Extracts

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Soul and (spiritual) body

swedenborg

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Body, relation to spirit" (search under Outer Life/Body)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.4": detail "Section 4627"
Those who are not acquainted with the inner elements of a human being can in no way know the nature of the communication of the soul with the body, still less when they have no idea of the soul and absolutely none of its nature. This is so unknown that it cannot even be defined except as being the intellect or thinking faculty. But as for its nature, it is not known whether it is something ethereal, or flaming, or like an exhalation, or like a tiny living thing reigning in a systematic world of its own or something else. But most have no idea about it, especially when theories about it are rampant. These utterly confuse any idea.
 Because what the nature of a person is as to the person's inward elements is unknown, the bodily elements shall be explained. A person's bodily element is that which sees earthly things and those of the world: it hears people speaking, tastes and savors the things that are eaten, smells the things that float in the air; and through touch feels throughout the whole body. This is a person's bodily element. This, together with the elements that most closely contribute to producing those sensations, dies and becomes a corpse. The bodily part is also every action and gesture, and also speech, and therefore the muscles, which are properly called the flesh.
 The inward elements composing a person which do not die are in the following series: the raw sensation; all that has been derived from the natural realm; spiritual thinking about the realm of nature. These are a person's outward elements. After this there are: the spiritual heavenly element, the heavenly element, and the innermost—which lacks a name, because it receives the Good and Truth that go forth from the Lord. These constitute a person's Inner being. The intermediary between man's inward and outward elements is called the heavenly Spiritual element.
 All these elements actually exist in a person and follow one after the other, and one of them is dominant with everyone, and they are distinct from each other. This can also be shown by the fact that throughout nature there are perpetual compositions and derivations, and likewise in a person. It is also shown by the heavens, which are divided in like manner, and also by the hells. A person is either a heaven in its smallest form or a hell in its smallest form, for the whole heaven in general needs to consist of so many individual images of itself—otherwise the particulars do not square with the general form. For a general is not a something alone of itself but comes into being: it arises and is called a general form from its parts in so far as they are likenesses of it.
 Every division of the inward human elements has a light and a heat that is distinct from the others. Sensation has a respectively foggy light, and much experience has enabled me to distinguish its difference from inward lights. And I have observed that as often as I was let down into it, filthy and disgraceful things from the hells came to mind, showing that it is pernicious because earthly, bodily, and worldly things are in that light.
 This light is visibly present when such things as have been seen, heard, and felt come into one's thinking in such a manner that one sees, hears, and feels them inwardly. As a consequence, when this happens, the shameful acts that one had seen and that one had heard about—filthy words—and more are felt inwardly as fully as they were outwardly.
 However, when one is lifted up from that light so as to be somewhat drawn or led away from sensuous matters, one then comes more inwardly into a light that is not a sensuous, but a more inward earthly light. When one is in that light, one is then in a better state; one has an insightful awareness of sensuous things, of their nature and causes. If one is able to think still more inwardly, one then has a still more inward light, namely spiritual earthly light. This light is in part from heaven's light in earthly light. The wise men of old, among the gentiles, knew this and said—as is clear from passages in their books—that if the mind were withdrawn from sensuous matters, it would come into light and into a higher blessedness.
 It must be fully known and taken into consideration that all understanding, and thus human thought, comes from light which flows in; for just as the sight of the eye sees objects which are outside of itself by the light of the world, in the same way the understanding sees by the light of heaven—the inward understanding by the light of heaven, the outward by the inflow of the light of heaven into the light of the world. This is the source of all understanding, for understanding is an inner view, or rather, inward sight. Thus it is from the light of heaven, which is from the Lord, which contains wisdom and intelligence. For this light is from the Divine truth going forth from the Lord. And consequently thought, perception, reflection, awareness, prudence, rational analysis, the ability to judge, make distinctions and choose come from this light. All these come from light because they pertain to inward sight. On this account, whatever a person hears passes over into that light so that it may be understood.
 Note that it always sees the objects outside of itself, not within, thus in the order of inward within outer.
 However, everything belonging to the human will is from heat: the will to do evil is from the heat of the world, into which the heat of heaven flows and is there adulterated. But the will to do good is from the heat from heaven, for spiritual heat is the love that goes forth from the Lord as from the sun of heaven. That heat is heavenly and spiritual heat, which is love. From that heat comes all goodness, thus all affection for goodness and truth, consequently everything having to do with life, and these belong to the will. From them also comes all heat in people, which is felt most when they love, for in the degree they have love, to that degree they grow warm and their life is enkindled as if by fire.