Wisdom Comes into Being out of Goodness by Means of Truth

How rationality is conceived and born in us:

This is brought about by means of an inflow of the Lord through heaven into whatever spiritual and worldly knowledge we have, lifting us up as a result. This lifting up depends on the useful things we do and on our love of them. Our rationality is born by means of truths, so the nature of the truths determines the nature of our rationality. Our rationality is opened and given form by truths that arise from living a good life; it is closed and destroyed by falsities that arise from living an evil life. Our being able to argue that this or that is true does not mean we are rational; we are rational if we are able to see and perceive whether something is actually true or not. We are not born with any truth, because we are not born with any goodness; we need to learn and absorb everything. Because of the deceptiveness of our senses and the persuasiveness of falsity, which lead to rationalizations and doubts, we are barely able to accept genuine truths and then become wise.

The beginning of our wisdom occurs when we start to turn our backs on rationalizations that deny what is true, and to cast aside our doubts. When our rational ability is not enlightened it scoffs at inner truths. Our truths can properly be called inner truths only when they have been rooted in our lives, and not merely because we know about them, even though some truths that we know about might be said to be of a deeper kind.

Within goodness there lies a capacity to grow in wisdom; if our lives have been devoted to doing what is good, we attain angelic wisdom after our departure from this world. Within every type of goodness countless other types of goodness lie hidden. From goodness countless things can be learned.

How truth multiplies as a result of goodness:

By means of truths and by means of living according to them, the goodness we have in early childhood becomes the goodness that belongs to wisdom. We can be moved by a desire for truth and we can be moved by a desire for goodness. What we are like when we are moved by a desire for truth and what we are like when we are moved by a desire for goodness. Which people can come to desire truth and which people cannot. All truths are arranged under some emotion that they have in common. In earthly-minded people a desire for truth and a desire for goodness are like brother and sister, while in spiritually minded people they are like husband and wife.

Pure truths are not to be found in us or even in angels—only in the Lord. Any truths that we have are only apparently true. The first truths we have are things that seem to be true according to our deceptive senses; we gradually shed these as we increase in wisdom. If we are devoted to what is good, the things we think are true are accepted as real truths by the Lord.

The substance and nature of things that seem to be truths:

Much of the literal meaning of the Word is adapted to suit the way things seem to people. The same truths can be more true for one individual, less true for another, and false for yet another because they have been distorted. By coordinating the impressions of our earthly self with those of our spiritual self, we can see whether the things we hold as true are actually true or not. How true our truths are varies depending on our ideas and concepts of them.

When a truth has been joined to goodness it vanishes from our memory because it has become part of our life. Truths can be joined to goodness only in a state of freedom. Truths are joined to goodness by means of the crises of the spirit we go through. All goodness makes a constant effort to put truths in their place and to be restored by means of an inversion of its state. Truths become unpleasant when their connection with goodness is cut off. It is hard for us to tell the difference between truth and goodness because it is hard for us to tell the difference between thinking and willing. In the Word, what is good is called the brother of what is true. From one point of view, whatever is good is called a lord and whatever is true is called a servant.

from New Jerusalem, Section 27

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