When the Three Universal Categories of Love Are Prioritized in the Right Way They Improve Us; When They Are Not Prioritized in the Right Way They Damage Us and Turn Us Upside Down

First I will say something about the prioritization of the three universal categories of love: love for heaven, love for the world, and love for ourselves. Then I will talk about the inflow and integration of one into the other. Finally I will discuss the effect of their prioritization on our state.

These three loves relate to each other as do the three areas of the body: the highest is the head; the middle is the chest and abdomen; and our thighs, lower legs, and feet make up the third. When our love for heaven constitutes the head, our love for the world constitutes the chest and abdomen, and our love for ourselves constitutes the lower legs ad feet, then we are in the perfect state we were created to be in. In this state the two lower categories of love serve the higher category the way the body and everything in it serves the head.

Therefore when a love for heaven constitutes the head, this love flows into our love for the world, which is chiefly a love for wealth, and takes advantage of that wealth to do useful things; our love for heaven also flows through our love for the world into our love for ourselves, which chiefly a love for having a high position, and takes advantage of that high position to do useful things. Therefore an inflow from one love into the next allows the three categories of loveto join forces in order to do useful things.

Surely everyone realizes that when people intend to do useful things because they are moved by spiritual love coming from the Lord (which is what “love for heaven” means), their earthly self uses its wealth and other goods to advocate those useful things, and their sense-oriented self carries them out as part of its position and derives honor from so doing.

Surely everyone also realizes that all the things we do with our body we do from the state of mind in our head. If our mind has a love for acts of service, our body uses its limbs to perform acts of service. Our body will do this because our will and intellect have their primary structures in our head and the derivations of those primary structures in our body, so that our will is present in what we do and our thinking is present in what we say.

Likewise the reproductive impetus in a seed affects each and every part of a tree and uses those parts to produce pieces of fruit as its acts of service. Or for another example, fife and light inside a clear container make the container hot bright. In people whose three categories of love have been prioritized in the right and proper way, their mind’s spiritual sight and their body’s physical sight are translucent to the light that flows in through heaven from the Lord, just as a pomegranate is translucent all the way through to the center where the seeds are.

Something comparable is meant by the following words of the Lord: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is whole, that is, good, your entire body is full of light” (Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34).

No one whose reason is sound could condemn wealth. Wealth in the general body politic is like blood in us. No one whose reason is sound could condemn the levels of status that go with different jobs–they are the monarch’s hands and the pillars of society, provided a spiritual love for status takes priority over an earthly and sense-oriented love for it. In fact, there are government positions in heaven and there is status that goes with them; but because the people who fill these positions are spiritual, the thing they love the most is to be useful.

from True Christianity, Section 403

By Little and Little

When man is being regenerated, he is not regenerated speedily but slowly. The reason is that all things, which he has thought, purposed and done since infancy, have added themselves to his life and have come to constitute it. They have also formed such a connection among themselves that no one thing can be removed unless all are at the same time.

Regeneration, or the implantation of the life of heave in man, begins in his infancy, and continues to the last of his life in the world, and is perfected to eternity. — Arcana Coelestia, Section 9334

from The Gist of Swedenborg, The Light of Love and Truth

6. People Who Are merely Earthly and Sense-Oriented

Only a few know what “sense-oriented people” are and what they are like, even though it is an important thing to know. Therefore I will describe them.

a. “Sense-oriented people” are people who judge everything on the basis of their physical senses–people who will not believe anything unless they can see it with their eyes and touch it with their hands. What they can see and touch they call “something.” Everything else they reject. Sense-oriented people, then, are earthly in the lowest way.

b. The inner levels of their mind, levels that see in heaven’s light, are closed inside people like this to the point where they see nothing true related to heaven or the church. This is because their thinking occurs on an outermost level and not inside, where the light is spiritual.

c. Since the light they have is dense and earthly, people like this are inwardly opposed to things related to heaven and the church, although they are outwardly able to speak in favor of them. If things related to heaven and the church give these people ruling power, they are even capable of speaking ardently in favor of them.

d. Sense-oriented people are able to reason sharply and skillfully, because their thinking is so close to their speech as to be practically in it–almost inside their lips; and because they attribute all intelligence solely to the ability to speak from memory.

e. Some of them can defend whatever they want. They have great skill at defending things that are false. After they have defended falsities convincingly, they themselves believe those falsities are true. They base their reasoning and defense on mistaken impressions from the senses that the public finds captivating and convincing.

f. Sense-oriented people are more deceptive and ill-intentioned than others.

g. The inner areas of their mind are foul and filthy because they use them to communicate with the hells.

h. The inhabitants of hell are sense-oriented. The deeper in hell they are, the more sense-oriented they are. The sphere of hellish spirits is connected to our sense impressions through a kind of back door.

i. Sense-oriented people do not see anything that is genuinely true in the light. Instead, on every topic they debate and argue whether it is so. From a distance their arguments sound like the grinding of teeth. The sounds of teeth grinding are actually the result of falsities colliding with each other, and falsity ad truth in collision as well. This makes it clear what “the grinding” or “gnashing teeth” means in the Word. Teeth correspond to reasoning based on mistaken impressions from our senses.

j. The educated and the scholarly who are deeply convinced of falsities–especially people who oppose the truths in the Word–are more sense-oriented than others, although that is not how they seem to the world. People who are sense-oriented are the foremost developers of heresies.

k. For the most part, hypocrites, deceitful people, hedonists, adulterers, ad misers are sense-oriented.

l. The ancients had a term for people who debate on the basis of sense impressions alone and speak against genuine truth in the Word and the church: they called them serpents of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Sense impressions mean thigs that impinge on our physical senses and are experienced by those senses. This point leads to a number of others:

m. We are in touch with the world by means of sense impressions ad with heaven by means of impressions on our rationality, which transcend sense impressions.

n. Sense impressions supply things from the physical world that serve the inner realms of the mind in the spiritual world.

o. There are sense impressions that feed the intellect: they are various earthly objects that are labeled “material.” There are sense impressions that feed the will: they are called the pleasures of the senses and the body.

p. Unless our thought is lifted above the level of our sense impressions, we have very little wisdom. Wise people think above the level of sense impressions. Wen our thinking rises above sense impressions, it enters a clearer light ad eventually comes into the light of heaven. From this light we get the awareness of truth that constitutes real intelligence.

q. The ancients knew how to lift their minds above sense impressions and take their minds away from them.

r. If sense impressions have the lowest priority, they help open a pathway for the intellect. We then extrapolate truths by a method of extraction. On the other hand, if sense impressions have the highest priority, that pathway is closed and truths are not visible to us except as if they were in a fog or i the dark night.

s. For wise people, sense impressions have the lowest priority and are subservient to things that are deep inside. For unwise people, sense impressions have the highest priority and are in control. This type of person can truly be called sense-oriented.

t. There are sense impressions that we have in common with animals and sense impressions that we do not have in common with animals. The more we lift our thinking above sense impressions, the more human we are. Without acknowledging God and living by his commandments, however, none of us can lift our thinking above sense impressions and see the truths that relate to the church. It is God who lifts and enlightens us.

from True Christianity, Section 402

5. Our Inner and Outer Selves (Continued)

f. People who have only a general concept of the inner and outer self believe that the inner self is the part that thinks and wills while the outer self is the part that speaks and acts, since thinking and willing are internal while speaking and acting are external. One thing is important to realize, however. When we are thinking and willing good things in relation to the Lord and all that is the Lord’s, and when we are thinking and willing them in relation to our neighbor and all that is our neighbor’s, then our thinking and willing are coming from a inner self that is spiritual. This is so because they are coming from true faith and a love for what is good. On the other had, when we have evil thoughts about the Lord and our neighbor and evil intentions toward them, the our thinking and willing are coming from an inner self that is hellish, because they are coming from a false faith and a love for what is evil. Briefly put, the more we focus on loving the Lord and our neighbor, the more spiritual our inner self is. From that inner self we think and will, and from it we even speak and act as well. On the other hand, the more we focus on loving ourselves ad the world, the more our thinking and willing come from hell, although we speak and act otherwise.

g. The Lord has provided and arranged that the more our thinking and willing come from heaven, the more our spiritual self opens and adapts. This opening is an opening to heaven, all the way to the Lord; and this adaptation is an adaptation to things that are in heaven.

On the on the had, the more our thinking and willing come from the world, not heaven, the more our inner spiritual self closes and our outer self opens and adapts. This opening is an opening to the world and this adaptation is an adaptation to the things that are in hell.

h. People whose inner spiritual selves opened to heave and the Lord are in the light of heaven. They have enlightenment from the Lord and a resulting intelligence and wisdom. They see truth from the light of truth. They sense what is good from a love for what is good.

People whose inner spiritual selves have closed, however, do not know what the inner self is. They do not believe in the Word, life after death, or anything related to heaven or the church. Because they have a light that is merely earthly, they believe that nature arises from itself, not from God. They see what is false as true and sense what is evil as good.

i. The Inner and outer levels discussed here are the inner and outer levels of our spirit. Our body is only an element added on the outside as a container for all the above. Our body does nothing on its own–it acts on behalf of the spirit that is inside it.

It is important to know that after our spirit parts company with our body, it still thinks, wills, speaks, and acts. Thinking and willing remain our inner level and speaking and acting then become our outer level.

from True Christianity, Section 401 (Cont’d)

5. Our Inner and Outer Selves

a. We have been created to be in the spiritual world and the physical world at the same time. The spiritual world is where angels are. The physical world is where people are. Because we have been created that way, we have been given inner and outer level: an inner level so we can be in the spiritual world and an outer level so we can be in the physical world. The inner level is called our inner self, and the outer level is called our outer self.

b. Everyone has an inner and an outer self, but they are different in good people than in evil people. The inner level of good people is in heaven and its light. Their outer level is in the world and its light; and the light of heaven within them illuminates the light of the world. Their inner and outer levels are united like cause and effect or like something prior and something subsequent. With evil people, however, their inner level is in hell and its light. Compared to the heaven’s light, the light of hell is pitch darkness. The outer level of evil people can be in the same light that good people are in. Therefore they are upside-down. This explains how evil people are capable of speaking, ad teaching about faith, and goodwill, and God, but not from faith, goodwill, and God the way good people can.

c. Our inner self is called our spiritual self because it is in the light of heaven, a light that is spiritual. Our outer self is called our earthly self because it is in the light of the world, a light that is earthly. People whose inner level is in the light of heaven and whose outer level is in the light of the world are spiritual on both levels, since spiritual light from within enlightens their earthly light and makes it its own. The reverse is true for evil people.

d. The inner self that is spiritual is actually an angel of heaven. Even while it is alive in our body, it is in a community with angels, although it does not realize that. After it is released from the body, it comes to live among those angels. The inner self among evil people, however, is a satan. Even while it is living in our body, it is in a community with satans. After it is released from the body, it comes to live among those satans.

e. In people who are spiritual, the inner parts of their mind are actually raised up toward heaven, because heaven is their predominant focus. In people who are merely earthly, however, the inner parts of their mind are turned away from heaven toward the world, because the world is their predominant focus.

from True Christianity, Section 401

4. Love for Ourselves and Love for the World in Specific (Continued)

h. There are two kinds of ruling power: one comes from love for our neighbor; the other comes from love for ourselves. They are opposite to each other. If we have ruling power because we love our neighbors, we want what is good for all. We love nothing more than being useful and serving others. Serving others is doing good and useful things for them because we wish them well. This is what we love to do and what gives pleasure to our heart. In this case, the more we are promoted to high positions, the happier we are, not because of the high positions but because of the useful things we can then do with a wider scope and greater magnitude. This is the nature of ruling power in the heavens.

On the other hand, if we have ruling power because we love ourselves, we want that is good for no one except ourselves and our own. The useful things we do are for our own honor and glory. As far as we are concerned, honor and glory are the only really useful things. If we serve others, it is for the purpose of being served and honored and having power. We pursue high positions not for the good things we could do but to have importance and glory and the heartfelt pleasure they bring us.

i. The particular love for ruling power that people who have had stays with them after their life in the world. People who had power because they loved their neighbor are entrusted with power in the heavens. In that situation, they do not have the power: the good and useful causes they love have the power. And when good and useful causes have the power, the Lord has the power.

People who had ruling power in the world because they loved themselves are thrown out of office after their life in the world comes to an end. They are then forced into slavery.

The points above make it now possible to recognize which people have love for themselves. It does not matter how they seem in outer form, whether haughty or obsequious. The attributes discussed above are in their inner selves, and the inner self is hidden from most other people. Their outer selves are taught to pretend to love the public and their neighbors–the opposite of what they feel. This too they do for their own sake. They are aware that loving the public and their neighbors deeply affects people and increases people’s respect for them. This strategy works because heaven flows into a love for the public and for one’s neighbor.

j. The evil qualities generally found in people who love themselves are contempt for others, jealousy, unfriendliness toward people who do not favor them; a resulting hostility; and various kinds of hatred, vengefulness, guile, deceit, ruthlessness, and cruelty. Where you find evils like this, you also find contempt for God and for the divine things that are the true insights and good actions taught by the church. If such people honor these things, their respect is only verbal, not heartfelt. Because evils like these are present, related falsities are also present, since falsities come from evils.

k. Love for the world, on the other hand, is wanting to redirect other people’s wealth to ourselves with whatever skill we have. It is putting our heart in riches and letting the world distract us and steer us away from spiritual love (love for our neighbor) and heaven. We have a love for the world if we long to redirect other people’s possessions to ourselves by various methods, especially if we use trickery and deception, and have no concern for how our neighbor is doing. If we have this type of love, we have a strong and growing craving for good things other people have. Provided we do not fear the law or losing our reputation, we take people’s things away, and in fact rob people blind.

l. Yet love for the world is not as opposite to heavenly love as love for ourselves is–the evils hidden in it are not as enormous.

m. Love for the world takes many forms. It can be a love we have for wealth in order to be promoted to higher positions. It can be a love for honor and high position for the sake of increasing our wealth. It can be a love for wealth for the sake of various benefits that gratify us in the world. It can be a love for wealth for the sake of wealth itself: this kind is miserly. And so on. Our purpose in gaining the wealth is the use we hope to get out of it. This purpose or use determines the quality of the love. The nature of any love is the nature of the purpose it has; everything else about it serves as a means.

n. To summarize, love for ourselves and love for the world are completely opposite to love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. Therefore love for ourselves and love for the world, as I have just described them, are hellish loves. In fact, they rule in hell. They also create a hell in us.

Love for the Lord, however, and love for our neighbor are heavenly loves. In fact, they rule in heaven. They also create a heaven in us.

from True Christianity, Section 400 (Cont’d)