Faith

No one knows what faith is in its essence who does not know what caring is, because where there is no caring there is no faith. This is because caring is just as inseparable from faith as goodness is from truth. What we love or really care about is what we regard as good, and what we believe is what we regard as true. We can therefore see that the oneness of caring and faith is like the oneness of what is good and what is true. The nature of that union was made clear in the earlier material on goodness and truth.

The oneness of caring and faith is also like the oneness of our will and our understanding. These are, after all, the two faculties in us that are receptive to goodness and truth, our will being the faculty receptive to goodness and our understanding being the faculty receptive to truth. These two faculties are also receptive to caring and faith, because caring has to do with goodness and faith has to do with truth. Everyone knows that caring and faith are with us and in us, and since they are with us and in us, the only place they can be is in our will and in our understanding. Our whole life resides there and comes forth from there. Yes, we do have a faculty of memory as well, but that is only a waiting room where things gather that are going to enter our understanding and our will. We can see, then, that the oneness of caring and faith is like the oneness of our will and our understanding. The nature of this oneness can be seen from the information already presented on our will and our understanding.

Our caring is joined to our faith when we choose to do what we know and perceive to be true. Our caring is a function of what we choose to do, and our faith is a function of what we know and perceive to be true. Faith first enters us and becomes part of us when we choose to do what we know and perceive to be true, and when we come to love that truth. Until that happens, faith remains outside us.

Faith is not faith for us unless it becomes spiritual, and it does not become spiritual unless it arises out of our love. This happens when we love to live a life of truth and goodness—that is, to live by what we are commanded in the Word.

Faith is a passion for truth that comes from wanting to do what truth teaches because it is the truth; and wanting to do what truth teaches because it is the truth is the very definition of human spirituality. That is, it transcends our earthly nature, which involves our wanting to do what truth teaches not because it is the truth but for the sake of praise or fame or profit for ourselves. Truth detached from such concerns is spiritual because it comes from the Divine. Whatever comes from the Divine is spiritual, and this is joined to us through love because love is a spiritual joining together.

We can know and think and understand a great deal, but when we are left to the privacy of our own thoughts we discard anything that is not in harmony with our love. We discard such things after our physical lives as well, when we are in the spirit, since the only things that are left to us once we are in the spirit are the things that have entered into our love. After death all the rest strikes us as foreign matter that we throw out of our house because it is not part of our love. And I say “in the spirit” because we live as spirits after death.

We can form some image of the relationship between good actions that come from caring and the truth that belongs to religious faith if we think in terms of the warmth and light of the sun. When the light that radiates from the sun is joined to warmth, as is the case in spring and summer, then everything on earth sprouts and blossoms. When there is no warmth in the light, though, as is the case in winter, then everything on earth becomes dormant and dies. The truth that belongs to religious faith is spiritual light, and love is spiritual warmth.

This makes it possible for us to form some image of what people of the church are like when faith is joined to caring in them. They are just like a garden paradise. Their image, though, when faith is not joined to caring in them is like that of a desert or a land buried in snow.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 108-114

Notes:

Goodness and Truth: Published on 11/14-15/2017
Will and Understanding: Published on 11/18/2017

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Love in General

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

Will and Understanding

We have two abilities that make up our life, one called will and the other understanding. They are distinguishable, but they are created to be one. When they are one, they are called the mind; so they are the human mind and it is there that all the life within us is truly to be found.

Just as everything in the universe that is in accord with the divine design goes back to what is good and what is true, so everything in us goes back to will and understanding. This is because whatever is good in us resides in our will and whatever is true in us resides in our understanding. These two abilities, or these two living parts of ours, receive and are acted upon by what is good and true: our will receives and is acted upon by everything that is good, and our understanding receives and is acted upon by everything that is true. Goodness and truth can be found nowhere else in us but in these faculties. Further, since they are not to be found anywhere else, neither are love and faith, since love and goodness are mutually dependent, and similarly faith and truth.

Now, since everything in the universe goes back to goodness and truth and everything about the church goes back to good things that are done from love and truth that belongs to faith, and since we are human because of will and understanding, the body of teaching [I am presenting] deals with will and understanding as well. Otherwise we could have no clear concept of them, no solid foundation for our thinking.

Will and understanding also form the human spirit, since they are where our wisdom and intelligence dwell—in general, where our life dwells. The body, [by contrast,] is simply a thing that follows orders.

There is no knowledge more relevant than knowing how our will and understanding make one mind. They make one mind the way goodness and truth form a unity. There is the same kind of marriage between will and understanding as there is between goodness and truth. You may see quite well what that marriage is like from what has already been presented concerning goodness and truth [Sections 23–24]. That is, just as goodness is the reality underlying something and truth is how that thing becomes manifest from goodness, so our will is the reality underlying our life, and our understanding is how life becomes manifest from our will. This is because the goodness that is characteristic of our will takes form in our understanding and presents itself to view [there].

People who are focused on what is good and true have both will and understanding, while people who are focused on what is evil and false do not have will or understanding. Instead of will they have craving, and instead of understanding they have mere information. Any will that is truly human is receptive to goodness, and any understanding that is truly human is open to truth. This means anything that is evil cannot [properly] be labeled “will,” and anything that is false cannot [properly] be labeled “understanding,” because these things are opposites, and opposites are mutually destructive. That is why anyone who is focused on something evil and therefore on what is false cannot be called rational, wise, or intelligent. Then too, the deeper levels of our minds are closed when we are evil, and those levels are where our will and understanding principally reside.

We assume that we have will and understanding even when we are evil because we say that we are willing things and understanding them, but our “willing” is nothing but craving and our “understanding” is mere information.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 28-33

Providence

Providence is the name for the Lord’s governance in the heavens and on earth. Since all the goodness that comes from love and all the truth that leads to faith—the things that are required for our salvation—come from him and none whatever comes from us, we can see that the Lord’s divine providence is involved in absolutely everything that contributes to the salvation of the human race. As the Lord teaches in John:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

And again,

As a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it abides on the vine, the same goes for you unless you abide in me. Without me you cannot do anything. (John 15:4, 5)

The Lord’s divine providence is operative in the smallest details of our lives; there is only one source of life, who is the Lord, and in him we live and move and have our being [Acts 17:28].

People who think about divine providence in worldly terms come to the conclusion that it applies only on the largest scale, but that the details are left to us. But people who think this way do not know the mysteries of heaven. They draw their conclusions solely on the basis of self-love, love for the world, and the things that give pleasure to these loves. So when they see evil people raised to high rank, making more money than good people, and skillfully and successfully accomplishing evil things, they say in their hearts that none of this would be happening if divine providence were operative in all the details. They fail to take into account, though, that the goal of divine providence does not concern what is momentary and transient, what comes to an end when our lives in this world cease. Rather, its goal concerns what lasts to eternity, what therefore does not have an end. Whatever has no end is real, while what comes to an end is relatively unreal. Consider, if you will, whether a hundred thousand years are anything next to eternity, and you will see that they are not. What then are the few years of our lives in this world?

Anyone who weighs the matter properly can know that eminence and wealth in this world are not genuine divine blessings, even though we call them that because we enjoy them so much. They come to an end for us; and they also lead many of us astray and turn us away from heaven. No, the real blessings that come from the Divine are eternal life and the happiness it brings. This is what the Lord is teaching us in Luke:

Provide yourselves a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys; because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33, 34)

from New Jerusalem, Sections 267-270

Sacred Scripture, or the Word

Without revelation from the Divine, we cannot know anything about eternal life or even about God, and even less about love for God and faith in God. This is because we are born into utter ignorance and have to learn from worldly sources everything that gives form to our understanding. It is also because by heredity we are born with evils of every kind, which come from love for ourselves and for the world. These loves give rise to pleasures that retain constant control over us and prompt us to think things that are diametrically opposed to the Divine. This, then, is why we know nothing about eternal life; so there must of necessity be some revelation that makes it possible for us to know.

If we consider people in the church, we can see very clearly that the evils of love for ourselves and for the world bring about this kind of ignorance about eternal life. Even though people in the church are informed from revelation that God exists, that heaven and hell are real, that there is an eternal life, and that this eternal life is gained by doing good things that are inspired by love and faith, still they fall into denial; and the educated are as prone to this denial as the uneducated.

This shows how great the ignorance would be if there were no revelation.

So since we live after death and our life after death is eternal, and since the particular life that lies ahead for us is based on the state of our love and faith, it follows that the Divine, out of love for the whole human race, has revealed the kinds of thing

In the Christian world, what the Divine has revealed for us is the Word.

Since the Word is a revelation from the Divine, it is divine in every detail. This is because whatever comes from the Divine cannot be otherwise.

Whatever comes from the Divine comes down to us through the heavens, so in the heavens it is adapted to the wisdom of the angels who live there, and on earth it is adapted to the grasp of the people who live here. Consequently, the Word has an inner meaning, which is spiritual and intended for angels, and an outer meaning, which is earthly and intended for us. For this reason it is the Word that joins heaven and us together.

The true meaning of the Word is understood only by those who are enlightened, and we are enlightened only when we are devoted to loving the Lord and having faith in him. In that case our inner levels are lifted into the light of heaven by the Lord.

The Word in its letter cannot be understood properly except by means of a body of teaching drawn from the Word by an enlightened person. Its literal meaning has been accommodated so that it is possible even for those with no education to comprehend it; therefore [to find their way to a truer understanding] they need a body of teaching drawn from the Word to serve as a lamp.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 249-254

Goodness and Truth (Continued)

Goodness takes many forms. Basically, it can be spiritual or earthly, and these two types of goodness come together in what is genuinely good on the moral level. The same goes for types of truth as for types of goodness, because truths come from what is good and are forms of what is good.

The relationship between what is evil and what is false is the inverse of the relationship between what is good and what is true. That is, just as everything in the universe that is in accord with the divine design goes back to what is good and what is true, so everything that violates that design goes back to what is evil and what is false. Further, just as what is good loves being joined to what is true and what is true loves being joined to what is good, likewise what is evil loves being joined to what is false and what is false loves being joined to what is evil.

And just as all intelligence and wisdom are born of a bond between what is good and what is true, so all madness and stupidity are born of a bond between what is evil and what is false. The bond between evil and falsity is called “the hellish marriage.”

We can see from the fact that evil and falsity are the opposite of goodness and truth that nothing true can be joined to anything evil and nothing good can be joined to any falsity arising from evil. If anything true is put together with something evil it is no longer true; it is false because it has been distorted. If anything good is put together with some falsity arising from evil it is no longer good; it is evil because it has been polluted. A falsity that does not arise from evil, though, can be joined to goodness.

“No one who is resolutely and habitually devoted to what is evil and what is false can know what is good and what is true, because such people believe that their evil is good and that their falsity is the truth. On the other hand, anyone who is resolutely and habitually devoted to what is good and what is true can know what is evil and what is false. This is because every type of goodness and its accompanying truth is heavenly in essence, and if any of it is not heavenly in essence it still comes from heaven. Every type of evil and its accompanying falsity, though, is hellish in essence, and any of it that is not hellish in essence still comes from hell. Everything heavenly is in the light, while everything hellish is in darkness.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 16-19

Goodness and Truth

All things in the universe that are in accord with the divine design go back to goodness and truth. There are no exceptions to this in heaven or in the world, because everything good, like everything true, comes from the Divine, which is the source of everything.

We can see, then, that nothing is more necessary for us than knowing what goodness is and what truth is and how each focuses on the other, as well as how each becomes joined to the other. It is particularly necessary, though, for people of the church, because just as everything in heaven goes back to what is good and what is true, so does everything in the church. This is because the goodness and truth that are in heaven are also the goodness and truth that are in the church. This is why I am starting off with a chapter on goodness and truth.

The divine design calls for goodness and truth to be joined together and not separated—to be one, then, and not two. They are together as they emanate from the Lord and they are together in heaven, so they need to be joined to each other in the church.

In heaven, the joining of what is good and what is true is called “the heavenly marriage” because everyone there participates in this marriage. That is why heaven is compared to a marriage in the Word and why the Lord is called the Bridegroom and the Husband, while heaven is called the bride and the wife, as is the church. The reason heaven and the church are so called is that the people there are receptive to the divine goodness that is present within truths.

All the intelligence and wisdom that angels have comes from that marriage. None comes from anything good separated from what is true or from anything true separated from what is good. The same goes for [the intelligence and wisdom of] people in the church.

Since the joining together of goodness and truth is like a marriage, we can see that anything good loves what is true and that correspondingly anything true loves what is good. Each longs to be joined to the other. People in the church who do not have this love and this longing are not participating in the heavenly marriage. This means that the church is not yet in them, because the joining together of goodness and truth is what makes the church.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 11-15

The Lord’s Divine Nature in Heaven Is Love for Him and Thoughtfulness toward One’s Neighbor (Continued)

The reason the Lord’s divine nature in heaven is love is that love is what is receptive of every heavenly quality—that is, of peace, intelligence, wisdom, and happiness. Love is receptive of everything that is in harmony with it. It longs for such things, it seeks them out, it absorbs them spontaneously because it has the constant purpose of uniting itself with them and being enriched by them. People actually recognize this fact, since the love within them surveys memory, so to speak, and draws out from it the items that agree with it. It gathers these together and arranges them within and beneath itself—within itself so that it may possess them and beneath itself so that they may serve it. It discards and eradicates, though, the items that do not agree with it.

I have been able to see very clearly that love has a full, intrinsic ability to accept elements of truth that suit it and has also a desire of uniting them to itself. This has become clear from observing people who have been transported into heaven. Even people who were simple folk in this world have arrived at angelic wisdom and heavenly happiness in the company of angels. This was because they loved what is good and true for the sake of what is good and true. They had grafted these qualities into their lives and had thereby become capable of accepting heaven and all its indescribable riches.

People caught up in love for themselves and for the world, however, have no such receptive ability. They turn away from such things, discard them, and at their first touch or inflow try to escape them. They ally themselves with people in hell who are caught up in loves like their own.

There were some spirits who doubted that love was so full and wanted to know whether this was really true. In order that they might find out, they were let into a state of heavenly love with all obstacles removed and were brought forward a considerable distance to an angelic heaven. They talked with me from there and told me that they felt deeper happiness than words could express, sorrowing that they would have to return to their former state. Other people as well have been raised into heaven, and the deeper or higher they have been taken, the deeper and higher they have penetrated into intelligence and wisdom, becoming able to grasp things that were incomprehensible to them before. We can see from this that the love that emanates from the Lord is open to heaven and all its riches.

We can conclude that love for the Lord and love for our neighbor embrace within themselves everything that is true from the Divine because this follows from what the Lord himself said about these two loves: “You shall love your God with all your heart and with all your soul: this is the greatest and first commandment. The second, which is like it, is that you should love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40). The Law and the Prophets are the whole Word, which means all divine truth.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 18, 19

The Lord’s Divine Nature in Heaven Is Love for Him and Thoughtfulness toward One’s Neighbor (Continued)

All my experience in heaven bears witness to the fact that the divine nature that comes from the Lord, affects angels, and constitutes heaven, is love. In fact, all the people there are forms of love and thoughtfulness. They look indescribably beautiful. Love radiates from their faces, from their speech, from every detail of their behavior.

Further, there are surrounding auras of spiritual life that emanate from every angel and from every spirit and envelop them. By means of these auras one can recognize even from a distance the quality of the affections of their loves, since these auras flow out from the life of their affection and consequent thought—that is, from the life of their love and consequent faith. The auras that emanate from angels are so full of love that they touch the deepest reaches of life of the people they meet. I have been aware of them a number of times, and they have moved me deeply.

I have been able to see that love was the source of angels’ life because all the people in the other life turn in a direction determined by their own love. People engaged in a love for the Lord and a love for their neighbor are constantly turning toward the Lord, while people who are engaged in self-love are constantly turning their backs to the Lord. This holds true no matter which way they turn, since in the other life spatial relationships are determined by people’s inner natures. These also determine geographical regions, whose boundaries are not drawn the way they are in the physical world but depend on which way people are facing. Actually, it is not angels who turn to the Lord but the Lord who turns toward himself the people who love to do whatever has its source in him. But there will be more on this subject below, when we discuss geographical regions in the other life.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 17

The Lord’s Divine Nature in Heaven Is Love for Him and Thoughtfulness toward One’s Neighbor (Continued)

There are two quite distinguishable loves in heaven—love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. Love for the Lord is characteristic of the third or central heaven, while love for our neighbor is characteristic of the second or intermediate heaven. Both come from the Lord, and each one makes a heaven.

In heaven’s light, it is easy to see how these two loves differ and how they unite, but this can be seen only dimly in our world. In heaven, “loving the Lord” does not mean loving him for the image he projects but loving the good that comes from him. Loving the good is intending and doing it from love. Further, “loving one’s neighbor” does not mean loving companions for the images they project but loving the truth that comes from the Word. Loving the truth is intending and doing it. We can therefore see that these two loves differ the way “good” and “true” differ and unite the way these two unite.

All this, though, will not conform to the notions of anyone who does not know what love is, what the good is, and what the neighbor is.

I have talked with angels about this on a number of occasions. They have expressed their astonishment that church people do not know that to love the Lord and to love one’s neighbor is to love what is good and true and to do them intentionally. They should realize, though, that we demonstrate our love by intending and doing what someone else wants. This is how we become loved in return—not by “loving the other” and not doing what that other wants; in essence, that is not loving at all.

They should also realize that the good that comes from the Lord is the Lord’s own likeness because he is within it. We become likenesses of him and are united to him when we make what is good and what is true matters of our lives by doing them intentionally, since intending something is loving to do it. The Lord teaches that this is true when he says, “Those who have my commandments and do them are the ones who love me, and I will love them and make my dwelling with them” (John 14:21, 23); and again, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10, 12).

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 15, 16