Three Levels of Life in Every Individual – According to Emanuel Swedenborg

ISwedenborgn Emanuel Swedenborg’s book, Heaven and Hell, at marker 468 [2], he talks about three levels of life, he writes;

“Our rational ability is opened at the first level by means of civic truths, at the second by moral truths, and at the third level by spiritual truths.”

He goes on to say, that knowing the truths is not enough, you must live them. Not only live them, but spiritually love them.

Civic Truths – Love what is fair and equitable.

Moral Truths – Love what is honest and upright.

Spiritual Truths – Love what is good and true in regard to heaven and the church.

Swedenborg extols us to not love them because they make us feel better or superior to our fellowtruth humans, but because of our affection for the truths. Truths that become part of our conscience, embedded in us so we may retain these feelings in subsequent lives and build upon them.

Chapter III. The Inmost or the Soul Proper.


THIS diagram presents that supreme or inmost degree A which is absolutely the first or initial structure in every man, spirit and angel.

Though all of man except the natural body is commonly called soul, yet.technically only this supreme or inmost degree is the soul. (TCR 697, 103; DLW 388.)

This soul is the veriest dwelling-place of the LORD. The LORD flows’ into this degree with love and wisdom as one, and thence forms, flows into, orders and preserves all the degrees below. (Inf. 8; HH 39; LJ 25.)

This inmost is composed of the highest and purest spiritual substances in man and lies above the plane of either human or angelic consciousness. The mind B, which is below this supreme degree and formed from it, is composed of grosser spiritual substances, and the spiritual body C of still grosser. (HH 39; LJ 25; Inf. 8, 14; S.D. 5548.)

Influx from the LORD enters first into this supreme or inmost degree, thence into the mind, thence into the spiritual body and from this into the natural body. (CL 101.)

This inmost is the primal and unconscious origin of the two great faculties of spiritual liberty and rationality by which man is distinguished from the brute, which faculties are essential elements of his nature, – liberty inhering in the will, rationality in the understanding. (LJ 25 ; DLW 240, 247; AC 1707; TCR 697 end.)

In Arcana Coelestia AC (n. 1940, 1889, 1707) this highest degree is called the internal man, all the planes below it being relatively the external man. It is also called the “human internal;” – the human internals of all men, spirits and angels form in the aggregate a vast complex degree called the heaven of human internals, which is above the inmost angelic heaven. (AC 1999.)

The angelic heavens lie within the region of consciousness. What transcends this region is above the angelic heavens and so appears in the sight of the LORD.

This supreme degree is the very Alpha of man, the material body is his Omega.

Doubtless it was from His residence in this highest degree that the LORD inflowed and filled the angels with His Divine when He appeared and spoke through them to the patriarchs and prophets. The private consciousness of the angel, in whatever plane below, being for the time suspended, the utterances were not his own but the LORD’S through him. (AC 1 745, 1925; AE 1228; DP 96.)

This supreme degree being the source of all the others is drawn in gold to represent sun Colour, because sun Colour, the perfect union of red and white, is the source of all other Colours. (See “Colour in the Diagrams,” page 12.)

Was The Forbidden Fruit A Crisp, Juicy Apple?

Eating fruit is supposed to be healthy for us. The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is a positive testimonial to its nutritional value and fiber content.

So why would God warn Adam and Eve not to do something which offered real health benefits? What made the forbidden fruit forbidden? If one does not think deeply about this, then the only conclusion to be made is that this particular fruit was not necessarily bad to eat, but that the act of disobeying God made it evil.

If one does think deeply about this biblical event it becomes quite troublesome. The outcome, called “The Fall,” challenges our intuitive and deep sense of justice and rightness.

In this story, God concocted an artificial test, which had nothing to do with a person’s actual character or morality, yet became so indignant by this minor infraction that all humanity was doomed to suffer. Why would someone’s moment of weakness be transferred to future generations as deadly original sin?

It seems as though God acted more like a spoiled brat than one possessing Infinite Love and Wisdom. And why did God later choose to become more practical with the Ten Commandments, which does indeed address and test the quality of human souls? Was God still tinkering with how humans should behave? Tinkering does not suggest inerrancy.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. The problem is that the literal interpretation of its stories kills heavenly communication.

The Word of God could not be the Word of God unless it contained the boundless depth of Infinite wisdom. God could not have created everything in the universe, including bio-complexity, from the Holy Word, unless it too, contained unimaginable complexity. The only way Infinite Wisdom and complexity can exist in a finite book is if Scripture is a multidimensional document with layers of meaning.

These higher meanings allow God to reveal more and more divine wisdom to us. For instance, on a higher level, the act of eating in Scripture represents appropriation. When we eat and metabolize food (or fruit) it enters into our very fabric and becomes “us.” The same thing holds true with ideas and beliefs – which we can swallow whole.

Simply put, the forbidden fruit was harmful because it was really poisonous to eat – poisonous for the soul. God warned against eating this fruit because it came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which represents humankind’s misguided belief and faith in their own self intelligence, rather then being led by God’s wisdom (Tree of Life).

To be expelled from the Garden of Eden is to be removed from God’s wisdom. Everything wrong about today’s world and human affairs is not from any ongoing punishment. It all stems from a lack of wisdom.

Don’t you think that the “fruits” of one’s self-pride and ego reasoning are much more tempting and sweeter than a mere apple? This higher lesson is carried over into the New Testament by the Lord’s words, “wherefore by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:20) and “for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33).

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What can plants teach us?

Spiritual lessons in plantsThe closer we look at the structure of even ‘simple’ plants the more we can begin to see of the way each petal or leaf is formed in a particular shape, has colours, layers and textures which suit it perfectly. Florists work with this variety to create their arrangements; a garden designer applies their knowledge on a different scale but with an understanding of how the complete effect will look.

Christ spoke about the lily and highlighted the splendid intricacies we overlook so frequently, but his message reaches deeper and he reminded people that they can trust God to know their needs and provide for them, rather than worrying themselves unnecessarily.

The ‘green shoots of recovery’ may be the sort of phrase that crops up on the news bulletins but that idea of things having to start small and vulnerable before maturing and getting properly established is a sound principle. It applies to our spiritual growth, our journey towards better states as the ‘good’ habits we desire and work towards become more and more settled in our life and routine.

The idea of our life as a place where things grow and flourish (both ‘good’ and ‘bad’) is something we tend to find manageable as an idea. Have you ever considered the detail of each little part, of how beautiful and intricate aspects of our heavenly life really can be?

We can see and respond to the kindness and thoughtfulness of someone else – the beauty of that little green shoot in their life has enhanced our day too. Maybe we have been helped by something as fleeting as a smile or a kind word, perhaps the gift of someone’s time and attention has been a benefit to our situation today?

These apparently small and everyday generosities have more of an impact than we often realise. Perhaps it does us good to take time and really think about the things we are growing in the fertile ground that is our own life. The simplest of heavenly things bring a growing hint of the inner development of angelic beauty and disposition which can’t be bought.  Likewise, no amount of money or fine clothes can disguise a life without some loveliness at its heart.

The Bible continually refers to the natural world in ways that can lead us into more spiritual considerations; everyday concepts around growth of crops can easily link us to more profound levels of thought as we understand the implications of the ‘good’ wheat and the ‘bad’ weeds and thorns which spoil the crop for example.

Consider the lilies, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these..………..Luke 12:27

Seeing the spiritual lilies in bloom, the little but exquisitely beautiful results of what is grounded in love, really make a difference to life and enhances the world for us all.

Based on material by Christine Bank

Beliefs of ancient Egypt about death?

ancient EgyptThe ancient Egypt Book of the Dead is a collection of funerary instructions placed in coffins and sarcophagi in order to prepare the soul of the deceased for the afterlife and judgment. The scenes are dramatically presented in pictures and words.  A Swedenborgian view, of how natural things correspond to spiritual matters, suggests that the instructions of ancient Egypt are based on a clear understanding of psychological progression of the soul from the outer, or physical world, to the first experiences in the inner, spiritual world. Each individual has to give an account of his character and is assessed by independent judges seen as various gods.

One papyrus shows 42 deities and the soul has to address each one by name and make a negative confession relating to various wrong-doings.

O Far-strider … I have done no falsehood

O Fire-embracer … I have not robbed.

O Double Lion … I have not destroyed food supplies.

O You whose face is behind … I have not misconducted myself or abused a boy

O You of the darkness … I have not been quarrelsome.

The judgment is made more awesome because behind the petitioner stands a monster, called Ammit, which will swallow the guilty immediately.

Let us consider this ritual of ancient Egypt in detail. If we contemplated our own death, how many of us could truthfully answer 42 separate judges and say, “I have not been loud-mouthed.” nor committed any other contraventions of right conduct? Recent research into Near Death Experiences shows that many have experienced similar evaluation in which they saw a play-back of whole periods of their life and felt they were assessing its quality, wasted opportunities or some meanness. They were not condemned, but clearly, someone was alongside witnessing their reactions.

It is perhaps easy to smile at the monster Ammit since if a person fails the first test and is swallowed up, is that the end of judgment? The human mind is more complicated and exists on different levels and has many talents which can be used for doing good or harm. Each one has to be assessed separately. Let us take as an example a frequent social evil in our society — vandalism. If the mind is challenged by an unbroken window or a fence and needs to smash it, then something is seriously wrong. Perhaps the people of ancient Egypt  were more honest during their rituals and put the blame where it belongs as they laid bare the whole mind for assessment, noting which parts of it had been corrupted with its health taken away and harmony destroyed. The mind which can only find its delight in destroying, even in killing, is clearly in a very serious state. It has been devoured by a terrifying monster.

The Christian scripture is just as uncompromising about such assessment which is generally called ‘judgment’. In the words of Christ:

There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. (Luke 12: 2-3)

The focus of the ancient Egypt ceremony was the weighing of the heart. During embalming, the internal organs were removed from the body and preserved separately in jars. The heart was judged by itself on the scales against Maat, the goddess of Righteousness or Truth. She was represented as a female body, but instead of a head often had a white feather. Her small figurine stood on the scales weighing the heart of the deceased, or she was represented by her symbol, the white feather. Feathers, especially wing feathers, enable birds to fly and to have a wider view of the world below. Similarly, truth elevates our thoughts to give us what we already call ‘a birds eye view.’ The goddess of truth represents the desire for truth which gives us the ability of discernment and separation between truth and falsity.

However, the heart itself can be said to have its own specific importance since it had always been seen as the seat of the emotions, and so it corresponds to our affections. Too often we think that our love is merely a temporary feeling. The ancients had greater respect for the ‘heart’. The idea is that in our love lies the primary seat of our personality. Swedenborg put it very forcefully:

A person’s life really is his love, and the nature of his love determines the nature of his life, and in fact the whole person. But it is the dominant or ruling love which makes the person….  It is the characteristic of a dominant love that it is loved above all else. What a person loves above all else is constantly present in his thoughts, because it is in his will, and constitutes the very essence of his life…Everyone’s sense of pleasure, bliss and happiness comes from his dominant love, and is dependent on this. (TCR 399)

This is an fairly new concept. Love is seen as the very dynamic of our life, of our vital energy and heat. When we love we grow warm in our body. There is a correspondence between the two. When we lack any desire, we grow cold and lack vitality. According to Swedenborg what we mainly love is also the key to our judgment and character. Each person needs to act honestly. ‘What is it that I love more than anything? What is it for which I am prepared to pay any price, make any sacrifice?’ Unless we have understood that much, we cannot know what is going on in our mind.

We can only marvel at the high degree of perception about the working of the mind revealed in ancient sacred texts.

Adapted from material by Christopher Hasler first published by the Swedenborg Movement