In Logopraxis, we seek to honour the potential for awakening to spiritual life through the Word, the Logos, by placing the practice of Sacred Texts at the centre of individual and collective spiritual life. Logopraxis is an intentional spiritual approach specifically focused on the practice of the Word as the basis for self-examination and repentance. As such it is a process-orientated approach for engaging with Sacred Text.
Insights therefore are born of direct experience. When these insights are shared with others, this builds spiritual community as it is the shared experience of the Word that is offering a point of connection between it’s members. What results is an increasing perception of the Lord in the midst.
The Word becomes psychoactive when it is engaged with, with a view to self-examination and repentance in humility before the Lord. It starts to illustrate for us in our own lives, the inner meaning that it is describing.
The inner meaning or inner sense is the meaning as it relates to our own states of consciousness to the Lord. It is our awareness of the nature and quality of the thoughts and affections in relation to what is good and true and this is the spiritual world.
To read the text spiritually, means reading the letter of the Sacred Texts away from person, place, time and space, that is, away from events based on a timeline of history in the natural world and instead as states that occur within the landscape of our thoughts and affections, in the life our mind.
The descriptions in Heaven and Hell of death in the earthly life and the awakening in the spiritual world, can therefore be read as the death of the life that is based only in the natural world/man/mind and an awakening to the spiritual world/man/ mind.
The Texts of Divine Revelation, can then be viewed as something that has been provided to support the awakening of the spiritual mind and the reformation and regeneration of the natural mind.
Lets start by exploring what is said about the natural mind and the spiritual mind:
The natural mind, since it is the covering and containant of the higher degrees of the human mind, is reactive, and if the higher degrees are not opened, it acts against them, but if they are opened, it acts with them
It has been shown in the preceding section that the natural mind which is in the lowest degree, envelops and encloses the spiritual mind and the celestial mind, which as to degrees, are higher.
….. natural mind consists not only of substances of the spiritual world but also of substances of the natural world, as was said above (257), and substances of the natural world from their very nature react against the substances of the spiritual world.
For substances of the natural world are in themselves dead, and are acted upon from without by substances of the spiritual world. And substances which are dead, and are acted upon from without, resist from their own nature, and thus from their nature react.
From these considerations it can be established that the natural man reacts against the spiritual man, and that there is a conflict. It is the same thing whether it is said the natural and spiritual man, or the natural and spiritual mind.
NJHD 37 and 38
Every man has an Internal and in External; but it is otherwise with the good from what it is with the evil. With the good the Internal is in heaven and its light, and the External in the world and its light; and, with them, this latter light is illuminated by the light of heaven; wherefore, the Internal and the External with them act as one, like the efficient cause and the effect, or like what comes first (prior) and what follows afterwards (posterior).
But with the evil, the Internal is in the world, and in its light; and in the same light also is the External; wherefore, they see nothing from the light of heaven, but only from the light of the world, ….
From this it is plain that the good have an internal and an external man, but that the evil have no internal man, but only an external.
The internal man is what is called the spiritual man, because it is in the light of heaven, which light is spiritual;
and the external man is what is called the natural man, because it is in the light of the world, which light is natural.
The man whose Internal is in the light of heaven, and whose External is in the light of the world, is a spiritual man as to both;
but the man whose Internal is not in the light of heaven, but only in the light of the world in which also is his External, is a natural man as to both.
It is the spiritual man, who, in the Word, is called a living man, and the natural man who is called a dead man.
If we substitute the word ‘mind’ for ‘man’ this reads as:
It is the spiritual MIND, who, in the Word, is called a living MIND, and the natural MIND who is called a dead MIND.
So we have the natural mind which, if left to its own loves and devices, can only receive the light of the natural world. The spiritual mind can only be opened by spiritual truths being practiced in one’s life, when truths from the Word are taken into ones life and actively used to see and shun anything that is not in accordance with them.
Once the spiritual mind is opened it can then illuminate the natural mind so that the natural mind can be in harmony and support of it. However, the natural mind reacts because it is a mixture of substances in the both the spiritual and natural world (good and evil) and the things that belong to the natural world by their very nature react against things that belong to the spiritual world.
We then have the experience of the natural mind being reformed so that it might become a mind that is receptive to what flows in from what is higher and so that what is higher can be opened up more into the awareness of the natural mind.
In the awakening series found in Heaven and Hell 491-520 we have described three states or stages.
State of exteriors
State of interiors
State of instruction
The state of exteriors is where the newly arrived spirit’s exterior is disclosed to them so that what is exterior can become aligned with what is interior, so the things that don’t align with what is interior can be removed. After being gently woken up by angels, the spirits start to meet old acquaintances and friends and marriage partners. These friends start to educate them about what life in the spiritual world is all about and they take them to meet people. Some, the newly arrived spirits have known previously on earth and some are new. The friends show them cities and gardens and the types of places where people live. Then eventually they tell them about what heaven and hell are like and teach them about what occupations take place in each. It slowly starts to become apparent to the newly arrived spirits, that some of the ideas about heaven and hell they have always believed aren’t quite correct. There is often a sense of loss and indignation and even anger that they didn’t know these things before now.
They also start to realise that it isn’t actually the deeds they have done in their life that have mattered the most but instead it was the intent or the motivation behind them that has counted. In essence this is felt as a type of ‘ whole of life’ review and life judgement.
The second state is where the new spirit is led by good spirits who come and examine them more deeply as to their interiors, so more deeply into what has been the underlying thoughts and affections of the life they have lived in the world, up until now, the time of their awakening into the spiritual world. It starts to become clearer how they can distinguish between what things were done with intent for good and its truth and what things weren’t. What things were merely outward appearances of moral life and what things were truly moral because they were guided by spiritual truths. They start to learn how to discern the nature of the quality of their thoughts and affections as they learn more deeply what the Lord is and how their life is really the Lord’s life flowing into them. They start to be able to discern what belongs to the Lord’s self and what belongs to the self that has no love of the neighbour or of what is good and true. They start to be able to see the difference between thoughts and affections that are focused on self-love and self-credit and those that are focussed instead on loving the neighbour and working to offer to others because there is a joy to be in the love that belongs to the Lord.
For the spirits that have a love for what is good, there is a strong awakening in this state to the concept that it is the Lord that is life itself and that the spirit is simply a vessel of use in offering this life to all it comes into contact with. This growing heartfelt acknowledgment starts to bring a greater sense of interior peace and joy, with a desire for this to be expressed in the exteriors too. This is accompanied by a humility and willingness for what is seen as not being of the Lord, to be removed from sight.
Those spirits that are in the love for things that aren’t of the Lord appear as foolish, hurtful, abominations to those spirits that are and there often appears an adverse response to seeing these such as embarrassment or shame if they have associated with them or even joined them at some point. These spirits when exposed also exhibit anger at not being allowed to hide their interiors from others anymore. This process often involves the spirits returning to cities and gardens and societies they had visited in the first state but now some of these places no longer seem as pleasing as before because of the increased ability to distinguish. This then leads the spirits into deeper separations and removals from exteriors that don’t support their inner loves, as well as clear separations from acquaintances that don’t agree with them.
The third state is essentially for those who have decided that they feel aligned with the communities that are heavenly and therefore the good spirits of these places take them aside and instruct them further about the types of occupations and activities that take place in heavenly communities. It is through this instruction that the spirit eventually comes to know which community they feel at home in and therefore what type of occupation they feel most able to be of use in. All the teaching is done from doctrine drawn from the Word and as such the teaching isn’t just committed to the spirit’s memory but becomes part of their life because it is deeply connected to what it is they love and what brings them delight.
With ideas like temptations and vastations and purifications we start to get an inkling of how what is described here, might also relate to the experiences we have as we engage with the truths from the Word and the reforming of our minds as we practice them. However, the descriptions here are still very much based in the idea of heaven being a place with cities and gardens and people who live their lives there in much the same way as we do here on earth. Where movement is marked by time.
It is a challenge to remove person, place, time and space in these beautiful images so that we can see the more internal processes that are being described. And its not that we want to do away with the descriptions as vessels altogether but instead we want to examine them more closely so that it becomes relevant to the process of the Word as the Lord working in us now, in the present; in the eternal present, where the past, future and present are all one in terms of our process.
There are many of examples of process in the Word. There is the creation process, the glorification process and the process of baptism and of marriage. These are all examples of the Lord as Process and they all actually can be integrated into each other since they all amount to the same thing , the Lord becoming known as the Human, as the trinity of love, wisdom and use.
But for the purpose of the awakening illustration, I’ve been inspired to turn to the representative image of the temple as found in 1 Kings Chapter 5-8 and 2 Chronicles Chapter 3 and 4. Here we find a description of Solomon’s temple or as it is also often referred to as, the Lord’s House.
A house represents the mind and this idea immediately allows us to step back and suddenly see the image in a new light. The Lord’s House has three main areas; the inner court, the Holy place and the innermost sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments is kept. Only the priests are allowed into the Lord’s House and its inner courtyard. The inner courtyard in particular has a number of different areas that are dedicated to cleansing and worship.
(Image credit ESV Study Bible Illustration )
If we can hold that this representative image of the Lord’s House is a description of our mind and also then use the descriptions of the mind as found in the texts of Divine Revelation, then we can work through the images presented in the descriptions of the Lord’s House and draw connections with the awakening to spiritual life that is described in the awakening series. In short, we can imagine walking through the gates into the inner court and then working though all the images presented as we move from the inner court as the state of exteriors of the natural mind, the Holy place being the state of interiors of the spiritual mind and the innermost sanctuary being the state of instruction of the celestial mind.
So let’s start first at looking at the descriptions we find in the Heavenly Doctrines about the mind when man is first born or if you like, first awakens to the Word:
When man is born he comes first into the natural degree and this increases with him by continuity according to his knowledge and the understanding acquired thereby even to the highest point of the understanding which is called the rational.
Yet the second degree which is called the spiritual is not opened by this means. It is opened by a love of uses in conformity with the things acquired by the understanding, but a spiritual love of uses which is love towards the neighbour. This degree can grow in like manner by continuous degrees even to its highest point, and it increases by cognitions of truth and good, that is, by means of spiritual truths.
Yet not even by these is the third degree, which is called celestial, opened. But it is opened by the celestial love of uses, which is love to the Lord. And love to the Lord is nothing else than committing to life the precepts of the Word, which in all, are to shun evils because they are hellish and devilish, and to do good because it is heavenly and Divine. These three degrees are thus successively opened in man.
These three degrees beautifully complement the descriptions found in the three states of awakening. The natural degree is one that is more exteriorly based in knowledges. The spiritual degree is one in which interior loves are made apparent and this then opens up our acknowledgement of the Lord and thus truths are taken and applied to life. The celestial degree is one in which the natural and spiritual degrees serve to allow the loves to be put into use with a knowing that it is the Word as the Lord Himself that is this use. Hence, the natural and spiritual degrees serve as a plane for the celestial degree to be expressed in a life of service, in a heavenly community.
If we turn back to the image of the Lord’s House we can also see these concepts reflected for us in the images of the three areas the inner court, the Holy place and the innermost sanctuary.
The innermost sanctuary as the celestial degree, speaks of the Lord Himself with nothing but the Ark of the Covenant and the two cherubim guarding it.
The Holy place as the spiritual degree conveys a sense of worship with its altar of incense, table with the bread of presence/shewbread and the five lampstands on either side of the east and west walls.
And in the outside area of the inner court or natural degree we find: the altar of sacrifice where animals are presented as offerings by the priests, the five lavers on each side of the east and west wall in which the blood of the offerings are washed off and the sea of cast iron in which the priests are required to wash their hands and feet in. The inner court as the natural degree is outside the actual structure of the temple, conveying an idea that what is within it’s walls which are lined on the inside with cedar wood and then gold, is protected and more sacred than what is outside. And we also can note that all of the activities in the inner court pertain to washing.