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A Man of the Field

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    A Man of the Field

    Forming The New Church Mind In Today’s World

    Volume 1: Reformation

    The Struggle Against Nonduality

    Volume 2: Enlightenment

    The Spiritual Sense of the Writings

    Volume 3: Regeneration

    Spiritual Disciplines For Daily Life

    Volume 4: Uses

    The New Church Mind In Old Age

By Leon James

    October 2002

    (draft 17a)

Author information appears at the end. This document is in the process of being revised. Please

    note the draft version marked on top. To print this document, see Printing Note at the end.

    A ―field‖ means doctrine (AC 368)

    A "man" signifies faith and truth (AC 427; 4823)

    Volume 3

    Regeneration

    Spiritual Disciplines For Daily Life

    Chapter 3

    Additional Regeneration Disciplines

    Table of Contents

Access other Chapters and Volumes here: ...................................................................................... 2

    Chapter 3 .................................................................................................................................................... 3

    Additional Regeneration Disciplines .................................................................................................. 3

    1. Kitchen Disciplines ..................................................................................................... 3 2. Laundry And Housecleaning Disciplines .............................................................. 4 3. Daily Disciplines Of Studying The Writings ......................................................... 4 4. Monitoring What’s In My Mind .................................................................................. 4 5. Monitoring What’s On My Face ................................................................................ 5 6. Monitoring What Are My Eyes Doing ..................................................................... 8 7. Holding In Your Stomach......................................................................................... 10 8. Conjugial Grooming Rituals ................................................................................... 15 9. The Discipline Of Junk E-Mail ................................................................................ 16 10. How To Handle Junk Phone Calls ....................................................................... 18 11. The Spiritual Discipline Of Eating Half-Portions ............................................. 20 12. Arrival And Departure Rituals With The Wife ................................................... 22 13. The Spiritual Discipline Of Colon Cleansing .................................................... 24 14. Acknowledging The Lord’s Co-Presence ......................................................... 28 15. Talking To The Lord Is To Apply The Letter To The Letter .......................... 31 16. Rational Consciousness Of The Lord Now Conjoins .................................... 34 17. Rational Consciousness From Applying The Letter To The Letter ............ 35 18. So Far As The Lord Is Present, So Far He Speaks With The Man .............. 37 19. Cleanliness And Health Disciplines ................................................................... 40 20. Not Detachment, But Right Attachments .......................................................... 41 21. Self-worth, Self-esteem, Self-efficacy ................................................................ 43 22. Remains Are The Cornerstone of Self-worth ................................................... 44 23. Shunning The Rage-Depression Spin Cycle .................................................... 46

    End Notes and References .................................................................................................................. 47

    Access other Chapters and Volumes here:

     www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/nonduality.html

    Every spiritual truth in the Writings

    is a Divine Commandment

    Chapter 3

    Additional Regeneration Disciplines

    It is said in the Word, that everyone shall be judged according to his works; for

    the end, or the love of his will, and the cause, or the reason of his understanding,

    are together in the effects, which are the works of his body; thus the quality of the

    whole man is in them. (ISB 7)

    These are briefer treatments of additional spiritual disciplines for helping to form the New Church mind in ourselves. It will be easy for you think of new ones that suit you. If you’d like to share these anonymously, please email me at leon@hawaii.edu and I will

    include them in this list. It would be helpful if you added an explanation as to how you’re making it a religious discipline.

    1. Kitchen Disciplines

    Always do your work as if TV cameras are all around, recording everything for all to see. It’s an issue of ―truth in advertising‖ regarding the reputation you enjoy as someone who has respect for others. Do not touch their food with your hand, pretending you used a serving spoon. Do not give them a drink from a bottle you drink from. Etc. Volunteer to take over certain things on a permanent basis so that people depend on you for it. Examples:

    ; Washing all dishes after meals.

    ; Washing pots, utensils, counters, etc. while someone is cooking or afterwards.

    ; Preparing lunch bags for others. This includes shopping for the ingredients.

    ; Be responsible for maintaining and adding items to the weekly grocery shopping

    list.

    ; Go shopping with whoever does it for the family and help find and carry things.

    ; Volunteer to prepare meals and insist on cleaning up after yourself.

    ; Offer to mop the floor when needed (extend the offer to vacuum the carpets).

    ; Etc.

    After several years of the discipline of washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, I find amazing mistakes and ignorance about basic things in my willing and thinking. Recently Diane pointed out that I’m doing the last wipe of the pan with the sponge before putting it away. What about contamination by the sponge? I denied that the sponge is contaminated by bacteria since I squeeze it dry under running water with each dish. After seeing that I’m continuing to disagree, she fetched the hydrogen peroxide bottle and I poured some on the sponge, just like we had seen it done on TV. It bubbled and frothed! The truth of the evidence convicted me! I apologized to her with a kiss and she walked off no doubt in conjugial victory. Since that hour I use a paper towel

    for the final wipe off and wash the sponge itself at the end of each use. How could I be so blind as to assume that the sponge itself needs no cleaning?

    2. Laundry And Housecleaning Disciplines

Doing it

    Folding the clothes the way she wants it and while they are still warm Knowing where they go in the drawers

    3. Daily Disciplines Of Studying The Writings

    Our ability to cooperate in our regeneration requires that we study the Writings as often as possible. I believe that daily study is necessary. Find different way of doing this. For instance:

    ; Read the volumes systematically so that you get through each Work, one by one,

    from the first page to the last. Keep a marker so you can start each time from

    where you left off. The point is not how fast you can get through but whether you

    do it daily.

    ; Keep a note book or cumulative folder with your thoughts as you read, or when

    you’re done, or at any time you’re inspired by an idea. Mark it with a reference to

    the Number in the Work so you can go back to it when you want to.

    ; Consult your notes and make summary statements. Try representing the content

    in the form of lists, tables, and diagrams. Use your school literacy to do an

    effective job.

    ; Learn to use New Search, either on your computer, or on the Web. Spend time

    searching the Writings by subject or topic. Do it until you’re skilled. Try to enjoy it

    or else, act like you do. Use your skills to study and develop topics of interest.

    ; If you read articles and collateral works about the Writings, check the references

    to the passagesare thy really relevant and do they actually support the claims

    being made?

    ; Acquire audio books of the Writings (General Church Recording Library) and

    practice listening under appropriate conditions. I found that it’s excellent for

    listening during my physical workout, in waiting rooms, on airplanes, while driving,

    and especially when going to sleep.

    ; Enroll in group study and lessons about the Writings.

    4. Monitoring What’s In My Mind

    We do not know accurately what’s in our mind until we monitor ourselves by taking systematic samples through self-witnessing. Some cumulative record of these samples needs to be kept in some formnotepad, audio recorder, form sheets that list items you can circle, etc. These records should specify how many minutes you spend thinking and daydreaming about various subjects, and in what waye.g., with anger, with

    denigration, with compassion, with humor, etc.. Also, what are the topics you discuss with others. Also, how many minutes you spend watching TV and movies, and what type of content it has. Also, how much time you spend with your wife doing what specific activities and talking about what specific topics. Also, how many times certain events occur: a fight with her, a disagreement, having a good time together, how many you made her laugh, how many times you kissed her, or praised her, and the like.

    Obviously this is not an easy or insignificant task in terms of involvement and effort. One way to make it more manageable is to specialize in certain topics or activities depending on what seems to impede your progress in conjugial union. It may be helpful to share the data with your wife so that she can give you her advice.

    5. Monitoring What’s On My Face

    The Writings reveal that the face is a mirror of our thoughts, feelings, and mood. For example:

    The face, with the ancients, signified internal things, because internal things

    shine forth through the face; and in the most ancient times men were such that

    the face was in perfect accord with the internals, so that from a man's face

    everyone could see of what disposition or mind he was. They considered it a

    monstrous thing to show one thing by the face and think another. (AC 358)

    The ―disposition‖ of the mind in the celestial or regenerated individual projects itself by correspondence to the physical features of the body and face. While we are regenerating in the physical body we struggle to hold in aversion our inherited ―face‖ which denotes the evils and falsities in our unregenerated mind. It makes sense therefore that we watch our facial expressions so that we can become conscious of what our inherited evils are (CL 202).

    As I got older (I’m now 63) my face wants more and more to settle into a few caricatures of my uncles and cousins whom I haven’t seen for decades. My wife was the first to sound the alarm when she briefly met one of my uncles in his 50s and afterward began noting that my face made certain expressions that were almost identical to those of my uncle. As is normal for me to do, I dismissed her idea. Of course there is a resemblanceI noted that myself, but I rejected the notion that my expressions were a near copy to his. After all, I was modern, educated, enculturated, and he was still somewhat from the old country in his ideas and orientation. Nevertheless, as my wife

    kept up her conjugial anti-face campaign, I started looking at my face at other times than the morning shaving routine.

    1. Look at your face in the mirror. Completely relax it. This takes a little while. Tell yourself what our Yoga always says in rest pose: ―Let go of all muscles that create expression. Let your flesh fall off your bones.‖ Observe your face at rest. Monitor your reactions and thoughts. Repeat this exercise on different days for awhile. It will give you a baseline familiarity for your facial expressions.

    2. At different times of the day, look for opportunities to see your face. When you’re in the bathroom, or other place where there are mirrors arounddepartment stores,

    restaurants, restrooms. You can also carry a mirror, of course, though the size limits the view to a portion of the face. Doing this will allow you to get to know what your face is doing. Others see it clearly so we need to know what others can see. This is called objectivity on oneself.

    3. When you have occasion to look at your uncles and cousins monitor their facial expressions by being conscious of them rather than merely being reactive in sudden memory (see Chapter 8 Section 1).

    Get to know their expressions so that you’ll be able to recognize these expressions in your face. You can have a similar focus when you see photographs or videos of them. Explore the kind of emotions you experience as you recognize yourself in them and them in you. At first I was sort of proud and reassured. It gave me a belongingness, and upon occasion I might even feel some close connection and love for them. But this was followed by a feeling of embarrassment when I became educated and enculturated and was inspired by the feeling to put my origins behind me and to be the new modern man. I thought I had put them away from me, until my wife started telling me that my face was them.

    4. Search the Writings and talk to the Lord about your face. There may be a difficult conflict for you to overcome here on account of our inherent attachments to family and race. There is a nonduality to fight and get out of the way of regeneration. This is the corporeal idea expressed in popular logic as ―blood is not water.‖ Every institution in our society raises family loyalty to a virtue and patriotic duty. And this is indeed commendable. But in the New Church mind. more needs to be added to this picture.

    First, familial ties are for the most part not recognized in the afterlife (AC 3815[2]). Parents do not know their offspring and vice versa except at initial stages of arrival when we are still in the external natural memories of our life in the physical body. And this makes sense because everyone can know that their thoughts, opinions, feelings, emotions are often not like those of their parents and family. Hence conflict, disputes, and anger, which are quite common. Since our interiors are therefore different and even opposed to our family members we are not going to be with our families in the afterlife where only those who are interiorly similar can be present to teach other (HH 193).

    Second, the Writings reveal that the hereditary line is totally mixed so that we inherit and pass on innumerable evils that tie us to the hell societies in everything we do all day long (CL 202). From our families hereditarily we only have the infernal and the animal (AC 1438). Anything genuinely good must be acquired for ourselves by rebirth and regeneration. You might be vexed at this and naturally think in protest: ―But what about the good things I have from inheritance? Like my desire to be a perfectionist. My compassion for people in need. My loyalty to religion and patriotism. My muscular body build. Most of us in our family have these things.‖ Perhaps. But in any case we need to remind ourselves that whatever good we receive from any source is not from that source but from the Lord alone. Therefore we ought not to attribute spiritual value to what we inherit in the unregenerate natural mind.

    These two important points allow us to free ourselves from the bondage of the family face, to the extent that we take them to heart. This means monitoring when we are prejudiced on some issue and automatically favor our family or our race. We must systematically undo these harmful connections in our mind. They are harmful because they impede our regeneration. The target goal in our regeneration is to leave all that is in our mind from natural sources, and replace it with things from spiritual sources only. Then our external mind, still natural, will be in the Lords’ order and obedient to spiritual affections.

    When our mind reflects our spiritual affections, our face is no longer similar to our inherited family face. It is a new face to go with the reborn character. This new face is celestial and is similar to the faces of the angels in the heavenly society in which you live (AC 4797; HH 47).

    Remember that your face-control program is going to be successful to the extent that you let your wife give you feedback at any time she is moved to do so, and then only to the extent that you take her feedback to heart and do not dismiss it as exaggeration or imagination. This I have been guilty of for years.

    The face is an external vessel for representing the mind’s life and spiritual orientation. It stands to reason that building a new face for yourself ought to go together with building your reborn character. Further, as the face solidifies with age into family caricatures, the new spiritual affections we are trying to foster have nowhere to settle, and like Noah’s dove must return to the Ark unable to find dry land to settle on (Gen. 8:6-9). The solidified family face impedes our regeneration. Wives whose conjugial has been nurtured by the husband, sense and know all this about them. They know from the Writings that their husband in heaven is not going to look like her husband looks now: as he scowls at her, or tightens his lips in anger, or clamps down on his teeth tightening the cheek muscles, with eyes that are cold with self-determination, lips that purse in arrogance and derision. She knows this is not her celestial husband but a devil who has hijacked her husband and speaks to her through him. How tenderly she longs for the day when her husband begins to change his face and starts looking like he is truly hers, not his family’s. This is the Divine commandment that a husband leave his mother and

    father and cleave to his wife, that they might be one flesh to eternity. (AC 5354)

    Similar things as were said concerning the face need to be applied to the way we laugh, the way our voice sounds by which it is recognized by others, and the style of body activitygestures, posture, sitting position, and moving.

    6. Monitoring What Are My Eyes Doing

    Everyone knows the old adage that the eyes are the window to the soul. It is preserved in our linguistic socialization so every individual is cultured into that idea. In our unregenerate state we do not know what kind of a window this is. We imagine that it’s like partition between two places, one called the soul and the other called the eyes. We realize that eyes are out there in the open while soul is in there, hidden from observation. Yet somehow by looking at the eyes, we imagine, one can see into the soul. These are natural ways of thinking about it.

    But when we gain in understanding of the dualities in the Writings we realize that there must be a correspondential relation between the soul which is in the spiritual world and the eyes which are in the natural world. The eyes react by correspondence to what is going on in the soul. This is why we can say rationally that the eyes reveal to outside observation what type of willing and thinking is going on in the mind. Have you ever tried to look at someone in the eye and see what they are willing and thinking? My own observation has been that this approach yields almost no results. I cannot know what another is willing, intending, thinking, or reasoning no matter how much I stare in their eyes. The closest where I do have some success is babies and infants.

    So there must be another way of understanding the statement that the eyes are the windows to the soul. The solution lies in thinking about our own soul and our own eyes rather than another’s. Yes, our own willing and thinking is very obscure to us, we hardly know a very tiny fraction of one percent of it. This is not very much. For instance, if we think two thoughts per second, say, and are awake for sixteen hours, we’ve had about xx thoughts on that one day. How many of them do we know what they were? Very few. And fewer for yesterday, and how much the year before, and the decade before? You can see that we get to know a tiny fraction of one percent even when we have an introspective personality. So we must conclude that our willing and thinking is largely unknown to us. This is why it is referred to as the ―unconscious‖ or the ―subconscious‖ (xx).

    Now back to our eyes. It’s a feasible task to monitor our eye movements for brief periods. We can do this more easily than we can witness our willing and thinking. Now the old adage applies perfectly: monitoring what my eyes are doing reveal to me what

    I’m willing and thinking.

    I have found this to be an informative discipline in some specific situations. I have gained more specific knowledge of my unruly affections and imaginations. When I drive my eyes used to constantly rove around to pick up things of interestwhat other drivers

    are doing, what they look like, what expressions they have, what they are doing with their hands. When a car passes me I had to look to see who is doing this to me. When I passed a car that was moving slower than traffic, I had to look at the driver to see who is this person doing such an annoying thing. As I used to walk to my office from the parking lot, my eyes roamed around at will. Whatever I had an affection for, the eyes were obedient in delivering it to my attention and focus. Passers by: I would look at their body parts, their clothes, the condition of the clothes, the folds on the clothes, the shape of the fingers, the kind of shoes they woreeverything that I felt a delight in.

    In restaurants my eyes would focus and stare at how people put food in their mouth. It seems that I had an endless collection of affections that were satisfied through control of the eyes. My wife would have to remind me from time to time as we were sitting at table: ―Honey, you’re staring.‖ I was embarrassed, but only for a moment. Mostly I was

    fascinated by the difficulty I had in controlling my eye movements. I asked how she accomplished it and she answered that she had to train herself to accept the idea that it was rude and an invasion of privacy. ―Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.‖

    I’m still working on the problem, at age 63.

    When I was in my adolescence there was a song popularized by Dean Martin that had a refrain: ―Standing on the corner, watchin’ all the gals go bye‖ etc. This was a delightful

    idea to me. I used to pick dark sun glasses to wear so that I can willfully look at whatever I pleased without being detected. Instead of shame, I felt power. I was my own god. I was alone in my mind. I was the ruler in that domain. I did what I pleased. Then in my early forties I began to read the New Testament as a book of God. And I was amazed to read in there that what I did in my mind was no different from committing adultery with the body. Until then my colleagues in psychology encouraged their clients in adulterous fantasies which they claimed are beneficial for a healthier or zestier sex life for married partners who did not cheat on each other. But mental pornography and fantasy adultery was not considered cheating. But now, since the Lord commanded it, I knew I had to reform. And then I discovered how difficult it was to keep my eyes from being taken over by illicit affections.

    The mere conclusion in the mind, that adultery is not sin, renders a man an

    adulterer; - [shown] from those things which have been said on this subject in

    The Doctrine of Life. Every conclusion in the mind constitutes endeavor in the

    body, which is the essential act.

    I told adulterers, that, in heaven, there is perpetual potency; and they said, if they

    had known this in the world, they would never have committed whoredom, so

    that they might come into heaven. But I said, that, in heaven, it is permitted to

    love only the married partner, in hell to commit whoredom at pleasure; [and I

    asked] whether, in this case, they would wish to be in hell, or in heaven; but I was

    unable to extort a reply from them.

    (SE 6110)

    I continue my struggles by which I can corroborate the statement that my eyes are a window to my affections. I discovered thereby many disorderly and evil areas in my mind. Besides scortations, as mentioned above, I became aware how critical my thoughts are, moment by moment, as I’m in the company of others. For instance, as I sit in the doctor’s waiting room, my eyes detect something about somebody and my

    affections respond with criticism, ridicule, envy, superiority, arrogance, lack of compassion. The eyes are responding to the affections, and these come to my awareness through the thoughts they produce. Now I assess those thoughts and I find them disorderly in various ways, depending on the unregenerate affection.

    By keeping a record of your eye movements and the affections and thoughts that accompany them, you are creating a map which is the spiritual geography of your mental landscapes. Now you are armed to be effective in your regeneration disciplines.

    So far as anyone indulges in the lusts of the flesh. He is a beast and a wild

    animal; but so far as he takes delight in the desires of the spirit he is a human

    being and an angel (TCR 328)

    7. Holding In Your Stomach

    It may seem far fetched to discuss this familiar phrase as a spiritual discipline. But recall that EVERY natural event or act comes into existence by means of the spiritual event or act that corresponds to it. A stone cannot fall, an atom cannot whirl, an earthquake cannot happen without the spiritual cause within it, to which the natural event corresponds. Similarly, you could not raise your hand to the mouth, could not swallow or digest something, could not put on your pants, were it not for the spiritual event to which these little actions correspond. Think of this amazing scientific fact! Every movement of your tongue, eyes, and fingerswhich are active every second, are nothing but natural

    effects of a spiritual cause that is within them as cause is within the effect, or, as cause is prior to the effect, since what is prior in successive order is within in simultaneous order (xx).

So then, now consider, the familiar thought of ―holding in my stomach.‖ The act of

    holding in the stomach requires a spiritual cause. For instance, when I was in my college student years in my early 20s the self-regulatory thought of ―hold in your

    stomach‖ was motivated by corporeal vanity. I saw in my mind images of body-building

    models from magazines and movies. I was too naive to realize the role of editing in movies and photographs, and compared my stomach, thighs, and biceps to theirs, coming far short to what I thought would be attractive to the girls who then would find me irresistible attractive, come up to me saying, ―O can I touch your firm stomach.‖ How

    insane the unregenerate man appears from hindsight!

    In my 30s and 40s my motive for holding in the stomach had risen from corporeal to sensuous. It felt better when I had strong abdominal muscles. Also, my clothes had a better fit. And I could lift things or stand erect without feeling exhausted or hurt

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