Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations

Selection from:
Theistic Psychology: The Science of Immortality by Leon James (2004).
Available on the Web at:


Chapter 6

Personality Theory


Personality theory in theistic psychology has an organic basis. Every individual is born with a unique mind or spiritual body. The mind is a spiritual organ constructed out of the substances streaming forth from the Spiritual Sun in the spiritual world. Swedenborg was able to see this Sun every day for the 27 years of his unique conscious life in both worlds simultaneously. The substances of the mind and the substances of the Spiritual Sun are the same, though adapted to each unique mind. It is similar with the brain which is constructed out of material elements from the natural sun, or star,  that originated the planet. Every object on the planet is made of matter from its star. Swedenborg became very familiar with the surface appearances of the spiritual world, just as we are very familiar with the environment around us--trees, houses, beaches, mountains, animals, clouds, rivers. The environment in the spiritual world is a mental or rational environment constructed from the quality of the feelings and thoughts in the mind.

The outflow of the Spiritual Sun creates a space of rationality or what I would like to call rational ether. An analogous idea is the physical sun creating an energy sphere or gravitational field around itself in which the planets are deposited by separation from the sun, and then cooling off. The Spiritual Sun, by its efflux or outflow, creates a volume or sphere around itself made of rational ether called the spiritual world.

When human beings are born each individual's physical body is made of matter from the natural sun, and the individual's spiritual body is made of substance from the rational ether. We are thus born dual citizens belonging simultaneously to both worlds. One body is formed and dies in the natural world; the other body is formed in the spiritual world and never dies, since whatever is made of spiritual substance is eternal and impossible to destroy. Every feeling, every thought, and every sensation we ever had was an actual operation in the spiritual fibers of the mind and thus established a spiritual synapse that is indestructible. Swedenborg has proven that this is the case in the following manner.

In the spiritual world people who operate in the highest possible level of their mind are called "higher angels." They have the ability to review the content of people's memories in the world of spirits and to effect temporary changes. These therapeutic interventions are helpful when they instruct new arrivals about the laws of the spiritual world which must be understood rationally for good mental health there. These higher angels sometimes intervened with their special mental powers in order to help Swedenborg gather empirical observations. In this case they intervened in such a way as to bring the individuals back into the state of consciousness they were in when they first arrived. People from heaven and hell were temporarily brought back into the world of spirits which is the state of mind they had when they arrived from earth many years ago. Swedenborg then questioned them concerning their life on earth. They had with them all their memories. Nothing was missing or obscured proving that every operation in the mind is stored cumulatively in the memory of the natural mind. In the spiritual world it is known as the "Book of Life."

While we still have the physical body our natural mind is being built up from sensory input and rational abstraction. The natural mind is where we have our normal daily conscious awareness of self and the world. When the natural mind is completed, the physical body disintegrates ("dies"), and we begin a new consciousness in our spiritual body. We are then called "spirits," "angels," and "devils" depending on what is on our natural mind.

In order for the natural mind to develop and become prepared for conscious life in the spiritual world it is necessary for the spiritual mind to be operationalized and active simultaneously. The spiritual mind does not develop, like the natural mind, out of interaction with the physical body, but out of interaction with the spiritual body. The spiritual mind is also built from the substances of rational ether that is created by the Spiritual Sun around itself. The content of the spiritual mind is organized and ordered by the continuous influx of the Spiritual Sun. This operation is unconscious while we are tied to the physical body, but becomes conscious when the physical body disintegrates and we begin our immortal life as "spirits." Swedenborg was given the special ability to be conscious in the spiritual mind while he was still tied to the physical body. This was necessary in his unique case in order to allow him to write the scientific reports in the Writings (27 volumes in English translation). People would be spiritually damaged or destroyed were they allowed to be conscious simultaneously in both worlds.

Swedenborg was protected from injury by the "higher angels" who were always with him as guides and guards. He was able to talk to them in his native Swedish while they talked to him in the innate spiritual language we all have when we become spirits. Swedenborg was not yet a spirit since he still had his physical body. The difference was observable to the spirits whom he interacted with. They could see that he was still living on earth, to their great surprise, this being a unique case in their experience or knowledge. But when they interacted it was not at all apparent to them that he was speaking a natural language while they were speaking a spiritual language. This means that there must be a universal mental mechanism that can translate natural language into spiritual language and vice versa.

The Conscious Self and Its Development

The "self" or "ego" has been the subject of much discussion in literature. Even today "self" is a word that appears on the Web among the top 10 of all time topics--about 65 million Web sites mention this word (April 2004). "Self" and "God" have the same high frequency ranking, both among the top ten. The Writings of Swedenborg present a unique and previously unknown explanation of the self. It gives us an internal view as scientific revelation, a view that would be impossible without Swedenborg's observations of people as they are resuscitated immediately after the physical body turns into a corpse. In the world of spirits were the resuscitation process takes place people are in their spiritual body, and in this state they can see each other's mental disposition, mood, state, and to some extent specific content.

Swedenborg was also able to monitor the rapid mental changes that occur between resuscitation and the "second death," which refers to the final mental state we acquire to eternity. This is a general mental state that has infinite variety, guaranteeing the uniqueness of each human being to eternity. During these rapid mental changes people undergo various Divinely arranged therapeutic experiences and interventions designed to put everyone in touch with their deeper loves and motives. The outward personality traits and put-ons dissolve like a chocolate mask in the sun, and there emerges the real self.

The real self refers to the "ruling love" of every person.

It is known in psychology that all loves and motives are arranged in a hierarchy, like the organization of command in the military or a large company. In the United States the President is called "Chief Commander" who gives orders to generals to order their troops into battle. People who maintain antisocial ruling loves commit crimes, violence, destruction, theft, etc. Their ruling love is constantly challenged by their conscience or their knowledge of the Ten Commandments. God creates a conscience within every human self. The self and its components, like conscience and self-awareness, are functions and operations which must therefore take place in some mental organ. In fact, the mind is a mental organ constructed out of the spiritual substances streaming out of the Spiritual Sun, to which our mind is exposed in the world of spirits, where the mind is born along with the physical body in earth.

People who listen and obey the voice of their conscience, or who obey the Ten Commandments because they are from God, are given the power to inhibit and suppress their antisocial ruling love. Since the ruling love controls all the loves below it in the motivational hierarchy, suppressing it also inhibits the loves below it. As the antisocial ruling love is gradually suppressed and suffocated, a new altruistic ruling love seats itself in the command function. The new ruling love maintains a hierarchy of loves below itself, so that the entire motivational dynamics of the person is changed from hellish to heavenly.

This transformation process is called regeneration and involves temptations (see Chapter xx). Temptations bring our ruling love out of the background command into the foreground executor. We cannot deny it or ignore it. It's in our face and putting tremendous pressure on us to act in accordance with its satisfaction. This mental stress or conflict can sometimes be experienced as extreme and devastating. The deeper the hellish love that comes out in the temptation experience, the more we are shocked and challenged to approve or disapprove, and to go along or to fight like hell to resist it. This is a subjective experience. In fact, as revealed in the Writings, we have zero power to oppose the furious hells attacking us, grabbing hold of us, wanting desperately to make us part of them. They succeed if we give in, stop resisting, and let ourselves enjoy the evil, and finally loving it so that we look for it again, anticipate it, and are willing to abuse self and others in order to keep getting it. But when we resist in the Name of God, we are given as-if our own power to resist, and desist, and finally to hold the experience in aversion and disgust.

God's interventions are less effective when we are unwilling to call upon God to give us the as-if power to resist. This is a consequence, not of God's lesser desire or love, but our free choice to deny conscious communication with God. The conscious self is aware. This is a purely human trait and depends on the rational ether of the world of spirits in which our mind is located. Awareness or consciousness is a property of the rational mind. Animals do not have a rational mind hence they lack the spiritual anatomy for conscious awareness. The voice of our conscience, with which each of us is born, cannot be heard except in conscious awareness. Hence animals do not have a conscience.

The conscious self is surrounded by the ruling love and its hierarchy of motives. Each motive is a love or an affection operating in the affective organ. All operations in the affective organ have a connection to operations in the cognitive organ. Every motive or affection selects and maintains specific cognitive operations that are consistent with it and assist in devising plans and methods for carrying out what the love wants, desires, and by which it is satisfied and lives. When a love is not satisfied one experiences sadness and depression, alternating with anger and destructive behavior.

The Writings reveal many facts about the psychology of the self--its structure, development, and quality.

A useful study for theistic psychology is The Doctrine of the Propirum (1962) by George De Charms (The General Church Publication committee,  Bryn Athyn, PA), in which he summarizes in developmental context many things said in the Writings of Swedenborg concerning the human and the Divine "proprium," a Latin word meaning "one's very own" as in English "proprietary" rights, or one's "proper" name, or one's "property," etc. In psychology we call the proprium the "conscious self."

The Writings confirm the fact that mental traits are inherited as well as learned. All inherited mental traits can be changed by self-modification. The earliest generations on this earth inherited heavenly or altruistic traits until aberrant individuals introduced negative loves by inverting their inherited positive traits. When they passed into the world of spirits they were segregated from the others in their heavenly mental states. The hells were thus created. After many generations and succeeding civilizations the negative traits became so predominant that a life of hell on earth was established--crimes, wars, sicknesses, famines, abuse of women and children, deception, discrimination, injustice, and so on, all of which are familiar to us today. Character reformation has become essential before we can get rid of our "inherited proprium"  and acquire a heavenly proprium from God. With the cultivation and love of heavenly traits we set up a mind that is capable of living in conjugial love in heaven to eternity. If we arrive into the afterlife with the old unregenerate proprium, we automatically sink into the hells of the mind where we live forever with others in a sorry state (see Chapter xx).

The essence of the inversion from a heavenly to a hellish proprium is that we are unwilling to be guided by God and prefer to be guided by self. There is therefore an opposition between our self and God. This perspective is a turn around from how the human race was created and lived prior to this event in history and evolution. In Sacred Scripture it is described in the scientific meaning of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis. As long as people were well disposed toward God they were able to have a sane and healthy proprium. They lived every day with the feeling of an as-of self so that they could arrange their lives and activates as they saw fit, consistent with God's Commandments. They knew rationally from revelation that it is God who has the power to move their loves and thoughts, but were content to experience as-if they had that power from themselves and in themselves.

But when people began pursuing loves and imaginations that were not consistent with conscience and Divine Commandment, the proprium or as-of self, turned itself away from God and good, inverting truth into falsity, and pursuing corrupted forms of love, thus creating hell in the human mind. This is called the Fall of the race.

Quoting from the Writings of Swedenborg:

Verse 18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make for him a help suitable for him. 'Alone' means that he was not content to be guided by the Lord but desired to have self and the world as his guide. 'A help suitable for him' means the proprium, which, further on, is also called 'the rib which was built into a woman'. (AC 138)

Countless things can be said about the proprium - about what the proprium is like in the case of the bodily-minded and worldly man, what it is like in the case of the spiritual man, and what in the case of the celestial man. With the bodily-minded and worldly man the proprium is his all. He is unaware of anything else but the proprium. And, as has been stated, if he were to lose his proprium he would think that he was dying.

With the spiritual man the proprium takes on a similar appearance, for although he knows that the Lord is the life of all, and that He confers wisdom and intelligence, and consequently the ability to think and to act, it is more a matter of something he says and not so much something he believes.

The celestial man however acknowledges that the Lord is the life of all, who confers the ability to think and act, because he perceives that this is so. Nor does he ever desire the proprium. Nevertheless even though he does not desire it the Lord grants him a proprium which is joined to him with a complete perception of what is good and true, and with complete happiness.

Angels possess a proprium such as this, and at the same time utmost peace and tranquility, for their proprium has within it things that are the Lord's, who is governing their proprium, that is, governing them by means of their proprium. This proprium is utterly heavenly, whereas the proprium of the bodily-minded man is hellish. But more about the proprium further on. (AC 141)

Here we are told that there are three levels our proprium. The lowest is called "bodily-minded and worldly," then the spiritual proprium, and the highest, which is the celestial proprium. When our conscious awareness is immersed in the corporeal proprium ("bodily-minded"), we reject the idea that our self is not real, being only an "as-of self." When we elevate our conscious awareness to the rational or spiritual level, we know from revelation that God is omnipotent, hence the only power, and therefore the self has no power of its own. It is only an as-of self. But although we know and understand this at a certain level of rationality, we are unwilling to love it and make it into a ruling love. We prefer to forget it and continue acting as-if of our own power and struggle. With progress in our regeneration or spiritual development, we can elevate our rationality to the celestial proprium.


When we are in the celestial proprium of our mind we are called angels. It is said above that angels do not desire a proprium of their own. Their happiness comes from receiving  the Proprium of the Divine Human. Since they then act still with the as-of self feeling, they are maximally happy, never being led into anything negative or disturbing.


Woman Built From the Man's Rib


Continuing to quote from the Writings where we find the analysis by correspondences of the Genesis story:

Verse 21 "And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he fell asleep; and He took one of his ribs, and He closed up the flesh in its place."

'A rib', which is a breast bone, is used to mean man's proprium when it contains very little life, a proprium indeed that he cherishes. 'The flesh in place of the rib Is used to mean the proprium when it does contain some life. 'A deep sleep' is used to mean that state into which he was brought so that he might seem to himself to have a proprium. This state resembles sleep because a person in that state is conscious only of living, thinking, speaking, and acting from himself. But when he starts to realize that this is false, he is aroused from sleep so to speak and wakes up. (AC 147)

What a remarkable revelation to discover that we are asleep in our conscious awareness when being immersed in our inherited proprium or self. Our inherited proprium is represented by a bony lifeless rib and we are described as being in a "deep sleep" when in that proprium. Our consciousness is asleep to true reality. We live a delusion thinking that we have a self separate from God's management of it. We consciously live this delusion by being convinced that we are acting from ourselves. We are thus persuaded of a delusion by rejecting the revelation that we only have an as-of self in a universe where God is the only power. When we undergo character reformation we no longer refuse to accept God's revelations. We are then said to be "aroused from sleep" or delusion, and we awaken to reality.


Continuing with the quotations:

The state of a person when caught up in the proprium, that is, when he imagines that he lives from himself, is compared to a deep sleep. Indeed the ancients actually called it 'a deep sleep' while the Word speaks of people having 'the spirit of deep sleep poured out on them [Isaiah 29:10], and of their sleeping a perpetual sleep [Jeremiah 51:57].

The fact that man's proprium is in itself dead, that is, that nobody possesses any life from himself, has been demonstrated in the world of spirits so completely that evil spirits who love nothing except the proprium, and insist stubbornly that they do live from themselves, have been convinced by means of living experience, and have admitted that they do not live from themselves.

With regard to the human proprium I have for several years now been given a unique opportunity to know about it - in particular that not a trace of my thinking began in myself. I have also been allowed to perceive clearly that every idea constituting my thought flowed in [from somewhere], and sometimes how it flowed in, and where from. Consequently anyone who imagines that he lives from himself is in error. And in believing that he does live from himself he takes to himself everything evil and false, which he would never do if what he believed and what is actually the case were in agreement. (AC 150)

Note that Swedenborg's description of the human unregenerate proprium is not a theory he is proposing but demonstrated fact. As usual he presents two kinds of proof--one from objective observation of others, and one from self-witnessing observations on himself. In his unique dual consciousness, Swedenborg was able to perceive directly the incoming source of his thoughts and feelings. The delusion of the unregenerate inherited proprium is that our thoughts and feelings originate in our self and are our own. This is certainly the conscious experience we have here on earth. But in the afterlife, having been disconnected from the physical world and body, we have the ability to perceive our interactions with the vertical community (see Chapter xx).



Verse 22 And Jehovah God built the rib which He took from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.

'Building means reconstructing that which has fallen down, 'rib' the proprium that has not been given life, 'woman the proprium that has been given life by the Lord, 'bringing her to the man' that a proprium was granted to him. Since the descendants of this Church, unlike their ancestors, did not wish to be the celestial man, but to be their own guides and so set their heart on the proprium, they were allowed to have one. It was however a proprium given life by the Lord, which is why it is called 'a woman', and after that 'a wife'. (AC 151)

Anyone paying the matter only scant attention may see that woman was not formed out of the rib of a man, and that the arcana embodied here are deeper than anybody has ever been aware of up to now. And that the proprium is meant by 'the woman may be seen from the consideration that the woman was the one who was deceived, for nothing but the proprium - or what amounts to the same, self-love and love of the world - ever deceives a person. (AC 152)

The scientific meaning of Divine Speech is about the theistic psychology we need to awaken from the delusion of sleep in which we consciously believe that we are alone in our mind and we think and feel from ourselves. We are to awaken to this spiritual reality prior to entering the spiritual world. We cannot awaken afterwards if we do not awaken here. Swedenborg confirms by many interviews in the world of spirits that those arrived with a denial of God's omnipotence in all details, are unwilling no matter what, to change their mind. They continue in their delusions, which take them to hell and keep them there forever, being still unwilling no matter what.


The well known Genesis story in the Old Testament of Eve being built out of Adam's rib refers in its scientific sense to the proprium, specifically, that the proprium which is a dead delusion in itself, was enlivened by God. "Woman" and "wife" refer to the enlivened proprium in all human beings.



Nothing evil or false can possibly exist that is not the proprium or derived from the proprium. For man's proprium is evil itself, which means that man is nothing but evil and falsity. This has become clear to me from the fact that when the contents of the proprium are presented to view in the world of spirits they look so ugly that nobody can paint any uglier picture. (Those contents vary however according to the nature of the proprium.) As a result when anyone is offered a glimpse of the contents of his proprium he is horrified at himself and wishes to run as though from the devil.

On the other hand contents of the proprium which have been given life by the Lord look beautiful and attractive, varying according to the life to which a celestial quality that is the Lord's can be added. Indeed people who have received charity, that is, been made alive by it, look like boys and girls with very attractive faces. And people who have received innocence look like naked small children adorned in different ways with garlands of flowers twined around their breasts, and precious stones in their hair, living and playing in brightest light, with a sense of happiness stemming from the depths of their being. (AC 154)

Swedenborg reports what he saw when he looked at the unregenerate proprium of people in the world of spirits. In that state of mind everyone can see the proprium of others. And in Swedenborg's estimation the contents of the unregenerate proprium "look so ugly that nobody can paint any uglier picture." In other passages he describes it as bony and black like a burned skull upon which no flesh is left. When someone is allowed to see their own proprium "he is horrified at himself and wishes to run as though from the devil."


On the other hand the regenerate proprium that has been made alive by God, called the heavenly proprium, contains thoughts and feelings that "look beautiful and attractive." When we are in our heavenly mental state our proprium from a distance to others looks like attractive boys and girls adorned in flowers and precious stones with a happy expression reflecting their inner innocence. Innocence is the willingness to be guided by God rather than self.


The Rebirth of the Fallen Proprium or Self



Verse 23 And the man said, By this change, it is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh; for this she will be called Wife, because she was taken out of man (vir).

'Bone from bones and flesh from flesh' means the proprium belonging to the external man, 'bone' the proprium that has been given not much life, 'flesh' the proprium that has been given life. 'The man' (vir) however means the internal man. And because, as is said in the next verse, the internal man was so coupled to the external man, this proprium previously called 'woman' is now called 'Wife'. 'By this change' means that it happened now, because there had been a change of state. (AC 156)

The man (Adam) called the woman his wife (Eve). The woman was made out of his rib. This is the style of writing of the ancients when discussing theistic psychology. In this case they were writing about the birth and development of the human proprium or self conscious awareness. This style of writing made sense to them because they were celestial minds before the Fall. In other words, people in those days still had direct perception into the spiritual world where all things of the mind are represented outwardly in these imageries called correspondences. The external self, or "the proprium belonging to the external man," was referred to as "'Bone from bones and flesh from flesh." They were thinking of the natural mind whose content and organization is from the physical world, rather than the "internal man" or internal self, which has undergone regeneration and is called "wise" or spiritually developed. A distinction is introduced here between two portions of the external self--one dead ("bone"), the other vivified ("flesh").



It is not easy to perceive however how these matters can be so unless the nature of the state of the celestial man is known. The state of the celestial man is such that the internal man is quite distinct from the external, so distinct in fact that he perceives what belongs to the internal man and what to the external man, and how the external man is governed by the Lord through the internal. But because his descendants desired the proprium, which belongs to the external man, their state became so altered that they no longer perceived any distinction between the internal man and the external. Instead they perceived the internal man as being one with the external, for this is what perception comes to be once man desires the proprium. (AC 159)

Here, the phrase "the state of the celestial man" refers to the portion of the human mind that is called heaven (see Chapter xx). The earliest generations on this planet were celestial people because their celestial mind was fully conscious on earth. They were therefore able to perceive the heavens in which their parents and family were after departing this world. The wrote in a style of correspondences since they were able to see directly, or visualize directly, the mental references in natural vocabulary. But in a later stage of evolution called the Fall, this dual consciousness was lost to protect the human race from being taken over by the Fallen proprium, which was evil. In other words, the thoughts and feelings that make up the external self, were evil--injurious, selfish, irrational, cruel, destructive, etc. Just as now, our motives are selfish and our thinking is less than rational most of the time. This mentality creates a hell on earth in which we are unsafe and experience suffering despite an omnipotent God who only wants our conjugial happiness in an eternal heaven.


God cannot change what our proprium has become without destroying us, which God cannot do as it would be against His Love. By "destroying us" I mean have every human being live in hell from now to eternity. God made a rational and loving choice: Instead of changing our Fallen proprium He can give us a new one that can live in heaven. In other words, we are born with the inherited Fallen "proprial" tendencies towards evil and denial of God. This is the Fallen proprium, ugly, bony, dead. Now God has created a mechanism by which we can start living a new life with a new proprium that has been "vivified" or made receptive of God and heavenly life. This is called "rebirth" and the process goes on a lifetime and is called "regeneration." This is an active process of character building that is very challenging and filled with suffering. This is caused by our having to Inhibit, suppress, and loathe all the loves and enjoyments of the Fallen proprium to which we are attached by egotistical loves.


We don't want to give them up voluntarily, one by one. It seems to us that we are being deprived of all our enjoyments and interests. What good is heaven to us if we cannot have our enjoyments? A neighbor to whom I was talking about Swedenborg asked me to describe life in heaven and in hell. At the end he said he is going to hell. Shocked, I asked why. He explained that all his friends would be there, and all his enjoyments. While in heaven, well, he didn't see himself living there. Later I thought about it and I realized that people don't believe in hell when they say they rather go there. It's just a kind of bravado talk. There must be few people who can read and accept Swedenborg's descriptions of hell, and still say they want to go there. So most people who don't seem to be afraid of hell don't actually believe that there is one.


The rebirth of the human proprium is called "salvation" of the human race. Through the process of temptations we can anesthetize forever our hellish proprium. Each temptation is timed by our Divine Psychologist to allow us to voluntarily lay aside one proprial love. We cannot do this on our own, for our motivation is to give in. But we can overcome this deadly built in motivation by acknowledging God's presence and involvement in the temptation. God then anesthetizes the proprial love, and starts the operation of a new heavenly love in its place. Gradually, through many temptations daily over a lifetime, the "reborn" proprium becomes our conscious awareness. Our thoughts and motives are altruistic and loving to be obedient to God's will or the Proprium of the Divine Human (see next sub-section).



Verse 24 Therefore a man (vir) will leave his father and his mother and will cling to his wife, and they will be one flesh.

'Leaving father and mother' is leaving the internal man, for the internal is that which conceives and gives birth to the external. 'Clinging to his wife' is in order that the internal man may be within the external. 'Being one flesh' means that they are there together. Previously the internal man, and the external man deriving from the internal, were spirit, but now they have become flesh. In this way celestial and spiritual life was joined on to the proprium in order that they might seemingly be one. (AC 160)

In the style of writing with correspondences "the man clinging to his wife" refers to the heavenly self becoming active within the external self. The thoughts and motives of the external self are transformed from hellish to heavenly when the new reborn proprium becomes active. The lower external self cannot do this on its own, but it can be vivified or operationalized by the higher self acting within the lower self. The higher self which is heavenly cannot be seen in the lower self since the lower self is natural and the natural mind cannot see the celestial mind. The celestial mind active and influencing the natural mind is referred to as "'Leaving father and mother."


These relationships may not be fully clear because only a sample of the overall argument is presented. Please consult the Writings for the detailed study. But enough is given here to demonstrate to you that Sacred Scripture in its extracted scientific meaning is about theistic psychology, or the science of immortality. God uses this form of communicating with the human race because it serves primarily to elevate our rational consciousness of God and the methods by which God manages our immortal mind and the universe.


Innocence and the Choice of Salvation



As has been stated, man's proprium is nothing but evil, and when presented to view is terribly ugly; but when charity and innocence are instilled into the proprium by the Lord it looks fine and attractive, as stated in 154. The charity and innocence not only excuse the proprium, that is, a person's evil and falsity, but also virtually do away with it, as anyone may see in the case of young children. When they love one another and their parents, and at the same time a childlike innocence is evident, evil and false traits at such times not only go unnoticed but are even pleasing. From this it can be seen that nobody is allowed into heaven unless he has some measure of innocence in him, as the Lord said,

Let the young children come to Me and do not hinder them; of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, Whoever has not received the kingdom of God like a young child will not enter into it. Taking them up therefore into His arms, He laid His hands upon them, and blessed them. Mark 10:14-16.

(AC 164)

A popular saying is that "the child is father to the man." Every child inherits an evil proprium connected to hell. But a child also inherits heavenly traits called "remains." The chief of the remains is called "innocence" which is the tendency to willingly obey parents and authority figures. Without this inborn innocence, or willingness to learn, no child could acquire a civilized personality. AS parents and teachers know well, children oscillate between showing their heavenly traits and their hellish traits. They are thus held in balance by God to give them the opportunity to resist evil traits when conscience forbids them. The trait of innocence is necessary for the new reborn proprium since we cannot live in heaven without loving to conform all our thoughts and motives to God's order.


Innocence, or the willingness and love to obey God, is the ruling love of all who abide in the highest portion of their mind called heaven. Eternal happiness in conjugial love is heaven, and its living context is innocence. It is in the willingness to obey God in which heaven is located. This is because we elevate our consciousness to the heavenly state of mind by willing to be led by God rather than by self. We lay down every desire and interest we have from ourselves, and we put on only that which belongs to the Divine Human. In effect, we superimpose the Proprium of the Divine Human upon the former place where we acted on behalf of our self. The agent that carried out our feelings, motives, and values has been fired or anesthetized and neutralized, put into a coma and rendered non-operational. If we still want x which is from self, we deny ourselves. If we still think Y which is from self, we reject it. Instead, we think thoughts that are from Sacred Scripture which is the Speech of the Divine Human communicating with our rational consciousness.


In this way we cooperate with the Divine Human working on us as a Divine Loving and All-Knowing Therapist, daily, hourly, and second by second. When we have a conflict between self and God through conscience or doctrine of life, we immediately know that the Divine Psychologist is bringing us to face something deep within ourselves that is still lurking, hiding, poisoning the atmosphere around itself, injuring our innocence, or willingness to obey God rule and order. We experience the temptation as a deep conflict, an agony of choice. We want X badly, but we hear God's voice, Don't do it, Don't have it. Turn away from it.  Break the cycle. I'm here to give you the power. Just make the choice now.


Wonderful Divine words coming into our mind from within where God's influx enters through the Spiritual Sun--through its spiritual heat and spiritual light flowing into the receptors of the mind. The spiritual light entering the top of the mind now descends through the levels of the mind--celestial, spiritual, natural-rational. At each descent, lower correspondences are created at that level of mental operation. When the wave of correspondences arrives into the natural-rational mind it has been transformed by correspondences into a natural language in which we think and through which we are conscious and rational, able to reason and make choices on the basis of our understanding of Sacred Scripture.


Slowly, progressively, after many daily temptation-situations we have experienced for years, we at last come into the "Peace of Sabbath" which is a reference to the Genesis Creation story where God rested after His six days of labor. The Third Commandment orders us to keep the Sabbath day holy (see Chapter 5 Section 5.7). The scientific meaning of the "Sabbath rest" refers to the mental state we reach after every spiritual temptation. The Divine Psychologist brings to us only those temptations at the right time, and in the right form, that we can resist. By knowing all of the future, and by holding our mental operations in perfect control, God is able to keep from us any temptation that we cannot resist. After the deeply disturbing conflict of the spiritual temptation, which is called a "battle" against devils, God defeats the devils and puts them back into hell, no longer capable of infesting this individual. God could not have done this earlier, prior to the temptation and the voluntary and rational choice of rejecting the cherished enticement. The purpose of the temptation is precisely to give us the moment of choice, by which God can then remove the evil connection.


This choice of salvation must be repeated over and over again daily for years--because we have a multitude of evil connections, both those that we have inherited and those we have acquired ourselves by practicing and loving them.


The critical feature of the choice of salvation is innocence or the willingness to say No to self and Yes to the Divine Human. There is no in between. Every thought or motive is either from heaven or from hell, either from the Divine Human's Proprium or our own.


The Divine Human's Proprium is innocence itself and is the source of all innocence. We would never be willing to deny ourselves totally by following self, and since the self always leads to hell because it is from hell, and is hell, therefore we are lost in advance unless we are willing to put on innocence, that is, the Lord's Proprium. This means wanting only what the Lord wants, loving only what the Lord loves, thinking only what the Lord thinks, intending only what the Lord intends, doing only what the Lord does.


When we are in this state of innocence we are in our heaven and we are called angels. Swedenborg interviewed many angels for 27 years. The described their happiness to him as being this innocence. They said that the instant they hesitate going with the flow of the Divine Human, they fall out of their heaven, tumbling down into the lower levels of their mind where they start experiencing conflicts and temptations. So the essence of eternal happiness in conjugial love is the complete and total suppression of anything belonging to our own proprium or self.


This total reliance on the Divine Human is a permanent Sabbath rest from all labors of temptations. No feeling or thought from the hells can reach into that place. Nothing stops our unbounded blessedness, our unbounded love and wisdom. We are capable of truly amazing and wonderful powers, forming an environment within us and around us that surpasses all imagination and desire.


Theistic psychology is the knowledge brought to us by Divine Speech about how we can suppress ourselves totally and become "children of God," that is, living God's Proprium as-if our own, thereby having immortality and endless mental expansion.


The Writings reveal that Proprium in the good sense exists only in the Divine Human. This is because all good is the spiritual heat streaming forth from the Spiritual Sun which is the hot sphere of passion surrounding the Divine Human in the highest region of the created human mind. The Spiritual Sun is the source of all good streaming into the created universe from its inmost parts.


Think about any object or all objects that exist. Each object has an external part that struts out into the physical plane or degree. This physical external has to have a mental or spiritual internal framework that holds the object into existence. This internal spiritual framework is made of the spiritual heat and light form the Spiritual Sun. It is in this sense that we can say that the spiritual world is "within" the natural world, or that every natural event is an effect of a prior spiritual cause.


What happens when you remove the internal framework of the object by shutting down the influx or inflow of spiritual heat and light from the Spiritual Sun?


The object is removed from existence. Or, the operation ceases, whatever it is.  We are familiar with what happens when we unplug the electric stove, or if the electric company has a power failure. Every electric appliance goes dead. In a similar way, if you remove the spiritual heat and light from within an object, the object ceases to be online in existence, it goes dead, disintegrates, and disappears.


The human mind is an organ of reception of spiritual heat and light. We receive spiritual heat in the affective organ and spiritual light in the cognitive organ (see Chapter xx). God gives us the ability or power to make a free choice regarding the incoming spiritual light or truth, and the incoming spiritual heat or love. We can love them or reject them. If we reject them, they are turned into their opposites or inversion: incoming good becomes evil in our will (affective organ), and incoming truth becomes falsified truth in our understanding (cognitive organ). In one case our consciousness and character is from heaven, and in the other case, it is from hell. There is no in between.


Our own self or proprium is therefore an inversion or opposition of God's Proprium. Our own self takes us to eternal hell while adopting as-if our own the Proprium of the Divine Human takes us to eternal heaven. It's our choice. We need therefore to inquire into how our inverted proprium develops and how we can arrest its development and put it to sleep forever.


Our own proprium or self is actually dead, not alive, because it consists of the denial of life through the denial of what is good and true--the only life there is. Swedenborg went through many hells and sure enough, the people there appeared alive and doing all sorts of atrocious and horrible things to each other. But from the perspective of true life, of heavenly life, the life in hell is indeed dead because it is devoid of all good and truth. Those who maintain themselves in the hells of their mind are unwilling to rise above it, They receive life moment by moment, and they invert it into something dead as soon as it enters their conscious mind. They are said to be dead because they live in a false appearance rather than in reality. They cannot die because all humans are born immortal, but they can remove themselves from life by living in horrible delusions and fantasies, shared mutually with others. They reject all rational things and they hate God and innocence with the utmost rage.


When we put on God's Proprium and obey in innocence without self-interference, we enter true reality and heavenly life, or everything that is good and true.


The Birth of the Self in Infants

Self-consciousness begins in the newborn infant when the child notices the will in action. The child might see its hand move across the field of vision. It is moving the hand but the child is not conscious of that. At first, the hand is just another moving object in the world. But the infant has an innate tendency to grasp things in view, and with this effort comes the perception of one's own effort leading to some external event. The will in action is the hand moving according to one's desire. When the infant notices the correlation between inner desire and outer action, the self is born.


But this is merely a sensorimotor self, a corporeal mind that is hardly above the physical body itself. This self must grow into its next phase in order to become a proprium or self-concept. This next phase requires another human will. The child's will has to clash with another human will, and when this is noticed, the true proprium is born. For example, the mother removes an object the child is holding. The child holds on and resists, but the mother is stronger and takes the object away. Now the child has a reaction. This reaction, when noticed by the child, gives birth to the true proprium. The child's will against the mother's will creates a clash of wills. When this is noticed the child has new view, a new perspective, and a new orientation to life. This is the beginning of the child's humanness.


The human child now begins life as an oscillating experience of heaven and hell. Infants love many things since they are born with hereditary loves in the mind. They love to grasp things and put them in the mouth, as everyone knows who has had a child or has taken care of other people's infants. They love many sensations of touch and taste. The love visual puzzles at their level of noticing. They love being held and spoken to tenderly. These loves are not learned. They come wired in the mental organ. Their heaven is the delight of receiving the mother's approval. Their hell is to receive the mother's disapproval or clash of wills.


When there is a clash of wills heaven suddenly disappears and hell is around. The parent or care taker becomes a punisher and looks scary and disapproving. The child wants to play and stay up; the parent wants the child to go to sleep. The parent wants the child to eat; the child doesn't want to swallow. And so on. The presence of hell is now evident. The child is in its hell quite visibly. It contorts its face, it screams, it cries, it throws itself violently to the floor, it refuses to be consoled, it is filled with a kind of infantile hatred, that is just a forerunner of the hatred later that leads the child into being bad and horrible. Then this hellish phase dies and the child is willing to be comforted. Heaven returns, for awhile.


This alternating cycle between clashing wills and harmonious wills, produces the mature self.


The child grows mentally in knowledge and intelligence. At every step of this activity there are clashes between its will and the will of authority. Soon the child learns about God's will. And this takes the self to its fully mature phase. The concept of God is that of a parent who is always there, sees everything that you think and do. This concept opens the beginnings of rationality.


For instance, moral reasoning develops when the child thinks as follows: "I want to play with those scissors. Mommy doesn't want me to. She punishes me when she sees me playing with it. I won't play with it." This is the lowest stage of moral reasoning. Obedience or compliance depends on external surveillance. Drivers don't break the speed limit when there is a police car behind them. People don't steal something in front of a surveillance camera, if they know it's there. But as soon as Mommy's eyes are outside the room, I can play with the scissors. Or, when I am allowed to visit overnight with my friend, I can stay up all night and even do forbidden things like sex.


With the concept of God being there all the time, our moral reasoning has to become more rational, more self-motivated. With God, there is no time out. If I plan something forbidden, God knows it. If I enjoy something I should stop, god is there to witness it. It is customary with most religious instruction to emphasize that God rewards and punishes (or disapproves of) both overt deeds that are bad and thoughts or feelings that are bad. There is therefore established in the mind a constant clash of the wills between self and God. The self always wants what God always forbids. Our reaction to this is one of frustration and displeasure. We become more and more aware of what we want that we cannot have, of what we want to do that we must not.


The essence or life of our own proprium or self is therefore rebellion to God's Proprium.


Quoting from the Writings on the character of the human proprium or one's own self:

What man's Own is may be stated in this way. Man's Own is all the evil and falsity that springs from the love of self and of the world, and from not believing in the Lord or the Word but in self, and from supposing that what cannot be apprehended sensuously and by means of memory-knowledge [sensualiter et scientifice] is nothing. In this way men become mere evil and falsity, and therefore regard all things pervertedly; things that are evil they see as good, and things that are good as evil; things that are false they see as true, and things that are true as false; things that really exist they suppose to be nothing, and things that are nothing they suppose to be everything. They call hatred love, darkness light, death life, and the converse. In the Word, such men are called the "lame" and the "blind." Such then is the Own of man, which in itself is infernal and accursed. (AC 210)

In other words, our "self" is limited to the material aspects of our life. The self is a materialistically oriented agent, to whom physical things appear real and solid, while mental things appear unreal and ghostlike. When the self hears about the existence of God, it rejects the idea as something mental and hypothetical, of little consequence and importance in comparison to concrete things like food, money, pleasure, or power that get you things. The self finds God an inconvenient clashing agent, seeing God as a threat to the self's security and comfort.


When infants oscillate into the heavenly phase they learn the existence of heavenly feelings and delights. These experiences are produced in the infant through the presence of celestial angels. As long as the infant allows it, the angels stay. But when the infant is readied to go into the hellish phase, the angels withdraw somewhat and allow the approach of the evil spirits. Now the hellish traits that have been inherited are set into action, enflamed by the passion of the evil spirits for bad things--rebellion against the good, disbelief of the truth, delight in deceit, violent acts of destructiveness, refusal to be rational, enjoyment of the forbidden, insistence on resentment and anger, etc.


The Self in Childhood and Adolescence

Since the self grows as an oppositional agent to parent and God, the human proprium derives its life or content from the hells. When the self is told that it must love parents and God, it develops self-love instead. Self-love is the opposite of love of parent and God. Self-love is the actual proprium that is evil. The evil in self-love is the irrational insistence that the life we have is our own and from our self. This insistence rests on irreality, which is nothing but an appearance or delusional belief obtained when one opposes and denies truth or reality. Swedenborg reports seeing a hall in the spiritual world in which was a long table with many chairs. People would walk in, sit on an empty chair, and place on the table a few nuggets of gold. When all the chairs were filled, the doors were closed and the people sitting there were left to their phantasies of riches. Every person there fantasized that they owned all the gold they could see on the long table. This made them deliriously happy. Afterwards they left, taking their few nuggets with them, and reported that they felt revived and content. This happiness would last for awhile, and then they had to return to the room or feel miserable.


What is this kind of happiness based on? Irreality. Fantasy and delusion. It is a poor form of human happiness that is temporary and full of limitation in comparison to the happiness of reality in heaven where all things are possible that are truly good, lasting, and meaningful.


The proprium of a child is marked by a sharp ambivalence. Children and adolescents experience swings between being in heaven and being in hell. They develop the natural belief system that they have two selves, one good and the other evil or rebellious. They alternate between these two states. They feel that they are the owners of both the good self and the evil self. They see themselves as ambivalent or dual. Both the good self and the hellish self feel like their own. It is extremely dangerous to believe that the evil we enjoy, think and do, is our own. The evil we enjoy is not on our evil but the evil of those who are in hell and are in an influencing relationship on our mental operations (see "vertical community" in Chapter xx).


We are not in hell while we are on earth tied to our physical body. We could end up in heaven or in hell, but we still have the option of going either way. As long as we don't appropriate the evil we enjoy we are kept in a state of mental balance. This balance is what gives us freedom to choose. We can then proceed with our rebirth and regeneration (see Chapter xx) and the Divine Psychologist maintains the balance for us. But as soon as we appropriate the evil enjoyments to ourselves as our own, our very own, originating in ourselves and being part of ourselves, then the balance is destroyed. As a result, we are not free to choose between good and evil since we believe that the evil is already ours. It's not a matter of choice but of fact. So we believe and so we think.


It is also dangerous to attribute to ourselves the good we enjoy and think. If we believe that the good and truth we have is our own we have no choice but to believe that we are good. This belief is called "meritoriousness," In the Christian religion this is known as a fundamental sin that takes us to hell. It is called attributing the "merit of righteousness" to oneself, and thus robbing God since God alone has merit and righteousness. Whatever good we have is God's good which we receive online, so to speak. Imagine if your refrigerator acquired self-conscious thinking and thought that the electric power it has is its own. It would be a delusional refrigerator. Delusional human beings think that the life, good, and truth they possess is their own. This delusional thinking leads them into further delusions like materialism and the negative bias, so that they end up living false philosophies. These false ideas lead to the society we are familiar with in our day--unloving, unpeaceful, unwise, beleaguered by sickness, crime, stress, deceit.


Hell on earth in our mind is produced by the false philosophies that are based on the delusion of self-appropriation of either evil or good.


Self-love or egotistical character is the product of a self that is beleaguered by false philosophies called "false gods." We worship false gods when we are in self-love. Self-love attaches to itself only those thoughts and justifications that will not oppose, and those reasonings that will support it. Self-love gets rid of mental operations that oppose self-love and promote love of God. In this state, good is perceived as evil, and evil is perceived as good. Also, truth is perceived as falsity, and falsity is perceived as truth. You can see why such a state is dangerous and deadly since falsity leads to hell and only truth leads to heaven.


Children can greatly benefit from being taught early that there is both good and evil in them, but neither belongs to them, and that they are to use the good to defeat the evil. In this way they will avoid a life of pain and fear in hell and can look forward to a life of fun and happiness in heaven. All they need to do is to use the good they have to fight the bad they also have. The bad is not part of them and therefore they can get rid of it, like dirt is not part of their room and they can clean it up. But the wall is part of the room and they cannot get rid of that. The commitment to get rid of the evil is like the wall, but the evil is like the dirt.


Later children are further benefited by being taught that the commitment to get rid of the evil in them is theirs, but the power that gets rid of the evil is not theirs. The commitment is theirs but not the power. The power is God who is present in the mind and managing all its details, making it work and operate. It is very useful for children to get the idea that God is so intimately participating in their thoughts and feelings and that they are never alone. If God left them alone, they would cease to be. Nothing would work in their mind. They thus get familiar with God and even attached to God.


Children are dependent upon adults to guard them from the consequences of bad judgment. Children and adolescents have limited ability to foresee consequences. They are dependent on responsible adults to help them resist inherited loves they cannot resist on their own. Children must be deterred from doing bad things and thus protected from the consequences they cannot accurately predict.


In infancy and early childhood the inherited heavenly trait of innocence allows them to experience heavenly feelings when they are harmoniously connected to parents. There is no feeling of the clash of wills because the children are happy to obey the parents' will. Opposition or resistance from their own will does not arise. Hence self-love has not yet developed. During this phase the heavenly feelings are stored up in a special compartment of the mind called "remains," and these are used later by the Divine Psychologist during the Sabbath rest, as discussed above. The heaven we eventually enter is within these remains. Once we reach there in our mind it feels like a "return home" because we are back in the innocence of our celestial state in infancy. This is the "heavenly proprium" that has now completely replaced the Fallen proprium. The essence of the heavenly proprium is the willingness to be led by the Divine Human and the horror at the idea of being led by self.


The more children are given a focus on morality and virtues, the more they are protected from their inherited evil loves because morality and conscience are the tools for building rationality. Rational thinking is the only method available for resisting inherited evil loves. Some of these loves try to express themselves overtly while others linger in the background and exert their nefarious influence from the dark recesses of the sub-conscious mind. But the more rational or socio-moral tools we teach children the more of these evil loves they can face sooner, and by resisting them, develop a spiritual mind that can live in heaven.


The typical pattern in human growth is for heavenly remains to recede into the sub-conscious while the aggressive hellish traits come out into the fore. Self-love and independence grow up together so that older children and adolescents are often rebellious to parental and societal authority. The external natural mind or personality of the adolescent is in disorder in both bodily and mental habits. Quoting Swedenborg:

The evils present with man have many origins. The first lies in the heredity passed down to him by the series of transmissions to his father from grandfathers and forefathers, and then from his father, in whom evils have thereby become heaped up, down to himself. The second origin lies in what he himself makes actual, that is to say, in what a person acquires to himself by a life of evil. This evil consists partly of that which he draws from his heredity, as from an ocean of evils, and puts into practice, and partly of much more which he adds for himself to these. This is the source of the proprium which a person acquires to himself.


But this actual evil which a person makes his own also has various origins, though in general there are two. First there is the evil he receives from others, for which he is not worthy of blame; second there is that which he adopts of his own accord and for which he is thus worthy of blame. That which anyone receives from others and for which he is not blameworthy is meant in the Word by 'that which is torn', whereas that which he adopts of his own accord and for which he is thus blameworthy is meant in the Word by 'a carcass'. (AC 4171)

In other words, people are not responsible for their inherited evils. This makes good rational sense. It would seem a form of injustice to make us responsible for what we have not chosen. However, we are responsible for what we do about the evils with which we are born. This too makes good rational sense. The evil we are born with is similar to the situation of being pushed off a boat that is traveling up a large river. It wasn't our fault for falling into the river and being threatened by death. But it now becomes our responsibility to swim to shore. If we throw up our hands and drown it becomes our responsibility--not for falling into the river, but for refusing to swim ashore to safety. In the same way our inherited evils only put us into the life threatening river of evil consequences. We are also given the skill of swimming prior to falling. We are taught morality and respect for conscience--these are the "swimming" skills of regeneration. If we are unwilling to resist evil enjoyments, then we are responsible. It is counted to us as "sin" which means that we are being permanently connected to the hells, to which we shall gravitate irresistibly when we pass into the world of spirits. Unless we repent.


Repentance is the "one last chance" we are given by the Mercy of a compassionate God. We can repent. We can be horrified at our evil enjoyments and insane thoughts. Then our Divine Psychologist can bring us into spiritual temptation to face the infernal loves that are lurking in our sub-conscious, from where they are slowly and inexorably hauling us in to the hells where they actually are. Repentance is merely the platform from which to fight the battle of temptations, repeatedly, daily, for years.


But children are not capable of rational judgment and cannot be regenerated since regeneration  is by means of spiritual temptations that can only be resisted by means of truths rationally understood. We don't reach adulthood until we are capable of rational judgment on our own behalf, at which point we are responsible for our choices and we can begin regeneration. Children and teenagers who pass into the world of spirits are welcomed by guardians and teachers who act as their parents, instruct them, supervise their mental growth until they become adult in the mind. They are then given the opportunity to exercise their choice for heaven or hell.


Bringing infants and children to adulthood in the spiritual world is one of the beloved occupations of angels. They have powerful mental tools to monitor the children's mental progress and to provide for each one the unique type of experience and opportunity each needs to face their inherited evils. They are instructed in rational truths about God, heaven, and regeneration. The children then use these understandings to reason against their Fallen proprium and thus to be regenerated. The process is more efficient in the world of spirits where special mental methods are available to create scenes and induce impressions, like a live version of Star Trek holodeck. The Writings inform us that the children are never allowed to be immersed in the experience of evil itself but are only allowed to the edge of it, as it were, then are held back until they have a reaction of rejection of their own. They are then freed of that connection with the hells in their mind--like a surgical cutting of the fibers.


Every person who reaches their twenties while still on earth is given the opportunity to regenerate regardless of religious or ethnic background. It wouldn't make rational sense for God to manage a system where some people get left out of the loop so to speak. Regeneration is for everyone without any exception. It is a universal psychobiological process all human beings undergo on all the planets of the vast inhabited universe. Regeneration is the spiritual development that is required for an earth born person to become a heavenly angel in eternity. Those who are unwilling to undergo regeneration by giving in to all their temptations, arrive into the world of spirits completely immersed in their sensuous mind. To keep this level of thinking they refuse to let the rational mind take over. They insist on irrational thinking and disorderly conduct. They are therefore segregated and allowed to sink into their hells where they spend eternity taking turn torturing each other in repulsive and horrible ways.

The Self or Proprium in Adulthood

Quoting from the Writings:

It is well known that a person cannot be regenerated except in adult years, for not until then is he able to exercise reason and judgment and in so doing to receive good and truth from the Lord. Before entering that state he is being prepared by the Lord through the implantation of such things as can serve him as the soil for receiving the seeds of truth and good. Implanted thus are many states of innocence and charity, also cognitions of good and truth, and consequently thoughts. This implantation occurs during many years before his regeneration takes place. When a person has been endowed with these things and so has been prepared, his state is now said to be complete, for the things that are interior have been arranged ready to receive. All those things with a person which the Lord grants him prior to regeneration and by means of which he is regenerated are called remnants, which in the Word are meant by the number ten (AC 2636)

In other words, regeneration begins when the young adult is fully prepared with rational skills that can take Divine truth from Sacred Scripture and apply it to one's thinking and feeling on the daily round of activities. The passage above refers to "implantations" of states of innocence or "remains" (or "remnants"). This is also called the "seed of truth and good." Thoughts and sequences of reasoning are called forth by these seeds of truth and good, which are called "cognitions of good and truth." This process of implantation or spiritual growth goes on for years before the preparation is "complete."


Adulthood begins when we begin to form our own proprium out of the childhood self. We are now required to think for ourselves and most people have a strong desire to be freed from the childhood proprium and dependencies. Up to the point we mostly accepted our childhood religion and moral standard. It's the only thing we knew and our innocence, or partial innocence, made us happy, or sometimes happy, just to follow in the order of things that was laid out for us. Beginning to question this former acceptance is the beginning of our adulthood. There are individual differences in the intensity and urgency of this new direction in our life so that some people grow up fast while others prolong the dependency.


The fact that we are compelled by circumstances of life to think for ourselves now produces a new proprium. It is a mixed proprium, containing both good and evil habits of feeling and thinking. The Writings discuss the progression of remains or remnants we receive throughout the growth process:

Three kinds of goods are meant by 'remnants' - those instilled in earliest childhood, those instilled when want of knowledge is still present, and those instilled when intelligence is present.

The goods of earliest childhood are those instilled into a person from birth up to the age when he starts to be taught and to know something. The goods received when want of knowledge is still present are instilled when he is being taught and starting to know something. The goods that come with intelligence are instilled when he is able to reflect on what good is and what truth is. Good instilled in earliest childhood is received up to his tenth year.

[3] Good instilled when want of knowledge is still present is instilled from then until his twentieth year; and from this year the person starts to become rational and to have the ability to reflect on good and truth, and to acquire the good received when intelligence is present. The good instilled when want of knowledge is still present is that which is meant by 'twenty', because those with whom merely that good exists do not enter into any temptation. For no one undergoes temptation until he is able to reflect on and to perceive in his own way what good and truth are. (...)

[5] As regards the nature of these different kinds of goods- those instilled in earliest childhood, those when want of knowledge is still present, and those when intelligence is present - the last of these is the best, since it is an attribute of wisdom. The good which precedes it, namely that instilled during want of knowledge, is indeed good, but because it has only a small amount of intelligence within it, it cannot be called the good of wisdom. The good that belongs to earliest childhood is indeed in itself good, but it is nevertheless less good than the other two kinds, because it has not as yet had any truth of intelligence allied to it, and so has not become in any way the good of wisdom, but is merely a plane enabling it to become such. Cognitions of truth and good are what enable a person to be wise in the way possible to man. Earliest childhood itself, by which is meant innocence, does not belong to earliest childhood but to wisdom, as may become clearer from what will be stated at the end of this chapter about young children in the next life. (...)  (AC 2280)

This passage tells us that there is a progression of goods and truths that we acquire as we grow, and only those we acquire as adults can be called goods and truths of "wisdom." The rational understanding of truth is called intelligence and its application to good is called wisdom. For instance, we learn, understand, and accept the idea that people are entitled to have their wallet back when it's inadvertently dropped. We can see from intelligence that it's only fair and that losing something doesn't mean it's no longer ours. But it's not until we find something that belongs to someone else that we have the opportunity to act according to our intelligence. If we return the wallet because of what we understand rationally by intelligence, then we are acting from wisdom. Only when truth is allied to good are the two secure in our character. Truth refers to what we know about something and good refers to acting in accordance with the truth we know and understand.


Conscience is formed by wisdom which is the "good of intelligence." It is the principles by which we now want to live our life. It gives rise to our personal code of conduct. This ideal self is now freely chosen, not merely received uncritically from parents and from a borrowed religious faith. Our ideal self is a heavenly proprium. But if we don't live up to our code of conscience we are building a hellish proprium. In this way the adult mind develops as spiritual schizophrenic, with two heads, one beautiful and good, the other ugly and evil. We alternate between the two like the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in his multiple personality disorder. Because our mind is made of this mixture of oscillating opposites the rational mind is only operating at an immature level called the "first rational." Quoting from the Writings:

With everyone who is being regenerated there are two rationals, the first existing before regeneration, the second after. The first, which exists before regeneration, is acquired by means of the experiences of the senses, by means of reflecting on the things that take place in public life and in private life, by means of formulated knowledge, and by means of reasonings based on and presented through these, as well as by means of cognitions of spiritual things obtained from the doctrine of faith, that is, from the Word. But none of these acquisitions rise at this time very much above the ideas present in the external or bodily memory, which are relatively speaking quite materialistic. Consequently whatever thought takes place in the rational at this time consists of such materialistic ideas, or else, so that what it thinks may be comprehended at the same time by inner or intellectual sight, the semblances of such things are presented in the form of comparisons or analogies. Of such a nature is the first rational, or the rational that exists before regeneration.

[3] But the rational after regeneration is formed by the Lord by means of affections for spiritual truth and good, which affections the Lord implants in a remarkable manner within the truths of the first rational, and in this way the things there that are in agreement and are favorably disposed towards them are given life. The rest however, having no use, are separated from these, until at length spiritual goods and truths are gathered so to speak into bundles, once those that do not agree and which cannot be given life are cast away so to speak to the circumference, this being effected gradually as spiritual goods and truths increase together with the life of the affections for them. From this it is evident what the second rational is like. (AC 2657)

In other words, there are two levels of rational operations in our mind. The first rational reflects a materialistic order since it is an intelligence built on the order of the world and society. Even the religious ideas we have are natural, not spiritual. This level of mental operation is called the "natural-rational" to distinguish it from the "spiritual-natural" which is a higher type of rational operation. The spiritual-natural is also called the interior-natural, and represents the level of thinking of those who are in the "first heaven." Note carefully that knowledge about God, religious faith, heaven, hell, or the things in Sacred Scripture, come to us in the first rational so that these ideas about spiritual subjects are natural ideas about spiritual topics. Later, when we operationalize the higher rational levels of operation, we then first begin to comprehend these spiritual topics spiritually.

The passage above says that the second or more advanced rational begins with regeneration when we develop our new adult proprium through the love of Sacred Scripture or "affections for spiritual truth and good." The difference between the first and second rational is described further in the same Number:

[4] These matters may be illustrated by comparing them to the fruit of trees. To begin with the first rational is like unripe fruit which ripens gradually until it produces seeds within itself. Then, having reached the point when it is ready to part from the tree, its state is complete, regarding which see above in 2636. The second rational however, which the Lord confers on those who are being regenerated, is like this same fruit now lying in good soil, where the flesh surrounding the seeds decays and these express themselves from the core, after which they send down a root and also a shoot up above the ground that grows into a new tree and spreads out, till finally it produces new fruits, and after that gardens and orchards, according to the affections for good and truth which it is receiving; see Matt. 13: 31, 32; John 12: 24.

[5] But since examples help to make things clear, take the proprium which a person has before regeneration and the proprium which he has after regeneration. From the first rational which he acquires through the means mentioned above, a person believes that it is from what there is within himself, thus from his proprium, that he thinks what is true and does what it good. This first rational is incapable of thinking anything else even when the person is taught that every good of love, and every truth of faith, derives from the Lord. But when he is undergoing regeneration, which takes place in adult years, he then starts - from the second rational which is conferred by the Lord - to think that good and truth do not spring from that which is within himself, that is, from his proprium, but from the Lord, though he still does what is good or thinks what is true, as if it began from within himself, see 1937, 1947. At this time the more he becomes confirmed in this the more he is guided into the light of truth concerning those matters, until he finally believes that all good and all truth come from the Lord. At this time the proprium belonging to the first rational is gradually separated and the Lord confers on that person a heavenly proprium which becomes that of the new rational. (AC 2657)

In other words, when we still operate mentally with the first rational we cannot but think that the truth we think and the good we do is from self. The truth and the good are felt to be our own, from our proprium. This is a dangerous delusion we must give up once regeneration begins. Through temptations in regeneration we begin to observe ourselves directly, seeing that we are indeed powerless to be good and to think truth, unless we allow God to give us the truth to think and the good to do. We can now see that truth and good do not spring from our proprium but from God. The old rational is "separated" or laid to rest and the new rational is now called the "heavenly proprium" by which we can think and understand that every and all truth and good is from God.

Continuing with the same Number:

[6] Take a further example. To begin with the only love known to the first rational is that of self and the world, and although it hears about heavenly love being altogether different it still has no conception of it. In this case when the person then does anything good the only delight he sees in doing it is that he may seem to himself to merit another's favor, or that he may be considered to be a Christian, or that he may obtain the joy of eternal life out of doing it.

The second rational however which the Lord confers through regeneration begins to feel some delight in goodness and truth themselves and to be stirred by this delight, not on account of anything that is his own but on account of goodness and truth themselves. When led by this delight he spurns the thought of merit, until at length he detests it as something monstrous. This delight as it exists with him gradually increases and becomes a blessed delight, and in the next life a blissful delight, being for him heaven itself. From this it may now become clear how it is with each of the two rationals in one who is being regenerated. (AC 2657)

Again we see that the first rational is meritorious since it is motivated to be good for the sake of reward. We think that "if I am being good, I deserve to be rewarded." This is called "monstrous" because it robs God of the ownership of all good and truth and therefore denies God's omnipotence. To feel that we deserve heaven is to feel that we are good from ourselves, which is a hellish thought based on hatred of God and innocence. But with the mental operations of our second rational we are able to see that all good and truth belongs to God. By loving "good and truth themselves," that is, for the sake of good and truth because they are good and truth, we are loving God. There is no meritoriousness in this since we do not think we deserve heaven but instead, are grateful to receive heaven from God. Our task is to prepare our mind so that it can live in the heaven graciously offered to us by God.


The State of Reformation Begins Regeneration

Regeneration is the central issue in theistic psychology. Without regeneration there is eternal hell and with regeneration there is eternal heaven. Given that we are born immortal human beings what can be more important to us than regeneration?


We discussed above that regeneration begins in adulthood and continues lifelong, and beyond. Regeneration is a word frequently used in Sacred Scripture, especially in the New Testament and the Writings. Little details are offered in the literal sense of the New Testament and the bulk of what has been revealed about it is in the literal meaning of the Writings. In the future much more will be known about regeneration when extractive research recovers the scientific revelations that lay hidden in the literal sense of Divine Speech.


Quoting from the Writings:

(...) the quality of the state of those who are reformed is in the beginning ... that they are carried away into various wanderings; for it is given them by the Lord to think much about eternal life, and thus much about the truths of faith; but because from what is their own (as just stated) they cannot do otherwise than wander hither and thither, both in doctrine and in life, seizing as truth that which has been inseminated from their infancy, or is impressed upon them by others, or is thought out by themselves-besides their being led away by various affections of which they are not conscious-they are like fruits as yet unripe, on which shape, beauty, and savor cannot be induced in a moment; or like tender blades which cannot in a moment grow up into bloom and ear.

But the things which enter in at that time, though for the most part erroneous, are still such as are serviceable for promoting growth; and afterwards, when the men are being reformed, these are partly separated, and are partly conducive to introducing nourishment and as it were juices into the subsequent life-which again can afterwards be partly adapted to the implanting of goods and truths by the Lord, and partly to being serviceable to spiritual things as ultimate planes; and thus as continual means to reformation, which means follow on in perpetual connection and order; for all things even the least with man are foreseen by the Lord, and are provided for his future state to eternity; and this for his good insofar as is in any wise possible, and as he suffers himself to be led by the Lord. (AC 2679)

This passage strikingly describes the intimate relationship every human being has with the Divine Human who foresees in advance the future from birth to eternity of every individual. To foresee and to bring about--such is the total involvement of God with every human being's every instant of existence. This is called a "perpetual connection." The passage also reveals some of the mechanisms God uses to create our future moment by moment. In this instance we are focusing on that portion of our life called "reformation." Experientially it feels like we are "carried away into various wanderings" which are supervised or managed by the Divine Human. Specifically, we are given to "think much about eternal life" and about "truths of faith." In our generation we refer to it as being "spiritual" or having "spiritual interests" or being interested in "spirituality" or religion.


But here only the period of reformation is involved. Some people may get stuck at this stage and be interested in spirituality all their life as a hobby or as entertainment or as expertise. These later states of intellectual searching or "wanderings" are not being discussed here (but elsewhere).  If one prolongs the wanderings of reformation one postpones regeneration and all subsequent interest in spirituality is in vain until one returns to Sacred Scripture exclusively as the soul source of all truth. Then the Divine Psychologist can resume the process of reformation followed by regeneration. Endless wanderings in search of truth produces an idealist like Don Quixote, who though well meaning, is portrayed as a fool and laughing stock.


The intellectual wanderings in search of truth during reformation have a vacillating quality, going "hither and thither both in doctrine and life." In doctrine, our multivalenced approach takes us into all sorts of nonduality--eastern religions, ascetic disciplines, psychotropic drugs, shamanism, nihilist philosophies, secular humanism, political idealism, moral dissonance, fundamentalist faiths, universalist expressions, new age rituals. These are the spiritual interests of the early phases of reformation. It is a universalist awakening to dualism through all sorts of introductions and initiations. We are being "led away by various affections of which we are not conscious" and we bounce around with the persuasions to which we are exposed. The Divine Psychologist  supervises every detail of these wanderings, every opportunity, every chance encounter or discovery in a book or conversation, every determined follow up, and yes, every crash--for the only reason we meander across the territory is that we abandon whatever we come to, back out, and continue searching.


The passage reveals how the Divine Psychologist conducts the wanderings for truth from things that are "for the most part erroneous" yet they are "serviceable for promoting growth." There are no real chance encounters or happenstances. These seemingly random events are used by God to hide His presence and close management of our mental operations (see Chapter xx). God is managing things in our mind in such a way as to bring us to rational conscious awareness of His Presence in the mind and outside. It must be a rational consciousness of His Presence. It would be so simple for God to instantaneously give us sensuous consciousness of Him as the Divine Human simply by turning on the light of the spiritual mind so that we could see Him no matter which way we turned or what we were doing. This is precisely what He does when we climb to the heaven of our mind. Swedenborg has seen the Divine Human many times for 27 years during his dual consciousness period. Everyone in the heavens of their mind can see Him. Right now if you could elevate your conscious awareness to the top region of your mind, you would see the Divine Human surrounded by the Spiritual Sun and in the midst of it.


This would be so simple. So the fact that God is not doing this, not raising our sensuous consciousness to Him, must mean that He has a good reason why not. It always means in these kind of issues that, for God to do so, would be injurious to the individual. The Writings give much information on why such enlightenment of our sensuous consciousness would destroy our ability to develop our rational consciousness of the Divine Human. Perhaps we would see God in flash, and then we would tumble from the heaven of our mind into the hell of our mind, and will we be able to emerge from there to eternity?


All this is understandable if you consider the full details (see Chapter xx). The fact you have to remember is that the new heavens that now exist in our mind (see Chapter xx), were created in our mind by the Incarnation Event two thousand years ago (see Chapter xx). There is no other heaven we can live in except the new rational heavens that were created then--the spiritual-natural operations in our mind ("First Heaven"), the spiritual-rational operations in our mind, and the celestial-rational operations in our mind. There is no other place in the human mind or the spiritual world where there is a heaven except in our rational consciousness. You can see now why God doesn't just appear in your mind or in your living room. Among Christians, the rational consciousness of the Divine Human is called the "Holy Spirit" (see Chapter xx).


And so the Divine Psychologist uses wanderings to cure us of our inherited obsessions until He can bring us to Himself, through His Divine Speech or Sacred Scripture. In this we find the absolute dualities we have been running away from, and now we can accept them, and wonder of wonder, begin to love them. This insures that our regeneration will be successful since when we love the truth of Sacred Scripture we are restored to state of innocence, hence obedience with gladness. We are then willingly induced to cooperate with the Divine Psychologist. Our mission: To learn to reject the evil enjoyments and to abhor them. As we do this, and to the extent that we do, the Divine Psychologist implants the new proprium, the good will, the fresh thoughts, the good of blessedness and charity.


But this is only the beginning of a long journey full of effort and suffering, as well as full of discovery and enthusiasm. At first we believe that heaven is where all our wants are satisfied. Sure we want to go there. But along the way the Divine Psychologist shows us that His will is not the same as our will. What He wants for us is not the same as what we think we want for ourselves. There is a clash of wills between a Giant and "little me." The clash is painful, agonizing. Until we learn to give up the idea that heaven is where we get to satisfy what we want. Gradually the Divine Psychologist enlightens our understanding so that we begin to see that our heaven is where we satisfy the Divine Human's wants, not our wants. For all our wants in the state of regeneration stem partly from the hellish proprium that is being eliminated, eliminating, going--but not yet gone.


We never knew and will never know what we truly want but only what we imagine we want. But if we love God more than self and world, we are more than happy to rely on God's ideas of what is our true happiness. This total and absolute reliance on God is much more reassuring than reliance on self. When we see this rationally, we would feel horror and anxiety at the idea of relying on self instead of God.


The Divine Psychologist is leading us therefore to a future that we cannot foresee or imagine, and even less, contribute anything to bringing it about.


Death of Self and Rebirth of the New Proprium

God provides a specific mechanism by which we can anesthetize the Fallen proprium, or self-love, so that  we could adopt the new will and understanding that self-love denied and kept out, and that is innocence or willingness to obey God's order of reality. As pointed out before, this process is called rebirth and regeneration. It involves cooperating actively with the Divine Psychologist who is effecting the regeneration by His Own Divine Proprium, and the extent to which we are thus regenerated is proportional to the extent of our cooperation.


A central focus in theistic psychology is to develop effective principles for the psychology of cooperation with the Divine Psychiatrist. People would greatly benefit to learn effective techniques for cooperating with the Divine Human in the critical lifelong process of regeneration or character rebuilding. The old self must die to make place for a new self, one that comes not from the disorder of the materialism but from the order of the mental heaven which each individual mind contains by creation.


We need to understand the mechanism by which the old material self can be rendered operationless so that the new spiritual-rational self can take its place as the center and sphere of our consciousness. This mechanism must involve our thoughts and feelings and the self-witnessing methodology (see Chapter xx) is quite adequate to give us an accurate map of how our thoughts and feelings gradually change as the old self is being pushed down and the new self to take over the agent and executor of our behavior, both physical, mental. The more rationally we understand this mechanism, the more we can be effective in our cooperation with the Divine Psychiatrist, thus insuring the elevation of our consciousness to the heavenly sphere of conjugial love in eternity.


We have already discussed in several places that regeneration is the process spiritual development and it is carried out by God through temptations--natural, spiritual, and celestial, in that order over a lifetime of struggle (see Chapter xx). The function of temptations is to bring to the fore something in our self that is hidden. For instance, a motive like infidelity in marriage may lie in the background in a husband's hierarchy of motives for many years unrecognized. Yet its motivational influence continues to exert powerful effects that slowly dissolve his resolve for loyalty to his marriage partner. These signs are not seen collectively by the man, thus not putting them together and realizing that they are all caused by this one big motive lurking there on its hierarchical node, beaming its powerful nefarious influence, dissolving the strength and future of his marriage and happiness. He may for example give himself permission to enjoy pornography in various forms. He may enjoy flirting with women at the office, or he may engage in phone sex or a fake passionate email exchange with a stranger. The man does not realize that these various activities are satisfying the hidden lust of infidelity.


Now then the Divine Psychologist has created a method for dealing with hidden motives. This is the method of temptations. When the temptation is precipitated upon us we suddenly are faced with this hidden love now suddenly seen in the open and clear vision of our conscious awareness. For instance, an unexpected situation may develop, such as being away at a conference, or being stuck in an elevator, and meeting a woman who arouses in us intense feelings that we are enamored with. We suddenly realize that all along we were longing for this kind of feeling, and that now we seem to ourselves really alive, while before we hardly were. This is a spiritual temptation.


It  is agonizing.


It is called a spiritual temptation because there is no other way of fighting it except by means of spiritual weapons of truth that we have acquired previously and consider to be our creed.


Now our love and loyalty to the creed or "doctrine" is tested against our love and loyalty to self-love, this egocentric fascination we have with the feeling that seems to make us alive when we were not.


A lot of at stake. In fact, everything--your life, your future, your happiness, your eternity. Everything.


The Writings say that if you lose the temptation battle and after consciously applying your doctrine to the situation, you gave in, you are done for. Your fate in hell is sealed. Why? Because you will be unwilling to ever let go of that enamored fascination, no matter how much you suffer for it to eternity. This Swedenborg has confirmed--to his own amazement at such enormous tenacity of infernal love.


This is the reason that the Divine Psychologist does not bring to us a temptation that we cannot overcome. Of course those who are bent to take themselves to hell are given the spiritual temptations, and give in to them. This seals their desire to be in hell. But those who are unsure, feeling attracted to both heaven and hell, need the temptation so they may face the choice against the hidden evils to which they are attached by heredity and acquisition.


How then do we prevail upon the love we enjoy so much that we think all our true happiness will be gone if it's taken away from us .


Quoting from the Writings:

(...) the joining together of good and truth within the natural is effected by means of spiritual conflicts, that is, by means of temptations. With regard to the joining together of good and truth in the natural, the position in general is that man's rational receives truths before his natural receives them, the reason being that the Lord's life which, as has been stated, is the life of His love, may be able to flow in by way of the rational into the natural, bring order into it, and make it submissive. For the rational is purer, and the natural grosser, or what amounts to the same, the former is interior, the latter exterior. It is according to order - an order that one can know - that the rational is able to flow into the natural, but not the natural into the rational. (AC 3321).

In other words, the power of Divine truth enters the conscious mind through the rational thinking we do when we reason from Sacred Scripture. This rational power has the ability to "subdue" the natural mind which contains the Fallen proprium of self-love. The natural mind has several levels (see Chapter xx). The lower levels are mental operations based on materialistic thinking. The upper levels are mental operations based on Sacred Scripture. Reasoning from Sacred Scripture can be either rational or materialistic. In the lower operations of the mind, Sacred Scripture is misused to justify principles and behaviors that support self-love. In the higher more rational operations, Sacred Scripture is used to justify principles and behaviors that oppose self-love.

The above passage tells us that "the Lord's life," which refers to Divine Truth from Sacred Scripture, comes into our natural mind in the upper portion where we think rationally. In other words, the Divine Truth becomes our doctrine of life, that is, the principle to which we are committed as the ruling love in our daily behavior. This rational principle is from a Divine origin and has the power to make the lower potion of the mind "submissive" to itself. It cleans up our act. We are able to understand and see clearly the consequences of not imposing the Divine rational order upon our sensuous mind and life of enjoyment.

Though we enjoy the excitement of infidelity in a moment of temptation and unexpected opportunity, we are not blinded by the rush of its irresistible fever. Since it is irresistible, only Divine Power can defeat it and save us like a firebrand from a fire. This Divine Power comes through the doctrine of life or the rational principle we formed for ourselves from Sacred Scripture.

Continuing with the same Number:

[2] Consequently a person's rational is able to be adjusted to truths and to receive them before the natural does. This becomes quite clear from the fact that the rational man with someone who is to be regenerated conflicts greatly with the natural, or what amounts to the same, the internal man does so with the external. For as is also well known, the internal man is able to see truths and also to will them, but the external man refuses to see them and stands opposed to them. For in the natural man there are facts, which are to a great extent derived from the illusions of the senses, and which, although they are falsities, he nevertheless believes to be truths.

There are also countless things which the natural man does not grasp, since the natural man, compared with the rational man, is in shade and thick darkness; and the things which the natural man does not grasp are thought not to exist or not to be so.

There are also desires in the natural man which are those of self-love and love of the world, and the things which support those desires he calls truths. And when a person gives in to them everything that arises from them is contrary to spiritual truths. Present also are reasonings derived from falsities imprinted since early childhood. What is more, a person comprehends plainly with his senses the things which exist in his natural man, but less so those which exist in his rational until he has shed the body. This also causes him to suppose that the natural constitutes the whole, and what does not fall within the compass of his natural senses he believes to be scarcely anything.

In other words, through our rational thinking we are able to "to be adjusted to truths and receive them." When we are stuck in our sensuous way of reasoning it is difficult to believe in the existence of anything but the concrete sensual experience. The lower natural mind is materialistic while the upper rational mind is dualist (see Chapter xx). The lower way of thinking about truth and God is through sensuous consciousness; the higher way is through rational consciousness (see Chapter xx). The sensuous mind is opposed to the rational mind, and therefore it must be subdued and compelled to obey. The sensuous mind reads what truth is but refuses to see it, wants to doubt it, and finally rejects it. Now it sees falsities as truth because the falsities support the self-love and justifies it. Think of how many philosophies and creeds our generation entertains that justify any type of love that is enjoyable to the Fallen proprium. A general review with many examples will be found in my book A Man of the Field, Volume 1:

In the passage above it is said that the "natural man is in shade" and doesn't comprehend many things about reality because it is not visible to the physical senses. This is talking about the sensuous portion of the natural mind. Our affective life at this level of consciousness is filled with the affections of "self-love and the love of the world." Whatever supports those desires is called truth. At this level of operation our mind is not genuinely human but animal. We become human in our higher operations that are in the rational portion of the natural mind called the natural-rational (see Chapter xx). The passage says that after "we shed the body" and are resuscitated in the world of spirits (see Chapter xx), we are able to better understand rational things. When we think at the level of the sensuous mind we believe that rational things are less real than sensuous things. When we hear about spiritual things like life in heaven, we think of a thinned out sensuous world like floating in clouds.

The truth however is that rational things are more real than sensuous things and that the rational ether that constitutes the spiritual world is far more alive and real than the physical matter of the natural world. Heaven is in our rational consciousness while hell is in our sensuous consciousness. Heaven is infinitely more real than hell. Rational consciousness is more real than sensuous consciousness devoid of the rational. But there is also a sensuous consciousness that has rational consciousness within it, and this is the mentality we have in heaven. For in heaven sensuous delights are plentiful and real and they are produced by the rational consciousness that is within them.

Continuing with the same Number:

[3] These and many others are the factors which cause the natural man to receive truths much later and with greater difficulty than the rational man receives them. Consequently conflict occurs, which persists for rather a long time and does not end until the recipient vessels of good in the natural man have been softened by means of temptations, as shown above in 3318; for truths are nothing else than recipient vessels of good, 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269. The harder those vessels are the more firmly is a person settled in the things referred to above. And the more firmly settled he is, the more serious is the conflict if he is to be regenerated. This therefore being the situation with the natural man - that the joining of truths to good in the natural man is effected by means of the conflicts brought about by temptations (...). (AC 3321)

A useful study of this passage (AC 3321) is given in a sermon by Rev .J. Clark Echols, Jr. titled Honest Self-Observation (General Church, Cincinnati, Ohio January 11, 2004). He points out that repentance is an important component of the process of temptations. Conscience and guilt  motivate us to feel sorry about our evil deed or thought. Feeling sorry is a rejection of some particular evil in us that comes to our attention through the temptation experience. Prior to feeling sorry we feel indulgent toward the evil enjoyment as indicated by such expressions as, "You only live once so go for the gusto!" or, "You deserve a break today" or, "It's okay, no one else will ever know" or, It has always been this way."


When we operate at the level of the lower natural mind we want to hide how we feel, what we hope for, and what we think. Naturally, we don't want to be punished or disapproved of because of them. We want to enjoy loves that are antisocial, stupid, gross, abusive, deceptive. So we hide them and do the enjoying part in secret. We pose as hypocrites with a veneer of decency and generosity, meanwhile in our private self we are filled with envy, rage, and disdain for others.


When we think the upper portion of the natural mind we can reason in a rational way and understand rational things. We are not swayed by the senses and we can have ideas that are abstracted from the senses, ideas that have to do with morality and eternity, with altruism and integrity. When we think rationally we think from Divine truth since it is the source of all rationality in our mind. Rational consciousness of God motivates us to be innocent, to love to be obedient to God's order and God's Commandments (see Chapter xx). During regeneration we discover this basic conflict and opposition between our sensuous consciousness and our rational consciousness.


"Honest self-observation is the first step of repentance. To observe ourselves is to look at ourselves from our rational man, from the light of heaven. ... And repentance leads to spiritual freedom, to a genuine love for neighbor, to marriage love with your spouse, and to eternal happiness in heaven." (Echols, p. 4).

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