Chapter VIII. The Mind in Three Degrees


THIS diagram presents the three degrees of the mind B C D as described in Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and concerning the Divine Wisdom,

“The nature of man’s initiament or primitive in the womb, after conception, no one can know because it cannot be seen, and it is also of spiritual substance, which is not visible by natural light. Now because some in the world are such that they direct the mind even to an investigation of man’s primitive which is the seed of the father from which conception takes place, and because many of them have fallen into the error that man is in his fullness from his first which is the beginning [inchoamentuni] and is afterward perfected by growth; therefore the quality of this beginning or first, in its form, has been disclosed to me. This was done by the angels, to whom it was revealed by the LORD. They, have made this of their wisdom, and the joy of their wisdom is to communicate to others what they know; and therefore by leave granted them, they presented before my eyes in the light of heaven a type of man’s initial form, which was as follows:- There appeared something like a very small image of a brain with a delicate delineation of a certain face in front without appendage : this primitive in its upper convex part was compacted of contiguous globules or spherules, and every one of these spherules was compacted of still smaller ones, and every one of these again of the smallest; it was thus of three degrees; anteriorly in the flat part something delineated appeared for the face. The convex part was covered about with a very thin membrane or meninge, which was transparent; this convex part, which was a type of a brain in its leasts, was also divided into two cushions. as it were, as the brain in its largest [forrns] is divided into two hemispheres; and I was told that the- right cushion was the receptacle of love and the left the receptacle of wisdom, and that by marvelous interweavings they were like consorts and comrades. It was farther shown in the heavenly light which beamed upon it, that the structure of this little brainlet was interiorly, as to its situation and fluxion, in the order and in the form of heaven, and that its exterior structure was, on the contrary, opposed to that order and that form. After these things had been seen and shown, the angels said that the two interior degrees 1 which were in the order and form of heaven, were the receptacles of love and wisdom from the LORD.; and that the exterior degree, which was in the opposition to these, contrary to the order and form of heaven, was the receptacle of infernal love and insanity. This is because man by hereditary taint is born into all kinds of evil, and these evils reside there in the extremities; and that taint cannot be removed unless the two superior degrees are opened, which, as before stated, are receptacles of love and wisdom from the LORD. And as love and wisdom are the real man, – for love and wisdom in their essence are the LORD, – and as this primitive of man is their receptacle it follows that in this primitive there is a continuous effort toward the human form, which it also gradually assumes.”- DLW 432

This primitive or beginning of man is also described in Divine Wisdom in Apocalypse Explained, III, 4.

In the above extract the inmost A is neither described nor mentioned, yet we know from the Writings that it is within this primitive, it being the very primitive of the primitive.

The two higher degrees B and C constitute the whole internal mind and represent that mind in its two aspects of celestial and spiritual, and in the individual are equivalent to the two kingdoms in heaven; and they produce from themselves the external or natural degree D as their ultimate and base, answering to the world of spirits.

In this passage (DLW 432) these three degrees are presented in their strictly initial form as at conception. The two interior or superior degrees are represented in the diagram by B and C and the external degree by D. In Divine Wisdom III, 4, the two higher degrees B and C are said to be in the order and form of heaven, but the mass of the lowest degree, by virtue of hereditary decline, in the order and form of hell.

In Divine Love and Wisdom we read,

“The natural mind of man consists of spiritual substances, and at the same time of natural substances; from it; spiritual substances thought is produced, but not from its natural substances.”- DLW 257.

Of this natural mind, only that part which is organized of spiritual substances and called the lowest degree of the human primitive described above, is here represented by D; that part composed of natural substances which the above primitive afterward takes on from the mother, is not here separately drawn, though included in E, but it will be distinctly presented in Diagram XV.

The reader will bear in mind that the human primitive which is the paternal seed, already described from the Writings and here represented by B C D, is composed entirely of spiritual substance not visible in natural light; the material substance commonly regarded as the human seed is not the true seed, but merely its containant and preservative. (TCR 103, 92.)

NOTE. – The initial form of man in a type seen in the light of heaven, (described in DLW 432), is not man’s inmost presented in Diagram III and meant in Heaven and Hell 39 and other like passages in the Writings, but is the mind derived from the inmost, – the mind with its three degrees, in a germinal state.

This agrees with the fact that the “inmost, the LORD’S veriest abode in man,” (HH 39), is above the sphere of angelic consciousness, and with the fact that the heaven of human internals,” which is the complex of these supreme degrees of all the individual angels, is above the angelic heaven (AC 1999), because, above angelic consciousness, above the highest degree of the mind of the angel, as distinguished from his soul. (See Inf. 8.)


Chapter VII. Internal Will and Understanding, and External Will and Understanding.

THE internal will and understanding B and C pertain to the spiritual mind, the external will and understanding, D and E, to the natural mind, as shown in this diagram.

The external will and understanding may be either conjoined with the internal and act in harmony with them, or be severed from them and act in opposition.

In a state of order the external will and understanding are in agreement and co-operation with the internal and are conjoined with them, so that they constitute as it were one will and understanding.

With the wicked, the spiritual will and understanding, although never perverted, are yet closed and quiescent; but their natural will and understanding, though open and operative, are defiled with evil and falsity and severed from the spiritual, and hence act in opposition to them.

The will and understanding are here presented as organic faculties of the mind; the external organism being an outbirth from the internal. Their varying states will be presented in other diagrams.

The will is drawn in red because it is the receptacle of love, the understanding in white because it is the receptacle of truth.

The spiritual body F and the natural body H are only more ultimate forms and instruments of the will and understanding. (DLW 362. See Chap. IV. page 21)

Chapter VI. The Internal and the External Mind.

THE mind is here drawn in two planes-the internal or spiritual mind B and the external or natural mind C.

The spiritual body D though separately drawn, is yet closely conjoined with the external mind, and in the Writings is generally inclosed in it.

The internal mind is the primary and special abode of love to the LORD and of love to the neighbor. The external mind is the abode of self-love and of love of the world. (DLW 396; DP 324; TCR 401, 402; AC 9701-9709; NJHD 36-53.)

Divisions of the degrees into internal and external other than this occur in the Writings, and the same degrees are differently designated in different passages. A certain degree may in one passage be called the internal man, in another the spiritual man, in another the inmost man, in another the middle man, in another the rational man, and yet in others classed with and called the exterior or external man; all arising from different points of view.

In this diagram the internal mind B in the individual man or angel answers to the plane of the angelic heavens, and the external C answers to the region of the world of spirits.

In Apocalypse Explained, AE we read, –

“When the interior of man is purified from evils then the internal is opened which is above the interior, and which is called the spiritual internal; this communicates with heaven. There are two internals in man, one beneath and the other above. The internal which is beneath is that in which man is, and from which he thinks while he lives in the world, for it is natural this, by way of distinction, will be called the interior. But the internal which is above is that into which man comes after death when he comes into heaven; all the angels of heaven are in this internal, for it is spiritual.”- AE 940.

It should be noted that in the above passage the degree C is the natural internal, and is said to be below the spiritual internal which is B. This lower or natural internal is also called in this number and elsewhere in the Writings the interior.

In Apocalypse Explained, AE 940, this natural C is called natural internal in distinction to an extreme degree of the natural mind close to the body, which constitutes a natural external not here drawn, but to be drawn in Diagram XI

In the original Latin the internal mind is frequently called Mens, and the external mind and spiritual body together are called Animus, though Animus is sometimes restricted to the natural mind merely. In a wider sense Animus includes also that part of the external mind formed of natural substances as mentioned in Divine Love and Wisdom, 257. (See Diagram XV.)

In the prayer “Thy will be done as in heaven so upon the earth”, “as in heaven” means “as in the spiritual mind” and “so upon the earth” means “so in the natural mind.” “That your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied as the days of the heavens upon the earth,” (Deut. xi, 21), means that with the regenerate the states of the natural mind will accord with the states of the spiritual mind.

Chapter V. Will and Understanding. – Another View.

THIS diagram presents the will as a distinct faculty above the understanding, or, in simultaneous order, within the understanding. The will is called the celestial faculty and sometimes the celestial kingdom, and the understanding the spiritual; love is celestial, truth is spiritual. The will in every man and angel answers to the celestial kingdom of heaven, the understanding to the spiritual kingdom. (Consult Diagrams IX, X, XII.)

Considering the will as the highest and inmost degree and the understanding as the middle, the spiritual body D will be the lowest or outmost degree of the spirit. The spiritual body, however, is not another faculty, but merely an ultimate of the will and the understanding, so organized that by it the will and the understanding may enjoy outward sensation and give expression corresponding with affection and thought. In this view the mind constitutes the whole spirit of man, and the spirit is but an internal and an external will and understanding.

And as the material body is merely an intellectual and voluntary organism superadded for lowest and outmost sensation, perception and expression, it must be included when we say that the whole man is but an organic form of will and understanding. (DLW 358 to 432.)

What can I learn from nature?

natureNature is a wonderful thing. Individuals and governments are committed to showing more respect for the environment rather than carelessly destroying it. Concern about the sustainability of the planet and its protection is a contemporary attitude that is becoming quite common. I feel it reflects a spiritual sensitivity to the goodness of the unspoilt natural world.

Nature is familiar and easily described, yet somehow it can evoke something less obvious and difficult to express in words; something mysterious and on a different level. Who hasn’t at one time or another not felt inspired by the beauty of a mountain vista, a seascape or a rainbow full of startling colour? Who has not felt at peace contemplating cattle quietly grazing, being cheered by the sound of birdsong heard in the morning, or being enraptured by the scent of the pinewood in summer?  Has nature anything more specific to teach you?

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in ourlives.” (Mary Ann Brussat)

In general animals are well known for the way they protect and nurture their offspring, their practical good sense in the way they adapt to their habitat, and their ability to live in the moment. All spiritual qualities. But can we learn any specific lessons from different species? Has the fox or the snake something particular to teach us?  Or is this just being anthropomorphic and attributing to animals human characteristics like in Aesop’s fables?

I would suggest to learn from nature requires an objective attitude of mind — a willingness to look deeply into what is really there as opposed to taking on board the stereotypes learned from childhood.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)

Nature of eagles

These birds soar high in the sky on widespread powerful wings and see with sharp sightedness what is far below. I can see a picture of the human mind here. Isn’t an eagle’s perception one of a higher quality than the ordinary way of seeing things? Like uplifted thinking that searches out what is difficult to see when you are immersed in the mundane world of daily concerns. According to this viewpoint your mind is capable of soaring high to see life from a higher perspective.

Nature of lambs

Here we find gentle playful trusting creatures, who reveal a joy of contentment and peacefulness. Such innocence is unselfconscious and unsullied by any thought of anything harmful or bad.  Is this not a picture of the innocence of the Divine source of all that is good deeply present within your soul?

Negative characteristics of nature

The more you know about animals, the more you also notice their negative sides. Eagles are far seeing so that they can feed — predators which swoop down and carry off lambs. According to one theory this mixture of negative and positive is an additional pointer to the spiritual. It’s author, Emanuel Swedenborg, in his notion of ‘correspondences’, maintains that the natural world is both positive and negative because it is a reflection of human inner character, human beings having both good and bad elements to their conduct. For him, the positive is the higher reality of the divine perspective: on the other hand the negative is the lower perspective of egoism inverting and corrupting what is from the divine. Thus where some animals show a negative characteristic, this also alerts us to the spiritual factor again — but this time in terms of its opposite.

Nature of pigs

Pigs are highly social animals. Properly kept they are a clean and attractive and can be quite intelligent. A pig will forage all the time, endlessly searching for something more to consume.  For me this conjures up a picture of consumerism. People who allow themselves to become fixated on getting more and more things — money, clothes, gizmos, food, the latest fashion accessory etc. Pigs also have a reputation for gluttony and dirtiness. It is these latter qualities which provide the symbol of inner greed – the love of self that takes what it can get for itself searching out everything it can want.

Nature of donkeys

Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of “self preservation” than exhibited by horses. It is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. However, once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable in work.

Cannot the donkey be seen as corresponding to a human natural way of thinking which can be argumentative and which would rather trust its own senses? I would suggest the donkey teaches us that such an attitude is capable of becoming trusting and obedient to a higher truth. Such an obedient understanding to deeper principles in people could carry us to a better way of living.

“The more humility we develop, the more signs of the Divine we can see around us and within us and the closer we grow to the deep joy and happiness to be experienced deep within our soul.” (from Soul Symbols by Helen Newton & Becky Jarratt)

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

Chapter IV. The Mind: – Its Two Faculties, Will and Understanding.

CONCERNING the “inmost” see Diagram III. Next below the inmost stands the mind which is composed of will and understanding B and C. They are above the spiritual body D, or within it, – above in successive order and within in simultaneous order.

The will is drawn in red because it is the receptacle and abode of love or good. The understanding is drawn in white because it is the receptacle and abode of wisdom or truth. See reason for this in “Colour in the Diagrams” page 11.

Below the mind stands the spiritual body D. This body being but a derivative ultimate and foundation of the mind, or in simultaneous order its envelop and containant, has a quality like that of the mind. The mind is both voluntary and intellectual, the voluntary is drawn in red, the intellectual in white. Hence the spiritual body (their complex in ultimates) is both red and white – red from the will and its affection, white from the understanding and thought. Hence also the rosy tint and lily white in the countenance of an angel, and the fire and light in the countenance and eyes of man. (DLW 369; CL 42, 384.)

The natural body E, the last in the series, is drawn in Colour moderately red and white for the same reason, and being an effect from the prior forms may be called the mind in its extreme organism. Hence the presence in the body of dual organs and parts, as two hemispheres of the brain, pairs of nerves, two eyes, two hands, two feet:- the right an ultimate of the will, the left of the understanding.

The spiritual body in form and quality is like the mind, being beautiful and lovely, and inwardly pure and orderly if the mind be so. So too the natural body has an inward quality or nature more or less like the mind and bespeaks its state.

With the adult sufficiently advanced in years the natural body becomes in quality more or less like the mind, pure in substance, orderly in texture and moral in tone with the regenerate, and the reverse with the wicked. (DLW 135 to 143, 420, 423; AC 6872, 5559, 5726.)

Were the natural body more plastic, as before the fall, and were it under no other spiritual influences than those of its own mind and the particular spirits conjunctively associated with that mind it would exhibit far more than now the state and features of the mind. Then the inward order and purity of the body of the good would well answer to the state of the will and understanding. This inward order and purity, however, might nor be observable, yet its external form and beauty would be manifest. It would be the same with the body of the evil, but opposite from an opposite state of the spirit.

Since the fall and especially in later ages the implasticity of the body impedes its full response.

But why are not the bodies of the wicked as much defiled and deformed with natural impurity and disease as their minds, with moral and spiritual impurity? Why are their bodies often beautiful and healthful? This is from a merciful provision for the security of Divine ends, one of which is that a general influx from heaven shall largely order and control the corporeals of man that they may not be controlled by an influx from the particular spirits attendant on him. Thus whatever of health or beauty appertains to the wicked, is due to a general heavenly influx directly into the exteriors of the natural body. We say exteriors of the body meaning its gross and solid parts, because in the case of the evil the vital fluids are always more or less defiled. (DLW 423.) Even when health and beauty are an inheritance they are maintained by this heavenly influx and were mostly of such origin in the ancestors. (AC 5862, 5990, 6192, 6211)

Concerning the hereditary state of the infantile body see Diagram XVIII.

The will and understanding are organic forms. (DLW 373.) Concerning these faculties in general, consult The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, 28 to 33.

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.