The Heavens Are Made Up of Countless Communities (Continued)

Kindred souls gravitate toward each other spontaneously, as it were, for with each other they feel as though they are with their own family, at home, while with others they feel like foreigners, as though they were abroad. When they are with kindred souls, they enjoy the fullest freedom and find life totally delightful.

We can see from this that the good gathers everyone together in the heavens, and that angels are differentiated by what good they do. Still, it is not the angels who gather themselves, but the Lord, the source of all that is good. He leads them, unites them, differentiates them, and keeps them in freedom to the extent that they are engaged in what is good. So he keeps every individual in the life of his or her own love, faith, intelligence, and wisdom—and therefore in happiness.

Further, people of similar quality all recognize each other there just the way people in this world recognize their neighbors and relatives and friends, even though they may never have seen each other before. This happens because the only relationships and kinships and friendships in the other life are spiritual ones, and are therefore matters of love and faith.

I have often been allowed to see this when I was in the spirit and therefore out of body and in the company of angels. Then some of them looked to me as though I had known them from infancy, while others seemed totally unfamiliar. The ones who looked as though I had known them from infancy were the ones who were in a state like that of my own spirit, while the unfamiliar ones were in dissimilar states.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 44-46


Previously Published: 5/8/2017

To the Extent That We Turn Our Backs on Evil Deeds Because They Are Sins, the Good Deeds We Do Come Not from Ourselves but from the Lord

Is there anyone who does not and cannot know that our evils stand in the way of the Lord’s ability to come in to us? Evil is hell and the Lord is heaven, and hell and heaven are opposites; so to the extent that we are in one we cannot be in the other. One acts against the other and cancels it.

As long as we are in this world we are in between hell and heaven—hell is below us and heaven above us—and during this time we are kept in a freedom to turn toward hell or toward heaven. If we turn toward hell we are turning away from heaven, while if we turn toward heaven we are turning away from hell.

In other words, as long as we are in this world we are placed in between the Lord and the Devil and are kept in a freedom to turn toward the one or the other. If we turn toward the Devil we turn our backs on the Lord, while if we turn toward the Lord we turn our backs on the Devil.

Or to put it yet another way, as long as we are in this world we are in between what is evil and what is good and are kept in a freedom to turn toward the one or the other. If we turn toward what is evil we turn our backs on what is good, while if we turn toward what is good we turn our backs on what is evil.

I have stated that we are kept in a freedom of turning either way. This freedom never comes from us; it comes from the Lord, which is why I just said that we are kept in it. On the balance between heaven and hell, our being in that balance, and our therefore being in freedom, see Heaven and Hell 589–596 and 597–603. As for everyone being kept in freedom and no one being deprived of it, that will come up in its own place [Sections 101–102].

This makes it very clear that to the extent that we turn our backs on evil deeds we are with the Lord and in the Lord; and to the extent that we are in the Lord the good deeds we do come not from ourselves but from the Lord. This yields the following general law: To the extent that we turn our backs on evil deeds, we do good deeds.

Two things are required, though. First, we need to turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins—that is, because they are hellish and diabolical and therefore contrary to the Lord and to divine laws. Second, we need to turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins as if we were doing it on our own, but we need to know and believe that it comes from the Lord. Both of these requirements will be discussed under other headings [Sections 62–66 and 101–107].

There are three corollaries to this.

1. If we intend and do good deeds before we turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins, our good deeds are not good.

2. If we think and speak devoutly but do not turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins, our devout thoughts and words are not devout.

3. Even if we are well informed and insightful, if we do not turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins, we are not wise.

from Life/Faith, Sections 18-23


Sections 589-596 from Heaven and Hell: Published 3/17/2019-3/20/2019

Sections 597-603 from Heaven and Hell: Published 3/21/2019-3/23/2019

Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell (Continued)

The reason we cannot be reformed unless we have some freedom is that we are born into evils of all kinds, evils which need to be taken away if we are to be saved. They cannot be taken away unless we see them within ourselves, admit that they are there, then refuse them and ultimately turn away from them. Only then are they taken away. This cannot happen unless we are exposed to both good and evil, since it is from good that we can see evils, though we cannot see what is good from evil. We learn the good spiritual things we can think from infancy from the reading of the Word and from sermons. We learn the moral and civic values from our life in the world. This is the primary reason we need to be in freedom.

The second reason is that nothing becomes part of us except as a result of some affection of love. True, other things can enter us, but no deeper than into our thought, not into our volition; and anything that does not enter our volition is not ours. This is because thinking is derived from our memory, while volition is derived from our life itself. Nothing is ever free unless it comes from our volition, or what amounts to the same thing, from a particular affection that stems from our love. Whatever we intend or love, we do freely. This is why our freedom and the affection of our love or intentions are one. So we also have freedom in order to be able to be moved by what is true and good, or to love them, so that they do become part of us.

In a word, anything that does not enter us in freedom does not stay with us, because it does not belong to our love or intentions; and anything that does not belong to our love or intentions does not belong to our spirit. The actual reality of our spirit is love or volition—using the phrase “love or volition” because whatever we love, we intend.

This is why we cannot be reformed except in a state of freedom. But there is more on our freedom in the extracts from Secrets of Heaven below.

So that we can be in freedom for the sake of our reformation, we are united in spirit with heaven and with hell. With each of us there are spirits from hell and angels from heaven. By means of the spirits from hell we encounter our evil, and by means of the angels from heaven we encounter the good we have from the Lord. As a result, we are in a spiritual equilibrium—that is, in a freedom.

On the presence with us of angels from heaven and spirits from hell, see the chapter on the union of heaven with the human race (Sections 291–302).

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 598-599


Sections 291-302: Published 6/22/2018-6/27/2018

Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell

I have just described the balance between heaven and hell and have shown that the balance is between what is good from heaven and what is evil from hell, which means that it is a spiritual balance that in essence is a freedom.

The reason this spiritual balance is essentially a freedom is that it exists between what is good and what is evil and between what is true and what is false, and these are spiritual realities. So the ability to intend either good or evil and to think either truth or falsity, the ability to choose one instead of the other, is the freedom I am dealing with here.

The Lord grants this freedom to every individual, and it is never taken away. By virtue of its source it in fact belongs to the Lord and not to us because it comes from the Lord; yet still it is given us along with our life as though it were ours. This is so that we can be reformed and saved, for without freedom there can be no reformation or salvation.

Anyone who uses a little rational insight can see that we have a freedom to think well or badly, honestly or dishonestly, fairly or unfairly, and that we can talk and act well, honestly, and fairly but not badly, dishonestly, and unfairly because of the spiritual, moral, and civil laws that keep our outward nature in restraint.

We can see from this that the freedom applies to our spirit, which does our thinking and intending, but not to our outer nature, which does our talking and acting, except as this follows the aforementioned laws.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 597

Angels are in the Lord and the Lord is in them; and since angels are vessels, the Lord alone is heaven (Continued)

However, this calls for an explanation of how angels can feel and sense this as their own and so accept and retain it when in fact it is not theirs, given the statement that angels are not angels on their own but by virtue of what is within them from the Lord. The essence of the matter is this. There is freedom and rationality in every angel. These two qualities are there so that angels can be open to love and wisdom from the Lord. Neither of these, though—neither the freedom nor the rationality—belongs to the angels. They are in them but belong to the Lord. However, since these two elements are intimately united to angels’ life, so intimately united that you could call them linked to their life, it seems as though they belong to the angels. Freedom and rationality enable them to think and intend and to speak and act; and what they think, intend, speak, and act as a result seems to be done on their own. This gives rise to the reciprocal element that is the means to union.

Still, the more that angels believe that love and wisdom are within them and claim them for themselves as their own, the more there is nothing angelic within them. To the same extent, then, there is no union with the Lord for them. They are outside the truth; and since truth is identical with heaven’s light, they are correspondingly unable to be in heaven. This leads to a denial that they live from the Lord and a belief that they live on their own and therefore that they possess some divine essence. The life called angelic and human consists of these two elements—freedom and rationality.

This leads to the conclusion that angels have a reciprocal ability for the sake of their union with the Lord, but that the reciprocal element, seen as an ability, is the Lord’s and not theirs. As a result, angels fall from angelhood if they abuse this reciprocal element that enables them to feel and sense what is the Lord’s as their own by actually claiming it for themselves. The Lord himself teaches us in John 14:20–24 and 15:4, 5, 6 that union is reciprocal, and in John 15:7 that the Lord’s union with us and ours with him occurs in things that belong to him, things called “his words.”

There are people who think that Adam had a kind of freedom or ability to choose that enabled him to love God and be wise on his own, and that this freedom to choose was lost in his descendants. This, however, is wrong. We are not life, but life-receivers (see Sections 4–6 and 55–60 above); and people who are life-receivers cannot love and be wise from their own resources. So when Adam wanted to love and be wise from his own resources, he fell from wisdom and love and was cast out of the garden.

We can say much the same about the heaven that is made up of angels as we have said about individual angels, since Divinity is the same in the largest and smallest things (see Sections 77–82 above). What we have said about angels and heaven needs to be said about us and the church as well, since angels of heaven and we of the church act in consort because of our union. Further, as to the inner reaches of our minds, we of the church are angels—but “we of the church” means people who have the church within themselves.

from Divine Love and Wisdom, Sections 116-118


Sections 4: Published 4/14/2016

Section 5-6: Published 4/9/2018

Sections 55-60: Published 5/23/2018-5/24/2018

Sections 77-82: Published 6/1/2018-6/2/2018

The Lord Does Not Cast Anyone into Hell: Spirits Cast Themselves In (Continued)

Enlightened people also see that good and evil are two opposite things, as opposite as heaven and hell, and that everything good is from heaven and everything evil from hell. Further, since the Lord’s divine nature constitutes heaven (see Sections 7–12), nothing flows into us from the Lord but what is good, and nothing from hell but what is evil. So the Lord is constantly leading us out of evil and toward good, while hell is constantly leading us into evil. Unless we were in between, we would have neither thought nor intention, much less any freedom or choice. We have all these gifts because of the balance between good and evil. So if the Lord were to turn away and we were left to our own evil, we would no longer be human.

We can see from this that the Lord is constantly flowing into every individual with good, just as much into the evil person as into the good. The difference is that he is constantly leading evil people away from evil, while he is constantly leading good people toward the good. The reason for this difference lies in us, since we are the ones who accept.

We can gather from this that we do evil from hell and good from the Lord. However, since we believe that whatever we do comes from ourselves, the evil we do clings to us as though it were our own. This is why we are at fault for our evil, never the Lord. The evil within us is hell within us, for it makes no difference whether you say “evil” or “hell.” Since we are at fault for our evil, it is we, not the Lord, who lead ourselves into hell. Far from leading us into hell, the Lord frees us from hell to the extent that we do not intend and love to be absorbed in our evil. Our whole volition and love stays with us after death (see Sections 470–484). People who have intended and loved what is evil in the world intend and love what is evil in the other life, and then they no longer allow themselves to be led away from it. This is why people who are absorbed in evil are connected to hell and actually are there in spirit; and after death they crave above all to be where their evil is. So after death, it is we, not the Lord, who cast ourselves into hell.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 546-547


Sections 7-12: Published 5/29/2017-5/31/2017

Sections 470-484: Published 8/14/2018-8/24/2018

2. Since our life varies depending on our state, “spirit” means the variable attitude we take toward life.

For example:

a. Living wisely.

Bezalel was filled with the spirit of wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge. (Exodus 31:3)

You shall speak to all who are wise at heart, everyone whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. (Exodus 28:3)

Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom. (Deuteronomy 34:9)

Nebuchadnezzar said of Daniel that [the spirit of the holy gods was in him]. (Daniel 4:8)

[Belshazzar’s queen said of Daniel that] there was an excellent spirit of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom in him. (Daniel 5:12)

Those who go astray in spirit will know intelligence. (Isaiah 29:24)

b. Living [under the influence of some particular] inspiration.

Jehovah has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. (Jeremiah 51:11)

Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. (Haggai 1:14)

I am putting the spirit into the king of Assyria [to cause him] to hear a rumor and return to his own land. (Isaiah 37:7)

Jehovah hardened the spirit of King Sihon. (Deuteronomy 2:30)

What is rising up in your spirit will never happen. (Ezekiel 20:32)

c. Living in a state of freedom.

The four beasts seen by the prophet, which were angel guardians, went wherever the spirit wanted to go. (Ezekiel 1:12, 20)

d. Living in fear, sorrow, or anger

. . . . so that every heart will melt, all hands will slacken, and every spirit will recoil. (Ezekiel 21:7)

My spirit has fainted within me; my heart is stupefied inside me. (Psalms 142:3; Psalms 143:4)

My spirit is wasting away. (Psalms 143:7)

I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit. (Daniel 7:15)

The spirit of Pharaoh was disturbed. (Genesis 41:8)

Nebuchadnezzar said, “My spirit is troubled.” (Daniel 2:3)

I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit. (Ezekiel 3:14)

e. Living in subjection to various evil mental states.

. . . who has no guile in his spirit. (Psalms 32:2)

Jehovah has mixed together in their midst a spirit of perversities. (Isaiah 19:14)

[The Lord Jehovih] says, “[Woe] to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit.” (Ezekiel 13:3)

The prophet is foolish; the man of the spirit is insane. (Hosea 9:7)

Keep watch over your spirit, and do not act treacherously. (Malachi 2:16)

A spirit of whoredom has led them astray. (Hosea 4:12)

There is a spirit of whoredom in their midst. (Hosea 5:4)

When a spirit of jealousy has come over him . . . (Numbers 5:14)

A man who is a wanderer in spirit and speaks lies . . . (Micah 2:11)

. . . a generation whose spirit was not constant with God . . . (Psalms 78:8)

He has poured a spirit of sleepiness over them. (Isaiah 29:10)

Conceive chaff and give birth to stubble. As for your spirit, fire will devour you. (Isaiah 33:11)

f. Living in subjection to hell.

I will make the unclean spirit depart from the land. (Zechariah 13:2)

When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it wanders through dry places, and then recruits seven spirits worse than itself, and they come in and live there. (Matthew 12:43, 44, 45)

Babylon has become a refuge for every unclean spirit. (Revelation 18:2)

g. Then there are the hellish spirits by whom we are tormented:

Matthew 8:16; 10:1; 12:43, 44, 45;
Mark 1:23–28; 9:17–29;
Luke 4:33, 36; 6:17, 18; 7:21; 8:2, 29; 9:39, 42, 55; 11:24, 25, 26; 13:11; Revelation 13:15; 16:13, 14.

from The Lord, Section 48


All freedom is a matter of love, because what we love we do freely. That is also why all freedom is a matter of will, because whatever we love we also will to do; and since love and will constitute our life, freedom also constitutes it. This can show us what freedom is, namely, that it is whatever belongs to our love and will and therefore to our life. That is why anything we do freely seems to us to have come from ourselves.

Doing evil freely seems to be freedom but it is slavery, since this freedom comes from our love for ourselves and our love for the world, and these loves come from hell. This kind of freedom actually turns into slavery after we die, too, since anyone who had this kind of freedom becomes a worthless slave in hell afterwards.

In contrast, freely doing what is good is freedom itself because it comes from a love for the Lord and from a love for our neighbor, and these loves come from heaven. This freedom too stays with us after death and then becomes true freedom because anyone who has this kind of freedom is like one of the family in heaven. The Lord says it like this: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not stay in the house forever. A son or daughter does stay forever. If the Son has made you free, you will be truly free” (John 8:34–36).

Since everything good comes from the Lord and everything evil from hell, then it follows that freedom is being led by the Lord and slavery is being led by hell.

The purpose of our having a freedom to think and do what is evil or false (to the extent that the law does not prevent it) is that we can be reformed. That is, what is good and what is true need to be planted in our love and will if they are to become part of our life, and there is no way this can happen unless we have the freedom to contemplate what is evil and false as well as what is good and true. This freedom is given to each one of us by the Lord; and when we are contemplating something that is good and true, then to the extent that we do not at the same time love what is evil and false the Lord plants goodness and truth in our love and will and therefore in our life, and in this way reforms us.

Anything that is sown in freedom also lasts, while anything sown in compulsion does not last. This is because anything we are compelled to do does not come from our own will but rather from the will of the one who is compelling us.

That is also why worship from freedom is pleasing to the Lord but compulsory worship is not. That is, worship from freedom is worship from love, while compulsory worship is not.

No matter how similar they look on the surface, freedom to do good and freedom to do evil are as different and as remote from each other as heaven and hell. Then too, the freedom to do good comes from heaven and is called “heavenly freedom,” while the freedom to do evil comes from hell and is called “hellish freedom.” To the extent that we have the one freedom we do not have the other—no one, that is, can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We can also see from this that people who have hellish freedom think that it is slavery and compulsion if they are not allowed to will what is evil and think what is false whenever they feel like it, while people who have heavenly freedom loathe to will anything evil and to think anything false, and if they are forced to do so, it torments them.

Since acting from freedom seems to us to come from ourselves, heavenly freedom can also be called “heavenly selfhood” and hellish freedom can be called “hellish selfhood.” Hellish selfhood is the sense of self into which we are born, and it is evil. Heavenly selfhood, though, is the selfhood into which we are reformed, and it is good.

This shows us what freedom of choice is—namely, that it is doing what is good by choice or intentionally, and that we have this freedom when we are being led by the Lord. We are led by the Lord when we love what is good and true because it is good and true.

We can tell what kind of freedom we have from the pleasure we feel when we think, speak, act, hear, and see, because all pleasure is an effect of love.

from Regeneration, Pages 20-22