Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
How I Would Help the World
By Helen Keller
Introduction by Ray Silverman
A Great River of Light
Since I was sixteen years old, I have been a strong believer in the doctrines given to the world by Emanuel Swedenborg. It was his mission to teach men to listen to the inward voice rather than to opinions and disputations. After many years of reverent study of the Bible, I gratefully wonder if I am not more indebted to Swedenborg for the faith that turns my darkness to light than I have yet realized. I acknowledge my profound indebtedness to Emanuel Swedenborg for a richer interpretation of the Bible, a deeper understanding of the meaning of Christianity, and a precious sense of the divine presence in the world.
I have many times tried to recall the feelings that led me to take Swedenborg's interpretation of Christianity rather than my father's; but I can find no satisfactory answer. It was with me as it was with Joseph Conrad, when an irresistible impulse urged him to go to sea. Like him, I took "a, so to speak, standing jump out of my associations" and traditions -- and the rest is what I have grown to be. The theological teachings of Swedenborg are in many long volumes.
The doctrines set forth by Swedenborg bring men by a wondrous way to God's city of light. I have walked through its sunlit ways of truth, I have drunk of its sweet waters of knowledge, and the eyes of my spirit have been opened, so that I know the joy of vision which conquers darkness and circles heaven. Of one thing I am sure; any effort is worthwhile that brings comfort to limited, struggling human beings in a dark, self-centered age; and Swedenborg's message has meant so much to me! It has given color and reality and unity to my thought of the life to come; it has exalted my ideas of love, truth, and usefulness; it has been my strongest incitement to overcome limitations. The atmosphere Swedenborg creates absorbs me completely. His slightest phrase is significant to me. There is an exquisitely quietening and soothing power in the thoughts of Swedenborg for people of my temperament. I wish I might be able to radiate the spiritual illumination that came to me when I read with my own fingers Heaven and Hell. All the days of my life since have "proved the doctrine" and found it true. If people would only begin to read Swedenborg's books with at first a little patience, they would soon be reading them for pure joy. They would find much to be glad of in heaven and enough to show them that the soul is everywhere, and enough to prove that love and God are so closely allied that we cannot know much about one and miss the other. His Divine Love and Wisdom is a fountain of life I am always happy to be near. I find in it a happy rest from the noisy insanity of the outer world with its many words of little meaning and actions of little worth. I bury my fingers in this great river of light that is higher than all stars, deeper than the silence that enfolds me. It alone is great, while all else is small, fragmentary.
11/16/2011 5:00:00 AM