The Song Of His Instrument

Yet the Lord said to him

“Go, for he is a choice instrument of Mine,
to bear My name
before both the nations and kings,
besides the sons of Israel,

for I shall be intimating to him how much he must be suffering for My name’s sake.”

(Acts 9:15-16 Concordant Literal Version)

We can’t always produce in the instrument what it is that we are audiating. Sometimes in our mind we can hear the song we want to play but we can’t get our fingers around the instrument quickly enough. Or we can’t seem to find the pitch with our vocal cords to sing it the way it sounds in our head. Or we can’t make our body dance like it’s dancing in the image in our minds.

Sometimes the external life circumstance just isn’t conducive to expressing what the inner life is experiencing in a way that feels congruent.

Sometimes we hear thoughts in our head that we know that we cant express in the moment for various reasons. Sometimes we have feelings that we struggle to even generate thoughts for, let alone words to speak.

I myself have had many times the experience of being in a conversation with another that feels delightful and have had an image in my mind of the bodies dancing. But of course it never quite fits to suddenly stand up and start dancing happily when the two of us are actually sitting quietly and talking.

So whilst the corporeal body is an instrument that allows the spirit to perform its functions in the natural material world, it doesn’t always allow them to perform them as an exact replica of what the inner world within us is experiencing.

Here is a passage from Arcana Coelestia 5146(2) that speaks to this experience:

Nevertheless no one can have a mental grasp of the relationship of what is interior to what is exterior unless he knows about degrees, regarding which see 3691, 4154, 5114, 5145.

Man has no other notion of what is interior and consequently more perfect than the ever increasing purity of something the more one breaks it down. But greater purity and greater grossness can exist simultaneously in one and the same degree, owing not only to the expanding and condensing of it but also to the limitation of it and to the introduction of similar or else dissimilar elements into it.

With an idea such as that regarding his interiors, man cannot possibly do other than think that exterior things are attached in a continuous manner to interior ones, and so act entirely as one with them.

But if a proper idea regarding degrees is formed, one may grasp how interior and exterior things are distinct and separate from one another,

so distinct that interior things can come into being and remain in being without exterior ones,

whereas exterior things can never do so without interior ones.

One may also grasp the nature of the correspondence of interior things within exterior ones, as well as the way in which the exterior things can represent interior ones.

This explains why, other than hypothetically, the learned are unable to examine the question regarding the interaction of the soul and the body. Indeed it also explains why many of them believe that life belongs intrinsically to the body, and thus that when their body dies their interiors will die too since these are closely attached to the body.

But in actual fact only the exterior degree dies; the interior degree survives and goes on living.

I pondered for quite a while on one of the statements that was imbedded in this passage…

that interior things can come into being and remain in being without exterior ones, whereas exterior things can never do so without interior ones.

It brought up so many questions for me. It sounded like it was saying that a good could exist without a truth but the truth couldn’t exist without it’s good because the truth is that which the expresses what is interior  … the truth is the manifestation of its good.

But how can we have an experience of there being good present but no truth?

And then I realised that this is a state that we do experience in spiritual work. When we are in states of devastation and temptations it’s like having the truth stripped away from its good. Because the truth that we have been believing or living in up until now, is suddenly on shaky ground and in question.

And then I also realised that this was describing the same state of incongruence that I was thinking about earlier in relation to the body being the instrument for the spirit. And we see this beautifully represented in the death of the material body as it passes over into the spiritual world. And that idea was also referenced in the passage above.

Indeed it also explains why many of them believe that life belongs intrinsically to the body, and thus that when their body dies their interiors will die too since these are closely attached to the body.

But in actual fact only the exterior degree dies; the interior degree survives and goes on living.

Our physical material body dies and then when we awaken in the spiritual world we find that we have a spiritual body there instead. And all the while the interiors of our spirits have remained and survived and continue to go on living.

This in itself is a beautiful presentation of spiritual process. The passing of the physical body into the spiritual world and the taking on of a spiritual exterior body with the spirit remaining the same, is a beautiful presentation or re-presentation or if you like representation, of how spiritual processes work. Of how the Word works in our mind as it reforms us, as it reforms our mind and offers us a new ‘mind’ in which to see the expressions of our thoughts and affections. It offers us a new body in which the spirit can live.

In respect to his interiors every man is a spirit.

Whoever duly considers the subject can see that as the body is material it is not the body that thinks, but the soul, which is spiritual.

The soul of man, upon the immortality of which many have written, is his spirit, for this as to everything belonging to it is immortal.

This also is what thinks in the body, for it is spiritual, and what is spiritual receives what is spiritual and lives spiritually, which is to think and to will. Therefore, all rational life that appears in the body belongs to the soul, and nothing of it to the body; for the body, as just said, is material, and the material, which is the property of the body, is added to and apparently almost joined to the spirit, in order that the spirit of man may be able to live and perform uses in the natural world, all things of which are material and in themselves devoid of life.

And as it is the spiritual only that lives and not the material, it can be seen that whatever lives in man is his spirit, and that the body merely serves it, just as what is instrumental serves a moving living force.

An instrument is said indeed to act, to move, or to strike; but to believe that these are acts of the instrument, and not of him who acts, moves, or strikes by means of the instrument, is a fallacy. (Heaven and Hell 432)

And who is responsible for the acting, moving or striking? The Lord is. He is life Itself.

So what about the incongruence? What about the states of incongruence or if you like the states of ”not real” correspondences.

We say they aren’t ‘real’ because what we are experiencing internally doesn’t seem to be finding a meaningful expression in our exterior day-to-day life of speech and movement in the material world. The reality of what is inner is seemingly incongruent to what is outer. And I think that the states of when we experience real delight are those rare moments of congruence – of real correspondences for us. Of when we feel like there is a marriage between what we are experiencing within our spirit and what is being expressed in the exterior material body, whether it’s through speech or song or body movement or something that we are creating.

However, this can be twofold because when we are in moments of expressing a negative emotion like anger or sorrow it is still in congruence with what is within but we then identify it as a delight that doesn’t belong to the Lord. But it is still a state of what we would call a real correspondence because it’s congruent, as what is within is being truly re-presented in an external body expression.

Of course the desire is to be in states of delight that are of the Lord. And the desire is to be in states that feel congruent – that feel real. More often than not in spiritual work though we are being led into facing states of incongruence and then being asked to stay in the tension of seeing that. Of seeing that what we are thinking or feeling isn’t in a marriage or in a real correspondence with what we are expressing or moving with in the natural material world manifestations.

But I’m reminded again of the principle that was stated earlier. That it is the Lord who is the one who does the seeing, the acting, the moving and striking. It has to be if we are to have any hope of seeing things clearly because we are also reminded that the light of the material physical world is not the light of truth but that it instead needs to be viewed and ruled by it. It needs to be ruled by spiritual principles, from Divine truth that is not us. From something other than ourselves.

In the human being there exist derivatives from the understanding part that dwells in the light of heaven; and they extend to the senses which dwell in the light of the world. Unless these derivatives existed the senses could not possess any life of a human quality. A person does not owe the life which his senses possess to what he sees by the light of the world, for the light of the world holds no life within it; he owes it to what he sees by the light of heaven, for this light does hold life within it.

When the light of heaven falls on the perceptions a person has gained by the light of the world, it brings life to them and enables him to see objects in an intelligent manner, and thus as a human being. In this way a person possessing factual knowledge born from things which he has seen and heard in the world, and therefore from those which have entered in through the senses, comes to possess intelligence and wisdom, on which in turn he bases his public, private, and spiritual life. (Arcana Coelestia 5114[2])

So what does this mean in terms of our states of feeling incongruence between what is inner and what is outer? Well it says here that what is lower needs to be viewed from what is higher. That it is the light of heaven, which is the Lord, that is able to offer us perceptions and true intelligence on what it is we are seeing in the material world because the material world understanding is based in the senses, it is based in what is one’s own rather than what is the Lord.

We are reminded that the work is to seek the Lord. To look for the Lord in every moment and every situation and especially so in states that don’t make sense to us. In states were there is dissonance and incongruence. And where there is a struggle to live with that conflict.

Traditionally, if I had asked this question the answer I would have been given would be something along the lines of…. “The Lord always has the end in view. Just remember that His plan for you is that you will be an angel in heaven one day and that despite how difficult things seem for you now, it is all part of his plan.  You need to have faith in that and keep moving forward.”

And whilst this is true, there are states present with me that jump up and down and get frustrated at this answer. These states want application NOW in the work. They want to see the Lord NOW, not to be told to wait; to be told to put my faith in an outcome that is somewhere far off in the future.

And so it seems as though there needs to be a re-forming of the way things are viewed, of the framework in which things are being looked at – because this answer doesn’t make sense to me any more.

Let’s start with the end in view … what is the end?

The end isn’t an outcome; the end is always the Lord.

Holding the end in view isn’t about holding where we are going in a linear time-based fashion, it’s about holding the Lord in our view in all that we do. It’s about seeing that the process that we are in is actually the Lord. It’s about seeing that everything that we are in, is the experience of the Lord, whether it be struggle or delight or sorrow or anger or states of congruence or states of incongruence.

A gentle and thoughtful spirit recently reached out and offered me a little book containing the thoughts of a Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence, written all the way back in the seventeenth century. It is tilted The Practice of the Presence of God.  And he speaks about this “end in view” idea too…

“We must, during all our labour and in all else we do, even in our reading and writing, holy though both may be – I say more, even during our formal devotions, and spoken prayers – pause for some short moment, as often indeed as we can, to worship God in the depth of our heart, to savour him, though it be but in passing, and as it were by stealth.

Since you are not unaware that God is present before you whatever you are doing, that he is at the depth and centre of your soul why not then pause from time to time at least from that which occupies you outwardly even from your spoken prayers, to worship him inwardly, to praise him, petition him, to offer him your heart and thank him?” (page 69).

“Give your attention to keeping your mind in the presence of the Lord. If it wanders and withdraws at times, do not be disturbed. To trouble the mind serves more often to distract than to recall it. The will must call it back quietly.” (page 50).

It is seemingly simple advice. If we notice that there are states that aren’t of the Lord present, then notice them …. and move on. The longer we linger with them, the more ownership we give to them. And no amount of lament and anxiety about the fact that we have been in those states is going to change the states as they are. The hellish proprium is evil and falsity and that cannot be changed. Brother Lawrence knew this too:

When we undertake the spiritual life, we must bear in mind who we are, and we shall realise that we are worthy of all scorn, unworthy of the name of Christian, subject to all manner of tribulations, to troublesome circumstances beyond number, which make us uneven in health, moods and disposition of heart and of behaviour, in a word people whom God desires to bring low by countless trials and travail as much within as without. (page 67).

Again, this is a seemingly simple acknowledgement of what we would be without the Lord in our life, without goodness and truth. But even Brother Lawrence submits that stepping back from the ownership of the states that present as dissonant is difficult, that it is indeed work.

In the matter of this inner gaze, special care must be taken that it comes out before, be it but momentarily, your outer actions, that at times it goes with them, and that you end them all in like manner. Since it takes time and much toil to acquire this practice, so one must not be disturbed when one fails, for the habit does not form save with trouble, so when it is established it can give great joy.

Is it not right that the heart, which comes first to life, which is lord over the rest of the body’s members, should be both the first and the last to love and worship God, both in beginning and ending what we do in the spirit and the flesh, and generally throughout all the processes of life?

And it is here that we must take care to ensure this small looking within, an exercise, as I have said, not without the toil and trouble which facilitates it. (page 75).

In many ways it is a practice…. that we just need to practise. That we just need to put ourselves in the situations of having to apply truths, to apply the Word in our life, because even just by doing that, things will shift. He points out the obvious … that we can’t expect to know the Lord unless we make an attempt to get to know Him.

You would tell me that I am always saying the same thing to you. It is true, and I do not know a better and easier means than that. And since I practice no other, I urge it upon everybody.

We must know before we love, and to know God we must often think of him. And when we love him we shall think of him all the more, for our heart is where our treasure is. Let us often think about it, and think about it well.(page 52).

So it’s about being in the work, in the practice of truth, in the practice of the Word and coming to see that that is the Lord.  That being in the process of the work, of the practice of the Word, is how we come to know the Lord. That every moment we are conscious of being in the process is a moment of being conscious of the Lord, and hence the end then, the Lord…  is in our view.

Ask yourself …

What am I being offered here?

What am I being asked to see?

What am I being asked to know?

The answer won’t necessarily take away the struggle or the pain of being in the tension of states of incongruence, or even move us through them more quickly, but it will open up new ways to hold them.  And that is the transformation. That is the reformation of our mind that the Word offers us. If everything is seen as process then things become fluid rather than static.  And every moment then is an opportunity to celebrate the Lord, even if the state isn’t one of rejoicing or one that feels harmonious.

If we are willing to lose our exterior understanding of the Lord and be offered a new way of understanding Him, then the spirit that is within, that loves the Lord in abundance and grace from the depths of its soul, will be offered a new body to live in.

One that is eternal and lives forever,
One that rests in the transformative love of His Word,
One that lives as an instrument of His truth.

But we all with our face having been unveiled,

having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror,

are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,

as from the Lord Spirit.

(2 Corinthians 3:18 CLV)

Conjugial Love 310

It is evident, therefore, that as the mind is, such are the words of the mouth and such the deeds of the body.

From this the conclusion follows, that by continual influx, the mind instigates the body to activities conformable and synchronous with itself.

Therefore, inwardly regarded, the bodies of men  are nothing else than forms of their minds organized outwardly to effect the behests of the soul.

The above is premised that it may be perceived whence it is that minds or spirits must first be united with each other as in a marriage before there is unition as to the body  also;

and this, in order that marriages may be marriages of the spirit when they become marriages of the body; consequently, that married partners may love each other from the spirit and thence in the body .

[2] With these premises, let us now look at marriage. When conjugial love conjoins the minds of two and forms them into a marriage, it also conjoins and forms their bodies for that marriage; for, as was said, the form of the mind is also interiorly the form of the body, with the sole difference that the latter is outwardly organized for bringing into effect that to which the interior form of the body is determined by the mind. But the mind which has been formed by reason of conjugial love is not only inwardly present in the whole body USE and its every part, but in addition is inwardly present in the organs devoted to generation , which are situated in their own region below the other regions of the body.

With those who are united in conjugial love, the forms of their minds terminate in these organs; consequently, the affections and thoughts of their minds are determined thither. In this respect, it is different with the activities of minds arising from other loves, for these do not reach thus far. From this comes the conclusion, that according to the nature of the conjugial love in the minds or spirits of two, such is it interiorly in these its organs. That after the wedding the marriage of the spirit becomes also a marriage of the body  and thus complete, is self-evident.

Consequently, that if the marriage in the spirit is chaste and partakes of the holiness of marriage, it is likewise chaste when in its fullness in the body; and the reverse, if the marriage in the spirit is unchaste.

Conjugial Love 148

Implanted in every man from creation and thence by birth is an internal conjugial and an external conjugial. The internal is spiritual and the external natural. Man comes first into the latter, and he comes into the former as he becomes spiritual. If therefore he remains in the external or natural conjugial, the internal or spiritual conjugial is being veiled over until at last he knows nothing of it, yea, and calls it a vain idea.

But if man becomes spiritual, then he begins to know something of it, and later to have some perception of its nature, and successively to feel its pleasantness, its delights, and its delightsomeness; and as this takes place, the above-mentioned veiling between the external and the internal begins to grow thin, then, as it were, to melt away, and finally, to dissolve and disappear.

When this comes to pass, the external conjugial does indeed remain, but it is being continually purged and purified of its dregs by the internal, and this until the external becomes, as it were, the face of the internal and derives its delight and at the same time its life and the delights of its potency from the blessedness which is in the internal. Such is the renunciation of whoredoms by which the chastity of marriage comes into existence.

[2] It may be thought that the external conjugial which remains after the internal has separated itself from it, or it from itself, is the same as the external not separated. But I have heard from angels that they are so entirely unlike, that the external from the internal, which they called the external of the internal, is devoid of all lasciviousness, inasmuch as the internal cannot be lascivious but can be delighted only chastely; and that it carries the like into its external wherein it feels its own delights.

It is wholly otherwise with the external separated from the internal. This, they said, is lascivious in its whole and in every part. They compared the external conjugial from the internal to a noble fruit whose pleasant savor and fragrance insinuate themselves into its surface and form this into correspondence with themselves.

[3] They also compared the external conjugial from the internal to a granary whose store never diminishes, what is taken from it being constantly restored anew.

But the external separated from the internal, they compared to wheat in a winnower, which, if it is scattered about, there remains only chaff, which is dissipated by the wind. Such is the case with conjugial love unless what is scortatory is renounced.

Doctrine Of Life 10

Goods from God, and goods from self, may be compared to gold.

Gold that is gold from the inmost, called pure gold, is good gold.

Gold alloyed with silver is also gold, but is good according to the amount of the alloy.

Less good still is gold that is alloyed with copper.

But a gold made by art, and resembling gold only from its color, is not good at all, for there is no substance of gold in it.
There is also what is gilded, such as gilded silver, copper, iron, tin, lead, and also

gilded wood and gilded stone, which on the surface may appear like gold; but not being such, they are valued either according to the workmanship, the value of the gilded material, or that of the gold which can be scraped off.

In goodness these differ from real gold as a garment differs from a man.

Moreover rotten wood, dross, or even ordure, may be overlaid with gold; and such is the gold to which pharisaic good may be likened.


  1. Simon Mervyn-Jones

    Very well thought-out and explained. Good unpacking of what is happening and what can be done in different states.
    Rich reading, providing nourishment and direction for the soul. Excellent fare on this Easter Sunday evening, Thanks.

    • Sarah Walker

      It brings forth the presence of the Lord to hear that 🙂

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