Do Spirits Play a Role in Addiction? – Swedenborg and Life

Do Spirits Play a Role in Addiction? – Swedenborg and Life

November 24, 2019 100 By William Hollis


Oh, I just got a craving for butter. And notice the phrasing on that. We say “I got a craving” like we just shopped for it: “I got a garden hose.” Or it’s like a a Christmas present — “ahh, I got
a sweater again.” So the hose came from the hardware store,
the sweater came from Amazon, but where did we “get” our craving we just got? The butter example isn’t something we just
made up. In March of 1748, a career scientist recording
spiritual experiences that had begun happening to him, wrote in a log that he directly perceived
a connection between the arrival of a particular spirit and a desire in himself for… butter. Now, it’s kind of a silly example, but if
the principle is accurate, does it apply not just to a fondness for dairy products, but
to the kinds of cravings for substances that tear apart lives, families, and whole communities? Is there a piece we’re all missing that
completes the puzzle of addiction? Stay tuned. Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode
of Swedenborg and Life. Today we’re going to be asking, do spirits
play a role in addiction? As always, I’m your host. My name is Curtis Childs. And if we’re going to do a show that has a
topic like, do spirits play a role in addiction, we’ve got to get some disclaimers out of the
way before we start. The first and most important is that Swedenborg
and Life is not medical advice. And it’s not greater than or something that
supercedes medical advice. We’re not trying to say, oh, everything about
addictive behaviors and things are spiritual, so forget everything you learned about the
physical. The studies that people are doing in the way
the brain works around addiction, all the work that people, physical people have done
about it, is awesome. Don’t throw it away. This is just meant to augment that and hopefully
add another layer to it. So we’re not trying to make this medical advice
that the human race has gathered around addiction obsolete. We’re just hoping to add a layer of information
that should be helpful. Also, we’re doing a show that’s a Swedenborgian
look at addiction. But the problem is, the term addiction in
the current sense that we use it, almost a clinical term, wasn’t used like this until the 20th century
and Swedenborg was writing a couple of centuries before that. So we’re taking what he said that seems to
apply and we’re putting it in there. So we’re drawing some lines ourselves. Another disclaimer: we are not saying—because
we will… this is a spoiler alert… we will be talking about evil spirits in this show—it
does not mean that people who are addicted to any kind of substance or anything else,
are evil, even if there is an association with spirits like that. It’s not the way that it works. It doesn’t mean that it’s a referendum on
your character just because of the spiritual dynamic. We’re also not going to get into any of the
conversations about, is there a place for drugs at a certain point. All those side conversations, we don’t have
time, we’re not going to go into those right now. Not to mention, if you’re going to be talking
about do spirits play a role in addiction, with Swedenborg that’s kind of like asking
if there are chemicals in my food. Well, all food is chemicals. Everything is chemical. According to Swedenborg, everything in the
heart and mind is intertwined and originates in the spiritual world. So, spirits play a role in everything. We’re just looking for what potential role
are they playing in the Swedenborgian mindset. With all of that, why would we even want to
make a show like this? Well, it’s because the stuff that Swedenborg
wrote is so… oh, ouch, my hand… is so potentially relevant. When you look at his… particularly at his
journal of spiritual experiences, he talks about the origin of the nature of cravings
and of desires, and it seems like there might be something in there that’s not just relevant
but a really important piece in understanding why our minds work the way they do, and trying
to unravel some of these puzzles. So that’s why we’re getting into it. We’re going to begin now by looking at the
nature of wanting things, and where it comes from. Swedenborg makes the claim that all of our
thoughts and feelings are attached to or affected by societies of spirits, and if that sounds
weird I have a warning for you. This gets weird. This is going to be… if this is your first
time watching this show, it’s going to be a pretty intense episode, and we are going
to talk about things like spirits affecting thoughts and feelings. We’re going to talk about evil spirits. But I wouldn’t be too scared about it, because
the way Swedenborg describes it, as I already said, spirits are involved in everything. It’s more like how there are always germs
attacking your immune system, or attacking your body and your immune system is responding. This is a normal part of life, to have heaven
and hell pressing in on either side. And, yeah, this is a fasten your seatbelt
kind of thing. With that said, let’s see if we can give you
your money’s worth and get as weird as possible. And it was weird to Swedenborg, too, when he began having these experiences and figuring
out that this is what’s behind what’s going on in the heart and the mind. So let’s see what we’re talking about. This is from his journal of Spiritual Experiences
2169. He says: “Everything whatever that exists
in a person’s mental life and feelings, evil as well as good, has spirits, and societies
of spirits, who exactly interact with it. Just one such case was, when I was taking
pleasure in some unimportant details, either in regard to writing, or eating or drinking,
or something else, like while buying things I had desired in times past, and for which
I had acquired a liking.” So just normal everyday things for him. “When those enjoyments recurred, then there
were spirits, and societies of spirits, that had exactly the same enjoyment, so that they
were much more desirous than I myself, even to the point that they could hardly control
themselves, without almost perishing, if they were not indulged and given those things—even
though they knew they were of no use to them, but to me. So there is not anything mental or emotional
in a human being that does not have societies of spirits that indulge and favor it.” There is the clinching line. And you may be saying, I never hear spirits
talking about that they like the stuff that I like to buy. Well Swedenborg was describing this overt
nature of his experiences, but he says he deduces from them that this is going on with
all of us. We just don’t recognize it as spirits, we
just recognize it as thoughts and feelings, but the same dynamic is at play in a more
subdued way, in every person. And the spirits may not be aware of us like
they were aware of him, but there are still those forces acting on us. Swedenborg started to have these experiences,
realized how much the spiritual world was influencing this stuff that he liked to do
every day, and he started to give labels to these different spirits. Now spirits, that term in Swedenborg, that
encompasses everybody who has ever been alive and died. Everyone who is in the afterlife. This could be really good people that he calls
angels, there are people in the middle he calls spirits which are people who are still
being processed, and even people who are bent on harm which you would call evil spirits
or devils or satans. All these fall under the broad category of
spirits. And he would make all these subcategories
of those, one of which is the spirits of bodily cravings, which are the ones that we’re going
to learn about now. And these were the spirits that had an impact
on him that he felt in his desires. He had a lot of very interesting desires pop
up that were connected with spirits. For example, like we said in the beginning,
things that you can potentially eat. He says:”There are various kinds of craving,
not just the appetite for eating…A kind of craving causes us to desire numerous things,
such as baths…” So, both spirits could influence his desire
to eat and his desire for hygiene, to get and sit in the bath. But it goes on from there. He was saying that: “One spirit…” and this
is from Spiritual Experiences 1564, “One spirit longed so much for me to put on a certain
suit that unless I did so, according to him, he could hardly live. And when I was dressed in it, he got such
enjoyment from it that nothing could have been more enjoyable.” And what would be more enjoyable than wearing
that suit? I think that spirit speaks for all of us. Okay, it doesn’t end there. He says, “I was in a shop to buy cheese, and
while I was buying spirits poured into me a desire to buy this one or that one, to choose
one above another, and to change [my mind].” So, spirits are in there, like, no no, not
the mild cheddar, buy the gouda! This matters to them, and they were affecting
him, and because of the way his spiritual senses were opened, he was able to perceive
it overtly rather than just as the to and fro in your own heart when you’re like, should
I get that cheese? No, I should get that cheese. I’ll just get them both. No, I’ll just get that one. So he goes on. This is the one we mentioned in the beginning:
“A certain heavenly spirit was present, and I was stirred by a desire for butter.” So that’s a heavenly spirit. That’s an angel. So that’s a good spirit, that kicked up in
him this desire for butter. You can tell as soon as you eat butter that
it’s a heavenly sort of thing. And then, finally, to the negative side of
things. “There are evil spirits who even arouse that
pleasure of sitting for a long time in toilets, and staying there beyond the required time;
for devils delight exceedingly in toilets.” And those devils… so you can have an evil
spirit wanting you to hang in a certain place… those devils got a real boost when smart phones
came out, right? Because now it’s like, you sit there longer
than you need to, ’cause you’ve got to finish reading your article. So that is the nature of the ubiquity of spiritual
influence on the things Swedenborg found in his life, and from that he had a lot of sub-insights
about… given this dynamic, how do I navigate the mind? And something that he says that he learned
is that dwelling on what he would label unimportant things can be problematic because it sort
of leads to this spiritual entanglement. This is Spiritual Experiences 2176: “By much
experience within several years, I have been taught that one should not resolve to do anything
that is really unimportant, for the reason that one thereby not only loses one’s freedom,
but also gives spirits an opportunity to desire it, and thus to persuade. For it is the nature of spirits to desire
intensely, and then to persuade regarding some matter as if it were a most definite
cause, and should by all means be done.” He goes on to say: “For this reason, the Lord
sometimes even permits something that He would not have permitted if the person had not resolved
to do it, but would instead have given him a conviction and feeling for something good,
and for what is conducive to that good thereafter, besides being gifted in this way with freedom.” It seems to me like you’re talking there about,
if you don’t have a general sense of a trust that there is a divine providence moving things,
if you latch onto something particular and say, this has to happen, and get obsessed
with it, that can bring in spirits who will reinforce you in that and say, you’ve got
to do this, we’ve got to do this, even if you don’t for your overall destiny and your
development and the story of your life. You don’t need that thing, but you think that
you do. That can lead to problems and even can cause
God to say, all right, well, we’re going to let it happen, even though it’s not as good
as what would have happened if you had just eased up on it. So what kind of thing would he be talking
about? I have no idea, so I’m going to take a stab
at it, and the stab is stabbed with this. What is that? Kids, that’s called a CD, or compact disc,
and that used to be where you would put music when you made music. So, a long, long time ago, before the beginning
of time, I was just like at the end of college in that sort of era of my life, and I wasn’t
exactly sure what I wanted to do. There were a couple of things that I thought
I was good at and one of those was music. I had a set of songs that I was, like, I want
to make an album. If I had resolved that “I have to be a career
musician, and I have to get this particular album published in a certain way and get it
to the top of the charts” and really focused on that, I may have sabotaged my own path
of life, which led me to being here on this show with you today, which of course I would
not trade to be a famous musician. So, I don’t know if that’s the kind of thing
he’s talking about, but I think it’s… it’s not that it’s bad to have goals and to go
after those, but to resolve with certainty that “this thing (which I don’t know if it’s
actually the right path for me) I have got to do it”, that could be problematic, according
to Swedenborg. So, let’s look at another sub-insight… I think I just made up that term this very
show… which is this concept that I could call spiritual reinforcement. This is where when you resolve to do something,
spirits come in and make it a problem. So let’s give a physical example here. We have on the table what I would call a physical
representation of this phenomenon. Initially we have a jar here, and within it
is a liquid within a liquid. There’s one liquid filling the whole jar,
and then there’s this black inky sort of stuff at the bottom there. See it? Looks pretty cool, right? So this ink is hanging out here, just sitting
around, and let’s say this thing shows up on the scene. Right? Let’s say that this is us. Because of the nature of us, some quality
that we possess, let’s say this here is spirits in the spiritual world, they’re just sitting
around, but because we are who we are, doing the thing we do, when we come close, whoosh,
we get a reaction. They come pouring in, attracted to the nature
of our life. Now you see the more they come, the more they
attract. So how does that play out in the spiritual
world? Let’s show a little diagram. If you… you can insert your behavior here,
whatever it is, and it can be your own personal vice or whatever. But look, this is how it works. We’re here, putting our hands in our pockets,
doing something. We’re doing something. Whatever we do, that’s like a magnet to spirits
in the spiritual world who are into that same sort of thing. So whatever it is, that attracts them. And once they’re there, then they start to
put their will behind it and get you to want to do that thing more and again. And the more you keep doing it, the larger your
crowd. Remember how that metallic liquid just came
in. More spirits see that and they come over like,
hey, what’s going on? What’s going on? And that further reinforces the behavior. So we end up with a whole phalanx of spirits
that becomes pretty tough to break. So the more that you participate in things,
the more that they solidify. And this starts to lead us into these human
behaviors that are very hard to break out of. And so far we’ve been giving silly examples. Like we’re talking about looking at butter
or sitting on the toilet. But it gets a little darker and a little more
intense in Swedenborg’s work. For example, there were spirits that tried
to force him to look at unpleasant or revolting things as he was walking down the street. This is his words describing that experience:
“When I was walking on the street they drew my eyes away to such things. Wherever there was filth, dung, or intestines,
there they directed my eyes. Even though I was unaware myself where these
were on the street, because I do not pay attention to such things, they nevertheless saw them
without my notice, and forced my eyesight in that direction, whether it was to the side,
or around my feet, either near or far away, and they would not turn my eyes toward anything
else, and I was told that this is the nature of those who are cruel and adulterous…” Have you ever felt that, where I don’t want
to have these things catching my eye, but they are? Or the pull when you’re on your phone and
there’s all these ads down the side and you’re just like, ah, I can’t…. Is that the same sort of phenomena, pulling
through? You may have noticed that he said there were
intestines in the street. That’s the 18th century for you. The butcher is throwing that stuff out. There’s all kinds of filth on the streets. And he didn’t want to look at it, but they’re
pulling him in that direction. And notice that he talks about because of
their cruelty in life when they were in this life, they want to look at the corresponding
thing. Swedenborg says that physical things are a
symbol of spiritual things, so something like disgusting poop, or disgusting intestines,
that corresponds to the disgusting urges people have to harm each other and do so for their
own benefit. Still, it’s rather inocuous that you’re going
to, you know… it’s not going to make your tongue fall off or something. But something else was happening that was
going right after Swedenborg’s tongue. This is Spiritual Experiences 1360. He says: “There are also among spirits those
who hate truth, for various reasons—and indeed, spirits of whom no one could ever
have suspected it. . . . They have bothered me for a long time,
in fact, for weeks, for even over a month, and have brought on that kind of hazardous
impulse to put my tongue between my teeth, and then bite it off. I have complained about this for a long time,
finding it unbelievable that any person should be troubled by such an impulsive urge. I do know where it comes from, for the cause
of it is that they are all spirits who hate truths.” And the tongue is a correspondence or a symbol
of truth because you can use it to disseminate truth. Because those spirits had an aversion to the
truth, they gave Swedenborg this impulse to bite off his own tongue. Enough that he was complaining. I don’t know who he was complaining to. Who the complaint department is once you get
to that level of lucid spiritual experiences. But he was filling out those forms. So this is something that can lead into pretty
nasty stuff. And we are going to look in this next section
at how potentially this ability of the spiritual world to push us toward things could be interrelated
with the sorts of behavioral loops people get in that end up destroying lives all around them. So we’re going to look in section two at how
that might work. For this section, we’re going to bring back
an old friend of the show that we’ve had in a couple of episodes here. Maybe you’ve seen him. His name is Jerry Marzinsky and he first appeared
in this episode, How To Deal With Evil Spirits. So Jerry is a licensed therapist who worked
for over 30 years—he’s retired now—in a clinical setting with people who… a lot
of whom were hearing voices or psychotic. He worked in both prisons and hospital intakes
and places associated with that. And while he was working with these patients,
he was asking them about what they were experiencing. So if they were hearing voices, he would say,
well, what are the voices telling you to do. And he just gathered phenomenoligical data
that way, to get a picture of what these voices are like. And he was able from that to figure out a
lot about how these voices operated and general trends. And he also found that they were very similar
to a lot of stuff that Swedenborg said about how evil spirits were influencing him. And Jerry had a lot of experience with people
who were addicted to drugs or what we would now call substance use disorder, or had been,
and he got to hear from them how the voices reacted to drugs in general. So this is from an interview we did with Jerry
for this show. He begins with this point. JERRY: There was one quote that I read in
Swedenborg where he talked about dealing with evil spirits and then feeling drained afterwards…. CURTIS: Yeah, the quote he’s referring to,
this is one, I think there’s one other one, he says: “When they attach themselves….” He’s talking about particular spirits. “themselves to someone, they then induce mental
torment from boredom, which they increase and breathe in continually, and thus make
[one] impatient—all of which creates intense pain and induces such weakness of the body
that one can scarcely raise oneself from bed. This was shown to me by the fact that when
they were present, this kind of weakness took hold on me, and when they were removed, it
ceased in the degree that they were removed. They also employ many an art to pour in boredom,
and by this weakness.” Sorry. Just wanted to show you what he’s talking
about. Back to Jerry. JERRY: That’s a very significant point. What these things feed off of is negative
emotional energy. CURTIS: Sorry. One more. Just one more. Because here is again Swedenborg a couple
of hundred years earlier describing the same thing that Jerry found in asking these patients. “[A certain murderous spirit] was inwardly
thinking nothing else but revenge, and in fact so covertly that I saw nothing of what
he was thinking. He raised up in every one his own subjects. From my mind he raised up whatever he could
distort into evil and then into hatred, and so he fed himself continually.” This is a way that he gains sustenance. Plus a couple of episode ago we did an episode
called Does My Life Matter? And in that we talked about how angels feed
off of good thoughts and feelings, so this would be the reverse of that. So I’ll stop interrupting now. We’re going to hear Jerry talk about how,
given that, whatever these negative are that he’s interacting with, that they feed off
of negative emotion. How does that interface with substance use? Why would those voices be pushing for that in
the first place? So here’s what he had to say. JERRY: And that’s what they get out of the
drug use, because the drugs at first… What they want is drugs that feel good at
first, you know, and they help the person calm their nervousness and their anxiety,
and they change the way you see things… so it’s novel, and it’s easy. You don’t have to work like in meditation. What they want is a drug that feels good at
first, but the withdrawal is extremely negative. And once you feel bad, like Swedenborg says,
once you feel bad then you start to think bad. And then they jump on that and they expand
those thoughts as much as possible. They pour gasoline on the fire. So you feel good at first, you get the high,
you’re feeling wonderful, and then the withdrawal becomes extremely nasty the further you go. So bottom line, what these things are after
is to turn your emotional energy negative. CURTIS: And believe it or not, in interviewing
these patients, he found out that there is a heirarchy of preference for drugs for these
voices, or for these spirits. And in case you want to know, this is what
they’re pushing for. He says crystal meth is by far the top and
that they’ll try to get people who are psychotic to be using that. Or sometimes meth use will trigger the start
of the voices. He puts “spice” up there, which is like synthetic
marijuana, it’s called synthetic marijuana, it’s actually quite a different chemical. He said those two they’re after. Heroine and alcohol are about the same in
terms of how much the spirits want to get them, and then concaine after that. Those are the top because they create this
cycle that he’s talking about of heavy withdrawals and negativity and this craving for it. And I want to focus a little bit on alcohol
and the craving for alcohol. Jerry gave this interesting anecdote about
a guy who was in the prison system and had come through all these different units and
ended up with Jerry as his counselor. And Jerry was talking to him about the nature
of his alcoholism. And in there he found out that this guy was
reporting all kinds of interaction with the spiritual world, and he told Jerry some about
what was going on. So here’s what he had to say. JERRY: He was a bad, bad alcoholic, and he
started telling me about fighting spirits and seeing spirits and spirits chasing him—a
whole different world—but he wasn’t psychotic. He wasn’t hearing voices. And I’m looking at him and thinking, this
is really strange. And he talked about casting spells on people,
making them sick. You know, I asked him and I said one day,
well, if you can do all this stuff, why can’t you stay sober? And I braced myself. I thought he was going to go crazy on me. And I’m sitting there like, okay, here it
comes. But instead of exploding, he said, it’s because
of the spirits of dead alcoholics. He looked me straight in the eye. He said there’s a bar in Phoenix near where
he lived for a while that he said they were piled so high up to the sky that he couldn’t
see the end of them. And if he went anywhere near that bar, he
said they would attack him. And if he had any alcohol in him at the time
he said it was even worse. And he said once they got in, he lost all
control. CURTIS: So somebody here is describing particular
spirits influencing them toward a particular physical experience, and I’m sure as all of
you at home thought, this reminds me of Spiritual Experiences 1566 where Swedenborg says: “The
spirits called ‘cravings’ cause us to crave, or arouse our appetites, and from this they
derive their enjoyments, but the sense is our own. Those spirits had brought along from their
life in the body the character of ardently longing for specific bodily enjoyments.” So, is the enjoyment of alcohol one of those
particular enjoyments? Jerry says that in his workings with patients
this concept of spirits actually being behind the cravings—I know it sounds strange—but
the concept of that actually is the most potent tool that people can get in kicking these
cravings. Once you realize or once you believe that
there are external forces working on you, trying to get to do things, he says that actually
that drastically improves somebody’s chances of being able to detach from the cravings
and push back and ultimately get some purchase. So here’s how he described it. JERRY: Once they realize in all these things
that it is not their intention to have become an amphetamine freak or a cocaine freak, or
an alcoholic—that’s not their intention, so whose intention was it? That opens up a whole new world. Once they see that it’s not their intention,
and that those thoughts don’t belong to them, then the voices lose a hook there. CURTIS: You probably noticed a pattern here. We give support from Swedenborg to what he’s
saying. But I love convergences. And when I heard Jerry’s… what he had gathered
along with Swedenborg, I said, this is too good to be true. Because Secrets of Heaven 6206 says, and this
is a point Swedenborg makes in a lot of places: “If we believed the fact of the matter, we
would be assigned goodness from the Lord, not evil. That is because the moment evil flowed in
we would think, ‘This is from the evil spirits with us,’ and when we did, angels would turn
it away and cast it aside. Angelic influence acts on what we know and
believe, not on what we do not know or believe. It attaches only when there is something in
us to attach to.” So why are we doing this show in the first
place? According to Swedenborg, you have to have
that concept in your mind. There is angelic power that wants to deflect
the power of negative influence. But unless you have the concept in your mind
that this isn’t originating in me, that there are third parties—or second parties, whatever
they are—then suddenly, there is this power of heaven to come in and push things away,
and that really changes the dynamic. And Jerry goes on a little more about that. JERRY: Once they break that and see that,
like Swedenborg says, that’s not their thoughts coming in there, these are thoughts, external
alien thoughts that don’t belong to them, they’re destructive, and they can create that
and say, yeah, they’re not mine, the guilt disappears, the fear disappears. They don’t feel crazy anymore. They can now see that there are external spirits
which are invading their minds, and keeping them going with drugs, with the alcohol. CURTIS: So if we have this bit of information
that potentially is that potent, how do we use it to free… it’s not just like, oh,
there are some people who are addicted to things and then there are the rest of us. We all have stuff. Right? They’re talking about how cell phones are
addictive. But even beyond that we all have negative
and positive stuff in our minds that we’d rather not have there. How do we take this knowledge and turn it
into life change and things getting better? We’re going to look at that in part three. All right, so, how do we put this stuff into
action? To be free of this we need what are essentially
two psychological tools, and they are: rationality and conviction. And we’re going to look at what each of those
means. First to the importance of rationality. Swedenborg says rationality is essential. Our ability to make free, rational decisions
about what we prioritize in life is essential, not just for navigating physical life, but
it’s essential to our spiritual growth as well. Which is another reason perhaps why hell is
trying to push for things that disrupt our rationality, such as getting too wrapped up
in a particular substance. And we have Dr. Soni Werner explaining a little
bit about why and how becoming dependent on a substance interferes with the rational brain. So here she is. SONI: We all have a reward system. Let me show you a little bit about what normally
works in our brain. Now down here is inside of your neck area. That’s called the midbrain. And down here, which is called the VTA, is
where things start. When we’re about to… let’s say we really
love chocolate, or we really love cigarettes, or we really love cocaine. But in a normal setting, let’s say we’re really
liking chocolate cake. Down here is where things start, and it goes
up here to the NA, which is the nucleus accumbance. And right there, that’s what releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter like a chemical,
and when a neurotransmitter goes up to this part of the brain, up to the front, that’s
behind your forehead, that’s when we feel happy. That’s when we feel excited, when our football
team wins. That’s when we feel excited because we ate
the chocolate cake. That’s a normal reward system. And once the dopamine kind of dissapates,
then we calm down, and then we’re back to kind of a steady state. Now the problem with an opioid or a heroine,
cocaine, is that it intensifies the whole system. So again, starting here, going to here, going
to here. Now let me point out something that’s really
important. Right here, right about here, behind the frontal
lobe, if that’s active, that’s when you’re making really careful decisions. Like let’s say you’re trying to drive according
to the speed limit, or you’re trying to make sure not to waste all your money, or you’re
trying to make sure to be kind to the people near you. And then another part right next to it is
called the ACC, and that’s… it’s almost like reins that we have on a wild horse that
wants to go really fast. And if we have those reins, we can control
our emotions, we can control our cravings. But unfortunately, those parts of the brain
are not functioning very well when we’re really an addict, when we’re really a substance use
disordered person. So the problem is that you have dopamine,
which again, when it’s released, from one neuron to another, that’s what makes you feel,
joyful, euphoric. But the problem with something like heroine
or cocaine is that we get way too much, way too much. And so the little tiny microscopic parts of
the brain are just flooded with that dopamine, and it can’t be what’s called re-uptake, which
means it gets recycled back into the system. Things get clogged, and after a while, it
doesn’t work so well. CURTIS: And that stuff back in here, that
allows you to make rational, careful, objective decisions is essential. It has to be functioning in order for us to
grow spiritually. But that is disrupted by being addicted or using a substance. But even when you’re not using the substance,
there’s all this time you spend thinking about it. Whatever our particular fixation is, there’s
all the time leading up to it. That also… we’re not totally in our rational
state there as well, and Soni described that a bit. SONI: Now what’s interesting is, researchers
are now looking at what happens when someone is craving. They know what it feels like to have the euphoria
from cocaine, and they get into drug-seeking behavior. Just like if I love coffee or I love chocolate
I’m in a coffee-seeking behavior. I go to Starbucks and I want my coffee. And all the anticipation of going to get it
is… we’re almost excited with anticipation. Well imagine that a hundred times more for
somebody who is going to their street corner to get the cocaine, or they see the drug paraphernalia. Their heart is racing. They’re getting excited about it. And we even get addicted to the anticipation
before we actually get the drug in our body. So just the very thought of it, we are flooding
our body and our brain with that dopamine, and that makes the really logical part of
our brain… it’s taking a nap. It not going to regulate us. CURTIS: And why are we going on so much about
rationality? Why does it matter? From a Swedenborgian perspective, let’s lay
out the importance of rationality in the mind. Here’s a little chart to help us along. That’s our mind on the left. Right? You have your higher… the most basic division
is the higher and lower mind. You have your higher goals and feelings and
then your lower impulses and cravings. Right? And those two are at war. The lower impulses and cravings are trying
to take out the higher ones and run the show. In Divine Providence 260, Swedenborg says,
“The earthly mind, being the envelope and vessel of the higher levels of the human mind,
is reactive. If the higher levels are not opened, it acts
against them.” And you don’t have to have Swedenborg to tell
you that. We all know that stuff that is more impulsive
and less rational can at times sabotage our higher or more noble aspirations in life. But, are they always just going to be at war
like that? No, because there’s this middle actor that
is rationality. Swedenborg says, when it is functioning rightly,
rationality can work to subdue the lower impulses and cravings and keep them from trying to
run the entire program. It’s not that they need to be gone. But, when they’ve been subdued, our higher
aspirations, the spiritual stuff, can actually move through rationality into this lower part. Swedenborg says in Divine Providence 260,
“…whereas if they are opened it acts with them.” “They” being the higher levels of the mind,
so that it becomes that we’re not getting rid of the lower, more superficial cravings
in life but they are turned towards things that can cohabitate with the higher more important
goals, the spiritual things in life. So the three work as this system together. That’s how it’s meant to be. All the parts functioning together rather
than fighting against each other, and it ends up with the best scenario for us. However there are things that can interrupt
it. We’re going to look at two. Swedenborg says mental illness can kind of
put it on pause. He says “Mental illness deprives us of rationality,
and therefore of the freedom to act rationally.” That it’s hard for us to have a rigid barrier
between the two, or create order. And also the other side of it is what he calls
a bodily disorder that affects the brain. So he says “…the state of the mind depends
upon the state of the body.” So, addiction or substance use disorder would
probably fall along both of those, just showing that these are things that disrupt that natural
flow. And it’s not… you don’t have to be in one
of those. It can just be that we get irrational sometimes,
but you can see that those disrupt what is meant to be a barrier of sorts or this moderating
influence that keeps the peace between the higher and lower things in our mind. So Swedenborg talks a little bit more about
the importance of rationality and freedom and why we need them in Divine Providence
85 where he says that: “The reason we are reformed and regenerated by means of the two
abilities known as rationality and freedom, the reason that in fact we cannot be reformed
and regenerated without them, is that it is through our rationality that we can discern
and know what is evil and what is good and therefore what is false and what is true.” Now this evil and good, this is loaded language,
and I said we’re not saying that we’re evil for our various addictions or things that
we’re stuck in. Think about “harmful” and “beneficial”. It’s when you get to a point where it’s hard
for me to really be choosing what’s beneficial for myself because I can’t tell it apart from
gratification. Right? So he says, “Then through our freedom we can
intend what we discern and know.” And in case… you know, we all have areas
we’re working on in this… in case you want some resources, like I said, we’re not medical
advice. If you are wondering, do I have some kind
of disorder around this stuff, here’s a good website that has sort of a criteria for what
being addicted to something is. And this is an interesting video about how
the whole dopamine cycle works and everything like that. Like I said, go out into the world, find out
what people have learned, that’s the medical advice. If you don’t have that solid foundation, nothing
we’re talking about here is going to be helpful. You’ve got to take care of it on all the levels. That said, we are talking about it from a
spiritual perspective here, so why don’t we see, are there any spiritual tools that can
augment the physical or natural tools that we have. We’re going to look at how to break out, and
that really can be a part of our spiritual practice. And to get at how that happens, you’ve got
to talk to someone who’s been there and has used spirituality to get out. So we called up our buddy Peter Rhodes, an
author who has been on our show before, and he’s talking here a little bit about his journey
out of addiction through spiritual means, and he’s first talking about what’s it like
to be in it. PETER: You’ll find yourself doing things that
you don’t even want to do. Because you know the price, and you’d rather
skip it, but you’re powerless over that addiction. So even thought you know that getting to that
bar and having that one drink isn’t going to work, and you want to be able to go home,
you can’t do it. And that might bring you to a program, and
I use the twelve steps sort of as a spiritual path, and the first one is “I’m powerless
over being selfish, and my life’s unmanageable.” Step two is, there is another will. And if you turn this issue over to, rather
than your attorney through your ego and… what is it, “a kingdom divided against itself
can’t stand,” so it isn’t going to work. If you turn your will over to another will,
a higher will, a more powerful will, things might be possible. And then of course in steps four through ten
you look at that will, you admit you’re powerless over it, you admit you’re selfish, you humbly
ask God to take it, and, could You replace that will with Your will? Because then, even though I want to stop at
the bar, You might be able to drive me home! And that was my experience, that His will
can do things that I can’t do. So, it says, God does for you what you couldn’t
do for yourself. And then when you start to experience that,
that new will… because that makes things good, because it’s a good will. So you start to get along a little better
at work, you start to not get pulled over by the police, everything starts to work better. You are missing the high you got, the friendships
you got, but you’re starting to see things work, and you start turning more of your life
over to that will until eventually that is the will that becomes as if it were your own. Of course it’s God’s will. CURTIS: What Peter is describing there, that
he feels like God gave him, is what I think Swedenborg would call a conviction, which
is our second tool here. There are positive and negative convictions
as Swedenborg describes them. He basically defines the term as the resolve
to do something good. We talked before about the resolve to do frivolous
things and how that’s not helpful. But it’s deciding that, even if I’m going
to… even if I have feelings in myself that go against it, I would like to work in this
particular direction or ask for God to work through me in this particular direction. And Swedenborg talks about these convictions
and their potential power. Spiritual Experiences 2926. He says, “Convictions clothe a person with
a nature, and then spirits of the same nature are associated with the person.” So here we get into changing our spiritual
neighborhood. He says in Spiritual Experiences 2882, “Once
one has been imbued with a conviction that is true and good, and has been strengthened
in it by the Lord so as to be held in the conviction, one can never be torn away from
it.” So we can get these things implanted in us
which become this permanent part of our character if we’re willing to work with the divine on
it. And it’s the reverse of what we saw before,
when we talked about the spiritual negative reinforcement. The same thing happens positively. So let’s say we’re hanging out. We’ve got some positive conviction or behavior,
we’ve got a conviction in our mind and the behavior that comes from it, and angels zoom
into that. I mean angels home in on that just like negative
spirits home in on negative behavior. We begin to get heaven reinforcing
the good things we do whenever we do them. And the more heaven is involved, the more
MORE heaven comes in and becomes involved. So even though we’re just hanging out, and
it feels like you’re just doing a small good thing, all these good spirits are trying to
work with you. So that may look like it’s pretty fast, it’s
just the time of like putting your hands in your pockets and like, thinking about something
good, but it happens gradually. We all know there is a gradual change to build
good habits. Swedenborg discusses this in Spiritual Experiences
2988: “While something of conviction can be given to [us] so that doubt would not thus
arise, to be given conviction in one state and in one moment is not sufficient. For when the state changes and at the next
moment, [we] are as [we] were before.” Meaning… oh, I’ll tell you what it means
after. “So convictions are given by many confirmatory
things and little by little, or gradually, thus imparted by the Lord according to an
order, and according to [a person’s] nature and character, so that it will take root,
and then [the person is] convinced, like the angels, and can be elevated into conviction
by the Lord. For all states of conviction belong to the
Lord.” All states of positive conviction. All that means is, you make a new year’s resolution
in the moment, of course I’m going to do this. It makes so much sense for my life. Why wouldn’t I do something like this? Then you get busy or you get tired or you
get bored and yeah… I don’t want to do this any more. So to make a conviction stick we have to
commit to it when things are going well, when things are not going well, in all these different
states of mind. And the conviction will be something really,
like, I want to do what’s best for the world. I want to do something that’s good. That would be a true conviction, something
spiritual, something higher. If we do that, God can work into us and give
us this power and this new spiritual neighborhood, that will change things. So let’s take a look at what we’ve learned
today in our wrap-up segment. We’ve been looking here, investigating the
possibility that all instances of us craving and preferring things could have spiritual
influence tied up in them. Swedenborg certainly seemed to indicate that
there was this interplay happening all the time. So the dark side of this spiritual instigation
and reinforcement part of what explains “why addiction?” IS that what explains why addiction is so predatory
and persistent, and acts so forcefully against our best interests? Is that reinforcement making it hard to break
out? But most importantly, is the knowledge of the
spiritual side of things a key that can help free us—a way to overthrow unwanted spiritual
interference in our lives, and we can replace that influence with positive convictions that
can really lead to us being free. Freedom is the goal. It’s the birthright of every human being. It’s something that we want to be able to
have in ourselves, to be free and rational, and learn how we can support other people
in being as free and rational as they can be. And hopefully, we use that freedom to lead
us to these convictions to do good things and that has spiritual strength in it. That makes it harder and harder for the dark
side of things to influence us. It makes us stronger, and the stronger we
are, the more we can help other people, and the stronger other people are, the more they
can help us when we need it. That’s the point. We’re all trying to figure out how to maximize
the ways in how we help each other, and spend our lives doing the things that we really
want to be doing rather than the things that some, you know, questionable spiritual influences
want us to do that’s not really in our best interests. So there you go. So much for hanging out. If you want to do something that’s really
in your best interest, like and subscribe, to use your freedom and rationality. This supports the channel. This is important to YouTube. I mean, this matters. It helps us keep going. And if you want to be a part of the engine
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with a donation. Give if you can, receive if you need. If we cycle through this way, in the end,
everybody wins. We’ve got a lot of questions. We’ll try to get to as many as we can, so,
I’m not going to even say anything clever, we’re just going to start. Here’s the first one. Tara: “Can you pray or do anything for another
who has addictions to lift them up?” Yeah, that’s a great question. Because if you’re trying to support somebody,
it can be really hard. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It can be really hard to feel like there’s
anything for you to do. You can always pray. And Swedenborg seems to indicate that it can
have an effect, and it can have a more potent affect potentially on us. You know, I would say the best shot is, pray
for them, I mean that is just an outreach of empathy toward them, so there’s no way
that that’s a negative thing. But also in that prayer, you may find that
you get some insight into how you can help. You know? Or insight into how to handle it emotionally. That in the act of praying, according to Swedenborg,
we are admitting the existence of God and admitting that we don’t have all the answers,
and that’s powerful once we enter a state of humility like that, that’s the fertile
soil for angelic concepts to grow. So you may get an inspiration of how we can
help or a way to deal with it or some kind of wisdom, so I would say, you certainly can,
and I don’t know that it’s going to be able to fix it for them, but I don’t think anybody
thinks that’s how it’s going to go. But I think everything where you have a good
intention, do it. And how do I know? You know, I don’t know everything about it,
so, I’d say do it. You don’t want to do that exclusively. You also want to also maximize everything
you can to try to help in the way that you know how, but add that on top, and that’s
great. So those are a few thoughts. It’s a great question. Let’s look at the next one. David: “Jerry stated that one of his patients
was ‘harassed by dead alcoholics’. Does that mean that when we die, we take our
addictions with us?” We take everything with us when we die. But we also have the opportunity to be divested
of everything as well. Swedenborg doesn’t get into much how you end
up retaining things like that. There’s a process that everybody goes through,
according to Swedenborg, where initially you you enter the “world of spirits.” This is where you either shed everything that’s
good about you or you shed everything that’s bad about you, depending on which one you
want, and depending on which things really made up your core. It could be that these spirits he’s talking
about, that still had these addictions, were in the introductory process, like they hadn’t
yet shed things and got it sorted out, or it could be that they had chosen negativity. I think that if you are choosing something
positive, you’re able to kick everything, because the physical is gone and then it’s
just false concepts leading you in that direction. So if you’re open to instruction, I don’t
think that would be a problem. I don’t think that you really have to spend
a lot of time kicking something that was physical as long as you acknowledge that you don’t
want it. There’s this freedom thing that makes it so
that nobody can force you in a direction if you don’t want to go. Just like in this world when people want to
receive treatment, they’ve got to agree to it. They’ve got to know they are doing it. So I would think that if we’re willing to
receive help, if you think about the programs we have here to help people out of addictions,
they’ve probably got much better ones there. And I don’t know exactly how much, because
obviously the body is affected by addiction and the brain, so when you shed that brain,
how much of that is still in your spiritual brain. Those are things that I don’t know. Like I said, Swedenborg doesn’t describe it
much, and he doesn’t reference the concept of addiction, so we’re connecting some dots
here, and it’s a great question. I wouldn’t worry too much, like, oh I drink
coffee, I smoke cigarettes here. Am I going to be able to kick that? I think that probably it’s only a problem
if you’re making it your… if you’re not open to change. Like you don’t want to change. So those are a couple of scattered thoughts
on it. It’s a great question. I said that about both of them, but it was
true about both of them. All right, let’s look at the next one. Terry: “Why would the spirits of dead humans
be given the right to torture others and not have to suffer for their own lives on earth
before they died?” So the torture… there’s no such thing as
torture that’s just torture. Swedenborg says nothing bad ever happens,
nothing that causes suffering ever happens unless it in the end leads to good. So anybody who is having these negative things
affect them in life, somehow in the end good is coming from it, whether it’s that we need
to see what kind of negative tendencies we go along with so that we can have a chance
to push them out and push back and by that free ourselves from evils. That’s one potential. Or whether we develop this really clear understanding
of the difference between good and evil. You know? And you have people who have previously been
in a condiciton are often the best advocates to get other people out, because they really
understand the condition. They’re not just talking theoretically. So maybe somebody is pulling this positive
thing out of them. So it’s not like people are just victims and
nothing’s coming out of it. Providence is guiding all of that. I would say that nobody is just harming people
and living a happy carefree life. Swedenborg says that evil carries with it its
own punishment. So anybody who is making suffering the business
of their life, they bring that suffering on themself. It’s not like that’s a good life path for
anybody, that if you get to the point where your life is about making suffering for others,
your life is worse than theirs. And Swedenborg talks all about how unpleasant
a hellish life is, because you’re just bringing all this stuff on yourself as you do it to
people. So I wouldn’t say it’s like, oh yeah, I just
get away with things all the time. There are only permissions when things are
useful and everything is just. There is this… there are these checks and
balances. And even for the people, though, who are receiving
the retribution of evil in the other life, even then it’s only when good can come out
of it. It’s only because it acts as a deterrent. It’s not a revenge thing. It’s like, the only way we can get you to
stop harming people is for you to feel some of the effects of that harm, and that will
actually save you, because otherwise you would immerse yourself deeper and deeper into this. I hope that makes sense. Those are my thoughts on it. Again, good question. What are the odds? Okay, let’s do two more. Selenaanis: “What do you do if you think you
have latched on to something that was not the best God had for you?” Oh, that’s a great question. What do you do if it’s already there, and
it’s already in your mind. I don’t know. My first thought is, the more we can actually
believe in the idea of an outside, higher intelligence, the better. And the more that we… in whatever way is
the best or the most comfortable way for you to communicate with it, like to at least acknowledge
its presence, say “I need help”, even if you’re not getting, necessarily, a response
back, the more that you can acknowledge “You’re…” you know, you’re talking to God in whatever
language you want, “You’re running my life. I’m not running my life. What do You want?” And the more we can practice that in little
ways, the more God can get in there. You see the divine providence is always trying
to steer us towards what’s truly good, so the more that we can let go of things and
try to ride as loosely as we can, if we’ve really latched onto something, it’s probably
a difficult process, because we’ve got this spiritual reinforcement, the brain is wiring
itself in certain ways, but I bet that over time you can. And, you know, the earlier question about
prayer, this is a great time for that. The more that we can get humble and looking
for answers, the less rigidity, the more I think you could potentially undo some of this,
or find out what’s your new trajectory. And just have the confidence that everything
is providence. No matter where you are, God was anticipating
this and can get you more and more back on the right track. So going in with that knowledge, filling your
mind with positive things and… this is a more practical one, but, talk to other people. Have conversations with people. Tell them what you’re going through. Because when you’re in your own mind, that’s
when you can really get fixated on things. But when you get other people’s perspectives,
I’ve found that helps me relax and see things with better perspective from them. Thanks. Great question. Let’s do one more. Harlan: “How do you distinguish between ‘real’
spirits influencing your thoughts and those effects of mental illness where people hear
voices, etc.?” Swedenborg wouldn’t make as clear a distinction. Because as we’re showing here, it’s all connected. He likens mental and emotional phenomena to
the stuff that comes to our senses. Meaning, everything that I’m seeing and hearing
right now I know is not originating in me. It is coming in through my physical senses. He says that the stuff we’re feeling and thinking
is similarly being affected all the time from the spiritual world. So people that are hearing voices, that is
most likely actually a spiritual influence rather than just the brain originating something. That’s the Swedenborgian take on it as far
as I can tell. The brain matters, but it’s not as much a
generator as it is a communicator. And there certainly are our own memory and
our own personality that we draw on, but everything is in community. There’s sort of this communal subconscious,
and so there’s nothing that is happening apart from that, that is us just merely us without a spiritual
influence on it. Does that make sense? Okay, cool. The one I answered the most ambiguously will
be the last one. So I would say, he would say, the voices are
the voices of spirits. I think that’s what Swedenborg would say. I didn’t get to ask him specifically about
what are now called hallucinations, but I think that he would say that this is the spiritual
world coming through rather than a figment of our… that there is not the isolated imagination
like you would think. How would I know? That’s just what I’m pulling right now and
that’s what I would get from my study of Swedenborg and these other sources. These are the biggest questions about the
mind, right? Thank you for letting me ask them with you. We want you back next week, and speaking of
questions, we’re going to do a 10 Questions show next week, which means we just take questions
from the audience, take our time, research them, give answers. So, better answers than I just gave here. Hope you can join us for that show, and thanks
everybody for hanging out.