December 16, 2015

Why Man Desires Recompense for the Good He Does

A portion from passage in Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Man's own righteousness, or his own merit
...truth without good is attended with such self-merit, because when anyone does good, not from the good of truth, he always desires to be recompensed, because he does it for the sake of himself; whereas when anyone does truth from good, this good is then enlightened by the light that is from the Lord. ...

In man there is no pure good, that is, good with which evil is not mingled; nor pure truth, with which falsity is not mingled. For man's will is nothing but evil, from which there continually flows falsity into his understanding; because, as is well known, man receives by inheritance the evil successively accumulated by his progenitors, and from this he produces evil in an actual form, and makes it his own, and adds thereto more evil of himself. But the evils with man are of various kinds; there are evils with which goods cannot be mingled, and there are evils with which they can be mingled; and it is the same with the falsities. Unless this were so, no man could possibly be regenerated. The evils and falsities with which goods and truths cannot be mingled are such as are contrary to love to God and love toward the neighbor; namely, hatreds, revenges, cruelties, and a consequent contempt for others in comparison with one's self; and also the consequent persuasions of falsity. But the evils and falsities with which goods and truths can be mingled are those which are not contrary to love to God and love toward the neighbor.

For example: If anyone loves himself more than others, and from this love studies to excel others in moral and civic life, in memory-knowledges and doctrinal things, and to be exalted to dignities and wealth in pre-eminence to others, and yet acknowledges and adores God, performs kind offices to his neighbor from the heart, and does what is just and fair from conscience; the evil of this love of self is one with which good and truth can be mingled; for it is an evil that is man's own, and that is born hereditarily; and to take it away from him suddenly would be to extinguish the fire of his first life. But the man who loves himself above others, and from this love despises others in comparison with himself, and hates those who do not honor and as it were adore him, and therefore feels a consequent delight of hatred in revenge and cruelty-the evil of such a love as this is one with which good and truth cannot be mingled, for they are contraries. ...
(From Arcana Coelestia 3993)