The earthly mind, being the envelope and vessel of the higher levels of the human mind, is reactive. If the higher levels are not opened, it acts against them; whereas if they are opened, it acts with them.

I explained in the last section that since the earthly mind is on the last level, it surrounds and encloses the spiritual mind and the heavenly mind, which are on higher levels. Now we have reached the point where I need to show that the earthly mind reacts against the higher or inner minds. The reason it reacts is that it does surround, enclose, and contain them. This could not happen without that reaction, since if it did not react, the enclosed inner elements would start to spread and force their way out so that they dissipated. It would be as though the coverings of the human body were not reacting, in which case the viscera within the body would spill out and trickle away; or it would be as though the membranes around the motor fibers of our muscles did not react against the forces of those fibers when they were activated. Not only would the action cease, the whole inner web-like structure would unravel as well.

It is the same with any terminal vertical level. So it is the same with the earthly mind relative to the higher levels, since as I have just said, there are three levels of the human mind, earthly, spiritual, and heavenly, and the earthly mind is on the final level.

The earthly mind’s reaction against the spiritual mind is also the reason the earthly mind consists of substances from the earthly world as well as substances from the spiritual world, as noted above. By their very nature, substances of the earthly world react against substances of the spiritual world, since substances of the earthly world are intrinsically dead and are activated from the outside by substances of the spiritual world. Anything that is dead and is activated from the outside resists by its very nature, and therefore reacts by its very nature.

We can tell from this that the earthly self reacts against the spiritual self, and that there is a conflict. It is all the same whether we refer to the earthly self and the spiritual self or to the earthly mind and the spiritual mind.

We can tell from this that if the spiritual mind is closed, the earthly mind is constantly resisting whatever comes from the spiritual mind, fearing that something from that source will flow in that will disturb its states. Everything that flows in through the spiritual mind is from heaven because the spiritual mind is a heaven in form; and everything that flows into the earthly mind is from the world because the earthly mind is a world in form. It follows, then, that when the spiritual mind is closed, the earthly mind resists everything that comes from heaven and will not let it in—except to the extent that it may serve as a means for gaining possession of worldly benefits. When heavenly things serve as means for the purposes of the earthly mind, then even though those means seem to be heavenly, they are still earthly. The purpose gives them their quality, and they actually become like items of information for the earthly self, items in which there is no trace of inner life.

However, since heavenly things cannot be united to earthly ones in this way so that they act as one, they distance themselves; and for people who are purely earthly, heavenly things come to rest outside, at the circumference, around the earthly things that are within. As a result, merely earthly people can discuss and preach heavenly things and can even act them out, even though they are thinking the opposite within. They behave one way when they are alone, and another way in public.

Because of an inborn reflex, the earthly mind or self resists what comes from the spiritual mind or self when that mind loves itself and the world above all else. Then it finds delight in all kinds of evil—in adultery, cheating, vindictiveness, blasphemy, and the like; and it also recognizes only nature as the creatress of the universe. It uses its rational ability to find proofs of all this, and once it has these proofs, it distorts or stifles or diverts whatever of the church and heaven is good and true. Eventually it either escapes such things, or rejects them, or hates them. It does this in spirit, and does it also physically whenever it dares to speak with others from its spirit without fear of losing reputation, for the sake of respectability and profit.

When people are like this, then their spiritual mind closes more and more tightly. It is primarily the justifications of evil by falsity that close it, which is why confirmed evil and falsity cannot be rooted out after death. They can be rooted out only in this world, by repentance.

When the spiritual mind is open, though, the state of the earthly mind is entirely different. Then the earthly mind is inclined to obey the spiritual mind and to be subservient. The spiritual mind acts on the earthly mind from above or from within; and it moves aside the things there that are reactive and adapts to its purposes the things that are cooperative. So it gradually eliminates any overpowering resistance.

We need to realize that action and reaction are involved in everything in the universe, no matter how large or small, whether alive or lifeless. This yields a balance throughout, which is canceled when action overcomes reaction or vice versa. It is the same for the earthly mind and the spiritual mind. When the earthly mind is acting on the basis of the delights it loves and the fascinations of its thinking (which are intrinsically evil and false), then the reaction of the earthly mind moves aside whatever comes from the spiritual mind and blocks the doors against its entry. As a result, any action is controlled by whatever agrees with the reaction. This is the nature of the action and reaction of the earthly mind, which is the opposite of the action and reaction of the spiritual mind; and this is what causes the closing of the spiritual mind or the reversing of the spiral.

However, if the spiritual mind is open, then the action and reaction of the earthly mind are reversed. The spiritual mind is acting from above or within, and as it does so it is working through whatever in the earthly mind is amenable, whether it comes from within or from the outside. Then it reverses the spiral characteristic of the action and reaction of the earthly mind. This mind has been in opposition to the purposes of the spiritual mind from birth, deriving this by heredity from our parents, as is well known.

This is the nature of that change of state called reformation and regeneration. The state of the earthly mind before its reformation might be compared to a spiral twisted or twisting downward, while after its reformation it might be compared to a spiral twisted or twisting upward. So before our reformation, we are looking down toward hell, while after our reformation we are looking up toward heaven.

from Reneration, Pages 114-117

Advertisements

In its own right, the earthly level of the human mind is a continuum, but because of its responsiveness to the two higher levels, it seems to have distinct levels when it is raised up.

Even though it is hard for people to understand this if they are not yet familiar with vertical levels, it still needs to be disclosed, since it is a matter of angelic wisdom. While earthly-minded people cannot think about this wisdom the way angels do, they can still grasp it mentally if their minds are raised into the level of light that angels enjoy. Our minds can actually be raised that far and enlightened accordingly. However, this enlightenment of our earthly minds does not happen by distinct levels. There is instead a gradual increase, and in keeping with that increase, our minds are enlightened from within, with the light of the two higher levels.

We can understand how this happens by perceiving that for vertical levels, one is above the other, with the earthly level, the terminal one, acting like an inclusive membrane for the two higher levels. As the earthly level is raised toward a higher level, then, the higher activates that outer earthly level from within and enlightens it. The enlightenment is actually happening because of the light of the higher levels from within, but it is received gradually by the earthly level that envelops and surrounds them, with greater clarity and purity as it ascends. That is, the earthly level is enlightened from within, from the light of the higher, distinct levels; but on the earthly level itself, it happens gradually.

We can see from this that as long as we are in this world and are therefore focused on the earthly level, we cannot be raised into wisdom itself, the way it is for angels. We can be raised only into a higher light at the boundary of angels and receive enlightenment from their light, which flows into us from within and illumines us.

I cannot describe this any more clearly. It is better understood through its effects; for if we have some prior knowledge about causes, their effects embody and present them in the light and thereby make them clear.

The following are “effects.”

(a) Our earthly mind can be raised as far as the light of heaven that surrounds angels, and can therefore sense on the earthly level what angels sense spiritually—that is, it does not sense so fully. Still, our earthly mind cannot be raised all the way into angelic light itself.

(b) With our earthly mind raised as far as heaven’s light, we can think and even talk with angels; but when this happens, the thought and speech of the angels are flowing into our earthly thought and speech, and not the other way around. This means that angels talk with us in earthly language, in our native tongues.

(c) This happens by a flow of the spiritual level into the earthly, and not by any flow of the earthly level into the spiritual.

(d) There is no way for our human wisdom, which is earthly as long as we are living in the earthly world, to be raised into angelic wisdom, only into some reflection of it. This is because the raising of the earthly mind is along a continuum, like that of darkness to light, or coarse to fine. Still, if our spiritual level has been opened, we come into consciousness of that wisdom when we die, and we can also come into consciousness of it through the quiescence of our physical senses, and then through an inflow from above into the spiritual elements of our minds.

(e) Our earthly mind is made up of both spiritual substances and earthly substances. Our thinking results from the spiritual substances and not from the earthly substances. These latter substances fade away when we die, but the spiritual substances do not. So when we become spirits or angels after death, the same mind is still there in the form it had in the world.

(f) The earthly substances of our minds (which fade away after death, as I have just noted) form the skin-like covering of the spiritual bodies we inhabit as spirits and angels. It is by means of this covering, taken from the earthly world, that our spiritual bodies have their stability, the earthly substance being the outermost vessel. This is why there is no angel or spirit who was not born human.

These hidden treasures of angelic wisdom are appended at this point to show the nature of our earthly mind.

Each of us is born with the ability to understand truths even at the deepest level where angels of the third heaven live. As our human understanding climbs up on a continuum around the two higher levels, it receives the light of wisdom from those levels in the manner already described. As a result, we can become rational in proportion to its ascent. If it comes up to the third level, it becomes rational from the third level; if it comes up to the second level, it becomes rational from the second level; and if it does not ascend at all, it is rational on the first level. We say that it becomes rational from those levels because the earthly level is the general recipient vessel of their light.

The reason we do not become rational to the highest degree we are capable of is that our love, which is a matter of our will, cannot be raised up in the same way as our wisdom, which is a matter of our understanding. The love that is a matter of will is raised only by abstaining from evils as sins and then by those good actions of thoughtfulness that are acts of service, acts that we are then performing from the Lord. So if the love that is a matter of will is not raised up along with it, then no matter how high the wisdom that is a matter of our understanding has risen, it ultimately falls back to the level of its love. This is why we become rational only on the lowest level if our love is not raised to the spiritual level as well.

We can tell from all this that our rational ability seems to be made up of three levels, one ability from the heavenly level, one from the spiritual level, and one from the earthly level. We can also tell that our rationality, an ability that can be raised, is still with us whether it is raised up or not.

I have stated that everyone is born with this ability, or with rationality, but this means everyone whose outward organs have not been damaged by any external events in the womb, or after birth by illness or some head injury, or by the outburst of a senseless love that lowers all restraints. The rational ability cannot be raised up for people like this. The life of their will and understanding has no boundaries in which it finds definition, that is, boundaries so arranged that the life can accomplish outward deeds coherently. It does act in keeping with outermost boundaries, but not because of them.

from Regeneration, Pages 111-114

5. The difference between the life of an earthly-minded person and the life of an animal.

I need to deal with this difference more specifically later. At this point I need to say only that we humans differ in having three levels of mind or three levels of understanding and will, and that these levels can be opened in sequence. Since they are translucent, we can be raised in understanding into heaven’s light and see things that are not only civically and morally true but spiritually true as well. Once we have seen many such truths, we can on that basis draw a series of true conclusions, and keep perfecting our understanding in this way forever.

Animals, though, do not have the two higher levels, only the earthly levels, and apart from the higher levels the earthly levels have no ability to think about any civic, moral, or spiritual issue. Further, since these earthly levels cannot be opened and therefore raised into higher light, animals cannot think in sequential order. They can think only in a simultaneous pattern, and that is not really thinking. It is simply acting on the basis of the knowledge that answers to their love; and since they cannot think analytically or survey their lower thought from any higher vantage point, they cannot talk. All they can do is make sounds that suit their love’s knowledge.

The only difference between sense-centered people (the lowest of the earthly-minded) and animals is that they can fill their minds with information and think and talk on that basis. They get this from an ability we all possess, our ability to understand what is true if we want to. This ability makes the difference. However, many people have made themselves lower than animals by their abuse of this ability.

from Regeneration, Pages 110-111

4. What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has been completely closed.

The spiritual level is closed in people who are focused on evil in their lives, especially if they are engaged in distortion because of their evils. It is rather like the way our little nerve fibers contract at the slightest touch of anything unsuitable, as does every muscular motor fiber and every muscle and the whole body, at the touch of something hard or cold. This is how the substances or forms of the spiritual level within us react to things that are evil and to the distortions that result—they are unsuitable. The spiritual level, being in the form of heaven, is open only to things that are good and to the truths that result from what is good. These are congenial to it, while evils and the falsities they give rise to are unsuitable.

This level contracts, and closes by contracting, especially in people who are caught up in a love of being in control for selfish reasons in this world, since this love is the opposite of a love for the Lord. It is also closed, though not as firmly, in people who because of their love for this world are caught up in a mindless craving to acquire the assets of others. The reason these loves close off the spiritual level is that they are the distortions.

The contraction or closure of this level is like a coil twisting back on itself, which is why this level deflects heaven’s light once it has been closed. This yields darkness in place of heaven’s light. Accordingly, the truth that is found in heaven’s light becomes sickening.

For these people, it is not just [the spiritual] level itself that is closed. It is also the higher area of the earthly level, the area called “rational.” Eventually, then, only the lowest area of the earthly level stays open, the area we call “sensory.” This is right next to the world and to our outward physical senses, which thereafter constitute the basis of our thinking, talking, and rationalizing. In the spiritual world, earthly-minded people who have become sense-centered because of their evils and consequent distortions do not look human in heaven’s light. They look grotesque, with flattened noses. The reason they have these concave noses is that the nose corresponds to a perception of what is true. They cannot bear a single ray of heaven’s light, either. The only light in their caves is like the light of embers or smoldering charcoal. We can see from this who the people are whose spiritual level has been closed, and what they are like.

from Regeneration, Pages 109-110

3. What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has not been opened but is not yet closed.

The spiritual level is not opened in us but is still not closed when we are leading a life that involves some goodwill but do not know very much real truth. This is because that level is opened by a union of love and wisdom, or of warmth and light. Love alone, or spiritual warmth alone, will not do it, and neither will wisdom alone or spiritual light alone. It takes both together. So if we do not know the real truths that constitute wisdom or light, love cannot manage to open that level. All it can do is keep it able to be opened, which is what “not being closed” means. The same holds true for plant life. Warmth alone will not make seeds sprout or trees leaf out. Warmth together with light is what does it.

We need to realize that everything true is a matter of spiritual light and that everything good is a matter of spiritual warmth, and that what is good opens the spiritual level by means of true things, since goodness does what is helpful by means of truths. Helpful acts are the good that love does, deriving their essence from the union of what is good and what is true.

What happens after death to people whose spiritual level is not opened but still not closed is that since they are still earthly-minded and not spiritual-minded, they are in the lowest parts of heaven, where they sometimes have a hard time of it. Alternatively, they may be around the edges of a somewhat higher heaven, where they live in a kind of twilight. This is because in heaven and in each distinct community the light decreases from the center to the circumference, and the people who are especially engaged with divine truths are in the middle, while the people who are only slightly engaged in truths are at the borders. People are only slightly engaged with truths if all they have learned from their religion is that God exists, that the Lord suffered for their sake, and that goodwill and faith are the essential qualities of the church, without making any effort to find out what faith is and what goodwill is. Yet essentially, faith is truth, and truth is complex, while goodwill can be defined as every duty we fulfill because of the Lord. We do things because of the Lord when we abstain from evils as sins.

This is just what I have already said. The purpose is the whole substance of the means, and the purpose through the means is the whole substance of the result. The purpose is thoughtful action, or some good, the means is faith, or something true, and the results are good deeds or acts of service. We can see from this that nothing of goodwill can be instilled into our deeds except to the extent that our goodwill is united to those truths that we attribute to faith. They are the means by which goodwill enters into works and gives them their quality.

from Regeneration, Pages 107-108

2. What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has been opened.

This you can see from what has already been said; but I need to add that an earthly-minded person is a complete person when the spiritual level has been opened within. Once that happens, we are actually in the company of angels in heaven at the same time that we are in the company of people on earth, living under the watchful care of the Lord in both realms. Spiritual-minded people derive their imperatives from the Lord through the Word and carry them out by means of their earthly selves.

Earthly-minded individuals whose spiritual level has been opened do not realize that they are thinking and acting from their spiritual selves. They seem to themselves to be acting on their own, though in fact it is not on their own but from the Lord. Earthly-minded people whose spiritual level has been opened do not realize that they are in heaven because of their spiritual selves, either, even though their spiritual selves are surrounded by heaven’s angels. Sometimes such people are even visible to angels, but since they are drawn back to their earthly selves, they vanish in a little while.

Earthly people whose spiritual level has been opened do not realize that their spiritual minds are filled with thousands of hidden treasures of wisdom and with thousands of love’s joys as gifts from the Lord. They do not realize that they will begin to participate in this wisdom and joy after they die, when they become angels. The reason earthly-minded people are not aware of all this is that communication between our earthly and our spiritual selves takes place by correspondences, and communication by correspondences is perceived in our understanding only as seeing truths in the light, and in our will only as being helpful because we enjoy it.

from Regeneration, Pages 106-107

1. What an earthly-minded person is and what a spiritual-minded person is.

We are not human because of our faces and bodies but because of our power to understand and our power to will, so “earthly-minded person” and “spiritual-minded person” refer to our understanding and will, which can be either earthly or spiritual. When we are earthly-minded, we are like an earthly world in respect to our understanding and will and can even be called a world or microcosm. When we are spiritual-minded, we are like a spiritual world in respect to our understanding and will, and can even be called a spiritual world or a heaven.

We can see from this that earthly-minded people, being a kind of image of the earthly world, love whatever has to do with the earthly world, while spiritual-minded people, being a kind of image of the spiritual world, love whatever has to do with that world or heaven. Spiritual-minded people do love the earthly world, it is true, but only the way householders love their servants, who enable them to be of service. In fact, the earthly-minded people become spiritual in a way through their service. This happens when an earthly-minded person feels the joy of service from a spiritual source. This kind of earthly-minded person is called “earthly-spiritual.”

Spiritual-minded people love spiritual truths, not only loving to know and understand them but intending them as well; while earthly-minded people love to talk about these truths and carry them out as well. Putting truths into action is being of service. This ranking comes from the way the spiritual world and the earthly world go together, since anything that surfaces and exists in the earthly world has its cause in the spiritual world.

We can tell from this that spiritual-minded people are completely distinct from earthly-minded people, and that the only communication between them is the kind that occurs between a cause and its effect.

from Regeneration, Pages 105-106

If that higher level, the spiritual level, is not opened in us, we become focused on the physical world and our sense impressions.

I have just explained that there are three levels of the human mind called earthly, spiritual, and heavenly; that these levels can be opened in us in sequence; that the earthly level is opened first; and that afterward, if we abstain from evils as sins and turn to the Lord, the spiritual level is opened, and ultimately the heavenly level. Since the sequential opening of these levels depends on how we live, it follows that the two higher levels may also not be opened, in which case we stay on the earthly level, which is the most remote.

It is recognized in the world that we have an earthly self and a spiritual self, or an outer and an inner self. It is not recognized that the earthly self becomes spiritual by the opening of a higher level within, and that this opening is accomplished by a spiritual life, a life in accord with divine precepts, and that unless we live by these precepts, we remain centered on the physical world.

There are three kinds of earthly-minded people. One kind is made up of individuals who have no knowledge of divine precepts, a second of people who know that such precepts exist but give no thought to living by them, and a third of people who trivialize and deny them. As for the first kind, the ones who have no knowledge of divine precepts, they cannot help remaining earthly-minded because there is no way for them to teach themselves. We all learn about divine precepts from others, who know about them from their religion. We do not gain them by direct revelation (see Sacred Scripture Sections 114–118).

People of the second kind, the ones who know that divine precepts exist but give no thought to living by them, also remain earthly-minded and are not concerned with anything except what is worldly and physical. After death they become employees and servants of the spiritual-minded, performing for them the functions for which they are fitted. This is because an earthly-minded individual is an employee or servant, while a spiritual-minded one is an employer or householder.

People of the third kind, the ones who trivialize and deny divine precepts, not only remain earthly-minded but even become sense-centered to the extent that they trivialize and deny divine precepts. Sense-centered people are the lowest of the earthly-minded, unable to raise their thoughts above deceptive physical appearances. After death, they are in hell. Since people in this world do not know what a spiritual-minded person is and what an earthly-minded person is, and since many call someone “spiritual” who is merely earthly-minded, and vice versa, I need to say the following things clearly.

1.What an earthly-minded person is and what a spiritual-minded person is.

2.What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has been opened.

3.What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has not been opened but is not yet closed.

4.What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has been completely closed.

5.Lastly, the difference between the life of a wholly earthly minded person and the life of an animal.

from Regeneration, Pages 104-105

Spiritual light flows in within us through three levels, but not spiritual warmth except to the extent that we abstain from evils as sins and turn to the Lord.

Light and warmth emanate from the sun of heaven, that sun that is the first emanation of divine love and wisdom [the Lord]. The light emanates from his wisdom and the warmth from his love. Further, the light is the vessel of wisdom and the warmth is the vessel of love; and the more we are engaged in wisdom, the more we come into that divine light, and the more we are engaged in love, the more we come into that divine warmth.

We can also tell from what has been presented that there are three levels of light and three levels of warmth, or three levels of wisdom and three levels of love, and that these levels are formed within us in such a way that we are open to divine love and wisdom and therefore to the Lord.

The present task, then, is to show that while spiritual light flows in through these three levels in us, spiritual warmth does not—except to the extent that we abstain from evils as sins and turn to the Lord; or what amounts to the same thing, to show that we can accept wisdom all the way to the third level, but not love—unless we abstain from evils as sins and turn to the Lord; or (what again amounts to the same thing) to show that our understanding can be raised up into wisdom, but our will cannot be raised up [into love]—except to the extent that we abstain from evils as sins.

It has become abundantly clear to me from my experiences in the spiritual world that our understanding can be raised up into heaven’s light, or into angelic wisdom, but that our will cannot be raised up into heaven’s warmth or angelic love unless we abstain from evils as sins and turn to the Lord. I have often seen and sensed that very ordinary spirits who knew only that God exists and that the Lord was born as a human—hardly anything else—understood the mysteries of angelic wisdom completely, almost the way angels do. Nor were they the only ones. Even many members of the demonic mob understood. They understood while they were listening, that is, but not in their private thinking. When they were listening, light flowed into them from above; but in their private thinking the only light that could get in was the light that agreed with their warmth or love. So even after they had heard these mysteries and grasped them, when they turned their hearing away they retained nothing. In fact, the members of the devil’s mob spat it out and denied it categorically. The reason was that the fire of their love and its light, being mindless, brought down a darkness that snuffed out the heavenly light that was flowing in from above.

It is the same in this world. Anyone who has any sense at all and has not become inwardly convinced of false principles on the grounds of intellectual pride, on hearing people talk about higher things or on reading about them understands, retains them, and eventually affirms them if there is any desire for learning. This holds true for evil and good people alike. Even evil people who at heart deny the divine gifts of the church can understand, discuss, and preach higher things, and can defend them in scholarly writing. However, when they are left on their own to think about them, their thinking is based on their hellish self-centeredness, and they deny them. We can see from this that our understanding can be in spiritual light even though our will may not be in spiritual warmth. It also follows from this that our understanding does not lead our will, or that wisdom does not give rise to love. It merely teaches and shows the way. It teaches how we should live and shows us the way we should follow. It also follows from this that our will leads our understanding and gets it to work in unison with itself. The love that is the substance of our will gives the name of “wisdom” to whatever in our understanding it finds harmonious.

On its own, apart from understanding, our will accomplishes nothing. Everything it does, it does in conjunction with our understanding. However, our will gains the cooperation of our understanding by flowing into it, and not the other way around.

Now I need to describe how light flows into the three levels that make up the human mind. From our birth, the forms that are receptive of warmth and light or love and wisdom (which are in a threefold pattern or on three levels) are translucent and let spiritual light pass through, the way clear glass lets physical light through. This is why we can be raised up all the way to the third level in respect to our wisdom. These forms are not opened, though, until spiritual warmth, or the love of wisdom, is united to the spiritual light. It is through this union that the translucent forms are opened level by level.

This is like the light and warmth of the world’s sun and plant life on earth. The winter light is just as bright as summer light, but it does not open anything in seeds or trees. However, when the warmth of spring is united to that light then things open. The resemblance stems from the fact that spiritual light is analogous to physical light and spiritual warmth is analogous to physical warmth.

The only way to gain that spiritual warmth is by abstaining from evils as sins and then turning to the Lord, since as long as we are caught up in evil pursuits we are caught up in a love for them. We are enmeshed in our cravings for them; and that love for what is evil, that craving, is a form of love that is opposed to spiritual love and desire. Further, the only way to get rid of that love or craving is by abstaining from evils as sins; and since we cannot do that on our own, but only by the Lord’s agency, we need to turn to him. When we do abstain from our evils by the Lord’s agency, then, our love for evil and its warmth are put aside and a love for what is good, with its warmth, is brought in in its place, enabling a higher level to be opened. The Lord actually flows in from above and opens it and unites the love or spiritual warmth with wisdom or spiritual light. As a result of this union we begin to blossom spiritually like a tree in springtime.

We are differentiated from animals by the inflow of spiritual light into all three levels of our minds; and beyond what animals can do, we can think analytically; we can see things that are true not only on the earthly level but on the spiritual level as well; and when we see them, we can acknowledge them and so be reformed and regenerated. Our ability to accept spiritual light is what we call rationality, already discussed. It is a gift from the Lord to each one of us, and one that is not taken away, since if it were taken away, we could not be reformed. It is because of this ability called rationality that we not only can think but can say what we are thinking, which animals cannot do. Then because of that second ability called freedom, also discussed above, we can do what we have thought intellectually.

from Regeneration, Pages 100-104

These three vertical levels exist in each of us from birth and can be opened in sequence. As they are opened, we are in the Lord and the Lord is in us.

The existence of three vertical levels in us has not been widely recognized before. This is because vertical levels themselves have not been identified, and as long as these levels have been unrecognized, the only levels people could know about are the gradual ones. When these are the only levels people know about, they can believe that our love and wisdom increase only gradually.

It needs to be realized, though, that we all have these three vertical or distinct levels in us from our birth, one above or within the other, and that each vertical or distinct level has horizontal or gradual levels by which it increases incrementally. This is because there are both kinds of level in everything, no matter how large or small. Neither kind of level can exist apart from the other.

These three vertical levels are called earthly, spiritual, and heavenly. When we are born, we come first into the earthly level, which gradually develops within us in keeping with the things we learn and the intelligence we gain through this learning, all the way to that summit of intelligence called rationality. This by itself, though, does not open the second level, the one called spiritual. This level is opened by a love for being useful that comes from our intelligence; but the love for being useful is a spiritual one, a love for our neighbor.

In the same way, this level can develop by incremental steps all the way to its summit; and it does so by our discovering what is true and good, or by spiritual truths. Even so, these do not open that third level that is called heavenly. This is opened by a heavenly love for being useful that is a love for the Lord; and love for the Lord is nothing but applying the precepts of the Word to our lives, these precepts being essentially to abstain from evil things because they are hellish and demonic and to do good things because they are heavenly and divine. This is how the three levels are opened in us sequentially.

As long as we are living in this world, we have no knowledge of any opening of levels within us. This is because our attention is focused on the earthly level, which is the most remote. We are thinking, intending, and talking and acting on that basis; and the spiritual level, which is deeper, does not communicate with the earthly level directly, but only by correspondence. Communication by correspondence is imperceptible.

However, as soon as we put off the earthly level, which happens when we die, we come into awareness of whatever level has been opened within us in the world, of the spiritual level if that level has been opened, of the heavenly level if that level has been opened. If we become conscious on the spiritual level after death, then we no longer think, intend, or talk or act in an earthly way, but spiritually. If we become conscious on the heavenly level, then we think, intend, and talk and act on that level. Further, since communication among the three levels occurs only by correspondence, the differences in level of love, wisdom, and useful function are so definite that there is no communication between them by direct contact.

We can see from this that we do have three vertical levels and that these can be opened in sequence.

Because there are within us these three levels of love and wisdom and therefore of usefulness, it follows that there are three levels of will and understanding and consequent closure, and therefore of concentration within us on usefulness, since will is the vessel of love, understanding the vessel of wisdom, and closure the usefulness that results from them. We can see from this that there are within each of us an earthly, a spiritual, and a heavenly will and understanding, potentially at birth, and effectively at the point when they are opened.

In short, the human mind, consisting of will and understanding, has three levels from creation and birth, so we have an earthly mind, a spiritual mind, and a heavenly mind. Consequently, we can be raised into angelic wisdom and possess it even while we are living in this world. Still, we become conscious of it only after death, if we become angels; and then we say inexpressible things, things incomprehensible to an earthly-minded person.

I was acquainted with a moderately educated man in the world and saw him and talked with him in heaven after his death. I sensed very clearly that he was talking like an angel and that what he was saying was beyond the grasp of earthly-minded people. The reason was that in the world he had applied the precepts of the Word to his life and had worshiped the Lord; so the Lord had raised him into the third level of love and wisdom.

It is important to know about this raising up of the human mind, since understanding what follows depends on it.

There are two abilities within us, gifts from the Lord, that distinguish us from animals. One ability is that we can discern what is true and what is good. This ability is called “rationality,” and is an ability of our understanding. The other ability is that we can do what is true and what is good. This ability is called “freedom,” and is an ability of our will. Because of our rationality, we can think what we want to think, either in favor of God or against God, in favor of our neighbor or against our neighbor. We can also intend and do what we are thinking, or when we see something evil and are afraid of the penalty, can use our freedom to refrain from doing it. It is because of these two abilities that we are human and are distinguished from animals.

These two abilities are gifts from the Lord within us. They come from him constantly and are never taken away, for if they were taken away, that would be the end of our humanity. The Lord lives in each of us, in the good and the evil alike, in these two abilities. They are the Lord’s dwelling in the human race, which is why everyone, whether good or evil, lives forever. However, the Lord’s dwelling within us is more intimate as we use these abilities to open the higher levels. By opening them, we come into consciousness of higher levels of love and wisdom and so come closer to the Lord. It makes sense, then, that as these levels are opened, we are in the Lord and the Lord is in us.

I have noted above that the three vertical levels are like a purpose, a means, and a result, and that the sequence of love, wisdom, and usefulness follows this sequence. I need at this point, then, to say a little about love as the purpose, wisdom as the means, and usefulness as the result.

People who pay attention to their reason when that reason is in the light can see that our love is the purpose of everything we do, since it is what we love that we think about, decide upon, and do, so it is what we have as our purpose. Our reason can also show us that wisdom is the means, since the love that is our purpose gathers in our understanding the means it needs to reach its goal. So it listens to its wisdom, and these resources constitute the means through which it works. We can see without further explanation that usefulness is the result.

Love, though, is not the same in one individual as in another, so wisdom is not the same in one individual as in another, and neither is usefulness. Since these three are matched in kind, the quality of our love determines the quality of our wisdom, and of our usefulness. I say “wisdom,” but this means whatever is characteristic of our understanding.

from Regeneration, Pages 97-100