Soul, as empty, nothing, or a vessel


[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Soul, as empty, nothing, a vessel" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.2": detail "Section 2043 - 2044"
There were spirits who did not understand what it meant when it was said one "must be reduced to nothing" or "become nothing," thinking that when they lost those things which were their own, nothing would be left, so that the person or spirit would no longer be in control of himself, but like a machine, devoid of all sense or thought. So they very often told me that I was nothing, or would become nothing, making fun of me, because they did not understand what it is "to be nothing." But I was given to reply to them that this was my wish, that is, to be nothing—in fact, entirely nothing, for then only I would begin to be something.
 Afterwards they were instructed that "nothing" meant that one would lose all that is one's own, that is, one's own desires, and thus iniquities, and that then a different person would emerge. They were told that they could not be something before they had lost what was their own, and to the extent that they lose those things, or are reduced to nothing, they begin to be something, and then they would have whatever they longed for and thought about. For he is given by the Lord to long for the right things, which he surely obtains in abundance, together with enjoyment—and this constantly, so long as, and so far as, he is nothing unto himself. So he receives countless things, together with innermost joy and gladness, and with immeasurably fuller awareness than man feels in his enjoyments, and in unending variety. The sensation and awareness, which they had thought would be gone, then also increase unendingly when the sensation and awareness of enjoyments from their own loves cease.

[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Soul, as empty, nothing, a vessel" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.3": detail "Section 3939 - 3940"
It was seen that to be nothing means not to be anything but evil, for evil in itself is death, thus nothing in comparison to life. That goodness and truth are everything, is obvious, so evil and falsity are nothing. Thus it is a humbling even to the point of being nothing, together with the inner confession that there is nothing of goodness and truth in oneself, but that everything good and true with oneself is the Lord's.
 It also means that compared with the grand human being [Grand Man], one is only the tiniest particle, so as to be almost nothing. For through the grand human being, all and the very least we have flow in, so that we are like a particle of air compared to the whole atmosphere, or a particle of water compared to the ocean. Thus because man is almost nothing in comparison to the grand human being, we are in the truth of faith when we consider ourselves as nothing compared to the larger community, whatever it may be, which is goodness and truth. It also means that we have nothing of life from ourselves, but are a dead force, being only instrumental, and that all life is the Lord's. Therefore, insofar as one lives, one is nothing. From this it follows that one can do nothing on one's own power, or one has no power from oneself. To acknowledge this is to acknowledge that one is nothing. Consequently, because man is nothing but evil, one can have nothing of goodness and truth but from the Lord. Since one can have nothing of goodness and truth from oneself, and since goodness and truth Is, because it is eternal, it follows that man is nothing.