Extracts

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Will, relation to understanding

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[1 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 658"
The properties of the will and the understanding are briefly these:
 1. Love itself, and the affections which belong to it, have their abode in the will; and science, intelligence, and wisdom, have their abode in the understanding; and the will inspires its love into these properties, so as to procure their favor and assent: hence it is that every man's true nature and quality depend on the nature and quality of his love, and of his intelligence thence derived.
 2. It follows also from this circumstance, that all good, and likewise all evil, belong to the will: for whatever proceeds from love is called good, although it may be evil, this being an effect of the delight or satisfaction which constitutes the life of love: the will, by means of this delight or satisfaction, enters into the understanding, and produces consent.
 3. The will therefore is the esse or the essence of the life of man, but the understanding is the existere or the existence thence derived; and since essence is a mere nothing unless it be in a certain form, the will is a mere nothing, unless it be in the understanding; therefore the will assumes to itself a form in the understanding, and thus comes forth to light.
 4. Love in the will is end, and in the understanding it seeks and finds causes, by which it may advance on to effect; and as purpose, to which belongs intention, is in fact the end, purpose also is of the will, and by means of intention enters the understanding, and urges it to contrive and meditate upon means, and determine on what may tend to produce the desired effects.
 5. The whole proprium or self-hood of man is in the will, and this proprium is evil from his first birth, and becomes good by a second birth: the first birth is from his natural parents, the second from the Lord.


[2 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will, relation to understanding" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 284"
Man's understanding is the recipient of both good and evil and of both truth and falsity, but not his will. His will must be either in evil or in good; it cannot be in both, for it is the man himself and in it is his life's love. But good and evil are separate in the understanding like what is internal and what is external. Thus man may be inwardly in evil and outwardly in good. Still, when, he is being reformed, the two meet, and conflict and combat ensue. This is called temptation when it is severe, but when it is not severe a fermentation like that of wine or strong drink occurs. If good conquers, evil with its falsity is carried to the side, as lees, to use an analogy, fall to the bottom of a vessel. The good is like wine that becomes generous on fermentation and like strong drink which becomes clear. But if evil conquers, good with its truth is borne to the side and becomes turbid and noisome like unfermented wine or unfermented strong drink.

[3 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will, relation to understanding" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "Divine Love and Wisdom": detail "Section 30"
Because the Divine Essence itself is Love and Wisdom, man has two faculties of life, from one of which he has an understanding, and from the other he has a will. The faculty from which he has understanding draws all its constituents out of the influx of wisdom from God, and the faculty from which he has will draws all its constituents out of the influx of love from God. The fact that a man is not justly wise, and does not love rightly, does not take away the faculties, but only closes them in; and so long as they are closed in, the understanding indeed is called understanding, and the will is called will, yet essentially they are not understanding and will. If, therefore, these faculties were taken away it would involve the destruction of everything human, all of which consists in thinking, and speaking from the thought, and in willing and acting from the will. Hence it appears that the Divine resides with man in these two faculties, which are the faculty of being wise, and the faculty of loving; that is, in the ability. It is because the Divine Essence itself is Love and Wisdom, that all things in the universe have relation to good and to truth; for all that proceeds from love is called good, and all that proceeds from wisdom is called truth.

[4 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will, relation to understanding" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.4": detail "Section 6085"
The appearance, which is fallacious, is that the understanding acts on the will, that is to say, faith on love, and produces it, but this is not the case. It has been shown by many things that spirits who are not good understood well their own evils, reasoned against them and called themselves stupid, but then they had understanding from a desire to stand out on account of their intelligence. However, as soon as they were let into the evils belonging to their will, their understanding went crazy. This was repeated several times and it always happened this way, so they admitted that the understanding only teaches and does not produce the will, but the will the understanding.
 That this is the appearance is plain: it appears as if the eye's vision directs the feet and walking so that they don't stumble, and the hands so that they act and work, when nevertheless the eye only supplies information and does not produce any action. The acts of the hands and feet are acts of the will, and the eye's vision is understanding. There is a complete correspondence.
 But one who believes this fallacy, and nevertheless lives well, does no harm, for there are many spirits like this in the spiritual world who are blessed, but when they come into the second or third heaven, they are informed and see, and are not able to believe otherwise, not only on account of the appearance but also on account of the received faith that this produces works.
 They liken faith to a tree, and fruit to works, but this is false: by the tree a person is meant, and by the branches and leaves faith, and by the fruit good works. It is the person who produces these.


[5 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will, relation to understanding" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.4": detail "Section 3509"
The rational mind is distinguished into two faculties, one of which is called the will, the other the understanding. That which proceeds from the will, whilst man is being regenerated, is called good; that which proceeds from the understanding, is called truth. Before man is regenerated, the will does not act in unity with the understanding, but the former wills good, whereas the latter wills truth, insomuch that an effort of the will is perceived quite distinct from an effort of the understanding. This, however, is only perceived by those who reflect, and who know what the will is and the things which belong to it, and what the understanding is and the things which belong to it. But it is not perceived by those who do not know these things, and therefore do not reflect; and because the natural mind is regenerated by the rational mind, and indeed according to order, in such a manner, that the good of the rational mind does not immediately flow into the good of the natural mind, and regenerate it, but through the truth which is of the understanding, thus according to appearance from the truth of the rational mind.

[6 of 6] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Will, relation to understanding" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "Divine Love and Wisdom": detail "Section 364"
Everyone sees that the understanding is the receptacle of wisdom, but few see that the will is the receptacle of love. The cause of this is that the will does nothing of itself, but acts through the understanding; and also that when the love of the will passes into the wisdom of the understanding, it at first goes off into affection, and so passes on; and affection is not perceived excepting by a certain pleasure of thinking, speaking and acting, to which attention is not paid. Nevertheless, that this is from the love is evident, because everyone wills what he loves, and does not will what he does not love.