On the Merit Guilt Cycle : An excerpt from “Awakening to Spiritual Life Heaven and Hell 491-520 – Part 2”

Letting Go of Ownership Over Our States

We are told that those entering the second state of awakening who are evil, or those states of exteriors that project what is “good” to conceal hellish interiors, are permitted to move back and forth between their exterior and interior states of mind. This process of back and forth movement provides the contrast needed to bring about the necessary acknowledgment of the quality of interiors when separated from exteriors, so that the awakening process can move toward its next phase. This is described as follows:

This being their character, while in the second state they are let down by short intervals into the state of their exteriors, and into a recollection of their actions when they were in the state of their interiors;

And some of them then feel ashamed, and confess that they have been insane; some do not feel ashamed;

And some are angry because they are not permitted to remain permanently in the state of their exteriors. But these are shown what they would be if they were to continue in that state, namely, that they would attempt to accomplish in secret ways the same evil ends, and by semblances of goodness, honesty, and justice, would mislead the simple in heart and faith (HH 506-3).

As we practice self-examination by the light of truths from the Word, we begin to see the quality of interior states belonging to the hellish proprium and can therefore encounter similar corresponding experiences to those described here. There can be an inner sense of embarrassment as we come to acknowledge the insanity of the behavior of the hellish proprium, that we have identified with as our self.

There are other times when we have caught a flash of the true nature of some hellish quality moving within us but we are belligerent in our unwillingness to call it out for what it is and so “some do not feel ashamed.”

And there are other times yet again where resentment can present as an internalized anger directed at the self in the struggle to separate from the evils we have identified as present “in us”. The investment of our identity in what is opposed to the Lord can be difficult to acknowledge. But acknowledge it we must if we are to come to see that these things are not “us” but belong to the hells, to the hellish proprium. We may find ourselves judging our states and thinking that we are getting worse, not realizing that this is the work of the hellish proprium trying to condemn us. When we fall into identifying with these evils then we experience states of desolation that can foster feelings of self-pity, guilt, depression, anxiety, and negative self-talk.

This often spirals us into what is referred to in Logopraxis as the ‘merit-guilt cycle’. This cycle is based on the belief that religion is about making ourselves ‘better people’. So, we try to be good. And all goes along fine until something happens and our response reveals that we are “not good”. In fact, what often occurs is that states we never imagined we were capable of entertaining, begin to present to our conscious awareness. We are put squarely in front of the hellish proprium’s hold and influence over us. Because this is so contrary to our moral and civil self-image, we find we are assaulted with feelings of low self-worth, a sense of failure, feelings of guilt and thoughts of self-condemnation. We mistakenly believe that these evils and falsities are sourced in ourselves, not realising that they arise from the hells. As this state passes, we once again try to compensate for this negative aspect of “our self” through resolving to be a better person going forward. And so the conditions are created in which the cycle can continue to play out.

What we fail to see is that we cannot make the hellish proprium good and that it is our efforts to do this that opens us up to the merit-guilt cycle. The hellish proprium is evil and falsity itself and evil can’t be turned into good nor falsity into truth. The Word teaches that the Lord alone is good. To be set free from this cycle we need to accept that we are not asked to be good, but to do good, that is, to live from the Word in an effort to shun evils as sins against the Lord. Our work is not to suppress or deny evil and falsity but to see and acknowledge it in the light of the truths the Word offers us. The Word seeks to place us in front of the hellish proprium, not to condemn us, but to free us from it.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (Jn 3:17)

The key function of truths from the Word is to expose the evils and falsities of which the hellish proprium is composed. They must be exposed if there is to be any possibility of shunning them as sins against the Lord. It is only when this is done consciously, as if of self, that we can be set free from the hold the hellish proprium has on what we define as ‘our self’. In this way, the Lord as the Word is given leave to remove what is opposed to His love becoming more consciously present as our life.

Because the awakening process has a devastating impact on our false self-image it is helpful to remind ourselves often, that it is the Lord who controls every detail of our awakening to spiritual life. All is directed by the laws of Divine Providence, which include the laws of permission. Nothing arises in this process that isn’t governed by necessity so far as our spiritual well-being is concerned. What needs to be exposed will be and this is what the process entails. The process itself builds trust that the Word is well able to carry us through whatever arises, so that the end that the Lord has in view for our life might be fulfilled. The further exposure of the hellish proprium as it relates to the state of interiors is described as follows…

…what they then did and said secretly being now made manifest; for they are now restrained by no outward considerations, and therefore what they have said and done secretly they now say and endeavor to do openly, having no longer any fear of loss of reputation, such as they had in the world.

They are also brought into many states of their evils, that what they are may be evident to angels and good spirits. Thus are hidden things laid open and secret things uncovered, in accordance with the Lord’s words:

There is nothing covered up that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known. Whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light, and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:2, 3).

And elsewhere:

I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36) (507 HH).


To read the full article go to Logopraxis : Awakening to Spiritual Life : Heaven and Hell 491-520

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