Spiritual background for GENESIS 5previous - next - text - Genesis - BM Home - Full Page
CONCERNING HEAVEN AND HEAVENLY JOY
AC 449. Hitherto the nature of heaven and of heavenly joy has been known to none. Those who have thought about them have formed an idea concerning them so general and so gross as scarcely to amount to any idea at all. What notion they have conceived on the subject I have been able to learn most accurately from spirits who had recently passed from the world into the other life; for when left to themselves, as if they were in this world, they think in the same way. I may give a few examples.
AC 450. Some who during their abode in this world had seemed to be pre-eminently enlightened in regard to the Word, had conceived so false an idea about heaven that they supposed themselves to be in heaven when they were high up, and imagined that from that position they could rule all things below, and thus be in self-glory and pre-eminence over others. On account of their being in such a phantasy, and in order to show them that they were in error, they were taken up on high, and from there were permitted in some measure to rule over things below; but they discovered with shame that this was a heaven of phantasy, and that heaven does not consist in being on high, but is wherever there is any one who is in love and charity, or in whom is the Lord’s kingdom; and that neither does it consist in desiring to be more eminent than others, for to desire to be greater than others is not heaven, but hell.
AC 451. A certain spirit, who during his life in the body had possessed authority, retained in the other life the desire to exercise command. But he was told that he was now in another kingdom, which is eternal; that his rule on earth was dead; and that where he was now no one is held in estimation except in accordance with the good and truth, and the mercy of the Lord, in which he is; and further, that it is in that kingdom as it is on earth, where every one is rated according to his wealth, and his favor with his sovereign; and that there good and truth are wealth, and favor with the sovereign is the Lord‘s mercy; and that if he desired to exercise command in any other way, he was a rebel, seeing that he was now in the kingdom of another. On hearing this he was ashamed.
AC 452. I have conversed with spirits who supposed heaven and heavenly joy to consist in being the greatest. But they were told that in heaven he is greatest who is least, because he who would be the least has the greatest happiness, and consequently is the greatest, for what is it to be the greatest except to be the most happy? it is this that the powerful seek by power, and the rich by riches. They were told, further, that heaven does not consist in desiring to be the least in order to be the greatest, for in that case the person is really aspiring and wishing to be the greatest; but that heaven consists in this, that from the heart we wish better for others than for ourselves, and desire to be of service to others in order to promote their happiness, and this for no selfish end, but from love.
AC 453. Some entertain so gross an idea of heaven that they suppose it to be mere admission, in fact that it is a room into which they are admitted through a door, which is opened, and then they are let in by the doorkeepers.
AC 454. Some think that heaven consists in a life of ease, in which they are served by others; but they are told that there is no possible happiness in being at rest as a means of happiness, for so every one would wish to have the happiness of others made tributory to his own happiness; and when every one wished this, no one would have happiness. Such a life would not be an active life, but an idle one, in which they would grow torpid, and yet they might know that there is no happiness except in an active life. Angelic life consists in use, and in the goods of charity; for the angels know no greater happiness than in teaching and instructing the spirits that arrive from the world; in being of service to men, controlling the evil spirits about them lest they pass the proper bounds, and inspiring the men with good; and in raising up the dead to the life of eternity, and then, if the souls are such as to render it possible, introducing them into heaven. From all this they perceive more happiness than can possibly be described. Thus are they images of the Lord; thus do they love the neighbor more than themselves; and for this reason heaven is heaven. So that angelic happiness is in use, from use, and according to use, that is, it is according to the goods of love and of charity. When those who have the idea that heavenly joy consists in living at ease, idly breathing in eternal joy, have heard these things, they are given to perceive, in order to shame them, what such a life really is, and they perceive that it is a most sad one, that it is destructive of all joy, and that after a short time they would loathe and nauseate it.
AC 455. One who in this world had been most learned in regard to the Word, had the idea that heavenly joy consists in being in a glorious light, like that which exists when the solar rays appear of a golden hue, so that he too supposed it to consist in a life of ease. In order that he might know himself to be in error, such a light was granted him, and he, being in the midst of the light, was as delighted as if he were in heaven, as indeed he said. But he could not remain long in it, for it gradually wearied him and became no joy at all.
AC 456. The best instructed of them all said that heavenly joy consists solely in praising and glorifying the Lord, being a life destitute of any doing of the goods of charity, and that this is an active life. But they were told that praising and celebrating the Lord is not such an active life as is meant, but is an effect of that life; for the Lord has no need of praises, but wills that they should do the goods of charity, and that it is according to these that they will receive happiness from the Lord. But still these best instructed persons could form no idea of joy, but of servitude, in doing these goods of charity. But the angels testified that such a life is the freest of all, and that it is conjoined with happiness unutterable.
AC 457. Almost all who pass from this world into the other life suppose that hell is the same for every one, and that heaven is the same for every one. And yet in both there are endless, diversities and varieties, and neither the heaven nor the hell of one person is ever exactly like that of another; just as no man, spirit, or angel is ever exactly like another. When I merely thought of there being two exactly alike or equal, horror was excited in the inhabitants of the world of spirits and of the angelic heaven, and they said that every one is formed by the harmony of many components, and that such as is the harmony, such is the one, and that it is impossible for anything to subsist that is absolutely a one, but only a one that results from a harmony of component parts. Thus every society in the heavens forms a one, and so do all the societies together, that is, the universal heaven, and this from the Lord alone, through love. A certain angel enumerated the most universal only of the genera of the joys of spirits, that is, of the first heaven, to about four hundred and seventy-eight, from which we may infer how innumerable must be the less universal genera and the species in each genus. And as there are so many in that heaven, how, illimitable must be the genera of happinesses in the heaven of angelic spirits, and still more so in the heaven of angels.
AC 458. Evil spirits have sometimes supposed that there is another heaven besides that of the Lord, and they have been permitted to seek for it wherever they could, but to their confusion they could never find any other heaven. For evil spirits rush into insanities both from the hatred they bear against the Lord, and from their infernal suffering, and catch at such phantasies.
AC 459. There are three heavens: the first is the abode of good spirits; the second, of angelic spirits; and the third, of angels. Spirits, angelic spirits, and angels are all distinguished into the celestial and the spiritual. The celestial are those who through love have received faith from the Lord, like the men of the Most Ancient Church treated of above. The spiritual are those who through knowledges of faith have received charity from the Lord, and who act from what they have received. A continuation of this subject will follow at the end of this chapter.
CONTINUATION CONCERNING HEAVEN AND HEAVENLY JOY
AC 537. A certain spirit attached himself to my left side, and asked me whether I knew how he could get into heaven. I was permitted to tell him that admission into heaven belongs solely to the Lord, who alone knows what a man‘s quality is. Very many arrive from the world who make it their sole pursuit to get into heaven, being quite ignorant of what heaven is, and of what heavenly joy is, that heaven is mutual love, and that heavenly joy is the derivative joy. Therefore those who do not know this are first instructed about it by actual experience. For example, there was a certain spirit, newly arrived from the world, who in like manner longed for heaven, and in order that he might perceive what the nature of heaven is, his interiors were opened so that he should feel something of heavenly joy. But as soon as he felt it he began to lament and to writhe, and begged to be delivered, saying that he could not live on account of the anguish; and therefore his interiors were closed toward heaven, and in this way he was restored. From this instance we may see with what pangs of conscience and with what anguish those are tortured who not being prepared for it are admitted even but a little way.
AC 538. There were some who sought admission into heaven without knowing what heaven is. They were told that unless they were in the faith of love, to enter heaven would be as dangerous as going into a flame; but still they sought for it. When they arrived at the first entrance court, that is to say, the lower sphere of angelic spirits, they were smitten so hard that they threw themselves headlong back, and in this way were taught how dangerous it is merely to approach heaven until prepared by the Lord to receive the affections of faith.
AC 539. A certain spirit who during his life in the body had made light of adulteries, was in accordance with his desire admitted to the first threshold of heaven. As soon as he came there he began to suffer and to be sensible of his own cadaverous stench, until he could endure it no longer. It seemed to him that if he went any farther he should perish, and he was therefore cast down to the lower earth, enraged that he should feel such torment at the first threshold of heaven, merely because he had arrived in a sphere that was contrary to adulteries. He is among the unhappy.
AC 540. Almost all who come into the other life are ignorant of the nature of heavenly happiness and bliss, because they know not the nature and quality of inward joy. They form a conception of it merely from the delights and joys of the body and the world. What they are ignorant of they suppose to be nothing, the truth being that bodily and worldly joys are relatively non-existent and foul. In order therefore that those who are well disposed may learn and may know what heavenly joy is, they are taken in the first place to paradises that surpass every conception of the imagination (concerning which, of the Lords Divine mercy hereafter), and they suppose that they have arrived in the paradise of heaven; but they are taught that this is not true heavenly happiness, and are therefore permitted to experience interior states of joy which are perceptible to their inmost being. They are then transported into a state of peace, even to their inmost being, and they confess that nothing of it is at all expressible or conceivable. And finally they are introduced into a state of innocence, also to their inmost feeling. In this way are they permitted to learn the nature of true spiritual and celestial good.
AC 541. Certain spirits who were ignorant of the nature of heavenly joy were unexpectedly taken up into heaven after they had been brought into such a state as to render this possible, that is to say a state in which their bodily things and fanciful notions were lulled into quiescence. From there I heard one saying to me that now for the first time he felt how great is the joy in heaven, and that he had been very greatly deceived in having a different idea of it, but that now he perceived in his inmost being a joy immeasurably greater than he had ever felt in any bodily pleasure such as men are delighted with in the life of the body, and which he called foul.
AC 542. They who are taken up into heaven in order that they may know its quality either have their bodily things and fanciful notions lulled to quiescence-for no one can enter heaven with the bodily things and fanciful notions that they take with them from this world-or else they are surrounded by a sphere of spirits who miraculously temper such things as are impure and that cause disagreement. With some the interiors are opened. In these and other ways they are prepared, according to their lives and the nature thereby acquired.
AC 543. Certain spirits longed to know the nature of heavenly joy, and were therefore allowed to perceive the inmost of their own, to such a degree that they could bear no more; and yet it was not angelic joy, being scarcely equal to the least angelic joy, as was given me to perceive by a communication of their joy. It was so slight as to be as it were chilly, and yet being their inmost joy they called it most heavenly. From this it was evident not only that there are degrees of joys, but also that the inmost of one scarcely approaches the outmost or middle of another, and that when any one receives his own inmost joy, he is in his heavenly joy, and cannot endure that which is still more interior, for it becomes painful.
AC 544. Certain spirits who were admitted into the heaven of innocence of the first heaven spoke to me thence, and confessed that the state of joy and gladness was such as they never could have conceived any idea of. Yet this was only in the first heaven, and there are three heavens, and states of innocence in each, with their innumerable varieties.
AC 545. But in order that I might know the nature and quality of heaven and of heavenly joy, for long and often I have been permitted by the Lord to perceive the delights of heavenly joys, so that as I know them from actual experience I can indeed know them, but can by no means describe them. However, in order to give some idea of it I may say that heavenly joy is an affection of innumerable delights and joys that form one general simultaneous joy, in which general joy, that is, in which general affection, there are harmonies of innumerable affections that do not come distinctly to perception, but obscurely, because the perception is very general. Yet I was permitted to perceive that there are things innumerable within it, in such order as can never be described, these innumerable things being such as flow from the order of heaven. Such order exists in every least thing of the affection, all of which together are presented and perceived as a very general one according to the capacity of him who is the subject of it. In a word, in every general joy or affection there are illimitable things ordinated in a most perfect form, and there is nothing that is not alive or that does not affect even the inmost things of our being, for heavenly joys proceed from inmost things. I perceived also that the joy and deliciousness came as if from the heart, and very softly diffused themselves through all the inmost fibers, and so into the congregated fibers, with such an inmost sense of delight that the fiber is as it were nothing but joy and deliciousness, and the whole derivative perceptive and sensitive sphere the same, being alive with happiness. In comparison with these joys the joy of bodily pleasures is like gross and pungent dust as compared with a pure and gentle breeze.
AC 546. In order that I might know how the case is with those who desire to be in heaven and are not such that they can be there, once when I was in some heavenly society, an angel appeared to me as an infant with a chaplet of bright blue flowers about its head, and girded about the breast with wreaths of other colors. By this I was given to know that I was in some society where there was charity. Some well-disposed spirits were then admitted into the same society, who the moment they entered became much more intelligent, and spoke like angelic spirits. Afterwards some were admitted who desired to be innocent from themselves, whose state was represented to me by an infant that vomited milk out of its mouth. Such is their state. Then some were admitted who supposed that they were intelligent from themselves, and their state was represented by their faces, which appeared sharp, but fair enough; and they seemed to wear a peaked hat from which a sharp point projected, but their faces did not appear to be of human flesh, but as if carved out and devoid of life. Such is the state of those who believe that they are spiritual from themselves, that is, able from themselves to have faith. Other spirits were admitted who could not remain there, but were dismayed, became distressed, and fled away. previous - next - text - Genesis - BM Home - Full Page