Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

There are wise and simple people among non-Christians just as there are among Christians. To show me what they were like, I have been allowed to talk with both kinds, sometimes for hours and even for days. Nowadays, though, there are not wise ones like those of ancient times, especially in the early church (this covered much of the Near East and was the source from which religion spread to many non-Christian peoples). I have been allowed to carry on personal conversations with some of them in order to find out what they were like.

One particular individual was with me who had been one of the wise at one time and who was therefore well known in the scholarly world. I talked with him about various subjects and was given to believe that he was Cicero. Since I knew that he was wise, we talked about wisdom, intelligence, the pattern of reality, the Word, and finally about the Lord.

On wisdom, he said that there was no wisdom that was not a matter of life, and that wisdom could not be an attribute of anything else. On intelligence, he said that it came from wisdom. On the pattern of reality, he said that the pattern comes from the Supreme Deity, and that living in accord with this pattern is being wise and intelligent. As to the Word, when I read him something from the prophets he was utterly enchanted, especially at the fact that the individual names and the individual words referred to deeper realities. He was quite astonished that modern scholars take no pleasure in this pursuit. I could sense very clearly that the deeper levels of his thought or mind were open. He said that he could not remain present because he felt something too holy for him to bear, it affected him so deeply.

Finally, our conversation turned to the Lord—on his birth as a person here, but one conceived from God; on his putting off the maternal human nature and putting on a divine human nature; and on his being the One who rules the universe. He said that he knew a great deal about the Lord that he grasped in his own way, and that there was no other way the human race could have been saved. All this time, some evil Christians were showering us with libels of various kinds; but he paid no attention to them. He said it was not surprising. It was because during their physical lives they had soaked up notions on these subjects that were not fitting, and that until these were ousted they could not let in notions that supported [the truth] the way people who were simply ignorant could.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 322

Notes:

Previously Cited: 7/20/2017

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

There was one spirit from a non-Christian country who had lived a good and thoughtful life according to his religion in this world. When he heard some Christian spirits discussing their creeds (spirits talking to each other reason much more exhaustively and acutely than people on earth, especially about what is good and true), he was astonished to find that they quarreled. He said he did not want to listen, since they were arguing on the basis of deceptive appearances. His advice to them was, “If I am a good person, I can know what is true simply from its goodness, and I can be open to what I do not know.”

I have been taught by a great many instances that if non-Christians have lived decent lives, intent on obedience and appropriate deference and in mutual thoughtfulness as their religion requires so that they have acquired a measure of conscience, they are accepted in the other life and are taught by angels about matters of goodness and truth with most sensitive care. Once they have been taught, they behave unpretentiously, intelligently, and wisely and readily accept and absorb truths. This is because no false principles have taken form to oppose truths of faith, principles that would need to be ousted, let alone slanders against the Lord, as is the case for many Christians whose treasured concept of the Lord is simply of an ordinary human being. It is different for non-Christians. When they hear that God became a person here and made himself known in the world, they acknowledge it immediately and revere the Lord. They say that of course God made himself known; after all, he is the God of heaven and earth, and the human race belongs to him.

It is a divine truth that there is no salvation apart from the Lord, but this needs to be understood as meaning that there is no salvation that does not come from the Lord. There are many planets in the universe, all full of inhabitants. Hardly any of them know that the Lord took on a human nature on our planet. Still, though, since they do revere the Divine Being in human form, they are accepted and led by the Lord.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 320-321

Notes:

Previously Cited: 7/19/2017

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

People can realize that non-Christians as well as Christians are saved if they know what constitutes heaven in us; for heaven is within us, and people who have heaven within them come into heaven. The heaven within us is our acknowledgment of the Divine and our being led by the Divine. The beginning and foundation of every religion is its acknowledgment of the Divine Being; a religion that does not acknowledge the Divine Being is not a religion at all. The precepts of every religion focus on worship, that is, on how the Divine is to be honored so that we will be acceptable in its sight; and when this fully occupies the mind (or, to the extent that we intend this or love this) we are being led by the Lord.

It is recognized that non-Christians live lives that are just as moral as the lives of Christians—many of them, in fact, live more moral lives. A moral life may be lived either to satisfy the Divine or to satisfy people in this world. A moral life that is lived to satisfy the Divine is a spiritual life. The two look alike in outward form, but inwardly they are totally different. One saves us, the other does not. This is because if we live a moral life to satisfy the Divine we are being led by the Divine; while if we live a moral life to satisfy people in this world, we are being led by ourselves.

This may be illustrated by an example. If we do not do harm to our neighbor because that is against our religion and therefore against the Divine, our refraining from evil stems from a spiritual source. But if we refrain from doing harm to others simply because we are afraid of the law or of losing our reputation or respect or profit—for the sake of self and the world, that is—then this stems from a natural source and we are being led by ourselves. This latter life is natural, while the former is spiritual. If our moral life is spiritual, we have heaven within ourselves; but if our moral life is merely natural, we do not have heaven within ourselves. This is because heaven flows in from above, opens our deeper natures, and flows through those deeper natures into our more outward natures; while the world flows in from below and opens our more outward natures but not our deeper natures. No inflow occurs from the natural world into the spiritual, only from the spiritual world into the natural; so if heaven is not accepted at the same time, the deeper levels are closed. We can see from this who accept heaven into themselves and who do not.

However, the heaven in one individual is not the same as the heaven in another. It differs in each according to the affection for what is good and true. If people are absorbed in an affection for what is good for the sake of the Divine, they love divine truth because the good and the true love each other and want to be united. Consequently, non-Christian people who have not had access to genuine truths in the world still accept them in the other life because of their love.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 319

Notes:

Previously Cited: 7/18/2017

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven

THE general opinion is that people who have been born outside the church, the people called “the nations” or “non-Christians,” cannot be saved because they do not have the Word and therefore do not know the Lord; and without the Lord there is no salvation. They could know, however, that these people too are saved simply from the fact that the Lord’s mercy is universal, that is, it is extended to all individuals.

Non-Christians are born just as human as people within the church, who are in fact few by comparison. It is not their fault that they do not know the Lord. So anyone who thinks from any enlightened reason at all can see that no one is born for hell. The Lord is actually love itself, and his love is an intent to save everyone. So he provides that everyone shall have some religion, an acknowledgment of the Divine Being through that religion, and an inner life. That is, living according to one’s religious principles is an inner life, for then we focus on the Divine; and to the extent that we do focus on the Divine, we do not focus on the world but move away from the world and therefore from a worldly life, which is an outward life.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 318

Notes:

Previously Cited: 7/17/2017

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race (Continued)

Heaven’s union with us is not like the union of one person with another, but is a union with the deeper levels of our minds and therefore with our spiritual or inner person. There is, though, a union with our natural or outer person by correspondences, which union will be discussed in the next chapter when I deal with heaven’s union with us by means of the Word.

I will also explain in the next chapter that heaven’s union with us and our union with it are of such a nature that each relies on the other.

I have talked with angels about the union of heaven with the human race and have told them that church people actually do say that everything good is from the Lord and that there are angels with us, but few people really believe that angels are so close to us, much less that they are in our thought and affection. The angels have told me that they knew this kind of [empty] belief and talk occurred in the world, and especially (which astonished them) in the church, where people have the Word that teaches them about heaven and its union with them. Yet in fact the union is so vital that we could not think the least thought apart from the spirits who are with us. Our spiritual life depends on this. They said that the reason for this ignorance was that people believe they live on their own, without any connection with the Ultimate Reality of life, and do not know that there is this connection through the heavens. Yet if that connection were severed, we would instantly drop down dead. If we believed the way things really are, that everything good comes from the Lord and everything evil from hell, then we would not take credit for the good within us or blame for the evil.

Whenever we thought or did anything good, we would focus on the Lord, and any evil that flowed in we would throw back into the hell it came from. But since we do not believe in any inflow from heaven or from hell and therefore believe that everything we think and intend is in us and from us, we make the evil our own and defile the good with our feeling that we deserve it.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 300-302

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/27/2018

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race (Continued)

The spirits who are with us—both those united to heaven and those united to hell—never flow into us from their own memory and consequent thought. If they did flow into us from their own thought it would seem to us exactly as though their character was our own (see above, Section 256). However, there does flow into us through them an affection from a love of what is good and true from heaven and an affection from a love of what is evil and false from hell. So to the extent that our own affection agrees with what is flowing in, we accept its influence in our thinking. This is because our more inward thought is in complete accord with our affection or love. To the extent that our own affection does not agree, we do not accept [the influence].

We can see from this that thoughts are not instilled into us by spirits but only an affection for what is good or an affection for what is evil. This gives us a choice because it gives us freedom. It means that in our thought we can accept what is good and reject what is evil, since we know from the Word what is good and what is evil. What we accept in thought from affection becomes part of us, while what we do not accept in thought from affection does not become part of us. This enables us to determine the nature of the inflow into us of the good from heaven and of the evil from hell.

I have been enabled to learn where we get the anxiety, distress of mind, and inward sadness called depression. There are spirits who are not yet united with hell because they are still in their first state (which will be described later when we talk about the world of spirits). They love half-digested and noxious substances like the foods that are becoming excrement in the stomach, so they attach themselves to the same sort of matter in us, because they find delight in it; and they talk with each other there out of their evil affection. The emotional tone of their conversation flows into us, and since it is contrary to our affection, it brings about a sadness and an anxious depression; while if it agrees with our affection, it brings about a sense of happiness and exhilaration. These spirits can be seen in the neighborhood of the stomach, some on the left and some on the right, some lower and some higher, nearer or farther away—variously depending on the affections they are involved in.

A great deal of experience has convinced me that they are the source of our anxiety of spirit. I have seen them, heard them, felt the anxieties that well up from them. I have talked with them, they have been driven off and the anxiety has ceased, they have come back and the anxiety has returned, I have observed its increase and decrease as they drew near and moved away. It has become clear to me, then, where that anxiety originates that is blamed on a stomachache by people who do not know what conscience is because they do not have any.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 298-299

Notes:

Section 256: Previously cited: 6/26/2018

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race (Continued)

The reason we are controlled by the Lord through spirits is that we are not in the pattern of heaven. We are in fact born into evils that are from hell and are therefore exactly opposite to the divine pattern. This means that we need to be brought back into the pattern, and we cannot be brought back except through the agency of spirits. It would be different if we were born into the good that accords with heaven’s pattern. Then we would not be controlled by the Lord through the agency of spirits but through the pattern itself and therefore through a general inflow.

This [general] inflow determines the way things move from thought and intent into act and therefore determines our speech and actions, since these both do flow according to a natural pattern. So the spirits who are with us have nothing to do with these processes. Animals are also controlled through a general inflow from the spiritual world because they are in the pattern proper to their life, a pattern that they can neither distort nor destroy, because they do not have a rational faculty. (On the difference between humans and animals see above, Section 39.)

To continue with the general topic of the union of heaven with the human race, we need to be aware that the Lord flows into each one of us according to heaven’s design, into our inmost natures as well as into our outmost, and disposes us to accept heaven. He controls our outmost natures from the inmost and the inmost from the outmost at the same time, and in this way keeps everything about us in coherent connection. This inflow from the Lord is called a direct inflow, while a second inflow that happens through the agency of spirits is called an indirect inflow. The latter is sustained by the former. The direct inflow, an action of the Lord himself, is from his divine human. It comes into our intentions, and through our intentions into our understanding. This means it comes into what is good in us and through that good into what is true in us, or (which amounts to the same thing) into our love and through our love into our faith. It does not happen the other way around, much less into faith apart from love or into truth apart from good or into understanding apart from volition.

This divine inflow is unceasing and is accepted in what is good in good people, but not in evil ones. In them it is either rejected or stifled or distorted. So they have an evil life that spiritually understood is a death.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 296-297

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/25/2018

Section 39: Published 10/24/2019

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race (Continued)

The kind of spirit that is associated with us is determined by the kind of person we are in respect to affection and love, though good spirits are assigned to us by the Lord while we ourselves summon the evil ones. The spirits with us change, however, as our own affections change. This means we have one kind with us in infancy, another kind during our childhood, another kind as we are growing up and in early adulthood, and still another kind in old age. During our earliest years, spirits who are in innocence are with us, that is, spirits who are in touch with the heaven of innocence, the inmost or third heaven. In later childhood we are in the company of spirits who are engaged in an affection for knowledge and who are in touch with the ultimate or first heaven. As we are growing up, during our early adulthood, spirits who are responsive to affections for what is true and good and therefore with intelligence are with us. They are spirits who are in touch with the second or intermediate heaven. In old age, though, spirits who are in wisdom and innocence are with us, spirits therefore who are in touch with the inmost or third heaven.

Still, this association is arranged by the Lord for people who can be reformed and regenerated. It is different for people who cannot be reformed or regenerated. Good spirits are assigned to them as well in order to restrain them from evil as much as possible, but their direct connection is with the evil spirits who are in touch with hell. This means that the spirits are of the same nature as the people they are associated with. Whether they love themselves or money or revenge or adultery, the same kind of spirits are with them and are, so to speak, taking up residence in their evil affections. To the extent that we cannot be restrained from evil by good spirits, they inflame us, and to the extent that an evil affection is in control, they cling to us and will not back off.

In this way, evil people are united to hell and good people to heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 295

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/24/2018

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race (Continued)

The reason spirits who are in touch with hell are attached to us as well is that we are born into all kinds of evil, so that our first life is made up of nothing else. Unless spirits of the same kind were associated with us, then, we could not live or be led out of our evils and reformed. So we are kept in our own life by evil spirits and restrained from it by good spirits. Through the two kinds, we are kept in a balance; and since we are in a balance we enjoy an appropriate measure of freedom and can be led out of our evils and turned toward good. This good can be sown in us as well, which could never happen except in our freedom; and the freedom could not be granted us unless spirits from hell were acting on the one side and spirits from heaven on the other, with us in the middle.

I have been shown that to the extent that we exist from our hereditary nature and from ourselves, we could have no life at all if we were not allowed to engage in evil. We would also have no life if we were not in some freedom, and we cannot be compelled to good: anything compelled does not become part of us. I have also been shown that anything good that we accept in freedom is sown in our intentions and becomes virtually our own. This is why we have a communication with hell and a communication with heaven.

I also need to describe the nature of the communication of heaven with good spirits, the nature of the communication of hell with evil spirits, and the nature of the consequent union of heaven and hell with us. All the spirits who are in the world of spirits are in communication with heaven or with hell, the evil ones with hell and the good ones with heaven. Heaven is differentiated into communities, and so is hell. Every spirit is a member of some community, is sustained by an inflow from it, and therefore acts in harmony with it. This is why we are united with heaven or hell just as we are united with spirits. We are actually united to some community there, the community we belong to in respect to our affection or our love; for all heaven’s communities are differentiated according to their affections for what is good and true and all hell’s communities according to their affections for what is evil and false (on heaven’s communities, see above, Sections 41–45 and 148–151).

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 293-294

Notes:

Sections 41-45: Published 5/7/2017-5/8/2017

Sections 148-151: Published 7/13/2017-7/14/2017

The Union of Heaven with the Human Race

IT is acknowledged in the church that everything good comes from God and nothing of it from us, and therefore that we should never take personal credit for anything good. It is also recognized that evil comes from the devil. This is why people who talk from the doctrine of the church describe people who are acting well and who are talking devoutly and preaching as being led by God, and say the opposite about people who are acting maliciously and speaking blasphemously. None of this could happen unless we had a union with heaven and a union with hell, and unless those unions were with our volition and our understanding, since it is from these that the body acts and the mouth speaks. We need now to describe what this union is like.

There are good spirits and evil spirits with every individual. We have our union with heaven through the good spirits and our union with hell through the evil ones. These spirits are in the world of spirits, which is intermediate between heaven and hell and will be specifically treated later. When these spirits come to us, they come into our whole memory and from there into all our thinking—evil spirits into the matters of memory and thought that are evil, and good spirits into the matters of memory and thought that are good. These spirits are totally unaware that they are with us. Rather, as long as they are, they believe that all these matters of our memory and thought are actually theirs. They do not see us, either, because their sight does not extend to things in our subsolar world.

The Lord takes the greatest care to prevent spirits from knowing whom they are with. If they did know, they would talk with them, and then the evil spirits would destroy them; for evil spirits, being united to hell, want nothing more than to destroy us not only as to spirit (that is, as to our love and faith) but as to our bodies as well. It is different when they do not talk with us. Then they do not know that we are the source of what they are thinking—and what they are saying to each other, since they talk to each other just the way we do—but believe that these matters are their own. They value and love whatever is their own, so these spirits are constrained to love and value us, even though they do not know it.

This kind of union has become so familiar to me through years of constant experience as to be commonplace.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 291-292

Notes:

Previously Cited: 6/22/2018