Do Spirits Play a Role in Addiction? – Swedenborg and Life

Oh, I just got a craving for butter And notice the phrasing on that

We say "I got a craving" like we just shopped for it: "I got a garden hose" Or it's like a a Christmas present — “ahh, I got a sweater again” So the hose came from the hardware store, the sweater came from Amazon, but where did we “get” our craving we just got? The butter example isn’t something we just made up In March of 1748, a career scientist recording spiritual experiences that had begun happening to him, wrote in a log that he directly perceived a connection between the arrival of a particular spirit and a desire in himself for butter Now, it’s kind of a silly example, but if the principle is accurate, does it apply not just to a fondness for dairy products, but to the kinds of cravings for substances that tear apart lives, families, and whole communities? Is there a piece we’re all missing that completes the puzzle of addiction? Stay tuned Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Swedenborg and Life Today we're going to be asking, do spirits play a role in addiction? As always, I'm your host

My name is Curtis Childs And if we're going to do a show that has a topic like, do spirits play a role in addiction, we've got to get some disclaimers out of the way before we start The first and most important is that Swedenborg and Life is not medical advice And it's not greater than or something that supercedes medical advice We're not trying to say, oh, everything about addictive behaviors and things are spiritual, so forget everything you learned about the physical

The studies that people are doing in the way the brain works around addiction, all the work that people, physical people have done about it, is awesome Don't throw it away This is just meant to augment that and hopefully add another layer to it So we're not trying to make this medical advice that the human race has gathered around addiction obsolete We're just hoping to add a layer of information that should be helpful

Also, we're doing a show that's a Swedenborgian look at addiction But the problem is, the term addiction in the current sense that we use it, almost a clinical term, wasn't used like this until the 20th century and Swedenborg was writing a couple of centuries before that So we're taking what he said that seems to apply and we're putting it in there So we're drawing some lines ourselves Another disclaimer: we are not saying—because we will

this is a spoiler alert we will be talking about evil spirits in this show—it does not mean that people who are addicted to any kind of substance or anything else, are evil, even if there is an association with spirits like that It's not the way that it works It doesn't mean that it's a referendum on your character just because of the spiritual dynamic We're also not going to get into any of the conversations about, is there a place for drugs at a certain point All those side conversations, we don't have time, we're not going to go into those right now

Not to mention, if you're going to be talking about do spirits play a role in addiction, with Swedenborg that's kind of like asking if there are chemicals in my food Well, all food is chemicals Everything is chemical According to Swedenborg, everything in the heart and mind is intertwined and originates in the spiritual world So, spirits play a role in everything

We're just looking for what potential role are they playing in the Swedenborgian mindset With all of that, why would we even want to make a show like this? Well, it's because the stuff that Swedenborg wrote is so oh, ouch, my hand

is so potentially relevant When you look at his particularly at his journal of spiritual experiences, he talks about the origin of the nature of cravings and of desires, and it seems like there might be something in there that's not just relevant but a really important piece in understanding why our minds work the way they do, and trying to unravel some of these puzzles So that's why we're getting into it We're going to begin now by looking at the nature of wanting things, and where it comes from Swedenborg makes the claim that all of our thoughts and feelings are attached to or affected by societies of spirits, and if that sounds weird I have a warning for you

This gets weird This is going to be if this is your first time watching this show, it's going to be a pretty intense episode, and we are going to talk about things like spirits affecting thoughts and feelings

We're going to talk about evil spirits But I wouldn't be too scared about it, because the way Swedenborg describes it, as I already said, spirits are involved in everything It's more like how there are always germs attacking your immune system, or attacking your body and your immune system is responding This is a normal part of life, to have heaven and hell pressing in on either side And, yeah, this is a fasten your seatbelt kind of thing

With that said, let's see if we can give you your money's worth and get as weird as possible And it was weird to Swedenborg, too, when he began having these experiences and figuring out that this is what's behind what's going on in the heart and the mind So let's see what we're talking about This is from his journal of Spiritual Experiences 2169 He says: "Everything whatever that exists in a person’s mental life and feelings, evil as well as good, has spirits, and societies of spirits, who exactly interact with it

Just one such case was, when I was taking pleasure in some unimportant details, either in regard to writing, or eating or drinking, or something else, like while buying things I had desired in times past, and for which I had acquired a liking" So just normal everyday things for him "When those enjoyments recurred, then there were spirits, and societies of spirits, that had exactly the same enjoyment, so that they were much more desirous than I myself, even to the point that they could hardly control themselves, without almost perishing, if they were not indulged and given those things—even though they knew they were of no use to them, but to me So there is not anything mental or emotional in a human being that does not have societies of spirits that indulge and favor it" There is the clinching line

And you may be saying, I never hear spirits talking about that they like the stuff that I like to buy Well Swedenborg was describing this overt nature of his experiences, but he says he deduces from them that this is going on with all of us We just don't recognize it as spirits, we just recognize it as thoughts and feelings, but the same dynamic is at play in a more subdued way, in every person And the spirits may not be aware of us like they were aware of him, but there are still those forces acting on us Swedenborg started to have these experiences, realized how much the spiritual world was influencing this stuff that he liked to do every day, and he started to give labels to these different spirits

Now spirits, that term in Swedenborg, that encompasses everybody who has ever been alive and died Everyone who is in the afterlife This could be really good people that he calls angels, there are people in the middle he calls spirits which are people who are still being processed, and even people who are bent on harm which you would call evil spirits or devils or satans All these fall under the broad category of spirits And he would make all these subcategories of those, one of which is the spirits of bodily cravings, which are the ones that we're going to learn about now

And these were the spirits that had an impact on him that he felt in his desires He had a lot of very interesting desires pop up that were connected with spirits For example, like we said in the beginning, things that you can potentially eat He says:"There are various kinds of craving, not just the appetite for eatingA kind of craving causes us to desire numerous things, such as baths" So, both spirits could influence his desire to eat and his desire for hygiene, to get and sit in the bath

But it goes on from there He was saying that: "One spirit" and this is from Spiritual Experiences 1564, "One spirit longed so much for me to put on a certain suit that unless I did so, according to him, he could hardly live

And when I was dressed in it, he got such enjoyment from it that nothing could have been more enjoyable" And what would be more enjoyable than wearing that suit? I think that spirit speaks for all of us Okay, it doesn't end there He says, "I was in a shop to buy cheese, and while I was buying spirits poured into me a desire to buy this one or that one, to choose one above another, and to change [my mind]" So, spirits are in there, like, no no, not the mild cheddar, buy the gouda! This matters to them, and they were affecting him, and because of the way his spiritual senses were opened, he was able to perceive it overtly rather than just as the to and fro in your own heart when you're like, should I get that cheese? No, I should get that cheese

I'll just get them both No, I'll just get that one So he goes on This is the one we mentioned in the beginning: "A certain heavenly spirit was present, and I was stirred by a desire for butter" So that's a heavenly spirit

That's an angel So that's a good spirit, that kicked up in him this desire for butter You can tell as soon as you eat butter that it's a heavenly sort of thing And then, finally, to the negative side of things "There are evil spirits who even arouse that pleasure of sitting for a long time in toilets, and staying there beyond the required time; for devils delight exceedingly in toilets

" And those devils so you can have an evil spirit wanting you to hang in a certain place those devils got a real boost when smart phones came out, right? Because now it's like, you sit there longer than you need to, 'cause you've got to finish reading your article So that is the nature of the ubiquity of spiritual influence on the things Swedenborg found in his life, and from that he had a lot of sub-insights about given this dynamic, how do I navigate the mind? And something that he says that he learned is that dwelling on what he would label unimportant things can be problematic because it sort of leads to this spiritual entanglement This is Spiritual Experiences 2176: "By much experience within several years, I have been taught that one should not resolve to do anything that is really unimportant, for the reason that one thereby not only loses one’s freedom, but also gives spirits an opportunity to desire it, and thus to persuade For it is the nature of spirits to desire intensely, and then to persuade regarding some matter as if it were a most definite cause, and should by all means be done" He goes on to say: "For this reason, the Lord sometimes even permits something that He would not have permitted if the person had not resolved to do it, but would instead have given him a conviction and feeling for something good, and for what is conducive to that good thereafter, besides being gifted in this way with freedom" It seems to me like you're talking there about, if you don't have a general sense of a trust that there is a divine providence moving things, if you latch onto something particular and say, this has to happen, and get obsessed with it, that can bring in spirits who will reinforce you in that and say, you've got to do this, we've got to do this, even if you don't for your overall destiny and your development and the story of your life

You don't need that thing, but you think that you do That can lead to problems and even can cause God to say, all right, well, we're going to let it happen, even though it's not as good as what would have happened if you had just eased up on it So what kind of thing would he be talking about? I have no idea, so I'm going to take a stab at it, and the stab is stabbed with this What is that? Kids, that's called a CD, or compact disc, and that used to be where you would put music when you made music So, a long, long time ago, before the beginning of time, I was just like at the end of college in that sort of era of my life, and I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do

There were a couple of things that I thought I was good at and one of those was music I had a set of songs that I was, like, I want to make an album If I had resolved that "I have to be a career musician, and I have to get this particular album published in a certain way and get it to the top of the charts" and really focused on that, I may have sabotaged my own path of life, which led me to being here on this show with you today, which of course I would not trade to be a famous musician So, I don't know if that's the kind of thing he's talking about, but I think it's it's not that it's bad to have goals and to go after those, but to resolve with certainty that "this thing (which I don't know if it's actually the right path for me) I have got to do it", that could be problematic, according to Swedenborg So, let's look at another sub-insight I think I just made up that term this very show which is this concept that I could call spiritual reinforcement This is where when you resolve to do something, spirits come in and make it a problem

So let's give a physical example here We have on the table what I would call a physical representation of this phenomenon Initially we have a jar here, and within it is a liquid within a liquid There's one liquid filling the whole jar, and then there's this black inky sort of stuff at the bottom there See it? Looks pretty cool, right? So this ink is hanging out here, just sitting around, and let's say this thing shows up on the scene

Right? Let's say that this is us Because of the nature of us, some quality that we possess, let's say this here is spirits in the spiritual world, they're just sitting around, but because we are who we are, doing the thing we do, when we come close, whoosh, we get a reaction They come pouring in, attracted to the nature of our life Now you see the more they come, the more they attract So how does that play out in the spiritual world? Let's show a little diagram

If you you can insert your behavior here, whatever it is, and it can be your own personal vice or whatever But look, this is how it works

We're here, putting our hands in our pockets, doing something We're doing something Whatever we do, that's like a magnet to spirits in the spiritual world who are into that same sort of thing So whatever it is, that attracts them And once they're there, then they start to put their will behind it and get you to want to do that thing more and again

And the more you keep doing it, the larger your crowd Remember how that metallic liquid just came in More spirits see that and they come over like, hey, what's going on? What's going on? And that further reinforces the behavior So we end up with a whole phalanx of spirits that becomes pretty tough to break So the more that you participate in things, the more that they solidify

And this starts to lead us into these human behaviors that are very hard to break out of And so far we've been giving silly examples Like we're talking about looking at butter or sitting on the toilet But it gets a little darker and a little more intense in Swedenborg's work For example, there were spirits that tried to force him to look at unpleasant or revolting things as he was walking down the street

This is his words describing that experience: "When I was walking on the street they drew my eyes away to such things Wherever there was filth, dung, or intestines, there they directed my eyes Even though I was unaware myself where these were on the street, because I do not pay attention to such things, they nevertheless saw them without my notice, and forced my eyesight in that direction, whether it was to the side, or around my feet, either near or far away, and they would not turn my eyes toward anything else, and I was told that this is the nature of those who are cruel and adulterous…" Have you ever felt that, where I don't want to have these things catching my eye, but they are? Or the pull when you're on your phone and there's all these ads down the side and you're just like, ah, I can't Is that the same sort of phenomena, pulling through? You may have noticed that he said there were intestines in the street That's the 18th century for you The butcher is throwing that stuff out There's all kinds of filth on the streets

And he didn't want to look at it, but they're pulling him in that direction And notice that he talks about because of their cruelty in life when they were in this life, they want to look at the corresponding thing Swedenborg says that physical things are a symbol of spiritual things, so something like disgusting poop, or disgusting intestines, that corresponds to the disgusting urges people have to harm each other and do so for their own benefit Still, it's rather inocuous that you're going to, you know it's not going to make your tongue fall off or something But something else was happening that was going right after Swedenborg's tongue This is Spiritual Experiences 1360 He says: "There are also among spirits those who hate truth, for various reasons—and indeed, spirits of whom no one could ever have suspected it

They have bothered me for a long time, in fact, for weeks, for even over a month, and have brought on that kind of hazardous impulse to put my tongue between my teeth, and then bite it off I have complained about this for a long time, finding it unbelievable that any person should be troubled by such an impulsive urge

I do know where it comes from, for the cause of it is that they are all spirits who hate truths" And the tongue is a correspondence or a symbol of truth because you can use it to disseminate truth Because those spirits had an aversion to the truth, they gave Swedenborg this impulse to bite off his own tongue Enough that he was complaining I don't know who he was complaining to

Who the complaint department is once you get to that level of lucid spiritual experiences But he was filling out those forms So this is something that can lead into pretty nasty stuff And we are going to look in this next section at how potentially this ability of the spiritual world to push us toward things could be interrelated with the sorts of behavioral loops people get in that end up destroying lives all around them So we're going to look in section two at how that might work

For this section, we're going to bring back an old friend of the show that we've had in a couple of episodes here Maybe you've seen him His name is Jerry Marzinsky and he first appeared in this episode, How To Deal With Evil Spirits So Jerry is a licensed therapist who worked for over 30 years—he's retired now—in a clinical setting with people who a lot of whom were hearing voices or psychotic He worked in both prisons and hospital intakes and places associated with that And while he was working with these patients, he was asking them about what they were experiencing So if they were hearing voices, he would say, well, what are the voices telling you to do

And he just gathered phenomenoligical data that way, to get a picture of what these voices are like And he was able from that to figure out a lot about how these voices operated and general trends And he also found that they were very similar to a lot of stuff that Swedenborg said about how evil spirits were influencing him And Jerry had a lot of experience with people who were addicted to drugs or what we would now call substance use disorder, or had been, and he got to hear from them how the voices reacted to drugs in general So this is from an interview we did with Jerry for this show

He begins with this point JERRY: There was one quote that I read in Swedenborg where he talked about dealing with evil spirits and then feeling drained afterwards CURTIS: Yeah, the quote he's referring to, this is one, I think there's one other one, he says: "When they attach themselves" He's talking about particular spirits

"themselves to someone, they then induce mental torment from boredom, which they increase and breathe in continually, and thus make [one] impatient—all of which creates intense pain and induces such weakness of the body that one can scarcely raise oneself from bed This was shown to me by the fact that when they were present, this kind of weakness took hold on me, and when they were removed, it ceased in the degree that they were removed They also employ many an art to pour in boredom, and by this weakness" Sorry Just wanted to show you what he's talking about

Back to Jerry JERRY: That's a very significant point What these things feed off of is negative emotional energy CURTIS: Sorry One more

Just one more Because here is again Swedenborg a couple of hundred years earlier describing the same thing that Jerry found in asking these patients "[A certain murderous spirit] was inwardly thinking nothing else but revenge, and in fact so covertly that I saw nothing of what he was thinking He raised up in every one his own subjects From my mind he raised up whatever he could distort into evil and then into hatred, and so he fed himself continually

" This is a way that he gains sustenance Plus a couple of episode ago we did an episode called Does My Life Matter? And in that we talked about how angels feed off of good thoughts and feelings, so this would be the reverse of that So I'll stop interrupting now We're going to hear Jerry talk about how, given that, whatever these negative are that he's interacting with, that they feed off of negative emotion How does that interface with substance use? Why would those voices be pushing for that in the first place? So here's what he had to say

JERRY: And that's what they get out of the drug use, because the drugs at first What they want is drugs that feel good at first, you know, and they help the person calm their nervousness and their anxiety, and they change the way you see things so it's novel, and it's easy You don't have to work like in meditation What they want is a drug that feels good at first, but the withdrawal is extremely negative And once you feel bad, like Swedenborg says, once you feel bad then you start to think bad

And then they jump on that and they expand those thoughts as much as possible They pour gasoline on the fire So you feel good at first, you get the high, you're feeling wonderful, and then the withdrawal becomes extremely nasty the further you go So bottom line, what these things are after is to turn your emotional energy negative CURTIS: And believe it or not, in interviewing these patients, he found out that there is a heirarchy of preference for drugs for these voices, or for these spirits

And in case you want to know, this is what they're pushing for He says crystal meth is by far the top and that they'll try to get people who are psychotic to be using that Or sometimes meth use will trigger the start of the voices He puts "spice" up there, which is like synthetic marijuana, it's called synthetic marijuana, it's actually quite a different chemical He said those two they're after

Heroine and alcohol are about the same in terms of how much the spirits want to get them, and then concaine after that Those are the top because they create this cycle that he's talking about of heavy withdrawals and negativity and this craving for it And I want to focus a little bit on alcohol and the craving for alcohol Jerry gave this interesting anecdote about a guy who was in the prison system and had come through all these different units and ended up with Jerry as his counselor And Jerry was talking to him about the nature of his alcoholism

And in there he found out that this guy was reporting all kinds of interaction with the spiritual world, and he told Jerry some about what was going on So here's what he had to say JERRY: He was a bad, bad alcoholic, and he started telling me about fighting spirits and seeing spirits and spirits chasing him—a whole different world—but he wasn't psychotic He wasn't hearing voices And I'm looking at him and thinking, this is really strange

And he talked about casting spells on people, making them sick You know, I asked him and I said one day, well, if you can do all this stuff, why can't you stay sober? And I braced myself I thought he was going to go crazy on me And I'm sitting there like, okay, here it comes But instead of exploding, he said, it's because of the spirits of dead alcoholics

He looked me straight in the eye He said there's a bar in Phoenix near where he lived for a while that he said they were piled so high up to the sky that he couldn't see the end of them And if he went anywhere near that bar, he said they would attack him And if he had any alcohol in him at the time he said it was even worse And he said once they got in, he lost all control

CURTIS: So somebody here is describing particular spirits influencing them toward a particular physical experience, and I'm sure as all of you at home thought, this reminds me of Spiritual Experiences 1566 where Swedenborg says: "The spirits called 'cravings' cause us to crave, or arouse our appetites, and from this they derive their enjoyments, but the sense is our own Those spirits had brought along from their life in the body the character of ardently longing for specific bodily enjoyments" So, is the enjoyment of alcohol one of those particular enjoyments? Jerry says that in his workings with patients this concept of spirits actually being behind the cravings—I know it sounds strange—but the concept of that actually is the most potent tool that people can get in kicking these cravings Once you realize or once you believe that there are external forces working on you, trying to get to do things, he says that actually that drastically improves somebody's chances of being able to detach from the cravings and push back and ultimately get some purchase So here's how he described it

JERRY: Once they realize in all these things that it is not their intention to have become an amphetamine freak or a cocaine freak, or an alcoholic—that's not their intention, so whose intention was it? That opens up a whole new world Once they see that it's not their intention, and that those thoughts don't belong to them, then the voices lose a hook there CURTIS: You probably noticed a pattern here We give support from Swedenborg to what he's saying But I love convergences

And when I heard Jerry's what he had gathered along with Swedenborg, I said, this is too good to be true Because Secrets of Heaven 6206 says, and this is a point Swedenborg makes in a lot of places: "If we believed the fact of the matter, we would be assigned goodness from the Lord, not evil

That is because the moment evil flowed in we would think, 'This is from the evil spirits with us,' and when we did, angels would turn it away and cast it aside Angelic influence acts on what we know and believe, not on what we do not know or believe It attaches only when there is something in us to attach to" So why are we doing this show in the first place? According to Swedenborg, you have to have that concept in your mind There is angelic power that wants to deflect the power of negative influence

But unless you have the concept in your mind that this isn't originating in me, that there are third parties—or second parties, whatever they are—then suddenly, there is this power of heaven to come in and push things away, and that really changes the dynamic And Jerry goes on a little more about that JERRY: Once they break that and see that, like Swedenborg says, that's not their thoughts coming in there, these are thoughts, external alien thoughts that don't belong to them, they're destructive, and they can create that and say, yeah, they're not mine, the guilt disappears, the fear disappears They don't feel crazy anymore They can now see that there are external spirits which are invading their minds, and keeping them going with drugs, with the alcohol

CURTIS: So if we have this bit of information that potentially is that potent, how do we use it to free it's not just like, oh, there are some people who are addicted to things and then there are the rest of us We all have stuff

Right? They're talking about how cell phones are addictive But even beyond that we all have negative and positive stuff in our minds that we'd rather not have there How do we take this knowledge and turn it into life change and things getting better? We're going to look at that in part three All right, so, how do we put this stuff into action? To be free of this we need what are essentially two psychological tools, and they are: rationality and conviction And we're going to look at what each of those means

First to the importance of rationality Swedenborg says rationality is essential Our ability to make free, rational decisions about what we prioritize in life is essential, not just for navigating physical life, but it's essential to our spiritual growth as well Which is another reason perhaps why hell is trying to push for things that disrupt our rationality, such as getting too wrapped up in a particular substance And we have Dr

Soni Werner explaining a little bit about why and how becoming dependent on a substance interferes with the rational brain So here she is SONI: We all have a reward system Let me show you a little bit about what normally works in our brain Now down here is inside of your neck area

That's called the midbrain And down here, which is called the VTA, is where things start When we're about to let's say we really love chocolate, or we really love cigarettes, or we really love cocaine But in a normal setting, let's say we're really liking chocolate cake Down here is where things start, and it goes up here to the NA, which is the nucleus accumbance And right there, that's what releases dopamine Dopamine is a neurotransmitter like a chemical, and when a neurotransmitter goes up to this part of the brain, up to the front, that's behind your forehead, that's when we feel happy

That's when we feel excited, when our football team wins That's when we feel excited because we ate the chocolate cake That's a normal reward system And once the dopamine kind of dissapates, then we calm down, and then we're back to kind of a steady state Now the problem with an opioid or a heroine, cocaine, is that it intensifies the whole system

So again, starting here, going to here, going to here Now let me point out something that's really important Right here, right about here, behind the frontal lobe, if that's active, that's when you're making really careful decisions Like let's say you're trying to drive according to the speed limit, or you're trying to make sure not to waste all your money, or you're trying to make sure to be kind to the people near you And then another part right next to it is called the ACC, and that's

it's almost like reins that we have on a wild horse that wants to go really fast And if we have those reins, we can control our emotions, we can control our cravings But unfortunately, those parts of the brain are not functioning very well when we're really an addict, when we're really a substance use disordered person

So the problem is that you have dopamine, which again, when it's released, from one neuron to another, that's what makes you feel, joyful, euphoric But the problem with something like heroine or cocaine is that we get way too much, way too much And so the little tiny microscopic parts of the brain are just flooded with that dopamine, and it can't be what's called re-uptake, which means it gets recycled back into the system Things get clogged, and after a while, it doesn't work so well CURTIS: And that stuff back in here, that allows you to make rational, careful, objective decisions is essential

It has to be functioning in order for us to grow spiritually But that is disrupted by being addicted or using a substance But even when you're not using the substance, there's all this time you spend thinking about it Whatever our particular fixation is, there's all the time leading up to it That also

we're not totally in our rational state there as well, and Soni described that a bit SONI: Now what's interesting is, researchers are now looking at what happens when someone is craving They know what it feels like to have the euphoria from cocaine, and they get into drug-seeking behavior

Just like if I love coffee or I love chocolate I'm in a coffee-seeking behavior I go to Starbucks and I want my coffee And all the anticipation of going to get it is we're almost excited with anticipation Well imagine that a hundred times more for somebody who is going to their street corner to get the cocaine, or they see the drug paraphernalia Their heart is racing They're getting excited about it And we even get addicted to the anticipation before we actually get the drug in our body

So just the very thought of it, we are flooding our body and our brain with that dopamine, and that makes the really logical part of our brain it's taking a nap It not going to regulate us

CURTIS: And why are we going on so much about rationality? Why does it matter? From a Swedenborgian perspective, let's lay out the importance of rationality in the mind Here's a little chart to help us along That's our mind on the left Right? You have your higher the most basic division is the higher and lower mind You have your higher goals and feelings and then your lower impulses and cravings Right? And those two are at war The lower impulses and cravings are trying to take out the higher ones and run the show

In Divine Providence 260, Swedenborg says, "The earthly mind, being the envelope and vessel of the higher levels of the human mind, is reactive If the higher levels are not opened, it acts against them" And you don't have to have Swedenborg to tell you that We all know that stuff that is more impulsive and less rational can at times sabotage our higher or more noble aspirations in life But, are they always just going to be at war like that? No, because there's this middle actor that is rationality

Swedenborg says, when it is functioning rightly, rationality can work to subdue the lower impulses and cravings and keep them from trying to run the entire program It's not that they need to be gone But, when they've been subdued, our higher aspirations, the spiritual stuff, can actually move through rationality into this lower part Swedenborg says in Divine Providence 260, "whereas if they are opened it acts with them" "They" being the higher levels of the mind, so that it becomes that we're not getting rid of the lower, more superficial cravings in life but they are turned towards things that can cohabitate with the higher more important goals, the spiritual things in life So the three work as this system together That's how it's meant to be

All the parts functioning together rather than fighting against each other, and it ends up with the best scenario for us However there are things that can interrupt it We're going to look at two Swedenborg says mental illness can kind of put it on pause He says "Mental illness deprives us of rationality, and therefore of the freedom to act rationally

" That it's hard for us to have a rigid barrier between the two, or create order And also the other side of it is what he calls a bodily disorder that affects the brain So he says "the state of the mind depends upon the state of the body" So, addiction or substance use disorder would probably fall along both of those, just showing that these are things that disrupt that natural flow And it's not you don't have to be in one of those It can just be that we get irrational sometimes, but you can see that those disrupt what is meant to be a barrier of sorts or this moderating influence that keeps the peace between the higher and lower things in our mind So Swedenborg talks a little bit more about the importance of rationality and freedom and why we need them in Divine Providence 85 where he says that: "The reason we are reformed and regenerated by means of the two abilities known as rationality and freedom, the reason that in fact we cannot be reformed and regenerated without them, is that it is through our rationality that we can discern and know what is evil and what is good and therefore what is false and what is true" Now this evil and good, this is loaded language, and I said we're not saying that we're evil for our various addictions or things that we're stuck in Think about "harmful" and "beneficial"

It's when you get to a point where it's hard for me to really be choosing what's beneficial for myself because I can't tell it apart from gratification Right? So he says, "Then through our freedom we can intend what we discern and know" And in case you know, we all have areas we're working on in this in case you want some resources, like I said, we're not medical advice If you are wondering, do I have some kind of disorder around this stuff, here's a good website that has sort of a criteria for what being addicted to something is

And this is an interesting video about how the whole dopamine cycle works and everything like that Like I said, go out into the world, find out what people have learned, that's the medical advice If you don't have that solid foundation, nothing we're talking about here is going to be helpful You've got to take care of it on all the levels That said, we are talking about it from a spiritual perspective here, so why don't we see, are there any spiritual tools that can augment the physical or natural tools that we have

We're going to look at how to break out, and that really can be a part of our spiritual practice And to get at how that happens, you've got to talk to someone who's been there and has used spirituality to get out So we called up our buddy Peter Rhodes, an author who has been on our show before, and he's talking here a little bit about his journey out of addiction through spiritual means, and he's first talking about what's it like to be in it PETER: You'll find yourself doing things that you don't even want to do Because you know the price, and you'd rather skip it, but you're powerless over that addiction

So even thought you know that getting to that bar and having that one drink isn't going to work, and you want to be able to go home, you can't do it And that might bring you to a program, and I use the twelve steps sort of as a spiritual path, and the first one is "I'm powerless over being selfish, and my life's unmanageable" Step two is, there is another will And if you turn this issue over to, rather than your attorney through your ego and what is it, "a kingdom divided against itself can't stand," so it isn't going to work If you turn your will over to another will, a higher will, a more powerful will, things might be possible And then of course in steps four through ten you look at that will, you admit you're powerless over it, you admit you're selfish, you humbly ask God to take it, and, could You replace that will with Your will? Because then, even though I want to stop at the bar, You might be able to drive me home! And that was my experience, that His will can do things that I can't do So, it says, God does for you what you couldn't do for yourself

And then when you start to experience that, that new will because that makes things good, because it's a good will So you start to get along a little better at work, you start to not get pulled over by the police, everything starts to work better

You are missing the high you got, the friendships you got, but you're starting to see things work, and you start turning more of your life over to that will until eventually that is the will that becomes as if it were your own Of course it's God's will CURTIS: What Peter is describing there, that he feels like God gave him, is what I think Swedenborg would call a conviction, which is our second tool here There are positive and negative convictions as Swedenborg describes them He basically defines the term as the resolve to do something good

We talked before about the resolve to do frivolous things and how that's not helpful But it's deciding that, even if I'm going to even if I have feelings in myself that go against it, I would like to work in this particular direction or ask for God to work through me in this particular direction

And Swedenborg talks about these convictions and their potential power Spiritual Experiences 2926 He says, "Convictions clothe a person with a nature, and then spirits of the same nature are associated with the person" So here we get into changing our spiritual neighborhood He says in Spiritual Experiences 2882, "Once one has been imbued with a conviction that is true and good, and has been strengthened in it by the Lord so as to be held in the conviction, one can never be torn away from it

" So we can get these things implanted in us which become this permanent part of our character if we're willing to work with the divine on it And it's the reverse of what we saw before, when we talked about the spiritual negative reinforcement The same thing happens positively So let's say we're hanging out We've got some positive conviction or behavior, we've got a conviction in our mind and the behavior that comes from it, and angels zoom into that

I mean angels home in on that just like negative spirits home in on negative behavior We begin to get heaven reinforcing the good things we do whenever we do them And the more heaven is involved, the more MORE heaven comes in and becomes involved So even though we're just hanging out, and it feels like you're just doing a small good thing, all these good spirits are trying to work with you So that may look like it's pretty fast, it's just the time of like putting your hands in your pockets and like, thinking about something good, but it happens gradually

We all know there is a gradual change to build good habits Swedenborg discusses this in Spiritual Experiences 2988: "While something of conviction can be given to [us] so that doubt would not thus arise, to be given conviction in one state and in one moment is not sufficient For when the state changes and at the next moment, [we] are as [we] were before" Meaning oh, I'll tell you what it means after "So convictions are given by many confirmatory things and little by little, or gradually, thus imparted by the Lord according to an order, and according to [a person’s] nature and character, so that it will take root, and then [the person is] convinced, like the angels, and can be elevated into conviction by the Lord For all states of conviction belong to the Lord" All states of positive conviction

All that means is, you make a new year's resolution in the moment, of course I'm going to do this It makes so much sense for my life Why wouldn't I do something like this? Then you get busy or you get tired or you get bored and yeah I don't want to do this any more So to make a conviction stick we have to commit to it when things are going well, when things are not going well, in all these different states of mind And the conviction will be something really, like, I want to do what's best for the world I want to do something that's good That would be a true conviction, something spiritual, something higher

If we do that, God can work into us and give us this power and this new spiritual neighborhood, that will change things So let's take a look at what we've learned today in our wrap-up segment We've been looking here, investigating the possibility that all instances of us craving and preferring things could have spiritual influence tied up in them Swedenborg certainly seemed to indicate that there was this interplay happening all the time So the dark side of this spiritual instigation and reinforcement part of what explains "why addiction?" IS that what explains why addiction is so predatory and persistent, and acts so forcefully against our best interests? Is that reinforcement making it hard to break out? But most importantly, is the knowledge of the spiritual side of things a key that can help free us—a way to overthrow unwanted spiritual interference in our lives, and we can replace that influence with positive convictions that can really lead to us being free

Freedom is the goal It's the birthright of every human being It's something that we want to be able to have in ourselves, to be free and rational, and learn how we can support other people in being as free and rational as they can be And hopefully, we use that freedom to lead us to these convictions to do good things and that has spiritual strength in it That makes it harder and harder for the dark side of things to influence us

It makes us stronger, and the stronger we are, the more we can help other people, and the stronger other people are, the more they can help us when we need it That's the point We're all trying to figure out how to maximize the ways in how we help each other, and spend our lives doing the things that we really want to be doing rather than the things that some, you know, questionable spiritual influences want us to do that's not really in our best interests So there you go So much for hanging out

If you want to do something that's really in your best interest, like and subscribe, to use your freedom and rationality This supports the channel This is important to YouTube I mean, this matters It helps us keep going

And if you want to be a part of the engine that drives this sort of content, check out the potential of giving us a donation We're a non-profit, that's what we run on Here's a little bit about our philosophy We want the ideas and insights we cover to be available for free to anyone, any time they need them That's why we offer Swedenborg's books as free downloads on swedenborg

com, and we produce this show and other content on our Off The Left Eye YouTube channel with no pay wall or ads The only way to keep this up, though, is for those of you who like what we're doing and feel comfortable giving to give If the idea of helping others have easy access to the content we produce feels meaningful to you, please consider supporting this cause with a donation Give if you can, receive if you need If we cycle through this way, in the end, everybody wins

We've got a lot of questions We'll try to get to as many as we can, so, I'm not going to even say anything clever, we're just going to start Here's the first one Tara: "Can you pray or do anything for another who has addictions to lift them up?" Yeah, that's a great question Because if you're trying to support somebody, it can be really hard

I know exactly what you're talking about It can be really hard to feel like there's anything for you to do You can always pray And Swedenborg seems to indicate that it can have an effect, and it can have a more potent affect potentially on us You know, I would say the best shot is, pray for them, I mean that is just an outreach of empathy toward them, so there's no way that that's a negative thing

But also in that prayer, you may find that you get some insight into how you can help You know? Or insight into how to handle it emotionally That in the act of praying, according to Swedenborg, we are admitting the existence of God and admitting that we don't have all the answers, and that's powerful once we enter a state of humility like that, that's the fertile soil for angelic concepts to grow So you may get an inspiration of how we can help or a way to deal with it or some kind of wisdom, so I would say, you certainly can, and I don't know that it's going to be able to fix it for them, but I don't think anybody thinks that's how it's going to go But I think everything where you have a good intention, do it

And how do I know? You know, I don't know everything about it, so, I'd say do it You don't want to do that exclusively You also want to also maximize everything you can to try to help in the way that you know how, but add that on top, and that's great So those are a few thoughts It's a great question

Let's look at the next one David: "Jerry stated that one of his patients was 'harassed by dead alcoholics' Does that mean that when we die, we take our addictions with us?" We take everything with us when we die But we also have the opportunity to be divested of everything as well Swedenborg doesn't get into much how you end up retaining things like that

There's a process that everybody goes through, according to Swedenborg, where initially you you enter the "world of spirits" This is where you either shed everything that's good about you or you shed everything that's bad about you, depending on which one you want, and depending on which things really made up your core It could be that these spirits he's talking about, that still had these addictions, were in the introductory process, like they hadn't yet shed things and got it sorted out, or it could be that they had chosen negativity I think that if you are choosing something positive, you're able to kick everything, because the physical is gone and then it's just false concepts leading you in that direction So if you're open to instruction, I don't think that would be a problem

I don't think that you really have to spend a lot of time kicking something that was physical as long as you acknowledge that you don't want it There's this freedom thing that makes it so that nobody can force you in a direction if you don't want to go Just like in this world when people want to receive treatment, they've got to agree to it They've got to know they are doing it So I would think that if we're willing to receive help, if you think about the programs we have here to help people out of addictions, they've probably got much better ones there

And I don't know exactly how much, because obviously the body is affected by addiction and the brain, so when you shed that brain, how much of that is still in your spiritual brain Those are things that I don't know Like I said, Swedenborg doesn't describe it much, and he doesn't reference the concept of addiction, so we're connecting some dots here, and it's a great question I wouldn't worry too much, like, oh I drink coffee, I smoke cigarettes here Am I going to be able to kick that? I think that probably it's only a problem if you're making it your

if you're not open to change Like you don't want to change So those are a couple of scattered thoughts on it

It's a great question I said that about both of them, but it was true about both of them All right, let's look at the next one Terry: "Why would the spirits of dead humans be given the right to torture others and not have to suffer for their own lives on earth before they died?" So the torture there's no such thing as torture that's just torture Swedenborg says nothing bad ever happens, nothing that causes suffering ever happens unless it in the end leads to good So anybody who is having these negative things affect them in life, somehow in the end good is coming from it, whether it's that we need to see what kind of negative tendencies we go along with so that we can have a chance to push them out and push back and by that free ourselves from evils That's one potential

Or whether we develop this really clear understanding of the difference between good and evil You know? And you have people who have previously been in a condiciton are often the best advocates to get other people out, because they really understand the condition They're not just talking theoretically So maybe somebody is pulling this positive thing out of them So it's not like people are just victims and nothing's coming out of it

Providence is guiding all of that I would say that nobody is just harming people and living a happy carefree life Swedenborg says that evil carries with it its own punishment So anybody who is making suffering the business of their life, they bring that suffering on themself It's not like that's a good life path for anybody, that if you get to the point where your life is about making suffering for others, your life is worse than theirs

And Swedenborg talks all about how unpleasant a hellish life is, because you're just bringing all this stuff on yourself as you do it to people So I wouldn't say it's like, oh yeah, I just get away with things all the time There are only permissions when things are useful and everything is just There is this there are these checks and balances And even for the people, though, who are receiving the retribution of evil in the other life, even then it's only when good can come out of it It's only because it acts as a deterrent It's not a revenge thing

It's like, the only way we can get you to stop harming people is for you to feel some of the effects of that harm, and that will actually save you, because otherwise you would immerse yourself deeper and deeper into this I hope that makes sense Those are my thoughts on it Again, good question What are the odds? Okay, let's do two more

Selenaanis: "What do you do if you think you have latched on to something that was not the best God had for you?" Oh, that's a great question What do you do if it's already there, and it's already in your mind I don't know My first thought is, the more we can actually believe in the idea of an outside, higher intelligence, the better And the more that we

in whatever way is the best or the most comfortable way for you to communicate with it, like to at least acknowledge its presence, say "I need help", even if you're not getting, necessarily, a response back, the more that you can acknowledge "You're" you know, you're talking to God in whatever language you want, "You're running my life I'm not running my life What do You want?" And the more we can practice that in little ways, the more God can get in there You see the divine providence is always trying to steer us towards what's truly good, so the more that we can let go of things and try to ride as loosely as we can, if we've really latched onto something, it's probably a difficult process, because we've got this spiritual reinforcement, the brain is wiring itself in certain ways, but I bet that over time you can And, you know, the earlier question about prayer, this is a great time for that

The more that we can get humble and looking for answers, the less rigidity, the more I think you could potentially undo some of this, or find out what's your new trajectory And just have the confidence that everything is providence No matter where you are, God was anticipating this and can get you more and more back on the right track So going in with that knowledge, filling your mind with positive things and this is a more practical one, but, talk to other people Have conversations with people Tell them what you're going through Because when you're in your own mind, that's when you can really get fixated on things

But when you get other people's perspectives, I've found that helps me relax and see things with better perspective from them Thanks Great question Let's do one more Harlan: "How do you distinguish between 'real' spirits influencing your thoughts and those effects of mental illness where people hear voices, etc

?" Swedenborg wouldn't make as clear a distinction Because as we're showing here, it's all connected He likens mental and emotional phenomena to the stuff that comes to our senses Meaning, everything that I'm seeing and hearing right now I know is not originating in me It is coming in through my physical senses

He says that the stuff we're feeling and thinking is similarly being affected all the time from the spiritual world So people that are hearing voices, that is most likely actually a spiritual influence rather than just the brain originating something That's the Swedenborgian take on it as far as I can tell The brain matters, but it's not as much a generator as it is a communicator And there certainly are our own memory and our own personality that we draw on, but everything is in community

There's sort of this communal subconscious, and so there's nothing that is happening apart from that, that is us just merely us without a spiritual influence on it Does that make sense? Okay, cool The one I answered the most ambiguously will be the last one So I would say, he would say, the voices are the voices of spirits I think that's what Swedenborg would say

I didn't get to ask him specifically about what are now called hallucinations, but I think that he would say that this is the spiritual world coming through rather than a figment of our that there is not the isolated imagination like you would think How would I know? That's just what I'm pulling right now and that's what I would get from my study of Swedenborg and these other sources

These are the biggest questions about the mind, right? Thank you for letting me ask them with you We want you back next week, and speaking of questions, we're going to do a 10 Questions show next week, which means we just take questions from the audience, take our time, research them, give answers So, better answers than I just gave here Hope you can join us for that show, and thanks everybody for hanging out

Source: Youtube


Free Email Updates
We respect your privacy.