We might say, “How does the idea of attracting good or evil to us, fit in with what we know about freedom, permission, and providence?”
Free will can make it look like God is impartial and impersonal.
“Providence acts invisibly, in order that man may not be compelled to believe from visible things, and thus that his free-will may not be injured; for unless man has freedom he cannot be reformed, thus he cannot be saved.... Evils are ruled by the Lord by the laws of permission, and they are permitted for the sake of order. The permission of evil by the Lord is not that of one who wills, but of one who does not will, but who cannot bring aid on account of the urgency of the end, which is salvation. To leave man from his own freedom to think and will evil, and so far as the laws do not forbid, to do evil, is to permit. Without freedom, thus without this permission, man could not be reformed, thus could not be saved.... Fortune, which appears in the world wonderful in many circumstances, is an operation of the Divine providence in the ultimate of order, according to the quality of man's state; and this may afford proof, that the Divine providence is in the most single of all things.” (HD 276)
The best way that you can contribute to changing the fact that bad things happen to good people, is by being a good person yourself, and spreading your sphere (frequency) into the world, and thereby changing the world for the good.
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
“The life that leads to heaven is not a life withdrawn from the world, but a life in the world. A life of piety separated from a life of love, which is possible only in the world, does not lead to heaven, but a life of love does.”
Heaven and Hell 535 Emanuel Swedenborg
“Oh, I have to monitor my thoughts?” Yes, that is the path of regeneration, or spiritual re-birth, or being “saved.”
True change comes when we change our will (feelings) not just our understanding (thoughts.) The conventional New Church thought is that we need to change our understanding, and then that will give us a new will. We need to force ourselves to do good and shun evil, even when we don’t feel like it, because that is what our understanding dictates. While this is true, I belives that it is really just the first step. There is no magic wand when it comes to regeneration. We can’t just sit back and wait to feel charitable feelings just because we’re thinking about them. We need to do the work. We need to examine our feelings to truly get a sense of where we are on the path of regeneration. If we are doing good things for people, but feeling selfish or self-righteous while we’re doing them, then we have a long way to go. True change comes when we change our attitude (our will). True change comes when there is a marriage of will and understanding.
Then the book goes on, and it seems to imply that if it feels good, it must be right. We know in the New Church that this is not correct. But I would argue that there is some truth in what the authors are trying to convey.
Evil is it’s own punishment. Doing bad things can’t truly make you happy. It might feel good temporarily, but it will fade and quickly be replaced with bad feelings. When that happens, it’s probably not a good thing that you’re doing. So it’s really a matter of examining your feelings over time (not just in the moment).
For example pre-marital sex, and sex within marriage might both bring about good feelings. However, over time, if one is truly examining one’s feelings, I think a person will find that pre-marital sex isn’t satisfying. One only has to look at our culture to see that that is true.
The Lord wants us to be happy, therefore He knows that doing good things will make us the most happy. It’s a perfect law.
Our feelings often indicate whether we’re thinking good thoughts or not.
“Luck” is about attracting good spirits or evil spirits.
Swedenborg said, “For many years I watched carefully to see whether there was any such thing as fortune. I discovered that there was, and that prudence was not in that case of any avail. Furthermore all who have reflected on the matter for a long time know and confess this to be true, though they do not know why it is so. Scarcely anyone knows that fortune has its origin in the spiritual world; yet that is where it does indeed originate. In a social gathering I once played a commonly known game of chance in which dice are used, while the spirits present with me spoke to me about fortune in games. They said that good fortune was represented to them by means of a bright cloud, and ill fortune by means of a sombre one, and that when a sombre cloud was seen near me I could never win. Seeing that sign they were also foretelling to me the changes of fortune that took place in the game. From this I wished to know that what people attribute to fortune, even in games, has its origin in the spiritual world; this is even more true with regard to the changing fortunes that befall a person during the course of his life. What is called fortune results from the entry of Providence into the last and lowest degrees of order, in which it manifests itself as fortune. Thus it is that Providence is at work in the most specific aspects of everything, as accords with the Lord's words that not even a hair falls from one's head unless God wills it.” (AC 6494)
When we start intentionally changing our thoughts (which is regeneration), then as Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “The Universe will correspond to the nature of your song.” Eloquently put.
Look to the good. We have power because we have free will; a gift from God.
(AC 1079 and 1088)
Secret Shifters. Ways to get out of bad thought patterns and moods. Music, Reading the Word, etc. Fill in the blank with your own.