Travel in the Spiritual Worlds
Differing Concepts of Location in the Physical and Spiritual World
Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell (New York: Swedenborg Foundation Press, 1962), pps. 111-112
The phrase state of consciousness has a special meaning for the spiritual traveler, and requires some added explanation. The following passage which was written by the 18th century thinker Emanuel Swedenborg attempts to define what is meant by this phrase. Swedenborg was a complex man who was part scientist, part inventor, part spiritualist-medium, and part spiritual traveler.
Here he talks about how the concept of "space" (or location) in the outer world must be redefined to mean "state" in the inner spiritual world. Swedenborg uses the phrase "state of the interiors" in his somewhat difficult eighteenth century English (translated from Latin) instead of our phrase state of consciousness but the two appear to have the same meaning.
The language is dense enough to require some added translation into modern English prose. My translations will appear in italics following Swedenborg's original text.
Swedenborg writes:192. All changes in place in the spiritual world are effected by (are the result of) changes in state of the interiors (state of consciousness) , which means that change of place is nothing else than change in state.This quote expresses the very important analogy between space and state that is usually difficult to understand by those who have not experienced spiritual travel. In the inner spaces, there is the soul or awareness, and an infinite number of directions in which the soul may travel. It is important to realize that to be oriented in the inner worlds, the individual must plot a course and follow it rather than simply drift. Moving from place to place is actually moving from state to state in this context.
In this way I have been taken by the Lord into the heavens ... and it was my spirit that so journeyed while my body remained in the same place. Such are all movements by the angels; and in consequence they have no distance, and having no distances they have no spaces, but in place of spaces, they have states and their changes.
193. As changes of place are thus effected it is evident that approaches are likenesses of the state of the interiors, and separations are unlikenesses; and for this reason those are near each other who are in like states, and those are at a distance who are in unlike states; and the spaces in heaven are simply the external conditions corresponding to the internal states. For the same reason, the heavens are distant from each other, also the societies of each heaven and the individuals in each society; and furthermore, the hells are entirely separated from the heavens, because they are in a contrary state.
( 193. As changes of place that result in nearness are the result of similarities in state of consciousness and separations are the result of dissimilarities in state of consciousness, for the same reason, those near each other are in similar states, and those at a distance are in dissimilar states; and the spaces in heaven are simply the external conditions corresponding to these internal states of consciousness. For the same reason, the heavens are distant from each other, as are the societies of each heaven and the individuals in each society; and furthermore, the hells are entirely separated from the heavens, because they represent a contrary or dissimilar state of consciousness. )
Swedenborg gives us remarkable insight into the nature of the inner world by clarifying the important relationship between places and states.
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