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.
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 43-46