Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope and seen how a confused medley of shapes tossed around can become a beautiful pattern when held up to the light and viewed through the eyepiece? In much the same way we are thrown together in life with many and diverse other people. No two people are ever or ever will be exactly alike. But in the eye of God, the Writings of Swedenborg say, the human race is seen as a beautiful image – not as it actually is but as God would like it to be: an image of Himself, receiving and reflecting His love and wisdom through the way we live our lives.
There is good reason for the diversity reflected in all of humanity. This diversity pictures the infinite nature of the Divine and is the reason we are all different. So we should not wish we were like someone else – we are unique for a reason and that reason is that we have a unique purpose in the grand scheme of things. In heaven this unique purpose will become more apparent but, while we are here, we can get an inkling about what it might be from the things we love the most. If our love is a good one we can be sure that we are on the right track and will take our place in the “Grand Human” of heaven, which is described in Swedenborg’s Writings. Put simply, the whole of heaven is an image of God in His Divine Human nature. Each angel makes up a tiny part of the body of the Divine and the same can be said for each person who belongs to the body of Christ in the world. We are all one humanity in the body of Christ if we allow ourselves to be led by Him and live according to His ways, which are described in the Scriptures and teachings of all true spiritualities.
Here is a quote from the Writings of Swedenborg:
It can be seen as in a mirror how perfection comes from variety even in heaven. For from the things that exist in the natural world, the things of the spiritual world can be seen as in a mirror.
Take a look at the variety in everything of the created universe and you will see there a reflection of the infinity of the one God of heaven and earth. But how can we relate to an infinite force? The Writings of Swedenborg say that we can picture God as a Divine Human Being with arms outstretched towards us, inviting us into His embrace. Swedenborg’s Writings go on to say that this Divine Being manifested in the world as the person of Jesus Christ and is the One to whom we are able to turn to whenever we wish to speak to God. We are able to have a relationship with Him, knowing that He is with us always and watches over us with loving care. The Bible calls Him the Good Shepherd and says we are His people and the sheep of His flock. His flock is the Universal Sheepfold emcompassing all who hear His voice and follow Him, no matter where they are born or by what name they give their God.
We are one in the body of the Divine Being if we are tolerant of our differences and united by our love for the one and only God of the universe. Together we make up a beautiful form in the image and likeness of God. And together we can become more and more closely united by His love flowing through each of us and out to the whole of humanity. This is how God wants to see us – a beautiful image made in His likeness and changing and developing in perfection to eternity as more and more people are added to it by hearing His voice and following Him. Keep this in mind when come across others who worship God by a different name and in a different way from you. It is variety that makes perfection and this is how it should be. There isn’t just one right way. Everyone has been given a way to come into heaven (see our blog ‘The Golden City’ which explains that there are many gates and, therefore, many pathways to our heavenly home). Each pathway requires that we do some work to become the person we were born to be and that means putting off our negative traits and being made new. As the Bible says:
Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy (Ephesians 4:23).
The more the human race is perfected the more beautiful is the image reflected through the eyepiece of the Divine Kaleidoscope of humanity.
In the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg we read of many of the experiences granted to him by the Lord in the world of the spirit. Here is what he has to say about one experience he had in which he witnessed a newcomer to the world of the spirit being approached by an angel of light: “After a while he was so affected by what the angel said, that he shed tears, saying that he had never wept before but he couldn’t help it because it was love speaking.” It turned out that these two were brothers but one of them had died as a child, grown up in heaven and become an angel. The enmity that had existed between them as children was now dispelled by love.
What is love? The Bible tells us that God is love. He created us so that He could love us and bless us. Love came down to earth to save the human race from spiritual death. Jesus said of Himself in John 8:58: “Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’.” This harks back to what God told Moses to say to the people: “‘I am who I am.’ This is what you must say to them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:14).
Here is another quote from the Writings of Swedenborg:
Jehovah, or the Lord’s Soul, was the most heavenly element of love. In other words, it was Love itself, to which no other attributes are appropriate than those of pure love and so of pure mercy towards the whole human race; the nature of that mercy being such that it wills to save all people, to make them eternally happy, and to impart to them all that is its own – so out of pure mercy and by the mighty power of love, to draw towards heaven, and so towards itself, all who are willing to follow. That Love is Jehovah. To Love alone, and to nothing else, is ‘AM’ applicable.
If we want to be more loving we need to open our hearts up to Love, in other words to the Source of love. The Divine goal is for us to become angels in heaven and become more and more loving to eternity. Then we will be like the angel that Swedenborg witnessed and when we speak it will be like love speaking.
As Swedenborg witnessed in the other world:
All those in heaven are forms of love and appear in unimaginable beauty with love shining from their faces and from every aspect of their lives.
We all want to be happy and people look for happiness in many different ways. But Psalm 1 says, “Happy are those who reject the advice of evil men, who do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God. Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord.” So the person who is to find real inner happiness and peace will happily obey the Law of the Lord by living the way that He has taught us in the Scriptures. In Jewish and Christian faiths this is the way of the Divine Commandments which, according to Old Testament Scripture, were given by God to Moses on a mountaintop (See Exodus 20). The Qur’an, Bhagavad Gita and other traditions contain similar teachings as does Buddhism with its “noble eightfold path.”
The Commandments, like all other parts of the Word, certainly have deeper meanings within them; but the inner meanings are no more valid than the surface meanings. The Commandments are basic laws of order, and anyone who reads them can understand them. To practise them all we need to do is to use them as a guide to examine our intentions, thoughts and actions. If these do not measure up, then we will know what we must do. You see, the Commandments were not given to us to keep us in check, but to provide the means of being blessed. We could call them the Divine Promises. If we put them into practice then we are given the promise of a happy spiritual life. We can put these Commandments into practice but it is love that brings them alive, and so we need to pray that love will motivate our actions.
As Psalm 1 goes on to say, the end result for those who choose to find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord is that “they will be like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up.” Looking ahead to the end of the Bible, the promise in the Book of Revelation is that they would draw sustenance from the tree which is at the centre of the Garden of God. This is the Tree of Life which has a root system that draws its life force from the river of God that flows continually from His throne. It stands for the Lord as the Source of every blessing and happiness. The Garden of God or paradise pictures a state of inner beauty brought about by a life of shunning evils as sins. So it is written, “To those who win the victory I will give the right to eat the fruit of the tree of life that grows in the Garden of God.” In other words, if we live our lives according to the Divine Commandments, we can claim God’s promises of the blessings of eternal life and our spirits will be eternally shaped into beautiful forms of love.