In this world, it is believed that people who are full of information—whether concerning the doctrines of the church and the Word or the arts and sciences—see truths more deeply and sharply than others, and are therefore more intelligent and wiser. These people believe the same about themselves. We need to explain below, though, what true intelligence and wisdom are, and what the counterfeit and false versions are.
True intelligence and wisdom are seeing and grasping what is true and good; on that basis seeing what is false and evil, and distinguishing accurately between them; and doing this from insight and an inner perception. There are deeper and more external levels to every individual, the deeper comprising what belongs to the inner or spiritual person and the outer what belongs to the outer or natural person. The way the deeper levels are formed and unite with the outer ones determines the way we see and perceive. Our deeper levels can be formed only in heaven, while the outer ones are formed in this world. When the inner levels have been formed in heaven, then whatever occurs there flows into the outer levels that are derived from this world and forms them to be responsive—that is, to act as one with the inner levels. Once this has been accomplished, we see and perceive from within.
The only way these inner levels can be formed is by our focusing on the Deity and on heaven, for as already noted, the deeper levels are formed in heaven. We focus on the Deity when we believe the Deity and believe that it is the source of everything true and good and therefore of all intelligence and wisdom. We believe the Deity when we want to be led by the Deity. This is the only way our deeper levels are opened.
When we are devoted to this faith and are in a life in keeping with it, we enjoy the ability to understand and to be wise. However, in order to be intelligent and wise, it is fitting that we learn a great deal not only about heavenly matters but also about earthly ones. We learn about heavenly matters from the Word and the church and about earthly ones from the arts and sciences. To the extent that we learn and apply our learning to our lives, we become intelligent and wise, for to that extent our deeper vision, the sight of our understanding, and our deeper affection, which is the affection of our intentions, are perfected.
Of people like this, the simple ones are the ones whose deeper levels have been opened but have not been so much developed through spiritual, moral, civil, and natural truths. They grasp truths when they hear them, but do not see them within themselves. In contrast, the wise ones are the ones whose deeper levels have been not only opened but also developed. They both see truths within themselves and grasp them. We can see from all this what true intelligence and wisdom are.
from Heaven and Hell, Section 351