Heaven and Heavenly 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


Previously Cited: 5/28/2016

Heaven and Heavenly 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 [Section 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 Heavenly 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


Previously Cited: 5/26/2016

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


Previously Cited: 5/25/2016

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


Previously Cited: 5/24/2016

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

Notes: Previously Cited: 5/23/2016

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


Previously Cited: 5/22/2016

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

The opinion of some is that a life of leisure and being waited on by others constitutes heaven. To these I said that happiness never consists in seeking satisfaction directly from doing nothing. If it did, we would inevitably want to take others’ happiness for our own, and if everyone did, no one would be happy. Such a life would not be active but idle, resulting in sluggishness—when as anyone can see life holds no joy unless it is active.

Angelic life consists in usefulness and acts of neighborly kindness. Nothing makes angels happier than giving information to spirits newly arrived from the world and teaching them; serving people on earth, making sure that the evil spirits present with them do not go too far, and inspiring them with good; and reviving the dead as they enter eternal life, eventually taking them to heaven, if the condition of their souls allows it.

Angels find more happiness in these activities than could ever be described. In performing them they become images of the Lord. In performing them they love their neighbor more than themselves. This makes heaven. Usefulness (that is, the good that comes of love and charity) is accordingly the substance, the source, and the measure of the angels’ happiness.

When I had finished saying these things, the spirits who thought heavenly joy consisted in relaxing and idly breathing the air of eternal ecstasy were given the opportunity to perceive what such a life would be like. The idea was to embarrass them out of it. They saw that such a life was utterly depressing and that in short order, when inactivity had destroyed all their joy, they would grow sick and tired of it.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 454


Previously Cited: 5/21/2016

Heaven and Heavenly Joy (Continued)

One man who had been more influential than others during bodily life retained his desire for power in the other life. I told him that he was in another realm—an eternal one—and that the power he had exercised on earth was dead. “Here,” I said, “the only standard by which people are evaluated is the amount of goodness and truth and of the Lord’s mercy they possess.

“The situation in this realm,” I added, “is just like that on earth, where people acquire status only through wealth or through favor with the head of state. Wealth in this kingdom is goodness and truth, and the ruler’s good favor is the Lord’s mercy. If you want any other kind of influence, you’re a rebel, because you are in Another’s realm.”On hearing these things, the man burned with shame.

I spoke with some spirits who thought heaven and heavenly joy consisted in being greatest. But I told them that the greatest in heaven is the one who is least. Whoever wants to be least has the greatest happiness. Since the person with the greatest happiness is the person who is least, it follows that such a person is the greatest. What is being greatest if not being happiest?  Happiness is what the powerful seek in power and what the rich seek in riches.

I added that heaven does not consist in the desire to be least for the purpose of being greatest, because then the hope and longing is to be greatest. Heaven is wishing better for others than for ourselves with all our heart and serving others for the sake of their own happiness, not for any selfish goal but for love.

Some have such a simplistic idea of heaven that they think it is just a matter of being let in. They even picture it as a room with a door. The door will open and the doorkeepers there will announce their arrival.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 451-453


Previously Cited: 5/20/2016

Heaven and Heavenly Joy

No one yet realizes what heaven and heavenly joy are. Those who have considered either subject have formed such a crude, generalized picture that it is hardly any picture at all.

Spirits who have only recently come into the next life from the world have allowed me to see with perfect clarity what idea of heaven and heavenly joy they had formed. When left to their own devices as if they were still in the world, you see, they think the same way they did there. Let me offer just a few examples.

Some, who in the world had seemed more enlightened concerning the Word than others, had latched onto such a false conception of heaven that they thought they could go to heaven just by going up. They imagined that from their height they would be able to govern everything below, so they thought they would be allowed to bask in self-glorification and in their superiority over others.

In order for them to see the error of their thinking, they were raised up on high—such being their fantasy—and were permitted some governance over things below. But they found to their shame that this heaven was an illusion. They discovered that heaven does not consist in altitude but exists wherever people have love and charity (or the Lord’s kingdom) inside them, and that it does not involve the desire to be superior to others. The wish to be greater than others is not heaven but hell.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 449, 450


Previously Cited: 5/19/2016