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If we believe that sacred texts are a path to understanding God, how can we more fully engage with them? With the help of Reverend David Millar and the technique he developed called Logopraxis, we’ll learn a new way of interacting with divine revelation.
Millar applies these techniques to the writings of eighteenth-century theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, but the method can be used with any text that an individual considers divine—even Harry Potter! Hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose talk with Millar to learn more.
The Necessity of Revelation
What purpose does revelation serve? In short, revelation helps us step out of ourselves to see a different perspective.
Without revelation from the Divine, we cannot know anything about eternal life or even about God, and even less about love for God and faith in God. . . . So there must of necessity be some revelation that makes it possible for us to know. (New Jerusalem §249)
In fact, revelation in scripture allows us to witness the Lord through language we can understand. In some places, Swedenborg uses the term the Word to refer to scripture and God interchangeably.
“The Word” means what is divine truth coming from divine goodness, or in other words, divine wisdom from divine love. (Divine Providence §172:3)
In a way, the Word is the part of scripture that we can interact with—not just the text but also the divine truth that is represented by the text. As David Millar puts it, when the inflow from God encounters concepts in our mind that it can be wedded to, it allows God to live within us. But without having those concepts, there’s no way for the inflow to take hold.
There’s a parallel to this spiritual process in the physical process of nucleation. If you heat distilled water beyond the boiling point in a smooth container, it doesn’t bubble, because there’s nothing for the bubbles to form around. It’s not until you add another substance that a reaction happens.
Reverend Millar’s approach treats reading as a devotional act. This principle allows us to truly engage in what we read and pay attention to our own reactions as we read.
Our hosts distill this into three simple steps for getting started:
- Pick a source and read it regularly.
- Make your reading devotional.
- Be aware of your state as you read.
In a way, every person has a different scripture. We all see God in our own way, and reading a sacred text is the interaction between what is written in our heart and mind.
Swedenborg says that when we read scripture, angels see that person’s reaction to what is being read (assuming it is read in a devotional way) as a kind of beautiful panorama. In Logopraxis, it’s understood that the more we are aware of our own state as we read, the more it allows God to respond to our state of mind and help us. Just opening the book unlocks something in us.
Since the Word comes from the Lord alone and is about the Lord alone, it follows that when we are being taught from the Word we are being taught from the Lord. The Word is actually divine. Who is able to communicate something divine and instill it into our hearts except Divinity itself, the source and the subject? (Divine Providence §172:2)
It can be a powerful process but also a difficult one—doing this work can reveal things that we’re attached to that don’t serve us very well. The process of devotional reading can help us straighten ourselves out and save us from the distractions of daily life.
The Lord’s life flows into the literal meaning through the inner meaning in keeping with the feelings of the person who is reading it. (Secrets of Heaven §2311)
This can be stressful, but careful interaction with revelation helps you trust the process and move through it.
Now we have two more steps to add to this process:
4. Note a point of engagement (something that particularly triggers you).
5. Reflect about it with respect to your life.
Revelation is a manifestation of divine truth that we can interact with, engage with, and track our own responses to. It’s a tool that helps us look inside ourselves and focus on the good and challenge the bad.
It should be fully understood that none of us can live a life aligned with concepts from the Word if we don’t use those concepts as a basis from which to reflect on our own thoughts, intentions, and deeds—use them to explore ourselves, and to abstain from evil behavior and do what is good as if doing so under our own power. Otherwise we receive no [faith], and if we receive no faith we have no partnership with the Lord, and so cannot be led by the Lord. (Spiritual Experiences §5945)
This isn’t easy—nothing important is. Building the muscle of spiritual discovery through revelation is something that takes practice. And, as Millar observes, that’s exactly the way it should be.
To really understand and internalize truth, we need to challenge it and explore it over time. It’s worth taking the time to trust the process.
It is in keeping with the laws of the divine plan that one ought not to accept the truth instantaneously; no one should be persuaded in a single moment that the truth has been proved beyond all doubt. This is because truth imprinted this way becomes merely expedient truth and lacks any reach or give. Such truth is represented in the other world as rigid and impervious to any good influence that would make it usable. On that account, as soon as plain experience in the other world presents good spirits with any true idea, an opposing thought is presented right afterward to raise doubt. This allows them to think and ponder whether the idea is so, gather arguments, and thus use reason to introduce the truth into their mind. Doing so extends their range of spiritual vision on the subject all the way to its opposite. As a result their intellect sees and perceives the entire nature of the particular truth, which enables them to let in heaven’s influence according to the state of affairs. Truth takes various shapes, depending on circumstances. (Secrets of Heaven §7298:2)
The process can be stressful and confusing, but the end goal is a beautiful one: to experience God’s love as wholly real within us. Meditation can be an incredibly valuable way to encounter this.
In the wrap up, we’re reminded that the Divine is already all around us and invested in us, and that divine revelation is a way we can experience it and apply it to our lives.
And we sign off with the last two steps in the Logopraxis process:
6. Mark a take-away idea or teaching.
7. Thank the Lord and pray for the Lord’s help.
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In a lighthearted and interactive live webcast format, host Curtis Childs from the Swedenborg Foundation and featured guests explore topics from Swedenborg’s eighteenth-century writings about his spiritual experiences and afterlife explorations and discuss how they relate to modern-day life and death.
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