asked him to reveal the inner, spiritual meaning of the Holy Word. He had been trying to find the seat of the soul in the material human body. The Lord’s revelation of Himself and His kingdom to Swedenborg quickly made him realize the futility of such a search. The soul of a human being is not in the body. The body is simply the vehicle the soul uses to exist in the material realm. But the soul lives on in the spiritual world after the body dies. Modern research is clearly demonstrating the truth of what Emanuel Swedenborg discovered over two-hundred fifty years ago.
The human mind has higher levels than we ordinarily experience. If we focus on being loving and caring of our neighbor, we can raise our awareness above our normal materialistic state.
We can begin to experience the consciousness available to us above our material, brain-centered awareness. The regular exercise of prayer and meditation can help us to raise our level of consciousness, but we must try to remember throughout our busy days to focus our minds higher, remember our goals, and remember to resist our inherent selfishness actively and consciously. We must remember to love our neighbor. We need to make this our normal practice, not something we just talk about but something we do.
I said at the beginning that change is the most important aspect of life on this earth. Swedenborg calls that change regeneration. These are the things that change us, that bring about our maturation into beings that are fit to live in a heavenly community. It is rather paradoxical that the only way to truly love and care for ourselves is to give ourselves up to love and care for others. That’s what heaven is based on, community and caring. That’s what Swedenborg means by charity. Of necessity, we are born into self-centeredness, but we have the ability to change, to overcome our childish selfishness, our inherent materialism, and become loving beings, fit to live in heaven, and in the process contribute to saving the earth, this wonderful home that Lord has blessed us with.
Read the full issue of the Fall 2023 Messenger
Meet Gordon Meyer
Pastor Gordon Meyer is the Licensed Pastor at the Virginia Street Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota.