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If a javelin thrower or a musketeer were to aim at a target and a straight line were drawn from the target a thousand feet beyond it; and if he should err in his aim by only a nail’s breadth, his weapon or bullet, at a distance of a thousand feet, would diverge very far from the line drawn beyond the mark. So would it be if the Lord did not every moment, even every least fraction of a moment, regard eternity in foreseeing and providing everyone’s place after death. However, the Lord does this because all the future is present to Him and all the present is to Him eternal. Divine Providence n.333

There is the perception of what is good and true in things that are celestial and spiritual; there is the perception of what is just and fair in public life; and there is the perception of what is honorable in private life. As regards the perception of what is good and true in celestial and spiritual things, this is the perception which….celestial people possess, who are moved by love to the Lord. These people know in an instant from a certain inner awareness whether a thing is good and whether it is true, for the Lord instills it into them because they are joined by love to Him….As regards the perception of what is just and fair in public life, those in the world who are rational possess this, together with the perception of what is honorable in private life. Arcana Celestia n.2831

“Ya see...”

According to the Word, there is a distinction between prediction and perception. Prediction is foresight, seeing future events in the present. Perception, on the other hand, is being so present you can have assurance about the future.

I don’t know how many times I have made predictions, thinking I was being so perceptive. In helping people I have occasionally made suggestions. There have been many times that I said, “If you do A, then B will happen” as if I was in control of the outcome of their behavior! That certainly works in physics, but not in the realm of human nature.

The times I have perceived something, I was not led to announce to someone what he or she ought to do! Rather I was led to see something about them (or me!) that led me to do something for them! My concern was not for what happened next, WHAT they would then do. Rather it was that my love for them - in their present condition - was FELT.

Perhaps this is a subtle distinction between prediction and perception. Certain behaviors inevitably lead to certain results. We can say we can predict them. And you may have a perception about a certain situation that tells you something about how it will end. But there is a great difference between your attitude about what is going to happen and your perception about the state of current affairs.

When you predict the future, all the various paths you might take are, in your thinking, closed off to you (even though in reality they might be good paths to take). When you perceive something about your present and where you are heading - like the bad feeling of a guilty conscience - that will motivate you to action. You still take a specific path – if you change your behavior - but your attitude is one of the searching for the Lord’s will.

Predictions, which take the path of least resistance, are most often negative and loud. It takes less spiritual energy to negate something than to create something new. This is why it is easier to tear something down and to build it. Putting things into order is a slow process; shaking them into disorder is very fast, as shown by hurricane Katrina. Predictions are loud because in themselves they are weak. Internally, predictions are a lot of hot air. And, as we all have done, when we want our ideas to win, regardless of their merit, we shout them. Surely, therefore, you have found yourself yelling “Ya see, I told you so!!”

Predicting is easy. Perception is scary. You can make a prediction and walk away, as it were - even if it is your own life you are making the prediction about. When you perceive something about your life, you are immediately challenged to change. And, what is more, you challenge yourself within your own mind. This perception is the Holy Spirit reaching into your mind. The feelings you have are reawakened feelings for what was good planted in your mind by the Lord since your infancy.

Thus the Word encourages us to pursue a life that will prepare the soil of our minds for the planting of perception. “No one can see with perception what he does no know and believe. Thus no one can be granted an ability to see perceptively any good of love or truth of faith except through cognitions [concepts], which enable him to know what good and truth is and the nature of it.” (Arcana Celestia n.1802) I can make predictions without any understanding of the matter. However, an assurance that I am making the correct choice - a perception of good and truth - can be given only to the degree that I know and believe what I am considering. (And remember that belief involves loving and doing what is known).

While it is easy for me to pronounce, “Ya see, what I think is...” it is much more delightful, more deeply satisfying, and much more useful to those around me if I be quiet and allow the Lord to speak to me through the love for truth He has planted in my unconscious mind and through conscience. It is better to perceive that predict!  

Precursor February 2007