Featured

There is a Spiritual Meaning in the Word, Which Has Been Unknown until Now (Continued)

(2). There is a spiritual meaning throughout the Word and in all its details (Continued)

In the twenty-first chapter of Revelation we find the following description of the holy Jerusalem:

Its light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. It had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and on the gates were twelve angels and the names written of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Its wall measured one hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a human being, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper, and its foundations were made of precious stones of every kind— jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, onyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls. The city was pure gold, like clear glass, and was square— its length, breadth, and height were equal at twelve thousand stadia each. [Revelation 21: 11– 12, 16– 21]

And so on.

We can tell that all these features are to be understood spiritually from the fact that the holy Jerusalem means a new church that the Lord is going to establish, as explained in § § 62– 65 of Teachings on the Lord. Further, since Jerusalem here means the church, it follows that everything said about it— about the city, its gates, its wall, the foundations of the wall, and its dimensions— has spiritual meaning in it, since what goes to make up the church is spiritual.

As for the meaning of the details, though, these have been explained in Section 1 of The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Teachings (published in London in 1758), so I forego further explanation.

Suffice it to say that we know from these examples that there is spiritual meaning in the details of the description of the city, like a soul within a body, and that if it were not for this meaning we would find nothing relevant to the church in what is written there— the city being of pure gold, the gates of pearls, the wall of jasper, the foundations of the wall of precious stones; the wall measuring a hundred and forty-four cubits by the measure of a human being, that is, of an angel; the city itself being twelve thousand stadia in length, breadth, and height; and so on.

Yet people who are familiar with the spiritual meaning because of their knowledge of correspondences understand that the wall and its foundations mean a body of teaching drawn from the literal meaning of the Word, and that the numbers twelve, a hundred and forty-four, and twelve thousand all mean much the same, namely, all the good and true features of the church viewed in one combined form.

from Sacred Scripture–White Horse, Section 10

Hell

People have only the most general concept of hell, just as they do of heaven, and that concept is almost so vague as to be none at all. It is like the picture of the world at large available to those who have never been outside their cabins in the forest. They know nothing about its empires and countries, let alone its forms of government, and least of all about society and the way people live in society. Until they know these things, their concept of the world cannot be more than the sketchiest notion, which is practically no notion whatever. Likewise with regard to heaven and hell. In reality, both heaven and hell contain too many marvels to count—indefinitely more than any planet could hold.

The vast number of wonders there can be seen from this one thought: Just as no two people ever have the same heaven, no two ever have the same hell, and all the souls that have ever existed in the world since the beginning of creation flock together there.

Love for the Lord and for one’s neighbor constitutes heaven, as do the joy and happiness it brings. By the same token, spiteful opposition to the Lord and one’s fellow human constitutes hell, as do the penalties and torture it brings.

Hatred comes in countless different types and even more variations on those types. For every variety of hatred, there is a hell.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 692-693

Notes:

Previously Cited: 4/26/2016

The Church Plays the Role of the Heart

To expand on the symbolism of the words I will destroy them together with the earth (I have decided to destroy all living creatures –Genesis 6:13 NLT) as the fact that the human race would meet its end along with the church: If the Lord’s church were completely obliterated from the planet, the human race could never survive. Every last person would die.

The church resembles the heart. As long as the heart thrives, so can the surrounding organs and limbs. But as soon as the heart dies, everything else dies too. The Lord’s church on earth is like the heart; from it the human race—including people outside the church—receives life. Since no one has the faintest idea why this is so, I wish to explain.

The situation of the earth’s entire population resembles that of the human body with all its parts. In this body, the church plays the role of the heart. If there were no church supplying the heart’s place—a church with which the Lord could be united by means of heaven and the world of spirits—a break would occur. And if there were a break between the human race and the Lord, we would be annihilated immediately.

For this reason, a church has always existed, ever since the first moment of humanity’s creation. Even when the church has begun to die out, it has always remained alive in a few people.

The Lord came into the world for the same reason. Had divine mercy not prompted him to come, the whole human race on this planet would have been destroyed, because at that time the church had reached its last stages and hardly any goodness or truth was left.

Because we humans, regarded in ourselves, are much lower than animals, we have no chance at survival unless we are intimately connected with the Lord through heaven and the world of spirits. Left on our own we would plunge headlong into destroying ourselves and everyone else, because the ruination of ourselves and everyone else is all we long for.

Our proper code of life is to love one another as we love ourselves, but what we actually do these days is to love ourselves more than others and thus hate everyone else. Now, with unreasoning animals the case is totally different. Their proper code is the one they live by, and so they live in thorough harmony with their destiny. We humans, though, live exactly opposite to the pattern ordained for us, so if the Lord did not take pity on us, if he did not bind us to him through angels, we could not possibly survive a single moment.

Of this fact humanity is unaware.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 637

Understanding of Truth and a Will to Do Good

It is tremendously difficult to explain comprehensibly what an understanding of truth and a will to do good are, in the strict sense. The reason for the difficulty is that we consider every thought passing through our minds to be part of our intellect (since that is the name we give it) and every desire entering our heart to be part of our will (since that is the name we give it).

What makes a clear explanation even harder is that many people today are also completely unable to tell the difference between activity in the intellect and activity in the will. When they think something, they say they want it, and when they want something, they say they think it. So again the obstacle is the labels people use.

Yet another barrier to comprehension is the fact that only what relates to their body captures people’s interest; that is, their lives are exceedingly shallow.

For all these reasons, people are unaware that each of us has a deeper level inside, and another level deeper than that, and another level that is deepest of all. They do not see that our bodily urges and sense impressions form the outermost surface; our passions and memories, a deeper layer; our loves and rational thoughts, a still deeper layer; and a will to do good and a comprehension of truth, the deepest. These levels are differentiated from one another with the greatest possible clarity. Body-centered people, however, jumble them all together into an undifferentiated whole. This is the source of the belief that when our physical part dies, everything else must too, even though it is at death that we first start to live. Indeed the new life comes to us by way of our inner levels, passing through each level in order.

If our inner dimensions were not clearly distinguished in this way, and if they did not lie one within the other, in the next life we could never become spirits, never become angelic spirits, never become angels. These three groups are differentiated in the same way as the inner levels, which create the plainest demarcation possible among the three heavens.

This explanation casts a little light on what a comprehension of truth and a will to do good are, properly speaking, and shows that they can be ascribed only to a person whose character is heavenly, or to angels in the third heaven.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 634

The Reasons Why The Lord Willed to Be Born on Our Earth, and not on Anther

There are many reasons why it pleased the Lord to be born and to assume the Human on our earth, and not on any other, concerning which I have been informed from heaven.

The principal reason was for the sake of the Word, in that it could be written on our earth, and when written could then be published throughout the whole earth; and once published could be preserved for all posterity; and that thus it might be made manifest even to all in the other life that God had become a Man.

That the principal reason was for the sake of the Word, is because the Word is truth Divine itself, which teaches man that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death; and which teaches besides how a man must live and believe in order that he may come into heaven, and thus be eternally happy. Without revelation, thus on this earth without the Word, all these things would have been utterly unknown; and yet man has been so created that in respect to his internal man he cannot die.

That the Word could be written on our earth, is because the art of writing has existed here from the most ancient time, first on wooden tablets, later on parchment, afterward on paper, and finally it could be published in print. This has been provided by the Lord for the sake of the Word.

That the Word could afterward be published throughout this whole earth, is because there is here an interaction of all nations, both by overland travel and by navigation, to all places on the globe. Therefore the Word once written could be carried from one nation to another, and could be everywhere taught. That there should be such an interaction has also been provided by the Lord for the sake of the Word.

That the Word once written could be preserved for all posterity, consequently for thousands and thousands of years, and that it has been so preserved, is known.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 9350-9355

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

Those who know how to share love are constantly advancing into the springtime of their youth in heaven, and the more millennia they live, the more joyful and happy that springtime is. Their progress continues forever, its never-ending increase determined by their development and growth in the capacity for sharing love, in charity, and in faith.

A woman who dies old, worn out by age, and who lived a life marked by faith in the Lord, charity toward her neighbors, and a happy, loving marriage with her husband—such a woman develops more and more of the bloom of mid- and early womanhood with the passage of years. She takes on a loveliness that eclipses any conception of beauty ever seen by the eye. Virtue and kindness are what shape her and make her a likeness of themselves. They cause the joy and beauty of neighborly love to shine out from the smallest details of her face, so that she becomes a form of charity itself. Some observers have been struck speechless on seeing these women.

The inner workings of charity are such that charity itself is what provides the visible form and is the thing expressed in that form too. This is clear from actual experience in the other life. The whole angel, especially the face, is charity, which is both clearly presented to view and clearly perceived. To see the form is to see inexpressible beauty that touches the deepest, living reaches of the mind, filling them with charity. The beauty of the form provides an image in which religious truth is displayed—truth that is also perceived from that form.

Those who have lived a life marked by faith in the Lord, that is, by the faith that comes of charity, become these visible forms—these beauties—in the next life. All angels are such forms, in unlimited variety. Of them heaven is made.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 553

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

The whole of heaven and its individual inhabitants without exception trace their origin to the Lord alone, in general and in the smallest particulars. This is the source of order, of unity, of mutual love, and of happiness, because this is what causes individuals to look to the health and happiness of all, and all to that of every individual.

Many experiences have shown me that all joy and happiness in heaven come from the Lord alone. At this point, let me recount just one such experience.

I saw that certain angelic spirits, using the greatest possible care, were making an ornate lampstand, with its lamps and flowers, in the Lord’s honor. For an hour or two I was allowed to observe how hard they worked to make absolutely everything beautiful and full of significance. They felt that the labor was their own, but I was able to sense clearly that they could invent nothing by their own power.

Finally, several hours later, they said they had succeeded in making a gorgeous lampstand, with all its representative art, in honor of the Lord, and at this they rejoiced from the depths of their being. I told them, however, that at no time had they designed or created anything on their own but that it was the Lord alone who had done this for them. At first they were scarcely willing to believe it, but being angelic spirits, they received enlightenment and confessed that it was so.

The same is true for all their other representative objects, for all their feelings and thoughts without exception, and so for heavenly joy and happiness; the least of them all come from the Lord alone.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 551-552

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

The angelic state is such that everyone conveys his or her own blessings and happiness to others. In the next life there is a communication and keen perception of all feelings and thoughts, so that in the sharing of joy each communicates to all and all to each, which essentially makes every individual the center of all the rest.

This is how heaven is set up. As a result, the more people there are to make up the Lord’s kingdom, the greater the happiness is; it increases as the numbers increase. This is why heavenly happiness is inexpressible. Such a sharing of all with one and one with all exists whenever we love another person more than ourselves. But when we wish better to ourselves than to another, self-love takes control. Self-love shares nothing of its own with others except its self-conception, which is actually something extremely filthy. When this conception is perceived by others, we are immediately cut off and rejected.

Each and every part of the human body cooperates with the others in both the overall functioning of the whole and the specific functioning of each part. It is the same in the Lord’s kingdom, which is like a single human being and is also named the “universal human”; everyone there works together, whether at close quarters or more at a distance, and by many different means. This takes place in accord with the plan established and constantly reinforced by the Lord alone for the sake of everyone’s happiness.

from  Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 549-550

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/2/2016

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

None of the souls who come into the other life know what heaven or heavenly joy is. Most think it is a joy they can enter into regardless of how they have lived. Even those who hated their neighbor and indulged in a life of adultery believe this, entirely unaware that heaven is love—a love both mutual and chaste—and that heavenly joy is the happiness welling up from love.

Several times I have talked to spirits newly arrived from the world about the conditions of eternal life. “It’s important for you to know who the Lord of the realm is, what his style of government is like, and what the form of government is,” I pointed out. “On earth, the first thing you have to do on entering another country is to learn the identity and character of the monarch, the nature of the government, and other information about the country. How much more so in this realm, where you’ll live forever? “The Lord alone rules not just heaven but the whole universe,”I said. “Whoever rules the one rules the other. “The kingdom in which you now find yourself is the Lord’s.

The laws of this kingdom are eternal truths, all founded on this solitary law: you are to love the Lord above all and your neighbor as yourself. Not only this, in fact, but if you want to be like angels, you’ll have to love your neighbor more than yourselves.” To all this they had no answer, because during bodily life they had heard something similar but had not believed it. They were astounded to hear that in heaven people can and do love their neighbor more than themselves (although they had heard that they should love their neighbor as themselves).

“Everything good in the next life expands without limit,” I told them. “Life bounded by the body is such that we can’t progress any farther than loving our neighbor as ourselves, because we’re wrapped up in bodily concerns. But when these concerns have been laid aside, love grows purer and purer until at last it is angelic. Angelic love is to love one’s neighbor more than oneself.

“That this kind of love is possible you could have known from the love between certain married partners who would prefer death to seeing their spouse injured. You could have known it from the love parents have for their children: a mother would rather starve than see her baby go hungry. And this is true even among birds and animals.

“You could have known it from true friendship in people who risk danger for the sake of their friends. You could even have known it from polite friendship—the pretense that tries to pass for real friendship—in which we offer the better portions to those in our good graces and bear selflessness on our lips (though not in our hearts).

“Last, you could have known it from the nature of love, which is such that its joy is to serve others, not for one’s own sake but for the other person’s.”

But these things were incomprehensible to those who loved themselves more than others and to those who had been money-grubbing during physical life. Least understanding of all were the misers.

from Secrets of Heaven, volume 1, Sections 547-548

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/1/2016

It IS the Lord’s Divine Nature That Makes Heaven (Continued)

Spirits who during their earthly lives had convinced themselves that they were the sources of the good they did and the truth they believed, or who had claimed these virtues as their own, are not accepted into heaven. This is the belief of all those who place merit in good deeds and claim to be righteous.

Angels avoid them. They regard them as stupid and as thieves—stupid because they are constantly looking at themselves and not at the Divine, and thieves because they take from the Lord what is actually his. They stand in opposition to heaven’s belief that the Lord’s divine nature in angels is what makes heaven.

If people are in heaven or in the church, they are in the Lord and the Lord is in them. This is what the Lord taught when he said, “Abide in me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them will bear much fruit; because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–7).

This allows us finally to conclude that the Lord dwells in angels in what belongs to himself, and therefore that the Lord is the sum and substance of heaven. This is because the good from the Lord is the Lord within and among them, since what comes from him is himself. Accordingly, the good from the Lord, and not anything of their own, is heaven for angels.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 10-12

It Is the Lord’s Divine Nature That Makes Heaven (Continued)

In their wisdom, angels press on even further. They say that it is not just everything good and true that comes from the Lord, but every bit of life as well. They support this by pointing out that nothing can come into being from itself. Everything presupposes something prior. This means that everything has come into being from a First, which they call the essential reality of the life of everything. Everything endures in the same way, too, because enduring is a constant coming into being. If anything were not kept in constant connection with the First, through intermediate means, it would instantly collapse and disintegrate. They add that there is only one single wellspring of life, with human life as one stream flowing from it. If it were not constantly supplied from its wellspring, it would immediately peter out.

Still further, they say that nothing flows from that unique wellspring of life, the Lord, that is not divinely good and divinely true. These affect every individual according to the way they are accepted. People who accept them into their faith and life are in heaven, while people who reject or stifle them transform them into hell. They actually change what is good into evil and what is true into falsity—life into death.

Angels also support their belief that the Lord is the source of every bit of life by observing that everything in the universe goes back to what is good and true. Our volitional life, the life of our love, goes back to what is good, while our cognitive life, the life of our faith, goes back to what is true. Since everything good and true comes to us from above, it follows that this is the source of all of our life.

Because angels believe this, they decline any thanks offered them for the good they do. In fact they feel hurt and withdraw if anyone gives them credit for anything good. It bewilders them to discover that people can believe they are wise on their own or do good on their own. Doing good for one’s own sake, in their language, cannot be called “good,” because it stems from self. Doing good for its own sake is what they call “good from the Divine.” This, they say, is the kind of good that makes heaven, because this kind of good is the Lord.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 9

Notes:

Previously Cited: 5/30/2017