The Light in Which Angels Live (Continued); Their Magnificent Gardens and Their Dwellings

As for rainbows, there is a kind of iridescent heaven, in which the whole atmosphere seems to be made of tiny rainbows, one after another. The people who live there belong to the region of the inner eye and are stationed off to the right, out in front and a little bit up above. The entire atmosphere there—all the air—consists of these gleams of light and therefore radiates out of each individual “beacon,” so to speak. A much larger rainbow (compounded of similar smaller ones that are exquisite miniatures of the big one) forms a gorgeous belt around the outside.

Each color, then, consists of many, many rays, so that millions of rays make up a single, all-inclusive rainbow visible to the eye. The rainbow is a modification of the points of light, a modification produced by the heavenly and spiritual forces that create the rainbow and in the process present before the observer’s eyes a picture full of representative meaning.

There is no limit to the different types and varieties of rainbows, several of which I was privileged to see. To grasp in some measure the kind of variation they display, and to see how very many rays of light go into a single visible one, let me describe just one or two.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1623

The Light in Which Angels Live (Continued); Their Magnificent Gardens and Their Dwellings

To turn now to the magnificent gardens: they are breathtaking. Huge parks containing every kind of tree come into view, so beautiful and so charming that they defy all power of imagination. They are presented to the inhabitants’ outward sight in such a living way that not only are they seen, they are also perceived in all their detail much more vividly than anything our physical eyesight discerns on earth.

To remove any doubts I might have on the subject, I was taken there (the place is in front, at an angle slightly above the right eye, where people who live the life of paradise are located), and I saw. Absolutely everything appears in its loveliest springtime and its loveliest bloom, with stunning magnificence and variety. Every single object is alive with representation, since nothing exists there that does not represent or symbolize something heavenly or spiritual. So the sights not only please the eyes but also cheer the mind.

Some souls newly arrived from the world once expressed doubt—because of principles they had adopted while still alive—that similar things could exist in the other world, where there is neither wood nor stone. They were taken up to that place and spoke to me from there. Stupefied, they said that it was indescribable, and that they could never find a mental picture to represent its indescribability. Exhilaration and happiness shone out from every particle, they said, with unending variety.

For the most part, souls being introduced to heaven are taken first of all to the paradisal gardens. Angels look at such things with very different eyes, however. It is not the actual gardens that delight an angel but the things they represent, and so the heavenly and spiritual realities behind them. The earliest church had its paradisal gardens from this source.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1622

The Light in Which Angels Live (Continued); Their Magnificent Gardens and Their Dwellings

When we gain access to inward sight (the sight of our spirit), we see the objects of the other world, which could never be presented to the sight of our physical eyes. This is exactly what the visions of the prophets were.

In heaven, as noted [Section 1532], there are constant symbolic representations of the Lord and his kingdom. In fact every single thing the angels see represents and symbolizes something. This is the source of representation and symbolism in the Word, because the Word comes by way of heaven from the Lord.

There are more objects to be seen in the world of spirits and heaven than can be listed. As the present subject is light, let me tell about the things that arise directly out of the light, such as atmospheres, parks, rainbows, palaces, and houses. With their outward eyes, spirits and angels see these items as being so radiant and alive, so perceptible to all their senses, that they declare them to be real and the objects of the world to be unreal by comparison.

I start with the atmospheres that the blessed live in, which are made of light, because they rise out of the light there. The number of different kinds cannot be counted, and they are so beautiful and pleasant that they cannot be described. There are diamondlike atmospheres that flash in all their most minuscule elements, as if they were made of diamond pellets. There are atmospheres that resemble the gleam of all kinds of gems. There are atmospheres seemingly made of translucent pearls glowing from within, streaking the air with the most brilliant colors. There are atmospheres afire with gold, it seems, or with silver, or with diamondlike gold and silver. There are atmospheres composed of multicolored flowers so small they cannot be seen; countless variations on this type of atmosphere fill the heaven where small children live. In fact one even sees atmospheres composed of what seem to be children at play, again at a size that is too small to see but that can be perceived, although only by the deepest power of thought. This gives young children the idea that everything around them is alive and is part of the Lord’s stream of life—a thought that gladdens them to the core.

There are many other kinds of atmosphere besides, because the variations are beyond number and also beyond description.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Sections 1619-1621

The Inner Self and The Outer Self (Continued)

We refer to people as “sense-oriented” when their inner nature is so external that they cannot believe anything unless they can see it with their own eyes and touch it with their own hands. They have the lowest possible level of earthly human nature and are subject to misconceptions about everything having to do with the faith of the church.

The inner and outer levels we have been dealing with are the inner and outer levels of our spirit. Our bodies are nothing but a shell in which these inner and outer levels reside. That is, the body does nothing on its own, acting only from the spirit that is within it.

Bear in mind that after it is released from the body our spirit keeps right on thinking and intending and speaking and acting. Its thinking and intending constitute the inner level of our spirit, while its speaking and acting constitute its outer level.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 45, 46

The Inner Self and The Outer (Continued)

The Lord has foreseen and arranged matters in such a way that the more we derive our thoughts and intentions from heaven, the more our inner spiritual self opens and takes shape. This is an opening to heaven all the way to the Lord, and a taking shape in accord with the priorities of heaven. In direct contrast, the more we derive our thoughts and intentions not from heaven but from the world, the more our inner spiritual self closes and our outer self opens. This is an opening to the world and a taking shape in accord with the priorities of this world.

When our inner spiritual self has been opened to heaven all the way to the Lord, we are in heaven’s light and in an enlightenment that comes from the Lord, which means that we come into intelligence and wisdom. We see what is true because it is true and we perceive what is good because it is good.

On the other hand, when our inner spiritual self has been closed we are not aware that our spiritual self exists, let alone aware of what that spiritual self is. We do not believe that there is anything divine, either, or that there is a life after death, so we do not believe anything that has to do with heaven or the church. Since we are solely in the light of this world and its enlightenment, we believe that nature is God, what is false looks true to us, and what is evil is perceived as good.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 43, 44

The Inner Self and The Outer Self (Continued)

People who have only a vague concept of the inner self and the outer self believe that it is the inner self that thinks and intends and the outer that speaks and acts as a result, since thinking and intending are internal activities, and speaking and acting are external. It should be borne in mind, though, that when we think intelligently and intend wisely, we are thinking and intending from a spiritual inner nature, but when we do not think intelligently and intend wisely we are thinking and intending from an earthly inner nature. This means that when our thoughts about the Lord and about matters that involve the Lord are good and when our thoughts about our neighbor and about matters that involve our neighbor are good, and when our intentions toward them are good, we are thinking and intending from our spiritual inner nature. This is because our thinking is based on a belief in what is true and a love for what is good, and is therefore coming from heaven. However, when our thoughts about them are evil and our intentions toward them are evil, then we are thinking and intending from our earthly inner nature because our thinking is based on a belief in what is false and a love for what is evil, so our thinking is coming from hell.

In short, to the extent that we are focused on loving the Lord and loving our neighbor, our inner nature is spiritual. We are thinking and intending from that nature and are speaking and acting from it as well. To the extent that we are focused on loving ourselves and loving the world, though, our inner nature is earthly. We are thinking and intending from that nature and are speaking and acting from it as well.

from New Jerusalem, Section 42

The Inner Self and The Outer Self (Continued)

Seen in its own right, a spiritual inner self is an angel of heaven, and while it is living in the body it is also in the company of angels even though it is not aware of being so; and once it is released from the body it joins them. A merely earthly inner self, though, when seen in its own right, is not an angel but a spirit and is also in the company of spirits while it is living in the body. However, it is with spirits who are in hell, and after its release from the body it joins them.

The deeper levels of [the minds of] people who are spiritual are actively raised up toward heaven because that is their primary focus, while the deeper levels of the minds of people who are merely earthly are actively turned toward this world because that is their primary focus. For all of us, our inner levels, which are levels of our higher mind, are turned toward what we love above all, and our outer levels, which are levels of our lower mind, are turned in the same direction as the inner.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 40, 41

The Inner Self and The Outer Self (Continued)

It is the inner self that is called a spiritual self because it is in heaven’s light, and that light is spiritual. It is the outer self that is called an earthly self because it is in the light of this world, and that light is earthly. Anyone whose inner level is in heaven’s light and whose outer level is in this world’s light is a spiritual individual in both respects, but people whose inner level is not in heaven’s light but in this world’s light, where their outer level is as well, are earthly individuals in both respects. Spiritual individuals are the ones called “living” in the Word, while earthly individuals are the ones called “dead.”

When our inner level is in heaven’s light and our outer level is in this world’s light, we think in ways that are both spiritual and earthly, but our spiritual thinking flows into our earthly thinking, and that is where we perceive it. However, when our inner level is caught up in this world’s light along with our outer level, we think materialistically rather than spiritually. That is, we base our thinking on the kinds of things we find in this physical world, all of which are composed of matter.

To think spiritually is to think about actual things as they really are, seeing truths in the light of truth and perceiving what is good because we love it. It is seeing the qualities of things and perceiving their emotional impact apart from their material characteristics. In contrast, thinking materialistically is thinking, seeing, and perceiving things as inseparable from matter and as in matter, and therefore relatively crudely and dimly.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 38, 39

The Inner Self and the Outer Self

We are created in such a way that we are in the spiritual world and the earthly world at one and the same time. The spiritual world is where angels are and the earthly world is where we are. And since that is how we are created, we are given an inner nature and an outer nature—an inner nature that allows us to be in the spiritual world, and an outer nature that allows us to be in the earthly world. Our inner nature is what we refer to as the inner self, and our outer nature is what we refer to as the outer self.

Each one of us has an inner level and an outer level, but they are not the same for good people as they are for evil ones. For good people, their inner level is in heaven and in its light, while their outer level is in the world and in its light. Further, for good people this latter light is brightened by heaven’s light, so their inner and outer levels act in unison like an efficient cause and its effect, or like what is prior and what is subsequent. For evil people, though, their inner level is in this world and its light, and the same holds true for their outer level as well. This means that they cannot see anything in heaven’s light, only in this world’s light, which they call “the light of nature.” That is why heavenly matters are in darkness for them and worldly matters are in the light.

We can see from this that good people have an inner self and an outer self, while [in effect] evil people have no inner self, only an outer one.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 36, 37