AN OUTLINE OF A HOLOGRAPHIC PSYCHOLOGY - PART III
Tuesday, July 7, 1984
Location - FNCA 1984
Again, I'd like to review briefly before proceeding. I'm suggesting that we regard
ourselves as having both particle properties and wave properties, and I'm paying almost
exclusive attention to our wave properties because they seem to be neglected, look
promising, and offer some fresh understandings of familiar descriptions in our theology.
In regard to wave properties, then, each of us is primarily a field of intersection of
direct and indirect inflows from the Lord, defined essentially by our location in the
overall field, and with boundaries varying with our consciousness. As in the holographic
model, this makes each of us an image of the whole. We're familiar with the statement that
we have been created in the image and likeness of God; to that I'd add the following
statement from the Arcana (n. 6057). "Before we say anything about the inflow and working
of the soul into the body, it must be clearly recognized that the inner person is formed
in the image of heaven and the outer in the image of the world, even to the point that the
inner person is a heaven in miniature and the outer a world in miniature-- a microcosm."
Or I might cite a more familiar one-- "They are accepted into heaven who accept heaven
into themselves in this world (H.H. 420)."
This morning I'd like to deal with the implications of this for our spiritual well-being.
This has a lot to do with our physical well-being, I'm sure, but I'm not prepared to go
into that in any detail. What I will be dealing with is definitions of good and evil, and
we'll be sort of bouncing back and forth between the two.
Evil is charateristic of our level of existence, not of the Lord's. In the holographic
model, then, evil has something to do with our participation in the pattern rather than
with the essential pattern itself. You'll recall (now that I remind you) that in this
model, consciousness plays a very significant role. It's consciousness that gathers us as
distinguishable entities, that draws our boundaries. What we call "ours" is of critical
importance to us.
The doctrinal material on this theme is to be found mainly under the headings of
"proprium" (or "Own") and "appropriate" (meaning to claim as one's own), with additional
information under the words "confirm" and "impute." For me, the most succinct statement of
principle on this is found in Heaven and Hell (n. 302).
If only people believed the way things really are-- that everything good is from the Lord
and everything evil from hell-- then they would not make the good within them a matter of
merit, nor would evil be charged to them. For in this case they would focus on the Lord is
everything good they thought and did, and everything evil that flowed in they would throw
back into the hell it came from. But since people do not believe in any inflow from heaven
and from hell, and therefore think that everything they think and do is inside themselves
and therefore from themselves, they therefore claim evil as their own, and pollute the
inflowing good with a sense of merit.
I've been impressed with this statement for quite a few years. I now see it as a prime
example of the difference between the mechanical model of self-contained units and the
wave model of intersecting inflows. There would seem to be little question as to the
liabilities of the former and the assets of the latter.
It does raise a question, though, which we can ask in two ways. The doctrinal way would be
to ask what then is meant by a "heavenly proprium." In the holographic model, this would
mean asking what we do about our need of boundaries. The simplest doctrinal answer is that
a heavenly proprium is the acceptance of our angelic nature as God-given. The holographic
answer sounds different, but isn't really. It is that we can have boundaries without
making them absolute, that we can realize that they are lines drawn for our convenience in
an essentially seamless totality. I can say that this thought or feeling is "mine" meaning
that it is in my consciousness at the present time. This does not assume that it is only
mine, or that I am no more than my present consciousness. It just says that it is within
the boundary my consciousness is drawing at the present time.
Now, a peculiar thing happens when I manage to do this. The best way I can describe it is
to say that my sense of responsibility for this thought or feeling becomes much more
natural and acceptable, much less like something unwelcome imposed from the outside. In
fact, it happened while I was working on one of these lectures that Dave dropped in, and
said that he wished he were as disciplined as I and were working on his lectures. I didn't
feel "disciplined" at all. I was working hard, with a strong sense of responsiblity for
what I was writing, and I was having a blast doing it. It seemed like a wholly natural
thing to be doing, not like something the schedule said I had to do.
In other words, my own experience is that this "letting go" of claiming reponsibility for
my thoughts and feelings tends to make it easier for me to be responsible. I'm sure those
of you who know me well will hope that if this is true, I'll let go as fast and as
completely as I can.
In looking through the Table of Contents of Divine Providence for one particular statement
on this general principle, I ran across a dozen or more. I hadn't realized how pervasive a
theme this "letting go" is in that particular work. The one I was looking for was this (n.
42): "The more closely we are united to the Lord, the more clearly we seem to be our own,
and the more obvious it is to us that we are the Lord's." But the whole section from
paragraphs 191 to 213 is about the fact that our prudence is really nothing but ought to
appear so. The whole section from paragraphs 308 to 321 is about the fact that providence
never attributes either good or evil to us, but that our own prudence does. And the
introductory chapter, comprising paragraphs one through twenty-six, presents the essence
of divine providence as the intent to make all things one.
But perhaps the central notion to all of this discussion of boundaries is simply that
marvelous little phrase that keeps cropping up, "distinguishably one." It suggests that
there are two primary forms of evil: one is denying the distinguishability, and the other
is denying the oneness. To deny the distinguishability is to deny all values, to say that
nothing makes any difference. To deny the oneness is to absolutize the boundaries. The
paradox is that as we become aware of the oneness and only as we become aware of the
oneness, the boundaries really begin to become clear.
This relates also to another favorite passage that I mentioned a couple of years ago.
This time, though, I'd like to quote it at greater length, for reasons which I think
you'll realize by the time we reach the end of it. It's from the Arcana (n. 3207.3-4), and
reads about as follows.
It needs to be realized that no truths are ever pure with any mortal or even with any
angel-- pure meaning free from appearances. Each and every one is an appearance of truth,
but still they are accepted by the Lord as true if there is something good within them.
Pure truths belong to the Lord alone because they are divine; the Lord is in fact the good
itself and therefore the true itself. . . .
We can determine what appearances are from what we find in the Word, where things are said
according to appearances. But there are different degrees of appearances. Natural
appearances of truth are mostly illusions, but when they occur in people who are involved
in something good, they they are not called illusions but appearances and even in some
sense truths. The good that is in them, which contains the divine, gives them a different
essence. Rational appearances of truth, on the other hand, are more and more inward. The
heavens are in these appearances-- that is, the angels who are in the heavens-- as
described in n. 2576.
To give you some idea of appearances of truth, the following may serve as examples. i.
People believe that they are re-formed and regenerated by means of the truth of faith, but
this is an appearance. They are re-formed and regenerated through the good of faith, that
is, through an active caring [charitatem] about the neighbor and a love for the Lord. ii.
People believe that the true allows us to perceive what is good because it teaches, but
this is an appearance. It is the good that allows the true to perceive, for the good is
the soul or life of the true. iii. People believe that the true introduces them to the
good when they live in accord with what the truth teaches; but it is the good that flows
into the true and introduces it to itself. iv. It seems to people as though the true
completed the good, when instead the good completes the true. v. It seems to people as
though the good [works] of life were the fruits of faith, but they are the fruits of
charity. We can realize from these few instances what appearances of truth are: things
like this are innumerable.
Here are most of our tried and true maxims about the necessity of truth leading, all
labelled "appearances." This means they can function as truth as long as there is good in
them-- as long as they are used lovingly. But the moment we absolutize them, the moment we
regard them as absolute truths rather than appearances of truth, we falsify them. They
become then illusions, and block our progress to higher appearances. This is perhaps the
prime weakness of mechanical models. They depend on clear and constant boundaries, on
This is quite clearly stated in D.L.W. (n. 108). "All the misconceptions that are
prevalent among evil people and among simple folk originate in confirmed appearances. As
long as appearances remain simply appearances, they are apparent truths, and it is all
right for anyone to think and talk in terms of them. But once they are accepted as actual
truths (which happens when they are confirmed), then these apparent truths become
falsities and misconceptions." There's a very nice related image in A.C. (n. 7298.2). " .
. . no one should be instantly persuaded about the truth-- that is, the truth should not
be instantly so confirmed that there is no doubt left. The reason is that truth inculcated
in this way is "second-hand" truth [verum persuasivum]; it has no stretch and no give. In
the other life, this kind of truth is portrayed as hard, impervious to the good that would
make it applicable." Attending to our wave properties offers the opportunity to encounter
"soft truth," truth with stretch and give, truth permeable by the good that makes it
The absolutizing of boundaries is essentially a denying of the oneness that underlies the
appearance of separateness. It is taking the "one" out of the "distinguishably one." A
physicist named David Bohm has written a book called Wholeness and the Implicate Order, in
which he explores some of the philosophical implications of holographic theory. The
"implicate order," whose reality is fundamental to quantum theory, is the holographic
arrangement, in which everything is simultaneously present everywhere.
Now for us, that which is simultaneously present everywhere is the divine. It is
everything Bohm says it is, and more, because the "everything" must surely include the
personal (as he suggests but does not state). Swedenborg is saying something very much
along these lines when he says that God is divine order itself. God is the pattern of
omnipresence. I mention this primarily because if this is so, then taking the "one" out of
the "distinguishably one" is essentially taking the Lord out, for as D.L.W. (n. 44)
states, "Divine love and divine wisdom are intrinsic substance and form, and are therefore
the authentic and the only."
There is, I think, another way we can visualize evil in the holographic model. It is quite
simply mistaking our center-- operating from some place remote from it, and not
recognizing that fact. If we visualize ourselves schematically in the simultaneous
arrangement of our discrete degrees, our absolute center is that inmost of which we are
never conscious. As we move out from that center, we come to successively more external
levels of reality. When we are operating from a strictly natural, or "natural-natural"
consciousness, we have a very confusing and oblique view of what is going on, because the
basic pattern makes most sense when it is viewed from the center.
This seems to me to be what happens to people in the hells. They are operating from the
lower or outer levels of their spiritual being, and denying the existence of any other
center. Yet our theology is quite clear in its assertion that the Lord's life is flowing
into them through their inmost, which has been kept unharmed and always will be.
In the remaining time, I want to focus more directly on ways we can understand spiritual
health. The holographic model suggests that health is more than having all the parts in
working order. In the holographic model, there is no room for the concept of "parts" other
than as possibly convenient smaller versions of the whole. Health is rather perception of
and willing participation in the overall pattern, which reminds me of one of Swedenborg's
rules of life-- "To be content under the dispensations of providence." Health is
permeability. It requires "soft truth," truth with stretch and give. "Perception of and
willing participation in the overall pattern" takes on special meaning, too, if we realize
that the Lord is that overall pattern.
In more familiar doctrinal terms, which I find closely related to this same image,
spiritual health requires our acceptance of our actual status as constant recipients, as
originators of nothing. It requires that love which is defined in D.L.W. (n. 47) as
follows: "Love consists of this-- that what is ours is others', and that we feel their joy
as joy in ourselves." I'd ask you to reflect on how hard this is as long as we think in
mechanical models, and how very simple, in fact how inevitable, it is given the reality of
our wave properties. Thoughts and affections are constantly rippling out from me and from
you. My actual perception is always an intersection of waves from the inside with waves
from the outside. I cannot be "good" without being permeable.
Intrinsically, I am permeable. Part of the problem is that, as we have already seen, the
lower levels of consciousness are so viscous, so slow to respond, that absorption in them
creates the illusion that I am clearly marked off from the rest of reality, that I have
fixed and impermeable boundaries. This leads me to call "mine" anything I think or feel
within myself. But as I become aware that everything is flowing in, either directly or
indirectly, and that my thoughts and feelings are not happening only within the boundaries
of my present consciousness, then there begins to be some sense of participation in the
In one delightful essay among many in The Lives of a Cell, Lewis Thomas speculates on the
impossible idea of attaching radioactive isotopes to ideas, and suggests that if we could,
we would begin to see patterns whose existence we hardly suspect, global patterns of human
thought. As a biologist, he has noted that there seems to be something like a communal
intelligence among some creatures, and cites termites as an example. It is physically
possible for a single termite to build an arch, but a single termite will just move grains
of sand at random. If it is joined by a few others, there will be the beginnings of some
pattern of activity-- maybe they'll make a little pile of sand. But as the group grows, so
does its apparent intelligence, until it reaches a critical size and starts constructing
the arches that make up a nest.
Thomas suspects on biological grounds that there's a lot of this going around, even, and
perhaps especially, on the human level. His image of an overall pattern of human thought
is in many ways very close to Swedenborg's descriptions of spiritual geography, where
likeness in affection and therefore in thought brings proximity, where the arrangements of
people and things are indicative of what we might loosely term mental kinship or likeness.
The visible patterns are meaningful. This is again very strange and difficult to take
seriously as long as we restrict ourselves to mechanical images, but makes all kinds of
sense in the holographic model. After all, what happens when we die is not really that we
move to the community where we belong, but that we gradually become conscious closer and
closer to our own chosen center, and find out where we actually are in the overall design.
Well, I have to quit, and I feel as though I've just begun to scratch the surface. I feel
a little bit, in fact, like a single termite, with a dim awareness that there's something
here to be built, something that will take a real confluence of hearts and minds. What
impresses me most about the holographic model is the way things jump out of the writings
with new meaning, the way it undercuts ego-concerns and the defensiveness I associate with
"turf-mentality" in general. It fosters health by encouraging a willing acceptance of the
way things profoundly are.
I'll be presenting some of this to the Eastern Regional Meeting of the Association for
Transpersonal Psychology in the late fall; I'll be exploring it with students and faculty
at the School, and I'm trying to get the main points clear enough to be publishable. It's
my unbidden expectation that models from the new physics will inevitably influence our
self-understanding, just as models from Newtonian physics have. It looks like an influence
congenial to our theology, and I'd like us to participate in it.