What Free Will is

What Free Will is

That it may be known what free will is, and the nature of it, it is necessary that it should be known whence it is; from the recognition of its origin especially it is known not only that it is, but also what it is. Its origin is from the spiritual world, where the mind of man is kept by the Lord. The mind of man is his spirit, which lives after death. And his spirit is continually in company with its like in that world; and through the material body with which it is encompassed, his spirit is with men in the natural world. The reason why a man does not know that as to his mind he is in the midst of spirits is, that the spirits with whom he is consociated in the spiritual world think and speak spiritually, but the spirit of the man, while he is the material body, thinks and speaks naturally and spiritual thought and speech cannot be understood or perceived by the natural man, nor the reverse; nor therefore can they be seen. But when the spirit of a man is in association with spirits in their world, then he is also, with them in spiritual thought and speech, because his mind is inwardly spiritual but outwardly natural; and therefore by its interiors it communicates with them and by its exteriors with men. Through this communication man has a perception of things, and thinks about them analytically. If man had not this. he would think no more nor otherwise than a beast. So also if all intercourse with spirits should be taken away from him he would instantly, die. But that it may be comprehended how man can be kept in a middle state between heaven and hell, and thereby in the spiritual equilibrium whence he has free will, it shall be briefly explained:—The spiritual world consists of heaven and hell. Heaven is over head, and hell is beneath the feet there; not however in the centre of the earth inhabited by men, but beneath the earth of that world,—which is also of spiritual origin, and therefore has not extension, but the appearance of extension. Between heaven and hell there is a great interval, which to those who are there appears as an entire world. Into this interval evil from hell is exhaled in all abundance; and on the other hand, from heaven good also flows in there in all abundance. It was this interval of which Abraham said to the rich man in hell—” Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that those who would pass over from hence to you cannot; neither can they who are there pass over to us” (Luke xvi. 26). Every man as to his spirit is in the midst of this interval, in order, solely, that he may be in free will. (TCR n. 475)

The spiritual equilibrium which is free will may be compared to a balance, in each scale of which equal weights are placed; if then a little be added to the scale of one side the tongue of the balance above vibrates. It is also similar to a carrying pole, or a large beam balanced upon its support. All and each of the things that are within man, as the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, the spleen, the intestines, and the other organs, are in such an equilibrium. Hence it is that each one in the greatest quietness can perform its functions. So with all the muscles; without such an equilibrium of the muscles all action and reaction would cease, and man would no longer act as a man. Since then all things in the body are in such an equilibrium, all things in the brain also are in the same condition; consequently all things that are in the mind therein, which relate to the will and the understanding. (ibid. n. 478)

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