exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Return to Afterlife main-page
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Editor's note : Swedenborg influenced generations of searching spirits; among them, Browning. When we find Elizabeth speaking to Robert, "I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death," we may rightly presume that such romantic sentiment, concerning the afterlife, was engendered by the teachings of Swedenborg.
biographical information from the internet:
(1688 - 1772)
Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, Christian mystic, and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. In 1741 at the age of fifty-three he entered into a spiritual phase in which he eventually began to experience dreams and visions beginning … April 6, 1744.
A visionary of great brilliance with an estimated IQ of 200, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) spoke nine languages, wrote works covering seventeen sciences, excelled in seven crafts, was a musician, a member of the Swedish parliament, and the inventor of a glider, a submarine, and an ear trumpet for the deaf.
Swedenborg was a physicist who anticipated Einstein by two hundred years; an astronomer who suggested the nebular theory of the formation of the planets; a mining engineer who produced the first Swedish texts on algebra and calculus; a physiologist who discovered the function of several areas of the brain and the ductless glands, and the designer of the world's largest dry-dock.
His earthly accomplishments would have filled a dozen lifetimes. But they were not enough for Swedenborg, who pressed his search for the human soul beyond material intellect into the spiritual world.
Not content with the limits of the physical senses, Swedenborg opened himself up to vistas that only spiritual senses can detect, and became a messenger bearing news of the world and beyond and within. He wrote 35 volumes of what he observed in the spiritual world over a period of 27 years.
Many famous people have been influenced by Swedenborg's works, including Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Bill and Lois Wilson (founders of AA and Al-Anon), Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Carl Jung and others.
"The most remarkable step in the religious history of recent ages is that made by the genius of Swedenborg. These truths passing out of his system into general circulation, are now met with every day, qualifying the views and creeds of all churches, and of men of no church. Swedenborg is one of the missoriums and mastodons of literature, not to be measured by whole colleges of ordinary scholars. . . Swedenborg is systematic and respective of the world in every sentence; a colossal soul who lies vast upon our times." Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Philosopher
"I acknowledge my profound indebtedness to Emanuel Swedenborg for a richer interpretation of the Bible, and a deeper understanding of Christianity, and a precious sense of the divine presence in the world. Swedenborg's message has given color and reality and unity to my thought of the life to come; it has exalted my ideas of love, truth, and usefulness; it has been my strongest incitement to overcome my limitations". Helen Keller, blind, deaf American Author and Lecturer
"Swedenborg was a man of great and indisputable cultivation, strong mathematical intellect, and the most pious, seraphic turn of mind; a man beautiful, lovable and tragical to me. More truths are confessed in Swedenborg's writings than that of any other man. One of the loftiest minds in the realm of mind. One of the spiritual suns that will shine brighter as the years go on". Thomas Carlyle, Scottish essayist, historian, and moralist
"Emanuel Swedenborg had the sanest and most far-reaching intellect this age has known . . . He grasped with clear and intellectual vision the seminal principles of things." Henry James, Sr., American Philosopher
"Swedenborg was one of the world's great geniuses. With his rare intellect and deep spiritual insight he has much to contribute to our modern life." Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Author of The Power of Positive Thinking
"People who have had near-death experiences peek through the door of the afterlife, but Swedenborg explored the whole house." Kenneth Ring, Author and Founder of the International Association for Near Death Studies
"Emanuel Swedenborg: No single individual in the world's history ever encompassed in himself so great a variety of useful knowledge." Ripley's Believe It or Not
"In a world in which the voice of conscience too often seems still and small there is need of that spiritual leadership of which Swedenborg was a particular example." Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President
"Theological revolutionary, traveler of heaven and hell ... great king of the mystical realm, seer unique throughout history ... clear-minded scientist ... all these make Swedenborg." Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Japanese philosopher and Buddhist scholar
a spirit-person on the other side comments on Swedenborg's book
Dr. Carl Wickland was a prominent Chicago physician in the early 1900s. His book, Thirty Years Among The Dead, chronicles hundreds of encounters with confused discarnate spirits with whom he was able to speak, and help, via the mediumistic abilities of Mrs. Wickland.
The following is an excerpt from one case study. A disoriented spirit named Henry, speaking through Mrs. Wickland, does not understand that he is dead! Finally, Henry's mother assumes control of the medium and addresses Dr. Wickland and Henry:
Doctor. My wife is a psychic instrument through whom spirits can talk. She is entirely unconscious while you are speaking through her. It is strange, but true. Did you ever ask yourself what life really is?
Spirit. No, I had no time. I had to use my mind to make shoes.
Dr. That is no excuse at all.
Sp. My mother says --
At this point the spirit was removed [from Mrs. Wickland] and his mother assumed control.
2nd Spirit: Henry, life is real. There are no mysterious things as we were taught [by orthodox religion]. I believed in the same church as you.
You know father never cared for church, and do you know, he progressed more rapidly than I in the spirit world? My belief and dogma held me back.
You remember father studied, and we called him crazy, because once in a while he went to Spiritualist meetings, but he was right. You know he had that book Heaven and Hell, by Swedenborg, and we used to look at each other and think he was going out of his mind.
We went to church and he did not, yet he was the one to open my eyes to see better things when I reached the spirit side of life! If he had not opened my eyes I would still be bound in my former belief, and that means I would be in the earth sphere.
I was always afraid if he died he would go to hell, and I was in misery. You remember father died before I. He came to me after I passed out but I thought it was imagination. He tried very hard to get me to understand.
he studied deeply, all I had was belief
I want to tell you that creeds and dogmas of the church cause many earthbound spirits. These spirits do harm to mortals...
My husband was not held down as I was, so he has progressed
much higher than I. Some day I shall probably reach where he is. He studied deeply, while all I had was belief.
Conjugial Love and Its Chaste Delights
Editor's note: Conjugial Love, written 250 years ago, is one of the most important books of history, a seminal work which influenced, for generations to come, the discussion of the nature of marriage. Swedenborg's insights were out of time and do not reflect the common views of his day. Swedenborg's psychic visions of heaven allowed him to know things that closely conform to the teachings of afterlife entities, such as, Prof. Myers and Silver Birch, and even to that of the spiritualist teachers of the latter 1800s, Andrew Jackson Davis.
A word of caution: Just because a great psychic like Swedenborg is granted visions of another world does not mean that everything he witnessed represented objective reality. The spiritual Guides will often frame a vision in terms of that which is acceptable to the mortal mind; for example, Swedenborg, a religious man, a student of the Bible, naturally viewed life from a scriptural and church-based paradigm - and the Guides accomodated this frailty.
We know from recent afterlife transmissions, such as those of Father Benson, the next world is not religious, not built upon the church model. But because Swedenborg believed in this view, and because the spiritual Guides will "meet one where he or she is," he was granted a view that he could understand and accept; as such, his works are festooned with scriptural references. These can be stripped away and one can still appreciate the essence of what he was given to see.
One other point: The first one-third of his book addresses the visions of heaven - this information I consider to be valuable; but the final parts are different in character. Allow me to explain it this way:
British philosopher-theologian, Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, discusses how the great poets of history have advanced civilization, have offered us glimpses of rarified forms of Truth, but not via the scientific method:
"Men discount the [poet-dreamer] as they discount their own dreams. They call him mad. He is mad, in a sense, as the lover is mad, who also makes his choice and arrives at conclusions, not by conscious argument, but by intuitions ... [The poet] is not sure of a truth because he has proved it [by logical argument], but because he has seen it ... The poet, inspired by some vivid experience, goes into a kind of trance ... and thereupon sees a vision which he expresses in poetical ideas... It is because of this different way of arriving at truth, we think, that the poet has so often led the way in expressing ideas which are among the most profound [and] cherished by mankind... Keats says that a poet should make a clean sweep of his personal hopes ... and beliefs...One does not so much want to learn what Browning's private opinions were. One wants to know what Browning saw in his hours of poetic vision... the poet ... exists not to inculcate ideas as a teacher, but to reveal reality ... All poetry, said Browning, is the problem of getting the infinite into the finite."
Swedenborg fails us in the later sections of his writings because there he offers to us mere "private opinions." We are not interested in private and narrow views but, as Weatherhead chides, only what he "saw in his hours of poetic vision." For example, in those latter pages, he advises men to control the sexual urge by taking on a mistress, and he offers what he considers to be sensible rules for this. Mistresses were common in European culture in his day. John Adams, writing in France, commented that even the Bishop would attend official functions with his mistress!
These man-of-the-world private opinions are rubbish, of course, and must be dismissed out of hand; nevertheless, if we search for Swedenborg's core teachings, the heart of what he was allowed to see in his psychic visions, we will be rewarded for our efforts.
Conjugial Love and Its Chaste Delights
an angel appears
I AM aware that many who read the following pages ... will believe that they are fictions of the imagination; but I solemnly declare they are not fictions, but were truly done and seen; and that I saw them, not in any state of the mind asleep, but in a state of perfect wakefulness...
On a certain time there appeared to me an angel ... He was clothed in a robe, which waved behind him as he flew along, and was girt about the waist with a band that shone like fire and glittered with carbuncles, and sapphires...
I addressed him and asked him his errand...
the angel states his mission
He replied, "My commission is ... to declare ... in the natural world, respecting HEAVENLY JOY and ETERNAL HAPPINESS... there is not a single person throughout the whole ... world that is acquainted with the true nature of heavenly joy and eternal happiness; ... that heavenly joy and eternal happiness constitute the very life of heaven; so much so that whoever enters heaven, enters, in regard to his life, into its festivities..."
the angel is questioned
"Is not heaven before our eyes in a particular place above us? and is there not there ... a constant succession of satisfactions"?
Editor's note: The sense of the question is this: "Is the nature of pleasure in heaven linked to a succession of good things to be received - such things as good food, drink, parties, amusements of all kinds? The angel's guest, in a series of visions, is allowed to see what happens to those who live this way in heaven. They come upon a group who have been partying too long...
how do I leave this party anyway? lemme outta here!
"This is the third day … to be entertained according to our desire with company and conversation; and now we are grown so weary with continual discoursing, that we can scarcely bear to hear the sound of a human voice; wherefore, from mere irksomeness, we have betaken ourselves to this door; but … we were told … that we must stay here and enjoy the delights of heaven; from which information we conclude, that we are to remain here to eternity; and this is the cause of our sorrow and lowness of spirits; now too we begin to feel an oppression in the breast, and to be overwhelmed with anxiety."
the imagined joys of drink and wild-oats was a burden, after all
The angel then addressing them said: "These things in which you imagined the true joys of heaven to consist, prove, you find, the destruction of all happiness; since they do not of themselves constitute true heavenly joys, but only contribute thereto."
"In what then does heavenly joy consist?"
external goods merely contribute to happiness, but only if the inward goods predominate - that's where the real action is
The angel replied briefly, "In the delight of doing something that is useful to ourselves and others; which delight derives its essence from love and its existence from wisdom. The delight of being useful, originating in love, and operating by wisdom, is the very soul and life of all heavenly joys … and if this soul and life be taken away, the contributory joys gradually cease, first exciting indifference, then disgust, and lastly sorrow and anxiety... External delights reach only the senses of the body; but internal delights reach the affections of the soul."
"What is the delight of the soul, and whence is it derived?"
the marriage of love and wisdom, as reflected in all of God's creation
The angel replied, "The delight of the soul is derived from love and wisdom … and as love is operative, and that by means of wisdom, therefore they are both fixed together in the effect of such operation; which effect is use... I can assure you that there is not a single thing [in heaven or earth], even the smallest leaf, which does not exist from the marriage of love and wisdom in use: wherefore if a man be in [or, aware of] this [flow of the natural] marriage [of love and wisdom, as exhibited in all things of God], he is in a celestial paradise, and therefore in heaven."
"You see now that the joys of heaven and eternal happiness arise not from the place, but from the state of the man's life; and a state of heavenly life is derived from love and wisdom; and since it is use [a charitable purpose] which contains love and wisdom ... therefore a state of heavenly life is derived from the conjunction of love and wisdom in use... and good works are uses.
the angel clarifies: heaven is more than a place! if you don't bring heaven with you, in your heart, you won't find heaven here
"Moreover, in our spiritual world there are places as in the natural world; otherwise there could be no habitations and distinct abodes; nevertheless, place with us is not place, but an appearance of place according to the state of love and wisdom... Every one who becomes a [spiritual person] carries his own heaven within himself, because he carries in himself the love of his own heaven; for a man from creation is the smallest image and type of the great heaven, and the human form is nothing else; wherefore, every one after death comes into that society of heaven of whose general form he is an individual [image]; and [therefore, he] enjoys his own life in that of the society."
Editor's note: This is a well-established afterlife principle: When we pass over, for better or worse, we go to places which reflect our level of development, inhabited by ones similar to ourselves.
how can the delights of the body properly work with the delights of the soul
(The angel has offered evidence that bodlily pleasures, without more, do not satisfy. How is this to make sense?)
"Eternal happiness is derived from [delights of the soul and the body] taken together; but from the [pleasures of the body] alone there results a happiness not eternal but temporary, which quickly comes to an end and passes away, and in some cases becomes unhappiness."
love, wisdom, and charitable intent
"You have now seen that all your [earthly] joys are also joys of heaven, and that these [experienced here] are far more excellent than you could have conceived ; yet such [bodily] joys [alone] do not inwardly affect our minds. There are three things which enter [our minds] ... as [a unity] into our souls ... love, wisdom, and use [that is, charitable purpose]. Love and wisdom of themselves exist only ideally, being confined to the affections and thoughts of the mind ; but in [charitable] use they exist really, because they are together in act and bodily employment; and where they exist really, there they also [endure]. And as love and wisdom exist and endure in [charitable] use, it is by [this] use [a life of service] we are affected; and use consists in a faithful, sincere, and diligent discharge of the duties of our calling.
the enchanting delusions of bodily pleasures become sanctified in the baptism of altruistic intent
"The love of [charitable] use, and a consequent application to it, preserve the powers of the mind, and prevent their dispersion; so that the mind is guarded against wandering and dissipation, and the imbibing of false lusts, which with their enchanting delusions flow in from the body and the world through the senses, whereby the truths of [spirituality] and [true] morality with all that is good in either, become the sport of every wind [if not grounded in charitable intent]; but the application of the mind to [charitable] use binds and unites those truths, and disposes the mind to become a [proper] receptible of the wisdom thence derived; and in this case it extirpates the idle sports and pastimes of falsity and vanity."
everything in creation represents a marriage of love and wisdom, suffused with charitable intent! male and female, made and directed in the image of God, are no exception to this rule
"The essential distinction between the [male and female] is this: in the masculine principle, love is inmost, and its covering is wisdom; or, the masculine principle is love veiled by wisdom; whereas in the feminine principle, the wisdom is inmost, and its covering is love."
I just can't leave him! I need him too much!
Editor's note, June 1, 2011:
I think I understand Swedenborg's point here. Recently, I was speaking to a young single mom living near me who's expecting her third baby. The father is a hot-head, drinks too much, will soon be fired from his job, and has treated her abusively; yet, against her own better judgment and stated plans, she often visits him and "tries to make things work."
I thought of Swedenborg's insight into the psychological essence of male and female; the latter, so desirous of sharing love that she easily sets wisdom aside! This was the warning of Gen. 3:16.
So strong is this inclination toward bestowing affection, that Swedenborg often poetically refers to females as "Loves." The fellow under review, as all unenlightened males, has his own problems, and bigger ones. He deludes his macho self into believing that shrewdness and calculation, without love - always getting his own way - will make its way in the world. Both male and female have their lessons to learn, and, when their eyes open, will help each other by adding balance to natural propensities.
Editor's note, August 24, 2011:
The single Mom, her third baby to be delivered in two weeks, just phoned; and I paraphrase:
"He [the father] just won't stop drinking! I don't know why he won't just be happy with me. I know I should not see him as he is so destructive in his behavior, but I just can't let him go. I need him too much !"
This is pure Gen. 3:16! ... if you're not very aware, "it [your natural desire to please him] shall rule over you."
"She is the love of my wisdom, and I am the wisdom of her love; therefore her love from without veils my wisdom, and my wisdom from within enters into her love: hence, there is an appearance of the unity of our souls in our faces."
romantic attraction is inherent within humans and survives bodily death
"The reason why the [natural] love [between man and woman] remains with [humans] after death is because after death a male is [still] a male and a female [still] a female; and the male principle in the male is [thoroughly] male (or masculine) in the whole and in every part thereof; and so is the female principle in the female; and there is a [natural] tendency to conjunction [a desire to come together] in all their parts ... and as this conjunctive tendency was implanted from creation, and thence perpetually influences, it follows, that the one desires and seeks conjunction with the other. [Romantic] Love ... is a desire and consequent tendency to conjunction; and conjugial love to conjunction into a One."
Editor's note: "Conjugial" or "conjugal" love, in modern usage, refers to the love that causes people to want to be together, to come together. But Swedenborg uses this term in a narrow sense; for him, "conjugial love" means the romantic-spiritual love between one particular man and one particular woman in a soul-knit relationship - in other words, in his terminology, it is the love between Twin Souls!
for the male-man and the female-man were so created
that from two they may become as it were one man, or one flesh; and when they become a One, then, taken together they are a [complete and whole] Man, in his fulness; but without such conjunction, they are two, and each is a divided or half-man. Now as the above conjunctive [romantic] tendency lies concealed in the inmost of every part of the male, and of every part of the female, and the same is true of the faculty and desire to be conjoined together into a one, it follows, that the mutual and reciprocal love [between the sexes] remains with [humans] after death."
eternal romantic love - but only for Twin Souls
"We speak distinctively of the [natural animalistic] love of the sex and of [true] conjugial love, because the one differs from the other. The [mere animalistic] love of the sex [between any willing two] exists with the natural man; conjugial love with the spiritual man. The natural man loves and desires only external [animalistic] conjunctions, and the bodily pleasures thence derived; whereas the spiritual man loves and desires internal [soul-based] conjunctions [along with the bodily pleasures] and the spiritual satisfactions thence derived; and these satisfactions he perceives are granted with one [particular] wife, with whom he can perpetually be more and more joined together into a One: and the more he enters into such conjunction, the more he perceives his satisfactions ascending in a similar degree, and enduring to eternity; but respecting anything like this, the natural man has no idea. This [romantic love between Twins] then is the reason why it is said, that after death conjugial love remains with those who go to heaven."
the angel says: our heavenly delights are principally derived from Twin Soul romantic love; don't expect to find ultimate joy, even in heaven, without her - that particular one
"We are aware that no one on earth as yet knows what true conjugial love is... and yet it is of importance that it should be known: therefore [we will] open the heavens to you in order that illustrating light, and consequent perception may flow into the interiors of your mind. With us, in the heavens, especially in the third heaven [Summerland, and beyond], our heavenly delights are principally derived from conjugial love; therefore, in consequence of leave granted us, we will send down to you a conjugial pair [Soul Twins] for your inspection and observation."
Swedenborg meets Twin Soul lovers
Instantly there appeared a chariot descending from the highest or third heaven, in which I saw one… but as it approached I saw therein two.
The chariot at a distance glittered before my eyes like a diamond, and to it were harnessed young horses white as snow; and those who sat in the chariot … called to me, saying, "Do you wish us to come nearer to you? but in this case take heed, lest the radiance, which is from the heaven whence we have descended, and is of a flaming quality, penetrate too interiorly; by its influence the superior ideas of your understanding, which are in themselves heavenly, may indeed be illustrated; but these ideas are ineffable in the world in which you dwell; therefore, what you are about to hear, receive rationally, that you may explain it so that it may be understood."
I replied, "I will observe your caution; come nearer," so they came nearer; and it was a husband and his wife; who said, "We are a conjugial pair [Twin Souls]; we have lived happy in heaven from the earliest period … and have continued during that time in the same bloom of youth in which you now see us."
I viewed each of them attentively, because I perceived they represented conjugial love in its life and in its decoration; in its life in their faces, and in its decoration in their raiment …
The husband appeared of a middle age, between manhood and youth: from his eyes darted forth sparkling light derived from the wisdom of love by virtue of which light his face was radiant from its inmost ground; and in consequence of such radiance the surface of his skin had a kind of refulgence [radiance], whereby his whole face was one resplendent comeliness. He was dressed in an upper robe which reached down to his feet, and underneath it was a vesture of hyacinthine blue, girded about with a golden band, upon which were three precious stones, two sapphires on the sides, and a carbuncle in the middle; his stockings were of bright shining linen, with threads of silver interwoven, and his shoes were of velvet: such was the representative form of conjugial love with the husband.
her beauty was inexpressible; her face, the splendor of flaming light
With the wife it was this; I saw her face, and I did not see it: I saw it as essential beauty, and I did not see it because this beauty was inexpressible; for in her face there was a splendor of flaming light, such as the angels in the third heaven enjoy, and this light made my sight dim; so that I was lost in astonishment: she observing this addressed me, saying, "What do you see?"
I replied, "I see nothing but conjugial love and the form thereof; but I see, and I do not see."
Hereupon she turned herself sideways from her husband; and then I was enabled to view her more attentively. Her eyes were bright and sparkling from the light of her own heaven, which light, as was said, is of a flaming quality, which it derives from the love of wisdom; for in that heaven, wives love their husbands from their wisdom and in it, and husbands love their wives from that love of wisdom and in it, as directed towards themselves; and thus they are united.
This was the origin of her beauty; which was such that it would be impossible for any painter to imitate and exhibit it in its form, for he had no colors bright and vivid enough to express its lustre; nor is it in the power of his art to depict such beauty: her hair was arranged in becoming order so as to correspond with her beauty; and in it were inserted diadems of flowers; she had a necklace of carbuncles, from which hung a [string] of chrysolites; and she wore pearl bracelets: her upper robe was scarlet, and underneath it she had a purple stomacher, fastened in front with clasps of rubies; but what surprised me was that the colors varied according to her aspect in regard to her husband, being sometimes more glittering, sometimes less; if she were looking towards him, more, if sideways, less!
When I had made these observations, they again talked with me; and when the husband was speaking, he spoke at the same time as from his wife; and when the wife was speaking, she spoke at the same time as from her husband; such was the union of their minds from whence speech flows; and on this occasion I also heard the tone of voice of conjugial love; inwardly it was simultaneous, and it proceeded from the delights of a state of peace and innocence.
that tone of voice, the delights of a state of peace and innocence
Editor's note: How absolutely beautiful! Their natural tone of voice expressed an inward delight, a state of peace and innocence! This is the gift that cannot be hidden, the "brief taste of heaven," to be received by one's offspring, of which Prof. Myers speaks! And this is the gift he receives from her, the fruit of that joy, simply to be near him!
At length they said, "We are recalled, we must depart," and instantly they again appeared to be conveyed in a chariot as before.
three young men, newcomers to the Spirit World, with apprehension, enquire about the existence of love, sex, and marriage in heaven
I once saw three spirits, recently deceased, who were wandering about in the world of spirits, examining whatever came in their way, and inquiring concerning it. They were all amazement to find that men lived altogether as before, and that the objects they saw were similar to those they had seen before: in order to remove all doubt of their being really and truly men, they by turns viewed and touched themselves and others, and felt the surrounding objects, and by a thousand proofs convinced themselves that they now were men as in the former world; besides which they saw each other in a brighter light, and the surrounding objects in superior splendor, and thus their vision was more perfect.
At that instant two angelic spirits happening to meet them, accosted them, saying, "Whence are you?"
They replied, "We have departed out of a world, and again we live in a world ; thus we have removed from one world to another; and this surprises us."
Hereupon the three novitiate spirits questioned the two angelic spirits concerning heaven; and as two of the three novitiates were youths, and there darted from their eyes as it were a sparkling fire of lust for the sex...
The angelic spirit said, "Possibly you have seen some females;" and they replied in the affirmative; and as they made inquiry respecting heaven, the angelic spirits gave them the following information: "In heaven there is every variety of magnificent and splendid objects, and such things as the eye had never seen; there are also virgins and young men" ...
Hereupon the two novitiates asked, "Are there in heaven human forms altogether similar to those in the natural world?"
And it was replied, "They are altogether similar; nothing is wanting in the male, and nothing in the female; in a word, the male is a male, and the female a female, in all the perfection of form in which they were created: retire, if you please, and examine if you are deficient in anything, and whether you are not a complete man as before."
a burning question must be asked right now
Again, the novitiates said, "We have been told in the world we have left, that in heaven they are not given in marriage, because they are angels; is there then the love of the sex there?"
And the angelic spirits replied, "In heaven, your [merely animalistic] love of the sex does not exist; but we have the [true] love of the sex, which is chaste and devoid of all [merely animalistic] libidinous allurement."
the boys are worried now
Hereupon the novitiates observed, "If there be a love of the sex devoid of all allurement, what in such cases is the love of the sex?"
And while they were thinking about this love, they sighed and said, "Oh, how dry and insipid is the joy of heaven! What young man, if this be the case, can possibly wish for heaven? Is not such love barren and devoid of life?"
a reply, with a mischievous smile...
To this the angelic spirits replied, with a smile, "The angelic love of the sex, such as exists in heaven, is nevertheless full of the inmost delights: it is the most agreeable expansion of all the principles of the mind… so that the intercourse between the sexes, or between youths and virgins, is an intercourse of essential celestial sweets, which are pure. All novitiates, on ascending into heaven, are examined as to the quality of their chastity, being let into the company of virgins, the beauties of heaven, who from their tone of voice, their speech, their face, their eyes, their gesture, and their exhaling sphere, perceive what is their quality in regard to the love of the sex;
Editor’s note: It is important to clearly define an author's terms. Just as “conjugial love” acquires the restricted meaning of love with one particular woman, a Twin Soul, so too, "chastity" takes on a narrow meaning. It is not the abstinence from sexual union; rather, as “chastity” is used here, it means, “a willingness and commitment to sexually love only one woman.” Swedenborg continues: "The [natural, animal] love of the sex is directed to several, and contracted with several of the sex; but conjugial love is directed to only one, and contracted with one of the sex; moreover, love directed to and contracted with several is a natural love; for it is common to man with beasts and birds, which are natural: but conjugial love is a spiritual love and truly human... marriages merely natural are [in fact] not marriages [and are not recognized in heaven], but [ are merely] conjunctions which originate in unchaste lust."
and if their love be unchaste, they instantly quit them…
Editor’s note: Get this: The high-minded virgins, of this "better neighborhood" of the Spirit World, “quit them,” that is, they will have nothing to do with those who want only to sleep with many women. A “virgin,” here, is "one who waits and prepares for her one, destined Twin Soul."
we are not stocks and stones
On receiving this information, the two novitiates again said, "According to this, there is no love of the sex in heaven; for what is a chaste love of the sex, but a love deprived of the essence of its life? And must not all the intercourse of youths and virgins, in such case, consist of dry insipid joys? We are not stocks and stones! but perceptions and affections of life."
To this the angelic spirits indignantly replied, "You are altogether ignorant concerning what a chaste love of the sex is; because as yet you are not chaste...
This love is the very essential delight of the mind, and thence of the heart; and not at the same time of the flesh beneath the heart… [Spiritual ones in heaven] have this [romantic] love of the sex, because they have conjugial love only; which love cannot exist together with the unchaste [animalistic] love of the sex. Love truly conjugial is chaste, and has nothing in common with unchaste love, being confined to one [woman only] of the sex, and separate from all others; for it is [first] a love of the spirit [and soul] and thence of the body, and not [as with those animalistically inclined] a love of the body and thence of the spirit."
On hearing this, the two young novitiates rejoiced, and said, "There still exists in heaven a love of the sex! what else is conjugial love?"
But the angelic spirits replied, "Think more profoundly, weigh the matter well in your minds, and you will perceive, that your [current view of] love of the sex is [egocentric, immature and] a love extra-conjugial, and quite different from conjugial love; the latter being as distinct from the former, as wheat is from chaff, or rather as the human principle is from the bestial.
"If you should ask the females in heaven, 'What is love extra-conjugial?' I take upon me to say, their reply will he, 'What do you mean? What do you say? How can you utter a question which so wounds our ears? How can a love that is not created be implanted in any one?' If you should then ask them, 'What love is truly conjugial?' I know they will replv, 'It is not the love of the sex, but the love of One [woman only] of the sex [that true destined Twin]; and it has no other ground of existence than this, that...
Beloved, I remember finding out about you; in my life, I remember little else
"...when a youth sees a virgin provided by [the inward calling of his own soul] and a virgin sees a youth, they are each made sensible of a conjugial principle kindling in their hearts, and perceive that each is the other's, he hers, and she his; for love meets love and causes them to know each other, and instantly conjoins their souls, and afterwards their minds, and thence enters their bosoms, and after the nuptials penetrates further, and thus becomes love in its fulness, which grows every day into conjunction, till they are no longer two, but as it were One.
"I know also that [the virgins] will be ready to affirm in the most solemn manner, that they are not acquainted with any other love of the sex; nor they say, 'How can there be a love of the sex, unless it be tending mutually to meet, and [mystically] reciprocal, so as to seek an eternal union, which consists in two becoming One [Person]?'"
To this the angelic spirits added, "In heaven [the virgins] are in total ignorance of what whoredom is;
Editor’s note: “Whoredoms” – sexual liaisons with any non-Twin partner - are unknown among the “virgins” of heaven; that is, they do not associate with young men who want only their bodies. The men, who are spiritually-minded, feel the same way – all seek and prepare for one's particular destined Twin Soul lover.
The three novitiates, on hearing this, [still worried, taking no chances, and wishing for absolute clarity,] asked, "Does a similar [sexual] love exist between married partners in the heavens as in the earth?"
The two angelic spirits replied, that it was altogether similar; and as they perceived in the novitiates an inclination to know, whether in heaven there were similar ultimate delights, they said, that they were exactly similar, but much more blessed, because angelic perception and sensation is much more exquisite than human: "and what," added they, "is the life of that love unless derived from a flow of [sexual energy and] vigor? When this [strong sexual attraction] vigor fails [a hypothetical point only, as true sexual love does not and cannot fail between Twins], must not the love itself also fail and grow cold [if it were possible for Twins' sexual attraction to fail]? Is not this vigor the very measure, degree, and basis of that love? Is [authentic sexual attraction] not its beginning, its support, and its fulfilment? It is a universal law that things primary exist, subsist, and persist from things ultimate: this is true also of that love; therefore unless there were ultimate delights, there would be no delights of conjugial love."
Editor's note: The angel is saying that bodies-in-contact should picture something, should be a reflection of the greater hidden spiritual union of Twins! Sexual love between Twins does picture spiritual Oneness because their sexual attraction is not based upon animal spirits but eternal energy-flows of the soul.
The novitiates then asked, whether from the ultimate delights of that love in heaven any offspring were produced ; and if not, to what use did those delights serve? The angelic spirit answered, that natural offspring were not produced, but spiritual offspring: and the novitiates said, "What are spiritual offspring?"
They replied, "Two conjugial partners by ultimate delights are more and more united in the marriage of good and truth, which is the marriage of love and wisdom; and love and wisdom are the offspring produced there from: in heaven the husband is wisdom, and the wife is the love thereof, and both are spiritual; therefore, no other than spiritual offspring can be there conceived and born...
Editor’s note: Andrew Jackson Davis spoke of spiritual children in heaven - ones who reflect the very soul essence of their parents rather than biological DNA.
eternal youth and the enjoyment of the delights of the body
"...after such delights, [Twin Soul lovers] do not experience sadness, as some do on earth, but are cheerful [as their romance is permanent and does not fade away]; and this in consequence of a continual [inexhaustible] influx of fresh powers succeeding the former, which serve for their renovation, and at the same time illustration: for all who come into heaven, return into their eternal youth, and into the vigor of that age, and thus continue for eternity."
"They who are in heaven are continually advancing to the springtime of life, and the more thousands of years they live the more delightful and happy is the spring to which they attain; and this progression goes on to eternity, with an increase according to the progression and degrees of their love, charity, and faith. Women who have died old and worn out with age … come more and more into the flower of youth, and into a beauty which exceeds all the conceptions of beauty which can be formed from that which the eye has seen."
more reassurance, please
The three novitiates, on hearing this, [still worried,] said, "Is it not written in the Word, that in heaven they are not given in marriage, because they are angels?"
To which the angelic spirits replied, "Look up into heaven and you will receive an answer."
And they asked, "Why are we to look up into heaven?"
They said,"The Word is altogether spiritual and the angels being spiritual, will teach the spiritual understanding of it."
They did not wait long before heaven was opened over their heads, and two angels appeared in view, and said, "There are nuptials in the heavens, as on earth; but only with those in the heavens who are in the marriage of good and truth … it is spiritual nuptials, which relate to the marriage of good and truth, that are [enjoyed in heaven, not the animalistically-based attractions of the earth which find no place in heaven.]"
ok, then, I'll be good from now on
The three novitiates were made glad by this intelligence; and being filled with a desire of heaven, and with the hope of heavenly nuptials, they said, "We will apply ourselves with all diligence to the practice of morality and a becoming conduct of life, that we may enjoy our wishes!"
Editor's note: "with the hope of heavenly nuptials"! All this is rather humorous; and realistic. The threshhold of spiritual attainment to enter Summerland, we see here, is not that high! But that's alright. These guys now have a reason to develop spiritually. Also notice, as that unseen ideal mate is joyously anticipated, she already plays the role of "transforming fire"! even before her coming, she is already motivating them toward spiritual refinement!
do earthly marriages continue after death
THAT there are marriages in the heavens has been shown just above; it remains now to be considered, whether the marriage-covenant [of this earthly] world will remain and be in force after death, or not.
Editor's note: Swedenborg's essential answer is this. If two come together on earth with all of their ego-concerns, their union is dissolved already; but if they are Twins, their marriage will continue for eternity. For most, however, "when [in heaven]," Swedenborg teaches, "they come into their internal state [of seeing clearly the base motivations as to why they originally married], the inclination [of that which is truly in the heart] manifests itself." And so, in most cases, they will depart from each other. "There are no [true] marriages [based on externals]; beneath heaven, [on earth,] there are only [temporary] nuptial connections, which are alternately tied and loosed."
they no longer wish to be two lives, but One
"The reason why separations take place after death is because the conjunctions which are made on earth are seldom made from any internal perception of love, but from an external perception which hides the internal. The external perception of love originates in such things as regard the love of the world and of the body. Wealth and large possessions are peculiarly the objects of worldly love... besides these objects, there are also various enticing allurements, such as beauty and an external polish of manners, and sometimes even an unchasteness of character… Two married partners, who are of different minds and discordant affections, lie in bed, back to back … [but] those who agree in minds and affections, mutually turn towards each other."
Matrimonial connections made in the [earthly] world are for the most part external, and not at the same time internal; when yet it is the internal conjunction, or the conjunction of souls, which constitutes a real marriage; and this conjunction [in most cases, but not all] is not perceivable until the man puts off the external and puts on the internal; as is the case after death. This then is the reason why separations take place, and afterwards new [and true marriage] conjunctions are formed with such as are of a similar nature and disposition... For all in the heavens are associated according to the affinities and relationships of love … there is [eventually] provided a marriage [without basis in external considerations, but] with [one] whose soul inclines to mutual union with the soul of another, so that they no longer wish to be two lives, but One."
"With those who are in love truly conjugial, the faculty of growing wise gradually increases; but with those who are not, it decreases. With those who are in love truly conjugial, the happiness of dwelling together increases; but with those who are not, it decreases. With those who are in love truly conjugial, conjunction of minds increases, and therewith friendship; with those who are not, they both decrease. Those who are in love truly conjugial, continually desire to be One [Person]; but those who are not, desire to be two. Those who are in love truly conjugial have respect to what is eternal; but with those who are not, the case it is reversed [as they desire for earthly and temporary gain and pleasure; or even, death]."
the wife sees nothing more lovely than the husband, and the husband nothing more lovely than the wife
With those who are in love truly conjugial... The wife sees nothing more lovely than the husband, and the husband nothing more lovely than the wife; neither do they hear, smell, or touch any thing more lovely; hence the [extreme delight and] happiness they enjoy of living together in the same house, chamber, and bed...
Spiritual coldness in marriages is a disunion of souls and a disjunction of minds, whence come indifference, discord, contempt, disdain, and aversion; from which, in several cases, at length, comes separation as to bed, chamber, and house...
The causes of apparent [and not real] love, friendship, and favor in marriages, should also be treated of ... when the first warmth [of apparent, not real, relationship], excited during courtship and breaking out into a flame as the nuptials approach [the biggest smiles of their lives on wedding day], successively abates from the discordance of the internal affections, and at length passes off into cold [ isolation as how quickly those oversized wedding-day smiles fade]. It is well known that in this case the external affections, which had induced and allured the parties to matrimony, disappear, so that they no longer effect conjunction. That cold arises from various causes, internal, external, and accidental… unless the external affections are influenced by internal, which conjoin minds, the bonds of matrimony are loosed in the house.
Oh, how the bright vision faded away
from Life in Two Spheres (1892), Hudson Tuttle
The despondent man began his sad story:
"I saw one who appeared to be the ideal of my dream. In her I saw all my fancy had adored. Ah! how beautiful she appeared. Poets might strive in vain … to convey the dimmest shadow of her beauty… I was led on by the blind instinct of a misdirected love… She loved me; or so pretended; and when I was near, to all appearances was an angel of goodness and love… She made herself the ideal I sought. I loved that ideal, for it was the offspring of the childish dreams of my youthful heart… I will not say I loved her, but I did love the attributes...
"I supposed she possessed – her apparent beauty, goodness, and gentle affectionate spirit… Oh, how the bright vision faded away! … that glorious vision of happiness seemed just within my grasp; but the moment I reached forth my hand, it vanished away… I was totally unacquainted with the being who now revealed herself to me… My ideal had faded… How, then, our minds antagonized! … May the great God blot from my memory the years – long ages they seemed – during which I suffered the penalties for my ignorance of the laws of the relations of mind… Shall the weary find no rest?”
“Be calm and reason” said the Sage. “Misfortunes are necessary to undeveloped beings. If you were ignorant then, you can inform yourself now. If a few years are lost, remedy the fault by intenser application.
earthly marriage: each deceives the other into a belief that they are what they are not
You are only one in [untold] millions who have suffered in a similar manner. In fact, you have given a perfect description of earthly marriage, where each deceives the other into a belief that they are what they are not! and after union, the two unhappy beings find each other not the ones they loved, but strangers, who have by some jugglery slipped into the places of the lovers…
Man must be taught the distinction between animal instinct and [true Twin] love. Where the spirit leads, follow. Magnets have no surer attraction than souls, but that attraction must be understood, or it may of itself lead to ruin… Marriage is more than the means of gratification of animal instincts [but is] a relation of two immortals, fraught with vast and far reaching consequences.”
the limitations of the natural, animal attractions: they do not interiorly conjoin the two parties
These [natural, animal] loves ... do not enter deeply into the bosom, but remain without ... thus they do not interiorly conjoin the two parties ... But the love of [Twin Souls] is the love of the understanding and of its affection; and this love enters deeply and effects conjunction, which is that love; but the conjunction of minds ... and this love exists only with those who are in true conjugial love, and they are in an eminent degree of potency [in that, they feel and know the full power of this overwhelming love, so different from animal spirits]; because such, from their chastity [sacred dedication to each other], do not admit an influx of love from the body of any other woman than of their own wives; and as they are in an extreme degree of potency [as they feel the overwhelming force of true love], they cannot do otherwise than love the sex [the mate of opposite gender], and at the same time hold in aversion whatever is unchaste [any call to touch another].
Hence they are principled in a chaste love of the sex, which, considered in itself, is interior spiritual friendship, deriving its sweetness! ... This eminent degree of potency they possess in consequence of a total renunciation of whoredom [total desire only for each other]; and as each loves his own wife alone, the potency is chaste. Now, since this love with such partakes not of the flesh, but only of the spirit,
Editor's note: That is, their sexual love is not rooted in mere animal passion but interior, harmonizing, soul energies.
therefore it is chaste; and as the beauty of the woman, from innate inclination, enters at the same time into the mind, therefore the love is sweet."
Editor's note: Swedenborg is saying this: Twin love is chaste because, while "innate inclination" does not cease, and though images of attractive others might "enter into the mind at the same time," the "potency" of Twin love renders any competing allurement a non-event.
Every man is born corporeal [materialistic], and becomes more and more interiorly natural, and in proportion as he loves intelligence he becomes rational, and afterwards, if he loves wisdom, he becomes spiritual... Now as a man advances from knowledge into intelligence, and from intelligence into wisdom, so also his mind changes its form; for it is opened more and more, and conjoins itself more nearly with heaven... hence it becomes more enamored of truth, and more desirous of the good of life...
The reason why conjugial love is peculiar to man, is because only he can become spiritual, he being capable of elevating his intellect above his natural loves, and from that state of elevation of seeing them beneath him, and of judging of their quality, and also of amending, correcting, and removing them; no other animal can do this;
Editor's note: Notice how the true romantic love is fundamentally not part of the animal world; it is radically different in kind! True romance, as we've explored in earlier articles, is spiritual in nature, a veritable salvation plan, designed to lead its participants to higher levels of being.
"For with those who do not love to grow wise from genuine truths, but love to be insane from false principles ... the way to the soul is closed: hence, the heavenly nuptial sports of love and wisdom in the soul, being more and more intercepted, cease, and together with them conjugial love ceases with its vein, its potency, and its delights."
Editor's note: Those who, in fear or apathy, refuse to prepare to be with a Twin; those "who love to be insane from false principles," suffer a debilitation. Not only do they hinder the process by which she shall be recognized but, by disdaining the truth, retard one's own soul growth, setting oneself back spiritually! There are certain things that one shall never see, never understand, never feel, and never become, without him, without her, that True One! We learned earlier that all creation, even the smallest leaf, might be viewed as a marriage of wisdom and love. Humanity has been offered the highest expression of this evolution as male and female unite to mutually develop themselves into higher life forms.
Prentice Mulford (1834-1891): “If a man formed close ties with another [non-Twin] woman, she would form a wall, a coarse element, separating him from his [true spiritual] companion, his true mate, with whom he must be united again in some form of existence. It is impossible for men or man-made laws to separate those who have truly been destined for one another from eternity… Were the man to enter into a deep relationship during his lifetime with another woman he would be parted more than ever from his true spouse. A new barrier would be formed between him and her [which would block his] clarity of spiritual vision [which allows] him to know the one who was truly intended for him.”
A man [male and female] without instruction is neither a man nor a beast; but that he is a form, which is capable of receiving in itself that which constitutes a man; and thus that he is not born a man, but that he is made a [spiritually mature] man; and that a man is born such a form as to be an organ receptive of life from God, to the end that he may be a subject into which God may introduce all good, and, by union with himself, may make him eternally blessed.
Editor's note: Notice the implications. He is made the true Man, whole and complete, in her love; by implication, she cannot become Woman, not in the true sense, in all that she was meant to be, without him.
there is no greater delight, no greater joy, in the universe
According to Swedenborg, love, with her, is an extreme delight...
the "delight of delights," and facilitates the union of "love and wisdom in use in the soul," the spiritual fruits of which "become permanent and present themselves sensible therein under an infinite variety of delights." These "delights of conjugial love ... are superior to all other delights in heaven and in the world."
"As love truly conjugial endures to eternity, it follows that [in their personal growth] the wife becomes more and more a wife, and the husband more and more a husband. The true reason of this is because in the marriage of love truly conjugial, each married partner becomes continually a more interior [spiritual person]; for that love opens the interiors of their minds [and souls]; and as these are opened, a man becomes more and more a man; and ... [she] is to become more a [woman]" ...
nobody ever had a rainbow, Baby, until he had the rain...
Editor's last word:
Victor Zammit reviewed the work, "An Essay On The Credibility Of Swedenborg (1848)," offering this interesting item:
The greatest scientist of his day, medium and psychic, Emanuel Swedenborg, helped Countess de Marteville when she told him that a silversmith was demanding money for a necklace. The silversmith was demanding an exorbitant payment from the Countess for a necklace that, he said, her husband had purchased but not paid for. The Countess could not find any receipt, so she contacted Swedenborg to assist. He was able to contact the crossed-over husband of the Countess and found out where the receipt could be found. Swedenborg passed the information to the Countess and she was able to prove that the necklace had been paid for.