Actions, relation to intentions


[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Actions, relation to intentions" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Heaven and Hell": detail "Section 472"
Everyone knows that every deed and work goes forth from the man's will and thought; otherwise it would be nothing but a movement like that of an automaton or image. Consequently, a deed or work viewed in itself is merely an effect that derives its soul and life from will and thought, even to the extent that it is nothing but will and thought in effect, and thus is will and thought in outward form. From this it follows that a deed or work is in quality such as are the will and thought that produce it. If the thought and will are good the deeds and works are good; but if the thought and will are evil the deeds and works are evil, although in outward form they appear alike. A thousand men may act alike, that is, may do like deeds, so alike in outward form as to be almost indistinguishable, and yet each one regarded in itself be different, because from an unlike will.
 For example, when one acts honestly and justly with a companion, one person may do it for the purpose of appearing to be honest and just out of regard to himself and his own honor; another out of regard to the world and gain; a third out of regard to reward and merit; a fourth out of regard to friendship; a fifth from fear of the law and the loss of reputation or employment; a sixth that he may draw someone to his own side, even when he is in the wrong; a seventh that he may deceive; and others from other motives. In all these instances although the deeds are good in appearance, since it is a good thing to act honestly and justly with a companion, they are nevertheless evil, because they are done, not out of regard to honesty and justice and for the love of these, but out of regard to love of self and the world which are loved; and honesty and justice are made to serve that love as servants serve a lord, whom the lord despises and dismisses when they fail to serve him.