1. People who live lives based on falsity with evil intent and people who live lives based on falsity without evil intent; and also the nature of false beliefs that accompany evil intent and of false beliefs that do not.

There are many kinds of falsity—as many as there are kinds of evil—and there are many sources of things that are evil and of the falsities that they engender. Falsity that comes from evil, or evil-based falsity, is one thing; evil that comes from falsity, or falsity-based evil, which leads in turn to further or secondary falsity, is another. From just one false idea, especially if it is taken as a first principle, further false ideas flow in an unbroken series. There are falsities that are the result of cravings arising from our love for ourselves and for the world, and there are falsities that are the result of misleading sensory impressions. There are falsities that arise from what our religion has taught us and there are falsities that arise from our ignorance. There is falsity that contains some good and there is falsity that contains no good. There are also things that have been falsified. Everything evil has something false accompanying it. The falsity accompanying the cravings that arise from love for ourselves is truly evil; it is the worst kind of falsity.

Evil is heavy and falls into hell of its own accord, but this is not true of falsity unless it comes from evil. Good turns into evil and truth into falsity as they fall from heaven into hell because this is like coming into a dense and polluted atmosphere. The hells are surrounded by evil-based falsities, which look like storm clouds and unclean waters. The things that are said by the people who are in the hells are falsities that come from evil. Left to their own devices, people intent on evil cannot think anything but falsity. More on evil that comes from falsity and falsity that comes from evil.

Every falsity is something we can convince ourselves of, and when we have done so it seems to us to be the truth. We should therefore make sure something is true before convincing ourselves of it. We should be particularly careful not to convince ourselves of falsity in matters of religion because this leads to false convictions that remain with us after death. How damaging false convictions are.

What is good cannot flow into truth as long as we are intent on evil. To the extent that we devote our lives to what is evil and the falsity that goes with it, to that extent what is good and what is true are moved away from us. The Lord takes the greatest care to prevent truth from being joined to what is evil and prevent the falsity that comes from evil from being joined to what is good. If these pairs are mixed, the result is profanation. Truths put an end to falsities and falsities put an end to truths. Truths cannot be accepted on any deep level as long as skepticism reigns.

from New Jerusalem, Section 21


The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells (Continued)

There are hells everywhere. They are under the mountains and hills and cliffs and under the plains and valleys. The openings or gates to the hells that are under the mountains and hills and cliffs look at first sight like crevices or fissures in the rocks. Some of them are quite broad and open, some narrow and confined, full of rough places. All of them seem dim and gloomy when you look in, although the hellish spirits who live there have the kind of illumination you get from glowing coals. Their eyes are adjusted to the reception of this kind of light. This is because when they were living in the world they were in darkness about divine truths owing to their denial of them. They were in a kind of light as to their false convictions because they affirmed them, which gave their eyesight the form it has. This is also why heaven’s light is darkness to them, so when they come out of their caves, they cannot see anything. This makes it abundantly clear that we come into heaven’s light to the extent that we have acknowledged the Divine and affirmed within ourselves the values of heaven and the church. We come into the darkness of hell to the extent that we have denied the Divine and affirmed within ourselves values contrary to those of heaven and the church.

The entrances or gates to the hells that are under the plains and valleys have different forms. Some of them are like the ones under the mountains, hills, and cliffs; some of them are like caves and caverns; some are like large chasms and quagmires, some like swamps; and some like stagnant ponds. All of them are covered over and are visible only when evil spirits are being cast in there from the world of spirits. When they are opened, something breathes out like the smoky fire we see in the air from conflagrations, or like flame without smoke, or like the kind of soot that comes from a hot chimney, or like a dark storm cloud. I have heard that evil spirits neither see nor feel this because when they are in it, they are in their element and therefore in the delight of their life. This is because these appearances correspond to the evils and distortions they are absorbed in, the fire corresponding to their hatred and vengefulness and the smoke and soot to their consequent distortions, the flame to the evils of their self-love, and the dark storm cloud to the distortions that follow from it.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 584-585