Correspondence and Reciprocity

Correspondence means "answering to each other in fitness or mutual adaptation, congruity, harmony, agreement, relation of agreement, similarity, or analogy; a connection between two things; the fact of two things being similar; relation of agreement, similarity, or analogy, concordant or sympathetic response."

Reciprocity is "the state or condition of being reciprocal, a state or relationship in which there is mutual action, influence, giving and taking, correspondence, etc., between two parties or things."

Plato's Doctrine of Forms

Plato based his doctrine of Forms on the premise that the world of physical things is but a reflection or shadow of a higher, spiritual realm of Forms, or Ideas, such as the Form of the Good. The physical world, which we perceive with our senses, changes constantly and what we may deduce or know of it is relative and limited in nature. The spiritual realm of Forms, which we may apprehend only through the mind, is absolute, eternal and unchanging. The material things of this world are only imperfect relative copies of their perfect Forms.

Correspondence and reciprocity are absolute and abstract principles. In Immanuel Kant's philosophy, correspondence and reciprocity are mutual action and reaction.

Edna Lister on Correspondence and Reciprocity

Under the law of reciprocity, "As above, so below," you are creating the forms of your desires with the substance that returns to you. You get in life what you have created. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Lectures, January 20, 1933.

On every plane, this law holds true: As above, so below. – Edna Lister, Image and Likeness, January 18, 1935.

The relation of substance and its attributes: The category of relativity or relation, deals with the inherent qualities or attributes of substance and their active relationship with one another.

The law of cause and effect is subordinate to relation. Cause is the original action and effect depends on or is the result of action, the reaction. Relation also encompasses the law of reciprocity expressed in the axiom "As above, so below." – Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

"As above, so below" is a familiar axiom. In our study of principle, we know we cannot have anything on the periphery that does not exist at the Source. Therefore, unless absolute principle and personality existed at the Source, we could not have relative principles or individual personalities here in the outer. – Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

God grants no vision on the inner unless you use what you have on the outer. You can use nothing in heaven that you have not gained on earth. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, June 24, 1947.

You see on the inner just as you do on earth. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, June 24, 1947.

Spiritual debts fall under the principle of action and reaction, cause and effect. Whatever you send forth must return to you. If it goes out as Light, it accumulates beneficially. When you, who are of Light, send out any darkness, it returns a thousandfold dark. When you send out Light, that Light returns with interest. The higher you ascend in the Light, the faster your slightest indiscretion returns. This answers, "Why does this happen to me?" – Edna Lister, Unpublished Lectures, June 12, 1951.

You must learn the law of cause and effect, what you send out returns to you, and when you walk the Via Christa, it returns sevenfold. – Edna Lister, The First Days, June 17, 1951.

As above, so below; what exists at the periphery must exist at the center. You can have nothing on the outer that is not present at the Source, which is the basis of the metaphysical statement that God is everywhere evenly present and available. – Edna Lister, All Substance Is Universal, May 12, 1959.

Applying the law of correspondence (as above, so below) we may determine that the Source of Light expresses above as color, tone, number and name(form), and below as fire, air, water and earth. "As above, so below," the immutable law of correspondence, also called the law of reciprocity, informs us that each grade or vibration below holds all above within itself. – Edna Lister, Is Faith Enough, June 21, 1960.

Everything that God is absolutely, you are relatively. – Edna Lister, God as Personality and Principle, May 20, 1962.

We cannot have personality on the outer without having personality at the Source; as above, so below. God speaks as personality through personality to personality. – Edna Lister, God as Personality: Seven Stages of Descent, November 12, 1963.

Heaven is a place. We have proof of this in the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below." Metaphysically, we say that there cannot be anything here on the outer that is not present at the Source. – Edna Lister, Heaven Is a Place, November 26, 1963.

God sent you forth to actualize and express your God-given potential as a creator. – Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

The fundamental principles of doing are energy, action, and expression. Relative laws of doing deal with expression and action. Every action causes a reaction. The law of cause and effect states that every cause produces an effect; an effect is that which is produced and by the cause. – Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

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Stories That Illustrate Correspondence and Reciprocity

The Good Samaritan: A certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. – Luke 10:25-28.

Jesus then told the parable of the Good Samaritan, indicating that "your neighbor" means a total stranger, or someone who happens to be nearby. Jesus' teaching goes beyond the negative formulation of not doing what one would not like done to themselves, to the positive formulation of actively doing good to another that, if the situations were reversed, one would desire that the other would do for them. This formulation, as indicated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, emphasizes the needs for positive action that brings benefit to another, not simply restraining oneself from negative activities that hurt another.

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New Testament Laws on Correspondence and Reciprocity

I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16:19.

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. – Matthew 25:40.

Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. – Matthew 25:45.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. – Luke 16:10.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:19.

Several passages in the New Testament quote Jesus of Nazareth espousing the ethic of reciprocity, including the following:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12.

As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. – Luke 6:31.

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Old Testament Laws on Correspondence and Reciprocity

Reciprocity (also known as the Golden Rule) is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. The reciprocity ethic derives from two laws, found in Leviticus. Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the law of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind.

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:18.

The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:34.

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Laws on Correspondence and Reciprocity in Other Sacred Writings

Do to no one what you yourself dislike. – Tobit 4:15.

Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 31:15.

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Ancient Philosophers on Correspondence and Reciprocity

Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him. – Pittacus

Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing. – Thales

What you wish your neighbors to be to you, such be also to them. – Sextus the Pythagorean

Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others. – Isocrates

What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others. – Epictetus

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing 'neither to harm nor be harmed'), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life. – Epicurus

Do to every man as thou would'st have him do to thee; and do not unto another what thou would'st not have done to thee. – Attributed to Confucius

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Etymology of correspondence: Medieval Latin correspondere: Latin com- "with" + respondere, "to respond."

Etymology of reciprocity: Latin reciprocus, "alternating."

Correspondence and reciprocity are absolute principles, rooted in the Logos Emanation.

Correspondence and reciprocity are abstract principles.

Correspondence and reciprocity are laws of doing.

The Doctrine of Correspondences

Emmanuel Swedenborg's Doctrine of Correspondences refers to the tenet that every natural object symbolizes or corresponds to some spiritual fact or principle which is its archetype or prototype, and that the Scriptures were written in harmony with these correspondences. Consider Plato's doctrine of Forms in this light.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
– Hebrews 8:1-5


Swedenborg, Emanuel. Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets). John F. Potts, translator. 1910. Swedenborg Digital Library [accessed February 19, 2017].

The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

Three Initiates. The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece. Rough Draft Printing, 2012; ISBN-10: 1603864784.

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