Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

I once talked with some spirits who had just arrived from the world about the state of eternal life. I emphasized the fact that it is important to know who the lord of a kingdom is, what the government is like, and what the forms of government are. It is the same when people are visiting a foreign country in this world. Nothing is more critical for them than to know who the king is and what his character is, what the government is like, and a great many more details about the nation. How much more important must this be in the kingdom where they are going to live forever! They should realize, then, that it is the Lord who governs heaven—and the universe, for whoever rules the one rules the other as well. This means that the kingdom where they now find themselves belongs to the Lord and that the laws of this kingdom are eternal truths all based on the law that they should love the Lord above all and their neighbor as themselves. Not only that, but if they wanted to be like angels, they needed to love their neighbor more than themselves.

When they heard this last point they were unable to respond, because they had heard something like this during their physical lives but had not believed it. They wondered whether there was that kind of love in heaven, whether it was possible for anyone to love her or his neighbor more than herself or himself. They were told, though, that in the other life everything good increases immensely. Life in a physical body cannot by nature progress beyond loving one’s neighbor as the self, because it is immersed in physical concerns. Once these are removed, though, the love becomes purer and ultimately angelic, which is loving one’s neighbor more than oneself. This is because in the heavens doing good for someone else is a delight and doing good for oneself is not unless it is to give to another and therefore for the sake of the other. This is loving one’s neighbor more than oneself.

As for the possibility of this love, it was said that in this world it might be gathered from the marriage love some people have for each other, people who would rather die than allow their spouse to be hurt. Or they might consider the love of parents for their children, the mother who would rather starve than see her children go hungry; or the true friendship that leads people to face peril for the sake of their friends. They might even consider the simulated friendship of formal courtesy, in which people try to imitate the real thing by offering the better portions to people they claim to want to help and then make noise about it, though it is not from their hearts. Lastly, they might consider the nature of love, whose nature is to find joy in serving others for their sake and not for its own.

However, the ones who loved themselves more than others could not grasp this, nor could the ones who had been keen on profit taking during their physical lives; and least of all, misers.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 406

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