Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

I have also been allowed to talk with some others who lived in early days and were among the wiser ones of their times. They first appeared in front of me at some distance, and from there they could observe the deeper levels of my thinking. This meant they could observe me very completely, learning a whole series of thoughts from just one of my mental concepts and filling it with delightful elements of wisdom and charming images. I could tell from this that they were among the wiser ones; and I was told that they were from early times.

At this point they came nearer, and when I read them something from the Word, they were totally enchanted. I could sense their very delight and pleasure, which stemmed especially from the fact that every least detail of what they were hearing from the Word was an image and indicator of heavenly and spiritual things. They said that in their own day, when they were living in our world, their mode of thinking and speaking and even writing was like this, and that this was the focus of their wisdom.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 323

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Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

There are wise and simple people among non-Christians just as there are among Christians. To show me what they were like, I have been allowed to talk with both kinds, sometimes for hours and even for days. Nowadays, though, there are not wise ones like those of ancient times, especially in the early church (this covered much of the Near East and was the source from which religion spread to many non-Christian peoples). I have been allowed to carry on personal conversations with some of them in order to find out what they were like.

One particular individual was with me who had been one of the wise at one time and who was therefore well known in the scholarly world. I talked with him about various subjects and was given to believe that he was Cicero. Since I knew that he was wise, we talked about wisdom, intelligence, the pattern of reality, the Word, and finally about the Lord.

On wisdom, he said that there was no wisdom that was not a matter of life, and that wisdom could not be an attribute of anything else. On intelligence, he said that it came from wisdom. On the pattern of reality, he said that the pattern comes from the Supreme Deity, and that living in accord with this pattern is being wise and intelligent. As to the Word, when I read him something from the prophets he was utterly enchanted, especially at the fact that the individual names and the individual words referred to deeper realities. He was quite astonished that modern scholars take no pleasure in this pursuit. I could sense very clearly that the deeper levels of his thought or mind were open. He said that he could not remain present because he felt something too holy for him to bear, it affected him so deeply.

Finally, our conversation turned to the Lord—on his birth as a person here, but one conceived from God; on his putting off the maternal human nature and putting on a divine human nature; and on his being the One who rules the universe. He said that he knew a great deal about the Lord that he grasped in his own way, and that there was no other way the human race could have been saved. All this time, some evil Christians were showering us with libels of various kinds; but he paid no attention to them. He said it was not surprising. It was because during their physical lives they had soaked up notions on these subjects that were not fitting, and that until these were ousted they could not let in notions that supported [the truth] the way people who were simply ignorant could.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 322

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

There was one spirit from a non-Christian country who had lived a good and thoughtful life according to his religion in this world. When he heard some Christian spirits discussing their creeds (spirits talking to each other reason much more exhaustively and acutely than people on earth, especially about what is good and true), he was astonished to find that they quarreled. He said he did not want to listen, since they were arguing on the basis of deceptive appearances. His advice to them was, “If I am a good person, I can know what is true simply from its goodness, and I can be open to what I do not know.”

I have been taught by a great many instances that if non-Christians have lived decent lives, intent on obedience and appropriate deference and in mutual thoughtfulness as their religion requires so that they have acquired a measure of conscience, they are accepted in the other life and are taught by angels about matters of goodness and truth with most sensitive care. Once they have been taught, they behave unpretentiously, intelligently, and wisely and readily accept and absorb truths. This is because no false principles have taken form to oppose truths of faith, principles that would need to be ousted, let alone slanders against the Lord, as is the case for many Christians whose treasured concept of the Lord is simply of an ordinary human being. It is different for non-Christians. When they hear that God became a person here and made himself known in the world, they acknowledge it immediately and revere the Lord. They say that of course God made himself known; after all, he is the God of heaven and earth, and the human race belongs to him.

It is a divine truth that there is no salvation apart from the Lord, but this needs to be understood as meaning that there is no salvation that does not come from the Lord. There are many planets in the universe, all full of inhabitants. Hardly any of them know that the Lord took on a human nature on our planet. Still, though, since they do revere the Divine Being in human form, they are accepted and led by the Lord.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 320, 321

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

People can realize that non-Christians as well as Christians are saved if they know what constitutes heaven in us; for heaven is within us, and people who have heaven within them come into heaven. The heaven within us is our acknowledgment of the Divine and our being led by the Divine. The beginning and foundation of every religion is its acknowledgment of the Divine Being; a religion that does not acknowledge the Divine Being is not a religion at all. The precepts of every religion focus on worship, that is, on how the Divine is to be honored so that we will be acceptable in its sight; and when this fully occupies the mind (or, to the extent that we intend this or love this) we are being led by the Lord.

It is recognized that non-Christians live lives that are just as moral as the lives of Christians—many of them, in fact, live more moral lives. A moral life may be lived either to satisfy the Divine or to satisfy people in this world. A moral life that is lived to satisfy the Divine is a spiritual life. The two look alike in outward form, but inwardly they are totally different. One saves us, the other does not. This is because if we live a moral life to satisfy the Divine we are being led by the Divine; while if we live a moral life to satisfy people in this world, we are being led by ourselves.

This may be illustrated by an example. If we do not do harm to our neighbor because that is against our religion and therefore against the Divine, our refraining from evil stems from a spiritual source. But if we refrain from doing harm to others simply because we are afraid of the law or of losing our reputation or respect or profit—for the sake of self and the world, that is—then this stems from a natural source and we are being led by ourselves. This latter life is natural, while the former is spiritual. If our moral life is spiritual, we have heaven within ourselves; but if our moral life is merely natural, we do not have heaven within ourselves. This is because heaven flows in from above, opens our deeper natures, and flows through those deeper natures into our more outward natures; while the world flows in from below and opens our more outward natures but not our deeper natures. No inflow occurs from the natural world into the spiritual, only from the spiritual world into the natural; so if heaven is not accepted at the same time, the deeper levels are closed. We can see from this who accept heaven into themselves and who do not.

However, the heaven in one individual is not the same as the heaven in another. It differs in each according to the affection for what is good and true. If people are absorbed in an affection for what is good for the sake of the Divine, they love divine truth because the good and the true love each other and want to be united. Consequently, non-Christian people who have not had access to genuine truths in the world still accept them in the other life because of their love.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 319

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven

THE general opinion is that people who have been born outside the church, the people called “the nations” or “non-Christians,” cannot be saved because they do not have the Word and therefore do not know the Lord; and without the Lord there is no salvation. They could know, however, that these people too are saved simply from the fact that the Lord’s mercy is universal, that is, it is extended to all individuals.

Non-Christians are born just as human as people within the church, who are in fact few by comparison. It is not their fault that they do not know the Lord. So anyone who thinks from any enlightened reason at all can see that no one is born for hell. The Lord is actually love itself, and his love is an intent to save everyone. So he provides that everyone shall have some religion, an acknowledgment of the Divine Being through that religion, and an inner life. That is, living according to one’s religious principles is an inner life, for then we focus on the Divine; and to the extent that we do focus on the Divine, we do not focus on the world but move away from the world and therefore from a worldly life, which is an outward life.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 318

The Four Quarters in Heaven (Continued)

When an evil spirit comes into the company of good ones, it usually results in such a confusion of directions that the good spirits hardly know where their east is. This is an event I have often noticed, and I have heard about it from spirits who complained about it

Evil spirits sometimes seem to be oriented to heaven’s directions, at which time they have intelligence and a grasp of what is true, but no affection for what is good; so as soon as they turn back toward their own directions, they are without intelligence or any grasp of what is true. They then say that the true things they had heard and understood are not true but false, and even want false things to be true. I have been told about this kind of turning, specifically that for evil people the intellectual faculty can be turned in this way, but not the voluntary faculty. I have also been told that this is provided by the Lord to the end that everyone may have the ability to see and acknowledge what is true, but that no one will accept it except people who are focused on what is good, since the good—never the evil—is what accepts truths.

Further, it is similar with us, so that we can be corrected by means of truths, though the extent to which we are corrected depends on our focus on what is good. This is why we can be turned toward the Lord in much the same way. However, if we are engaged in evil in the conduct of our lives, we immediately turn back again and justify within ourselves the false rationalizations of our evil over against the truths that we have understood and seen. This happens when we think within ourselves, on the basis of our deeper inclinations.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 151, 152

The Four Quarters in Heaven (Continued)

The opposite holds for the people who are in the hells. The people there do not focus on the Lord as the sun or the moon, but look away from the Lord toward that dark object that occupies the place of our world’s sun and the gloomy object that occupies the place of earth’s moon. The ones called demons look toward the dark object in our sun’s place, and the ones called spirits toward the gloomy object in our moon’s place. As explained in Section 122, the sun of our world and earth’s moon are not visible in the spiritual world, but in place of our sun there is something dark opposite heaven’s sun and something gloomy opposite heaven’s moon.

This means that hell’s inhabitants have directions opposite to those of heaven. Their east is where they see that dark or gloomy object and their west is where heaven’s sun is. Their south is to their right and their north to their left, no matter which way they turn their bodies. Nothing else is possible for them, because the whole tendency of their deeper natures, their whole orientation therefore, aims and strives in this direction. On the fact that love is what determines the tendency of our deeper natures and therefore the orientation of everyone’s actions in the other life, see Sections 143.

The love of people in the hells is a love for oneself and for the world, these loves being what is meant by the sun of this world and earth’s moon (see Section 122). Further, these loves are opposite to love for the Lord and love for one’s neighbor. This is why they turn toward the darkness, away from the Lord.

The people who are in the hells also live arranged according to the cardinal directions. The ones who are obsessed with evils that arise from love for themselves are along the east-west axis, and the ones who are obsessed with falsifications for the sake of evil are along the south-north axis. There will be more about them later, though, where we discuss the hells.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 151

The Four Quarters in Heaven (Continued)

There is a similar dwelling arrangement for the angels in each particular community of heaven. The ones who are engaged in a greater degree of love and thoughtfulness are toward the east, and the ones in less toward the west; the ones who are in greater light of wisdom are toward the south, and the ones in less toward the north. The reason for this arrangement is that each community is a reflection of heaven and is a heaven in lesser form as well (see Section 51–58). The same thing happens in meetings. They are brought into this arrangement by the form of heaven, which enables every individual to know his or her place.

It is also provided by the Lord that there shall be all kinds of people in each community, because heaven has a consistent form throughout. Still, the arrangement of heaven as a whole does differ from that of a community as a general entity differs from its details. That is, the communities that are located toward the east are superior to those toward the west, and those toward the south are superior to those toward the north.

This is why the cardinal directions in heaven mean the qualities of the people who live there. The east means love and its good clearly perceived, the west the same dimly perceived, the south wisdom and intelligence in clear light, and the north the same in dim light. Further, since the directions have these meanings, they mean similar things in the inner or spiritual meaning of the Word, since the inner or spiritual meaning of the Word is in complete accord with the way things are in heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 149, 150

The Four Quarters in Heaven (Continued)

All the people in the heavens live in different areas according to the cardinal directions. People who are sensitive to the good that love does live along the east-west axis: the ones who have a clear perception of this, toward the east; and the ones who have a vague perception of it, toward the west. People who are sensitive to the issues of wisdom that result [from that good] live along the south-north axis: the ones in a clear light of wisdom, toward the south; and the ones in a dim light of wisdom, toward the north.

The dwelling arrangement for angels in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom is like that of the ones in his heavenly kingdom, with a difference that depends on the good that love does and the light of truth that comes from the good. This is because the love in the heavenly kingdom is a love for the Lord, and the light of truth from that love is wisdom. On the other hand, the love in the spiritual kingdom is the love for our neighbor that is called thoughtfulness, and the light of truth that comes from it is intelligence, also called faith (see Section 23). They also differ according to the directions, since as just noted (Section 146), the directions in the two kingdoms are thirty degrees apart.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 148

The Four Quarters in Heaven (Continued)

We can see from this what the Lord’s presence is like in the heavens: it is everywhere, with every individual in the good and true qualities that emanate from the Lord. So he is in angels in what is actually his own (as noted in Section 12).

Their sense of the Lord’s presence is in their deeper reaches. It is from these that their eyes see, so he seems to be outside them because there is a continuum. This enables us to see how we should understand the Lord’s being in them and their being in the Lord, according to the Lord’s words,

Abide in me, and I in you (John 15:4), and Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. (John 6:56)

“The Lord’s flesh” means what is divine and good, and his “blood” means what is divine and true.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 147