www.TheisticScience.org  ·  Books  ·  Divine Love and Wisdom  ·  Sections 236 ff previous  ·  next


DLW 236. That there are three degrees of height in every man, has not until now become known for the reason that these degrees have not been recognized, and so long as they remained unnoticed, none but continuous degrees could be known; and when none but continuous degrees are known, it may be supposed that love and wisdom increase in man only by continuity. But it should be known, that in every man from his birth there are three degrees of height, or discrete degrees, one above or within another; and that each degree of height, or discrete degree, has also degrees of breadth, or continuous degrees, according to which it increases by continuity. For there are degrees of both kinds in things greatest and least of all things (n. 222-229); for no degree of one kind is possible without degrees of the other kind.

DLW 237. These three degrees of height are called natural, spiritual, and celestial (n. 232). When man is born he comes first into the natural degree, and this grows in him, by continuity, according to his knowledges and the understanding acquired by means of knowledges even to the highest point of understanding, which is called the rational. Yet not by this means is the second degree opened, which is called the spiritual. That degree is opened by means of a love of uses in accordance with the things of the understanding, although by a spiritual love of uses, which is love towards the neighbor. This degree may grow in like manner by continuous degrees to its height, and it grows by means of knowledges of truth and good, that is, by spiritual truths. Yet even by such truths the third degree which is called the celestial is not opened: for this degree is opened by means of the celestial love of use, which is love to the Lord; and love to the Lord is nothing else than committing to life the precepts of the Word, the sum of which is to flee from evils because they are hellish and devilish, and to do good because it is heavenly and Divine. In this manner these three degrees are successively opened in man.

DLW 238. So long as man lives in the world he knows nothing of the opening of these degrees within him, because he is then in the natural degree, which is the outmost, and from this he then thinks, wills, speaks, and acts; and the spiritual degree, which is interior, communicates with the natural degree, not by continuity but by correspondences, and communication by correspondences is not sensibly felt. But when man puts off the natural degree, which he does at death, he comes into that degree which has been opened within him in the world; he in whom the spiritual degree has been opened coming into that degree, and he within whom the celestial degree has been opened coming into that degree. He who comes into the spiritual degree after death no longer thinks, wills, speaks, and acts naturally, but spiritually; and he who comes into the celestial degree thinks, wills, speaks, and acts according to that degree. And as there can be communication between the three degrees only by correspondences, the differences of love, wisdom, and use, as regards these degrees are such as to have no common ground by means of anything continuous. From all this it is plain that man has three degrees of height that may be successively opened in him.

DLW 239. Since there are in man three degrees of love and wisdom, and therefore of use, it follows that there must be in him three degrees, of will, of understanding, and of result therefrom, thus of determination to use; for will is the receptacle of love, understanding the receptacle of wisdom, and result is use from these. From this it is evident that there are in every man a natural, a spiritual, and a celestial will and understanding, potentially by birth and actually when they are opened. In a word the mind of man, which consists of will and understanding, is from creation and therefore from birth, of three degrees, so that man has a natural mind, a spiritual mind, and a celestial mind, and can thereby be elevated into and possess angelic wisdom while he lives in the world; but it is only after death, and then only if he becomes an angel, that he enters into that wisdom, and his speech then becomes ineffable and incomprehensible to the natural man. I knew a man of moderate learning in the world, whom I saw after death and spoke with in heaven, and I clearly perceived that he spoke like an angel, and that the things he said would be inconceivable to the natural man; and for the reason that in the world he had applied the precepts of the Word to life and had worshiped the Lord, and was therefore raised up by the Lord into the third degree of love and wisdom. It is important that this elevation of the human mind should be known about, for upon it depends the understanding of what follows.

DLW 240. There are in man from the Lord two capacities whereby he is distinguished from beasts. One of these is the ability to understand what is true and what is good; this is called rationality, and is a capacity of his understanding. The other is an ability to do what is true and good; this is called freedom, and is a capacity of his will. For man by virtue of his rationality is able to think whatever he pleases, either with or against God, either with or against the neighbor; he is also able to will and to do what he thinks; but when he sees evil and fears punishment, he is able, by virtue of his freedom, to abstain from doing it. By virtue of these two capacities man is man, and is distinguished from beasts. Man has these two capacities from the Lord, and they are from Him every moment; nor are they taken away, for if they were, man's human would perish. In these two capacities the Lord is with every man, good and evil alike; they are the Lord's abode in the human race: from this it is that all men live forever, both the good and evil. But the Lord's abode in man is nearer as by the agency of these capacities man opens the higher degrees, for by the opening of these man comes into higher degree of love and wisdom, thus nearer to the Lord. From this it can be seen that as these degrees are opened, man is in the Lord and the Lord in him.

DLW 241. It is said above, that the three degrees of height are like end, cause, and effect, and that love, wisdom, and use follow in succession according to these degrees; therefore a few things shall be said here about love as being end, wisdom as being cause, and use as being effect. Whoever consults his reason, if it is enlightened, can see that the end of all things of man is his love; for what he loves that he thinks, decides upon, and does, consequently that he has for his end. Man can also see from his reason that wisdom is cause; since he, that is, his love, which is his end, searches in his understanding for its means through which to attain its end, thus consulting its wisdom, and these means constitute the instrumental cause. That use is effect is evident without explanation. But one man's love is not the same as another's, neither is one man's wisdom the same as another's; so it is with use. And since these three are homogeneous (n. 189-194), it follows that such as is the love in man, such is the wisdom and such is the use. Wisdom is here spoken of, but by it what pertains to man's understanding is meant.

Divine Love and Wisdom previous · next Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). www.TheisticScience.org