2. Whatever we do from our freedom, whether we have thought it through rationally or not, seems to be ours as long as it is in accord with our reason.

The clearest way to show what the rationality and freedom are that are proper to humans is to compare us with animals. They have no rationality or ability to comprehend and no freedom or ability to intend freely. Instead of discernment they have knowledge, and instead of intention they have desire, both on the physical level.

Since they lack these two abilities, they also lack thinking. Instead of thinking, they have an inner sight that is merged with their outer sight because it answers to it.

Every impulse or desire has its own partner or spouse. A desire of physical love has knowledge, a desire of spiritual love has intelligence, and a desire of heavenly love has wisdom. This is because a desire without its partner—its spouse, so to speak–is nothing. It is like a reality with no manifestation or a substance with no form, neither of which can have any attributes. This is why there is something in everything that has been created that we can trace back to the marriage of what is good and what is true, as I have often explained before [Sections 5–9, 11].

In animals, there is a marriage of desire and knowledge. The desire involved comes from what is good on the physical level, and the knowledge comes from what is true on the physical level.

Now, their desires and their knowledge act in absolute unison, and their desires cannot rise above the level of their knowledge or their knowledge above the level of their desires: if they do rise, they both rise together. Further, they have no spiritual mind into which—or into whose light and warmth—they can rise. Consequently, they do not have an ability to discern, or rationality, and do not have an ability to intend freely, or freedom. Instead they have simply physical desires and the knowledge that goes with them. Their physical desires are desires to find food and shelter, to procreate, and to avoid being hurt, with all the knowledge these impulses need.

Since this is the nature of their life, they cannot think, “I want this,” or “I do not want this,” or “I know this,” or “I do not know this,” let alone “I understand this” or “I love this.” They are simply carried along by their desires according to their knowledge without reasoning or freedom.

This “carrying” comes not from the physical world but from the spiritual world, since there is nothing in the physical world that is not connected to the spiritual world. That is the source of every cause that makes something happen. There will be more on this below (see Section 96).

from Divine Providence, Section 74

Notes:

Sections 5-11: Published 3/3/2022-3/10/2022

1. We have a capacity for disciplined thought and a certain latitude, or rationality and freedom, and these two abilities are in us as gifts from the Lord.

In Divine Love and Wisdom 264–270 and 425 and also in Sections 43–44 above, I discussed the fact that we have an ability to discern, which is rationality, and an ability to think, intend, speak, and do what we understand, which is freedom. I also discussed the fact that these two abilities are the Lord’s gifts within us. However, since any number of doubts may arise about both of these abilities when we think about them, at this juncture I want simply to convey something about the freedom we have to act in accord with reason.

First, though, it needs to be clear that all freedom is a matter of love, even to the point that love and freedom are the same thing. Since love is our life, freedom is also essential to our life. Every pleasure we experience comes from our love; there is no other source of pleasure. Acting for the sake of the pleasure of our love is acting in freedom, because pleasure leads us along, the way a river bears its burdens quite naturally along its current.

Since we have many loves, some of which agree with each other and some of which disagree, it follows that we likewise have many kinds of freedom. In general, though, there are three kinds: earthly, rational, and spiritual.

All of us have earthly freedom by heredity. It is what makes us love nothing but ourselves and the world, and it is all there is to our life at first. Further, since all evils stem from these two loves and evils therefore become objects of our love, it follows that thinking and intending evil is our earthly freedom. It also follows that when we support these intentions with reasons, we are acting in our freedom and in accord with our reason. Acting in this way is acting from the ability we call “freedom,” and supporting the actions is from the ability we call “rationality.”

For example, it is from the love we are born into that we want to commit adultery, cheat, blaspheme, and get even; and when we rationalize these evils inwardly and thereby make them legal, then we are thinking and intending them because of the pleasure of the love we have for them and in accord with a kind of reason; and to the extent that civil laws do not prevent it, we speak out and act out. We can behave like this because of divine providence, since we do have that latitude or freedom. We enjoy the latitude naturally because we get it through heredity, and we actively enjoy this latitude whenever we rationalize it because of the pleasure inherent in our love for ourselves and for the world.

Rational freedom comes from a love for our own reputation, either for the sake of respect or for the sake of profit. This love finds its pleasure in putting on the outward appearance of moral character; and because we love this kind of reputation, we do not cheat, commit adultery, take vengeance, or blaspheme. Since this is the substance of our reasoning, we are also doing what is honest, fair, chaste, and cordial in freedom and according to reason. In fact, we can even talk rationally in favor of these virtues.

However, if our rational activity is only earthly and not spiritual, this is only an external freedom and not an internal one. We still do not love these virtues inwardly, only outwardly, for the sake of our reputation, as just noted. This means that the good things we do are not really good. We might be saying that they are to be done for the sake of the public good, but we are not saying this because of any love for the public good, only because of our love for our own reputation or for profit. Consequently, this freedom of ours has nothing of love for the public good in it, and neither does our reasoning, since this simply agrees with our love. As a result, this “rational freedom” is inwardly an earthly freedom. It too is left to us by divine providence.

Spiritual freedom comes from a love for eternal life. The only people who arrive at this love and its pleasure are people who think that evils are sins and therefore do not want to do them, and who at the same time turn toward the Lord. The moment we do this, we are in spiritual freedom, because it is only from an inner or higher freedom that we can stop intending evils because they are sins and therefore not do them. This kind of freedom comes from an inner or higher love.

At first, it does not seem like freedom, but it is, nevertheless. Later it does seem that way, and then we act from real freedom and in accord with real rationality by thinking and intending and saying and doing what is good and true.

This freedom grows stronger as our earthly freedom wanes and becomes subservient; it unites itself with rational freedom and purifies it.

We can all arrive at this kind of freedom if we are just willing to think that there is an eternal life and that the temporary pleasure and bliss of life in time is like a passing shadow compared to the eternal pleasure and bliss of life in eternity. We can think this way if we want to, because we do have rationality and liberty, and because the Lord, who is the source of these two abilities, constantly gives us the power to do so.

from Divine Providence, Section 73

Notes:

Divine Love and Wisdom:

Sections 264-270: Published 9/1/2022-9/7/2022

Divine Providence:

Sections 43-44: Published 4/16/2022-4/17/2022

It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Act in Freedom and in Accord with Reason (Continued)

However, since not many people know that this law can be a law of divine providence (primarily because in spite of the fact that divine providence is constantly leading us to think and intend what is good and true, we have a freedom to consider what is evil and false), I need to proceed clearly, step by step, so that this will be grasped. The sequence will be as follows:

1. We have a capacity for disciplined thought and a certain latitude, or rationality and freedom, and these two abilities are in us as gifts from the Lord.

2. Whatever we do from our freedom, whether we have thought it through rationally or not, seems to be ours as long as it is in accord with our reason.

3. Whatever we have done from our freedom in accord with our thinking becomes a permanent part of us.

4. It is by means of these two abilities that the Lord reforms and regenerates us; without them we could not be reformed and regenerated.

5. We can be reformed and regenerated by means of these two abilities to the extent that we are brought to a realization that anything good and true that we think and do comes from the Lord and not from us.

6. The Lord’s union with us and our responsive union with the Lord comes about by means of these two abilities.

7. Through the whole course of his divine providence, the Lord protects these two abilities untouched within us, as though they were sacred.

8. This is why it is integral to divine providence that we act from freedom, and in accord with reason.

from Divine Providence, Section 72

It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Act in Freedom and in Accord with Reason

It is generally recognized that we have a freedom to think and intend whatever we wish but not a freedom to say whatever we think or to do whatever we wish.

The freedom under discussion here, then, is freedom on the spiritual level and not freedom on the earthly level, except to the extent that the two coincide. Thinking and intending are spiritual, while speaking and acting are earthly. There is a clear distinction between these kinds of freedom in us, since we can think things that we do not express and intend things that we do not act out; so we can see that the spiritual and the earthly in us are differentiated. As a result, we cannot cross the line from one to the other except by making a decision, a decision that can be compared to a door that has first to be unlocked and opened.

This door stands open, though, in people who think and intend rationally, in accord with the civil laws of the state and the moral laws of society. People like this say what they think and do what they wish. In contrast, the door is closed, so to speak, for people who think and intend things that are contrary to those laws. If we pay close attention to our intentions and the deeds they prompt, we will notice that there is this kind of decision between them, sometimes several times in a single conversation or a single undertaking.

I mention this at the outset so that the reader may know that “acting from freedom and in accord with reason” means thinking and intending freely, and then freely saying and doing what is in accord with reason.

from Divine Providence, Section 71

There Are Laws of Divine Providence That People Do Not Know

The existence of divine providence is generally recognized, but people do not know its nature. The reason the nature of divine providence is a mystery is that its laws have been hidden up to now, stored up in the wisdom of angels; but now they are to be revealed so that the Lord may receive the credit he deserves and we may stop claiming credit for what is not ours. Many people in this world attribute everything to themselves and to their own prudence, and anything they cannot claim in this way they attribute to chance or coincidence. They do not realize that human prudence is nothing and that “chance” and “coincidence” are empty words.

I have stated that the laws of divine providence are hidden and have been stored up in the wisdom of angels until now. This is because discernment in divine matters has been closed in the Christian world because of our religion. This has made our discernment so dull and stubborn that we cannot understand anything about divine providence except that it exists, because we do not want to—or we do not want to understand because we cannot. All we can do is argue about whether it is real or not and whether it is only general or whether it deals with details. That is as far as a mind can go once it has been closed in divine matters because of its religion.

However, since it is acknowledged in the church that on our own we cannot do anything that is really good or think anything that is really true, and since these facts are integral to divine providence, believing in the one depends on believing in the other. To prevent one of these principles being affirmed and the other denied, which leads to the collapse of both, it is absolutely necessary, then, that the nature of divine providence be revealed.

This cannot be revealed unless the laws are unveiled by which the Lord provides and oversees our emotional and mental processes. These laws enable us to know the nature of providence, and people who know its nature cannot help but acknowledge it, because they actually see it. This is why it is now time for the laws of divine providence to be revealed that have been stored away in the wisdom of angels until the present.

from Divine Providence, Section 70

The World or Planet Mercury, and Its Spirits and Inhabitants (Continued)

Since they travel around the universe and are therefore in a position to know more than others about the solar systems and planets outside our own, I talked with them about this as well. They said that there were a great many planets in the universe with people on them. It bewildered them that some people (people they described as not having much sense) thought that the heaven of an omnipotent God could be made up of spirits and angels who came from one planet only, when in comparison with the omnipotence of God these were so few that they would amount to virtually nothing. In fact, this would be the case even if there were millions of solar systems and millions of planets.

They went on to say that they knew many hundreds of thousands of [inhabited] planets in the universe—but still, what was that compared to the Divine, which is infinite?

from Other Planets (New Century Edition), Section 26

The World or Planet Mercury, and Its Spirits and Inhabitants (Continued)

The spirits from that planet travel in regiments in tight formation, and when they gather they form a kind of sphere. They are joined together by the Lord so closely that they act as one being; what each individual knows is communicated to all and what all know is communicated to each individual, just as happens in heaven. How I learned that they travel throughout the universe to gather new knowledge was that on one occasion, when I saw them already at a fair distance from me, they communicated with me and said that they were now gathered together and were about to leave the region of this solar system to go out among the stars, where they knew there were people who had no concern for earthly, physical matters but only for matters on a higher level. These were people they wanted to be with.

They said that they themselves did not know where they were going but that they were being taken under the Lord’s supervision to a place where they could be taught things which they did not yet know, but which fit well with the knowledge they already had. They also said that they did not know how they had found the friends they were already connected to, but that this too had happened under the Lord’s supervision.

from Other Planets (New Century Edition), Section 25

The World or Planet Mercury, and Its Spirits and Inhabitants (Continued)

Spirits of the planet Mercury do not stay in one place, or linger among the communities of spirits from one world, but roam throughout the universe. This is because they relate to our conceptual memory, and this memory needs constant enrichment; so they are allowed to roam around and acquire knowledge for themselves everywhere. If in the course of their travels, though, they run across spirits who love material things—things that are bodily and earthly—they avoid them and go somewhere else where they do not hear about things like that.

This shows that their minds are elevated above what is sensory and that they are therefore in a more inward light. I was actually able to perceive this when they were near me and communicating with me: I noticed at such times that I was being so drawn away from what is sensory that even the light I was seeing with my eyes became weak and dim.

from Other Planets (New Century Edition), Section 24

The World or Planet Mercury, and Its Spirits and Inhabitants (Continued)

There was a spirit from another planet who was able to communicate with them quite skillfully because he could talk fluently and rapidly, but who adopted an air of elegance in what he said. In an instant they passed judgment on what he was saying. This one point of his, they said, was expressed too elegantly; that other point, too cleverly. All they were looking for was whether he was telling them anything they did not already know.

They had no use for things that as far as they are concerned cloud the issue, which are mainly pretensions to eloquence and erudition, because these hide the true message and substitute mere words, which are only matter-based forms for conveying underlying realities. The speaker keeps the mind focused on the words and wants the words rather than their meaning to be heard, so what is affected is the hearing of the other more than the mind.

from Other Planets (New Century Edition), Section 23

The World or Planet Mercury, and Its Spirits and Inhabitants (Continued)

On another occasion I saw a large group of the same kind of spirits, but at some distance from me—in front and a little to the right. They communicated with me from there, but had to use other spirits as intermediaries to do so, because their speech is as quick as thought and is not expressible in normal human language except through the mediation of other spirits. To my surprise, they all spoke together as a group, and yet their communication was extremely fast and well timed. Because many were talking at once, I experienced their speech as coming in waves. It was also striking that even though they were to my right, their communication seemed to glide toward my left eye. This was because the left eye corresponds to concepts that are separate from matter; the left eye, then, has to do with intelligence, while the right eye has to do with wisdom.

They grasped and evaluated what they heard with the same quickness with which they spoke, saying, “Yes, that’s right” or “No, that’s not correct.” They made up their minds almost instantly.

from Other Planets (New Century Edition), Section 22