Extracts

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Hierarchy in creation

swedenborg

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Heaven, structure/levels" (search under Afterlife/Afterlife, Heaven, Hell)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.4": detail "Section 5547 - 5553"
There are heavens one over another, and there is communication between them. Spirits and angels do not know how they intercommunicate and are joined together—except those who are in the highest heaven. There are seven levels of them, because in general they are divided between angels who are of an inward nature and who are of an outward nature. The inward are those who are called heavenly, and the outward are those who are called spiritual. The inward are divided into three, and the outward into three, and between the inward and the outward there are intermediaries for the sake of conjunction. These are called heavenly-spiritual. Thus it is that there are seven levels.
 The first level, which is the innermost of the inward angels, is the Lord's Alone, and can be called the Lord's dwelling place itself in heaven, for an angel does not know what is taking place there. Nevertheless heaven is being governed by the Lord through the inmost. The second level of the inward angels is what actually does come to their awareness, but just as a person's inward self comes to the awareness of his or her outward self. There is a third level on which these angels are and where their perception takes place; their humanness is there, and their soul is on the second. Just as people on earth form ideas on the level of what is earthly or apprehended by the senses and not on the level of inner understanding, so too those angels have their outer nature on this level, as do all spirits, but it is at rest with them, and they do not know that they have it, so it is like the outer nature of a person when he sleeps. But still this outer nature is the plane of their inner qualities. Through this a communication takes place with those who are in outer things, or, in the spiritual world, through the heavenly-spiritual.
 The angels who are in the spiritual heaven do not have inward things but outward ones. This outward nature is also divided into three parts, namely inner, middle and outer. This outer level, which approximates outward sensation in the world, is at rest. They live on the middle level as to thinking and awareness. The inner level is for them as it were the soul. They do in fact have an inward level which is above, but this is closed. There is communication with them through the heavenly-spiritual heaven, across the heavenly. This is the reason that spiritual angels have a natural internal.
 From these things it is evident that there are three levels of the heavens, or of the angels in the heavens. There are also as many levels in people in the world who are angels, but they do not then know what is taking place on their inner levels. These are opened after death.
 These levels are entirely distinct from each other. But I doubt whether the learned of the world can grasp this, because the mental image most of them have of the outward and inward things in a human being is that of a continuum from gross to refined without any other distinction.
 Man, or mankind, is the lowest plane, in which heaven comes to rest. This is because man has heaven in himself and corresponds to it. His faculty of sense perception which is manifest in the world is the lowest plane itself, and therefore also is the foundation on which the heavens come to rest, like a house on its foundation, for there is a connection of all things from first things to the lowest. And man's faculty of sensation is relatively unchanging and stable. How it is with this stability can be known simply by the fact that all things which are on earth are also in the heavens, but there they are not unchanging but yet have the appearance of being fixed: many things might be enumerated, such as houses, fields, gardens, carriages, animals. From this is evident that when people live in the world, they acquire a fixed plane for themselves, and that therefore this cannot be changed. It is due to this that people remain to eternity such as they had become in the world. They have this plane with them, but it is entirely at rest. Nevertheless their inward things come to rest in it; and unless this has a correspondence with inward things in them, it cannot be well with them there, and it also is well to the degree that it does correspond. But the inward things must be good; if the inward things are evil, then they come into hell.
 Consequently, so that the Divine might rule all things in heaven and on earth from Itself, which is done through all things, through first and last things simultaneously, the Lord therefore came into the world and took on the human and rose with it to the furthest point, as He Himself also taught the disciples [Luke 24:39]. For thus He was able while in the world to subjugate the hells, and thus afterwards rule the heavens and the earths, and not otherwise. For mankind had gone entirely away from heavenly things into the lowest things, with the result that the foundation had begun to perish.