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On the Universal Church Wilson Van Dusen Abstract: The following memoir, drawn from two interviews, recounts the remarkable spiritual life of a twentieth-century visionary and mystic, Wilson Van Dusen. He was known for his writings on Swedenborgianism but thought of himself as a “member of all religions,” which he considered to be equal in their attempts to represent spiritual truth. This article appeared in Religion East & West, Issue 5, October 2005.


grew into spirituality as an infant, at the age of one. I still remember it—I was lying in the crib, and as I turned sideways, sunlight was coming in through a window and motes of dust were floating in the light, and as they turned they gave off rainbow colors. And I went into a kind of ecstasy about the beauty of the world. Ever since then, I haven’t needed all the doctrine and all the nitpicking things to have the experience of God. I’ve never had spiritual training, church training, religious training of any sort. Even after I joined churches and became active in the Swedenborgian Church, spirituality has always been a kind of private, direct way for me. What I need is to be left alone, taking my time, and I look to see what is present and what is leading me or speaking to me inwardly or intuitively, and I’m back to the direct experience of God. That’s how I did it as an adolescent. It just happened over and over and over again, and it still works for me. It’s stayed with me all during my life. I’ve never hooked my experiences onto any of earth’s representations of God. I could say that in a way all the ways that the religions represent God are okay by me, or none are okay—it amounts to the same thing. For me, there is no one right way to represent God. I don’t think of any earthly representation as “This is the one I’m talking to.” I consider myself a member of all religions. I have known for a long time that I am of the Universal Church, which is not a particular structure anywhere. It is everywhere. And I’ve learned that, in my reading, I can walk with spiritual people of all times, all places, all religions.

Issue 10, October 2010


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