Rational Scientific Theories from Theism

Swedenborg's Spiritual Philosophy

In order to achieve an understanding of the profound implications--in terms of individual human life and spiritual regeneration--of these and other principles that constitute the foundation of New Church theology, it is necessary to read Swedenborg's writings themselves. What follows is merely a small sampling of the treasures found in Swedenborg's works.

Throughout Swedenborg's Writings, much attention is given to what may be called the universal laws of spiritual life. The following is a summary of some of these basic principles, stated in the most general form.

top of page

God and Creation
God is love itself and wisdom itself, and these two make His essence. (True Christian Religion, n. 37)

God is goodness itself and truth itself, because good is of love, and truth is of wisdom. (True Christian Religion, n. 38)

God, because He is love itself and wisdom itself, is life itself, which is life in itself. (True Christian Religion, n. 39)

God is infinite, since He is and exists in Himself, and all things in the universe are and exist from Him. (True Christian Religion, n. 28)

The Divine is not variable and changeable, as is everything which belongs to space and time, or everything which belongs to nature, but is constant and immutable; consequently everywhere and always the same. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 77)

Since God is substance and form itself, and the only, and thus the first, substance and form, the essence of which is love and wisdom, and since from Him all things were made that are made, it follows that He created the universe, with all and everything of it, from love by means of wisdom. (True Christian Religion, n. 37)

Every created thing is in itself inanimate and dead, but it is animated and given life by this, that the Divine is in it and it is in the Divine. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 53)

Although the Divine is in each and all things of the created universe, there is in their being nothing of the Divine in itself; for the created universe is not God, but is from God; and since it is from God, there is in it an image of Him like the image of a man in a mirror, wherein indeed the man appears, but still there is nothing of the man in it. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 59)

The universal end, that is, the end of all things of creation, is that there may be an eternal conjunction of the Creator with the created universe; and this is not possible unless there are subjects wherein His Divine can be as in Itself, thus in which it can dwell and abide. In order that these subjects may be His dwelling-places and habitations, they must be recipients of His love and wisdom as of themselves; such, therefore, as will elevate themselves to the Creator as of themselves, and conjoin themselves with Him. Without this ability to reciprocate, no conjunction is possible. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 170)

All things in the world were created after the image of things that are in heaven, because natural things come forth from spiritual things as effects from their causes.... Universal nature is a theater representative of the Lord's kingdom. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8812)

top of page

We are because God is. (Divine Providence, n. 46)

The life of everyone--of mortal, of spirit, and also of angel--flows in solely from the Lord, who is life itself, and diffuses itself... into everyone. The life which flows in is received by each one according to his disposition. Goodness and truth are received as goodness and truth by the good. But goodness and truth are received as evil and falsity by the evil, and are also turned into evil and falsity in them. The case with this is comparatively like the light of the sun, which diffuses itself into all the objects of the earth, but is received according to the quality of each object, and becomes of a beautiful color in beautiful forms, and of a disagreeable color in disagreeable forms. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2888)

[The Lord] appears according to the quality of the person, because a person receives the Divine no otherwise than according to his own quality. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 6832)

The Divine cannot he seen by anyone otherwise than according to the state of his life and the perception therefrom. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8781)

Man has two faculties which make his life; one is called the will and the other the understanding. These are distinct from each other, but are so created that they may be one; and when they are one they are called the mind. These therefore comprise the human mind, and the whole life of man is there. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 28)

All things in the universe, which are according to Divine order, have relation to goodness and truth. There is nothing in heaven and nothing in the world that does not relate to these two. The reason is that both goodness and truth proceed from the Divine, with Whom all things are. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 11)

As all things in the universe, which are according to Divine order, have relation to goodness and truth, so all things with man have relation to the will and the understanding. For the goodness with man belongs to his will and the truth with him to his understanding; for these two faculties, or these two lives of man, are their receptacles and subjects. The will is the receptacle of all things of goodness, and the understanding the receptacle of all things of truth. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 29)

The life of God in all its fullness is not only with people good and pious, but is also with the wicked and the impious; with the angels of heaven and the spirits of hell. The difference is that the wicked obstruct the way and close the door, lest God should enter the lower regions of their minds, whereas the good prepare the way and open the door, and also invite God to enter into the lower regions of their minds, even as He dwells in its higher regions. Thus the gOod form the state of the will for the influx of love and charity, and the state of the understanding for the influx of wisdom and faith, consequently for the reception of God. (True Christian Religion, n. 366)

Good continually flows in from the Lord. It is the evil of life that hinders its being received in the truths which are with man in his memory or knowledge. Insofar as a person recedes from evil, so far good enters and applies itself to his truths. Then the truth of faith with him becomes the goodness of faith. A person may indeed know truth, may also confess it under the incitement of some worldly cause, may even be persuaded that it is true. Yet this truth does not live so long as he is in a life of evil. Such a person is like a tree on which there are leaves, but no fruit. His truth is like the light in which there is no heat, such as there is in the time of winter when nothing grows. But when there is heat in it, the light then becomes such as there is in the time of spring, when all things grow. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2388)

Each person has for an end that which he loves above all else; he regards this in each and all things. It is in his will like the hidden current of a river, which draws and bears him along, even when he is doing something else, for it is this which animates him. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 56)

top of page

The Origin of Evil
Because God gave man freedom of choice in spiritual things He did not create evil, neither does He ever inspire any evil into man, for the reason that He is goodness itself, and in that goodness is omnipresent, continually urging and importuning to be received; and even when not received, He does not withdraw; for if He were to withdraw, man would instantly die, nay, would lapse into nonentity; for man's life, and the subsistence of all things of which he consists, are from God. God did not create evil, but evil was introduced by man himself, since man turns the good which is continually flowing in from God into evil, whereby he turns himself away from God and toward himself; and when this is done, delight in goodness remains, but then becomes delight in evil; for unless a delight seemingly similar remained, man could not continue to live; since delight constitutes the life of his love. (True Christian Religion, n. 490)

The origin of evil is from the abuse of the capacities proper to humanity that are called rationality and freedom. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 264)

How could evil come into existence when by creation nothing but good existed? If a thing is to exist, it must have an origin. Good could not be the origin of evil, for evil is the privation and destruction of good and therefore its nullity. Yet, since it is and is sensated, it is not nothing but something. Whence has this something had its existence after being nothing? None is good save God alone, and there is no goodness which in itself is goodness save from God. Therefore, he who looks to God and wills to be led by God is in goodness; but he who turns away from God and wills to be led by himself is not in goodness; for the good which he does is done either for the sake of himself or for the sake of the world, and so is meritorious or simulated or hypocritical. It is clear, therefore, that man himself is the origin of evil; not that this origin was planted in man from creation, but by turning away from God, he planted it in himself. To eat of that tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] signifies to believe that one knows goodness and evil and is wise from himself and not from God. Man was so created that everything which he wills, thinks, and does appears to him as if in himself and thus from himself. Without this appearance, a person would not be human, for he could not receive, retain, and, as it were, appropriate to himself anything of goodness and truth or of love and wisdom. From this it follows that without this appearance--a living appearance, as it were--man would have no conjunction with God, nor any eternal life therefrom. But if from this appearance he induces on himself the belief that he wills, thinks, and hence does good from himself and not from the Lord, though in all appearance as from himself, he then turns goodness with him into evil, and thus makes in himself the origin of evil... He who looks with his face to the Lord receives wisdom from Him, and through wisdom, love; but he who looks backwards away from the Lord receives love and not wisdom, and love without wisdom is love from man and not from the Lord. This love, because it conjoins itself with falsities, does not acknowledge God but acknowledges itself as God, and it tacitly confirms this acknowledgment by the faculty, implanted in man from creation, of being wise as if from himself. This love, therefore, is the origin of evil. (Conjugial Love, n. 444)

top of page

Free Will
So long as a person is in this world he is midway between evil and good, and is kept in freedom to turn himself to either the one or the other; if he turns to evil he turns away from good; if he turns to good he turns away from evil. (Life 19)

All freedom is of love, for what a person loves, this he does freely, hence also all freedom is of the will, for what a person loves, this he also wills; and because love and the will make the life of man, so also does freedom. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 141)

Man's free will lies in the fact that he feels the life in himself to be his own. God leaves him so to feel in order that conjunction may be effected, which is not possible unless it be reciprocal, and it becomes reciprocal when a person acts from freedom altogether as if from himself. If God had not left this to man he would not be man, neither would he have eternal life. Reciprocal conjunction with God causes man to be man and not a beast, and also causes him to live after death to eternity. Free will in spiritual things effects this. (True Christian Religion, n. 504)

In order that he may be reformed, a person has freedom to think evil and falsity, and also to act accordingly so far as the laws do not restrain him; for goods and truths must be rooted in his love and will, so that they may become of his life. This cannot be done unless he has the freedom of thinking evil and falsity as well as good and truth. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 143)

That alone from which man is man, and by which he is conjoined with the Lord, is that he can do good and believe truth as if from himself, that is, as if from his own will according to his own judgment. If this single thing were taken away from him, all conjunction of man with the Lord, and of the Lord with man, would also be taken away at the same time. For this is the reciprocal of love, which the Lord gives to everyone who is born a human being, and which he also preserves in him even to the end of his life, and afterwards to eternity. (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 541)

There is hellish freedom and heavenly freedom. To think and will evil and, so far as civil and moral laws do not restrain, to speak and to do it, is from hellish freedom. Whatever a person thinks, wills, speaks, and does from freedom, he perceives as his own; for all freedom with everyone is from his love. Therefore they who are in the love of evil perceive only that hellish freedom is freedom itself, and they who are in the love of good perceive that heavenly freedom is freedom itself. (Divine Providence, n. 43)

Man never comes into a state of [genuine] freedom until he has been regenerated, and is led by the Lord through love for what is good and true. When he is in this state, then for the first time can he know and perceive what freedom is, because he then knows what life is, and what the true delight of life is, and what happiness is. Before this he does not even know what good is, sometimes calling that the greatest good which is the greatest evil. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 892)

It is a law of order that so far as a person approaches and draws near to God, doing so entirely as of himself, so far does God approach and draw near to the person, and conjoin Himself to him in his inmost. (True Christian Religion, n. 89)

top of page

Charity, Faith, and Use
The first thing of charity is not to do evil to the neighbor; to do good to him occupies the second place. This is, as it were, the door to the doctrine of charity. (True Christian Religion, n. 435)

The life of charity consists in willing well and doing well to the neighbor, in acting in every work from justice and equity, from good and truth, and in like manner in every office. In a word, the life of charity consists in performing uses. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 124)

Charity is therefore an internal affection from which a person wills to do good, and this without remuneration. The delight of his life consists in doing it. With those who do good from an internal affection there is charity in everything that they think and say, and that they will and do. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 104)

Moral life, when it is also spiritual, is a life of charity, because the practices of a moral life and of charity are the same. Charity is willing rightly towards the neighbor, and consequently acting rightly towards him. This is also moral life. (True Christian Religion, n. 444)

Charity, which in its essence is the affection of knowing, understanding, willing, and doing truth, does not come into any perception of man until it has formed itself in the thought, which is from the understanding. It then presents itself under some form or image by which it appears before the interior sight, for the thought that a thing is so in truth is called faith. From this it is clear that charity is actually prior and faith posterior, as good is actually prior and truth posterior, or as that which produces is essentially prior to the product.... Charity is from the Lord, and is also formed first in the spiritual mind. Because charity does not appear to a person before it becomes faith... it may be said that faith does not exist with a person until it becomes charity in form.... They both come into existence at the same moment. Although charity produces faith, yet as they make one neither of them in respect to human perception can exist separate from the other.... Faith when separated from life is not alive, and what is not alive... can save no one. (Apocalypse Explained, n. 795-96)

An idea of the good which is charity and the truth which is faith may be formed from the light and heat of the sun. When the light, which proceeds from the sun, is conjoined to heat, as in spring and summer, then all things of the earth germinate and blossom; but when there is no heat in the light, as in winter, then all things of the earth become torpid and die. Spiritual light is the truth of faith and spiritual heat is love. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 114)

Only to believe is not faith, but to will and to do what is believed, this is faith. (Last Judgment, n. 36)

The Lord's kingdom is a kingdom of ends, which are uses, or what is the same thing, a kingdom of uses which are ends. For this reason the universe has been so created and formed by the Divine that uses may be everywhere.... In the nature of the world, in its threefold kingdom, all things exist in accordance with order and form of uses, or effects formed from use for use.... In the case of man, so far as he is in accordance with Divine order, that is, so far as he is in love to the Lord and in charity towards the neighbor, so far are his acts uses in form.... Through these he is conjoined to heaven. To love the Lord and the neighbor means in general to perform uses. (Heaven and Hell, n. 112)

Love and wisdom without use are not anything; they are only ideal entities; nor do they become real until they are in use. Love, wisdom, and use are three things which cannot be separated; for if they are separated, neither of them is anything. Love is not anything without wisdom, but in wisdom it is formed for something. This something is use; wherefore when love by wisdom is in use, then it is something, indeed it then first exists. They are thus precisely like end, cause, and effect. (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 875)

Use is the doing of good from love by means of wisdom. Use is good itself. (Conjugial Love, n. 183)

top of page

Wisdom, Intelligence, and the Mind
From [the Lord] proceeds wisdom, through wisdom intelligence, through intelligence reason, and so by means of reason the knowledges of the memory are vivified. This is the order of life. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 121)

Let no one believe that he has wisdom because he knows many things, perceives them in some light, and is able to talk intelligently about them, unless his wisdom is conjoined to love. It is love that, through its affections, produces wisdom. Not conjoined to love, wisdom is like a meteor vanishing in the air and like a falling star. Wisdom united to love is like the abiding light of the sun and like a fixed star. A person has the love of wisdom when he is averse... to the lusts of evil and falsity. (Divine Providence, n. 35)

The state of wisdom is when a person has no longer any concern about understanding truths and goods, but about willing and living them; for this is to be wise. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 10225)

A person is in enlightenment when he is in the love of truth for the sake of truth, and not for the sake of self and the world. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 9424)

Man possesses a natural mind and a spiritual mind. The natural mind is below, and the spiritual mind above. The natural mind is the mind of a person's world, and the spiritual mind is the mind of his heaven. The natural mind may be called the animal mind, and the spiritual mind the human mind. A human being is discriminated from an animal by possessing a spiritual mind. By means of this mind he can be in heaven while still in the world. It is by means of this mind also that man lives after death. (Life 86)

Love can be understood only from its quality, and its quality is wisdom; and its quality or wisdom can only exist from its being, which is love; hence it is that love and wisdom are one. (Divine Providence, n. 13)

top of page

Divine Providence
The Divine providence is universal, that is, in things most minute; and those who are in the stream of providence are borne continuously toward happiness, whatever may be the appearance of the means, and those are in the stream of providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8478)

Divine providence differs from all other leading and guidance in this, that providence continually regards what is eternal and continually leads unto salvation, and this through various states, sometimes glad, sometimes sad, which man cannot at all comprehend; but still they all conduce to his life eternal. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8560)

It is the unceasing effort of the Lord in His Divine providence to conjoin man to Himself and Himself to man. This conjunction is what is called reformation and regeneration. By it man has salvation. (Divine Providence, n. 123)

It is the constant aim of Divine providence to unite good to truth and truth to good in a person, for so he is united to the Lord. (Divine Providence, n. 21)

All things are full of God, and everyone takes his portion from that fullness. (True Christian Religion, n. 364)

The Lord's providence is in the minutest things of all, from the first thread of man's life even to the last, and afterwards to eternity. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 5894)

top of page

Religion and the Universal Church
The church of the Lord is scattered over the whole terrestrial globe, and thus is universal. All they are in it who haNe lived in the good of charity according to their religious belief. (Heaven and Hell, n. 328)

It is the same whether you say a spiritual person or a spiritual church; for a spiritual person is a church in particular and many are the church in general. Unless a person individually were a church, there could be no church in general. An assembly in general is what, in common language, is called a church; but in order that there may be any church each one in that assembly must be individually a church, for every general involves parts like itself. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 4292)

,he church in general is constituted of those who are churches in particular, however remote from each other they may be. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 6637)

The conjunction of good and truth makes the church. (True Christian Religion, n. 398)

By a person of the church is meant one who is in the good of charity, and from that in truths of faith from the Lord. (True Christian Religion, n. 249)

By a person of the church is meant a person in whom the church is. (Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 118)

Spiritual good is the good of truth, that is, truth in the will and in the act. This truth, or this good of truth, in a person makes him to be a church. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 5826)

When a person perceives delights from an affection for good and truth, he then begins to be a church. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 3939)

A person of the church begins to be a church when he acts from charity, which is the essential doctrine of faith. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 916)

[If] truth itself [were] received as a principle, and confirmed, as for example that love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor are that on which hangs all the Law, and of which all the prophets speak, and that they are therefore the essentials of all doctrine and worship... one church would arise out of many, no matter how greatly the doctrinal and ritual matters that flowed from or led to it might differ. [Then] all would be governed by the Lord as one man; for they would be as the members of one body, which although not of similar form, nor of similar function, yet all have relation to one heart, on which depend all and each in their several forms, that are everywhere varied. Then would each person say, in whatever doctrine and in whatever outward worship he might be, This is my brother, I see that he worships the Lord, and is a good man. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2385)

top of page

Divine Revelation
Without a revelation from the Divine, man cannot know anything concerning eternal life, nor even anything concerning God, and still less concerning love to, and faith in Him; for man is born into mere ignorance, and must therefore learn everything from worldly things, from which he must form his understanding. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 249)

That from the most ancient times there has been religion, and that everywhere the inhabitants of the world have had knowledge of God, and have known something about a life after death, has not originated in themselves or their own penetration, but from [Divine revelation]. (Sacred Scripture, n. 117)

[People say] that the Word is from God, is divinely inspired, and is therefore holy; and yet hitherto no one has known wherein it is Divine. For in the letter the Word appears like an ordinary book, in a style that is strange, and neither so sublime nor so brilliant as secular literature seems to be. For this reason a person who worships nature as God, or in preference to God, and who consequently thinks from himself and what is proper to himself, and not from heaven from the Lord, may easily fall into error in respect to the Word, and into contempt for it, and while reading it may say to himself, What is this? What is that? Can this be Divine? Could God, whose wisdom is infinite, speak in this manner? Wherein consists its holiness, and whence comes its holiness, except from religious feeling and its consequent persuasion? (Sacred Scripture, n. 1)

The Word is Divine chiefly in this respect, that all things in it, both in general and in particular, do not regard one nation or one people, but the universal human race; namely, that which is, which has been, and which will be; and also that which is still more universal, namely, the Lord's kingdom in the heavens; and in the supreme sense, the Lord Himself. It is for this reason that the Word is Divine. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 3305)

Anyone who does not know that there is a certain spiritual sense contained in the Word, like a soul in its body, is obliged to judge of it from the sense of its letter; when yet this sense is like an envelope enclosing precious things, which are its spiritual sense. Therefore when this internal sense is unknown the Divine holiness of the Word can be estimated only as when a precious stone is estimated from the matrix enclosing it, which often appears like an ordinary rock... The same is true of the Word in respect to the sense of its letter... The internal sense in its essence is spiritual, and is within the external sense, which is natural, as the soul is in the body. That sense is the spirit that gives life to the letter; consequently that sense can bear witness to the Divinity and holiness of the Word, and convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced. (True Christian Religion, n. 192)

Many things in the Word are said according to appearances, and indeed according to the fallacies of the senses, as that the Lord is angry, that He punishes, curses, kills, and many other such things; when yet in the internal sense they mean quite the contrary, namely, that the Lord is in no wise angry and punishes, still less does He curse and kill. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 1408)

top of page

The Spiritual Life
That it is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as is believed can be seen from this, that when anything presents itself to a person which he knows to be insincere and unjust, and to which his mind is inclined, it is only necessary for him to think that it must not be done because it is contrary to the Divine precepts. If he accustoms himself so to think, and from this acquires a habit, then he is gradually conjoined to heaven, and so far as he is conjoined to heaven, the higher regions of his mind are opened. So far as these are opened, he sees what is insincere and unjust, and so far as these are seen, so far can they be dissipated, for no evil can be dissipated until it is seen. (Heaven and Hell, n. 533)

The Lord's yoke is easy and his burden light because a person is led by the Lord and not by self to the extent that he resists the evils that flow forth from the love of self and of the world; also because the Lord then resists those evils in the person and removes them. (Heaven and Hell, n. 359)

There are some who believe that to live the life that leads to heaven, which is called the spiritual life, is difficult, because they have heard that a person must renounce the world, must divest himself of the lusts called the lusts of the body and the flesh, and must live spiritually. They understand this to mean that they must discard worldly things which consist chiefly in riches and honors; that they must walk continually in pious meditation concerning God, salvation, and eternal life; and must spend their life in prayers and in reading the Word and pious books. Such is their idea of renouncing the world, and living in the spirit and not in the flesh.... Those who renounce the world and live in the spirit in this manner acquire a sorrowful life that is not receptive of heavenly joy; for everyone's life remains with him. But to receive the life of heaven a person must wholly live in the world and engage in business and employments, and then, by means of a moral and civil life there, receive the spiritual life. In no other way can the spiritual life be formed in a person, or his spirit prepared for heaven. (Heaven and Hell, n. 528)

Renouncing the world means loving God and the neighbor. God is loved when a person lives according to His precepts, and the neighbor is loved when a person performs uses. (Heavenly Doctrine, n. 126)

top of page

Marriage Love
The conjunction of Divine good and Divine truth in the Lord is the essential marriage from which is the heavenly marriage, which is likewise a marriage of good and truth; and from that is marriage love. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 3132)

True marriage love is from the Lord alone, and exists in those who are in the conjunction of good and truth from the Lord. (Apocalypse Explained, n. 983)

From creation there has been implanted in both sexes a faculty and inclination, whereby they are able and willing to be conjoined as into a one. (Conjugial Love, n. 157)

Since this conjunctiveness was implanted by creation, and hence is perpetually within, it follows that the one desires and breathes conjunction with the other. Love, considered in itself, is nothing else than a desire and thence an effort towards conjunction; and marriage love is an effort towards a conjunction into a one. For the male human being and the female human being have been so created that out of two they may become, as it were, one person, or one flesh; and when they become one, then, taken together, they are a person in fullness; but without such a conjunction, they are two, and each of them is like a divided or half a person. (Conjugial Love, n. 37)

Marriage love is of such a nature that each wishes to be altogether the other's, and this reciprocally; and when this is realized mutually and reciprocally, they are in heavenly happiness. Also, the conjunction of minds is of such a nature that this mutuality and reciprocality are in everything of their life, that is, in everything of their affection, and in everything of their thought. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2731)

Marriage love, among its first aspirations, looks to a union of wills, and a consequent freedom to do its pleasure. Striving after preeminence, or for control, casts these two out of marriage; for it sunders and separates the wills into parties, and transforms freedom of action into servitude. (Conjugial Love, n. 248)

Into marriage love all joys and all delights from first to last are gathered. All delights of whatever kind that are felt by human beings have relation to their love. By these delights their love manifests itself, exists, and lives. Delights are exalted in the degree that love is exalted; so as marriage love is the foundation of all good loves, and as it is inscribed upon the very least things of man, it follows that its delights exceed the delights of all other loves; and also that it imparts delight to all other loves according to its presence and, at the same time, its conjunction with them. For it expands the inmost things of the mind and, at the same time, the inmost things of the body, as the delicious current of its fountain flows through and opens them. (Conjugial Love, n. 68)

Marriage love of one man with one wife is called the precious treasure of human life.... In and from this union are the celestial beatitudes, the spiritual satisfactions, and from these the natural delights, which have been provided from the beginning for those who are in true marriage love. It is the fundamental love of all celestial, spiritual, and... natural loves. (Conjugial Love, n. 457)

In its essence, conjugial love is nothing else than the willing of two to be a one, that is, their will that the two lives shall become one life. (Conjugial Love, n. 215)

top of page

The Life after Death
Man's spirit, which is his mind in his body, is in its entire form a human being. A person after death is just as much a person as he was in the world, with this difference only, that he has cast off the coverings that formed his body in the world. (Divine Providence, n. 124)

All people, as to the interiors which belong to their minds, are spirits, clothed in the world with a material body, which is subject to the command of the spirit's thought and the decision of its affection. For the mind, which is spirit, acts, and the body, which is matter, is acted upon. Every spirit, too, after the rejection of the material body, is a person similar in form as a person in the world. (Apocalypse Explained, n. 1142)

Heaven is within man, and those who have heaven within them come into heaven. Heaven with man is acknowledging the Divine and being led by the Divine. (Heaven and Hell, n. 319)

Hell and heaven are near to man, yea, in man. Hell [is] in an evil person, and heaven in a good person. Everyone comes after death into that hell or into that heaven in which he has been while in the world. But the state is then changed; the hell which was not perceived in the world becomes perceptible, and the heaven which was not perceived in the world becomes perceptible. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8918)

A person is wholly such as is the ruling principle of his life. By this he is distinguished from others. According to this is formed his heaven if he is good, and his hell if he is evil. It is his veriest will, and thus the very being of his life, which cannot be changed after death. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8858)

In the Lord's kingdom there are innumerable varieties of good and truth, but from them is constituted one heaven. The varieties are so numerous that no [angelic] society is ever exactly like another, that is, in the same good and truth. Oneness there is constituted of many various things so arranged by the Lord that they are concordant; this concordance or harmony of many things is given by the Lord in consequence of their all having relation to Him. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 3241)

There are two things which make hell, as there are two which make heaven. The two which make heaven are good and truth, and the two which make hell are evil and falsity. Consequently it is these two in heaven which make the happiness there; and it is the two in hell which make the torment there. (Arcana Coelestia, n. 8481)

Evil in a person is hell with him; for whether we say evil or hell, it is the same thing. Now since man is the cause of his own evil, therefore he also is led into hell by himself and not by the Lord. The Lord is so far from leading a person into hell that He delivers him from hell, insofar as a person does not will and love to be in his own evil. All the will and love of man remain with him after death. He who wills and loves evil in the world, wills and loves the same evil in the other life, and then he no longer suffers himself to be withdrawn from it. Thence it is that a person who is in evil is bound to hell, and is actually there as to his spirit; and, after death, desires nothing more than to be there where his evil is. Consequently, after death, it is not the Lord who casts a person into hell, but the person himself. (Heaven and Hell, n. 547)

The angels taken collectively are called heaven, for they constitute heaven; and yet that which makes heaven in general and in particular is the Divine that goes forth from the Lord and flows into the angels and is received by them. And as the Divine that goes forth from the Lord is the good of love and the truth of faith, the angels are angels and are heaven in the measure in which they receive good and truth from the Lord. (Heaven and Hell, n. 7)

Heavenly joy itself, such as it is in its essence, cannot be described, because it is in the inmost of the life of angels and therefrom in everything of their thought and affection, and from this in every particular of their speech and action. It is as if the interiors were fully opened and unloosed to receive delight and blessedness, which are distributed to every least fiber and thus through the whole. Thus the perception and sensation of this joy is so great as to be beyond description, for that which starts from the inmosts flows into every particular derived from the inmosts, propagating itself away with increase towards the exteriors. (Heaven and Hell, n. 409)

top of page

The Divine flow of life
All life ceaselessly flows from the Divine Source, maintaining the outer physical universe and inner spiritual levels in existence. If this were to cease for a moment, everything would perish. This flow of life--itself perfect and good--is maintained equally with both good and evil people; the former channeling it in its purity, and the latter distorting it for their own evil ends.

top of page

People are recipients of life
The appearance--and persuasion--of our senses is that we have life from within ourselves. This is an essential law of a loving Divine Creation, which gives life and freedom. The appearance we live in provides the basis for our spiritual freedom to acknowledge or deny the Divine. The truth, which the spiritual person increasingly comes to know, is that we receive all things from the Divine.

top of page

A dynamic duality exists in creation
The Divine Itself is one, yet our finite perception of the Divine requires a sense of duality to increase our understanding of it. As with the heat and light of the sun, which is from one source, but is distinguished by us into two distinct energies, light and heat so we perceive the Divine nature as being both Love and Wisdom. The relationship between the two forms a dynamic, since they work towards unity to provide life.

From this come the forms of dualism in creation, such as male and female, symmetry, etc., and the internal dualities of good and truth, will and understanding, faith and charity, etc., which are complementary to one another. The essential balance in all life is a manifestation of this.

top of page

People form their own sense of reality, which is eternity
There are many levels of awareness that have the potential to become consciously opened up within the developing human soul. As we turn towards the Divine Source, higher levels of conscious awareness become opened and form our sense of what is real. Our eventual chosen level becomes permanent and forms our final view of reality, within which further awareness takes place.

top of page

Divine life is one, but is perceived in discrete degrees
The concept of "discrete" degrees is central to New Church theology, and concerns the variations within spiritual life and development. It is impossible to progress gradually from one level to another, as with continuous degrees of increasing light, heat, and height. A discrete degree involves a shift from one level to another: for example, from knowledge to wisdom, and from wisdom to love. Yet, in spite of being distinct, higher degrees are within corresponding lower ones, as their source. All spiritual forms are in discrete degrees.

top of page

A truth-good inversion is the pattern of spiritual growth
All spiritual development is of a discrete and cyclic nature. Initially, a person's perception of spiritual life seeks to acquire a knowledge or understanding of what is true, which is seen as the goal. But the second stage of the cycle of regeneration brings about an abrupt and discrete change of emphasis, in which truth, now seen, leads the will of a person to seek expression in something good, useful, and living. Thus, there is an inversion.

top of page

Negative states are inevitably part of spiritual life
The pattern of spiritual life can be expressed in the form of a sine-wave or undulation of "highs" and "lows." This is due to a necessary period of loss of vision or "temptation" (defined in Swedenborg's theological writings as an "attack on what we love") during spiritual growth. When we receive a new level of insight or motivation from the Divine, this needs to be made "ours" by first appearing to be taken from us. This leads us to choose at depth whether we genuinely wish to rediscover the initial vision, and the work of setting ourselves to this goal is the major part of regeneration.

This pattern is a continuing one in spiritual development, even eternal, although angels do not experience the same degree of "swings," having established a true relationship with the Divine.

top of page

Linking with the higher self
The Divine lives within each person, but much of Its activity lies beyond human comprehension, or beyond our ability to harm or interfere with Its purpose of salvation. Yet people who are developing spiritually tend to come into an awareness of their own "higher" self, from which spring perception, conscience, commitment, will and motivation, and general positivity. This higher self, contrasted with ordinary human responses, which are of a lower kind, is an experience of the Divine within us.

top of page

The Divine seeks to reveal Itself
The Divine seeks to make Itself known to what It has created. It does this in part through the order of the created world, which expresses and mirrors spiritual causes and, ultimately, the nature of the Divine Itself. In Swedenborg's theological writings, this relationship is described as "correspondence." The Divine also manifests Itself through personal revelation, which can take the form of internal images or insights experienced, for example, during meditation, or collectively in mythological themes and figures; or, most powerfully, through a revealed Scripture, such as the Bible, Qur'an, or Bhagavad Gita, in which Divine truths find precise and poetic expression, accommodated to particular types and levels of human reception, as a fixed revelation to mankind.

top of page

The outer and inner worlds are in correspondence
The natural world in which we now live is created by the Divine, and therefore mirrors and contains the spiritual within it through "correspondence." This truth has been succinctly stated in the ancient saying, "As above, so below." It is a living relationship in which natural forms are symbols and images of our spiritual life. Correspondences are universally expressed in sacred scriptures, dreams, myths, and nature.

top of page

Universality and diversity are expressions of Divine life
The Divine seeks to express Itself in innumerable and varied ways. It is never identical, but continually diverse. This is the pattern of the kingdom of heaven, also called the Grand Man in Swedenborg's theological writings, in which great diversity brings increasing perfection to its form and usefulness. In this world, differences often lead to discord; in heaven, variety is perceived as delightful and enriching.

top of page

The spiritual world and our inner world operate by similar laws
We already live in the spiritual world, as far as our thoughts, feelings, and responses are concerned. The laws by which the spiritual world operates, whether that is heaven or hell, are the same laws by which our present inner states of life operate. This is because the spiritual world is the final environment in which our internal states have full expression. What we think and intend unavoidably becomes what we say and do. Our own free choice determines our ultimate spiritual state; that is, we ourselves choose to exist in heaven or hell, determined by our intentions and actions.

top of page

Thoughts and feelings originate from the spiritual world
It appears to us that our thoughts and feelings are our very own. According to Swedenborg's theological writings the truth is otherwise, and indicates the relationship between the spiritual and natural worlds. All that we think and feel--whether positive or negative--originates in the spiritual world, which is, after all, our true dwelling place, but we are free to accept and retain these impulses or to disassociate ourselves from them.

(From Presenting Swedenborg: A Roadmap for Readers, by Julian Duckworth. Reprinted with the kind permission of the Swedenborg Association of Australia.)
top of page


www.TheisticScience.org Author: Ian J. Thompson, Email: IanT at TheisticScience.org