Among trees and all other members of the plant kingdom there are not two sexes—masculine and feminine. There is just one sex, which is masculine. The ground or earth alone is a mother to them all, and is therefore like a woman. The ground receives the seeds of plants of all kinds. It opens those seeds, carries them as in a womb, nourishes them, and gives birth to them—that is, brings them forth into daylight. Afterward it clothes them and sustains them.

Once the seed has opened in the earth, it first develops a root, which is like a heart. From the root it sends out sap, which is like blood. By so doing it makes a kind of body complete with limbs: the body is the trunk; its limbs are the branches and twigs. The leaves that the plant unfurls immediately after its birth play the role of the lungs. Just as the heart cannot produce motion or sensation without the help of the lungs, but with their help brings us to life, the root cannot develop into a tree or a plant without the help of the leaves. The flowers, which are the first steps toward fruit, are a means of refining the sap (the “blood” of the plant) by separating the purer elements from elements that are impure, and then forming a new stem to allow the purer elements to flow into the center of the flowers. The purified sap then flows through this stem and begins to construct and then mature the fruit. The fruit is like a testicle; the seeds mature within it.

The plant soul (or to put it another way, the plant’s prolific essence), which is dominant at the inmost level within every drop of sap, comes from no other source than the heat of the spiritual world. Because this heat originates in the spiritual sun, its constant goal is to generate [new life] and therefore ensure that creation continues. Because this heat has the generation of new people as its essential aim, therefore whatever it generates bears some resemblance to humankind.

In case you are surprised by my saying that all the inhabitants of the plant kingdom are masculine and that only the earth or the ground plays the role of woman or mother to all, I will use the illustration of a similar situation among bees. According to Swammerdam’s eyewitness account, as presented in his Book of Nature, there is only one common mother who produces all the offspring within a whole hive. If these little creatures have but one common mother, why should that not be the case with all plants?

The idea that the earth is a mother to all can also be illustrated spiritually. The “earth” in the Word means the church, and the church is a mother to all, and is even called that in the Word [Galatians 4:26]. For evidence that earth means the church, see the discussion of this word in Revelation Unveiled Sections 285, 902.

The reason why the earth or ground is able to infiltrate the center of a seed, including its prolific material, and bring this out and circulate it, is that every little grain of dirt or pollen exudes from its essence a subtle emanation, which penetrates the seed. This infiltration is a result of the active force of the heat from the spiritual world.

We can be regenerated only gradually. Each and every thing that exists in the physical world serves as an illustration of this fact. A seedling does not grow up into a mature tree in a single day. First there is a seed, then a root, then a shoot, which develops into a trunk; then branches come out of that and develop leaves and finally flowers and fruit. Wheat and barley do not spring up ready for harvest in a single day. A home is not built in a single day. We do not become full grown in a single day; reaching wisdom takes us even longer. The church is not established—let alone perfected—in a single day. We will make no progress toward a goal unless we first make a start.

People who have a different conception than this of regeneration know nothing about goodwill or faith, or how each of these qualities grows as we cooperate with the Lord. All this makes clear that regeneration progresses analogously to the way we are conceived, carried in the womb, born, and brought up.

from Regeneration, Pages 56-58


Many similar passages occur elsewhere.

Since physical birth in the Word symbolizes spiritual birth, and spiritual birth comes from the Lord, he is called our Maker and the one who delivered us from the womb, as is clear from the following passages.

Jehovah, who made you and formed you in the womb . . . (Isaiah 44:2)

You delivered me from the womb. (Psalms 22:9)

On you I was laid from the womb. You delivered me from my mother’s belly. (Psalms 71:6)

Listen to me, you whom I carried from the womb, whom I bore from the womb. (Isaiah 46:3)

There are other such passages as well.

This is why the Lord is called the Father, as in Isaiah 9:6; 63:16; John 10:30; 14:8, 9. This is why people who have received things that are good and true from the Lord are called “children of God” and “those who are born of God,” and why they are said to be siblings to each other (Matthew 23:8). This is also why the church is referred to as a mother (Hosea 2:2, 5; Ezekiel 16:45).

The above points make it clear that there is a correspondence between physical birth and spiritual birth. Because there is this correspondence, it follows that not only can we speak of this new birth as including stages of being conceived, being carried in the womb, being born, and being brought up, but those stages of our rebirth are actually real. What exactly the stages are, however, will be presented in proper sequence as this chapter on regeneration unfolds.

Here I will just mention that human seed is conceived inwardly within the understanding and takes shape within the will. From there it is transferred into the testicles, where it wraps itself in an earthly covering. Then it is delivered to the womb and finally enters the world.

There is also a correspondence between human regeneration and every aspect of the plant kingdom. This is why the Word portrays us as trees, the truth we have as seed, and the goodness we have as fruit.

A bad species of tree can be born anew, so to speak, and afterward bear good fruit and good seed; this is clear from grafting. Even though the bad sap rises from the root through the stem all the way to the point where the graft was made, it nevertheless turns into good sap and makes the tree good. A similar thing happens with people who are grafted onto the Lord, as he teaches with the following words: I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who live in me and I in them bear much fruit. If any do not live in me, they are cast out as branches. Once dried they are thrown into the fire. (John 15:5, 6)

Many scholars have pointed out the parallels between human reproduction and the reproduction not just of trees but of all plants. I will add something on the subject here to wrap up this discussion.

from Regeneration, Pages 55, 56


For human beings, there is a constant correspondence between the stages a person goes through physically and the stages a person goes through spiritually, or developments in the body and developments in the spirit. The reason is that at the level of our souls we are born spiritual, but we are clothed with earthly material that constitutes our physical body. When our physical body is laid aside, our soul, which has its own spiritual body, enters a world in which all things are spiritual. There we associate with other spiritual beings like ourselves.

Our spiritual body has to be formed within our physical body. The spiritual body is made out of truth and goodness that flow into us from the Lord through the spiritual world. We find a home within ourselves for that goodness and truth in things that parallel them in the physical world, which are called civic and moral forms of goodness and truth. This makes clear, then, the nature of the process that forms our spiritual body.

Since there is a constant correspondence within human beings between the stages we go through physically and the stages we go through spiritually, it follows that we go through something analogous to being conceived, carried in the womb, born, and brought up.

This explains why the statements in the Word that relate to physical birth symbolize aspects of our spiritual birth that have to do with goodness and truth. In fact, every earthly reference in the literal sense of the Word embodies, contains, and symbolizes something spiritual.

The earthly references to birth in the Word inwardly refer to our spiritual birth, as anyone can see from the following passages:

We have conceived; we have gone into labor. We appeared to give birth, yet we have not accomplished salvation. (Isaiah 26:18)

You are having birth pangs, O earth, in the presence of the Lord. (Psalms 114:7)

Will the earth give birth in a single day? Will I break [waters] but not cause delivery? Will I cause delivery and then close [the womb]? (Isaiah 66:7–9)

Pains like those of a woman in labor will come upon Ephraim. He is an unwise son, because he does not remain long in the womb for children. (Hosea 13:12, 13)

from Regeneration, Pages 53, 54


The notion that we are regenerated as a consequence of simply having the faith that is preached by the church of today—a faith that involves no cooperation on our part—is the height of foolishness.

The kind of action and cooperation just described is visible in action and movement of all types. The interaction between the heart and all its arteries is an example. The heart acts and the arteries use their sheaths and linings to cooperate; this results in circulation. A similar thing happens with the lungs. The air pressure, which depends on the height of the atmosphere above it, acts upon the lungs; the lungs work the ribs, which is immediately followed by the ribs working the lungs. This breathing motion affects every membrane in the body. The meninges of the brain, the pleura, the peritoneum, the diaphragm, and all the other membranes that cover the internal organs and inwardly hold them together, act and react and cooperate in this way, because they are flexible. Together these movements provide for our continued existence.

A similar thing happens in every fiber and nerve and in every muscle. In fact it even occurs in every piece of cartilage. It is well documented that in each of these there is an [initiating] action and then a cooperation.

Such cooperation also exists in all our bodily senses. Just like the motor organs, the sensory organs consist of fibers, membranes, and muscles; but there is no need to describe the cooperation of each one. It is well known that light acts upon the eye, sound upon the ear, odor upon the nose, taste upon the tongue; and that the organs adapt themselves to that input, which results in sensation.

Surely everyone can see from these examples that thought and will could not exist unless there was a similar action and cooperation between life as it inflows and the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. Life flows from the Lord into that organic structure. Because the organic structure cooperates, it perceives what it is thinking. Likewise it perceives what is under consideration there, what conclusion is formed, and what action it has decided to take. If the life force alone took action but we did not cooperate (seemingly on our own), our ability to think would not exceed a log’s. We would have no more thought than a church building does when a minister is preaching; the church can indeed feel the reverberation of sound coming through the double doors as an echo, but it cannot appreciate anything about the sermon. We would be no different if we did not cooperate with the Lord in developing goodwill and faith.

What we would be like if we did not cooperate with the Lord can be further illustrated with the following comparisons. If we perceived or sensed anything spiritual related to heaven or the church, it would strike us as something hostile or disagreeable flowing in, the way our nose would react to a rotten smell, our ear would react to a dissonant sound, our eye would react to a hideous sight, or our tongue would react to something disgusting.

If the delight associated with goodwill and the enjoyment associated with faith were to flow into the spiritual organic structure of the mind of people who take delight in evil and falsity, such people would feel terrible pain and torment until they eventually collapsed in unconsciousness. The spiritual organic structure consists of long strands in helixes; under that circumstance in people of that type, it would wrap itself in coils and would be tormented like a snake on a swarm of ants. The truth of this has been fully demonstrated to me in the spiritual world through an abundance of experiences. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 52, 53


The sections on goodwill and faith have already shown that the Lord carries out the process of regenerating us by means of goodwill and faith. . . . Both of these things, goodwill and faith, I call means because they forge our partnership with the Lord. Together they ensure that our goodwill is real goodwill and that our faith is real faith. The process of our regeneration cannot occur without our having some part to play in it.

In preceding chapters, our cooperation with the Lord has come up several times; it will be illustrated again here, however, because the human mind is by nature unable to rid itself of the sensation that it carries out this process under its own power.

In every motion and every action there is an element that is active and another element that is responsive. The active element acts, and then the responsive element acts in response. As a result, a single action comes forth from the two elements. A mill is activated in this manner by a waterwheel; a carriage by a horse; a motion by a force; an effect by a cause; a dead force by a living force; and in general an instrumental cause by a principal cause. Everyone knows that each pair together completes a single action.

In the case of goodwill and faith, the Lord acts, and we act in response. There is an activity of the Lord that prompts our human response. The power to do good things comes from the Lord. As a result, there is a will to act that seems to be our own, because we have free choice. Either we can take action together with the Lord and by doing so, form a partnership with him; or else we can take action drawing on the power of hell, which is outside the Lord, and by doing so, separate ourselves from him. Actions of ours that are in harmony with the Lord’s actions are what I mean here by “cooperation.” To make this even clearer, it will be illustrated with comparisons below.

It follows from this that the Lord is constantly active in regenerating us. He is constantly active in saving us, and no one can be saved without being regenerated, as the Lord himself says in John:

“Those who are not born again cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5, 6).

Regeneration is therefore the means of being saved; and goodwill and faith are the means of being regenerated.

from Regeneration, Pages 50, 51


Now that repentance has been treated, the next topic in order is our reformation and regeneration. These two both follow our repentance and are moved forward by it.

There are two states that we all inevitably enter into and go through if we are to turn from an earthly person into a spiritual person. The first state is called reformation; the second is called regeneration. In the first state we look from our earthly self toward having a spiritual self; being spiritual is what we long for. In the second state we become someone who is both spiritual and earthly. The first state is brought about by truths (these have to be truths related to faith); through these truths we aim to develop goodwill. The second state is brought about by good actions that come from goodwill; through these actions we come [more deeply] into truths related to faith.

To put it another way, the first state is a state of thought that occurs in our understanding; the second state is a state of love that occurs in our will. As the second state begins and progresses, a change takes place in our minds. There is a reversal, because then the love in our will flows into our understanding and leads and drives it to think in agreement and harmony with what we love. As good actions that come from love take on a primary role, and the truths related to faith are relegated to a secondary role, we become spiritual and are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15]. Then our actions come from goodwill and our words come from faith; we develop a sense of the goodness that comes from goodwill and a perception of the truth that is related to faith; and we are in the Lord and in a state of peace. In brief, we are reborn.

If we begin the first state while we are in this world, we can be brought into the second state after we die. If we do not begin the first state while we are in this world, we cannot be brought into the second state or be reborn after we die.

These two states can be compared to the increase of light and heat that occurs as the day progresses in springtime. The first state is like the early light before dawn, when the rooster crows. The second state is like the dawn and the morning. The further development within the second state is like the increase of light and heat as the day progresses toward noon.

These two states can also be compared to the growth of grain crops. In the first stage they are like grass; after that they develop ears or fruiting spikes; and finally the grain itself grows within those structures.

These two states can also be compared to the growth of a tree. It begins as a sprout growing out of a seed in the ground. This then becomes a shoot. Then branches form and are adorned with leaves. Then the tree blossoms and fruit begins to grow in the heart of the flowers. As the fruit grows and develops, it produces new seeds, which are in effect the tree’s offspring.

The first state, the state of reformation, can be compared to the state of a silkworm when it draws silky threads out of itself and wraps itself in them. After all its hard work [of transformation], it becomes able to fly in the air and feeds no longer on leaves as before but on the nectar of flowers. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 49, 50


The Word in the Old Testament contains secrets of heaven, and every single aspect of it has to do with the Lord, his heaven, the church, faith, and all the tenets of faith; but not a single person sees this in the letter. In the letter, or literal meaning, people see only that it deals for the most part with the external facts of the Jewish religion.

The truth is, however, that every part of the Old Testament holds an inner message. Except at a very few points, those inner depths never show on the surface. The exceptions are concepts that the Lord revealed and explained to the apostles, such as the fact that the sacrifices symbolize the Lord, and that the land of Canaan and Jerusalem symbolize heaven (which is why it is called the heavenly Canaan or Jerusalem [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:16; 12:22; Revelation 21:2, 10]), as does Paradise.

The Christian world, though, remains deeply ignorant of the fact that each and every detail down to the smallest—even down to the tiniest jot—enfolds and symbolizes spiritual and heavenly matters; and because it lacks such knowledge, it also lacks much interest in the Old Testament.

Still, Christians can come to a proper understanding if they reflect on a single notion: that since the Word is the Lord’s and comes from him, it could not possibly exist unless it held within it the kinds of things that have to do with heaven, the church, and faith. Otherwise it could not be called the Lord’s Word, nor could it be said to contain any life. Where, after all, does life come from if not from what is living? That is, if not from the fact that every single thing in the Word relates to the Lord, who is truly life itself? Whatever does not look to him at some deeper level, then, is without life; in fact, if a single expression in the Word does not embody or reflect him in its own way, it is not divine.

Without this interior life, the Word in its letter is dead. It resembles a human being, in that a human has an outward self and an inward one, as the Christian world knows. The outer being, separated from the inner, is just a body and so is dead, but the inward being is what lives and allows the outward being to live. The inner being is a person’s soul. In the same way, the letter of the Word by itself is a body without a soul.

The Word’s literal meaning alone, when it monopolizes our thinking, can never provide a view of the inner contents. Take for example this first chapter of Genesis. The literal meaning by itself offers no clue that it is speaking of anything but the world’s creation, the Garden of Eden (Paradise), and Adam, the first human ever created. Who supposes anything else? The wisdom hidden in these details (and never before revealed) will be clear enough from what follows. The inner sense of the first chapter of Genesis deals in general with the process that creates us anew—that is to say, with regeneration—and in particular with the very earliest church; and it does so in such a way that not even the smallest syllable fails to represent, symbolize, and incorporate this meaning.

But without the Lord’s aid not a soul can possibly see that this is the case. As a result, it is proper to reveal in these preliminaries that the Lord in his divine mercy has granted me the opportunity for several years now, without break or interruption, to keep company with spirits and angels, to hear them talking, and to speak with them in turn. Consequently I have been able to see and hear the most amazing things in the other life, which have never before come into people’s awareness or thought. In that world I have been taught about the different kinds of spirits, the situation of souls after death, hell (or the regrettable state of the faithless), and heaven (or the blissful state of the faithful). In particular I have learned what is taught in the faith acknowledged by the whole of heaven.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 1-5

Published on 4/12/2016 and 4/17/2016

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

There is still another reason, beyond the ones already given, why angels can accept so much wisdom, a reason that in heaven is actually the primary one. It is that they are free of any selfishness; for to the extent that people are free of selfishness they can be wise in divine matters. Selfishness is what closes off our deeper natures from the Lord and heaven and opens our outer natures and turns them toward ourselves. So all people in whom that selfish love predominates are in the depths of darkness as far as heavenly realities are concerned, no matter how much light they may enjoy in regard to worldly matters. In contrast, since angels are free of that love, they enjoy the light of wisdom. The heavenly loves in which they are centered—love for the Lord and love for their neighbor—open the deeper levels because these loves come from the Lord and the Lord himself is within them. (These loves constitute heaven in general and form heaven in individuals in particular: Sections 13–19.)

Since heavenly loves open our deeper levels toward the Lord, all the angels turn their faces toward the Lord (Section 142): in the spiritual world love is what turns the deeper levels of every individual toward itself, and what turns the deeper levels turns the face, since the face there acts in unison with the deeper levels and is actually their outward form. Further, because love does turn the deeper levels and the face toward itself, it also unites itself to them, since love is spiritual union. Therefore it also shares what it has with them. It is from this turning and the consequent union and sharing that angels get their wisdom (all union in the spiritual world takes place according to the way people are facing, Section 255).

Angels are constantly being perfected in wisdom, but still they cannot to eternity be so perfected that there is any ratio between their wisdom and the Lord’s divine wisdom. For the Lord’s divine wisdom is infinite and the angels’ is finite, and there is no ratio between the infinite and the finite.

Since wisdom perfects angels and makes their life, and since heaven with its blessings flows into individuals according to their wisdom, all the people there long for it and seek it, much the way a hungry person seeks food. In fact, information, intelligence, and wisdom are spiritual nourishment the way food is natural nourishment. They correspond to each other.

The angels in any given heaven—even the angels in any given community—do not enjoy the same wisdom, but differ. Those in the center have the most wisdom, while those who have less are around them all the way to the borders. The decrease of wisdom according to the distance from the center is like the decrease in light as it tends toward darkness (see Sections 43, 128). Further, the light for them is on a consistent level, since heaven’s light is divine wisdom and each individual is in light in proportion to his or her acceptance of it. (On heaven’s light and the different ways it is accepted, see Sections 126–132.)

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 272-275

Section 142: See 7/9/2017
Section 255: See 3/2/2017
Section 43: See 5/7/2017
Sections 126-132: See 11/22/2016-11/27/2016

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

The reason angels of the third heaven are like this is that they are centered in love for the Lord, and that love opens the deeper levels of the mind to the third level and is open to and retentive of all wisdom. It should also be known that angels of the inmost heaven are constantly being even more perfected in wisdom and that this too happens differently than for angels of the outmost heaven. Angels of the inmost heaven do not store up divine truths in their memory or translate them into information. Rather, as soon as they hear them, they grasp them and apply them to their lives. This is why divine truths for them are virtually engraved, because anything that is committed to life is to that extent internalized. It is different, though, for angels of the outmost heaven. They first assign divine truths to their memory and store them in the form of information. Then they retrieve them and use them to perfect their understanding; and without any deeper grasp of their truth, they intend them and commit them to life. Consequently, things are relatively cloudy for them.

It is worth noting that angels of the third heaven are perfected in wisdom through hearing rather than through seeing. What they hear through preaching does not go into their memory but directly into their perception and intention and becomes a matter of their life. What they see with their eyes, though, does go into their memory, and they think and talk about it. This has enabled me to see that the path of hearing is the path of wisdom for them. This too is because of correspondence, since the ear corresponds to obedience, and obedience has to do with the way we live; while the eye corresponds to intelligence, and intelligence is a matter of doctrine. The state of these angels is described in many places in the Word; for instance in Jeremiah:

I will put my law in their mind and write it on their heart. No longer will anyone teach a friend or a brother by saying “Know the Lord,” for all the people there are will know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. (Jeremiah 31:33–34)

And in Matthew,

Let your conversation be “Yes, yes; no, no,” for anything beyond this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:36″ [5:37])

The reason anything beyond this comes from evil is that it is not from the Lord; for the truths that are resident within angels of the third heaven are from the Lord because they are centered in a love for him. Love for the Lord in that heaven is intending and doing divine truth, for divine truth is the Lord in heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 271

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

I need now to say something about the wisdom of the angels of the third or inmost heaven, and about how much it surpasses the wisdom of the first or outmost heaven.

The wisdom of angels of the third or inmost heaven is beyond comprehension, even for angels of the first or outmost heaven. This is because the inner natures of angels of the third heaven are opened at the third level, while those of angels of the first heaven are open only at the first level; and all wisdom increases as you move toward the deeper levels and is perfected as they are opened (Sections 208, 267).

Since the inner levels of angels of the third heaven are opened at the third level, they have divine truths virtually engraved on them, for inner matters at the third level are more in heaven’s form than those at the second and first level. Heaven’s form arises from divine truth and therefore is in agreement with divine wisdom. This is why divine truths seem to these angels to be engraved, or to be instinctive and innate. Because of this, as soon as they hear genuine divine truths, they immediately acknowledge and grasp them and from then on virtually see them within themselves. Because this is characteristic of angels of this heaven, they never try to figure out divine truths, much less argue whether some particular truth is true or not. They do not know what it is to believe or have faith, but say, “What is faith? I perceive and see that this is so.” They offer a comparison by way of illustration. It would be like someone seeing a house and various things in and around it and telling someone with him that he ought to believe that they existed and that they were what they seemed to be. Or it would be like someone seeing a garden with trees and fruit in it and telling someone that she should have faith that it was a garden and that those were trees and fruit when she could see them plainly with her own eyes. So these angels never call “faith” by name and in fact have no concept of it. This is why they do not try to figure out divine truths, much less argue whether any particular truth is true or not.

In contrast, angels of the first or outmost heaven do not have divine truths engraved on their inner natures in this way because for them only the first level of life has been opened. So they do try to figure things out, and people who are calculating in this way see little more than the subject they are puzzling over. They do not go beyond that subject except to find support for their conclusions, and once they have decided, they say that these should be matters of faith and are to be believed.

I have talked about this with angels, who have told me that the difference between the wisdom of angels of the third heaven and the wisdom of angels of the first heaven is like the difference between something bright and something dark. Or again, they have compared the wisdom of angels of the third heaven to a palace full of everything useful, surrounded far and wide by parklands, with all sorts of splendid things beyond. Since these angels enjoy truths of wisdom, they can enter the palace and see everything there. They can stroll anywhere in the parks and enjoy whatever they see. It is different for people who are trying to figure things out, though, and even more so for people who argue about them. These individuals do not see truths in the light of truth, but adopt them either from other people or from the literal meaning of the Word, which they do not understand in depth. So they say that truths must be believed or that people must have faith in things—things that they then do not want anyone looking into very deeply. The angels kept saying that these people could not get to the first threshold of the palace, much less enter it and stroll around in its parks, because they are stuck at the first step. It is different for people who are engaged in actual truths. Nothing keeps them from moving ahead without limit; for once truths have been seen they lead on wherever they are headed, even into spacious meadows, because every truth has an infinite outreach and is united to many, many others.

They also said that the wisdom of angels of the inmost heaven consists primarily of their seeing divine and heavenly things in individual objects and wonders in series of objects, for everything that appears to their eyes has a correspondence. When they see palaces and gardens, for instance, their insight does not dwell on the things in front of their eyes but sees the deeper things they stem from, the things, that is, to which they correspond. This goes on with constant variety in keeping with the appearance of the objects; so at any given time there are countless things in a pattern and a connectedness so delightful to their minds that they seem to be transported. (Everything that is visible in the heavens corresponds to something divine that is from the Lord in angels, see Sections 170–176.)

from Heaven and Hell, Section 270


Section 267: See 10/20/2017
Sections 170- 176: See 12/12/2016-12/15/2016