Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

I once talked with some spirits who had just arrived from the world about the state of eternal life. I emphasized the fact that it is important to know who the lord of a kingdom is, what the government is like, and what the forms of government are. It is the same when people are visiting a foreign country in this world. Nothing is more critical for them than to know who the king is and what his character is, what the government is like, and a great many more details about the nation. How much more important must this be in the kingdom where they are going to live forever! They should realize, then, that it is the Lord who governs heaven—and the universe, for whoever rules the one rules the other as well. This means that the kingdom where they now find themselves belongs to the Lord and that the laws of this kingdom are eternal truths all based on the law that they should love the Lord above all and their neighbor as themselves. Not only that, but if they wanted to be like angels, they needed to love their neighbor more than themselves.

When they heard this last point they were unable to respond, because they had heard something like this during their physical lives but had not believed it. They wondered whether there was that kind of love in heaven, whether it was possible for anyone to love her or his neighbor more than herself or himself. They were told, though, that in the other life everything good increases immensely. Life in a physical body cannot by nature progress beyond loving one’s neighbor as the self, because it is immersed in physical concerns. Once these are removed, though, the love becomes purer and ultimately angelic, which is loving one’s neighbor more than oneself. This is because in the heavens doing good for someone else is a delight and doing good for oneself is not unless it is to give to another and therefore for the sake of the other. This is loving one’s neighbor more than oneself.

As for the possibility of this love, it was said that in this world it might be gathered from the marriage love some people have for each other, people who would rather die than allow their spouse to be hurt. Or they might consider the love of parents for their children, the mother who would rather starve than see her children go hungry; or the true friendship that leads people to face peril for the sake of their friends. They might even consider the simulated friendship of formal courtesy, in which people try to imitate the real thing by offering the better portions to people they claim to want to help and then make noise about it, though it is not from their hearts. Lastly, they might consider the nature of love, whose nature is to find joy in serving others for their sake and not for its own.

However, the ones who loved themselves more than others could not grasp this, nor could the ones who had been keen on profit taking during their physical lives; and least of all, misers.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 406

Notes:

Previously Cited: 2/1/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

Almost all the people who arrive in the other life think that hell is the same for everyone and that heaven is the same for everyone, when in fact there are infinite variations and differences in each. Hell is never the same for any two people, nor is heaven. In the same way, no one of us, no spirit, and no angel is ever exactly like any other, even facially. When I even thought about two identical or equal beings, the angels were aghast. They said that every unity is formed by a harmonious agreement of many constituents and that the nature of the unity depends on the nature of the agreement. This is how every community of heaven forms a unity and how all the communities form a single heaven, which is accomplished solely by the Lord, by means of love.

Useful activities in the heavens occur in similar variety and diversity. The function of one individual is never exactly the same as that of any other, so the delight of one is never the same as another’s. Not only that, the delights of each function are countless, and these countless delights are equally varied, yet they are united in a design that enables them to focus on each other as do the functions of the individual members and organs and viscera in the human body; or even more, like the functions of every vessel and fiber in those members and organs and viscera. These are all interconnected in such a way that they focus on what they can contribute to the other and therefore to all, with all mindful of the individual members. They act as one because of this regard for the whole and for the individual.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 405

Notes:

Previously Cited: 1/31/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

Some spirits who thought themselves better informed than others claimed that in the world they had held to the belief that heavenly joy consisted solely in praising and glorifying God, and that this was an active life. They have been told, though, that praising and glorifying God is not an appropriate kind of active life, since God has no need of praise and glorification. Rather, God wants us to be useful to each other, to do the worthwhile things that are called works of charity. However, they could not connect any notion of heavenly joy with thoughtful good deeds, only a notion of slavery. The angels, though, bore witness that it was the freest life of all because it stemmed from a deep affection and was invariably accompanied by an indescribable pleasure.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 404

Notes:

Previously Cited: 1/29/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

On the basis of an opinion formed in the world, some spirits have believed that heavenly happiness consisted of a life of leisure, being waited on by others; but they were informed that there is never any happiness in idling around in order to be content. This would mean wanting the happiness of others for oneself, in which case no one would have any at all. This kind of life would be idle, not active, a life that would lead to atrophy. They might in fact have known that apart from an active life, a life has no happiness, and that idleness serves that life only for refreshment, in order to return them to the active life with more energy. Then they were shown in many ways that angelic life consists of worthwhile, thoughtful actions, actions that are useful to others, and that all the happiness angels have is found in service, derives from service, and is proportional to service.

So that these people might feel shame (people who have had the notion that heavenly joy consists of a life of leisure, inhaling eternal bliss) they are enabled to perceive what kind of life this would be. They see that it is thoroughly miserable; and once all their delight therefore dies away, they are very soon disgusted and nauseated.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 403

Notes:

Previously Cited: 1/28/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

All the pleasures of heaven are united to forms of service and dwell within them, because forms of service are the good effects of the love and thoughtfulness that angels are immersed in. Consequently, the nature of each individual’s pleasures depends on the nature of that individual’s service, and its intensity depends on the intensity of the affection for service.

We can be assured that heaven’s pleasures are pleasures of service by comparing them with our own five physical senses. Each sense has its own pleasure in accord with the service it performs. Sight has its pleasure, hearing its own, smell its own, taste its own, and touch its own. The pleasure of sight derives from beauty and forms, that of hearing from harmonies, of smell from fragrances, of taste from flavors. Anyone who reflects knows what services the individual senses perform, and people familiar with correspondences know this even more fully. The reason sight has the kind of pleasure it does lies in the service it performs for our discernment, which is an inner sight. The reason hearing has the kind of pleasure it does lies in the service it performs for our discernment and our volition by its attentiveness. The reason smell has the kind of pleasure it does lies in the service it performs for the brain and for the lungs. The reason taste has the kind of pleasure it does lies in the service it performs for the stomach and indirectly for the whole body by nourishing it. Marital pleasure, which is a purer and more delicate pleasure of touch, surpasses all others because of its service, the procreation of the human race and thus of the angelic heaven.

These pleasures are inherent in the senses because of the inflow of heaven, where all pleasure belongs to service and depends on service.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 402

Previously Cited: 1/27/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

As long as people who are caught up in the love for themselves and the world are living in the body, they feel the pleasure that stems from those loves and the pleasure of the gratifications that result from those loves. As long as people who are focused on love for God and love for their neighbor are living in the body, though, they have no obvious sense of the pleasure that stems from those loves and from the good affections that arise from them. All they feel is a sense of well-being that is barely perceptible because it is hidden away in their deeper natures, veiled by the outer sensations of their bodies and dulled by the cares of this world. Our state changes completely after death, however. Then the pleasures of love for ourselves and the world turn into painful and fearful sensations because within them is what we call hellfire, and also into foul and unclean things that answer to their filthy gratifications—all of which, remarkably enough, are now quite delightful to them.

In contrast, the faint sense of pleasure, the almost imperceptible sense of well-being that was found in people who were focused on love for God and love for their neighbor in the world, turns into the pleasure of heaven, perceptible and palpable in countless ways. That sense of well-being that had been lying hidden in their deeper natures while they lived in the world is now unveiled and released into open sensation, because now they are in the spirit, and this was the delight of their spirit.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 401

Previously Cited: 1/26/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

However, we do need to realize that if people are engrossed in love for themselves and love for the world, the pleasure they are feeling when they move toward some heavenly community is the pleasure of their own cravings. So it is diametrically opposed to the pleasure of heaven. They attain the pleasure of their cravings when they succeed in stealing and taking away heavenly pleasure from people who are absorbed in it. It is different when no theft or removal occurs. Then they cannot get nearer because to the extent that they do, they are plunged into pain and torment. This is why they rarely dare to approach. This too I have been shown by an abundance of experience, some of which I should like to present.

There is nothing spirits want more when they are arriving in the other life from this world than to get into heaven. Almost all of them expect to because they believe that heaven is simply a matter of being let in and accepted. Because this is what they want, then, they are taken to some community of the outmost heaven. If they are devoted to love for themselves and the world, then the moment they reach the first border of that heaven they begin to feel pain and to be so tormented within that they feel as though they were in hell rather than in heaven. So they themselves dive down headlong and are not at rest until they are with their own kind in the hells.

It has also often happened that spirits like this have wanted to find out what heavenly joy is, and when they have heard that it is within the deeper nature of angels, they have sought to share in it for themselves. So this too was done, because when spirits are not yet in heaven or in hell, whatever they want is granted if it may do any good. Once communication was established, they began to feel such agony that they did not know how to control their bodies because of the pain. It looked as though they pushed their heads down to their feet and threw themselves on the ground and twisted themselves into loops like snakes, all because of their inner agony. This was the effect that heavenly pleasure had on people whose pleasures stemmed from love for themselves and love for the world. The reason is that these loves are diametrically opposed, and when a love meets its opposite this kind of pain results. Further, since heavenly pleasure comes in by an inner path and flows into an opposing pleasure, it twists the deeper levels that are engrossed in that pleasure backward, in the opposite direction. This results in this kind of agony.

As I have already noted, the reason these loves are contrary to each other is that love for the Lord and love for our neighbor want to share everything with others. This is in fact their delight. But self-love and love for the world want to take things away from others for themselves, and find pleasure to the extent that they can succeed.

This also enables us to realize why hell is separated from heaven. It is because all the people who are in hell, while they lived in the world, were wholly focused on pleasures of the body and the flesh because of their love for themselves and love for the world; while all the people who are in heaven, while they lived in the world, were focused on pleasures of the soul and the spirit because of their love for the Lord and their love for their neighbor. Since these loves are opposed to each other, the hells and the heavens are completely separated, even to the point that spirits who are in hell do not dare stick out a single finger or raise the top of their heads, for the moment they do so, even the slightest bit, they are in torment and agony. This too I have often seen.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 400

Notes:

Previously Cited: 1/25/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

We may gather the magnitude of heaven’s pleasure simply from the fact that for everyone there it is delightful to share their pleasure and bliss with someone else; and since everyone in the heavens is like this, we can see how immense heaven’s pleasure is. For as I explained above (Section 268), there is in heaven a sharing by everyone with each individual, and by each individual with everyone.

This kind of sharing flows from the two loves of heaven, which as noted are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. These loves by nature want to share their pleasures. The reason love for the Lord is like this is that because the Lord’s love is a love of sharing everything it has with everyone, it intends the happiness of everyone. Much the same love exists in individuals who love him, because the Lord is in them. So there is a mutual sharing of angels’ pleasures with each other. We shall see later that love for our neighbor is like this as well. We may gather from all this that these loves by nature want to share their pleasures.

It is different for love for oneself and love for the world. Love for oneself takes away and carries off all the pleasure of others and diverts them to itself because it has only its own welfare in mind. Love of the world wants the possessions of the neighbor to be its own. So these loves by nature want to destroy pleasures for other people. If they have any tendency to share, it is for their own interests and not for others; so in relation to others (except insofar as they can appropriate and embody the pleasures of those others) they do not tend to share but to destroy.

I have very often been shown by vivid experience that this is what love for oneself and love for the world are like when they are in control. Whenever spirits who were engrossed in these loves when they lived as people in the world have come up to me, my own pleasure has waned and vanished. I have also been told that if people like these so much as move toward any heavenly community, the pleasure of the members of that community decreases in direct proportion to their presence. Remarkably, too, the evil people are then delighted. I could see from this what the state of the human spirit in the body is like, for it is much the same as it is after separation from the body. Specifically, they crave and covet the pleasures or assets of others, and to the extent that they acquire them they themselves are pleased. We can see from this that love for oneself and love for the world are destructive of heavenly joy and are therefore diametrically opposed to heavenly loves, whose nature is to share.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 399

Notes:

Previously Cited: 1/12/2017

Section 268: Published 10/21/2017

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

By its very nature, heaven is full of pleasures, even to the point that if we see it as it really is, it is nothing but bliss and pleasure. This is because the divine good that emanates from the Lord’s divine love constitutes heaven both overall and in detail for everyone there; and divine love is the intent that everyone should be saved and should be most profoundly and fully happy. This is why it is all the same whether you say “heaven” or “heavenly joy.”

Heaven’s pleasures are both indescribable and innumerable; but no one can realize or believe anything about their multitude who is wholly wrapped up in pleasures of the body or the flesh. This, as I have already said, is because their deeper levels are looking away from heaven toward the world, which is backward. For no one who is wholly involved in pleasures of the body or the flesh (or in love for oneself and the world, which is the same thing) feels any pleasure except in eminence or profit or in physical and sensory gratification. These stifle and smother deeper pleasures of heaven so completely that people do not even believe such pleasures exist. So they would be quite bewildered if they were so much as told that any pleasures remain once the pleasures of eminence and profit have been taken away; and they would be even more bewildered if they were told that the pleasures that take their place are countless and simply defy comparison with pleasures of the body and the flesh, especially pleasures of eminence and profit. We can see, then, why people do not know what heavenly joy is.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 397, 398

Heavenly Joy and Happiness (Continued)

All pleasures flow from love, because what we love we feel as pleasant. There is no other source of any pleasure. It follows, then, that the quality of the love determines the quality of the pleasure. Pleasures of the body or of the flesh flow from love for ourselves and from love of the world, and these are also the source of our urges and their gratifications. The pleasures of the soul or spirit, though, all flow from love for the Lord and love for our neighbor, which are also the source of affections for what is good and true and of our deeper bliss. These loves and their pleasures flow in from the Lord and from heaven by an inner path, from above, and move our deeper natures. The other loves and their pleasures, though, flow in from the flesh and the world by an outer path, from below, and move our outer natures.

To the extent that the two loves of heaven are accepted and affect us, then, our deeper levels—levels of our souls or spirits—are opened; and they look away from the world toward heaven. To the extent that the two loves of the world are accepted and affect us, though, our outer levels—levels of the body or the flesh—are opened; and they look away from heaven toward the world. As loves flow in and are accepted, so their pleasures flow in, pleasures of heaven into our deeper natures and pleasures of the world into our outer natures, because as already noted all pleasure comes from love.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 396