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AC 6598. It is known that one man excels another in the capacity to understand and perceive what is honorable in moral life, what is just in civil life, and what is good in spiritual life. The cause of this consists in the elevation of the thought to the things that pertain to heaven, whereby the thought is withdrawn from the external things of sense; for they who think solely from things of sense cannot see one whit of what is honorable, just, and good, and therefore they trust to others and speak much from the memory, and thereby appear to themselves wiser than others. But they who are able to think above the things of sense, provided the things in the memory have been set in order, possess a greater capacity than others to understand and perceive, and this according to the degree in which they view things from what is interior.

AC 6599. How the case is with those who think in the sensuous degree, and with those who think above this, and also what is the nature of the influx into the latter and into the former, I may state from experience. But first be it known that the thought of man is divided into ideas, and that one idea follows another, as one word follows another in speech. Yet the ideas of thought succeed each other so quickly that while he is in the body a man’s thought appears to him as if it were continuous, and thus as if there were no division. But in the other life it is self-evident that the thought is divided into ideas; for speech is then effected by means of ideas (n. 2470, 2478, 2479).

It is now necessary to say how the case is with thought and its ideas, namely, that the thought diffuses itself into the societies of spirits and of angels round about, and that the capacity to understand and perceive is according to the extension into these societies, that is, according to the influx from them; and in the next place that there are countless things in one idea of thought, and still more in one thought composed of ideas.

AC 6600. I have been clearly shown that man‘s thought, and also that of spirits and of angels, pours itself around into many societies in the spiritual world, but the thought of one person in a different way from the thought of another. In order that I might know this for certain, I have been allowed to speak with some societies to which my thought had penetrated, and from this I was given to know what flowed into the thought, from what society it came, and also where and of what quality the society was, so that I could not be mistaken. The capacity of understanding and perceiving in man, spirit, and angel is in accordance with the extension of his thoughts and affections into the societies.

[2] He who is in the good of charity and of faith has extension into the societies of heaven, ample according to the degree in which he is in them, and in which he is in genuine good; for these things are in agreement with heaven, and therefore flow in there spontaneously and widely. Yet there are some societies into which the affection of truth, and others into which the affection of good, penetrates. The affection of truth penetrates to the societies of the spiritual angels, but the affection of good to the societies of the celestial angels. But on the other hand the thought and affection of those who are in evil and falsity have extension into infernal societies, and this also according to the degree of evil and falsity with them.

[3] It is said that the thought and affection of man, spirit, and angel pour themselves around into the societies, and that from this come the understanding and perception; but be it known that it is so said according to the appearance, for there is no influx of the thoughts and affections into the societies; but from the societies, and this through the angels and spirits with the man. For as has been shown at the end of preceding chapters, all influx comes from what is more interior; thus with the good from heaven (that is, through heaven from the Lord), and with the evil from hell.

AC 6601. One morning it was plainly shown that there are countless things in every idea and little affection, and also that these ideas and affections penetrate into societies. I was kept for some time in a certain affection and consequent thought, and it was then shown how many societies concurred. There were five societies that plainly showed themselves by living discourse. They told what they were thinking, and also that they had noticed that the same thoughts were in me; and they said in addition that they knew things I paid no attention to, namely, the causes of the things being thought of, and also the ends of these. The rest of the societies (which were many) to which my thought was extended, were not so plainly shown; and were also more remote. The extension of the thought from the objects which are the things being thought of, is circumstanced as are the objects of sight. From these a sphere of rays diffuses itself to a considerable distance, which falls into a man’s sight, and this to a greater or less distance according to the brightness and flaming in the object; for if the object is flaming, it is seen at a much greater distance than if it is cloudy and dusky. It is the same with the internal sight (which is that of the thought) from its objects. The objects of this sight are not material, like objects in this world; but they are spiritual, and therefore they diffuse themselves to such things as are in the spiritual world, thus to truths and goods there, consequently to the societies which are in these truths and goods; and just as a flaming object in this world shines around far and wide, so does good and its affection in the spiritual world; for flame corresponds to the affection of good. From all this it can be seen that the quality of a man‘s life is altogether according to the societies into which his thought and affection extend themselves, and according to the quality and amount of this extension.

AC 6602. That the spheres of the thoughts and affections extend themselves round about into the spheres of societies which are far from the spot, was made evident to me also from the fact that while I was thinking from affection about such things as had a certain specific action on a distant society, the people in it spoke with me on the same subject, telling what they felt. This has been done repeatedly. One society was at the right, at a considerable distance, in the plane of the lower part of the chest; and another also was at the right, but nearer, in the plane of the knees. Distance is perceived from the state of the affection of truth and good. In so far as the state of one society differs from the state of another, so far the societies appear to be remote from each other.

AC 6603. But be it known that the thoughts and affections which penetrate into societies do not in a specific manner move the societies to think and will as does the man, spirit, or angel, from whom the thoughts and affections go forth; but they enter into the universal sphere of the affection and consequent thought of these societies. Consequently the societies know nothing about the matter; for the spiritual sphere in which all societies are, is varied with each society; and when the thoughts and affections enter into this sphere, the societies are not affected. All thoughts and affections enter into the spheres of the societies with which they are in agreement. Hence it is that there exist extensions in every direction in freedom, like the extension of rays from objects in this world, which freely penetrate all around to the sight of everyone who stands there, with variety according to the clearness and the dulness of the sight, and also according to the serenity or obscurity of the atmosphere. In the spiritual world the affection of knowing truth and good corresponds to the serenity of the atmosphere.

AC 6604. There has occasionally appeared to me an angel, whose face, very plainly seen, was continually varied according to affections, as these succeeded one another with him in order, thus from one limit to the other-the universal ruling affection still remaining, by which it could be known that it was the same angel. And I was instructed that the changes of his face came from the societies with which he had communication, and that they came forth in accordance with the variations of the communication, as this was nearer with one society than with another, and so on in succession. For the extension of the affections and thoughts has its limits, and in the last societies vanishes, and passes away as does the sight into the universe. Within the limits of this general sphere the thoughts and affections can be varied, and may now be nearer to one society, and now to another. When they are in the in the midst of one, then the rest of the societies are to that one in the circumference; and so on with all variations in these limits.

AC 6605. It is worthy of note, that as the universal heaven bears relation to a man, who from this is called the Grand Man (as shown at the end of many chapters), so each society in like manner bears relation to a man; for the image of the universal heaven flows into the societies, and causes them to be like it; and not only into the societies, but also into the individuals in the society, whence each individual has a human form; for everyone in an angelic society is a heaven in least form. The varieties of their human form are in accordance with the quality of good and of truth with them. Hence it is that every spirit and angel appears in a form wholly in accordance with the communication of his thoughts and affections with the societies. Hence the more they are in good and truth, so are they in a more beautiful form. But if the communication of the thoughts and affections has been diffused into societies not according to heavenly order, then the form is to the same extent unbeautiful. And if the communication is with infernal societies, then the form is ugly and devilish; and those who are in total opposition to good and truth, being in opposition to the form of heaven (which is the human form), in the light of heaven appear not as men, but as monsters. This is the case with the whole of hell, with the societies therein, and with the individuals in the societies; and this also with variety according to the degree of opposition of evil against good and of the derivative falsity against truth.

AC 6606. When speaking with angelic spirits I have observed that the affections and thoughts appeared like a surrounding stream, and that the subject of the thought was in the middle with the stream all round it, and that this extended thence in every direction. From this also it was made manifest that the thoughts and affections extend themselves on all sides to societies.

AC 6607. It has been shown that when thoughts together with affections diffuse themselves, they circulate almost according to the form of the convolutions of the gray substance in the human brain. I have seen these circumfluxions for a long while: they circled round, bent inward, and wound in and out, as do the convolutions of the gray substance of the brains. But the forms of heaven are still more wonderful, and such as can by no means be comprehended, not even by angels; in such a form are the angelic societies in the heavens, and into such a form the thoughts of the angels flow, and almost in an instant to a great distance, because according to the infinitely perfect form.

AC 6608. Intellectual light has been given me, taken away, diminished, and moderated, in thinking, speaking, and writing, and this frequently; and it has been given me to perceive the variations and differences. The light itself was perceived as an illumination which enlightened the substances of the interior sight, as the light of the sun enlightens the organs of bodily sight. This general illumination caused the objects of things to appear, as the objects of the earth appear to an enlightened eye; and I have been instructed that these variations came forth according to the communications with heavenly societies.

AC 6609. The thoughts and speech of the societies within which was my thought, have been occasionally represented to me by clouds which ascended and descended in the azure. From the forms of the clouds, their colors, thinness, and density, it was given to know what was flowing in. Truths were represented by the azure color mingled with a beautiful brilliant white, the brilliancy of which cannot be described; appearances of truth were represented by a dull whiteness; and falsities by black clouds; and thus the influx of thoughts and affections could also be known from these appearances.

AC 6610. So long as a man lives, the ideas of his thought are varied, that is, they are multiplied and divided, and are thus extended to various and new societies; with those who are in evil, to infernal societies, as also with those who are in the persuasions of falsity. But with those who are in persuasions of truth, that is, in persuasive faith, the ideas of the thought are exceedingly confined; while with those who are being regenerated, the thoughts and affections are continually insinuated into new heavenly societies, and the extension increases. The former thoughts and affections are also divided; and being divided, are associated with ideas, which are again communicated to new societies. More especially generals are filled with particulars, and these with singulars, thus with new truths, whereby the illumination increases.

AC 6611. I have spoken with spirits about the changes of state of man’s life, that it is inconstant, and that he is borne upward and downward, now toward heaven and now toward hell. But they who suffer themselves to be regenerated are being borne continually upward, and thus always into more interior heavenly societies. Extension of sphere into these societies is given by the Lord to those who are being regenerated, especially to those who are being regenerated by means of temptations, in which resistance is made to evils and falsities; for the Lord then fights through angels against the evils and falsities; and in this way the man is introduced into the societies of these angels, which are more interior societies; and into whatever societies he has once been introduced, he there remains; and from this he also receives a more extended and elevated capacity of perception.

AC 6612. From all this it is also evident that the more exteriorly a man thinks, the less extension he has, and the more interiorly, the greater extension. For they who think exteriorly, that is, who are in what is sensuous, communicate only with grosser spirits; whereas they who think interiorly, that is, from the rational, have communication with angels; and the nature of this difference can be seen from the density of the sphere in which the sensuous spirits are, and from the purity of the sphere in which the angels of heaven are. This difference is like that between the extension of sound, and the extension of light; and how great this is, is known to those who are skilled in the things of nature.

AC 6613. That there are countless things in one idea of thought, and much more so in one thought composed of ideas, has been given me to know from much experience, some of which may be here adduced.

AC 6614. It has been shown by living experience how angelic ideas flow into the ideas of spirits who are beneath, and therefore in grosser ideas. An abundance of ideas from the angelic heaven was shown as a bright cloud divided into little masses; each little mass, which consisted of countless ideas, produced in a spirit one simple idea; and it was afterward shown that thousands and thousands of things were in it, which were also represented by a cloud before the eyes of spirits. I afterward spoke of these things with the spirits, showing that they may be illustrated by the objects of sight; for an object which appears simple, when seen through a magnifying glass, immediately presents to the sight a thousand things not before visible; as in the case of animalcules which appear as one obscure object, but when viewed in a microscope not only become many, but each is seen in its form; and if subjected to still higher power of sight, there are seen organs, members, viscera, and also vessels and fibers. Such also is the case with the ideas of thought, thousands and thousands of things being in each of them, although the many ideas together of which the thought is composed, appear only as a simple thing. Nevertheless there are more things in the ideas of thought of one person than in the ideas of another, the abundance of ideas in the thought being according to the extension into societies.

AC 6615. When the thought of angels descends to lower planes, it appears, as just said, like a bright cloud; but when the thought of the angels who are in the higher heavens descends, it appears like a flaming light, from which comes a quivering brightness. This bright cloud and flying light are nothing else than the countless things that are in their thought. When these flow into the thought of the spirits who are beneath, they are there presented as only one thing; the light and brightness flow into their thought, and the flaming into their affection which is of love, which affection leads the ideas and joins them together. But the bright flaming and the quivering brightness do not appear to them, but were seen by me in order that I might know that higher things flow into lower ones; and that there are countless things which are perceived as one.

AC 6616. That there are so many things in one idea has also been made evident to me from the fact that when I heard spirits speaking with me, I could perceive from the mere tone of their speech whether they were speaking from pretence, from sincerity, from a friendly feeling, or from the good of love. A man can see this from the expression of the face of another man, and can also in some measure hear it from his speech; for when a man sees a glad expression shown him, and hears fair-spoken words, he can perceive whether there is in it pretence, or deceit, whether a gaiety that is natural or accidental, whether modesty, or friendliness, or insanity, and so on; which also is a sign that there are countless things in every idea. When I have spoken with spirits on this subject, some of them were incredulous, and they were therefore taken up into a higher region, and speaking with me from thence they said that they saw countless things in every idea of my thought; and so they believed.

AC 6617. That there are countless things in one idea, has also been made evident to me from the fact that the angels perceive in a moment the life of a spirit and of a man by merely hearing him speak, or by looking into his thought; the angels of a lower heaven can see this, and still more the angels of a higher one. A certain good spirit was taken up into the first heaven, and speaking with me from thence he said that he saw infinite things in what I was then reading in the Word; when yet I myself had only a simple thought on the subject. Afterward he was taken up into a more interior heaven, and he said from thence that he now saw still more things, and so many that what he had seen before were comparatively gross to him. He was next taken up into a heaven still more interior, where the celestial angels are, and he said from thence that what he had before seen was scarcely anything compared with the things he now saw. While this continued, various things flowed in, and I was affected with the various things that came from thence.

AC 6618. Certain spirits boasted that they knew all things. In the Grand Man these spirits bear relation to the memory. But they were told that there are illimitable things which they do not know, nay, that one idea can be filled with illimitable ideas and still appear simple; and also that if their ideas were to be filled with many things every day to all eternity, they could not know even all the general things; and that from this they might conclude how much there is which they do not know. This was also shown them, so that they acknowledged it. An angel spoke with them by changes of state, but they could not understand what he spoke; and then they were told that every change contained illimitable things, which nevertheless were not even noticed by them, for besides not understanding, they were not even affected with them.

AC 6619. That there are countless things in the ideas of thought, and that those which are in order within them are there from things more interior, was also evident to me while I read the Lords Prayer morning and evening. The ideas of my thought were then always opened toward heaven, and countless things flowed in, so that I observed clearly that the ideas of thought taken from the contents of the Prayer were filled from heaven. And such things were also poured in as cannot be uttered, and also could not be comprehended by me; I merely felt the general resulting affection, and wonderful to say the things that flowed in were varied from day to day. From this I was given to know that in the contents of this Prayer there are more things than the universal heaven is capable of comprehending; and that with man there are more things in it in proportion as his thought has been opened toward heaven; and on the other hand, there are fewer things in it in proportion as his thought has been closed; for with those whose thought has been closed, nothing more appears therein than the sense of the letter, or that sense which is nearest the words.

AC 6620. From all this it may be known how infinite are the contents also in everything of the Word (for the Word descends from the Lord through heaven), although it appears to those whose ideas have been closed, as a very simple thing. On this subject I once talked with spirits who denied that anything lies hidden in the Word; and I said that there are infinite and unutterable things therein, which cannot be perceived by those whose ideas are closed, and who admit nothing but the literal sense, which they interpret in favor of their own principles and cupidities, and thereby close to themselves access to what is stored within, and they either empty out their own ideas, or else close them tight. There was then also shown how an idea of thought appears when it has been enclosed, and how when it has been opened, for this can be easily shown in the light of heaven: the closed idea appeared like a black point, in which nothing was visible; but the opened idea appeared like a light in which there was something as of Same, and toward which everything there looked. The flame represented the Lord, and the things that looked to Him represented heaven; and it was said that in every idea which is from the Lord, there is an image of the whole heaven, because it is from Him who is heaven.

AC 6621. The thoughts of those who in the life of the body have studied the mere art of criticism when reading the Word, being little concerned about the sense, were represented as lines closed and not capable of being opened, and as a texture formed of such lines. Some spirits of this kind have been with me, and then all that was being thought and written became confused, the thought being kept as it were in prison, for it was determined solely to words, by withdrawing the mind from the sense, so that they wearied me past expression; and yet they believed themselves wiser than others.

AC 6622. I have spoken with spirits concerning influx into the ideas of thought, saying that men can by no means believe there are such countless things in them, for they conceive thought to be a merely simple and single thing; thus they judge from the exterior sensuous. The spirits with whom I then spoke were of the opinion that there is nothing within ideas, having impressed this upon themselves in the life of the body. But in order that they might comprehend that they perceive countless things as one, I was allowed to say that the motions of myriads of moving fibers concur in one action, and that also at the same time all things in the body move and adapt themselves for that action, both in general and in particular; and yet that little action appears simple and single, as if nothing of the kind were in it; and in like manner that countless things concur together to form one utterance, as the foldings of the lips and of all the muscles and fibers thereof; also the movements of the tongue, throat, larynx, windpipe, lungs, and diaphragm, with all the muscles thereof in general and in particular. Now as the man perceives one utterance therefrom as merely a simple sound which has nothing in it, it may be seen how gross is perception from the sensuous. What then must be the perception from the sensuous concerning those ideas of thought which are in a purer world, and thus more remote from what is sensuous!

AC 6623. As there are things so countless in the ideas of thought, the angels can know merely from a single word which proceeds from the thought what is the quality of the spirit, or of the man. This also has been confirmed by experience. When the word "truth" was only mentioned, as was done by several spirits in succession, it was instantly heard whether there was in it what is hard, harsh, soft, childlike, dear, innocent, full, empty, also whether there was in it what is false, feigned, closed, or open, and in what degree; in a word, the very quality of the idea was heard, and this only in what is general. What then must be the case in the singulars which the angels perceive!

AC 6624. As man thinks from what is sensuous, such things are obscure to him, nay, so obscure that he does not know what an idea is, and especially that thought is divided into ideas, as speech is into words; for thought appears to him continuous, and not discrete, when yet the ideas of thought are the words of spirits, and the ideas of a thought yet more interior are the words of angels. As ideas are the words of their speech, they are also sonorous among spirits and angels; hence the silent thought of man is audible to spirits and angels when it so pleases the Lord. How perfect the ideas of thought are in comparison with the words of speech, may be seen from the fact that a man can think more things within a minute than he can utter or write in an hour. The same could also be seen from speech with spirits and angels, for then in a moment I have filled a general subject with singulars, with the affection adjoined, whence the angels and spirits distinctly apprehended all things, and many more, which appeared about the subject like a cloud.

AC 6625. From all this it may now be seen what is the nature of the ideas of those who live evilly, and thence think evilly, namely, that therein are hatreds, revenges, envies, deceits, adulteries, haughtinesses, outward decorum simulating honor, also chastities for the sake of appearance, friendships for the sake of honor and gain and yet no friendships, besides foul and filthy things unmentionable. And moreover there are certain doctrinal matters of faith which countenance cupidities, and unless they did so there would be unbeliefs and also mockings. These and other such things are in the ideas of those who live evilly and consequently think evilly. Such things being within their ideas, it must needs be that when such persons come into the other life, they are separated and removed far from heaven, where such things excite horror.

AC 6626. I will relate some wonderful things. The Lord, who alone is Man, and from whom angels, spirits, and the inhabitants of earth are called men, does Himself, by His influx into heaven cause the universal heaven to represent and bear relation to a man, and by influx through heaven and from Himself immediately into the individuals there, cause each one to appear as a man, the angels in a more beautiful and resplendent form than can be described; and in like manner by His influx into the spirit of man. Nay, with an angel, a spirit, and a man who lives in charity toward the neighbor and in love to the Lord, the very smallest things of thought bear relation to a man, for the reason that this charity and this love are from the Lord, and whatever is from the Lord bears relation to a man. Moreover it is these things that make man. On the other hand, in hell, because they who are there are in things contrary to charity and celestial love, in their own light they do indeed appear like men, but in the light of heaven as dreadful monsters, in some of whom scarcely anything of the human form is recognizable. The reason is that the Lord‘s influx through heaven is not received, but is either rejected, or extinguished, or perverted, causing them to have such an appearance. They are in like manner such forms in the smallest things of their thought or in their ideas; for such as anyone is in the whole, such he is in part; these being analogous and homogeneous. That form in which they appear is also the form of the hell in which they are; for every hell has its own form, which in the light of heaven is like a monster; and those of them who appear from this light show by their form from what hell they are. They have appeared to me at the gates which opened into the world of spirits, and they were seen as monsters, with much variety. That the gates of hell open into the world of spirits may be seen above (n. 5852).