Eternal Questions

Who am I?

Swedenborg's description of the mystery of identity, existence and destination is the most complete, profound and coherent, in its internal consistency and integrity, that has ever been presented to our Age.

So much so that it deserves attention on its own merits and the same according as Swedenborg's own estimation and the considered opinion of other great minds, as the new revelation; the Second Coming of the Son of Man in the clouds and glory described in the word.
The picture he presents to be understood needs five basic principles to be assimilated which finally explains all. These are in the order given:

1. All things derive from the Lord or the one God
2. The Lord permits all
3. (But) Yet all evil derives from devilish spirits
4. But after that: the Truth that the Lord provides and arranges for evils to be converted into goods
5. Finally that nothing but good comes from the Lord


The picture is triple structured : first the highest or inner most Golden Celestial Heaven of Good, a second Silver Spiritual Heaven of Truth, and third, lowest the Natural Heaven, that supports the phenomenal existence of everyday experience. God or the Lord is the Sun in the innermost Celestial Heaven who's heat is Love and Light is Truth, to whom angels who once had a natural or human birth and life face to receive new life as influx Eternally from the Lord's infinite source. In the second Heaven the Lord is its moon. The image or structure Heaven presents is of a grand man, a person and human which is the source and image of our humanity. In the natural world we were made as finite Souls, an internal man that mirrors our physical, a receptacle for the influx of the Lord's divine spirit and life. His light as Truth descends into our Soul and then mind as the spirit of understanding and his heat as love and goodness into our hearts as will. The Soul with its spiritual influx of Love and Truth as the one life into our hearts and mind make us what and who we are.

In Arcana Caelestia it says: Everyone has an internal man and an external man, the internal being called the spiritual man, and the external the natural man. Both must be regenerated, if a person is to become regenerate.

In the case of the person who has not been regenerated the external or natural man is the master and the internal or spiritual is the servant. But in the case of the person who has been regenerated the internal or spiritual man is the master and the external or natural is the servant. This inversion of roles cannot come about at all except through regeneration by the Lord.

When the external man has not been regenerated he considers that everything good consists in pleasure, gain and eminence; and he flares up into hatred and vengeance against those who oppose him. At this time the internal man does not merely go along with all this; he also supplies reasons which support and further it. The internal man is accordingly the servant and the external the master.
But when the external man has been regenerated the internal considers all good to consist in thinking well of the neighbour and wishing him well, while the external considers it to consist in speaking well of him and behaving well towards him. Both at length have loving the neighbour and loving the Lord as their end in view, and not loving self and loving the world, as they did at first. Now the external or natural is the servant, and the internal or spiritual is the master.

The internal man is regenerated first by the Lord, and the external after that, the external being regenerated by means of the internal. The internal man is regenerated through thinking about matters of faith and intending them, but the external through a life in keeping with them. The life of faith is charity.

A person who has been regenerated is in heaven, as to his internal man; and he is an angel there with angels, among whom he also comes after death. He is then able to lead the heavenly life, love the Lord, love his neighbour, understand truth, taste good, and feel blessed in doing so. These things compose the happiness of eternal life.

As well Since the subject in what follows below is the joining together of Divine Good and Divine Truth, to the end that the arranging of truths into order may as a result take place with the member of the Church, it should be recognized that there is a difference between Divine Good and Divine Truth, in that Divine Good exists within the Lord, but that Divine Truth emanates from the Lord. They are like the fire of the sun and the light radiating from it. Fire exists within the sun but the light radiates from the sun; light holds no fire, only heat. Furthermore in the next life the Lord is the Sun, and He is the Light too. The Sun there, that is, He Himself, is Divine fire, which is the Divine Good of Divine Love. That Sun is the source of Divine Light, which is Divine Truth emanating from Divine Good. This Divine Truth also holds within it Divine Good, though not such as it is in the Sun; it is modified for its reception in heaven. Unless it had been modified for reception, heaven could not have come into existence; for no angel can bear the flame coming from Divine Love. An angel would be consumed by it instantly, just as anyone would be the instant that the flame of the sun in the world breathed on him.

But the way in which the Divine Good of the Lord's Divine Love is modified for reception cannot be known by anyone, not even by angels in heaven, because it is a modification of the infinite for the finite. The infinite is such that it lies far beyond all the power of understanding which the finite possesses, so far beyond that when that power of understanding tries to fix its attention on the Infinite it falls away like someone sinking into the depths of the sea and perishes.

What am I?

The world believes that “I” or “thought” is the person. But there are two powers that constitute a persons life - understanding and will - and thought belongs to the understanding, the affection inherent in love being what belongs to the will. Thought without the affection inherent in love does not in any way at all constitute a person's life; but thought springing from such affection, that is, the understanding springing from the will, does constitute it. These two powers are distinct from each other, which is evident to anyone who stops to reflect on the matter from the consideration that with his understanding a person can perceive that that thing is bad which his will desires, and that that thing is good which his will either does or does not desire. From all this it is plain that the will is the real person, not his thought, except so far as anything passes into it from the will. So it is that things which enter a person's thought but do not pass on through it into his will do not render him unclean; only those which pass through thought on into the will do so. The reason why the latter renders a person unclean is that he takes them to himself then and makes them his; for the will, as has been stated, is the real person. The things which become part of his will are said to go into his heart and to go out from there, whereas those which are merely part of his thought are said to go into the mouth and to go out by way of the bowels into the sewer, according to the Lord's words in Matthew.

What Am I Doing Here?

As Francis Bacon nee Shakespeare states 'The world's a stage and every man its player' a school for souls where the Lord provides peoples requirements every day and that for this reason they ought not be anxious to acquire them of themselves. The same thing is meant by daily bread in the Lord's Prayer and also by the Lord's words in Matthew.

Do not be anxious for your soul, and what you are going to eat or what you are going to drink, nor for your body, what you are going to put on. Why be anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin. Do not therefore be anxious, so that you say, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or what shall we wear? For all these things the gentiles seek. Does not your heavenly Father know that you have need of all these things? Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, then all these things will be added to you. Do not therefore be anxious about the morrow; for the morrow will take care of the things that belong to it. Matt.6:25 to the end.

Similar words occur in Luke 12:11, 12,22-31

This refers in the internal sense to concern for the morrow, a concern which was not only forbidden but also condemned. Anyone who does not view the matter from anywhere beyond the sense of the letter may think that all concern for the morrow is to be avoided, which being so, people should then await their requirements every day from heaven. But a person who views it from a position deeper then the literal meaning, that is who views it from the internal sense, may recognise what concern for the morrow is used to mean - not concern to obtain food and clothing for oneself, and also resources for the future; for it is not contrary to order to make provisions for oneself and ones dependents. But people are concerned about the morrow when they are not content with their lot, do not trust in God but in themselves, and have solely worldly and earthly things in view, not heavenly ones. These people are ruled completely by anxiety over the future, and by the desire to possess all things and exercise control over all other people. That desire is kindled and grows greater and greater, till at length it is beyond all measure. They grieve if they do not realise the objects of their desires, and they are distressed at the loss of them. Nor can they find consolation, for in times of loss they are angry with the Divine. They reject Him together with all belief, and curse themselves. This is what those concerned for the morrow are like.

Where Am I Going?

While living in the world a person calls those things a blessing which makes him blessed and happy temporally, that is, wealth and important positions. Temporal blessings however are not what are meant in the internal sense of the Word but eternal ones, in comparison with which the temporal are nothing at all. For there is no ratio between what is temporal and what is eternal; there is no ratio even between several thousands and or several millions of years and what is eternal, since those years have an end whereas what is eternal has no end. Therefore what is eternal Is; for that which exists without end Is, since it has its Being from God, who is infinite - the infinite in relation to time being He who is Eternal. But the temporal by comparison Is not, because when it has reached its end it exists no longer. From this it is also evident that 'a blessing' in the spiritual sense is that which has Being from God within it, thus is those things which constitute eternal life, consequently things which are aspects of charity and faith.

The truth that worldly blessing is nothing in comparison with heavenly blessing, which is eternal, is taught in the following way by the Lord in Matthew,

What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul.
Matt. 16:26

But the person immersed in worldly and earthly interests does not understand this saying; for worldly and earthly interests have a stifling effect, and cause him not to believe even in the existence of eternal life. But I can positively declare that as soon as a person dies he is in the next life, living as a spirit among spirits, and that then he seems to himself and to all others there to be altogether like a person in the world, endowed with all the senses, internal and external, I can say too that therefore death of the body is merely a laying aside of such things as had enabled the person to serve and function in the world, and in addition that death itself is a continuation of life, though in another world which is not visible to the eyes of the earthly body but is visible there in light a thousand times brighter than midday light in the world. Since all this is known to me from actual experience which I have had over so many years and continue to have, I declare it positively. I have spoken to almost all those with whom I was acquainted in the world and who have died, to some two or three days after their decease; and I speak to them still. The majority of them have been extremely displeased that they had had no belief at all in the continuation of life after death. I have talked to those people not just for a day but over months and years. I have also been allowed to witness their succeeding or progressive states of life taking them either to hell or to heaven. Consequently let anyone who wishes to be happy for evermore know and believe that he is going to be alive after death; let him think about it and remember it, for it is the truth. Let him also know and believe that the Word is the one and only teacher of how a person should live in the world in order to be happy for evermore.

What Happens When I Die, In Short, What is the Meaning and Purpose of Life?

A person after death continues to eternity such as his will or ruling love is..... The angels declare that the life of the ruling love is never changed in anyone even to eternity, since every one is his love; consequently to change that love in a spirit is to take away or extinguish his life. [Swedenborg: Heaven and Hell 480]

No one becomes an angel, that is comes into heaven, unless he carries with him from the world something of the angelic character; and in this there is present a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and a walking in the way from a knowledge of it. Moreover in the spiritual world there are actually ways which lead to every society of heaven and to every society of hell, and each one, as if from himself, sees his own way. He sees it because there are ways there, one for every love; and love opens the way, and leads him to his fellows; nor does anyone see other ways than the way of his own love. From this it is clear that angels are nothing but heavenly loves, for otherwise they would not have seen the ways leading to heaven. [Swedenborg: Divine Providence 60]

[Heavenly] states produced by [conjugial] love are innocence, peace, tranquillity, inmost friendship, complete trust, a mutual desire of the mind and heart to do the other every good; also, as a result of all these, bliss, felicity, delight, pleasure, and, owing to an eternal enjoyment of states like this, the happiness of heaven. All of these states are inherent in conjugial love and consequently spring from it, and the reason is that conjugial love originates from the marriage between goodness and truth, and this marriage comes from the Lord. Moreover, it is the nature of love to will to share with another, indeed to confer joys upon another whom it loves from the heart, and to seek its own joys in return from doing so; and this being the case, infinitely more, therefore, does the divine love in the Lord will to confer joys upon mankind, whom He created to be recipients of both the love and the wisdom emanating from him. [Swedenborg: Conjugial Love 180]]

......For one who is in love truly conjugial loves what the other thinks and what the other wills; thus he also loves to think as the other does, and he loves to will as the other does; consequently to be united to the other, and to become one person. [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 10169]

Those who are in true conjugial love, after death, when they become angels, return to their early manhood and to youth, the males however spent with age, becoming young men, and the wives, however spent with age, becoming young women. Each partner returns to the flower and joys of the age when conjugial love begins to exalt the life with new delights....I have been told from heaven that such then have the life of love, which cannot otherwise be described than as the life of joy itself....... Marriages on the earth correspond to marriages in the heavens; and after death people come into the correspondence, that is, comes from the natural bodily marriage into spiritual heavenly marriage, which is heaven itself and the joy of heaven. [Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained 1000:4-4]

......Love truly conjugial is in its origin pure delight itself of the mind, and that love is the fundamental of all loves. From love is all the beauty of the angels in heaven, for love or the affection of love forms everyone, wherefore every angel is as to his face the image of his love or affection. Hence it is that all the beauty of the angels in heaven is from their conjugial love; for the inmost of their life which shines through is from that love. [Swedenborg: De Conjugio 2]

The delight of a soul comes from love and wisdom from the Lord.........Love is the motive force, and it acts through wisdom; so you find both love and wisdom in what love and wisdom do, and what they do is something of use. This delight flows from the Lord into your soul and works down through the higher and lower levels of your mind into all your bodily senses, and there it is fulfilled. This is what makes joy really joy, and makes it eternal --- from the Eternal, from whom it comes. You've seen something of a paradise, and I assure you that not one thing is there, not even a leaf, that is not from a marriage of love and wisdom in usefulness. So if a person has this marriage in him, he is in the paradise of heaven --- in other words, in heaven. [Swedenborg: Conjugial Love 8]

......The joy the angels have is from love to the Lord and from charity toward the neighbour---that is, when they are in the use of performing the things of love and charity --- and in these there is so great a joy and happiness as to be quite inexpressible. This will be hard to those who are in joy only from the love of self and the world, and in no joy from the love of the neighbour except for the sake of self; when yet heaven and the joy of heaven first begin in a person when his regard to self, in the uses which he performs, dies out. [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 11:2]


The condition however of one who serves the Lord by doing according to his commandments, and by being obedient in that kind of way, is not that of a slave; rather, it is that of one who is free. For perfect freedom consists for a person in being led by the Lord, The Lord breathes the good into the persons will from which his actions spring; and although that good comes from the Lord, the person nevertheless has the feeling that his actions are from himself, that is, he does them in freedom. This freedom exists with all who abide in the lord; and coupled with it there is indescribable happiness.

The reason why God is Divine order is that in the Word the name 'God' is used where truth is referred to, and 'Jehovah' where good is referred to. Therefore ‘God’, and ‘Jehovah’ mean Divine Truth emanating from the Lord’s Divine Good in the highest sense means His Divine Good from which Divine Truth emanates. The reason for this is that Divine Good is Essential Being [Esse], and Divine Truth is the Coming--into--Being [Existere] from it, since what emanates from something comes into being from it. The situation with good and truth in heaven or among angels is similar, and that in the church among men is similar. Good there is the essential being, and truth is the coming--into--being from it. All this makes plain why it is that 'God' can also mean Divine order; for Divine truth emanating from the Lord is what constitutes order in heaven, so completely that it is order itself.

Therefore when man or angel receives Divine Truth from the Lord within good, there resides with him that order which exists in the heavens. As a consequence he is a heaven or kingdom of the Lord in particular; he is such in the measure that he is imbued with good from truths, and after this in the measure that he is endowed with truths from good. And -- what is an arcanum -- angels themselves appear in heaven in a human form that accords exactly with the truths present with them within good, together with beauty and brilliance which accord with the character of the good from truths. The souls of members of the Church present a similar appearance in heaven. The divine Truth itself emanating from the Lord brings this about. This arcanum is what the following words are used to mean in John, in the Book of Revelation,

He measured the wall of the holy Jerusalem, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man [homo], that is, of an angel. Rev.21:17
[Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 8988 2,3]

.......it should be recognised that there is a difference between Divine Good and Divine Truth, in that Divine Good exists within the Lord, But that Divine Truth emanates from the Lord. They are like the fire of the sun and the light radiating from it. Fire exists within the sun but the light radiates from the sun; light holds no fire, only heat. Furthermore in the next life the Lord is the Sun, and he is the Light too. The sun there, that is, He Himself, is Divine Fire, which is the Divine Good of Divine Love. That Sun is the source of Divine Light, which is Divine Truth emanating from Divine Good. This Divine Truth also holds within it Divine Good, though not such as it is in the Sun ; it is modified for its reception in heaven, Unless it had been modified for reception, heaven could not have come into existence; for no angel can bear the flame coming from Divine Love. An angel would be consumed by it instantly, just as anyone would be the instant that the flame of the sun in the world breathed on him.
But the way in which the Divine Good of the Lord's Divine Love is modified for reception cannot be known by anyone, not even by angels in heaven, because it is a modification of the infinite for the finite. The infinite is such that it lies far beyond all the power of understanding which the finite possesses, so far beyond that when that power of understanding tries to fix its attention on the Infinite it falls away like someone sinking into the depths of the sea and perishes.
[Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 8644 2,3]

Reader treasure this up within you, and after death, when you are living as a spirit, inquire whether this is true, and you will see. [Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained 984:3]