Swedenborg's scientific and engineering achievements make him a kind of "Swedish Da Vinci," but his remarkably prolific life didn't end there. Having sought the "seat of the soul" in the brain's mysterious pineal gland -- a humble organ whose precise function still eludes us -- Swedenborg plunged into a study of the occult sciences. Through the Kabbala, meditation, and a system of erotic exercises, Swedenborg trained himself to enter extended periods of altered consciousness. One result of this is his fascinating Dream Diary, whose analysis of dream symbolism predates Freud and Jung by more than a century. Another was his intimacy with the hypnagogic state, a "half-dream" realm we enter in between sleeping and waking. It was while hovering in this twilit consciousness that Swedenborg had an experience that changed his life. On April 6, 1744, while living in London, Swedenborg was visited by Christ. He had reached a dead end in his scientific work, and Christ told him to abandon it and take on an even greater task: that of discovering the true meaning of scripture. Swedenborg developed a method of reading the Bible symbolically that would have an impact on western consciousness far beyond theology. He developed the notion of "correspondences," the idea that the things of the physical world have a direct link with the spiritual one. Through Baudelaire, Swedenborg's "correspondences" would lead to Symbolism, arguably the most important cultural movement of the 19th century.It's an interesting article, though a bit strange. Mormonism didn't exist during the American Founding, but this did. And from what I've seen, Swedenborgianism was welcomed at the table of America's Founding political theology with open arms.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Why You Should Know Emanuel Swedenborg
From the Huffington Post. A taste: