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The Oxford Dictionary defines Vulnerability as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed.

It often means expressing the sides of yourself about which you have the least confidence or certainty.

The mention of vulnerability can make people shut down or roll their eyes. We find it easier to build walls to create a safe place rather than being open with nothing to hide. After all, no one wants to be hurt. And yet, being open and vulnerable is a heavenly trait. Another way of thinking about it is that Heaven is about transparency to what lies within. Hell is about concealing and hiding away. Listen for this principle in the following passage.

All spirits who arrive from the world are connected with some society in heaven or some society in hell, and yet only as regards their interiors; and so long as they are in exteriors their interiors are manifested to no one, for externals cover and conceal inter-nals, especially in the case of those who are in interior evil. But afterwards, when they come into the second state, their evils become manifest, because their interiors are then opened and their exteriors laid asleep.

Heaven and Hell n.497 – Emanuel Swedenborg

Heaven and Hell talks about awakening to life in the spiritual world after death. We know it describes an event called death that everyone living in the world will experience. Reread the passage with the idea that it deals primarily with states of mind and not events in time. What we are offered is at least two distinct levels of meaning to which the term ‘death’ can be applied. This is the distinctiveness that the New Church can offer the world. Vulnerability begins in distinguishing between the earthly life of our senses and the spiritual life of our mind.

The Mind is the Spiritual

The Lord’s Word describes principles that govern our mind’s life; when we use those principles to reflect and examine our mind, we enter into the spiritual world. The spiritual world is our minds. When we shift our focus to what is in our thoughts and feelings within us, then the Lord can do His work. He starts by breaking down the walls, our false self-image and the illusions we carry about life.

When our spiritual work uncovers a false idea or negative feeling, it’s not to make us feel guilty. The source of guilt is the effects of evil spirits on us. They don’t want their presence in us to be uncovered. They don’t want vulnerability. Spiritual work allows the Lord’s truths to shine into the life of our mind. What was hidden is now exposed; what was concealed is now transparent.

Through being vulnerable or transparent, we understand the hellish proprium (self-centred sense of self-life) and gain new insights into the nature of the Lord. Through our awareness of our own states and struggles, we are better equipped to love our neighbour because in understanding ourselves, we better understand the struggles of others.

Every moment is an opportunity to shift our earthly sense of things when we’re willing to be vulnerable with the Lord. We do this when we are not holding onto the past or having anxieties about the future but are conscious of the present and dealing with the here and now. We are then able to examine the quality of our thoughts and affections.

With self-awareness in the present moment, a shift in our response to life is possible. Here lies our freedom to choose. But if we dwell on the past or obsess about the future, we are not engaged in our spiritual work. We get stuck in natural things. When we are willing to be transparent in the light of the Word, the Lord exposes our state. We come to see our states as they are in the present. Only in this state of openness and vulnerability can we be set free and raised into heavenly states.

There is nothing covered up that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known. Whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light, and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:2, 3).

Luke 12:2,3 (NKJV)

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