Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

We need to be aware that our union with heaven and with hell is not directly with them but is mediated by spirits who are in the world of spirits. These spirits are with us, none from hell itself or heaven itself. We are united to hell through evil spirits in the world of spirits and with heaven through the good spirits there. Because of this arrangement, the world of spirits is halfway between heaven and hell and is at the point of balance.

On the location of the world of spirits halfway between heaven and hell, see the chapter on the world of spirits (Sections 421–431); and on its being at the point of balance between heaven and hell, see the last chapter (Sections 589–596).

We can see from this where we get our freedom.

I need to say something else about the spirits associated with us. A whole community can establish communication with another community or with another individual in any location through a spirit emissary. This spirit is called the “agent” of the group. Much the same holds true for our union with communities in heaven and with communities in hell, through spirits associated with us in the world of spirits. On this matter too, see the references to Secrets of Heaven at the close of the chapter.

One last note, about our instinct concerning life after death that results from heaven’s inflow into us. There were some common people who had lived in the virtues of their faith in the world. They were brought back into a state like the one they had in the world (which can happen to anyone when the Lord allows it), and then shown what kind of notion they had had about our state after death. They said that in the world, some intelligent people had asked them what they thought about their soul after their life in the world, and they said they did not know what a soul was. Then the questioners asked them what they believed about their state after death, and they said they believed they would live as spirits. Next they were asked what kind of belief they had about spirits, and they said that spirits were people. Their questioners kept asking how they knew this, and they kept saying that they knew it because it was true. The intelligent people were amazed that simple people had this kind of faith when they themselves did not.

I could see from this that everyone who is united to heaven has an instinctive notion about life after death. The sole source of this instinctive notion is the inflow from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord, by means of spirits who are assigned to us from the world of spirits. This instinctive notion is possessed by people who have not stifled their freedom of thought by assumptions about the human soul that they have seized on and confirmed by various means, assumptions that the soul is either pure thought or some animate principle whose seat they seek in the body. However, the soul is nothing more nor less than our life, while the spirit is the actual person, and the body is an earthly thing we carry around in the world. It is only an agent through which our spirit, the actual person, acts in a way that is adapted to the natural world.

What I have been saying in this book about heaven, the world of spirits, and hell will be obscure to people who find no delight in knowing about spiritual truths; but it will be clear to people who do have this delight, especially to people involved in an affection for truth for its own sake—that is, people who love truth because it is true. Anything that is loved enters into the concepts of our minds with light, especially when what is loved is true, because all truth is in the light.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 600-603


Sections 421-431: Published 5/22/2017-5/28/2017

Sections 589-596: Published 3/17/2019-3/20/2019


Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

The reason we cannot be reformed unless we have some freedom is that we are born into evils of all kinds, evils which need to be taken away if we are to be saved. They cannot be taken away unless we see them within ourselves, admit that they are there, then refuse them and ultimately turn away from them. Only then are they taken away. This cannot happen unless we are exposed to both good and evil, since it is from good that we can see evils, though we cannot see what is good from evil. We learn the good spiritual things we can think from infancy from the reading of the Word and from sermons. We learn the moral and civic values from our life in the world. This is the primary reason we need to be in freedom.

The second reason is that nothing becomes part of us except as a result of some affection of love. True, other things can enter us, but no deeper than into our thought, not into our volition; and anything that does not enter our volition is not ours. This is because thinking is derived from our memory, while volition is derived from our life itself. Nothing is ever free unless it comes from our volition, or what amounts to the same thing, from a particular affection that stems from our love. Whatever we intend or love, we do freely. This is why our freedom and the affection of our love or intentions are one. So we also have freedom in order to be able to be moved by what is true and good, or to love them, so that they do become part of us.

In a word, anything that does not enter us in freedom does not stay with us, because it does not belong to our love or intentions; and anything that does not belong to our love or intentions does not belong to our spirit. The actual reality of our spirit is love or volition—using the phrase “love or volition” because whatever we love, we intend.

This is why we cannot be reformed except in a state of freedom. But there is more on our freedom in the extracts from Secrets of Heaven below.

So that we can be in freedom for the sake of our reformation, we are united in spirit with heaven and with hell. With each of us there are spirits from hell and angels from heaven. By means of the spirits from hell we encounter our evil, and by means of the angels from heaven we encounter the good we have from the Lord. As a result, we are in a spiritual equilibrium—that is, in a freedom.

On the presence with us of angels from heaven and spirits from hell, see the chapter on the union of heaven with the human race (Sections 291–302).

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 598-599


Sections 291-302: Published 6/22/2018-6/27/2018

Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell

I have just described the balance between heaven and hell and have shown that the balance is between what is good from heaven and what is evil from hell, which means that it is a spiritual balance that in essence is a freedom.

The reason this spiritual balance is essentially a freedom is that it exists between what is good and what is evil and between what is true and what is false, and these are spiritual realities. So the ability to intend either good or evil and to think either truth or falsity, the ability to choose one instead of the other, is the freedom I am dealing with here.

The Lord grants this freedom to every individual, and it is never taken away. By virtue of its source it in fact belongs to the Lord and not to us because it comes from the Lord; yet still it is given us along with our life as though it were ours. This is so that we can be reformed and saved, for without freedom there can be no reformation or salvation.

Anyone who uses a little rational insight can see that we have a freedom to think well or badly, honestly or dishonestly, fairly or unfairly, and that we can talk and act well, honestly, and fairly but not badly, dishonestly, and unfairly because of the spiritual, moral, and civil laws that keep our outward nature in restraint.

We can see from this that the freedom applies to our spirit, which does our thinking and intending, but not to our outer nature, which does our talking and acting, except as this follows the aforementioned laws.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 597

The Equilibrium between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

It needs to be realized that the hells are constantly attacking heaven and trying to destroy it and that the Lord is constantly protecting the heavens by restraining the people there from the evils that arise from their self-concern and by keeping them involved in the good that comes from him. I have often been granted a sense of the aura that radiates from the hells—an aura of nothing but efforts to destroy the divine nature of the Lord and therefore heaven as well. At times I have also perceived forces boiling up from certain hells, made up of efforts to break free and wreak destruction. On the other hand, the heavens never attack the hells, since the divine aura that emanates from the Lord is a constant effort to save everyone. Since the people in the hells cannot be saved (all the people there being engrossed in evil and opposed to the Lord’s divine nature), the attacks within the hells are kept as subdued as possible, and mutual viciousness is held within bounds. This too is accomplished by countless exercises of divine power.

The heavens are differentiated into two kingdoms, the heavenly kingdom and the spiritual kingdom (see above, Sections 20–28). Similarly, the hells are differentiated into two kingdoms, one opposite to the heavenly kingdom and one opposite the spiritual kingdom. The one opposite to the heavenly kingdom is in the western quarter, and the people who live there are called demons; while the one that is opposite to the spiritual kingdom is in the northern and southern quarter, and the people who live there are called spirits.

All the people in the heavenly kingdom are involved in a love for the Lord, and all the people in the hells opposite to that kingdom are involved in love for themselves. All the people who are in the spiritual kingdom are involved in love for their neighbor, and all the people who are in the hells opposite to that kingdom are involved in love of the world. This has enabled me to see that love for the Lord and love for oneself are opposites, as are love for our neighbor and love of the world.

The Lord is constantly taking care that nothing should flow out from the hells opposite to the Lord’s heavenly kingdom toward the people who are in the spiritual kingdom. If this were to happen, the spiritual kingdom would be destroyed, for the reasons given in Sections 578–579 above. These are the two general balances that the Lord is constantly keeping intact.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 595-596


Sections 20-28: Published 6/27/2017-6/30/2017

Sections 578-579: Published 3/10/2019

The Equilibrium between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

If the Lord were not in control of both the heavens and the hells, there would be no equilibrium; and if there were no equilibrium, there would be no heaven or hell. Absolutely everything in the universe, everything in both the natural world and the spiritual world, is constituted by an equilibrium. Any rational person can grasp this. Let one side outweigh the other, with no resistance offered, and will not both be destroyed? This is what would happen in the spiritual world if the good did not react against the evil and constantly suppress its rebellions. Unless the divine power, and nothing else, did this, heaven and hell would perish, and the whole human race along with them. I refer to the “divine power and nothing else” because the selfhood of every angel, every spirit, and every one of us is nothing but evil (see above, Section 591). This means that no angel or spirit can ever resist the evil influences that are constantly breathed out of the hells since we all incline toward hell because of our self-concern. We can see from this that if the Lord alone were not in control of both the heavens and the hells, there would be no salvation for anyone.

Not only that, all the hells act in unison because the evil energies of the hells are all interconnected the way the good energies are in the heavens; and nothing but the only divine power can resist all the countless hells acting in concert against heaven and everyone there. That one divine power emanates from the Lord.

The balance point between the heavens and the hells shifts down and up depending on the number of people entering heaven and entering hell, which amounts to thousands every day. Knowing and grasping this, adjusting and centering the pointer of the scales, is something no angel can do, only the Lord, since the emanating divine nature is everywhere present and is everywhere watching every deviation. Angels see only what is around them, and do not even sense within themselves what is happening in their own community.

Everything in the heavens and the hells is so arranged that each individual there is in a personal equilibrium. We can to some extent gather this from what has already been presented concerning the heavens and the hells. That is, all the communities of heaven are very precisely differentiated according to the genera and species of their goodness, and all the communities of hell according to the genera and species of their evils. Further, there is a corresponding community of hell underneath every community of heaven, and this opposing correspondence yields an equilibrium. So the Lord is constantly making sure that the hellish community under any heavenly one does not get too strong. To the extent that one begins to get too strong, it is brought under control by various means and returned to its proper balanced relationship. I shall mention only a few of the many means. Some involve a stronger presence of the Lord. Some involve closer communication and union of one or more communities with others. Some involve the exile of extra hellish spirits into desert places, some the transfer from one hell to another, some the reorganization of the people in the hells, which also is accomplished in various ways. Some involve concealing some of the hells under thicker and heavier coverings, some sending them down deeper. Then there are other means, some involving the heavens overhead.

I mention this so that there may be some grasp of the fact that only the Lord provides that there shall be a balance between good and evil everywhere, and therefore between heaven and hell. On this kind of equilibrium depends the salvation of everyone in the heavens and everyone on earth.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 592-594


Section 591: Published 3/18/2019

The Equilibrium between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

There is a constant balance between heaven and hell. An effort to do evil is constantly emanating upward from hell, and an effort to do good is constantly emanating down from heaven. The world of spirits is in this equilibrium (on its location halfway between heaven and hell, see Sections 421–431 above).

The reason the world of spirits is in this equilibrium is that after death we first enter the world of spirits and are kept in the same state we were in in the world. This could not happen unless there were a perfect balance there. This allows everyone to be examined there as to quality, since we keep the same kind of freedom we had in the world. Spiritual equilibrium is a state of freedom for us and for spirits, as just noted (Section 589).

Angels in heaven can tell the kind of freedom people have by a communication of affections and consequent thoughts. It also becomes visible to angelic spirits from the paths people follow, with good spirits following paths that lead to heaven and evil spirits following paths that lead to hell. These paths are actually visible in that world, which is why paths in the Word mean truths that lead to what is good, or in an opposite sense, falsities that lead to what is evil. This is also why going, walking, and traveling in the Word mean processes of life. I have often been allowed to see paths like these, with spirits walking along on them freely, in accord with their own affections and consequent thoughts.

The reason evil is constantly emanating up from hell and good emanating down from heaven is that everyone is surrounded by a spiritual aura, an aura that flows out in waves from the life of our affections and their thoughts. Further, since this kind of aura flows out from every individual, it also flows out from every heavenly community and every hellish community, therefore from everyone at once, or from all heaven and all hell. The reason good flows out from heaven is that everyone there is involved in what is good, and the reason evil flows out from hell is that everyone there is involved in what is evil. All the good that comes from heaven is from the Lord, since the angels who are in the heavens are all kept out of their self-image and kept in the Lord’s image, which is goodness itself. On the other hand, all the spirits who are in the hells are in their own self-image and everyone’s own self-image is nothing but evil; and since it is nothing but evil, it is hell.

We may gather from this that the equilibrium angels in the heavens and spirits in the hells are kept in is not like the balance that obtains in the world of spirits. The equilibrium of angels in the heavens depends on how much they had wanted to be involved in good or had lived in goodness in the world—how opposed they were to evil; while the equilibrium of spirits in hell depends on how much they had wanted to be involved in evil or had lived in evil in the world—that is, how resistant they had been to the good, in heart and in spirit.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 590-591

Sections 421-431: Published 5/22/2017-5/28/2017

Section 589: Published 3/17/2019

The Equilibrium between Heaven and Hell

FOR anything to happen, there needs to be an equilibrium of everything involved. If there is no equilibrium, there is no action and reaction because the equilibrium occurs between two forces, one acting and the other reacting. The state of rest arising from equal agents and reagents is called an equilibrium.

In the natural world there is equilibrium throughout, in general in the atmospheres, with the lower layers reacting and resisting to the extent that the upper layers act and bear down. In the natural world there are also states of equilibrium between warmth and cold, light and darkness, dry and wet. Their median blend is the balance point. There is also an equilibrium in the members of all three of earth’s kingdoms—mineral, vegetable, and animal; for nothing would occur in those kingdoms if it were not for the equilibrium. Everywhere, there is a kind of effort acting from one side and another reacting from the other.

Every event, or every result, happens in an equilibrium, or happens by one force acting and another allowing itself to be acted upon, or by one force actively flowing in and the other accepting and yielding appropriately.

In the natural world, what acts and reacts is called force or energy, but in the spiritual world what acts and reacts is called life and volition. Life there is a living force and volition is a living energy, and the actual equilibrium is called a state of freedom. This spiritual balance or freedom occurs, then, between the good acting from the one side and the evil reacting from the other, or from the evil acting on the one side and the good reacting from the other.

The balance between active good and reactive evil applies to good people, and the balance between active evil and reactive good applies to evil people. The reason the spiritual balance is between good and evil is that all human life has to do with good and evil, and our volition is their recipient vessel.

There is also a balance between what is true and what is false, but this is secondary to the balance between good and evil. The balance between the true and the false is like the balance between light and darkness, whose effect on members of the vegetable kingdom depends on the amount of warmth or cold there is in the light or darkness. You can tell that the light and shade themselves do not accomplish anything, only the warmth they bring, from looking at like amounts of light and darkness in winter and in spring.

The comparison of truth and falsity to light and darkness rests in their correspondence, since truth corresponds to light and falsity to darkness, and warmth corresponds to the goodness of love. Further, spiritual light is truth, spiritual darkness is falsity, and spiritual warmth is the goodness of love (on this, see the chapter on light and warmth in heaven, (Sections 126–140).

from Heaven and Hell, Section 589

Sections 126-140: Published 11/22/2016-12/2/2016

The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells (Continued)

As for the number of the hells, there are just as many hells as there are angelic communities in the heavens, because there is a hellish community that corresponds inversely to each heavenly one. I explained in the chapter on the communities that constitute heaven (Sections 41–50) and the chapter on the vastness of heaven (Sections 415–420) that there are countless heavenly communities, all differentiated according to their virtues of love, thoughtfulness, and faith. The same holds true for the hellish communities, which are differentiated according to the evils opposite to those virtues.

There is an infinite variety to everything evil just as there is to everything good. People do not grasp this if they have only simplistic concepts of particular evils like contempt, hostility, hatred, vengefulness, deceit, and the like; but they should realize that each of these contains so many distinctive forms, each of which also contains distinctive or particular forms, that a whole volume would not be adequate to list them. The hells are so clearly arranged according to the distinctive features of everyone’s evil that nothing could be more definitely and clearly arranged. We can gather from this that they are beyond counting, some near each other and some far removed according to the general, specific, and particular differences of their evils.

Further, there are hells below hells. Some communicate by traffic to and fro, many by emanations, all in strict accord with the affinities of each genus and species of evil with others.

I have been given some knowledge of the number of the hells from the fact that they are underneath every mountain, hill, and cliff, every plain and valley, and that they stretch out there far and wide and deep. In short, it is as though the whole heaven and the whole world of spirits are hollowed out with one continuous hell under them. So much for the number of the hells.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 588


Sections 41-50: Published 5/7/2017-5/10/2017

Sections 415-420: Published 5/3/2017-5/6/2017

The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells (Continued)

As to the location of specific hells, no one can know this, not even an angel in heaven—only the Lord. Roughly, though, their location is recognized by the quarter where they are found. Like the heavens, the hells are differentiated into regions; and in the spiritual world, regions are marked off according to loves because all regions in heaven start from the Lord as the sun, who is the east. So since the hells are the opposite of the heavens, their regions start from the opposite direction, the west. On this subject, see the chapter on the four quarters in heaven (Sections 141–153).

This is why the hells in the western quarter are the worst and most fearful of all, worse and more fearful incrementally the farther they are from the east. The people in these hells are people who were absorbed in self-love in the world and therefore in contempt for others, hostility toward people who did not support them, and hatred and vengefulness against people who did not admire and revere them. In the farthest regions live people from the so-called Catholic religion who wanted to be worshiped as gods and who therefore burned with hatred against anyone who did not acknowledge their power over human souls and over heaven. They have the same kind of animus—the same kind of hatred and vengefulness—toward people who oppose them, as they did in the world. They take particular delight in cruelty, but in the other life this is turned against them; for in their hells (and the western quarter is full of them) they rage against each other because everyone is claiming divine power. There is more about this, though, in my booklet on The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed.

Still, we cannot know how the hells are arranged in this region, only that the most horrifying are off to the side toward the northern quarter and the less horrifying toward the southern quarter. That is, the horror of the hells decreases between the northern region and the southern, and also, successively, toward the east. The people toward the east there are the ones who were foolish and did not believe in the Divine, but still were not given to the same kind of hatred and vengefulness or trickery as the people who are deeper in the western quarter.

At present, there are no hells in the eastern region. The people who were there have been transferred to the front of the western quarter. There are a good many hells in the northern and southern regions. The people there were absorbed in love of the world during their lives and therefore in various kinds of evil such as enmity, hostility, thievery, robbery, fraud, avarice, and callousness. The worst hells of this sort are in the northern quarter and the milder ones in the south. Their dreadfulness increases the nearer they are to the western region and the farther they are from the south, and decreases toward the east and also toward the south.

Behind the hells in the western region lie dense forests where malevolent spirits roam like wild animals, and much the same is true of the hells in the northern quarter. Behind the hells in the southern quarter, though, lie the deserts just described. So much for the location of the hells.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 587


Sections 141-153: Published 7/8/2017-7/15/2017

The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells (Continued)

I have been allowed to look into the hells and see what they were like inside, for when it pleases the Lord, a spirit or angel who is overhead can probe visually into the depths and examine their nature with no coverings in the way. I have also been allowed to explore them in this fashion. Some of the hells looked to me like caves and caverns leading into cliffs and then slanting downward or off at an angle.

Some of these hells looked like the lairs or dens of wild animals in the woods, some like the vaulted chambers and crypts found in mines, with caverns leading downward. Many of the hells are threefold. The higher ones look gloomy inside because the people there are fond of malicious distortions. The lower ones look fiery, though, because their inhabitants are devoted to malice itself. Darkness in fact corresponds to malicious distortions, and fire to the actual malice. That is, the people in the deeper hells are the ones who acted from evil on a deeper level, while the people in the hells that are not so deep acted from evils on a more superficial level—that is, on the basis of their malicious distortions.

In some hells you can see what look like the ruins of houses and cities after a fire, where hellish spirits live and hide out.

In the milder hells you can see crude huts, sometimes grouped in something like a city, with alleyways and streets. There are hellish spirits in these homes, with constant quarrels, hostility, beating, and violence. The streets and alleys are full of thieves and robbers.

In some hells there are nothing but brothels, foul to look at and full of all kinds of filth and excrement.

There are also dark forests where hellish spirits roam like wild beasts; and there are underground caves there where they flee when they are being threatened by others. Then there are desert areas where everything is barren and sandy, with rugged cliffs here and there with caves in them, and huts scattered around as well. People are exiled from the hells into these desert places if they have suffered to the limit, especially people who in the world were craftier than others in the skills of deliberate manipulation and deceit. This kind of life is their final lot.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 586