BOOK REVIEWS: Swedenborg, New Age Pioneer The Presence of Other Worlds, Wilson Van Dusen.
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
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
He started from the ground up; actually even below Ä 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
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
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
Yet it was rarely that he displayed his gift when no useful purpose
could be served. He mainly utilized it to be of help Ä 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 Ä many of
his works were published anonymously. Others who knew who authored them put
his name on them. In a way this was unnecessary Ä only he could have written
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
As for his spiritual efforts Ä even as John the Baptist was forerunner
of the Christ; Dante the first Renaissance man; Wyclif the Reformation's
morning star Ä so Swedenborg certainly was the foremost New Age herald of
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 Ä for chemistry in 1954 and peace in 1962 Ä 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 Ä 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 Ä the rest later. When under
extra pressure, he ups the dosage.
He tells of correspondence with Dr. Szent Gy”rgi, 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. Gy”rgi 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
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
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
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!
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank