Removing Time, Space, & Person When Reading the Word

[Reading apart from time, space and person; historical appearances/life of the mind; coming of the Lord]

David Millar 21 March 2009, Reflections on AC #234

Getting beyond terms that stimulate natural thinking in spiritual texts is not easy, but if we are to see the application of such material to our lives it’s essential that we are able to do this. There are a lot of historically related terms used in our reading that can tend to keep our thought on what we perceive as lying outside of us, when in fact we are dealing with the inner realities of our very own minds. Because the text is framed in terms of “those of the Most Ancient Church” there is a tendency to automatically box the statement in a way where it is seen as applying to others who existed in the past and leave it at that. The spiritual reality is that the Most Ancient Church actually lies at the core of every human psyche as does the Ancient, Jewish, Christian and New Churches. These Churches all represent and so describe states of consciousness belonging to various levels of our minds.

It’s interesting to note that angels give no thought to historical details – as can be seen in the following comment from AC 4387 in relation to the historical figure of Esau…

For heaven, which is within man – that is, the angels who reside with him – do not have the slightest interest in details to do with the history of the world. Neither do they know who or what Esau was, who or what Seir was. Nor do they have any thought of the day when Esau returned or of the way to Seir; instead they gather ideas of the spiritual things which correspond to those historical facts, instantly deriving such a spiritual meaning from them. For correspondences work in the following way: They are very much like a person talking in a foreign language to someone else who instantly understands what is meant as if in his own language, the sounds and pronunciation of the words actually used being no hindrance to him. So it is with the internal sense of the Word, which sense is in perfect agreement with the universal language which angels use, that is, with the spiritual speech which is expressive of their thought. Their speech is spiritual because their thought is a product of the light of heaven which shines from the Lord (see also AC 1886, 5329 & 3776)

In fact, we are explicitly reminded that the first 11 Chapters of the book of Genesis are a “made up history”…

From Genesis 1 down to this point, or rather, down to Eber, the narratives have not consisted of true history but of made-up history, which in the internal sense meant things that are celestial and spiritual.(note: by celestial and spiritual things are meant the things of the mind) In this and subsequent chapters however they are not made-up but true historical narratives, which in the internal sense in like manner mean things that are celestial and spiritual. This may become clear to anyone simply from the consideration that it is the Word of the Lord. AC 1403

The things being described here are not historical at all but are a series of stories designed for the express purpose of conveying the universal celestial and spiritual realities that are found in the human condition. Knowing this is exciting because we can now move from thinking historically about what’s here to thinking in terms of the spiritual principles being illustrated.

Just by way of example of the difference this can make, take #234 which says…

The state of the Church down to the time of the Flood is described. And because the Church at that time destroyed itself completely, it is foretold that the Lord will come into the world and save the human race.

If we think in terms of time and space (which is to think naturally) then we cannot avoid taking this as a statement describing historical events, or what has occurred in time and space. We are told that in order to think spiritually all ideas of time and space have to be removed from our thinking. So let’s try to do that…

What we know is that by Church is not meant any earthly organization but rather this term describes the quality of the mind in terms of the quality of celestial and spiritual things within it. A mind filled with goods (celestial things) and truths (spiritual things) from the Word is what is meant by the term Church, and that the more these things are found in their proper order within the mind the more a church the mind becomes.

So the phrase, “The state of the Church…” can be understood to mean “The state of the human mind…” in relation to what is good and true. We come then to the next part of the statement being – “down to the time of the flood” Now this has a clear reference to a “time” (that being “the time of the flood”). Again we are to think in terms of state, not time, and so by “the time of the flood” is meant a state when evils and falsities flood the lower levels of the mind. Or if you like, when self-love rises up and swamps what is genuinely good and true.

So we can see that what’s described in terms of history starts to become related to my personal inner history of the process I experience where my sense of self becomes so dominated by self-interest that I lose sight of what is loving and wise and run with what is self-serving with all its justifications and rationalizations. With this in mind #234 can be paraphrased as follows to provide a context for personal inner work…

What’s described in this reading are the progressive states of mind I pass through as I move from living from the Word to living from my own self-interest. And because the mind (Church) in that state destroys (deliberate use of present tense) itself completely…

We now come to the final part of the statement…

…it is foretold that the Lord will come into the world and save the human race.

If we read this naturally we will think of its meaning in terms of a historical event, if we read it spiritually we will see that what occurs as history is in fact representative of spiritual processes that are continually outworking themselves in the relationship that exists between the Lord as the Word and human beings as receiving agents of goods and truths from it.

Naturally understood as a historical event this statement will be seen as referring to the person of Jesus Christ being born into the material world at a point in time. But this is not the only way in which this can be understood, for what occurs in time and space and becomes fixed in a historical context on the material plane has a reality that sits outside of spatial, temporal or material limitations. This can be seen when we see that by the Lord is meant the Word (John 1:1). “World” in the above statement can also mean the interior world in which our spirit dwells, for this is as much a world as that in which we find ourselves bodily. And while the Lord understood as to his historical person is seen as one in the material world, as the Word “his coming into the world” refers to His appearing in the mental world of those who are awakening to the true nature of the Word, that it is the Divine Truth, and as such is the Lord Himself.

The coming of the Lord into the world is the unveiling of the true nature of the Word as the Divine Truth to human consciousness, for it is this realization that opens the way for all sensual reasoning to be put down under the heel. It is only as I look to the Lord (which means to apply truths to life) that I find I have the ability to hold the lying voice of the serpent (believing how things appear rather than what truths teach) at bay so that its poisons can be rendered ineffective.

My task for this session has been to observe the shifts in my state (often in retrospect) as I listen to the voice of the serpent and forget what truths teach. I have found that in states of self-interest a little reflection can go a long way to discerning the voices that seek to influence me and that once this happens a kind of mental distancing can occur – what I see in this is how truths from the Word (i.e. the Lord) are working to save the human race in me – or if you like, what is truly human from a spiritual perspective (remains or the things implanted within from a heavenly origin).

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