The Shadow, the Subconscious and the Unconscious (Spiritual Darkness)
Many of us still experience negative emotions such as fear, anger, envy, jealousy, hatred and revenge and their corresponding negative or morbid thoughts such as worry, confusion, doubt, irrationality and insanity. And many of us still wonder where all this negativity originates. Since humans evolved from the material, plant and animal world, we still embed the evolution of humanity within our self, although this evolution was guided by the Love and Wisdom of God through correspondence and influx. Thus, we also embed the heredity of our human ancestors. In Genesis, we learn that humanity fell into love of self, love of the world and love of abuses. Thus, most of us are still in this negative state of being. We are in the spiritual darkness of our self and our soul lacks the Light of Divine Wisdom and the warmth of Divine Love.
When we erroneously believe that we live from our self, we are spiritually asleep or in a kind of hypnosis of the mind. In this state of hypnosis, we automatically react to the world according to our hereditary selfishness. When we are in spiritual darkness, we live in fantasy and lies. We become self-righteous and instead of taking conscious responsibility for our actions, we tend to play the victim and blame everything that happens to us on others or our unfortunate circumstances. We also tend to lie continuously to ourselves and others in order to justify and excuse our selfish (evil) intentions and actions. When we are in our psychological shadow, instead of admitting our spiritual flaws, we project them onto others. In fact, the faults that we see in others are within us. We believe that the world and others are cruel because we subsist in the hell of selfishness (evil). The shadow of hell is a state of spiritual darkness (falsehood) and selfishness (evil).
How do we extricate ourselves from the negative states of hell? Many new-age books advise people to think positive thoughts so they can have a positive life. And, if you have ever tried to do this, you know that it is impossible because we have no control of our thoughts; they emanate from our emotions. If we are in negative emotions, we will surely experience negative thoughts. In order to solve the problem, we must address its roots or causes, not its effects. Our emotions emanate from our will. And we are experiencing negative emotions because we are in love of self, love of the world and love of abuses. But how do we change or transform our will? If we were able to change our will instantly, we would lose our sense of self or who we FREELY are. This is precisely why reformation and regeneration is a long, protracted and arduous process. We must first change what we understand to be true by studying God’s Word. Then, we must allow the Lord to gradually transform our will through spiritual temptation. Day after day, as we put the Wisdom of Love into practice by resisting our selfish (evil) urges and rejecting or ignoring our gloomy thoughts, the Lord will replace them with His Love and Truth until we have a NEW WILL. This New Will will consist of love of God, love of others and love of uses. Through this NEW WILL, we will then experience the joy of Heavenly Love and the innocent and peaceful thoughts of God.
Be wakeful, signifies that they should acquire for themselves life. This is evident from the signification of “being wakeful,” as meaning to be in spiritual life; but here, since those whose life is moral and not yet spiritual are treated of, “Be wakeful” is that they should acquire for themselves spiritual life. This life is meant by “wakefulness” and “being awake,” because spiritual life is to moral life, apart from spiritual life, as wakefulness is to sleep, or as noonday light is to the evening, yea, to darkness. But that this is so is not known or perceived by those who are in natural life alone, neither by those who are in moral life apart from spiritual life, for this life also is natural life. They do not know or perceive this, because they are in natural lumen only, and this lumen in comparison with spiritual light is as the darkness of evening to the light of noonday. Moreover, to such the darkness of evening seems like light; for their interior sight, which is that of the thought, is adapted to that darkness, just as the sight of owls, bats, and other birds that fly by night, is adapted to the shade. Consequently they believe themselves to be in light because they are able to reason, when yet they are in darkness. That this is so is manifest from the state of such after death, when they become spirits. They then believe, when with their companions, that they are in light, because they not only see all things that are about them, but also are able to think and speak about any matter whatever; and yet their light, when the light of heaven flows in with them, is changed into darkness, and they become so blind in respect to the understanding as not to be able to think at all. Moreover, when angels who are in the heavens look down on those who are in such lumen, they see nothing there but mere darkness. That spiritual life compared with moral life apart from spiritual life is as wakefulness compared with sleep, can be further seen from this, that those who are in spiritual light are in angelic wisdom and intelligence, which is such as to be incomprehensible and ineffable to those who are in natural lumen alone, and this not only with men while living in the world, but also with the same when after death they become spirits; and when intelligence and wisdom constitute wakefulness. From this it can now be seen that “Be wakeful” here signifies that they should procure for themselves spiritual life.
 To “be awake” has a similar signification in the following passages. In Matthew:
Be awake, therefore, for ye know not in what hour your Lord cometh (Matt. 24:42).
Be ye awake, for ye know not when the lord of the house cometh, at evening, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing;* lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. What I say unto you I say unto all, Be awake (Mark 13:35-37).
He that is ignorant of the internal sense of the Word may believe that these words refer to the Last Judgment, and that everyone should be prepared for that; but man’s state in respect to love and faith when he dies is what they refer to, for then is his judgment. “Evening,” “night,” and “cock-crowing” signify such states; “evening” signifying a state of waning faith and charity, which is man’s state when he comes into the exercise of his own judgment, and is extinguishing in himself the things that he imbibed in childhood; “night” signifying a state of no faith and charity; “cock-crowing” or “daybreak” the state when faith and charity are beginning, which is, when man loves truths and wishes to be reformed by them.
In whatever state a man dies he remains, and according to that he is judged. From this it is evident what is meant by “Be ye awake, lest the Lord coming suddenly find you sleeping. What I say unto you I say unto all, Be awake,” namely, that “to be awake” means to receive life from the Lord, which life is spiritual life, and that “sleeping” means living a natural life apart from a spiritual life. (That “evening” signifies a state of waning faith and charity, see Arcana Coelestia, n. 3056, 3197, 3833, 8431, 10134, 10135; “night” a state of no faith or charity, n. 221, 709, 2353, 6000, 7870, 7947; and “daybreak” before morning, or “cock-crowing,” the state when faith and charity are beginning, n. 10134.)
 In Luke:
Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find awake; verily I say unto you, He shall gird himself, and make them recline to eat, and drawing near will minister unto them. Be ye ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man will come (Luke 12:37, 40).
Here also, those that “are awake” mean those who are spiritually awake, that is, those who receive spiritual life from the Lord, for these come into the light of intelligence and wisdom respecting Divine truths; but those who do not receive spiritual life remain in obscurity and thick darkness respecting those truths; these, therefore, are asleep, while the former are awake. His “girding himself, making them recline to eat, and drawing near to minister unto them,” signifies to communicate to them the goods of heaven, which are all from the Lord.
 In Matthew:
The kingdom of the heavens is like unto ten virgins, five of them were prudent, and five were foolish. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept; but the bridegroom coming, they all arose and trimmed their lamps. And when the foolish came, who had no oil in their lamps, and said, Lord, Lord, open to us, the Lord answered, I say unto you, I know you not. Be awake, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matt. 25:1-13).
By “the ten virgins” all who are of the church are meant; by “five” some of them are meant; this is what these numbers signify; by “lamps” the things of faith are signified; by “oil” the things of love. By “the five prudent virgins,” therefore, those who are in love and in faith therefrom are meant; but by “the five foolish virgins” those who are in no love, but in faith alone. As such are in no spiritual life (for only those who are in love and charity have spiritual life, because they only are in faith), so because such as these are shut out of heaven, it is said unto them, “I say unto you, I know you not.” From this it is most evident what is signified by “Be awake, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh,” namely, that they should receive spiritual life, which those have who are in love and in faith therefrom. (But these things may be seen more fully explained in Arcana Coelestia, n. 4635-4638.)
 In Luke:
Be wakeful, therefore, praying at every season, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:36).
Here, also, “to be wakeful” means to receive spiritual life; “to pray at every season” signifies to prepare oneself.
 In Revelation:
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that is awake, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked (Rev. 16:15).
Here “to be awake” signifies to receive spiritual life from the Lord, as is evident from its being said, “Blessed is he that is awake and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked;” “garments” signifying the knowledges of truth and good by means of which man has spiritual life; and “to walk naked” signifying life without such knowledges as means, thus life not spiritual but merely natural. (That “garments” signify the knowledges of truth and good, see below, n. 195, and that by “naked” is signified the deprivation of these, see Arcana Coelestia, n. 1073, 5433, 5954, 9960.)
 In Lamentations:
Arise, cry aloud in the night, at the beginning of the watches; lift up thy hands to the Lord respecting the soul of thy babes, who have fainted through hunger at the head of every street (Lam. 2:19);
here, as above, “night” signifies a state of no faith; “the beginning of the watches” signifies the state when faith begins, thus a state of illustration, which is when man becomes spiritual. By “babes” are meant those who love truths, and long for them; “to faint through hunger at the head of every street” is to be deprived of spiritual life through a lack of the knowledges of truth and good. (That “hunger” means a lack of knowledges and a longing for them, see Arcana Coelestia, n. 1460, 3364, 5277, 5279, 5281, 5300, 5360, 5376, 5893; and that “streets” are the truths of doctrine, n. 2336.)
 Because “to be awake” signifies to receive spiritual life, therefore “sleeping” signifies natural life apart from spiritual life, since natural life compared with spiritual life is as sleep compared with wakefulness, as has been said above. This is what “sleeping” signifies in Matthew:
The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a man that sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-25).
When they have grown warm, I will set their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may sleep the sleep of an age, and not awake (Jer. 51:39, 57).
Look! answer me, Jehovah my God! lighten Thine eyes** lest I sleep death (Ps. 13:3).
In the same:
The strong in heart have become a spoil, they have slumbered their sleep; at Thy rebuke both the chariot and the horse have fallen into a deep sleep (Ps. 76:5-6).
“Chariot and horse” signify the doctrine of the church and the understanding of doctrine; these are said “to fall into a deep sleep” when they are without truths, and when consequently the man of the church is without spiritual life by means of truths. (That “chariots and horses” in the Word signify doctrine and the intellectual, see in The small work on The White Horse, n. 1-5.)
*For “cock-crowing” the Latin has “belonging to chickens.”
** For “thine” the Hebrew has “mine,” as found in Apocalypse Explained, n. 152; Arcana Coelestia, n. 212, 6119.
Emanuel Swedenborg AE 187