The Body

The Body is not the person. The mind is the person. By and large, the world around us is profoundly ignorant of that fact. What is the usual reply when you ask people, “how are you today?” You are often treated a recital of their aches and pains or their current disease. That is perfectly understandable, because people do tend to think of the body as the person. Shape and appearance are often among what first come to mind when a person is named. That is especially the case with little children. They experience what is probably their first great shock when they realize that a beutiful looking person does not necessarily have a character to match. Young people also, when they are searching for their future married partner, tent to think that physical appearance is the most valuble attribute. Subconsciously, they are equating the body with the person. But, doctrine, experience, and common sense unite to tell us that this is not necessarily so. We all know on reflection that we are to judge people by the quality of their minds.

Swedenborg writes that the doctrine of resurrection of the physical body following the Last Judgment was actually the result of confusing the body with the pserson. In truth, he tells us, human beings are resurected in the spirit–in the world of spirits, which, as discussed in the previous chapter, is where we awaken after our physical bodies cease to function. Only the Lord was resurrected in his physical body.

The body includes the brain, so the brain is not the person either, despite the fact that we speak of “brainy” people, as if their intellectual superiority was entirely due to their brains alone, as if the brain (made of physical matter) and the mind (made of spiritual substance) were identical.

That overemphasis on the physical seems to prevail in materialistic philosophies such as logical positivism, whose adherents propound the theory that the mind is not a thing at all. It is simply a word, they say, a word used to describe the functioning of the brain. The mind is therefore said to be a mere abstraction, while the brain is favored as something tangible and perceptible. Those who think in this way are what Swedenborg calls sensuous people, because they believe only what they can see with their eyes and feel with their hands (Secrest of Heaven, Sections 5093, 7693)

from The Hidden Levels of the Mind, Swedenborg’s Theory of Consciousness by Douglas Taylor

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