“There was one particular spirit who believed that he thought independently–that is, without any outreach beyond himself and therefore communication with the surrounding communities. So that he might learn that he was wrong, he was deprived of any communication with nearby communities. As a result, he not only lost the power of thinking but actually collapsed lifelessly, just flailing his arms like a newborn baby. In a little while the communication was restored, and bit-by-bit, as it was restored, he returned to his usual state of thinking. Some other spirits, who saw this, then admitted that all their thought and affection was flowing in according to this communication–and since this was true of all their thought and affection, it was true of their whole life as well, since all our life consists of our ability to think and to be affected, or in other words, to understand and intend.” (Heaven and Hell n.203)
What a powerful image! If we cannot communicate our love and our ideas, we will die! The reference to the baby is quite appropriate. It has been discovered that a newborn deprived of human touch will die! By that touch there is a communication of love necessary for the sustenance of both spiritual and physical life! When you touch someone, you communicate more than words ever could. When you touch someone, you communicate more deeply than is possible even by beautiful sounds.
Recently I experienced the powerful effect of the sound of drumming. Like many other techniques of meditation, one’s attention is raised to spiritual levels of the mind, in this case by the vibration and rhythm of the sound. The touch of the sound waves altered the state of my body and my mind! However, it wasn’t the touch of another human being. It was empty of content. (In this case, that was not the point of the drumming, even though drums are used communicate messages).
So we notice this key principle about spiritual life: there must be actual communication of our life, what we love and what we believe, for our spiritual life to survive and thrive. It behooves us to design our church program to apply this principle. So we must ask ourselves: What do we want to communicate to others, and how are we going to do it?
There is another principle described later in the passage quoted above. We are told that heaven is designed specifically to facilitate the communication of love and wisdom. “All the thought of our intellect and all the affection of our volition reach out round about us in heaven according to its form and communicate wonderfully with the communities there, and they in turn communicate with us.” (Ibid. n.203)
Surely you remember a time when your communication with another person was excellent. Your working together was a beautiful harmony, as you each contributed what was unique to you, in a way that was easy and flowing. Your gift was combined with the other person’s offering to create something new and beautiful. This happened because the two (or more) of you were committed to a certain outcome. You shared a particular desire for a specific goal.
And you likely have experienced poor communication in a relationship. As you look back on that circumstance, you may be able to identify the fact that your wishes, desires and/or ideas were at odds with those of the other person. In heaven we will share a certain love with those we are with, on some level. Communication will be based on shared goals and shared methods of achieving those goals. However, an angel from the “eastern” side of a community could not be able to work as well with an angel from the “western” side, or the “northern” side, as he could with an angel from his own community. We are told that “the wisest people are at the center [of a community], with the less wise around them all the way to the borders…[and] people who are engaged in the good of love live along the east-west axis and people who are engaged in truths that derive from the good along the south-north axis.” (Ibid. n.200)
The spiritual principle involved here has two applications. The first is to us as a group. To the degree that we share a goal, and are able and willing to contribute from our unique life to it, to that degree we will be joined as a community. We are beginning to explore how to apply this principle. Accordingly, our church will have an ongoing, organic development. We must design our church to allow that living, and so changing, relationship among us.
The second application is to our reaching out around us. We are to communicate what we love and believe so effectively that it will be felt and understood by those who with whom we are communicating. We can expect that a certain percentage of the people who we successfully communicate with will not develop a relationship with us. That is, we should not expect that successful communication would necessarily lead to a sharing of love. In fact, given the culture around us, both its materialism and its false religion, we will meet considerable resistance. We need to work together to design our congregation to be able to effectively communicate, and bolster ourselves for rejection.
At the same time, this principle of sharing leads us to continue to offer what we have for the benefit of others who need what we have, even if we do not develop a deeper relationship with them. So we need to design our church so that it can make a contribution to our community while preserving the integrity of our mission.
Precursor February 2006