There Are Three Heavens

There are three heavens, very clearly distinguished from each other. There is a central or third heaven, an intermediate or second one, and an outmost or first. These follow in sequence and are interdependent, like the highest part of the human body, the head; the middle, or torso; and the lowest, or feet; or like the highest, middle, and lowest parts of the house. The divine life that emanates and comes down from the Lord is in this kind of pattern as well. It is this necessity of design that determines the tripartite arrangement of heaven.

The deeper levels of the human mind and disposition are in a similar pattern as well. We have a central, intermediate, and outmost nature. This is because when humanity was created the whole divine design was gathered into it, to the point that as to structure, the human being is the divine design and is therefore a heaven in miniature.

For the same reason we are in tough with heaven as to our inner natures and come into the company of angels after death–of angels of the central or the intermediate or the outmost heaven depending on our acceptance of divine good and truth from the Lord during our earthly lives.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 29-30


Previously Cited: 4/9/2016

Hell (Continued)

In addition to hell itself, there is also a process of devastation, described at length in the Word. We take with us into the next life innumerable evils and falsities acquired from the sins we have actually committed. These we heap up and twine together, even those of us who have lived honorably. Before the honest can be lifted into heaven, their evils and falsities have to be dispelled, and this process is called devastation. There are many kinds of devastation, and it can last for a longer or shorter time. Some people are taken to heaven after a very brief period, and some go immediately after death.

I have been sent down to hell several times in order to see the torture that those in hell go through and the devastation of those in the underground realm. (Being sent to hell is not a matter of moving from one place to another but of gaining entrance to one of hell’s communities while staying in the same place.) Let me report on just one experience.

I had the clear sensation of a kind of pillar drawing around me and growing perceptibly larger. The idea came to me that this was the bronze wall mentioned in the Word, formed out of angelic spirits to keep me safe in my mission to the unfortunates below. While there, I heard plaintive wails like these: “Oh God, oh God! Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us!” These laments continued for a long time. I was allowed to talk with those unhappy people as much as I wanted. Their main complaint concerned the evil spirits, whose sole and burning desire was to cause them pain. They had lost hope, saying that they believed the agony would go on to eternity. But I was able to comfort them.

Because there are so many hells, as I said, describing them in an organized way means doing so in this order:

1. The hells of those who spent their lives in hatred, revenge, and cruelty [Sections 814–823].

2. The hells of those who spent their lives in adultery and lechery; in addition, the hells of deceivers and witches [824–831].

3. Misers’ hells; the foul Jerusalem there and outlaws in the wilderness; in addition, the feces-laden hells of those who have pursued sensual pleasure alone [938–946].

4. Next, other hells than these [947–970].

5. Last, those who are undergoing spiritual devastation [1106–1113].

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 698-700

Hell (Continued)

Everything in the other life, overall and in particular, exists in such perfect balance that evil punishes itself. In this way, evil contains its own penalty. So does falsity, which rebounds on the person who subscribes to it. We each bring on ourselves our own punishment and torture, and at the same time we bring on the diabolical crowd that inflicts it.

The Lord never sends anyone to hell but wants to lead everyone out. Still less does he inflict pain. Instead, since evil spirits actually run to get there, the Lord turns all the punishment and torment to good and puts it to some use. No penalty can ever exist unless the Lord has some purpose in mind for it, because the Lord’s kingdom is a realm of purpose and usefulness. But the purposes that hellish spirits can serve are ignominious. When performing those services, they are not in as much pain, but when they cease to be useful, they are returned to hell.

We each have at least two evil spirits and two angels present with us. Through the evil spirits we have contact with hell, and through the angels we have contact with heaven. If we were not in touch with both, we could not possibly survive for a minute. So every one of us, although completely unaware of the fact, associates with some group of hellish spirits; but their torment is not transmitted to us, because we are undergoing preparation for eternal life. In the other world, we are sometimes shown the community we had been part of, since we go back to it and therefore to the life we had lived on earth. From there we either head toward hell or go up to heaven.

People who do not lead good, charitable lives or allow the Lord to guide them are part of the hellish crowd. After death they become devils themselves.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 696-697

Hell (Continued)

By the Lord’s arrangement and through mutual love, heaven forms a single human being with a single animating soul, so it looks toward a single goal: the preservation and salvation of all to eternity. In contrast, hell, out of its sense of autonomy and through self-love and materialism—through hatred, in other words—forms a single devil with a single animus, so it looks toward a single goal: the destruction and damnation of all to eternity. Thousands and thousands of times have I experienced the whole effort of hell as turning in this direction. If the Lord, then, did not preserve us all, every single solitary moment, we would be snuffed out.

However, the Lord forms and organizes hell in such a way that the bonds and restraints of people’s own desires and fantasies hold them fast. Their whole life consists in those desires and fantasies, and because their life is a living death, it turns into tortures so dreadful that they cannot be described.

The most intense pleasure of their life is to punish, torment, and inflict pain on each other. They use methods utterly unknown in the world. By these methods they know how to trigger acute sensations, exactly as though their victims were still in the body. They also know how to produce appalling, terrifying hallucinations, not to mention many other kinds of frights and terrors. The Devil’s crew takes such passionate delight in doing this that if they could increase and intensify the pain and anguish infinitely, they still would not rest satisfied; they would burn to add another infinity of grief. But the Lord negates their efforts and softens their abuse.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 694-695


People have only the most general concept of hell, just as they do of heaven, and that concept is almost so vague as to be none at all. It is like the picture of the world at large available to those who have never been outside their cabins in the forest. They know nothing about its empires and countries, let alone its forms of government, and least of all about society and the way people live in society. Until they know these things, their concept of the world cannot be more than the sketchiest notion, which is practically no notion whatever. Likewise with regard to heaven and hell. In reality, both heaven and hell contain too many marvels to count—indefinitely more than any planet could hold.

The vast number of wonders there can be seen from this one thought: Just as no two people ever have the same heaven, no two ever have the same hell, and all the souls that have ever existed in the world since the beginning of creation flock together there.

Love for the Lord and for one’s neighbor constitutes heaven, as do the joy and happiness it brings. By the same token, spiteful opposition to the Lord and one’s fellow human constitutes hell, as do the penalties and torture it brings.

Hatred comes in countless different types and even more variations on those types. For every variety of hatred, there is a hell.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 692-693


Previously Cited: 4/26/2016

The Church Plays the Role of the Heart

To expand on the symbolism of the words I will destroy them together with the earth (I have decided to destroy all living creatures –Genesis 6:13 NLT) as the fact that the human race would meet its end along with the church: If the Lord’s church were completely obliterated from the planet, the human race could never survive. Every last person would die.

The church resembles the heart. As long as the heart thrives, so can the surrounding organs and limbs. But as soon as the heart dies, everything else dies too. The Lord’s church on earth is like the heart; from it the human race—including people outside the church—receives life. Since no one has the faintest idea why this is so, I wish to explain.

The situation of the earth’s entire population resembles that of the human body with all its parts. In this body, the church plays the role of the heart. If there were no church supplying the heart’s place—a church with which the Lord could be united by means of heaven and the world of spirits—a break would occur. And if there were a break between the human race and the Lord, we would be annihilated immediately.

For this reason, a church has always existed, ever since the first moment of humanity’s creation. Even when the church has begun to die out, it has always remained alive in a few people.

The Lord came into the world for the same reason. Had divine mercy not prompted him to come, the whole human race on this planet would have been destroyed, because at that time the church had reached its last stages and hardly any goodness or truth was left.

Because we humans, regarded in ourselves, are much lower than animals, we have no chance at survival unless we are intimately connected with the Lord through heaven and the world of spirits. Left on our own we would plunge headlong into destroying ourselves and everyone else, because the ruination of ourselves and everyone else is all we long for.

Our proper code of life is to love one another as we love ourselves, but what we actually do these days is to love ourselves more than others and thus hate everyone else. Now, with unreasoning animals the case is totally different. Their proper code is the one they live by, and so they live in thorough harmony with their destiny. We humans, though, live exactly opposite to the pattern ordained for us, so if the Lord did not take pity on us, if he did not bind us to him through angels, we could not possibly survive a single moment.

Of this fact humanity is unaware.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 637

Understanding of Truth and a Will to Do Good

It is tremendously difficult to explain comprehensibly what an understanding of truth and a will to do good are, in the strict sense. The reason for the difficulty is that we consider every thought passing through our minds to be part of our intellect (since that is the name we give it) and every desire entering our heart to be part of our will (since that is the name we give it).

What makes a clear explanation even harder is that many people today are also completely unable to tell the difference between activity in the intellect and activity in the will. When they think something, they say they want it, and when they want something, they say they think it. So again the obstacle is the labels people use.

Yet another barrier to comprehension is the fact that only what relates to their body captures people’s interest; that is, their lives are exceedingly shallow.

For all these reasons, people are unaware that each of us has a deeper level inside, and another level deeper than that, and another level that is deepest of all. They do not see that our bodily urges and sense impressions form the outermost surface; our passions and memories, a deeper layer; our loves and rational thoughts, a still deeper layer; and a will to do good and a comprehension of truth, the deepest. These levels are differentiated from one another with the greatest possible clarity. Body-centered people, however, jumble them all together into an undifferentiated whole. This is the source of the belief that when our physical part dies, everything else must too, even though it is at death that we first start to live. Indeed the new life comes to us by way of our inner levels, passing through each level in order.

If our inner dimensions were not clearly distinguished in this way, and if they did not lie one within the other, in the next life we could never become spirits, never become angelic spirits, never become angels. These three groups are differentiated in the same way as the inner levels, which create the plainest demarcation possible among the three heavens.

This explanation casts a little light on what a comprehension of truth and a will to do good are, properly speaking, and shows that they can be ascribed only to a person whose character is heavenly, or to angels in the third heaven.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 634

The Reasons Why The Lord Willed to Be Born on Our Earth, and not on Anther

There are many reasons why it pleased the Lord to be born and to assume the Human on our earth, and not on any other, concerning which I have been informed from heaven.

The principal reason was for the sake of the Word, in that it could be written on our earth, and when written could then be published throughout the whole earth; and once published could be preserved for all posterity; and that thus it might be made manifest even to all in the other life that God had become a Man.

That the principal reason was for the sake of the Word, is because the Word is truth Divine itself, which teaches man that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death; and which teaches besides how a man must live and believe in order that he may come into heaven, and thus be eternally happy. Without revelation, thus on this earth without the Word, all these things would have been utterly unknown; and yet man has been so created that in respect to his internal man he cannot die.

That the Word could be written on our earth, is because the art of writing has existed here from the most ancient time, first on wooden tablets, later on parchment, afterward on paper, and finally it could be published in print. This has been provided by the Lord for the sake of the Word.

That the Word could afterward be published throughout this whole earth, is because there is here an interaction of all nations, both by overland travel and by navigation, to all places on the globe. Therefore the Word once written could be carried from one nation to another, and could be everywhere taught. That there should be such an interaction has also been provided by the Lord for the sake of the Word.

That the Word once written could be preserved for all posterity, consequently for thousands and thousands of years, and that it has been so preserved, is known.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 9350-9355

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

Those who know how to share love are constantly advancing into the springtime of their youth in heaven, and the more millennia they live, the more joyful and happy that springtime is. Their progress continues forever, its never-ending increase determined by their development and growth in the capacity for sharing love, in charity, and in faith.

A woman who dies old, worn out by age, and who lived a life marked by faith in the Lord, charity toward her neighbors, and a happy, loving marriage with her husband—such a woman develops more and more of the bloom of mid- and early womanhood with the passage of years. She takes on a loveliness that eclipses any conception of beauty ever seen by the eye. Virtue and kindness are what shape her and make her a likeness of themselves. They cause the joy and beauty of neighborly love to shine out from the smallest details of her face, so that she becomes a form of charity itself. Some observers have been struck speechless on seeing these women.

The inner workings of charity are such that charity itself is what provides the visible form and is the thing expressed in that form too. This is clear from actual experience in the other life. The whole angel, especially the face, is charity, which is both clearly presented to view and clearly perceived. To see the form is to see inexpressible beauty that touches the deepest, living reaches of the mind, filling them with charity. The beauty of the form provides an image in which religious truth is displayed—truth that is also perceived from that form.

Those who have lived a life marked by faith in the Lord, that is, by the faith that comes of charity, become these visible forms—these beauties—in the next life. All angels are such forms, in unlimited variety. Of them heaven is made.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 553

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

The whole of heaven and its individual inhabitants without exception trace their origin to the Lord alone, in general and in the smallest particulars. This is the source of order, of unity, of mutual love, and of happiness, because this is what causes individuals to look to the health and happiness of all, and all to that of every individual.

Many experiences have shown me that all joy and happiness in heaven come from the Lord alone. At this point, let me recount just one such experience.

I saw that certain angelic spirits, using the greatest possible care, were making an ornate lampstand, with its lamps and flowers, in the Lord’s honor. For an hour or two I was allowed to observe how hard they worked to make absolutely everything beautiful and full of significance. They felt that the labor was their own, but I was able to sense clearly that they could invent nothing by their own power.

Finally, several hours later, they said they had succeeded in making a gorgeous lampstand, with all its representative art, in honor of the Lord, and at this they rejoiced from the depths of their being. I told them, however, that at no time had they designed or created anything on their own but that it was the Lord alone who had done this for them. At first they were scarcely willing to believe it, but being angelic spirits, they received enlightenment and confessed that it was so.

The same is true for all their other representative objects, for all their feelings and thoughts without exception, and so for heavenly joy and happiness; the least of them all come from the Lord alone.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 551-552