September 14, 2016

What is Spiritual is Distinct from What is Natural

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
There are three things which succeed one another in heaven, and which, in order that they may be conceived distinctly, are to be called by their names, which are "celestial," "spiritual," and "natural."  These three proceed there in order, one from another, and by the influx of one into the next successively they are connected together, and thereby make a one. The Divine of the Lord in the heavens, from the difference of its reception, is called by these names.
The successives in heaven - Most of the learned at this day have no other idea of successives, than as of what is continuous, or as of that which coheres by continuity. As they have this idea of the succession of things, they cannot conceive the nature of the distinction between the exteriors and interiors of man, nor consequently between the body and the spirit of man; and therefore when they think about them from these ideas, they cannot possibly understand that after the dispersion or death of the body, the spirit also is able to live under a human form.

But successives are not connected continuously, but discretely, that is, distinctly according to degrees; for interior things are wholly distinct from exterior, insomuch that exterior things can be separated, and yet the interior things still continue in their life. This is the reason why man can be withdrawn from the body and think in his spirit; or according to the form of speaking used by the ancients, can be withdrawn from sensuous, and raised toward interior things. The ancients also knew that when man is withdrawn from the sensuous things that belong to the body, he is withdrawn or raised into the light of his spirit, thus into the light of heaven. Hence also the learned ancients knew that when the body was dispersed, they would live an interior life which they called their spirit; and as they regarded that life as the very human life itself, they also knew from this that they should live under the human form. Such was the idea which they had of the soul of man; and as that life was akin to life Divine, they hence perceived that their soul was immortal; for they knew that that part of man which was akin to life Divine, and thus conjoined with it, could not possibly die.

But after those ancient times this idea of the soul and of the spirit of man disappeared, by reason, as said above, of the want of a just idea of successives. Hence also it is, that they who think from modern learning do not know that there is what is spiritual, and that this is distinct from what is natural. For they who have an idea of successives as of what is continuous, cannot conceive of the spiritual otherwise than as of a purer natural, when yet they are as distinct from each other as are the prior and the posterior, thus as that which begets and that which is begotten. From this it is that the distinction between the internal or spiritual man, and the external or natural, thus between man's internal thought and will, and his external thought and will, is not apprehended by such learned men. Hence neither can they comprehend anything of faith and love, of heaven and hell, and of the life of man after death.

But they who have a just and distinct idea of successives are able in some degree to comprehend that with a man who is being regenerated the interiors are successively opened, and that as they are opened they are also raised into interior light and life, and nearer to the Divine; and that this opening and consequent elevation is effected by means of truths Divine, which are vessels recipient of the good of love from the Divine. The good of love is that which immediately conjoins man with the Divine, for love is spiritual conjunction. Hence it follows that man can thus be more and more interiorly opened and raised in proportion as he is in the good of love from the Divine; and that conversely there is no opening and consequent elevation with the man who does not receive truths Divine; as is the case if a man is in evil.

(Arcana Coelestia 10099)