Tuesday, September 22, 2009
One of Australia's living spiritual treasures will be speaking at the North Ryde Swedenborg Centre this Friday night.
The Rev. Pravrajika Ajayaprana Mataji will be discussing Hindu Spiritual Practices.
Born in India, Reverend Mataji finished her University study before joining the Ramakrishna Order in 1952. In India she worked as a science teacher in the school run by the Order and was in charge of boarding houses for schoolchildren and University girls till 1982. She is a senior nun of Sri Sarada Math, the womens' wing of the Ramakrishna Order.
Formed in 1954 in India, The Sri Sarada Math, is the only independent monastic women's Order in the history of Religion. It is run exclusively by women; they make all the decisions regarding their day-to-day activities as well as spiritual life, ordination etc, independent of male priests or monks.
Rev. Mataji came to Sydney in 1982 to start the first Centre of Sri Sarada Math outside India. She conducts talks, classes, meditation days, retreats and special functions. On invitation, Rev. Mataji goes on lecture tours to the other major cities of Australia a few times each year, and frequently to Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. She is the President and Minister of the
Ramakrishna Sarada Vedanta Societies of New South Wales and South Australia .
Rev. Pravrajika Ajayaprana Mataji regularly participates in and organizes interfaith gatherings and meetings. She is one of the founding members of "WIN," Women's Interfaith Network.
FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2009 at 7.45 Swedenborg Centre, 1 Avon Road, North Ryde Cost: $7; concession $5 (including refreshments)
Friday, September 18, 2009
The International Swedenborg Publishers Conference will be held at Swedenborg House, Bloomsbury, London, on June 3-4, 2010.
The aim of the International Swedenborg Publishers Conference is to bring together organizations and individuals, worldwide, currently working in the field of Swedenborgian publishing. Not only do we hope that the Conference will encourage closer relations between publishers and book rooms and other sales outlets, but that it also facilitates common online and other marketing strategies and will act as a forum to discuss the future of Swedenborgian publishing.
Friday, September 11, 2009
If you looked at the Google home page a few days ago you would have noticed their logo had been playfully altered to show a UFO hovering over the letters while it beamed up the second letter O in "Google." For other creative past Google logos, see http://www.google-logos.com/category/official-google-logos
Clicking on their UFO logo revealed a searchlist of numerous things paranormal. One of the items of note was a LiveScience countdown list of the current top ten unexplained phenomena - see http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/top10_unexplained_phenomena-1.html
The listed top ten unexplained phenomena are (more details on each at their site):
10. The Body/Mind Connection
9. Psychic powers and ESP
8. Near-Death Experiences and Life After Death
6. Deja vu
4. Mysterious Disappearances
1. The Taos Hum
I think that Emanuel Swedenborg is often unfairly singled out in the popular mind as being an authority on the paranormal. While it's true that he enjoyed considerable paranormal gifts, I think he would have been the first to dismiss the importance of these as pursuits in their own right.
Swedenborg was primarily interested in his later life in exploring and recording honestly and faithfully the things he was given to see and experience about the spiritual world and realm of the soul. His former scientific achievements and fame for his intellectual capacity in fields at the forefront of science of his day, plus his service to the Swedish House of Nobles, the Swedish king and to the Board of Mines should serve as testament of his sanity.
But then I also think of the value of Swedenborg's material in helping put into a healthy perspective what are regarded as the important outstanding questions of our time. Swedenborg presents a vast cosmology and framework of a plausible harmonious and orderly reality which allows these questions to exist without the need to go into scientific denial and his work even goes a long way to answering them (well, perhaps all except items 7, 2, and 1).
By comparison, even a more orthodox scientific community listed the top unanswered science questions. On 18th November 2006, the reputable New Scientist magazine decided to celebrate their 50th birthday by tackling "the truly big questions" with the help of some of the leading lights in science. They titled their piece The biggest questions ever asked.
The questions posed in the New Scientist were:
1. What is reality?
2. What is life?
3. Do we have free will?
4. Is the universe deterministic?
5. What is consciousness?
6. Will we ever have a theory of everything?
7. What happens after you die?
These seem to complement the unsolved mystery list mentioned above rather nicely. And if you study Swedenborg's writings, my guess is that you would probably agree that Swedenborg goes a long way in helping put such question into a healthy perspective which can provide some very satisfying answers or at least a very clear framework for deciding the importance of such matters.
Anyhow, happy pondering.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Michael Chester will be taking up the position of Director of the Swedenborg Centre when Neville Jarvis retires at the end of December. Michael has been closely involved with the work of the Swedenborg Centre for many years. He was a foundation member of the Swedenborg Association of Australia and its Secretary for 6 years.
Michael has a deep understanding of the writings of Swedenborg and of the teachings of the New Church, and it is his wish to make these as available and known to people out there as possible, and to help people see their relevance and use in their lives.
Michael also brings other skills to the position that he will take up. He is a trained teacher in science and maths; he has a personal interest in and understanding of yoga and of other spiritual approaches and practices.
He will take over duties at the end of this year, following the retirement of Neville Jarvis, who has served as the Director for many years, and contributed so much to the growth and spread of Swedenborg's spiritual writings during his time here.
Neville and his wife Alexis will be sorely missed, but we look forward as well to the new energy and unique input of Michael.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
In terms of intellectual stature and original, creative thinking, Swedenborg has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci. Yet, for the most part, the world remains in ignorance of the significant contribution made by this Swedish genius in so many fields of human endeavour, and of the veritable mine of enlightenment to be found in his esoteric writings, which give the blueprint for individual spiritual development and growth. These writings are known to have influenced the earliest anti-slavery movements and many of the great thinkers and religious leaders who have helped shape western culture during the past 200 years. These same writings largely inspired the establishment of infant education in Germany and England in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Whilst their impact has spread far and wide, it is has been largely forgotten that they were such a source of inspiration. Today, though, as the world enters a new era with a growing thirst for an understanding of the purpose of life and the working of the human psyche, there is a re-awakening of interest in, and appreciation of, the immensely valuable insights to be gained from the contents of Swedenborg's works. His name is becoming increasingly known.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1688, Emanuel was the third child of Lutheran Bishop Jesper Swedberg and his wife Sara. Endowed with a remarkable mind, he grew up to be one of Sweden's most illustrious men of science. In an era when scientists were few and their enquiries limited, Swedenborg investigated the physical universe in many directions. He designed a number of useful inventions, made some remarkable discoveries and anticipated theories now accepted by modern science. He wrote some 33 scientific works embracing such widely differing subjects as metallurgy, mineralogy, physiology, mathematics, cosmology, and the structure and function of the brain. During this period of outstanding mental activity he worked in an important government position as a Royal Assessor of Mines contributing significantly to the revitalisation of his country's mines industry. He travelled extensively throughout Europe, taking notes everywhere on the latest scientific marvels, meeting the leading scholars of the day, always searching, wondering, probing the mysteries of life.
His stated purpose in pursuing a scientific career was to locate and understand the working of the human soul. He gradually realised that he was not going to achieve his objective, however, on reaching the boundaries of human knowledge. Rational deductions postulating the existence of the soul could not be proved. At 55, Swedenborg essentially relinquished government work and his scientific and anatomical research. Whilst continuing a normal, active life for a gentleman in his position, being a member of the Upper House of the Swedish Parliament, he began a detailed study of the Bible following a series of mystical experiences. It may sound extraordinary, but Swedenborg writing a year or so before his death in London in 1772, claimed that his spiritual faculties had been opened for 27 years enabling him to become a citizen of two worlds at the same time - this natural plane of which we are all conscious and the spiritual dimension of consciousness into which we fully enter when the physical body ceases to function. A scientist and philosopher, as he had been, trying to demonstrate the existence of the things of the spirit, Swedenborg was brought to see the answers he had tried to discover could only be known by revelation - from above and from within. He became a spiritual explorer. He also demonstrated psychic powers via a number of well-documented extraordinary incidents involving some well-known people of the day.
The profoundest questions about the existence of God, the creation of the world, our spiritual dimension, and the Divine government of the natural and spiritual worlds, are all discussed in one or other of the approximately thirty volumes which comprise Swedenborg's spiritual writings. He saw these things written by himself as a God-given response capable of satisfying the questioning and the probing of men and women in full possession of their rational and critical faculties.