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


Previously Cited: 10/24/2017

Sections 13-19: Published 11/1/2019-11/4/2019

Section 142: Published 7/9/2017

Section 255: Published 7/22/2019

Section 43: Published 6/7/2019

Sections 126-132: Published 7/2/2019-7/7/2019

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


Previously Cited: 10/23/2017

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angles (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


Previously Cited:10/22/2017

Sections 170-176: Published 12/12/2016-12/15/2016

Section 208: Published 5/3/2019

Section 267: Published 11/26/2019

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

We may gather how great angels’ wisdom is from the fact that in heaven there is a communication that involves everyone. The intelligence and wisdom of one individual is shared with another: heaven is where everyone shares everything of value. This is because the very nature of heavenly love is to want what is one’s own to belong to another; so no one in heaven regards his or her good as authentically good unless it is someone else’s as well. This is also the basis of heaven’s happiness. Angels are led into it by the Lord, whose divine love has this same quality.

I have also been granted knowledge, by experience, of this kind of communication in the heavens. Once some simple people were taken up into heaven, and after they had arrived, they arrived also at an angelic wisdom. They understood things they could not grasp before and said things they could not express in their former state.

Words are not adequate to describe the quality of angels’ wisdom—it can be suggested only by some generalizations. Angels can express in a single word what we cannot express in a thousand words. Further, in a single angelic word there are countless things that are beyond the capacity of human words to convey. In the details of angelic speech there are actually treasures of wisdom in unbroken connection, utterly beyond the reach of human knowledge. Then too, what angels cannot evoke with the words of their language they fill in with the sound, which embodies their sensitivity to the proper arrangement of things; for as already noted (Sections 236, 241), they express their affections through the sounds and the concepts derived from their affections through the words. This is why the things that people have heard in heaven are called ineffable.

Angels can also state completely in a few words the details that are written in a whole volume, giving each word something that raises it toward a deeper wisdom. Their language by nature agrees with their affections, and every word agrees with their concepts. The words actually vary in infinite shadings depending on the way they express in sequence things that are simultaneous in their thought.

The more inward angels can even tell a speaker’s whole life from the tone of voice and a few words. From the way the sound is differentiated by concepts into words, they actually perceive the speaker’s ruling love, in which, so to speak, the very details of life are engraved.

We can see from all this what angels’ wisdom is like. Relative to our wisdom, it is on the order of ten thousands to one. It is like the ratio between the motor energies of the body, which are countless, to some act that results from them, which to our senses seems like a single event. Or it is like the thousands of things we see through a perfect microscope compared to the one fuzzy thing we see with the naked eye.

I should also like to illustrate the matter with one example. An angel, out of his wisdom, described the process of regeneration and presented mysteries about it in their proper sequence, amounting to a hundred. He filled out each single mystery with concepts containing even deeper mysteries, and did this from beginning to end, explaining how the spiritual person is conceived anew; is carried in the womb, so to speak; is born; matures; and is gradually perfected. He said that he could multiply the number of mysteries into the thousands, and that the things he was talking about involved only the regeneration of the outer person.

There were countless more about the regeneration of the inner person. This and other things of the same sort that I have heard from angels have shown me how much wisdom they have and how much ignorance we have by comparison, with hardly any knowledge of what regeneration is and no awareness of a single step when we are being regenerated.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 268-269


Previously Cited: 10/21/2017

Section 236: Published 5/3/2018

Section 241: Published 5/5/2018

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

The reason angels can accept so much wisdom is that their deeper levels are open, and wisdom, like any perfection, increases as one moves toward the deeper levels and as they are opened.

In every angel there are three levels of life corresponding to the three heavens (see Sections 29–40). People whose first level has been opened are in the first or most remote heaven. People whose second level has been opened are in the second or intermediate heaven. People whose third level has been opened are in the third or inmost heaven. The wisdom of angels in heaven is according to these levels; so the wisdom of angels of the third heaven vastly transcends the wisdom of angels of the intermediate heaven, and their wisdom in turn transcends that of angels of the farthest heaven (see above, Sections 209–210, and on the nature of the levels, see Section 38).

The reason for these differences is that the elements of the higher levels are detailed, and those of the lower are general, the general ones being inclusive of the details. The ratio of details to generalizations is on the order of thousands or ten thousands to one, so this is the ratio between the wisdom of angels of a higher heaven and that of angels of a lower heaven.

However, the wisdom of these latter angels similarly transcends our wisdom, for we are engrossed in our bodies and their sensory operations, and these physical sensory faculties are on the lowest level of all. This fact enables us to see the nature of the wisdom of people who base their thinking on sensory information—that is, the ones we call sense-oriented people. Specifically, they have no access to wisdom, only to information. It is different, though, for people whose thoughts are raised above sensory matters, and even more for people whose deeper levels have been opened all the way into heaven’s light.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 267


Sections 29-40: Published 7/1/17-7/6/17

Section 38: Published 10/23/2019

Sections 209-210: Published 5/4/2019

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

We may gather what angels’ wisdom is like from the fact that they live in heaven’s light, and in its essence heaven’s light is divine truth or divine wisdom. This light illuminates at one and the same time both their inner sight, which is mental, and their outer sight, the sight of their eyes. (On heaven’s light being divine truth or divine wisdom, see above, Sections 126–133.) Angels also live in heaven’s warmth, which in its essence is divine good or divine love, and from this comes their affection and longing for wisdom. (On heaven’s warmth being divine good or divine love, see above, Sections 133–140.)

Angels enjoy wisdom to the point that they might be called “wisdoms,” as we may gather from the fact that all the elements of their thoughts and affections flow according to the heavenly form, which form is the form of divine wisdom, and further that their more inward levels, which are open to wisdom, are framed according to this form. (On angels’ thoughts and affections, and therefore their intelligence and wisdom as well, flowing according to heaven’s form, see above, Sections 201–212.)

We may further infer the excellence of angels’ wisdom from the fact that their speech is the speech of wisdom. It actually flows directly and freely from their thought, which in turn comes from their affection, so that their speech is their thought from affection in an external form. Consequently, nothing draws them away from the divine inflow: there is none of that external matter that for us keeps intruding into our speech from thoughts about other things. (On angels’ speech being the speech of their thought and affection, see Sections 234–245.)

It also contributes to this kind of angelic wisdom that everything they see with their eyes and perceive with their senses is in harmony with their wisdom. This is because all these things are correspondences and therefore the objects of their senses are forms that portray elements proper to their wisdom. (On the fact that everything visible in heaven is in correspondence with the deeper levels of the angels and is representative of their wisdom, see above, Sections 170–182.)

Further, angels’ thoughts are not bounded and constrained by concepts drawn from space and time the way ours are; for space and time are properties of nature, and properties of nature distract the mind from spiritual things and deprive our intellectual sight of breadth. (On angels’ concepts being devoid of time and space and therefore unlimited, relative to ours, see above, Sections 162–169 and 191–199.)

Angels’ thoughts are not diverted to earthly and material concerns or interrupted by the cares and needs of life, so they are not distracted by such things from the joys of wisdom the way our thoughts are in this world. They are given everything by the Lord gratis: they are clothed gratis, fed gratis, housed gratis (Sections 181–190); and beyond this, they are provided with joys and pleasures in proportion to their acceptance of wisdom from the Lord.

All this has been presented to show where angels derive this kind of wisdom.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 266


Previously Cited: 10/19/2017

Sections 126-133: Published 11/22/2016-11/27/2016

Sections 134-140: Published 11/28/2016-12/2/2016

Sections 162-169: Published 4/30/2017-5/2/2017

Sections 170-176: Published 12/12/2016-12/15/2016

Sections 177-182: Published 12/29/2016-1/1/2017

Sections 191-199: Published 6/21/2019-6/24/2019

Sections 200-212: Published 4/30/2019-5/5/2019

Sections 234-245: Published 5/3/2018-5/6/2018

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels

THE nature of the wisdom of heaven’s angels is almost beyond comprehension because it so transcends human wisdom that there are no means of comparison, and anything transcendent seems to be nothing at all. Still, there are a few overlooked means that can be used for description, means which until they are recognized seem like shadows in the mind and actually obscure the nature of the matter as it is in itself.

Yet they are the kinds of things that can be known, and can be understood once they are known, if only the mind takes delight in them; for since delight arises from love, it has a light with it; and for people who love matters of divine and heavenly wisdom, that light radiates from heaven and provides them with enlightenment.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 265


Previously Cited: 10//18/2017

Heaven’s Union with Us through the Word (Continued)

If there had not been this kind of Word on our earth, the humanity of our earth would have separated itself from heaven, and once separated from heaven would no longer have had any rational ability. Our human rational ability in fact arises from an inflow of light from heaven.

We on this earth are by nature incapable of accepting any direct revelation and being taught about divine truths by that means, unlike the inhabitants of other planets ([whose abilities] have been dealt with in their own separate booklet). We more than they are engrossed in worldly concerns and therefore in superficial matters, while it is the deeper levels that are open to revelation. If the outer levels were receptive, we still would not understand the truth.

This nature of people on our earth is clearly visible in members of the church. Even though they know from the Word about heaven, hell, and life after death, they still deny these things at heart. This includes people who have made a name for themselves for outstanding learning, who you would think would therefore be wiser than others.

I have talked with angels about the Word on occasion, and have told them that it is looked down on by some people because of its pedestrian style. They know absolutely nothing about its deeper meaning and therefore do not believe that this kind of wisdom lies hidden within. The angels have told me that even though the style of the Word may appear pedestrian in its literal meaning, it is qualitatively incomparable because divine wisdom lies hidden not just in the overall meaning but in every word, and that this wisdom shines out in heaven. They have wanted to declare that because it is divine truth, it is heaven’s light, since divine truth in heaven is radiant (see Section 132).

They have added that without this kind of Word there would be no light of heaven among the people of our earth and consequently no union with heaven for them; for the amount of heaven’s light there is among us determines the union and therefore the extent to which we have any revelation of divine truth through the Word. The reason people do not know this union exists (through the spiritual meaning of the Word corresponding to its natural meaning) is that the people of our earth do not know anything about angels’ spiritual thinking and conversation. They do not know that this is different from our natural thinking and conversation; and anyone who does not know this cannot possibly know what the inner meaning is and therefore cannot know that it can make this kind of union possible.

They have also said that if we knew that this kind of meaning existed and when we read the Word did our thinking with any knowledge of it, we would come into a deeper wisdom and be more closely united to heaven, because in this way we would have access to concepts like those of angels.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 309-310


Previously Cited: 9/11/2017

Section 132-133: Published 7/7/2019

Heaven’s Union with Us Through the Word (Continued)

There is also a union of heaven through the Word with people who are outside the church, where the Word is not found; for the Lord’s church is everywhere and exists with everyone who acknowledges something divine and lives considerately. People like this are taught by angels after their decease and accept divine truths. There will be more on this below in its proper chapter, where we discuss non-Christians.

In the Lord’s sight, the universal church on earth is like a single individual just as heaven is (as noted in Sections 59–72). However, the church where the Word is and the Lord is known through it is like the heart and lungs of that person. It is common knowledge that the viscera and members of the whole body get their life from the heart and lungs by various routes. So too the human race that is outside the church where the Word is gets its life in the same way and constitutes the members of that person. Heaven’s union through the Word with people who are at a distance can be compared to light that spreads in all directions from a center. The divine light is in the Word, and the Lord is present there with his heaven. People who are far off also receive light from that presence. It would be different if there were no Word, which can be more fully understood by reference to what has been presented above about the form of heaven that determines its gatherings and communications.

Still, this arcanum is understandable to people who are in spiritual light but not to people who are only in natural light. People who are in spiritual light, that is, see quite clearly countless things that people who are in natural light alone either do not see at all or see only as a single vague entity.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 308


Previously Cited: 9/10/2019

Sections 59-72: Published 3/3/2018-3/8/2018

Heaven’s Union with Us through the Word (Continued)

I should like to use a few passages to show how heaven is united with us through the Word. The New Jerusalem is described in the Book of Revelation as follows:

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the former heaven and former earth had passed away. And I saw the holy city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The city was foursquare, its length equal to its breadth. And the angel measured the city with the reed at twelve thousand stadia; the length, breadth, and height were equal; and he measured its wall, 144 cubits, the measure of a human being, which was that of the angel. The construction of the wall was jasper, but the city itself was pure gold and like pure glass; and the foundation of the wall was decorated with every precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, and the street of the city was pure gold like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:1, 2, 16, 17, 18)

People who read this understand it simply according to its literal meaning, namely that this visible sky and earth are going to perish and that a new heaven is going to be established, that on a new earth the holy city Jerusalem is going to descend, and that all its measurements will be as described. But the angels who are with us understand it very differently, understanding spiritually what we take in a natural sense.

For them, the new heaven and the new earth mean a new church; the city Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven means its heavenly doctrine revealed by the Lord; its length, breadth, and height, which are equal at twelve thousand stadia, mean all the good and true elements of that doctrine grasped as a single whole; the wall means the truths that protect it; the measure of the wall being 144 cubits, which was the measure of a human being, that is, of the angel, means all those protective truths grasped as a single whole, and their quality; the twelve gates made of pearls mean introductory truths (pearls mean that kind of truth); the foundations of the wall that were of precious stones mean the acknowledgments on which that doctrine is based; and the gold like pure glass of which the city and its streets were made means the good of love that makes doctrine and its truths transparent.

This is how angels understand all these things, so it is not the way we do. This is how our natural concepts are transformed into spiritual concepts among angels without their knowing anything about the literal meaning of the Word—about the new heaven and the new earth, for example, or the new city Jerusalem, its wall, the foundations of the wall, and its measurements. Still, the angels’ thoughts form a unity with ours because they correspond. They form a single whole almost like the words of a speaker and the understanding of those words by a listener who is focused not on the words themselves but on understanding them. This may enable us to see how heaven is united to us through the Word.

For another example from the Word,

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be a third for Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the middle of the land, whom Jehovah of hosts will bless, saying, “Blessed is my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and my inheritance Israel.” (Isaiah 19:23, 24, 25)

We can see how people on earth think and how angels think when they read this if we look at the literal meaning of the Word and at its inner meaning. We think, on the basis of its literal meaning, that Egypt and Assyria are going to be converted to God and received, and that they will become united to the Israelite nation. The angels, though, think on the basis of its inner meaning about people of the spiritual church, who are being described here in that inner meaning. Their spiritual level is Israel, their natural level is Egypt, and their rational level, which is the intermediate level, is Assyria. Still, these two meanings are one because they correspond. Consequently, when angels are thinking spiritually like this and we are thinking naturally the way we do, we are united almost like a soul and a body. The inner meaning of the Word is its soul, and the literal meaning is its body.

The Word is like this throughout; so we can see that it is a means of heaven’s union with us and that the literal meaning serves as its basis and foundation.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 307


Previously Cited: 9/9/2017