Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” –Genesis 29:4
Dear members and friends,
Haran is a brother of Abram as well as the name of a place described in Genesis. It was the city where God called on Abram to begin his journey, Isaac’s wife Rebekah’s hometown, and the place where Jacob journeyed to marry Leah and Rachel. In Hebrew, Haran means mountaineer, or someone who climbs a mountain. According to Swedenborg, mountains symbolize heaven which are nearest to God, or to living a life of goodness. Thus, a mountaineer might symbolize the person who is working hard in cultivating goodness in one’s life. This is illustrated in multiple ways: by Terah, the father of Abraham, who left Ur and stayed in Haran on his way to Canaan (Genesis 11:31). By Abraham, who sent his servant to Haran to get a wife for his son Isaac. And by Jacob, who traveled to Haran and stayed there for 21 years, having 4 wives and 11 sons and a daughter. Symbolically, Haran means working very hard to implement what is good based on the truth learned and understood in one’s daily life.
According to Swedenborg, the Bible has two main purposes: to explain how the eternal Creator assumed human nature, and to explain the process of human regeneration, which is nothing but the process through which humans unite with their Creator. Swedenborg believed that the purpose of creation itself is to have a heaven for the human race. To have a heaven for the Creator means to have eternal beings who have chosen to unite with the Creator voluntarily by means of living a life in accordance with truth from the Creator. Often, people emphasize spirituality, but what does that mean? For Swedenborg, being spiritual means to find a mutually beneficial way to live with other human beings in order to cultivate a heaven within oneself. As Swedenborg explains, the crucial challenge in our spiritual journey is that it cannot be completed by merely reading books, meditating deep in the mountains, participating in big rallies for just causes, or singing and praising God on Sunday mornings. It can only be completed by embodying kind and gentle actions in one’s daily life. What is crucially important is that there should be a harmonious union between our inner attitude toward other humans and in turn, our kind and gentle actions.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee