Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

The following experience was to teach me what happens with people who are eager to enter heaven but are not of a type that can stay there.

Once while I was in a community in heaven, an angel appeared to me as a little child wearing a wreath of dazzling sky-blue flowers on its head and garlands of other colors circling its chest. From this sign I was able to recognize that I was in a particular community where charity existed. Then into the same community came some upstanding spirits who on entering suddenly became much more intelligent and started talking like angelic spirits.

Next to be admitted was a group of people who claimed to be innocent on their own merits. Their condition was represented to me by a baby spitting up milk. That is what such people are like.

Afterward came people who supposed that their own good thinking made them intelligent. Their condition was represented in their faces, which were angular but reasonably attractive. They appeared wearing pointed hats with a protruding spike. Still, their faces did not seem to be made of human flesh but looked like lifeless sculptures. This is the condition of those who believe that they can make themselves spiritual or acquire faith on their own.

Other spirits were allowed in who were unable to stay there. Overwhelmed with dismay and anxiety, they fled the place.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 546

Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

In order to teach me about the existence and nature of heaven and heavenly joy, the Lord has given me the opportunity to perceive the pleasures of heavenly joy frequently and for extended periods. Because I have learned these things by actually experiencing them, I possess the knowledge but cannot possibly put it into words.

To offer just an idea of it: The countless pleasures and joys there, which come together to create a single experience shared by all, carry with them a certain emotion. Within that common experience, or that common emotion, are points of harmony among a boundless number of feelings. These individual points of harmony do not come clearly but only vaguely to our awareness, because our perception is extremely generalized. Even so, I was allowed to perceive that there were countless parts, organized in a way that can never be described. Those countless parts flow from the order that exists in heaven, which determines their nature.

The smallest individual elements of an emotion are organized in such a way that they are presented and sensed only as a collective whole, according to the capacities of the person who feels the emotion. In a word, every whole has an unlimited number of parts, organized in the most perfect way; every one of the parts is alive; and every one of them affects us, all the way to our inmost recesses. For the inmost recesses are where heavenly joy comes from.

I also perceived that joy and pleasure seemed to come from my heart, gently permeating all the inmost fibers of my body and thus all the bundles of fibers. The sensation of this joy at the deepest levels made it seem as though each fiber was composed of nothing but joy and pleasure and all the perceptiveness and sensitivity that come with joy and pleasure. The fibers seemed alive with happiness.

The joy we feel in physical indulgence, compared to these joys, is like a coarse, stinging dust compared to the gentlest breath of pure air.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 545

Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

Once some spirits eager to explore what heavenly joy was like were granted the opportunity to perceive the deepest level of their own joy, up to the point where they could no longer stand it. It was not angelic joy and barely resembled even the least of such joys, as I could tell when their joy was communicated to me. It was so paltry as to seem rather cold. Still, they pronounced it most heavenly, since it was the deepest of their own joys. This experience showed not only that there are different levels but also that the deepest level of one kind barely extends to the shallowest or middle level of another. It demonstrated further that when we gain our most profound joy, we are in our own heavenly joy; we cannot bear any deeper variety, which would only end up turning painful for us.

A group admitted into the innocent state of the first heaven spoke to me from there and confessed that the condition of that heaven was so glad and joyful that it could never be imagined in the least. This was in merely the first heaven. There are three heavens, and each enjoys a state of innocence, with all its countless variations.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 543, 544

Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

Some who had no idea what heavenly joy was were abruptly carried up into heaven. They had been reduced to a condition in which they could be lifted up, their bodily desires and their delusions having been put to sleep. I heard one of them saying to me from there that now for the first time he could feel how much joy there was in heaven. He admitted that he had been grossly deceived, that he had held a very different view, and that he could now perceive the deepest degree of his own joy, which was immeasurably more than he had ever felt at the peak of any sensual experience during his physical existence. He called the pleasures that [he and his companions] usually enjoy foul.

In those who are taken to heaven for the purpose of discovering what it is like, bodily desires and delusions are put to sleep, since no one can enter heaven bringing such things along from the world. Either that or they are surrounded with the aura of spirits who moderate the unclean and discordant things in them in a miraculous way. Some people may have their inner recesses opened. These are some of the methods [of preparation], and there are others, depending on the way people have lived and the character they have acquired along the way.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 541, 542

Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

Almost no one coming into the other life understands what the blessings and happiness of heaven are, since they do not know what deep-seated joy is or what it feels like. They can grasp it only in relation to bodily and worldly kinds of happiness and joy, and whatever they do not know about they consider worthless. Nevertheless, bodily and worldly thrills are relatively worthless and filthy.

In order for those who are honest but ignorant to learn what heavenly joy is and to come to recognize it, they are introduced first into scenes of Paradise that surpass anything they could ever have imagined. (With the Lord’s divine mercy, these scenes will be described further on [§1622]). They suppose they have now entered the heavenly Paradise, but they are taught that this is not the true happiness of heaven.

Next they experience profound states of joy in their deepest core. Afterward they are carried into a state of peace reaching to the same deep level. They confess that nothing about that peace could ever be captured in word or thought. Finally they are brought into a state of innocence that again reaches right to their deepest level of sensation. This allows them to recognize what true good is like on the spiritual and heavenly planes.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 540

Heaven and Heavely Joy (Continued)

Another group with no idea what heaven is like was also making an effort to get in. They were told that unless they possessed a faith inspired by love, entering heaven was as dangerous as walking through fire; but they still insisted. On reaching the “front entryway”—the lower realm of angelic spirits—they received such a blow that they went tearing off in the opposite direction as fast as they could go. From this they learned how much danger there was in merely approaching heaven before the Lord had prepared them to feel the emotions that come with faith.

A certain spirit who in bodily life had considered adultery perfectly harmless was also allowed to cross heaven’s first threshold, since that was what he wanted. On arriving there, he began to suffer and to smell his own corpselike stench. These sensations grew until he could no longer stand them. If he had gone any farther, it seemed to him, he would have been destroyed.

Consequently he was banished from there to the underground realm. He felt angry that crossing heaven’s first threshold meant undergoing such tortures, since he was entering an environment opposed to adultery. He is one of the unfortunate ones.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 538, 539

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

A spirit once latched onto me at my left, asking whether I knew how he could get into heaven. I was permitted to answer that being allowed into heaven was up to the Lord alone, since only he knows what we are like.

A large number of people coming from the world seek nothing more than to enter heaven, not having the least idea what heaven or heavenly joy is. They do not realize that heaven is the sharing of love, or that heavenly joy is the joy this love imparts. Those who do not know are first taught what heaven and its joy are, and one of the ways they learn is through personal experience.

For example, one spirit who himself had recently arrived from the world shared the same desire for heaven [as the first spirit]. To give him a sense of heaven’s nature, his inner recesses were opened up so that he could feel something of heavenly joy, but when he felt it, he started to wail and writhe, begging to be released. He was so distressed that survival was impossible, he said. As a result, his inner reaches were closed off to heaven and he then revived.

This demonstrates how anxiety and the gnawing of conscience torture people who are let in to heaven for just a short time, if they are not right for it.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 537

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

At times evil spirits have conjectured that some heaven other than the Lord’s could exist. They have received permission to look for it wherever they could. To their own chagrin, they have never been able to locate one.

Evil spirits rush headlong into all kinds of craziness, both because they hate the Lord and because hell is so painful, and these are the kinds of fantasies they seize on.

There are three heavens. The first is where good spirits are, the second where angelic spirits are, and the third where actual angels are.

Spirits, angelic spirits, and angels are each as a group divided up into heavenly and spiritual types. The heavenly ones are those whom love has led to receive faith from the Lord, as those who were part of the earliest church did. The spiritual ones are those whom religious knowledge has led to receive a feeling of charity from the Lord and then to act on it.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 458, 459

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

Almost all who come into the next life from the world think that hell is the same for everyone and heaven is the same for everyone, when in reality there are unlimited differences and variations in either case. Hell is never exactly the same for one person as for another, nor is heaven—just as there is never one person, spirit, or angel who is exactly the same as another.

When I merely entertained the thought that there could be two people precisely the same or identical, it aroused horror among those in the world of spirits and among the angels of heaven. “All unity is formed out of harmony among many,” they said. “The way that the many harmonize determines what kind of unity they have. No monolithic unity lasts, only the unity created by harmony. So every community in the heavens forms a single unit, as do all the communities—or the whole of heaven—taken together. The Lord alone makes this happen, and he does so through love.”

One angel calculated only the most general kinds of joy experienced by spirits (in other words, inhabitants of the first heaven) to be around 478. This indicated how countless the less general kinds must be, and how innumerable the specific kinds that make up each general kind. And considering how many kinds there are in that heaven, you can see how unlimited must be the kinds of happiness in the heaven of angelic spirits and how many more yet in the heaven of angels.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 457

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

One of the people reputed most knowledgeable about the Word when he lived in the world had developed an idea of heavenly joy as consisting in a glorious ring of light like the circle of golden rays beaming from the sun. As in the previous example, this dream life of his involved inactivity. To awaken him to his misconception, he was granted this kind of light, and as he stood at its center he felt so much pleasure that, as he himself declared, it was like being in heaven. He could not linger there long, however, because little by little it grew tiresome for him and turned into no joy at all.

Some very well informed people claimed that heavenly joy lay in a life spent not in carrying out the good deeds prompted by charity but only in praising and celebrating the Lord. This life they called an active one. But I said that praising and celebrating the Lord is not an active life of the kind meant but a mere side effect of that life. The Lord has no need of praise but wants us to do the good things that charity calls on us to do. That is the activity that determines how happy the Lord can make us.

Those people, smart as they were, still could not find any promise of joy in the good deeds of charity, only the prospect of servitude. But to do such deeds is actually freeing and brings with it indescribable happiness, as the angels testified.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 455, 456