All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

In broad terms, the evils characteristic of people focused on love for themselves are contempt for others; envy; enmity toward anyone who is not on their side, and a consequent hostility; various kinds of hatred; vengefulness; craft; deceit; callousness; and cruelty. In religious matters, this extends not only to a contempt for the Divine and for the divine gifts that are the true and good elements of the church; it extends also to anger at such things, an anger that turns into hatred when we become spirits. Then not only can we not stand hearing about these matters, we blaze with hatred against everyone who acknowledges and worships the Divine.

I talked with one man who had been in power in the world and loved himself far too much. When he simply heard the Divine mentioned—especially when he heard the Lord named—he was so struck by angry hatred that he was consumed with thoughts of murder. When the reins of his love were loosened, he even wanted to be the devil himself in order to satisfy his love by ceaseless attacks on heaven. Many individuals of the papal religion feel this desire in the other life when they realize that the Lord has all power and that they have none.

Some spirits appeared to me in the western region, toward the south, who said they had been granted high honor in the world and deserved to be promoted over others and to lord it over them. They were examined by angels to discover what they were like inwardly, and it turned out that in their earthly offices they had paid no attention to service but only to themselves, which meant that they had put themselves before service. Still, since they were aflame with ambition to be promoted, they were allowed to join a group of people who were discussing some rather important matters. You could tell, though, that they were unable to pay any attention to the real issues that were being discussed and could not see the matters in any depth. They did not say anything on the basis of the constructive effects of the discussion, but talked only on the basis of their own self-image.

Their behavior was motivated by a desire to ingratiate themselves; so they were dismissed from the task and left to seek office elsewhere. So they went farther westward, where they were accepted here and there; but in every case they were told that they were not thinking about anything but themselves, that they were not thinking about the business at hand except in terms of themselves. This meant that they were stupid, just like sensual, carnal spirits. Wherever they arrived, then, they were rejected. After a while they were utterly bankrupt and were asking for handouts.

Once more I could see from this that no matter how wisely people may seem to talk in the world from the fire of self-love, still it is just a matter of rote memory and not of any rational light. So in the other life, when they are no longer allowed to retrieve things from their natural memory, they are more stupid than other people because they are cut off from the Divine.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 562-563

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