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