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

However, since we have broken this connection by turning our inward natures away from heaven and toward the world and ourselves through our self-love and love of the world and have so pulled away that we no longer serve heaven as its basis and foundation, the Lord has provided a medium to serve in place of that basis and foundation and to maintain the union of heaven with humanity. That medium is the Word.

Just how the Word serves as that medium, though, has been shown at length in Secrets of Heaven, with pertinent material collected in the booklet The White Horse Described in the Book of Revelation.

I have been told from heaven that the earliest people had direct revelation because their inner natures were turned toward heaven, and that this was the source of the Lord’s union with the human race at that time. After those times, though, there was not the same kind of direct revelation, but an indirect revelation through correspondences. All their divine worship consisted of these; so the churches of those times were called symbolic churches. They knew what correspondences and representations were and that everything on earth answered to spiritual things in heaven and the church (or represented them, which amounts to the same thing). In this way, the natural elements that constituted their outward worship served them as means for thinking spiritually and therefore thinking with angels.

Once all knowledge of correspondences and representations had been lost, then a Word was written in which all the words and the meanings of the words are correspondences and therefore contain that spiritual or inner meaning in which angels are engaged. So when we read the Word and grasp it in its literal or outward meaning, angels grasp it in its inner or spiritual meaning. In fact, all the thought of angels is spiritual, while ours is natural. These two kinds of thought do seem different, but they are one because they correspond.

This is why, after we had moved away from heaven and broken the connection, the Lord provided that there should be a means of union of heaven with us through the Word.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 305-306


Previously Cited: 9/8/2017

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

We have been so created that we have a connection and a union with the Lord, while with angels we have only an association. The reason we have only an association, not a union, with angels is that we are from creation like angels in respect to the deeper levels of our minds. We have a similar purposefulness and a similar capacity to understand. This is why we become angels after death if we have lived according to the divine pattern, and why we then, like the angels, have wisdom. So when we talk about our union with heaven, we mean our union with the Lord and our association with angels, since heaven is not heaven because of anything that really belongs to the angels but because of the divine nature of the Lord. (On the fact that the Lord’s divine nature makes heaven, see Sections 7–12)

Over and above what angels have, though, there is the fact that we are not just in a spiritual world by virtue of our inner natures but are at the same time in a natural world by virtue of our outward natures. These outward things that are in the natural world are all the contents of our natural or outer memory and the thinking and imaging we do on that basis. In general, this includes our insights and information together with their delights and charm to the extent that they have a worldly flavor, and all the pleasures that derive from our physical senses. Then too, there are those senses themselves and our words and actions. All these are ultimate things in which the Lord’s divine inflow comes to rest, since it does not stop in the middle but goes on to its very limit.

We may gather from this that the ultimate form of the divine pattern is in us, and since it is the ultimate form, it is the basis and foundation.

Since the Lord’s divine inflow does not stop in the middle but goes on to its very limit, as just stated, and since the intermediate region it crosses is the angelic heaven and the limit is in us, and since nothing disconnected can exist, it follows that there is such a connection and union of heaven with the human race that neither can endure without the other. If the human race were cut off from heaven, it would be like a chain with a link removed, and heaven without the human race would be like a house without a foundation.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 304


Previously Cited: 9/7/2017

Sections 7-12: Published 10/4/2019-10/6/2019

Heaven’s Union with Us through the Word

PEOPLE who think from their deeper rationality can see that there is a connection of all things, through intermediate ones, with a First, and that anything that is not so connected will disintegrate. When they think about it, they know that nothing can exist on its own, but requires something prior to itself, which means that everything goes back to that First. They know that the connection with what is prior is like that of an effect with its efficient cause, since when the efficient cause is removed, the effect comes apart and collapses. Since this has been the thought of the learned, they have both seen and pronounced that existence is a constant becoming, so that all things are constantly coming into being—that is, existing—from that First from which they originated.

But there is no way to explain briefly the nature of that connection of everything with what is prior and therefore with the First that is the source of everything, because it is varied and diverse. We can say generally only that there is a connection of the natural world with the spiritual world that results in a correspondence between everything in the natural world and everything in the spiritual world. (On this correspondence, see Sections 103–115 and on the connection and consequent correspondence of everything in us with everything in heaven, see Sections 87–102)

from Heaven and Hell, Section 303


Sections 103-115: Published 7/29/2019-8/7/2019

Sections 87-102: Published 5/18/2019-5/26/2019

Rich and Poor in Heaven (Continued)

We may gather from this that rich people arrive in heaven just as much as poor people do, one as easily as the other. The reason people believe that it is easy for the poor and hard for the rich is that the Word is misunderstood when it talks about the rich and the poor. In the spiritual meaning of the Word, “the rich” means people who are amply supplied with understandings of what is true and good, that is, people in the church where the Word is. “The poor” means people who lack these understandings but who long for them, or people outside the church, where the Word is not found.

The rich person dressed in purple and fine linen who was cast into hell means the Jewish nation. Because they had the Word and were therefore amply supplied with understandings of what is good and true, they are called “rich.” The garments of purple actually mean understandings of what is good, and the fine linen means understandings of what is true. The poor person who was lying in the gateway and who longed to feast on the crumbs that were falling from the rich person’s table, who was carried up into heaven by angels, means the non-Jews who did not have understandings of what is good and true but who still longed for them (Luke 16:19, 31).

The rich who were invited to the great feast but who excused themselves also mean the Jewish nation, and the poor who were brought in to replace them mean the non-Jews who were outside the church (Luke 12:16–24 [14:16–24]).

We need also to explain who are meant by the rich of whom the Lord said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). “The rich person” here means the rich in both senses, natural and spiritual. Rich people in the natural sense are people who have abundant wealth and set their hearts on it, while in a spiritual sense they are people who are amply supplied with insights and knowledge (for these are spiritual wealth) and who want to use them to get themselves into heavenly and ecclesiastical circles by their own intellect. Since this is contrary to the divine design, it says that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. On this level of meaning, a camel means our cognitive and informational level in general, and the eye of a needle means spiritual truth.

Nowadays people do not know that this is the meaning of the camel and the eye of a needle because there has not yet been any access to the knowledge that teaches what is meant spiritually by the things that the Word says literally. There is spiritual meaning in the details of the Word, and natural meaning as well; because the Word was written in pure correspondences of natural realities with spiritual ones in order to effect a union of heaven and the world, or of angels with us, once the direct union had ceased. We can see from this exactly who are meant by the rich in the Word.

We may gather from a number of passages that on the spiritual level “the rich” in the Word refers to people who enjoy insights into what is good and true and that wealth means those insights themselves, which are spiritual riches: see Isaiah 10:12, 13, 14; 30:6, 7; 45:3; Jeremiah 17:3; 47:7 [48:7]; 50:36–37; 51:13; Daniel 5:2–4; Ezekiel 26:7, 12; 27:1–36; Zechariah 9:3–4; Psalms 45:12;229 Hosea 12:9; Revelation 3:17–18; Luke 14:33; and elsewhere. On the poor in the spiritual sense as people who do not have insights into what is good and true but who long for them, see Matthew 11:5; Luke 6:20–21; 14:21; Isaiah 14:30; 29:19; 41:17–18; Zephaniah 3:12, 18 [13]. An explanation of the spiritual meaning of all these passages may be found in Section 10227 of Secrets of Heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 365


Previously Cited: 7/24/2018

Rich and Poor People in Heaven (Continued)

Poor people do not get into heaven because of their poverty but because of their lives. Our lives follow us whether we are rich or poor. There is no special mercy for the one any more than for the other. People who have lived well are accepted; people who have lived badly are rejected.

Poverty can actually seduce people and lead them away from heaven just as much as wealth can. There are many people among the poor who are not content with their lot, who covet much more, and who believe that wealth is a blessing; so when they do not get what they want, they are enraged and harbor evil thoughts about divine providence. They envy other people their assets, and given the chance would just as soon cheat them and live in their own foul pleasures.

It is different, though, for poor people who are content with their lot, are conscientious and careful in their work, prefer work to idleness, behave honestly and reliably, and lead Christian lives. I have sometimes talked with rural and common people who had believed in God while they lived in this world and had behaved honestly and righteously in their jobs. Because they were impelled by a desire to know what was true, they kept asking what thoughtfulness and faith were, since they had heard a lot about faith in this world and were hearing a lot about thoughtfulness in the other life.

So they were told that thoughtfulness is all about living and faith is all about doctrine. This means that thoughtfulness is intending and doing what is fair and right in every task, while faith is thinking what is fair and right; so faith and thoughtfulness go together like doctrine and a life according to it, or like thought and intent. Faith becomes thoughtfulness, then, when we intend and do the fair and right things that we think. When this happens, they are not two but one. They understood this perfectly well and were overjoyed, saying that in the world they had not understood believing to be any different from living.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 364


Previously Cited: 7/23/2018

Rich and Poor people in Heaven (Continued)

After death, our ruling affection or love awaits each one of us. This is never rooted out to eternity because our spirit is exactly like our love; and (what has not been known before) the body of every spirit and angel is an outward form of her or his love that is completely responsive to the inner form that is the character and mind of that spirit or angel. That is why you can recognize the quality of spirits from their faces, their postures, and their speech. That is why our own spirits are recognized in this world if we have not learned how to pretend with our faces and postures and speech. We may gather from this that our own eternal quality is that of our ruling affection or love.

I have been allowed to talk with people who lived more than seventeen centuries ago, people whose lives are known from the literature of their own times; and I have been convinced that the same love they had then is still sustaining them.

We may also gather from this that a love of wealth and the usefulness it affords also remains with us forever, with exactly the quality it acquired in this world. There is this difference, though: for people whose wealth served them as means to useful lives, it is turned into delights in keeping with their usefulness, while for people whose wealth served them as means to evil activities, it is turned into filth—filth that they enjoy just as much as they enjoyed their ill-used wealth in the world. The reason they enjoy the filth is that the foul pleasures and pursuits that were their practices in the world, and their greed (which is a love of wealth with no thought of use), correspond to filth. Spiritual filth is nothing else.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 363


Previously Cited: 7/22/2018

Rich and Poor People in Heaven (Continued)

Broadly speaking, what lies in store for rich people in heaven is this. They live more elegantly than others, some in palaces where everything within gleams like gold and silver. They have everything they need for a useful life. However, they do not set their hearts on such things but on their useful activities. These they see clearly and in full light, while the gold and silver are relatively hazy and shadowy. The reason is that in the world they had loved being useful and had loved gold and silver only as subservient means. This is how useful things gleam in heaven—what works for good like gold, what works for truth like silver. The quality of the useful functions they served in the world determines their wealth, their pleasure, and their happiness.

Good and useful activities include providing the necessities of life for oneself and one’s own, wanting ample resources for the sake of one’s country and one’s neighbor, whom a rich person can benefit in far more ways than a poor person can. [These activities are useful also] because they lead the mind away from an idle life, which is destructive, since in that kind of life our thoughts turn to evil because of our inborn evil nature.

These useful activities are good to the extent that the Divine is within them—that is, to the extent that we focus on the Divine and on heaven and invest ourselves in these as good, investing in wealth only as a subservient means.

What awaits rich people who do not believe in the Divine Being and reject matters of heaven and the church from their minds is quite the opposite. They are in hell, where they find filth and wretchedness and want. When wealth is loved as an end, it turns into things like these, and not only the wealth itself but also what it is used for—the pampered living, the indulgence in pleasures, the wider and freer dedication to amorality, the self-exaltation over people they belittle. Because these riches and these functions have nothing spiritual in them, only earthly qualities, they turn to filth. The spiritual aspect of wealth and its uses is like the soul in a body and like the light of heaven in moist earth. So a body without a soul becomes putrid, as does moist earth without the light of heaven. These are the people whom wealth has seduced and drawn away from heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 361-362


Previously Cited: 7/21/2018

Rich and Poor People in Heaven (Continued)

One person can live like another in outward form. As long as there is an inward acknowledgment of the Deity and an intent to serve our neighbor, we can become rich, dine sumptuously, live and dress as elegantly as befits our station and office, enjoy pleasures and amusement, and meet our worldly obligations for the sake of our position and of our business and of the life of both mind and body. So we can see that it is not as hard to follow the path to heaven as many people believe. The only difficulty is finding the power to resist love for ourselves and love of the world and preventing those loves from taking control, since they are the source of all our evils. The fact that it is not so hard as people believe is what is meant by these words of the Lord: “Learn of me that I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls: for my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:29–30). The reason the Lord’s yoke is easy and his burden light is that to the extent that we resist the evils that well up from love for ourselves and the world, we are led by the Lord and not by ourselves. Then the Lord resists those things within us and removes them.

I have talked after their death with some people who during their earthly lives had renounced the world and devoted themselves to a virtually solitary life, wanting to make time for devout meditation by withdrawing their thoughts from worldly matters. They believed that this was the way to follow the path to heaven. In the other life, though, they are gloomy in spirit. They avoid others who are not like themselves and they resent the fact that they are not allotted more happiness than others. They believe they deserve it and do not care about other people, and they avoid the responsibilities of thoughtful behavior that are the means to union with heaven. They covet heaven more than others do; but when they are brought up to where angels are, they cause anxieties that upset the happiness of the angels. So they part company; and once they have parted, they betake themselves to lonely places where they lead the same kind of life
they had led in the world.

The only way we can be formed for heaven is through the world. That is the ultimate goal by which every affection must be defined. Unless affection manifests itself or flows into action, which happens in sizeable communities, it is stifled, ultimately to the point that we no longer focus on our neighbor at all, but only on ourselves. We can see from this that the life of thoughtfulness toward our neighbor—behaving fairly and uprightly in all our deeds and in all our responsibilities—leads to heaven, but not a life of piety apart from this active life. This means that the practice of thoughtfulness and the benefits that ensue from this kind of life can occur only to the extent that we are involved in our occupations, and that they cannot occur to the extent that we withdraw from those occupations.

But let me say something about this from experience. Many people who devoted their energies to business and trade in the world, many who became rich, are in heaven. There are not so many, though, who made a name for themselves and became rich in public office. This is because these latter were led into love for themselves and the world by the profits and the positions they were given because of their administration of justice and morality and of profits and positions. This in turn led them to deflect their thoughts and affections from heaven and direct them toward themselves; for to the extent that we love ourselves and the world and focus on ourselves and the world exclusively, we estrange ourselves from the Divine and move away from heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 359-360


Previously Cited: 7/20/2018

Rich and Poor People in Heaven (Continued)

By way of preface, we may note that it is all right to acquire wealth and accumulate any amount of assets, as long as it is not done by fraud or evil devices. It is all right to eat and drink with elegance, as long as we do not invest our lives in such things. It is all right to be housed as graciously as befits one’s station, to chat with others like ourselves, to go to games, to consult about worldly affairs. There is no need to walk around looking pious with a sad, tearful face and a bowed head. We can be happy and cheerful. There is no need to give to the poor except as the spirit moves us. In short, we can live to all appearances just like worldly people. This is no obstacle to our acceptance into heaven as long as we keep God appropriately in mind and act honestly and fairly toward our neighbors. Our quality is actually that of our affection and thought, or our love and faith. Everything we do outwardly derives its life from these, since acting is intending and speaking is thinking. We act, that is, from our intent, and we speak from our thought. So when it says in the Word that we are judged according to our deeds and rewarded according to our works, it means that we are judged and rewarded according to the thought and affection that give rise to our deeds or that are within our deeds. This is because deeds have no meaning apart from these contents. Their quality is wholly determined by them.

We can see from this that our outer nature accomplishes nothing. It is our inner nature, which gives rise to the outer.

Take for example people who behave honestly and do not cheat others solely out of fear of the law and loss of reputation, leading to loss of respect or profit. If that fear did not restrain them, they would cheat others as often as they could. Their thought and intent are fraudulent, even though their actions look honest in outward form. Because they are dishonest and fraudulent inwardly, they have hell within themselves. But if people behave honestly and do not cheat others because this is against God and against their neighbor, then even if they could cheat someone they would not want to. Their thought and intent are their conscience, and they have heaven within themselves. In outward form, the actions of the two kinds look alike, but inwardly they are totally different.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 358

Rich and Poor People in Heaven

THERE are various opinions about acceptance into heaven. Some people think that the poor are accepted but not the rich; some think that rich and poor alike are accepted; some think that rich people cannot be accepted unless they give up their assets and become like the poor—and all of them support their opinions from the Word. However, as far as heaven is concerned, people who differentiate between the rich and the poor do not understand the Word. At heart, the Word is spiritual, though it is natural in the letter; so if people take the Word only in its literal meaning and not in some spiritual meaning they go astray in all kinds of ways, especially regarding the rich and the poor. They believe that it is as hard for rich people to enter heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle and that it is easy for the poor by reason of their poverty, since it says, “Blessed are the poor, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens” (Luke 6:20–21).

However, people who know something about the spiritual meaning of the Word think differently. They know that heaven is for everyone who lives a life of faith and love, whether rich or poor. We will explain below who are meant by “the rich” in the Word and by “the poor.”

Out of a great deal of conversation and living with angels, I have been granted sure knowledge that rich people enter heaven just as easily as poor people do, and that no one is shut out of heaven for having abundant possessions or accepted into heaven because of poverty. There are both rich and poor people there, and many of the rich are in greater splendor and happiness than the poor.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 357


Previously Cited: 7/18/2018