Contemplate for a moment hiking up a wild and rugged mountain. The mountain itself is a challenge, and an experience of beauty and danger. A person must persevere. The higher one goes up the mountain the more one can see of the landscape around. There is, in seeing an expansive view, a natural delight and exileration felt inside. This delight corresponds to the joy of gaining a higher perception of life and oneself. The delight of gaining an elevated view is the natural reflection of spiritually gaining wisdom about life and one’s soul. This example shows how correspondence operates as part of the structure of the universe, and how it operates in our immediate life and experience.
The prime example of correspondence is the sun in the sky. The sun of our natural world corresponds to the sun in the spiritual world. We know the sun here provides heat and light without which nothing could live. It is the source of all energy and raw material for all of the natural world. All the suns throughout the universe are the source for their respective solar systems. In the spiritual world there is only one sun and it is the one source of all life. It is the origin of life, and creates the substance of life, and perpetuates all life. The heat and light of the natural sun corresponds to love and wisdom from the spiritual sun
In the correspondence between the spiritual sun and the natural sun, the natural sun is the physical reflection of the spiritual sun, the difference being that the natural suns are made of matter and are innumerable, whereas there is only one spiritual sun, which is the one source of everything. The reality that there is one spiritual sun and infinite natural suns in the universe is part of nature of correspondence, in that the natural sun cannot reflect the infinite presence of the spiritual sun by size, but they do correspond by their infinity of numbers. The reason for this is that the natural world is a ‘lower’ disreet degree, and in the natural world there is time and space, while in the spiritual world there is not time and space.
The principle of correspondence is a universal principle that is a great means for ontological research and knowledge. It is, if we choose to use it, a readily accessible source of knowledge that can be read forward or backward, that is from heaven to earth, and visa versa. I have found, when thoughtfully applied, it always works, but its treasures can only be perceived by delving into it. It provides a sound ontological base from which to understand the dynamics of the spiritual world by what we observe in the natural world. We shall use this principle many times in this essay. It is at one and the same time, a spiritual and intellectual practice. By making the effort to meditate into correspondence I have often felt light coming into my heart and mind; it is a most comforting feeling anyone can feel.
For instance science’s ability to penetrate some of the secrets of nature offers the opportunity to look deep into potential correspondences. Science shows that everything that happens on earth occurs by a process, and correspondingly Swedenborg demonstrates that everything that occurs in the spiritual world occurs by a process. It is very important to grasp this concept, and we can only do so by practicing on particulars. Humanity has an ingrained habit of ‘magical thinking’ when it comes to the spiritual world, meaning we tend to think that things just happen there, that God makes them by the wave of the hand. But we know everything with humans is a matter of gradual growth, and accomplished reciprocally; everything requires a process. It is the same in heaven: in heaven people don’t sit on a cloud and bask in God’s light, but experience fulfillment through being useful in all the same type of occupations we have here. Everything is relational in both worlds.
Lets look at the example of the sun again in regard to the universiality of equilibrium. Einstien discovered that the source of the sun’s power is nuclear fusion. The sun’s mass is so enormous, at its core there is tremendous gravitational pressure, which causes increasing heat toward the center. Hydrogen atoms normally repel each other, but the heat and pressure at the core is so enormous it causes the Hydrogen atoms to excelerate to the point that they smash together and split, forming a new element – helium. In the process they release heat, and light as photons, and this explosive light and heat seeks to expand to the surface of the sun. This is nuclear fusion, the engine in the suns core. The sun is anything but static; within the sun there is a constant tension, a raging battle between gravities crushing inward force, and nuclear fusion’s immense expanding force. The two forces settle into an equilibrium, the equilibrium defines the form of the sun. This equilibrium in the sun is primary source correspondence of all other things; the equilibrium in it is reflected in everything that exists. For anything to exist it has to have a form, and anything that has form has some kind of equilibrium that is the cause for that form.
Now we must add the profoundest link of all to this correspondence. The equilibrium in the spiritual sun corresponds to (and therefore provides insight into) the nature of God. The spiritual sun is the source of all life and of creation, and in the midst of the spiritual sun is the Lord. This is the mother of all correspondences. The specific correspondence we shall look into is that between the marriage of the Lord’s divine human and divine essence.
Let us get straight to the point: Swedenborg declares that the Divine human, the Lord Jesus Christ, is in the midst of the spiritual sun:
Moreover in the other life the Lord is in the midst of the Sun, and also is the light. In the Sun there, which is from Himself, is Divine fire, which is the Divine good of the Divine love. From that Sun is Divine light, which is Divine truth from Divine good. In this Divine truth there is also Divine good, it being accommodated to reception in heaven; for unless it were accommodated to reception, heaven could not have come into existence, because no angel can bear the flame from the Divine love. He would be consumed in a moment, as would a man if the flame of the sun of this world should blow directly upon him (AC 8644).
The equilibrium in the Lord that corresponds to the equilibrium in the sun is the Holy Marriage. Marriage here is meant in a universal sense, where two become one. In this sense equilibrium and marriage are one and the same. In the Lord this marriage is of his divine essence (God), and his divine body (Jesus), these two are one in an infinite intimacy producing infinite love and wisdom. From the marriage of these radiates Holy fire, which manifests as the spiritual sun in heaven, the producer and sustainer of all life. The heat and light of the natural son correspond to the love and wisdom from the spiritual son. Deep in the core of the sun incomprehensible pressure produces incomphrensible heat which starts the engine of fusion. Fusion inside the sun produces all the elements that exist in the universe; there is no other source. Fusion requires gravity, and gravity requires fusion. At the heart of this process they are bound in this symbiosis (oneness, marriage) the result of which is heat and light.
We can see this in principle in the Lord when he did the impossible – he made His physical body divine. To understand the correspondence between what is happening in the natural son and the Holy marriage in the Lord we must look into the process of the glorification, which Swedenborg so concisely and wonderously describes. The glorification process gives us insight into the state of the Lord in the midst of the sun, which in turn makes it possible to see the correspondence between the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun and the process causing equilibrium in the natural sun. (The things of God Himself are beyond our understanding, but they are made accessible and comprehensible by the life of Jesus.) The process of the glorification is this: During the course of His life Jesus purified his body and soul of all hereditary evil by the mighty work of overcoming all temptation, and by fulfilling all truth (prophecy). He underwent this process to an ever increasing degree up to the end, where it culminated in the resurrection. In the resurrection he made his physical body divine and took it into heaven. He is the only one to ever do this, and the only one who ever will. Taking one’s body into the spiritual world is by nature impossibe, because taking the material into the spiritual is an impassable barrier. But the Lord became innermost of everything, the alpha and the omega, and overcame this barrier. The explanation I have just given is only a quick overview, to see this correspondence more clearly lets describe the process of the glorification in more detial.
The Glorification and the Nature of the Lord
The Lord has always been in the human form creating and sustaining the universe, but in the resurrection he made himself comprehensible and accessible to us.
Swedenborg tells us that the Lord was tempted and assaulted by evil during His whole life. He writes that the 40 days the Lord was tempted by the devil in the mountains is symbolic language. In actuality temptations and assault from evil forces took place his whole life. He further claims that these temptations and battles were of intensity far beyond what we could even imagine. The gradual process of overcoming these temptations removed hereditary evil from his body and soul day by day. By being born Christ became susceptible to evil because he had a human body from his mother. For all humans hereditary evil is passed on from generation to generation through the body, and the soul. Swedenborg writes that the evil that comes from the father is more interior, because it is of the soul; and the evil that comes from the mother is more exterior, because it is of the body. Therefore, because Christ soul was divine, or Jehovah himself, he had no interior evil, but he did have the external level of hereditary evil from the body. Inteerior evil can be put to the side and made latent, but not entirely removed, while exterior evil can be removed. By ‘entering the fish bowl’, so to speak; Jesus made himself accessible to all humanity, and at the same time to all evil, and evil never ceased to assault and tempt Him. The extraordinary genius of His birth is this: evil had access to Him, but He also had access to evil. By continually overcoming the assaults of evil on earth, and the in the spiritual world, the Lord subjugated the forces of evil, and put them in their place. In the purity of his essence, that is God, the Lord could not do this, because ‘no man could look on Him and live’, in other words, thye would destroyed, just as anyone who comes into the presence of the sun would be instantly fried.
Day by day, step-by-step, throughout his whole life He overcame all temptations. Evil forces tempted Him with power, fame, greed, wealth, and comfort. They tempted Him to rage, vengeance, lust, pride, and self-love. They unrelentingly tried to persuade him to think a single sinful thought by incredible magical arts. Christ stood up to him or her and defeated all hell by Himself continually. To give some insight to the depth of these assaults, Swedengborg writes that even the angels of heaven at this time tempted Him: “He foresaw and overcame the most subtle of all temptations form the angels”. Why, because even good angels cnatain interior hereditary evil, and the presence of this cannot help but to tempt what is more pure than itself. It took the power and might of His Divine Soul to overcome and do what no human could do.
Christ’s greatest temptation had to do with his boundless love and compassion for humanity. This was his ruling love above all others. The evil forces knew this, so like terrorists on earth, they sought to destroy that which He loves in order to hurt Him. Here it is important to note that evil attacks according to ones innermost love, and each time Christ overcame temptation He took another step in purifying His human body of hereditary evil. And each time He removed hereditary evil, the quality of his love rose to a higher level.
Now lets expand on the implications of these basic parameters. The temptations the Lord underwent, and the ever-increasing love He opened to, sets up an ever-increasing exponential equation, just as the ever increasing pressure and heat inside the sun starts the engine of fussion. As said above, Swedenborg writes that it is a law of the hells that they seek to destroy a person by attacking their innermost love, or highest love. At the same time, every time a temptation is overcome one’s state of love increases. In the case of Christ His soul possessed infinite potential because His father was God. Swedenborg writes, “Because this love (of Christ toward humanity) was not human but Divine, and temptation is great in proportion as the love is great, it is evident how grievous were His combats, and how great the ferocity on the part of the hells. That these things were so I know of a certainty” (A.C. 1690). This sets up an exponentially increasing formula because the more Christ overcame temptations and purified his human the higher his quality of love became, which in turn led the hells to attack with increased force at the higher level, and when He overcame that temptation, His quality of love increased again, and so on to the point of infinity. I say infinity because God is the very soul of Christ and He therefore possesses infinite potential in His soul. The ‘point of infinity’ in this equation corresponds to the resurrection.
So the soul of the Lord is in infinite, dynamic intimacy; His nature is burning love that produces Holy fire. The description of the Holy marraige above gives some idea of the dynamic equilibrium in the spiritual sun. It is as if His body (Jesus) is the candle and his essence (God) the wick, and the marriage of them produces a flame of fire (except to an infinite degree). The Holy marriage is the marriage of his body and soul, and what proceeds from that marriage is the indivisible spiritual substance of life, known as love and wisdom; just as heat and light proceed from the sun and sustain physical life. which is the same as the marriage of good and truth, and that of love and wisdom. which is the mirocosm, and off which all things that exist in the universe are the microcosm.