Many of us are dismayed by the world because we seem to regularly witness injustice. We see innocent children starving in distant lands while greedy businessmen hoard their wealth. We witness the devastation that tornadoes and hurricanes inflict on seemingly innocent victims. We are tormented by the cruelty of senseless war and violence. And we are saddened and shocked by human disease and suffering. However, when we understand how the universe operates, we are no longer perplexed and troubled by such injustices and we continue to trust in God’s Judgment. Although the world may seem out of balance, in reality the universe is in equilibrium. But this equilibrium is not static; it is a dynamic equilibrium.
What is dynamic equilibrium? In a dynamic equilibrium, the constituents or parts are free to act and interact. Hence disorder may seem to increase. However, periodically, there comes a point when order and equilibrium are eventually restored. We have examples of this in the natural world. Through natural floods, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires, equilibrium is periodically restored in the natural atmosphere.
By correspondence, in the spiritual, mental and emotional atmosphere, equilibrium is restored through spiritual floods and fires. According to Swedenborg, at the end of an age, the church is devastated of all good and truth in order that a new spiritual dispensation may be established. Thus, the Good and Truth from Heaven must be completely withdrawn from the earth so that humans realize that without Heaven and the Lord, they are destitute. Hence, this spiritual flood or lack of inner order and love usually translates in society as an increase in violence, wars, disease and poverty. But this devastation usually wakes up humanity so that it can begin to rediscover what is true, real and meaningful.
This also happens on the personal level. We continue to commit sins of all kinds until our life becomes vain, loveless and meaningless. This inner disorder usually translates to outer disorder and we may become involved in crimes, accidents, disease and poverty, which often leads to mental and emotional depression. And it is only then that we realize that we are losing touch with Reality (Divine Love and Wisdom).
The reason we fail to see God’s Justice is because we have forgotten that the universe is higher-dimensional and when a person performs an action from the freedom of his/her will, his/her state of being is altered for better or worse. And we equally forget that people’s physical circumstances are temporal, fleeting and inconsequential. It is rather their state of being and the quality of their intentions, loves, beliefs and actions on earth that will determine their ultimate fate in the spiritual world. Their outer environment in the spiritual world will be in exact correspondence with their inner state of being. Similarly, in projective geometry, we can perform all kinds of projective transformations in projective space but the cross-ratio is never violated. The cross-ratio preserves the relationship between inner and outer space.
Therefore, the temporary injustices that we are witnessing in the world are caused by spiritual freedom and existential uncertainty. However, in the end, we should have no doubt that God’s Infinite Justice will be fulfilled. The Lord Himself assures us of this:
There is therefore an equilibrium of all and of each with respect to celestial, spiritual, and natural things, so that no one can think, feel, and act except from many, and yet everyone supposes that he does so of himself, most freely. In like manner there is nothing which is not balanced by its opposite, and opposites by intermediates, so that each by himself, and many together, live in most perfect equilibrium. And therefore no evil can befall anyone without being instantly counterbalanced; and when there is a preponderance of evil, the evil or evildoer is chastised by the law of equilibrium, as of himself, but solely for the end that good may come. Heavenly order consists in such a form and the consequent equilibrium; and that order is formed, disposed, and preserved by the Lord alone, to eternity. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 689]
This spiritual equilibrium, which constitutes free will, may be illustrated by examples of natural equilibrium. It is like the equilibrium of a man bound about the body or the arms between two men of equal strength, one of whom draws him to the right, and the other to the left. The man, being midway between them, can then turn the one way or the other as if not acted upon by any force. If he moves to the right he forcibly pulls the man on the left towards him till he brings him to the ground. The effect would be the same if any one, however feeble, were bound between three men on the right, and as many of equal strength on the left, or between the same number of camels or horses.
Spiritual equilibrium, or free will, may also be compared to a balance containing in each of its scales an equal weight. If a small addition is then made to the scale on one side, the pointer of the balance moves to that side above it; and it is the same with a lever, or with a great beam balanced on a fulcrum. A similar equilibrium prevails in every part of the human body, as in the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, the spleen, the intestines, and the rest of the organs; and consequently each is enabled to perform its functions in undisturbed peace. So with all the muscles of the body, without whose equilibrium all action and reaction would cease, and a man would no longer act as a man. As all the parts of the body are thus in such equilibrium, so also are all the parts of the brain, and consequently all parts of the mind within it, which relate to the will and the understanding.
Beasts, birds, fishes and insects are also in a state of freedom; but these are carried along by the senses of the body, at the prompting of appetite and pleasure. Nor would man be at all unlike them if his freedom of action were as uncontrolled as his freedom of thought; for he also would be carried along by the bodily senses only, at the prompting of appetite and pleasure. It is otherwise, however, if he receives the spiritual things of the Church and orders his free will by them. He is led away by the Lord from lusts and evil pleasures, and the innate desire for them; and he acquires an affection for good and a hatred of evil. He is then transferred by the Lord nearer to the east and at the same time towards the south in the spiritual world, and is introduced into a state of heavenly freedom, which is freedom indeed. Emanuel Swedenborg [TCR 478]
CONCERNING INUNDATION (OR WHAT IS MEANT BY A FLOOD IN THE WORD).
From experience I have been given to learn what the flood is. It is twofold, consisting of passions, which belong to the right side of the head, and fantasies, which belong to the left side. When a person is being held by the Lord in such a way that companies of evil spirits do not enter, then he is free of, and lifted above the inflow of those companies. The moment one is plunged into such societies, it is a kind of flood, for one becomes like they are, in like manner becoming indignant, angry, pensive, despairing, desiring, whereas insofar as one is withheld from them, so far one is more or less on the bank or the shore, in safety, or within an ark – thus either at the left side of the head devoted to matters of understanding or thought, or at the right side of the head devoted to matters of the will, or passions. Thus the more one is immersed in them, the more one is inundated. It is like a flood, for it takes place in the same way, so it is compared to waters. It also takes place profusely from the left side, and little from the right, thus in countlessly varied ways. These things I know from experience, for I was held for a long time out of a flood, while other spirits were in it, and afterwards I was immersed and felt what was just like an inundation. Temptations are of this nature. Emanuel Swedenborg [SE 4155]
PERMISSIONS: HOW THEY ARE REPRESENTED BY NATURE
Permissions in heaven are represented in nature by the threefold, or fourfold atmospheres, the one purer than the other according to degrees, the one that follows being compounded from the prior, which acts proximately upon the compound within and without; thus in each single part of the ultimate atmosphere, there are the prior atmospheres in their order. When the ultimate atmosphere is disturbed by a tempest, then the next prior atmosphere acts tranquilly enough, both without and within, in the single parts, thus in the part and in the whole; the atmosphere which is prior to that acts still more tranquilly; and the first, which is the all in all of the following atmospheres in the part and in the whole, acts most tranquilly or pacifically. Thus the prior, and especially the first atmosphere operates with tranquil action upon the following atmospheres, and by these upon the ultimate, and reduces that ultimate atmosphere to equilibrium, however tumultuous it may be owing to wind or tempest. So is it in the heavens among the heavenly lives and the spirits, who are, as it were, the ultimate atmosphere where there are tempests. Anyone who stands there supposes that the whole heaven will perish because the storms, mists, black clouds are clearly seen; but still after their outburst they are quietly reduced to rest in accordance with the behest and will of God Messiah. These things have been thought and written in the presence of spirits. 1747, Dec. 29. [SE 418] EMANUEL SWEDENBORG