06. Finding Where The Lord Dwells (1:36-39)

And looking at Jesus walking, he said, Behold, the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speaking, and they followed Jesus. But having seen them following, Jesus said to them, What do you seek? And they said to Him, Rabbi (which being translated is called Teacher), where do You dwell? He said to them, Come and see. They went and saw where He dwelt, and they remained with Him that day. And the hour was about the tenth. (John 1:36-39)

[The] new will, which is formed from the good of innocence, is the dwelling-place by means of which the Lord comes in and resides with a person, rousing the person to will what is good, and from willing good to doing it. This influx is effective with a person to the extent that he refrains from evils. It gives him the ability to know, see into, reflect on, and have an understanding of truths and forms of good. The truths and forms of good occur on the level of both private and public life, and he receives that ability according to his delight in service. After this the Lord flows by way of that good into the truths the person knows from the teachings of the Church; He then summons from his memory the kinds of truths that may help him serve usefully in life, implanting those truths in the good and perfecting it. So it is that the good present with a person depends entirely on his service in life. If that service is rendered for his neighbour’s benefit, that is, for the good of fellow-citizen, country, Church, heaven, and for the Lord, then that good is the good of charity. But if his service in life is rendered solely for the sake of self and the world, then those first beginnings of a new will are closed. Below them a will is formed from the evils of self-love and love of the world, and arising from this an understanding from falsities. This will is closed above and open below, that is, it is closed in heaven’s direction and open in the world’s. All this shows in what way truths are planted in good and give it form. It also shows that when a person is governed by good he is in heaven with the Lord; for as stated above, the new will, where the good of charity resides, is the Lord’s dwelling-place and is therefore heaven with a person. And the new understanding extending from it is so to speak a tabernacle or booth through which people pass in and out. (Arcana Coelestia 9296)

So we have seen that John or the literal sense of the Word introduces us to Jesus or the power of the Word to save us, that power being found in a deeper understanding of the Word, as its internal sense. The literal sense of the Word is accommodated to the natural mode of thinking which belongs to the external man and as such supports the changes in our external behaviours in preparation for the inner transformation that brings about the regeneration of the human mind. When we respond positively to the literal sense of the Word, we can be introduced to its internal sense which is the Lord Himself. It is this that has the power to transform our very thoughts and affections and provide us with a new sense of self grounded in the loves of heaven.

This can be seen when we grasp that the salvation the Lord offers is not the salvation of our-self but salvation from our-self. The Lord comes as the Word into the world of our natural mind to save us from the sense of self which we have acquired from being immersed in a natural mode of consciousness over the course of our whole lives. Specifically, we are being saved from the domination that the loves of self and the world exert over our lives. Without the Word in the form of John the Baptist and its intake and use on our part as the basis for repentance, we remain oblivious to the hold these hellish loves have over us.

Truths from the Word offer the possibility of a new sense of self when we look to live from them. This is because they carry the basis for bringing into being a truly human form of mind. In our natural state we are only human in potential. To actually become human, we have to undergo the process of rebirth, in other words, our minds have to be regenerated. This process is described in the Gospels as losing one’s life in order to find it. To be born again the sense of self we have acquired through virtue of being born into a natural state of life and from which we have developed a personal identity, must be willingly laid down. Only then will we experience the power of the Word to save or deliver us from the loves of self and the world. Only then can we enter into a spiritual state of being and know what it means to become truly human.

The core message of the letter of the Word is a call to repentance, to change one’s way of thinking about life and have this govern our way of being in life. To hear John the Baptist, or to live from our understanding of truths from the Word with a view to the amendment of our life, opens the letter of the Word so that its spiritual meaning within can be perceived. To perceive its spiritual meaning is what it means to see the Lord in the Word. This is captured in John’s pointing to the Lord and calling Him, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This statement points to the quality of the internal sense of the Word represented by the Lord as He approached John. It is not enough to change the externals of one’s life in response to John’s call to repentance. The internal man or mind with its thoughts and affections must also undergo a transformation. This transformation of the mind is only possible through loving the Lord and the neighbour. These loves are what make up the internal sense of the Word and so are propagated in us through the unfolding of its inner meaning.

Love to the Lord and the neighbour develops as we make an effort to live from our understanding of the Word for, the Lord is the Word. To live from the Word is to live from the Lord and this involves the work of self-examination and repentance – the application of truths from the Word to the life of our mind. Specifically, it’s a work of assessing the quality of the thoughts and affections that pass for our mental life. This work of reflection is what constitutes a spiritual life. When a group of people engage in this kind of work and support each other to live from the Word the Lord is made visible in their midst.

Behold, the Lamb of God – the love of heaven itself; Where? Here in the Word. The Word offers a quality of life we can’t even begin to imagine. Its power lies in its ability to transform the very structures of the human mind into a heavenly form. This unlocks the potential for a new way of being with others where a deep sense of spiritual community can develop in which the Word is acknowledged as the basis for collective human life.

The main function of the written Word is to make the Lord God Jesus Christ visible in our midst; this is as true for us individually as it is for us collectively. A spiritual community exists to the degree that the principles of the Word are embodied and made alive in those who participate in it. When the principles of the Word become lived, they become fleshed out so that the community becomes a collective expression of the very loves of heaven. And when these loves are expressed in a community of people, so the Lord is made visible in that community.

People who come into contact with such a community cannot but be touched in a profound way. They may not know what it is they have just come into contact with, but they know that whatever it is, it’s something they have been searching for. There is a sense of having come home. This potential to be something radically different from what the world offers is what the Word is designed to empower us to be – if we want it.

While the call to repentance found in the Word and represented by the message of John the Baptist is something we each individually need to take up, it’s also a call to every spiritual community as well, for a spiritual community in the eyes of the Lord is a single person who is in as much need of continually being regenerated as is any individual.

So we need to be prepared to respond to John’s message on different levels. What does it take for a community to become a richer, fuller, more viable centre for spiritual life able to fulfil clear spiritual goals? A spiritual community founded on the Word understood in the light of the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity exists to proclaim the Lord’s Second Advent, through the opening of the spiritual sense of the Word. Why!? Because this is where the Lord is found. A spiritual community bears witness to the operation of the Word in the hearts and minds of its members because the Word is the Lord, it is the Divine Truth.

Through the integration of truths from the Word into the mind the way is opened for heaven to inflow into one’s life. Heaven in this sense is found in states of mind into which heavenly affections and thoughts flow. Heaven doesn’t exist in the future as a place in time, it’s the living presence of the Divine in our midst as the Word or Logos. This means that the work of salvation is a moment-to-moment proposition as the Word looks to save us from the sense of self which we carry that is formed from the loves of self and the world. Until we gain a real appreciation for what the Word is and the power it holds in its internal sense to transform our minds and hearts, we will struggle to commit to working with the Word to shun evils as sins against the Lord.

Most people who have reflected honestly on their lives want to be free from those recurring patterns of selfish behaviour that swamp them and wreak havoc in their lives. The tragedy comes when they don’t avail themselves of the ideas or truths that can provide the way out and support them to find a new life. The Word understood in the light of the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity, provides us with the way out of such destructive states of life.

Logopraxis offers a way of engaging with the Word that enables individuals to experience its transforming power. And because Logopraxis is also a model for group life it offers a framework for experiencing the Word as the Lord in community. For those who seek a deeper experience of the Word, a community whose sole focus is on supporting the practise of the Word in its members offers hope, purpose, and meaning to anyone struggling to live a spiritual life.

But just as repentance on an individual level is an ongoing work so, the same can be said of the collective person. As a collective person we have a way of being together; as a community we share a certain set of values. Now traditions in and of themselves are neither good nor bad but traditions or habitual patterns of collective ways of being should not be adhered to for their own sake. If they are, it’s one sure way of becoming irrelevant. If we view ourselves as a spiritual community then by definition this means that we are not static but rather we are a dynamic community that is undergoing a constant transformation in an effort to have the Lord made visible in our midst.

We need to develop a habit of asking ourselves hard questions. It’s healthy to evaluate what we do every now and again. To remain relevant, we need to be willing to assess our activities against what we understand to be our purpose for being. And if we see areas that require adjustment in the light of our understanding of what the Word teaches then, then we need to make the necessary adjustments so that we can remain effective in our functioning as a spiritual community.

And looking at Jesus walking, he said, Behold, the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speaking, and they followed Jesus. But having seen them following, Jesus said to them, What do you seek? And they said to Him, Rabbi (which being translated is called Teacher), where do You dwell? He said to them, Come and see. They went and saw where He dwelt, and they remained with Him that day. And the hour was about the tenth.

The way of John the Baptist represents the Word understood at a surface level and its application to the outer moral and civil dimensions of life. The Lord, on the other hand, represents a deeper understanding of the Word, the meaning of which only makes sense when it’s applied to our spiritual or mental life. John calls into order our outer life so that inner things can then be attended to. The literal meaning and outer application of the Word serves as a means and once it’s served its use the focus must shift from the outer life to the inner life where Lord is to be followed as the Word’s internal sense. So, like these two disciples we must be prepared to let go of our attachment to what John represents for us if we are to find where the Lord or the power of the Word to transform our minds dwells.

What do you seek?

It’s a question that arises from within as we look to live from the Word. And the response of every true disciple is – Where do you dwell? Or where is your abiding presence? To find where the Lord dwells is to find our function and purpose, our place within a spiritual community. It is to find our meaning in uses that are looking to the expansion of the Word’s message into the hearts and lives of all people who seek to know the Lord in their midst. If this is what we are truly seeking then He will say,

Come and see…

and as we look to respond to the Word so we will see where it is that the Lord is to be found. We will find our life and know that the kingdom of heaven is within. That the Lord dwells with those who seek Him in a life of self-examination and repentance through which a new will and understanding, a new sense of self is given.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

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