Commentary

Order and Disorder

By Joe David and Rev. Julian Duckworth

Four Mandalas

The establishment of an order within creation runs throughout divine activity. There are many orderly laws of providence by which the Divine governs all things and which the Divine cannot transgress.

If you look at the universe, containing so many stars and galaxies, extending so far, and containing so much sustaining energy, you can sense the overwhelming order that enables it to provide for solar systems and planets that surely provide other places for life to thrive.

If you learn a little about the physics of matter, where scientists are continuing to postulate building blocks of larger particles and the various forces that bind them at close distances or operate over astronomic distances, you can see not only a mind-boggling complexity, but also a serene order that keeps everything operating as it should and has been doing so for billions of years.

This order comes from God, the creator. His infinite Divine love, as it gets finited and sublimated, is the only real thing, the only thing that exists in itself. Everything else, time and space, elements and physical matter, living creatures and human consciousness, all natural and spiritual entities come from Him. This flowing down, so to speak, is the order that exists, and it is dominant.

The Lord’s order is not only concerned with natural creation but with mankind’s spiritual welfare as well. Mankind is different from all other living creatures because all other living creatures can live only in the order in which they are created, whereas people can deviate from their order because they are free.

The short form of the order for mankind is to "love the Lord with all the heart… and thy neighbor as thyself." Spiritually speaking, people did so until they ate of the parabolic forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. From that time we began to decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil, rather than trusting what the Lord said. As these decisions multiplied, we turned more and more to ourselves and away from the Lord, and this heredity was passed on generation after generation, slowly getting worse. Order was replaced by disorder.

Eventually our heredity was turned upside down so that the order of our loves is completely backwards, and we are now born with the will to love ourselves rather than the Lord and our neighbor. However, because we have rational minds, we can be taught and trained to turn our minds right side up again, putting a love to the Lord and the neighbor ahead of loves of self and the world, and bringing ourselves back into order.

(References: A Brief Explanation of the Teachings of the New Church 52; Arcana Coelestia 1055, 1475, 4839 [2], 8513, 9736, 10659 [4]; Divine Providence 279 [5]; Heaven and Hell 315, 523; True Christian Religion 53, 54)

From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #8513

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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8513. 'How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?' means because their actions were not in keeping with Divine order. This is clear from the explanation immediately above in Arcana Coelestia 8512. So that people may know what an action in keeping with Divine order is and what one not in keeping with it is, something further must be said. Everything done in keeping with Divine order is inwardly open all the way to the Lord, and so holds heaven within it; but everything not done in keeping with Divine order is inwardly closed, and so does not hold heaven within it.

[2] Divine order therefore is for the Lord to flow through the inner levels of a person into the outer ones, thus through the person's will into his actions. This actually happens when a person is governed by good, that is, when an affection to do good for its own sake and not for any selfish reason governs him. When anyone does good for a selfish reason and not for its own sake his inner levels are closed, and he cannot be led by the Lord by means of heaven, only by self. The love determines whom he is led by, for everyone is led by his love. One who loves himself more than his neighbour is led by self; but one who loves good is led by good and consequently by the Lord, who is the Source of good.

[3] From all this one may see what the difference is between living a life in keeping with order and not living a life in keeping with it. How to live so that one's life is in keeping with order is taught by the Word and by religious teachings drawn from the Word. The person who does not look beyond externals can never grasp such ideas. He does not know what the internal is; he scarcely knows of the existence of the internal, let alone that it can be opened up, and that when it has been opened it has heaven within it. The intelligentsia of the world especially are ignorant of it, and those of them who do subscribe to the existence of an internal nevertheless have no idea of what it is or only a foolish one. This explains why they have little real belief and also why they use their knowledge to confirm the notion that all things are due to natural forces.

(References: Exodus 16:28)

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