What is Heaven? — What is Hell?

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  (Mark 12:29-31) KJV

The veriest truth of the church is that love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor are the primary things.

Cupidities extinguish this truth; for those who are in a life of cupidities cannot be in a life of love and charity, for the two are exact opposites. A life of cupidities consists in loving self only, and not the neighbor except from self, or for the sake of self. Hence those who are in this life extinguish charity in themselves; and those who extinguish charity, extinguish also love to the Lord; for there is no other means of loving the Lord than charity, because the Lord is in charity. The affection of charity is heavenly affection itself, which is from the Lord alone.

From this it may be seen that the cupidities of evil extinguish the veriest truth of the church, on the extinction of which a means is devised which is called saving, namely, faith; and when this is separated from charity, truths themselves are defiled, for then it is no longer known what charity is, nor even what the neighbor is, and consequently neither what the internal of man is, nor even what heaven is. For the internal of man, and heaven in man, is charity – that is, willing well to another, to society, to one’s country, to the church, to the Lord’s kingdom, and thus to the Lord Himself. From this we may conclude what is the quality of the truths of the church when those things which are essential are not known, and when the things contrary to them, or cupidities, reign.

When a life of cupidities speaks concerning these truths, are not they defiled to such a degree that they can no longer be recognized?

That no one can be saved unless he has lived in the good of charity, and so has become imbued with its affections, which are to will well to others, and from willing well to do well to them; and that no one can receive the truths of faith — that is, become imbued with them and appropriate them to himself — but he who is in a life of charity has been made manifest to me from those who are in heaven, with whom I have been permitted to converse. There all are forms of charity, with beauty and goodness according to the quality of their charity — their delight, satisfaction, and happiness are from their being able to do good to others from good will.

The man who has not lived in charity cannot possibly know that heaven and its joy consist in willing well and in doing well from willing well, because his heaven is willing well to himself, and from this willing well doing well to others, when yet this is hell.

For heaven is distinguished from hell in this, that heaven, as above said, is doing good from good will, and hell is doing evil from ill will. They who are in love toward the neighbor do good from good will; but they who are in the love of self do evil from ill will. The reason of this is that they love no one but themselves, and others only so far as they see themselves in them, and them in themselves; they also regard these with hatred, which manifests itself as soon as they recede and are no longer theirs. This is like robbers, who so long as they are banded together love one another, but still at heart desire to kill one another, if plunder may thus be obtained.

From these things it may be seen-

What heaven is, that it is love toward the neighbor; and What hell is, that it is the love of self.

They who are in love toward the neighbor are capable of receiving all the truths of faith, and of being imbued with them and making them their own; for in love toward the neighbor there is the all of faith, because heaven and the Lord are in it.

They on the other hand who are in the love of self can in no wise receive the truths of faith, because hell is in this love; nor can they receive the truths of faith in any other way than for the sake of self-honor and gain; thus they cannot possibly become imbued with them and make them their own. But the things which they become imbued with and make their own are denials of truth, for at heart they do not believe even that there is a hell and a heaven, nor that there is a life after death, and therefore they believe nothing that is said about hell and heaven, or about a life after death, thus nothing at all that is said from the Word and from doctrine about faith and charity. When they are in worship they appear to themselves to believe, but this because it has been implanted in them from early childhood to put on this state at such a time; but as soon as they are out of worship they are also out of this state; and then thinking in themselves, they believe nothing at all, and also according to the life of their loves devise things to favor them, which they call truths, and which they confirm from the literal sense of the Word, when yet they are falsities. Such are all who in life and doctrine are in faith separate.

Be it known, moreover, that all things are in the loves — for the loves are what make the life; consequently, the Lord’s life flows solely into the loves.

Such therefore as are the loves, such are the lives, because such are the receptions of life. Love toward the neighbor receives the life of heaven, and the love of self receives the life of hell; thus in love toward the neighbor there is the all of heaven, and in the love of self the all of hell. That all things are in the loves may be illustrated from many things in nature.

Animals, both those that walk on the earth and those that fly in the air or swim in the water, are all impelled according to their loves, and into their loves flows whatever is conducive to their life, that is, to their sustenance, habitation, and procreation. Hence animals of every kind know their food, their abodes, and what concerns their conjugial, such as mating, building nests, laying eggs, and bringing up their young.

The bees also know how to build cells, to suck honey from flowers, to fill with it the honeycombs, and to make provision for themselves against winter, and even to conduct a certain form of government under a queen; besides other marvels. All these things are effected by influx into their loves; the effects of life being varied only by the forms of their affections.

All these things are in their loves; what then would there not be in heavenly love, if man were in this? Would there not be the all of wisdom and intelligence, which is in heaven?

From this also it is that they who have lived in charity, and no others, are received into heaven; and that from charity they have the capacity of receiving and being imbued with all truths, that is, with all things of faith. But the contrary happens to those who are in faith separate, that is, in some truths and not in charity. Their loves receive such things as are in agreement with them, that is to say, the loves of self and of the world receive those things which are contrary to truths, such as are in the hells.

(Arcana Cœlestia 4776)
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About mike

Finding out that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and from the human race the angelic heaven would be formed, my entire focus on life changed. The reason for my creation was to perform Divine uses - The Divine Providence looks to eternal ends. My gain, honor or reputation no longer could be the focal point of what drives the engine. One day I will lay aside this material body and will wake up in the spiritual world never to return; there will be a continuation of life, and my ruling love will be what guides me to my final situation. 'Where a tree falls, there will it lay' (Ecc 11:3) We only have a few years in these bodies compared to eternity. What is fossilized on our souls in this short period is important to how we spend eternity. We are not left to blind faith, The Lord has come in His Word to reveal rationally how we can be made 'a vessel of honor, able for the master's use.' I truly hope the post create a thirst. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to email me. --Mike
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