Our love is our life itself. What our love is like determines how we live and therefore everything about what we are as human beings. It is, however, specifically our ruling or dominant love that makes us who we are.
That love has many loves subordinate to it, loves that derive from it. They take on various guises, but nevertheless these specific loves are inherent in the ruling love and together with it make a single domain. The ruling love is like their monarch or head. It governs them and works through them as intermediate goals, in order to focus on and strive for its own goal, the primary and ultimate of all. It does this both directly and indirectly.
Whatever belongs to our ruling love we love more than anything else.
Whatever we love more than anything else is constantly present within our thoughts and also within our intentions. It constitutes the very essence of our life. For example, if we love wealth more than anything else, whether in the form of money or in the form of possessions, we are constantly calculating 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, act to benefit ourselves. In fact, our life is a life of pure self.
We have as our goal whatever we love more than anything else. We focus on it constantly in each and every thing we do. 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.
This is the ruling love that we see and examine in others, using it either to lead them or to cooperate with them.
Our quality is entirely determined by what controls our life. That is what distinguishes us from each other. That is what determines our heaven if we are good and our hell if we are evil. It is our essential will, everything we claim to be, and our nature. In fact, it is the very substance of our life. It cannot be changed after death because it is what we really are.
Everything we find pleasing, satisfying, and happy comes to us from our ruling love and answers to it. We call whatever we love pleasing because that is how it feels to us. While we can also call something pleasing that we think about but do not love, that is not a pleasure of our life.
To enjoy our love stands as what is good in our estimation, and anything we do not enjoy stands as what is bad in our estimation.
There are two loves from which arises everything that is good and true, as though from their very wellsprings, and there are two loves from which arises everything that is evil and false. The two loves that are the source of everything good and true are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor, while the two loves that are the source of everything evil and false are love for ourselves and love for this world.
These latter two loves are the exact opposites of the former two loves.
The two loves 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 make the church.
The two loves 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 loves that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are heaven’s loves) open and give form to our inner, spiritual self because that is where they live. However, when the two loves 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 earthbound and sense-bound according to how much they dominate us and according to the manner in which they do it. . . .
from Regeneration, Pages 5, 6