BOOK REVIEWS: Swedenborg, New Age Pioneer The Presence of Other Worlds, Wilson Van Dusen.

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BOOK REVIEWS: Swedenborg, New Age Pioneer The Presence of Other Worlds, Wilson Van Dusen. Harper & Row, New York, 1974, 240 pages. Is it possible for a man to know too much? So much, that being light- years ahead of his contemporaries, they misunderstood him? That, suggests the author, may well have been the fate of the man who set out to master all existing knowledge of his day, and certainly came close to that, Baron Emanuel Swedberg, better known as Swedenborg, for when he was 31, the family was admitted to Sweden's nobility, hence the name change. The third of nine children, he was born in Uppsala, a university town, January 29, 1688, into a conservative, orthodox Protestant family. His father was bishop as well as university theology professor. Young Emanuel had been promised first the hand of a daughter then sister of accomplished scientist Christopher Polhem. But both had other ideas, so he decided to give himself completely to the pursuit of knowledge, He had received a thorough classical education to the level of a master's degree; early in life he published poems in Latin. But his real interest was in questioning things, unlike his father, who blindly accepted traditional orthodoxy. His brother-in-law, Eric Benzerius, interested him in the sciences. Emanuel threw himself into their study with awesome avidity. He started from the ground up; actually even below with mines, which led to the only "job" he ever held as assessor of Sweden's mines. He travelled all over the vast land inspecting mines, and also over many parts of Europe. His definitive work on mines was only one result of his studies. He also found time for an unbelievable array of other pursuits. He became fluent in nine languages. Among his hobbies were "bookbinding, watch making, cabinet making, instrument making, engraving marble inlay, lens grinding, mechanics, and probably other trades." Pp. 5, 6. The telescope had just been invented by Van Leeuwenhoek. The baron couldn't afford one offered for sale, so he simply made his own! He also designed submarines, trumpets, fire extinguishers, and home heating systems. He authored no less than 150 scientific studies in a style bent on exhausting each subject, ranging from salt, silver, and psychology to fossils, fire, and vitriol. His main focus, however, centered largely on anatomy and physiology. He hoped, by a thorough study of the humam body, to find the soul! How was he able to achieve all this? He had unusually long working hours, servants who looked after domestic matters, and he was a constant meditator. He would relax with closed eyes and totally concentrate on a problem, even to the point of losing awareness of things around him. Once, when asked in London, where he spent a great deal of his time, how he was able to produce such a huge literary output, he matter-of-factly replied that angels dictated to him and he wrote fast! P. 16. There certainly was "dictated" something important to him in 1745. That year he suddenly abandoned his interest in the natural, outer world and turned eagerly to a study of the inner or spiritual. It has been said that he changed from scientist to mystic overnight. This is not quite correct. He had been a mystic all his life, employing scientific means to examine the visible. Now he continued using those same methods, but in the pursuit of the invisible. He started a spiritual diary, which became the feast of future generations of seekers. He delved into the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek and produced an 8-volume set, The Word Explained, "an exposition of the inner meanings of the Bible." P. 61. He also wrote voluminously and profoundly on the heaven worlds and, the author warns, only the most earnest esoteric student will find those commentaries interesting. Van Dusen offers proof of the authenticity of Swedenborg's spiritual labors. His life Spartanly ascetic and beyond all reproach. There were no hidden skeletons in any closet. When dining alone, his meal consisted of milk and rolls. There's also irrefutable evidence he possessed powers beyond most humans. Once while at a social function in Amsterdam, Holland, he began telling those present that Russia's Czar Peter III had just died, described the circumstances, and asked his listeners to note the time and then watch for confirmation in the newspapers. He had not erred in the least. One time he started talking of Stockholm being on fire, which it was, though he was 300 miles away and, from the human standpoint, had no way of knowing. Yet it was rarely that he displayed his gift when no useful purpose could be served. He mainly utilized it to be of help like when he told a distraught widow where to find some much needed cash her husband had stashed away for her, but concealed too well. Also, he was no glory seeker many of his works were published anonymously. Others who knew who authored them put his name on them. In a way this was unnecessary only he could have written them. Shortly before his death in 1772, which he foretold to the day, he was hounded as a crazed heretic by orthodoxy. Some of his books were banned even in Boston. Today, even materialists accept the genius of his scientific monologs. As for his spiritual efforts even as John the Baptist was forerunner of the Christ; Dante the first Renaissance man; Wyclif the Reformation's morning star so Swedenborg certainly was the foremost New Age herald of his day. --A Probationer Pauling's Recipe for Longer Life How to Live Longer and Feel Better. Linus Pauling. W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1986. 322 pages. Why should one be interested in one more of many books dealing with one of the most written about topics of our time? Because of its famous author. Winner of two Nobel prizes for chemistry in 1954 and peace in 1962 this celebrity identifies himself as "scientist, a chemist, physicist, crystallographer, molecular biologist, and medical researcher." P. viii. He is also a humanitarian. He has not only authored several other books, but also received over 40 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. His regime is simple. Follow a rational, moderate life style and supplement it generously with the nutrients that strengthen the immune system. That means daily supplements of 25,000 units of Vitamin A, one or two super-B tablets, 400-1,600 I.U. of Vitamin E, a mineral supplement, and most important, 6-18 grams of Vitamin C. He is aware that the "official" adult RDA for this vitamin is 60 mg, but builds a powerful case for taking much more. In fact, it was he who originated the name orthomolecular medicine for the practice of ingesting optimum rather than minimum amounts of vitamins and suggested drug therapy be called toximolecular medicine. Of course, everything can be overdone, but the idea of taking huge amounts of Vitamin C is less far-fetched than it may seem. Pauling points to some foods which, even if consumed in moderate amounts, can supply massive doses of ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C: black currants, green and red peppers, certain berries, lemons and limes. Saturating the system with Vitamin C exerts an antiviral influence, providing protection not just against the common cold, but also against influenza, mononucleosis, hepatitis, and herpes. No other nutrient may be more valuable for the immune system. Large intakes reduce the symptoms and discomforts of cancer. Studies have shown that those who contract cancer have abnormally low levels of Vitamin C. It has a therapeutic effect on AIDS victims. In concentration it also "inactivates poliomyelitis virus and destroys its power of causing paralysis," P, 127. It can protect the liver from hepatitis, stomach and intestines from ulcers which may be caused by aspirin and potassium chloride tablets. It hastens recovery from surgery, helps regulate cholesterol levels, and staves off cataracts. He tells of a study involving 351 students in four schools and three cities, chosen on a "socio-economic basis," which clearly demonstrates a definite relationship between Vitamin C and one's IQ. It also has a regenerative effect in battling mental retardation and autism. Pauling especially recommends taking extra Vitamin C when one has been in contact with people suffering from colds or other communicable disease and also when fatigue, insomnia and stress occur. He scorns the view that as long as one doesn't have scurvy, one is getting adequate Vitamin C. He discusses not only scurvy's awful onslaught in times past, but also points out that its pain and suffering were merely its terminal symptoms, claiming that a great many present-day health problems going under different labels may simply be mild forms of scurvy. Because it is 100% nontoxic, "one can take any amount of ascorbic acid without the least danger." P. 7. People claiming side effects from too much of it may either have other problems, or be unable to handle excipients, bindings, fillers etc, which are part of some Vitamin C tablets. That is why the good doctor recommends pure Vitamin C powder or crystals; it is also more economical.1 He gives the name and address of the mail order house from which he purchases the 18 grams he takes daily along with just 4 other tablets (vitamins A, B, E and a mineral formula). In 1985 it all cost him but 41 a day. He takes 12 grams of Vitamin C before breakfast, dissolved in fruit juice or water the rest later. When under extra pressure, he ups the dosage. He tells of correspondence with Dr. Szent Gyrgi, Vitamin C's discoverer, who endorsed and practiced taking the vitamin by the gram. Despite terrible suffering and deprivation during World War II in his native Hungary, Dr. Gyrgi lived into his mid-90s. He offers an easy way of ascertaining one's personal tolerance level for Vitamin C: if one gets diarrhea, and there's no other reason for it, one should cut back. By the same token, it can be an aid to regularity. Despite his taking most of his Vitamin C before breakfast, he urges that it and all other supplements be divided into small doses taken throughout the day and also comparison shopping. He discusses its synergistic potential with other vitamins: it cooperates with Vitamin E in protecting the blood vessels and other tissues against oxidation. Jointly, they also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Since vegetarians are aware they may be lacking Vitamin B-12 unless a deliberate effort is made to put it in the diet, they'll be interested in its major role in combatting mental disease. Lack of it is generally linked almost only to pernicious anemia, and it is also linked to mental illness. Victims of both have low levels of cobalamin, Vitamin B-12s scientific name, which, if judiciously raised, brings betterment. The vitamin may be taken orally for mental illness, but in cases of pernicious anemia, injections are needed. Dr. Pauling has served up a most helpful, readable, well-documented potpourri of valuable information. While he singles out tobacco and processed sugar for his chief ire, it is regrettable that he condones, even "in moderation," some items that have no place in the aspirant's life style. The fact that he's still going strong in his 90s (born February 28, 1901) attests to his system's value, yet it would be even more effective if flesh foods and alcohol were completely banned.2 p --A Probationer 1. There is much evidence that Vitamin C and other supplements derived from natural/organic rather than synthetic sources are superior. 2. Time's carefully researched 6-page cover story of April 6, 1992, on "The Real Power of Vitamins" mentions Dr. Pauling and tells how "they may help fight cancer, heart disease and the ravages of aging." A ringing endorsement of orthomolecular medicine!


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