by Young Oon Kim
Living In Two Worlds
All religions teach that man is an inhabitant of two worlds. Besides the visible world open to our physical senses, there exists a spiritual realm. This non-terrestrial world can be felt and perceived, which means that it is as real and important as the realm of ordinary sensory experience. 51 As numerous objective studies have demonstrated, the existence of this spiritual dimension can be shown from parapsychological evidence, which seems to indicate a regular interaction between the physical and extrasensory worlds. For this reason Divine Principle compares their relationship to the polarity of mind and body. 52 If the mind is designed to direct and control the body, the spiritual world is supposed to use the physical world to achieve its higher goals. As man cannot realize his full potentialities without uniting with God, the visible world cannot actualize its true value unless it forms a positive continuing relationship with the spirit world.
Unificationist teaching about the spirit world may seem like a strange departure from conventional Christian thought. For one thing, theologians ordinarily treat the doctrine of the destiny of the individual as part of eschatology. Unification theology by contrast makes faith in human immortality an essential feature of its doctrine of creation. We do not simply continue to exist after death. From the beginning and throughout our lives, we live in both worlds. Even when we are not aware of the fact, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Although they are discarnate spirits, they exist all around us, influencing and guiding our everyday affairs.
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology recognize this fact in their doctrine of the mystical communion of saints. Catholics assert that there is constant communication between the physical world and the spirit world. Consequently, they emphasize the importance of the departed saints' intercessory prayers and their continuing concern for the spiritual health of this world. The whole elaborate cult of Mary (Mariolatry) is based on the belief that discarnate souls can and do take part in our lives. Catholics also teach that every human being has a guardian angel who assists one to avoid evil and to act righteously. So, for Catholicism, the concept of an immortal soul is not limited to the doctrine of last things (eschatology) but plays a decisive role in many aspects of theology.
Furthermore, Catholicism recognizes the existence and earthly influence of numerous evil spirits. Unlike most forms of modern Protestantism, Catholic theology has a carefully worked out demonology. Instead of dismissing the New Testament picture of a demon-infested world, the Catholic Church accepts the fact of demonic possession and has always trained exorcists to treat such cases. 53 Since the Gospels clearly teach that Jesus believed in the power of demonic forces and that exorcism was an important feature of his ministry, Catholics feel that the reality of evil spirits must be accepted as basic data for theological consideration.
But isn't belief in good and evil spirits unscientific? Must not modern Christians demythologize the outmoded world picture of the Gospels, as Bultmann maintains? William James, the Harvard psychologist and philosopher, had something very pertinent to say about those who claim that belief in psychic phenomena is unscientific. He pointed out that scientists often treat mystical phenomena with contemptuous disregard. Nevertheless, he added that the phenomena are there, lying broadcast over the surface of history. No matter where one opens its pages, he finds things like divinations, inspirations, demonical possession, apparitions, trances, ecstasies, miraculous healings, and occult powers. Why then are scientists so hostile to psychic phenomena? According to James, because these facts cannot be easily explained by a mechanistic and materialistic theory of science. And because such facts threaten to break up the accepted scientific world view. 54 Since James published his presidential address to the Society for Psychical Research back in 1896, the situation has somewhat improved. He later devoted his Gifford Lectures, entitled The Varieties of Religious Experience, to a consideration of mystical phenomena; and the Oxford zoologist Sir Alister Hardy returned to the theme of parapsychological experiences in his Gifford Lectures about a half century later. 55 Both scholars claimed that psychic phenomena are important in the development of a convincing natural theology.
By contrast to Catholic acceptance of the idea of a continual relationship between heaven and earth, Protestant conservatives are apt to separate the two realms. According to Fundamentalists, to explore the evidence for psychic phenomena is to dabble in a forbidden region labeled the occult. This attitude is rather peculiar, since the Bible is saturated with parapsychological experiences. How can one ignore the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, the prophetic dreams of Joseph and Daniel, the exorcisms of Jesus and the Pentecostal gift of speaking in strange tongues? Every Biblical prophet claims to have received supernatural messages. Both the Old and New Testaments report incidents involving angelic visitors, implying direct communication between this world and the beyond. If this sort of experience occurred in the past, have we any logical reason to believe similar happenings cannot take place today? By teaching that the physical and spiritual realms exist in polarity, Unification theology reaffirms the basic world view of the Scriptures. When Protestants radically divorce the two realms, they have departed from one of the basic presuppositions of the Biblical revelation. Talmudic and mystical Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam also believe in regular interaction between the natural and the spiritual which suggests that this is a normal corollary of religious experience.
If man possessesmodernlti-dimensional personality, why do so many today deny the existence of the spirit world? The main reason is that in recent centuries we have been taught to be physically oriented. In protest against the excessive otherworldliness of the Middle Ages, lti-dimensional personality, why do so many today deny the existence of the spirit world? The main reason is that in recent centuries we have been taught to be physically oriented. In protest against the excessive otherworldliness of the Middle Ages, modern men have concentrated upon achieving happiness here and now. Hence, since the Enlightenment, philosophers and scientists have often advocated a more or less materialistic world view. Let us admit the positive advantages to such an approach. By concentrating upon this world, men have made great discoveries in the physical sciences and promoted social reforms.
On the other hand, human consciousness gets restricted to awareness of the body and its needs. In spite of the fact that other realities exist all around us, we ignore their existence and blot out all stimuli coming from them. It is as if we have shut our eyes in order to hear better. We do hear better, it is true, when we are not distracted by visual sensations: but we cut ourselves off from a very vital aspect of our world.
Consequently, since World War II there has been a great revival of interest in spiritual experience and mystical phenomena. Large numbers of people now realize the value of opening up our inner senses and 56 extending our range of perception. This new quest for spirituality uncovers dimensions of reality previously known only by a few seers and psychics.
According to Unification theology, belief in the spirit world is reasonable because its existence can be logically deduced from the universal fact of polarity. Our material world requires a spiritual counterpart. As we have a mind as well as a body, there must exist an objective spiritual world paralleling the physical environment.
Psychics of all religions have recognized that the spirit world is not totally unlike our visible world. Even though the spirit world has its unique character, there is a fundamental resemblance between the life we live here and our experience hereafter. Swedenborg emphasized that the invisible world corresponds to the natural world. Our present vitality and creativity are continued in another dimension.
Psychics also agree that the afterlife provides a variety of environments suitable to different stages of spiritual development. For example, Dante's Divine Comedy reflects the experience of medieval Catholic mystics. Hell, purgatory and heaven contain various levels which reflect the types of life men have become accustomed to.
Thus there is not just one kind of afterlife for everyone. What one finds hereafter depends upon what one has made of himself here on earth. According to the Fourth Gospel, in the Father's house there are many mansions (Jn. 14:2 AV). This verse means, the Biblical scholars tell us, that heaven contains a number of regions or areas. The original Greek in this passage suggests that the afterlife has a series of hostels or dwelling places for the soul. After death, the individual spirit will find itself in its appropriate place. We will awake in the abode we have become accustomed to because of the primary love which has controlled our earthly life.
However, Divine Principle provides additional information about 57 the spirit world. Most importantly, it explains the purpose for spirit world's cooperation with men and spirit possession here on earth. For example, a child prodigy in some artistic field or scientific endeavor is gifted with help from a long-departed genius spirit. Beneficial spirits aid people to accelerate their work for God and in turn they can advance to a higher level through the persons they have helped.
By contrast, a revengeful spirit can possess someone, forcing him to commit acts of violence. Low spirits possess people to do destructive acts and give vent to their deep-seated frustration and bitterness. In this case, the human must strongly resist the evil impulse and overcome it. Otherwise, he cannot free himself from demonic influence or liberate the revengeful spirit.
Spirits are always attracted to persons of similar temperament and mission. There must exist some reciprocal base, either conscious or subconscious. Furthermore, an unusual proliferation of psychic activity takes place during a major spiritual transition period in history. Hence, one can see how closely related the two worlds are and that no one escapes their influence.
In the twentieth century, major changes have taken place in our scientific world view which make it easier to believe in the reality of the spirit world. Since Isaac Newton, scientists had thought of the universe as a great machine governed by immutable mechanical laws. Man was said to be confined to a world of space and time which strictly limits him. Our nature was supposed to be rigidly determined by the interaction of heredity and environment. Our thoughts are caused by electrical waves in our brains and our emotions are regulated by the functioning of our glands. Such a "scientific" world view naturally had no place for the spirit world.
However, this materialistic interpretation of science is today widely questioned. The fact and influence of the spirit world now is quite plausible in the light of contemmoderny scientific notions. For one thing, our understanding of the nature of the material world has been drastically altered. Earlier scientists reduced matter to tiny, solid, indestructible blocks for everything which exists in our universe. By contrast, y scientific notions. For one thing, our understanding of the nature of the material world has been drastically altered. Earlier scientists reduced matter to tiny, solid, indestructible blocks for everything which exists in our universe. By contrast, modern scientists interpret the physical realm in te scientists interpret the physical realm in temodernf invisible patterns of energy. There is no longer a sharp distinction between the physical and the spiritual. In the second place, depth psychology, especially that of Jung, offers a new picture of man. We are not simply creatures of time and space, f invisible patterns of energy. There is no longer a sharp distinction between the physical and the spiritual. In the second place, depth psychology, especially that of Jung, offers a new picture of man. We are not simply creatures of time and space, modernd by heredity and environment. Besides being influenced by conscious thoughts and feelings, every individual is profoundly affected by a powerful subconscious realm revealed in dreams and described in the ancient mythologies. This non-physical world id by heredity and environment. Besides being influenced by conscious thoughts and feelings, every individual is profoundly affected by a powerful subconscious realm revealed in dreams and described in the ancient mythologies. This non-physical world imodernt of our environment and greatly affects our health and well-being. The subconscious is the spiritual realm for Jung. In the third place, for about a century scientific investigations of parapsychological phenomena have been carried out. As the carefut of our environment and greatly affects our health and well-being. The subconscious is the spiritual realm for Jung. In the third place, for about a century scientific investigations of parapsychological phenomena have been carried out. As the carefumoderndies of the British and American Societies for Psychical Research show, there does exist a psychic dimension verified by extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, trance mediumship, precognition and out-of-the-body experiences. Finally, anthropologists adies of the British and American Societies for Psychical Research show, there does exist a psychic dimension verified by extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, trance mediumship, precognition and out-of-the-body experiences. Finally, anthropologists amodernudents of comparative cultures have begun to interpret sympathetically the religions of so-called primitive peoples. They have become aware of the universal belief in supernatural powers which are in contact with man and influence his behavior. Thus, udents of comparative cultures have begun to interpret sympathetically the religions of so-called primitive peoples. They have become aware of the universal belief in supernatural powers which are in contact with man and influence his behavior. Thus, modern physics, psychiatry, parapsychology and cultural anthropology lend support to the Divine Principle notion that we live in two worlds.
Ponder what it means to be made in God's image. You and I are going to live forever. What does immortality signify? We are thinking animals and loving creatures. Those two faculties show our kinship to the eternal God. They make us part of the infinite spirit world. We will think and we will love forever.
Thus, our wisdom will continually grow and our love can be enriched more and more. This is what Swedenborg taught. There will be no sharp break between life here and life hereafter. What we start here continues in quality and expands infinitely. The ever living God creates each of us to have fellowship with Him forever.
So if this world is beautiful, the spirit world is even more beautiful. If this world is good, the world to come is even better. In our deepest moments we long to be more loving, wiser and more beautiful. The spirit world provides an opportunity to satisfy those aspirations. Therefore the other world is as dynamic, as vital and as challenging as this one.
51 Cf. A. Angoff and D. Barth, eds., Parapsychology and Anthropology (1974); B. Shapin and L. Coly, The Philosophy of Parapsychology (1977).
52 Divine Principle (1973), pp. 57-58.
53 Cf. M. Martin, Hostage to the Devil (1976).
54W. James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1956), pp. 300-302.
55 A. Hardy, The Living Stream (1965); The Divine Flame (1966).
56 Cf. the works of Morton T Kelsey, Episcopalian priest and religious educator at the University of Notre Dame: Encounter with God (1972); God, Dreams and Revelation (1974); The Christian and the Supernatural (1976).
57 Divine Principle (1973), pp. 172-176.
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