IGNORANCE AND INNOCENCE
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. John 9:1-7
When it comes to our own mind, we can be in one of three states: we can be in ignorance, in falsehood or in Truth. It is a fact that we are all born in ignorance and innocence. This is why children ask so many questions. While in the spiritual world, Swedenborg observed that humans who had died in childhood were first instructed by angels before they could be raised into Heaven. Therefore, we are all born spiritually blind. This is the kind of blindness that is easily healed and cured. Since the Lord is the Light of our mind, this mental blindness is healed when we believe in the Lord and He opens our eyes through our understanding of the Word. But there is another kind of blindness. This grave mental blindness is caused by our willful refusal to believe in the Lord. Then, we are no longer in the spiritual darkness of ignorance; we are in the darkness of our falsehoods and lies. The man born blind was ignorant and innocent and he immediately believed but the Pharisees willfully refused to believe that Jesus was the physical manifestation of God, although they had witnessed or seen His miracles.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John 9:35-41
If the Pharisees were simply ignorant, they would not be committing sin. But they saw with their own eyes Jesus exercise Divine Power and they still freely refused to believe in Him. And the only reason they made this choice was because they did not want to lose their earthly power and stature in the community. If we willfully refuse to believe in the Truth and choose to believe our own opinions, falsehoods and fantasies, we are in fact freely choosing to live in spiritual darkness (or hell). Swedenborg says that the innocence of infants is the innocence of ignorance. But the innocence of angels is the innocence of Wisdom. Children innocently allow themselves to be led by their parents, teachers, angels and the Lord. But angels understand that they have no Love, Wisdom and Power of their own and they WISELY, FREELY and WILLINGLY choose to be led by the Lord.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
Therefore, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must return to innocence. However, this innocence will not emerge from our ignorance but from our understanding. It will arise from our understanding of the Word where we discover that we cannot do any Good from our self because all Good belongs to the Lord alone. This was the problem with the Pharisees. They were performing good actions and spiritual rituals but they were equally attributing all the merit to themselves and exalting themselves above others. When we believe that we are good, we are in fact stealing this Good from God. We are only stewards of God’s Love, Wisdom and Power. And, as this Love, Wisdom and Power flows into our own self, we should freely return (or reflect) it to others and the Lord through loving intentions, wise thoughts and useful deeds.
Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. That this signifies that the good of innocence of the after state must not be conjoined with the truth of innocence of the former state, is evident from the signification of “to boil,” as being to conjoin; from the signification of “a kid,” as being the good of innocence; and from the signification of “milk,” as being the truth of innocence; thus the “mother’s milk” denotes the truth of the first innocence. From all this it is evident that by “thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” is signified that the good of innocence of the after state must not be conjoined with the truth of innocence of the former state. This is the heavenly secret from which this law emanates; for all the laws and judgments and statutes that were given to the sons of Israel, contain secrets of heaven, to which they also correspond. But how this secret is to be understood, namely, that the good of innocence of the after state must not be conjoined with the truth of innocence of the former state, shall be briefly stated. The innocence of the former state is the innocence of infants and children; and the innocence of the after state is the innocence of adults and the aged who are in the good of love to the Lord. The innocence of infants and children is external, and dwells in dense ignorance; but the innocence of the aged is internal, and dwells in wisdom.
The innocence that dwells in wisdom consists in the man’s knowing, acknowledging, and believing that he can understand nothing and will nothing from himself, and consequently in his not wishing to understand and will anything from himself, but only from the Lord; and also that whatever he supposes that he understands from himself is falsity; and whatever he supposes that he wills from himself is evil. This state of life is the state of innocence of the after state, in which are all who are in the third heaven, which is called “the heaven of innocence.” Hence it is that such are in wisdom, because all they understand and will is from the Lord. But the innocence which dwells in ignorance, such as exists with infants and children, consists in believing that all they know and think, and also all they will is in themselves; and that all they speak and do from this thought and will is from themselves. That these are fallacies, they do not apprehend. The truths belonging to this innocence are for the most part founded upon the fallacies of the external senses; and these fallacies must be shaken off as the man advances toward wisdom. From these few words it can be seen that the good of innocence of the after state must not be conjoined with the truth of innocence of the former state. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 9301]