What we love constitutes life itself to us: what our love is like determines what our life is like and therefore what we are like as human beings. In particular, it is the love that is dominant or supreme in us that makes us who we are.
That love has many loves that are subordinate to it, loves that derive from it. They take on various guises, but they are all nevertheless present within the dominant love, and together with it make one kingdom. The dominant love acts as the monarch or head of the rest; it governs them and works through them as intermediate goals, in order to focus on and strive for its primary and ultimate goal of all, doing this both directly and indirectly.
The object of our dominant love is what we love more than anything else.
Whatever we love more than anything else is constantly present within our thoughts and also within our will. It constitutes the very core of our life. For example, if we love wealth more than anything else, whether in the form of money or of possessions, we are constantly considering how we can acquire it. We feel the deepest joy when we do acquire it and the deepest grief when we lose it—our heart is in it.
If we love ourselves more than anything else, we are mindful of ourselves at every little moment. We think about ourselves, talk about ourselves, and act to benefit ourselves, because our life is a life of pure self.
We have as our goal whatever we love more than anything else. This is what we focus on overall and in every detail. It is within our will like the hidden current of a river that draws and carries us along even when we are doing something else, because it is what animates us.
What is loved above all is also something we look for and see in others, and something we use to influence them or to cooperate with them.
The way we are is entirely determined by what controls our life. This is what distinguishes us from each other. This is what determines our heaven if we are good and our hell if we are evil. It is our essential will, our self, and our nature. In fact, it is the underlying reality of our life. It cannot be changed after death because it is what we really are.
All the pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness we feel comes from and accords with what we love above all. We call whatever we love a pleasure because that is how it feels to us. While we can also call something a pleasure that we think about but do not love, that kind of pleasure is not alive for us.
What we see as good is what is pleasing to our love, and what we see as evil is what is displeasing to our love.
There are two kinds of love that generate all that is good and true, and two kinds of love that generate all that is evil and false.
The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor; the two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false are love for ourselves and love for this world.
The latter two kinds of love are the exact opposites of the former two kinds of love.
The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor) make heaven for us, so they reign in heaven as well; and since they make heaven for us they also constitute the church.
The two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false (which as just stated are love for ourselves and love for this world) make hell for us and therefore reign in hell as well.
The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are the kinds of love in heaven) open and give form to our inner, spiritual self because that is where they live. However, when the two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false are in control, they close and wreck our inner, spiritual self and cause us to be materialistic and sense-oriented according to the extent and nature of their domination.
from New Jerusalem, Sections 54-61