Chapter XV. The Limbus.

THIS diagram presents a view of the LIMBUS which man derives from the purest substances of the natural world and which he retains as a cutaneous envelop of his spiritual body after death. This cutaneous envelop is called Limbus in the Latin of True Christian Religion TCR 103 where we read, –

“The soul which is from the father is the man himself, and the body, which is from the mother, is not in itself the man, but from him. The body is only the clothing of the soul woven of such [substances] as are of the natural world; but the soul is of such [substances] as are in the spiritual world. Every man after death lays aside the natural [body] which he carried from the mother, and retains the spiritual which was from the father, together with a certain Limbus of the purest [substances] of nature around it.”

The degrees A B C and D combined, represent the whole of the spiritual part of man, that is, all which is composed of spiritual substances (TCR 103, DLW 388), A representing the supreme degree or soul-proper; B the internal or spiritual mind with all its degrees; C the external or natural mind with its degrees; and D the spiritual body, consisting of the spiritual sensual and spiritual corporeal as shown in Diagram XIII.

The Limbus E and gross body F together constitute the entire natural or material body; the limbus being nearer to the spirit and invisible to the natural eye, the gross body more external and rejected at death. E is drawn in green to distinguish it from the spiritual structures above, F consisting of gross natural substances is drawn in dark.

This Limbus, man does not cast off at death but retains as a permanent cutaneous envelop of his spiritual body. The substances of the limbus are the natural substances meant in Divine Love and Wisdom, where we read-

“The natural mind of man consists of spiritual substances and at the same time of natural substances; from its spiritual substances, thought is produced but not from its natural substances; these [natural] substances recede, [or pass from activity to quiescence] when man dies but not the spiritual substances, wherefore that same natural mind after death when man becomes a spirit or an angel, remains in a form similar to that in which it was in the world. The natural substances of this mind, which as was said recede by death, make the cutaneous envelop of the spiritual body in which spirits and angels are. By such envelop, which is taken from the natural world, their spiritual bodies [permanently] subsist, for the natural is the [fixed] containing ultimate.”- DLW 257.

The limbus is described in the same work as something fixed containing the spiritual organism:

“The material form [or natural body of man] which is added and superinduced [upon his spirit] in the world, is not a human form of itself, but from the human form of the spirit, added to and superinduced [upon the spirit] that man may do uses in the natural world, and also that he may carry with him [after death] from the purer substances of the world, something fixed containing his spirituals, and so continue and perpetuate life.”- DLW 388.

And in Divine Providence, we read, –

“Man by death puts off the grosser [substances] of nature and retains the purer which latter are next to his spiritual, and these are then his containants.”-DP 220.

The necessity of a limbus composed of natural substances to keep the spiritual body in form and order arises from the difference between natural substances and spiritual substances. This difference also necessitates the natural world to contain and preserve the spiritual world. The substances of which the bodies of spirits and angels are composed, being interior and evanescent, not ultimate and fixed like material substances, require an envelop of natural substances to hold them permanently in form. But even this natural cutaneous envelop could not preserve the spiritual body of an angel or spirit, in form, were not the envelop itself contained within and resting upon something firmer and more solid than itself, that is, upon the finer substances and through them upon the grosser substances of the natural body of man. (LJ 9.) The evanescence of spiritual substances may be illustrated by the escapement and diffusion of fluids in the natural world. The whole physical universe is related to the spiritual universe as man’s physical body to his spirit, and the highest or inmost plane of this physical universe is related to the spiritual universe as man’s limbus to his spirit. The inmost plane being the nearest covering of the spiritual universe must be the medium by which the life of the spiritual world flows into and operates upon all lower natural substances which constitute the gross physical body of the universe. (Read attentively D. W. in AE VIII, 4, 5.)

Inasmuch as the bodies of men rest on the earth, and spirits and angels through the limbus rest on men, it follows that angels and spirits rest mediately upon the earth itself as the last foundation. (LJ 9.) Angels and spirits rest on men by means of their limbus because the natural substances composing the limbus are joined with the lowest spiritual substances and are in a sense intermediate between the spiritual and the grosser and palpable natural organisms of men. The limbus must be kept in form by connection with natural substances coarser and firmer than itself in graded structures even down to earthly solids.

When we say the limbus is composed of the purest substances of nature we mean the purest of the human body; the substances of the natural sun and others proximately emanating therefrom are doubtless prior to these.

On the nature of spiritual substance on the one hand and material on the other, on the intermediate nature of the Limbus and its use in giving permanence to the existence of angels and spirits and connecting them with men, we read in Divine Wisdom,

“The angelic mind cannot be procreated, and through procreation be multiplied except in man.

“He who knows the quality of substances in the spiritual world, and the quality respectively of matters in the natural world, can easily see that there is no procreation of angelic minds nor can be, except in those and from those who inhabit the ultimate work of creation, the earth. But because the quality of substances in the spiritual world in relation to matters in the natural world is unknown [it shall now be told]. Substances in the spiritual world appear as if they were material, but they are not; and because they are not material therefore they are not constant. They are correspondences of the affections of the angels, and with the affections or the angels they are permanent, and with them they are separated [that is, on the cessation of the affections, the substances composing the object are dispersed, and the Object vanishes, see D. L. W. 344; TCR 78]. Similar would it have been with the angels, had they been created there. But besides, there is not, nor can be, with the angels any procreation and thence multiplication other than a spiritual one, which is that of wisdom and of love, such as is also of the souls of men who are generated anew or regenerated. But in the natural world there are matters, by which and from which procreations and afterwards formations can take place, thus multiplication of men and thence of angels.

Spirits and angels hence derive substance and life to eternity.

“The reason is that every angel and spirit from having been first born a man in the world derives substance, for he retains with himself from the inmost [substances] of nature a medium between the spiritual and the natural by which he is finited [that is, definitely terminated and fixed in form] so that he may subsist and be permanent; by this medium he has something related to the things which are in nature and also correspondent to them.

“By this also spirits and angels can be adjoined, and conjoined to the human race, for there is conjunction and where there is conjunction there must be a medium.

“That there is such a medium the angels know, but because it is from the inmost [substances] of nature and the words of languages are from the ultimates of nature it cannot be described except by abstract [terms].” –D.W. in AE VIII, 3, 4, 5, (See also DLW 344; 6 to 9.)

In Divine Providence we read, –

“The natural and temporal are the outmosts and ultimates into which man first enters, which he does at birth in order that he may afterwards be introduced into things interior and superior; for outermosts and ultimates are containants, and these are in the natural world. This is why no angel or spirit was created immediately, but why all were first born men and so introduced [into things interior or superior]; hence they have the outermosts and ultimates which in themselves are fixed and established, within which and by which interiors can be held together in connection. But man first puts on the grosser [substances] of nature; his body is from them but by death he puts them off, and retains the purer [substances] of nature which are nearest to spiritual [substances] and these then are his containants. Furthermore in outermosts or ultimates, all things interior or superior are together; wherefore every operation of the LORD is from firsts and ultimates together, thus in fullness. But as the outermosts and ultimates of nature cannot receive the spiritual and eternal things to which the human mind is formed, as these are in themselves, and yet man was born to become spiritual and live forever, therefore man puts off the ultimates, and retains only the natural interiors which meet and accord with the spirituals and celestials and subserve them as containants. This is done by the rejection of temporal and natural ultimates, which is the death of the body.”-.DP 220.

In the above we have the reason of the universal order of creation-the finer in the grosser, the active in the inert, the first in the last, the spiritual in the natural. This difference of substances is necessary, for were there no active, fluid, evanescent substances there would be no life, force, or motion; and were there no solid, inert substances there would he no stability and duration of form.

From the foregoing we see that

Because substances in the spiritual world are evanscent and matters in our world are stable and constant especially in ultimates, the whole spiritual universe acquires organic permanence solely by the natural universe clothing and sustaining it.

And we see that

Inasmuch as the human spirit in its rudimental form as an offshoot from the soul of the father is an organism of spiritual substances evanescent in their nature (DLW 432; TCR 103; CL 220), it must (when begotten) be immediately fixed by taking on the primordial rudimentary form of the material body from the purest elements of nature supplied for the purpose by the mother, thus securing permanence and subsequent growth.

And we further see that

Man does not at death cast off the whole of his material form but only the gross mass and retains the purest part which was nearest his spirit, as a limbus or cutaneous envelop to hold his spirit in endless duration, and as a medium conjoining him with man in the world, thus preserving both; spirits and angels resting on men and men receiving influx from them. Hence man at death, when he becomes a spirit, is not utterly separated from the material world since he does not reject ALL he has taken on from this world but remains (to the extent of his limbus) unconsciously connected with it: all this is to secure the Divine end of creation, an ever increasing and ever enduring heaven of human beings.

There is a difference between the states of the limbus of those who die in infancy and of those who die in adult age. In Heaven and Hell we read:

“They who die adult have and carry with them a plane acquired from the earthly and material world. This plane is their [external or natural] memory, and its bodily, natural affection. This remains fixed, and is then quiescent; but still it serves their thought after death as an ultimate plane, for the thought flows into it. Hence such as that plane is and such as is the correspondence of the rational with the contents of that plane such is the man after death. But those who died infants and were educated in heaven have not such a plane, but a spiritual natural plane: because they derive nothing from the material world and the earthly body they cannot be in so gross affections and hence thoughts; for they derive all from heaven.”- HH 345.

We must not infer from the above that those who die in infancy retain no limbus from nature to preserve their spiritual organism. The meaning is they have not a merely natural memory, that is a memory formed in the plane of the limbus by the use of the natural senses as those have who grow up in this life. But while growing up in the other life, their memory is formed in a spiritual structure just within the plane of the spiritual senses and is called spiritual natural because it is in a spiritual plane resting upon the natural. Should their limbus he insufficient for adult stature, it will necessarily be increased as they advance.

As all living organisms undergo change by a resolution and passing off of their substances and renewal by appropriation of new substances, so must it be with the limbus.

We must not suppose that the limbus is taken into the spiritual world. It is natural and must remain in the natural world. Man as to his spirit being of the spiritual world even from birth and unconsciously an inhabitant there during life in the body, does not go into that world at death but merely awakens to manifest presence there by the opening of his spiritual senses. This is because the spiritual and the natural worlds are not separated by distance but are together and conjoined like soul and body.

How can spirits move from place to place in the spiritual world while clothed with a cutaneous envelop of natural substances? Change of locality in that world is effected by change of state. Swedenborg so traveled there as to his spirit while clothed with the gross body even. (See E.U. 127, HH 192, 195.) A fuller answer to this question is given at the end of Chapter XXIII.

The mental functions of the Limbus will be presented in Chapters XVIII to XXIV.

The meaning of the statement “This limbus with those who come after death into heaven is below and the spiritual above, but with those who come into hell the limbus is above and the spiritual below,” etc., (TCR 103) will be best understood after study of the mental functions of the limbus above referred to. (See Diagram XXIV.)

Do You Know How To Do Good?

Doing good is not a cinch, nor is being good as straightforward or as easy to understand as one might first think. It is actually a complex subject and demands our serious contemplation and brainpower.

I will try to share with you the main issues that thwart our being genuinely “good” in this short post.

The first issue concerns procedure. We know that we each carry selfish motives. So it is generally felt that we can offset this by merely starting to be good to others. Then hopefully, we next consider being on guard so as to not be hurtful or causing any harm.

This order is actually backwards and is not the gate to the Christian doctrine of charity.

We must concentrate on evil FIRST because it is seated in our heart. When our negative traits are not addressed first, they remain hidden in the heart and continue stain or taint our good deeds. As a result, we often miss the subtlety of our own hypocrisy and hidden agendas that lie beneath acts of kindness. It is much easier to detect these tainted actions in others – like when coworkers kiss up to the boss or politicians kiss babies.

Doing good deeds first does not remove our negative side. It covers it up!

To the extent that negative traits are not identified and consciously removed, they do not let the principle of mutual love enter deeply into the fabric of our character. This sets up the dynamic by which goodness becomes simulated in outward gestures.

Our physical actions can appear to the world as practicing the good works of charity. And while such actions do indeed accomplish some good, they are simply the rudiments of charity and are merely ways by which we are first initiated into goodness.

It is also not wise to provide assistance without discernment. You do not want to make your donations payable to the devil or to anyone who will turn such charity into harm.

Some people may indeed point to Scripture where it states that we are to help those in need, but from God’s eternal viewpoint we are poor judges of what people need most. Spiritually speaking, the poor in God’s eyes are those who have little knowledge of divine love and truth (spiritual currency). Therefore, if our acts of generosity do not go beyond giving money to the poor, helping the needy and less fortunate, these deeds will do us little good in the afterlife, where the true quality of our inner nature will come to the surface. The Lord wants us to love others from a deeper spiritual principle.

We are created by God and are therefore “organs” receptive of life from God. The important point to be made here is that although God loves each individual equally, God is not equally received by each individual.

We cannot increase our receptivity to God’s love merely by acts of goodness. We increase our receptivity to God in proportion to our efforts to resist negative impulses and ask for the Lord’s help to root them out.

It is by the removal of our bad tendencies that we can return to innocence. There is no other way to be “really good” and obtain the kingdom of heaven.

My source for these “elevated” views on doing good comes from Emanuel Swedenborg’s great theological work, “True Christianity.”

Posted on July 22, 2008by thegodguy

This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Happy marriage — How can this happen?

happy marriageA Jane Austin novel seems to end at the altar as if the wedding were all that is necessary for a happy marriage for all time. Yet these days a lot of marriages seem to finish up on the scrap heap and you might have a sneaky feeling that perhaps a well-known film star was right in her opinion.

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”(Katherine Hepburn)

So is achieving a happy marriage simply a matter of selecting the right mate in the first place, or is it about finding a successful formula for living together? Or perhaps you think it is all to do with good luck?

Experience of happy marriage

Rather than study just failed relationships, several psychological researchers have actually looked at successful marriages. For example the late Judith Wallerstein, reported in her book The good marriage: How and why love lasts, that happily married men and women both tend to report the same basic experiences.

We worked it out. To love, you must feel emotionally safe — totally accepted, respected, and supported. Therefore, we don’t criticize or strike out in anger, instead we gently request a change.”

“We do so much together and agree on most issues, but we have a clear sense of self and do things by ourselves”

“We cherish our time together, expressing our appreciation of each other for little acts of kindness as well as major sacrifices. We treasure our memories and frequently remind each other of the good times.”

This is only a glimpse of what some contented partners have known in their happy marriage.

Mature love needed for a happy marriage

Clearly a lasting relationship is something more than mere sexual pleasure, romantic sentiment, or emotional infatuation.

“You can tell that it’s infatuation when you think that he’s as sexy as Paul Newman, as athletic as Pete Rose, as selfless and dedicated as Ralph Nader, as smart as John Kenneth Galbraith and as funny as Don Rickles. You can be reasonably sure that it’s love when you realize he’s actually about as sexy as Don Rickles, as athletic as Ralph Nader, as smart as Pete Rose, as funny as John Kenneth Galbraith and doesn’t resemble Paul Newman in any way — but you’ll stick with him anyway.” (Judith Viorst)

Immature love has been called trying to fill loneliness or an emotional vacuum with a love relationship. Some psychotherapists have written about immature love saying it follows the principle “I love because I am loved” and “ I love you because I need you.” On the other hand they say that mature love, its opposite, follows the principle “I am loved because I love,” and “I need you because I love you.” Sadly, not a recipe for a happy marriage.

Not surprisingly, mature love is said to imply concern for the partner’s emotional and bodily needs, respect for their uniqueness, seeing them as they really are and helping them to grow and unfold in their own ways, for their own sake and not for serving oneself. We are told it involves entering and become familiar with the private world of the lover, to live in the other person’s life and sense his or her meanings and experiences.

Commitment and happy marriage

Mature love involves commitment. But the issue of commitment seems difficult to many.

Importantly, there is commitment to the exclusive nature of the relationship. Infidelity is a ‘no no.’ In line with the teachings of the world’s major religions, illicit sex and unchaste thoughts are to be avoided.

Over time, any deception destroys intimacy, and without intimacy couples cannot have true and lasting love.” (Bonnie Eaker Weil).

An affair is a betrayal of the trust that has been shared in marriage that is extremely hurtful to the innocent partner.

Neither can a lack of commitment to work on the relationship be seen as good news. There are bound to be problems in any sexual union and so if one gives up easily one could end up living with several partners without giving any of them a proper chance.

“Patience gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time that they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the rough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.” (Stephen Kendrick).

Origin of mature love

So where does mature love come from?  According to Emanuel Swedenborg it has a divine origin. This he calls ‘conjugial love’ which he says is a spiritual gift: it only flows into where it is wanted but when it flows it creates a deep sense of joy, contentment, and delight that lasts for ever. You might wonder whether this is the ‘happy ever after’ many have dreamed about?

Swedenborg maintains that if ‘conjugial love ‘is to be received it requires a man to be prepared to be influenced by his wife’s subjective feelings of care and sensitivity to personal issues. He needs to listen to her practical wisdom. And it requires a woman to be willing to learn from her husband’s objective and rational thinking.  On the other hand,

“When a woman thinks her husband is a fool, her marriage is over. They may part in one year or ten; they may live together until death. But if she thinks he is a fool, she will not love him again.”  (Philippa Gregory).

In other words a lasting happy marriage requires a suitable love match where the two partners can progress together in their personal inner journey, being willing to prioritise each of their needs and humbly learn from each other by celebrating their different strengths.

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Spiritual Substance and Material Reality

Spiritual substance, in particular, is hard for our material minds to grasp. We’re so used to thinking of everything solid as being material, and of everything non-material (thoughts, feelings, etc.) as being wispy and insubstantial. But dreams show us a world that is non-material, and yet solid when we’re in it. Dreams are more like spiritual “movies,” so they’re not quite at the level of reality of being fully conscious in the spiritual world. But they do give us some inkling of its reality.

I recently watched the movie Matrix (the original one, on video, not the subsequent movies), and it plays with this idea of a whole different world that is non-material (in this case, a constructed reality piped directly into people’s brains), and yet very real for those in it. The funny thing is, while I was watching it, I was thinking of this world as the illusion, gripping and mesmerizing people with its sensory pleasures and material satisfactions, all while the people are completely unconscious of a world far more real than this one. Swedenborg interprets “sleeping” in the Bible as being unconscious of spiritual reality, and completely absorbed in material reality. And many prophets and mystics, including Swedenborg, speak of having their “eyes opened” when they see into the spiritual world.

In the movie Matrix the constructed world that people live in looks and feels exactly like the world we actually live in. The “real” world, on the other hand, is a dark, blasted, and destroyed place. I like Swedenborg’s vision better: of the real world (for those who choose heaven) as incomparably brighter and more living than this material world–which is a mere shadow of the greater spiritual realities.

There is also a reversal that takes place in the minds of those who are moving from being materialistic to being spiritually-minded. When we are materialistic, we think of the material world as the most real thing there is, and things get progressively more unreal to us as our thoughts move to spiritual things, and finally to God–whom we see as a non-existent illusion believed in only by simple-minded and gullible people.

But as we move away from materialism and toward spiritual life, our perceptions of reality are turned the other way, and we more and more begin to think of God as the ultimate reality, and spirit as the “real world” for human beings, while seeing the material world as relatively unreal, and its pleasures and privileges as temporary, and even as illusory compared to spiritual pleasures. Yes, this world is real. But the spiritual world is much more real, and God is the most real of all.

Copyright 2012 Lee Woofenden

Reprinted from Who Is The God Of Heaven website

Lee Woofenden is a pastor in New England and may be contacted through information@swedenborg.ca