Discovering Swedenborg

Here’s the latest of my Thinking Allowed Interviews with Jeffrey Mishlove. This time we look at one of the most fascinating and influential figures in the western esoteric tradition, the Eighteenth Century scientist and spiritual explorer, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg influenced practically every important intellectual, cultural, and spiritual figure in the Nineteenth Century, from William Blake to Charles Baudelaire, Ralph Waldo Emerson to Honore Balzac – and that’s just for starters. In the interview, I try to do what I aim at in my book, Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas: to show that if you don’t know who Swedenborg is, you really should make an effort to get some idea of his importance, both in the history of ideas, and in our own attempts to make sense of life. He helped August Strindberg get through a bad patch and Helen Keller found joy and meaning in his work. That sounds like a pretty good endorsement.

9 thoughts on “Discovering Swedenborg

  1. Gary, this episode was fascinating. I love Jeffrey’s productions, thanks to both his depth and his guests’. This was no exception. I discovered Swedenborg just over three years ago through the OffTheLeftEye Youtube channel produced by the Swedenborg Foundation and hosted by Curtis Childs with Jonathan Rose. I’ve digested a great deal of material since then, and your interview added a layer that helped me see the man more clearly through his personal evolution. I was particularly struck by your highlight of his profound shift from seeking fame to leaving that behind altogether with his life-altering revelation. I’ve become personally acquainted with the crew in Bryn Athyn, PA who produce this YouTube series and can attest to the fact that they live what they espouse. It’s clear they’ve adopted a way of moving through the world that is both very transparent and very kind. In other words, very Swedenborgian! Thanks for this work. While he influenced some of his contemporaries and many who followed, it seems that both science and some thought leaders have finally caught up to Swedenborg. He was far ahead of his time, but I believe his time has finally come.

  2. I just dropped by, to let you know, that like your article on Rudolf Steiner, I enjoyed your article on Swedenborg too. (New Dawn Edition 173)

    It makes me wonder, how come there are not great polymaths like Steiner and
    Swedenborg amongst us today.

    Maybe there are, but we’re not aware of them, because in this late 20th century / early 21st century, we are mired in materialism, and worship of celebrity.

    And in the last decade, having our attention diverted further, through those contradictory things called “Smartphones.”

      1. I recall how I stopped doing mental calculations when the calculators came out….its the same loss of mental skill with the smart fonies. Kurtzweil, however, insists that they are the boon of mankind. Uhuh.
        Career wise, I wound up in Mainframes…so, I actually learned something from those machines…

      2. I suspect they learned something from you too… I can’t say I’ve thought much of Kurtzweil, but then I can’t say he’s thought much of me either. But the smarter the phones the dumber we are. Get rid of every “assistant” on your devices and you will be a better human for it.

      3. Gary,

        That’s an interesting response, in consideration of a proto-intelligence in metals, and atomics.
        I write of that, in the Colors of Minds in Ancient Times, due out in a year or so, after
        The Secret Yoga of the Vikings, and The Cosmic Gilgamesh; Neanderthals and the Saga’s of Body, Mind and Spirit. Its been great fun to write, as you well know, and of course, there are the lessons. I think you would enjoy these books, as I have yours. Everyone who wants to learn….learns.

        Best, Steven

      4. Its more than just a smart phone; it fosters a cultural addiction, especially in the great play of the Ego, as it snaps selfies and joins with the crowds of ego-mongers, which becomes the major focus of such lives.
        Ain’t it Cool? This reminds of the Australian Aborigine, who noticed that photography…would steal the attentive soul, and so it does. In the Modern age, C’sai L’vie.

        Steven in Colorado

      5. Halo, this is not Swede stuff, but I thought you may like the following except, from The Cosmic Gilgamesh. There are new, provocative ideas, which both of us probably favor, quite a bit.
        I guess I will have to buy more of your books, eg. The Secret History of Consciousness, as it reminds me of The Secret Yoga of the Vikings…


        Schwaller de Lubric also wrote extensively of the Sphinx monument being thousands of years older than the traditional academic view. In returning to King Thutmose’s Dream Stele, we find that the early Egyptians believed that Consciousness (KA-nciousness), as known by the word KA, could be imprinted upon any given object; thus, even the Sphinx monument was considered to be alive, with its own KA, as a result of a psychological imprinting. This was also true for all physical objects in the entire universe, as they were spiritually vitalized by the inner KA of the specific form. The concept is similar to an author writing his consciousness…into an object, in this case, a ‘book’. The ability to see endless sentience in the world around us, or not, depends entirely upon the traits of our right neural hemisphere. Thus, we should consider the Egyptians as a whole-brained ancient people, unlike today’s learned pedants, who over-analyze everything in their sight, while never using the grace of their own right-hemispheric intuitions. The importance of the KA was so essential that the English word ‘King’ may actually be derived from a prehistoric rendering, as ‘Ka-ng’. The ability of a human being to transcend their earthly limitations, and to connect the KA with its essence, the BA, or soul, was the primary goal for all of Egypt, Thus, each common man, not just the royalty and priests, were expected to spiritually evolve, according to the teachings of the four primary ancient Egyptian Wisdom Schools. Plato, who would have been thoroughly schooled, and subsequently initiated into the greatest of Egyptian secrets, swore upon pain of death not to reveal ancient Egypt’s hoary revelations, thus, Plato was reduced to a quiet, obscuring, simpleness in his words, and only hinted at the importance of the KA-BA relation, when he famously wrote:
        “Man’s Greatest Victory is Over Himself”

        This deep psychological observation is one of the most, if not the most powerful statements of all time, for all religions, and, as we shall see, it also has primary importance in the lessons from the Sphinx. Since the earliest Egyptian society was known to be matriarchal, having a better balance than today’s male-dominated patriarchal societies, we should also state:

        “Woman’s Greatest Victory is Over Herself”

        Psyche was a personalized Grecian goddess, but also a primary Greek word for ‘mind’, and may also be subtly derived from the Egyptian KA, having the same meaning; in this authors view, it was likely originally pronounced and considered as ‘Psy-Ka, back in prehistoric times, as the Egyptians revealed their knowledge to the Greeks, beginning around 700 BCE. Today’s Egyptian scholars, who may be largely atheistic or agnostic in their own spiritual views, and deliberately avoid all mention of Egyptian spirituality, which renders it, in extreme condescension, as the pure and total myth of an ignorant, primitive people. Nothing could be further from the truth, rather, it is an ignorant, pedantic, left-brain-dominant scholar who can’t see past the bridge of his own white nose, that consistently spawns ignorance into the public awareness of the ancient peoples, while posing as an ‘expert’. In truth, very little is known of prehistoric peoples, perhaps only 2-4 percent of their cultures and knowledges are currently known to Academia. This is similar to the science of astrophysics, which was recently forced to acknowledge, that our massive telescopes only show about 4 percent of the matter in the universe, hardly an expert hypothesis, hmm? So, a sense of unconscious darkness seems to play in the minds of those in the academic fields, who again, much prefer to be seen as ‘experts’.

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