After Death, the Pleasures of Everyone’s Life Are Turned into Things That Correspond

I explained in the last chapter that our dominant affection or predominant love stays with us forever. Now, though, I need to explain that the pleasures of that affection or love change into things that correspond. “Changing into things that correspond” means changing into spiritual things that answer to the natural ones. We may gather that they change into spiritual things from the fact that as long as we are in our earthly bodies we are in the natural world; but once we leave that body behind, we arrive in the spiritual world and put on a spiritual body. (On angels having perfect human forms and being people after death, and on the bodies they wear being spiritual, see above, Sections 73–77 and 453–460; and for a description of the correspondence of spiritual things with natural ones, see Sections 87–115.)

All our pleasures stem from our dominant love, for the only things that feel pleasant to us are the ones that we love; so the most pleasant of all is what we love above all. Whether you say “our dominant love” or “what we love above all,” it amounts to the same thing.

There are different pleasures—as many, generally speaking, as there are different dominant loves, which means as many as there are of us, and of spirits and angels, since no one’s dominant love is entirely like that of anyone else. This is why no one’s face is exactly like that of anyone else, since the face is the image of the mind, and in the spiritual world is an image of the dominant love. The pleasures of any specific individual are infinitely varied as well, with no pleasure ever entirely like any other. This applies both to the pleasures that come in sequence and to the ones that occur simultaneously. No two are ever alike. However, the specific pleasures of any given individual go back to that single love which is that individual’s dominant love. In fact, they constitute it and therefore become one with it. In much the same way, all pleasures overall go back to one love that is universally dominant—in heaven, a love for the Lord, and in hell, a love for oneself.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 485-486

Notes:

Sections 73-77: Published 3/9/2018-3/10/2018

Sections 453-460: Published 5/16/2017-5/21/2017

Sections 87-102: Published 6/4/2017-6/12/2017

Sections 103-115: Published 6/17/2017-6/26/2017

LOVE AND THE SELF: Our Ruling love

Our love is our life itself. What our love is like determines how we live and therefore everything about what we are as human beings. It is, however, specifically our ruling or dominant love that makes us who we are.

That love has many loves subordinate to it, loves that derive from it. They take on various guises, but nevertheless these specific loves are inherent in the ruling love and together with it make a single domain. The ruling love is like their monarch or head. It governs them and works through them as intermediate goals, in order to focus on and strive for its own goal, the primary and ultimate of all. It does this both directly and indirectly.

Whatever belongs to our ruling love we love more than anything else.

Whatever we love more than anything else is constantly present within our thoughts and also within our intentions. It constitutes the very essence of our life. For example, if we love wealth more than anything else, whether in the form of money or in the form of possessions, we are constantly calculating how we can acquire it. We feel the deepest joy when we do acquire it and the deepest grief when we lose it—our heart is in it.

If we love ourselves more than anything else, we are mindful of ourselves at every little moment. We think about ourselves, talk about ourselves, act to benefit ourselves. In fact, our life is a life of pure self.

We have as our goal whatever we love more than anything else. We focus on it constantly in each and every thing we do. It is within our will like the hidden current of a river that draws and carries us along even when we are doing something else, because it is what animates us.

This is the ruling love that we see and examine in others, using it either to lead them or to cooperate with them.

Our quality is entirely determined by what controls our life. That is what distinguishes us from each other. That is what determines our heaven if we are good and our hell if we are evil. It is our essential will, everything we claim to be, and our nature. In fact, it is the very substance of our life. It cannot be changed after death because it is what we really are.

Everything we find pleasing, satisfying, and happy comes to us from our ruling love and answers to it. We call whatever we love pleasing because that is how it feels to us. While we can also call something pleasing that we think about but do not love, that is not a pleasure of our life.

To enjoy our love stands as what is good in our estimation, and anything we do not enjoy stands as what is bad in our estimation.

There are two loves from which arises everything that is good and true, as though from their very wellsprings, and there are two loves from which arises everything that is evil and false. The two loves that are the source of everything good and true are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor, while the two loves that are the source of everything evil and false are love for ourselves and love for this world.

These latter two loves are the exact opposites of the former two loves.

The two loves that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor) make heaven for us, so they reign in heaven as well; and since they make heaven for us they also make the church.

The two loves that are the source of everything evil and false (which as just stated are love for ourselves and love for this world) make hell for us and therefore reign in hell as well.

The two loves that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are heaven’s loves) open and give form to our inner, spiritual self because that is where they live. However, when the two loves that are the source of everything evil and false are in control, they close and wreck our inner, spiritual self and cause us to be earthbound and sense-bound according to how much they dominate us and according to the manner in which they do it. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 5, 6

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

A great deal of my experience has testified to the fact that we are our love or intention after death. All heaven is differentiated into communities on the basis of differences in the quality of love, and every spirit who is raised up into heaven and becomes an angel is taken to the community where her or his love is. When we arrive there we feel as though we are in our own element, at home, back to our birthplace, so to speak. Angels sense this and associate there with kindred spirits. When they leave and go somewhere else, they feel a constant pull, a longing to go back to their kindred and therefore to their dominant love. This is how people gather together in heaven. The same applies in hell. There too, people associate according to loves that oppose heavenly ones. On the fact that both heaven and hell are made up of communities and that they are all differentiated according to differences of love, see Sections 41–50 and 200–212 above.

We may also gather that we are our love after death from the fact that anything that does not agree with our dominant love is then removed and apparently taken away from us. For good people, what is removed and apparently taken away is everything that disagrees and conflicts, with the result that they are admitted to their love. It is much the same for evil people, except that what is taken away from them is everything true, while for good people everything false is taken away. Either way, the result is that ultimately everyone becomes his or her own love. This happens when we are brought into our third state, which will be discussed below. Once this has happened, we constantly turn our faces toward our love and have it constantly before our eyes no matter which way we face (see above, Sections 123–124).

All spirits can be led wherever you want as long as they are kept in their dominant love. They cannot resist even though they know what is happening and think that they will refuse. Spirits have often tried to do something in opposition, but without success. Their love is like a chain or rope tied around them, with which they can be pulled and which they cannot escape. It is the same for people in this world. Our love leads us as well, and it is through our love that we are led by others. It is even more so when we become spirits, though, because then we are not allowed to present a different love or pretend to a love that is not ours.

It is obvious in every gathering in the other life that our spirit is our dominant love. To the extent that we act and talk in keeping with someone else’s love, that individual looks whole, with a face that is whole, cheerful, and lively. To the extent that we act and talk against someone else’s dominant love, though, that individual’s face begins to change, to dim, and to be hard to see. Eventually it disappears as though it were not even there. I have often been amazed at this because this kind of thing cannot happen in the world. However, I have been told that the same thing happens to the spirit within us, in that when we turn our attention away from someone, that individual is no longer in our sight.

I have also seen that our spirit is our dominant love from the fact that every spirit seizes and claims whatever suits his or her love and rejects and repels whatever does not suit it. Our love is like a spongy, porous wood that absorbs whatever liquids prompt its growth, and repels others. It is like animals of various kinds. They recognize their proper foods, seek out the ones that suit their natures, and avoid the ones that disagree. Every love actually wants to be nourished by what is appropriate to it—an evil love by falsities and a good love by truths. I have occasionally been allowed to see that some particular simple and good people wanted to teach evil people things that were true and good. Faced with this teaching, though, the evil people fled far away; and when they reached their own kind, they seized on whatever falsities suited their love with great delight. I have also been allowed to see good spirits talking with each other about truths, which other good spirits in attendance listened to eagerly, while some evil ones who were there paid no attention, as though they did not hear anything.

In the world of spirits you can see paths, some leading to heaven and some leading to hell, each one leading to some specific community. Good spirits travel only the paths that lead to heaven, and to the community engaged in their own quality of love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else. On the other hand, evil spirits travel only the paths that lead to hell and to that community there which is engaged in the evil of their own love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else; and if they do see them, they still do not want to follow them.

Paths like this in the spiritual world are “real appearances” that correspond to true and false [understandings]; so this is what “paths” in the Word mean.

These proofs from experience support what was said above on rational grounds, namely that after death we are our own love and our own intent. I say “intent” because for each of us, our intent is our love.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 479

Notes:

Sections 41-50: Published 5/7/2017-5/10/2017

Sections 200-212: Heaven’s Form, Which Determines How People Associate
and Communicate: Not yet published

Sections 123-124: 11/20/2016-11/21/2016

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

There is a dominant love that remains with each of us after death and never changes to eternity. We all have many loves, but they all go back to our dominant love and form a single whole with it, or compose it in the aggregate. All the elements of our volition that agree with our dominant love are called loves because they are loved. There are deeper and more superficial loves, loves that are directly united and loves that are indirectly united; there are closer and more distant ones; there are loves that serve in various ways. Taken all together they make a kind of kingdom. They are actually arranged in this way within us even though we are utterly unaware of their arrangement. However, the arrangement becomes visible to some extent in the other life because the outreach of our thoughts and affections there depends on it. The outreach is into heavenly communities if our dominant love is made up of loves of heaven, but it is into hellish communities if our dominant love is made up of loves of hell.

On the outreach into communities of all the thought and affection of spirits and angels, see the previous chapters on the wisdom of heaven’s angels and on heaven’s form, which determines its gatherings and communications [Sections 265–275, 200–212].

What I have said so far, though, is addressed only to our rational thought. In order to present the matter to sensory observation, I should like to add some experiences that may serve to illustrate and support the claims that first, we are our love or intention after death; second, we remain the same forever in regard to our volition or dominant love; third, we come into heaven if our love is heavenly and spiritual, and into hell if our love is carnal and worldly without any heavenly and spiritual dimension; fourth, our faith does not stay with us unless it comes from a heavenly love; and fifth, love in action, and therefore our life, is what remains.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 477, 478

Notes:

Sections 265-275: 10/18/2017-10/14/2017

Sections 200-212: Heaven’s Form, Which Determines How People Associate
and Communicate: Not yet published

Love in General

What we love constitutes life itself to us: what our love is like determines what our life is like and therefore what we are like as human beings. In particular, it is the love that is dominant or supreme in us that makes us who we are.

That love has many loves that are subordinate to it, loves that derive from it. They take on various guises, but they are all nevertheless present within the dominant love, and together with it make one kingdom. The dominant love acts as the monarch or head of the rest; it governs them and works through them as intermediate goals, in order to focus on and strive for its primary and ultimate goal of all, doing this both directly and indirectly.

The object of our dominant love is what we love more than anything else.

Whatever we love more than anything else is constantly present within our thoughts and also within our will. It constitutes the very core of our life. For example, if we love wealth more than anything else, whether in the form of money or of possessions, we are constantly considering how we can acquire it. We feel the deepest joy when we do acquire it and the deepest grief when we lose it—our heart is in it.

If we love ourselves more than anything else, we are mindful of ourselves at every little moment. We think about ourselves, talk about ourselves, and act to benefit ourselves, because our life is a life of pure self.

We have as our goal whatever we love more than anything else. This is what we focus on overall and in every detail. It is within our will like the hidden current of a river that draws and carries us along even when we are doing something else, because it is what animates us.

What is loved above all is also something we look for and see in others, and something we use to influence them or to cooperate with them.

The way we are is entirely determined by what controls our life. This is what distinguishes us from each other. This is what determines our heaven if we are good and our hell if we are evil. It is our essential will, our self, and our nature. In fact, it is the underlying reality of our life. It cannot be changed after death because it is what we really are.

All the pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness we feel comes from and accords with what we love above all. We call whatever we love a pleasure because that is how it feels to us. While we can also call something a pleasure that we think about but do not love, that kind of pleasure is not alive for us.

What we see as good is what is pleasing to our love, and what we see as evil is what is displeasing to our love.

There are two kinds of love that generate all that is good and true, and two kinds of love that generate all that is evil and false.

The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor; the two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false are love for ourselves and love for this world.

The latter two kinds of love are the exact opposites of the former two kinds of love.

The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor) make heaven for us, so they reign in heaven as well; and since they make heaven for us they also constitute the church.

The two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false (which as just stated are love for ourselves and love for this world) make hell for us and therefore reign in hell as well.

The two kinds of love that are the source of everything good and true (which as just stated are the kinds of love in heaven) open and give form to our inner, spiritual self because that is where they live. However, when the two kinds of love that are the source of everything evil and false are in control, they close and wreck our inner, spiritual self and cause us to be materialistic and sense-oriented according to the extent and nature of their domination.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 54-61