All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

There are two ways of being in power. One comes from love for our neighbor and the other from love for ourselves. In essence, these two kinds of power are exact opposites. People who are empowered by love for their neighbor intend the good of everyone and love nothing more than being useful—that is, serving others (serving others means willing well and helping others, whether that is one’s church, country, community, or fellow citizen). This is their love and the delight of their hearts. As such people are raised to high positions they are delighted; but the delight is not because of the honor but because of the constructive things they can now do more abundantly and at a higher level. This is what empowerment is like in the heavens.

In contrast, people whose self-love leads them to take power intend good to no one but themselves. Any services they perform for others are actually for their own esteem and renown, since only this is of any use to them. Helping others is for them simply a means to being waited on and respected and deferred to. They strive for high office not for the good they ought to do for their country and their church but to be prominent and praised and therefore in their heart’s delight.

A love of power does stay with all of us after death. However, people whose authority rested on their love for their neighbor are entrusted with power in the heavens. Actually, it is not they who have power but the services that they love, and when service rules, the Lord is ruling. However, people whose authority rested on their self-love in the world arrive in hell after their life in this world and are miserable slaves there. I have seen powerful people whose authority had rested on their self-love in the world abandoned among the most miserable, some of them living in outhouses.

As for love of the world, it is not so intensely opposed to heavenly love, because there are not so many evils latent in it.

Love of the world is wanting to divert the wealth of others to ourselves by any means available. It is setting our heart on wealth and allowing the world to distract us from the spiritual love that is love for our neighbor and therefore from heaven and the Divine.

This love takes many forms, though. We may love wealth in order to be raised to exalted rank simply because we love exalted rank. We may love exalted rank and high position for the sake of wealth. We may love wealth for the sake of the various pleasures it offers in the world. We may love wealth simply for the sake of wealth, which is avarice, and so on. The purpose of being wealthy is called its use, and purpose or use is what gives a love its quality. That is, the quality of a love is determined by the goal it aims at. Everything else serves it as means.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 564-565