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THE ORIGIN OF EVIL IS FROM THE ABUSE OF THE CAPACITIES PROPER TO MAN, THAT ARE CALLED RATIONALITY AND FREEDOM
DLW 264. By rationality is meant the capacity to understand what is true and thereby what is false, also to understand what is good and thereby what is evil; and by freedom is meant the capacity to think, will and do these things freely. From what precedes it is evident, and it will become more evident from what follows, that every man from creation, consequently from birth, has these two capacities, and that they are from the Lord; that they are not taken away from man; that from them is the appearance that man thinks, speaks, wills, and acts as from himself; that the Lord dwells in these capacities in every man, that man by virtue of that conjunction lives to eternity; that man by means of these capacities can be reformed and regenerated, but not without them; finally, that by them man is distinguished from beasts.
DLW 265. That the origin of evil is from the abuse of these capacities will be explained in the following order:
1 A bad man equally with a good man enjoys these two capacities.
2 A bad man abuses these capacities to confirm evils and falsities, but a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths.
3 Evils and falsities confirmed in man are permanent, and come to be of his love, consequently of his life.
4 Such things as have come to be of the love and life are engendered in offspring.
5 All evils, both engendered and acquired, have their seat in the natural mind.
DLW 266. (1) A bad man, equally with a good man enjoys these two capacities. It was shown in the preceding chapter that the natural mind, as regards the understanding, can be elevated even to the light in which angels of the third heaven are, and can see truths, acknowledge them, and then give expression to them. From this it is plain that since the natural mind can be elevated, a bad man equally with a good man enjoys the capacity called rationality; and because the natural mind can be elevated to such an extent, it follows that a bad man can also think and speak about heavenly truths. Moreover, that he is able to will and to do them, even though he does not will and do them, both reason and experience affirm. Reason affirms it: for who cannot will and do what he thinks? His not willing and doing it is because he does not love to will and do it. This ability to will and to do is the freedom which every man has from the Lord; but his not willing and doing good when he can, is from a love of evil, which opposes; but this love he is able to resist, and many do resist it. Experience in the spiritual world has often corroborated this. I have listened to evil spirits who inwardly were devils, and who in the world had rejected the truths of heaven and the church. When the affection for knowing, in which every man is from childhood, was excited in them by the glory that, like the brightness of fire, surrounds each love, they perceived the arcana of angelic wisdom just as clearly as good spirits do who inwardly were angels. Those diabolical spirits even declared that they were able to will and act according to those arcana, but did not wish to. When told that they might will them, if only they would flee from evils as sins, they said that they could even do that, but did not wish to. From this it was evident that the wicked equally with the good have the capacity called freedom. Let anyone look within himself, and he will observe that it is so. Man has the power to will, because the Lord, from whom that capacity comes, continually gives the power; for, the Lord dwells in every man in both of these capacities, and therefore in the capacity, that is, in the power, of being able to will. As to the capacity to understand, called rationality, this man does not have until his natural mind reaches maturity; until then it is like seed in unripe fruit, which cannot be opened in the soil and grow up into a shrub. Neither does this capacity exist in those mentioned above (n. 259).
DLW 267. (2) A bad man abuses these capacities to confirm evils and falsities, but a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths. From the intellectual capacity called rationality, and from the voluntary capacity called freedom, man derives the ability to confirm whatever he wishes; for the natural man is able to raise his understanding into higher light to any extent he desires; but one who is in evils and in falsities there from, raises it no higher than into the upper regions of his natural mind, and rarely as far as the border of the spiritual mind; for the reason that he is in the delights of the love of his natural mind, and when he raises the understanding above that mind, the delight of his love perishes; and if it is raised still higher, and sees truths which are opposed to the delights of his life or to the principles of his self-intelligence, he either falsifies those truths or passes them by and contemptuously leaves them behind, or retains them in the memory as means to serve his life's love, or the pride of his self-intelligence. That the natural man is able to confirm whatever he wishes is plainly evident from the multitude of heresies in the Christian world, each of which is confirmed by its adherents. Who does not know that evils and falsities of every kind can be confirmed? It is possible to confirm, and by the wicked it is confirmed within themselves, that there is no God, and that nature is everything and created herself; that religion is only a means for keeping simple minds in bondage; that human prudence does everything, and Divine providence nothing except sustaining the universe in the order in which it was created; also that murders, adulteries, thefts, frauds, and revenge are allowable, as held by Machiavelli and his followers. These and many like things the natural man is able to confirm, and even to fill volumes with the confirmations; and when such falsities are confirmed they appear in their delusive light, but truths in such obscurity as to be seen only as phantoms of the night. In a word, take what is most false and present it as a proposition, and ask an ingenious person to prove it, and he will do so to the complete extinction of the light of truth; but set aside his confirmations, return and view the proposition itself from your own rationality, and you will see its falsity in all its deformity. From all this it can be seen that man is able to abuse these two capacities, which he has from the Lord, to confirm evils and falsities of every kind. This no beast can do, because no beast enjoys these capacities. Consequently, a beast is born into all the order of its life, and into all the knowledge of its natural love, but man is not.
DLW 268. (3) Evils and falsities confirmed in man are permanent, and come to be of his love and life. Confirming evil and falsity is nothing else than putting away good and truth, and if persisted in, it is their rejection; for evil removes and rejects good, and falsity truth. For this reason confirming evil and falsity is a closing up of heaven,--for every good and truth flows in from the Lord through heaven,--and when heaven is closed, man is in hell, and in a society therein which a like evil prevails and a like falsity; from which hell he cannot afterwards be delivered. It has been granted me to speak with some who ages ago confirmed themselves in the falsities of their religion, and I saw that they remained in the same falsities, in the same way as they were in them in the world. The reason is, that all things in which a man confirms himself come to be of his love and life. They come to be of his love because they come to be of his will and understanding; and will and understanding constitute the life of everyone; and when they come to be of man's life, they come to be not only of his whole mind but also of his whole body. From this it is evident that a man who has confirmed himself in evils and falsities is such from head to foot, and when he is wholly such, by no turning or twisting back can he be reduced to an opposite state, and thus withdrawn from hell. From all this, and from what precedes in this chapter, it can be seen what the origin of evil is.
DLW 269. (4) Such things as have come to be of the love, and consequently of the life, are engendered in offspring. It is known that man is born into evil, and that he derives it by inheritance from parents; though by some it is believed that he inherits it not from his parents, but through parents from Adam; this, however, is an error. He derives it from the father, from whom he has a soul that is clothed with a body in the mother. For the seed, which is from the father, is the first receptacle of life, but such a receptacle as it was with the father; for the seed is in the form of his love, and each one's love is, in things greatest and least, similar to itself; and there is in the seed a conatus to the human form, and by successive steps it goes forth into that form. From this it follows that evils called hereditary are from fathers, thus from grandfathers and great-grandfathers, successively transmitted to offspring. This may be learned also from observation, for as regards affections, there is a resemblance of races to their first progenitor, and a stronger resemblance in families, and a still stronger resemblance in households; and this resemblance is such that generations are distinguishable not only by the disposition, but even by the face. But of this ingeneration of the love of evil by parents in offspring more will be said in what follows, where the correspondence of the mind, that is, of the will and understanding, with the body and its members and organs will be fully treated of. Here these few things only are brought forward, that it may be known that evils are derived from parents successively, and that they increase through the accumulations of one parent after another, until man by birth is nothing but evil; also that the malignity of evil increases according to the degree in which the spiritual mind is closed up, for in this manner the natural mind also is closed above; finally, that there is no recovery from this in posterity except through their fleeing from evils as sins by the help of the Lord. In this and in no other way is the spiritual mind opened, and by means of such opening the natural mind is brought back into correspondent form.
DLW 270. (5) All evils and their falsities, both engendered and acquired, have their seat in the natural mind. Evils and their falsities have their seat in the natural mind, because that mind is, in form or image, a world; while the spiritual mind in its form or image is a heaven, and in heaven evil cannot be entertained. The spiritual mind, therefore, is not opened from birth, but is only in the capability of being opened. moreover, the natural mind derives its form in part from substances of the natural world; but the spiritual mind from substances of the spiritual world only; and this mind is preserved in its integrity by the Lord, in order that man may be capable of becoming a man; for man is born an animal, but he becomes a man. The natural mind, with all its belongings, is coiled into gyres from right to left, but the spiritual mind into gyres from left to right; the two thus curving in directions contrary to each other--a proof that evil has its seat in the natural mind, and that of itself it acts against the spiritual mind. Moreover, the gyration from right to left is turned downward, thus towards hell, but the gyration from left to right tends upward, thus toward heaven. This was made evident to me by the fact that an evil spirit can gyrate his body only from right to left, not from left to right; while a good spirit can gyrate his body from right to left only with difficulty, but with ease from left to right. Gyration follows the flow of the interiors, which belong to the mind.
|Divine Love and Wisdom||previous · next||Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||www.TheisticScience.org|