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Spiritual Diary, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1758], tr. by Bush, Smithson and Buss [1883-9] at

Spiritual Diary


The sphere of anyone who is in knowledges can by no means be amended, unless he be in faith towards the Lord; especially unless he believes that the Lord rules all and everything pertaining to him, and that there is no life except the Lord's life; otherwise the sphere of the man remains as it is, and he is governed by a similar kind of spirits, etc. etc.


THAT VERY LITTLE CREDIT IS TO BE GIVEN TO SPIRITS SPEAKING. Nothing is more familiar to spirits who speak than to say that a thing is so or so; for they think that they know everything, and indeed solemnly assert that it is so, when yet it is not so. From experiments made several times, it may be evident of what quality they are, and how they are to be believed: when it is asked [of them] how this or that is, then one after another says that it is so, one differently from another; even if there were a hundred, one would say differently from another; and indeed for the time with confidence, as if it were so, when yet it is not so. As soon as they notice anything which they do not know, they immediately say it is so and so; besides very many other proofs that they speak as if they knew, yet they do not know. - 1748, May 3.


THAT SOULS AFTER DEATH DO NOT KNOW THAT THEY ARE IN THE OTHER LIFE, UNLESS BY MEANS OF REFLECTION GRANTED THEM. That souls lose nothing of the things which they had in the life of the body, you will see everywhere affirmed; thus they neither know nor can know that they are in the other life, but [suppose] that they are in the world, inasmuch as they are without that reflection which is excited by things stored up in the memory, nor is that which is in the memory excited except by means of objects, and objects are not presented unless by those who are in society together. Reflection is also given, but by the Lord, that they are in the other life.


Moreover, that without reflection they cannot know that they are in the other life may appear from the nature of reflection, as man does not know the distances of objects without in the same manner. And so of many other things besides; for reflection enables a man to know the quality and quantity of anything. - 1748, May 7.


Of what nature the reflection of spirits and angels is, and upon what subjects exercised, it would be endless to speak, for without reflection there is no life.


By means of reflections given, spirits saw through me, as they oftentimes confessed. Whenever it was granted me that they should reflect upon objects, they confessed that they saw them, as they are seen among men, but not otherwise than through me. Inasmuch, then, as men do not [generally] believe themselves to be governed by means of spirits, such a reflection cannot be given them; wherefore spirits do not see through man, but only know from his interiors. This was very often made manifest to me, so that spirits could see each particular object that was in the world, as well as what was in the imagination and in the thought. While the gate of the mind is thus open towards heaven, there is given a certain continual reflection, whence is a communication of spirits with man, and thence they know that they are not the men with whom they are.


CONCERNING THE LOVE OF INFANTS, OR STORGE. The reason that the love of infants and the storge is so universal in everything living is, that such a sphere from the Lord [passing] through the inmost heaven, where infancies are, surrounds, and especially affects, both infants and their parents, particularly the mothers, inasmuch as they are affections. Infants are affected in the first instance, which may be seen from their innocence, manifested in the face, speech, gestures, and from its effect upon adults, not to speak of the universal sphere [of love]. The affecting cause, wherever it finds a receptive faculty, affects; thence springs a union, especially of parents and their infant children; yet this feeling grows weaker as children grow up and become their own masters. - 1748, May 8.


CONCERNING THE WILL. I perceived within myself something that may serve to illustrate the working of the will. The spirits around me disagreed as to which way I should go, whether forwards or backwards, which it was given me to know; thence the affection of the will, when I would advance, was not only a resistance, but even a kind of grave difficulty in the way of my progress, such as is apt to produce fatigue. As soon, however, as they agreed that I should go forward, there was an alacrity in the motion, so that my steps were entirely easy, which it was given me to perceive by living experience. Moreover, when leave was granted to spirits of leading me by their will whithersoever they pleased, they would lighten my steps, so as to make the progress easy; and in passing over steep places, I would be, as it were, lifted up by them, which has hitherto happened to me in repeated instances. - 1748, May 8.


A STATE OF MENTAL QUIET; CONCERNING CELESTIAL STATES IN GENERAL. A state of peace is in a higher degree, a state of mental quiet in a lower. Today, from an early hour in the morning, it was given me to learn from experience the nature of a state of mental quiet, and, indeed, by a species of attraction or subtraction towards the interiors, and towards spirits who were in this quiet state, and that, too, for a whole night, the state continuing till morning, and afterwards for more than an hour. It was thus given to know how sweet the state is, and how indefinite are the states of joy in heaven. It was also given me, in that state, to reflect upon those who desire to live in cares and solicitudes pertaining to corporeal and worldly things, how miserable they are, though they imagine they are in their fullest delight. It was given also to reflect how this state [of quiet] might be supplanted by a state of solicitude, which are like clouds in a serene sky. States of this kind, however, together with many others which are peculiar to the celestials, cannot be perceived [by every one], for they are unknown to the unknowing; neither can they be so expressed in words as to be credible. A certain degree of knowledge may contribute something towards credence, but I can affirm that the states of joy are indefinite as to all things that are pleasant and delightful in the heavens, which yet no one, as a mere man [on the earth], can apprehend, but which still are such that, if one had a sense of them, even of the least, he would never more desire to be in the body, or in corporeal or worldly cares. - 1748, May 9.


While engaged in reading the passage in Leviticus respecting the feast of tabernacles, certain ones of the spirits were very much delighted, as I could perceive, both from their discourse and from the communication [of their delight]. They thereupon earnestly desired to celebrate that feast, which was also permitted them, by forming to themselves tabernacles in effigy in the usual mode, together with the appurtenances, in which they labored with vast delight, for some of them said that was what they had greatly desired in their lifetime, to wit, to celebrate the feast of tabernacles in the other life; but, inasmuch as they did it from cupidity alone, without a view to interior things, or the things signified, their joy was turned into grief, which, by a communication, I could perceive in myself; afterwards, there ensued a coldness which affected rather strongly my feet and my knees, for they desired only natural things, and not the interior which they signified; thence arose the cold, of which some of the spirits also complained. Such is the case with merely natural joys. - 1748, May 9.


THAT THE THOUGHTS AND DEEDS OF MAN, WHICH ORIGINATE IN FAITH, ARE NOT HIS. Through the abundant experience of many years, I have become most certainly assured that the thoughts of a man who is in faith are not his; but if evil, that they are the product of evil spirits, who believe that they think from themselves, and to them they are accordingly imputed, just as they are to men who cherish the same belief. On the other hand, if good, they are of the Lord alone. All this it is given me most assuredly to know, from daily and hourly experience and reflection.


When at length I had become accustomed to the fact of my inability to think anything of myself, then I found a certain pleasure in it, for I could thus reflect upon the things that were introduced into my thoughts [knowing all the while] that I was free from the blame of evil thoughts; yea, it was given me to know who were the particular spirits, and where they were, that injected these evil thoughts, and with whom I have often conversed upon these very points; yea, it was given me to know even the minutiae of thought, from whom and whence, and thus those reflections were pleasant.


But the spirits who insinuated evil thoughts supposed that I had no thought at all, concerning which I often held conversation with them; wherefore they are unwilling to be of such a quality, as they suppose that would be to lose everything of their own, and thus to become nothing, which they dread and shrink from, though the fact is not so. On this subject, as it is an extended one, I shall, with the Lord's permission, speak elsewhere, and indeed, if I mistake not, I have spoken already. - 1748, May 9.


THAT WILD CREATURES [ferae] OF MANY FEET, AND SUCHLIKE INSECTS, SIGNIFY THE INSANER CLASSES OF DEVILS. When they inspect any spirit in heaven, as, for instance, in his speaking or thinking, it is then given them to know his interiors which speak or think, so that they immediately know his quality. In whatever thought he may be engrossed there is a certain image of him represented, which appears in heaven, but not in the world of spirits, for [there] they know only those things which flow from the series of thoughts and speech; as, moreover, also from the ideas or utterances, whether they are open or closed, and from various other indications by means of which it is given them from the Lord to know of what quality a spirit is.


When those who are in heaven are in the ideas of anything, and perceive aught that is unpleasant, loathsome, atrocious, then that is immediately perceived within by a spiritual representation, or a spiritual idea; when by a spiritual representation, there is thence continuously formed in the spiritual world a certain species of beast, wild beast, or insect in its appropriate form, color, size, entirely corresponding with the representative idea which thus falls into the world of spirits. No one who is in the body can receive a representative idea of angels, but in the world of spirits it exists visually, as it has before me in innumerable instances, while I have been in vision, in which visions it was said to me that there was nothing embraced that was not formed from an angelic idea; (but otherwise:) 1914-1


This night there was represented a wild creature [fera] or an insect with many feet, not unlike a louse in shape, of a brown color, and of a size to inspire a degree of horror, insomuch that I shuddered at its bare presence, or, in other words, from the sphere of its thoughts. Afterwards a certain spirit represented by such an insect came and endeavored to infuse direful and abominable things into my ideas, things in fact so abominable that they are not to be described. Hence I was able to know what ideas the celestials had of that spirit, in whom there was nothing that was not unclean and filthy, not excepting his interior ideas, which could scarcely be apprehended. He seemed to have been a man who had not long since departed from the life of the body, for he knew not whether he was in the other life or not.


Hence also it may be known whence the diabolical crew, as I in fact said to him. - 1748, May 10.


CONCERNING ANGELIC SPEECH AND THE SPEECH OF INFANTS. Angelic speech not being to be understood in its true nature, and consequently ineffable, it is permitted barely to deliver some reflections upon the subject.


Namely, that there are not present in it ideas such as pertain to the words of the corporeal memory, such as those which involve locomotion, distances, time.


That it relates only to the interior things of words and ideas.


It is of such copiousness that one simple, corporeal, or sensual idea, or an idea of man's affection, involves indefinite things, and that too however simple it may appear.


And indeed such things as are true are not intelligible by those who are not angels, because they are not credible to them; they are therefore as nothing. What is involved in their being indefinite, this none but an angel can understand; such an one will stick in the word "nothing," when notwithstanding this nothing is really something of prime moment.


So as to any and everything, provided only something be expressed, as, for instance, any affection, as hatred or love, then the angels comprehend in their ideas indefinite things, which can never be described, not only because so many things concur in the same moment, and that too harmoniously and pleasantly, but because they are remote from corporeal ideas, and, in a more interior heaven, from natural; [in a word] because they are things true and good which cannot be apprehended by corporeal ideas. - 1748, May 10.


A fact that may seem wonderful to others is, that the angels receive a much better understanding of things from infants - their thoughts, prayers, and words - than from adults, who deem themselves possessed of a fuller sense of words and things. This fact is most unquestionable, and the reason is, that in the ideas of infants there is nothing as yet closed by falsities, nothing defiled and filthy by means of cupidities and hatreds, nothing corporeal, as there is in adults; but all is innocence, and thus their ideas are open, though not to themselves, yet to the angels, who therefore take much more delight in an infant than in any adult who is in falsity and in cupidity, or who is immersed in worldly and corporeal things. Hence most true is it that the praises of the Lord are proclaimed by the mouth of infants.


In proportion as a man advances in age and becomes immersed in worldly and corporeal things, all his ideas are more closed towards heaven: nor are they opened except in those in whom the Lord is pleased to open them; whence is to be understood what is meant by Adam's being expelled from Paradise, and guards being placed at the entrance and at the tree of life.


In my own case, I have observed through a living and most manifest experience, that the angels had a more distinct perception of my ideas when I did not mix up or complicate my thoughts, but barely perceived that the ideas were opened towards heaven, whence the angels could perceive interior things; - [I say, I have observed] that then my ideas were more open than when I seemed to enter at the same time into their interiors.


I have wondered also that while I had no understanding of certain things, or paid them no attention, I still perceived that the angels had a [proportionably] fuller sense of them, which may appear from the fact that the angels have a clearer perception in the case of infants, who do not understand what they pray for. This will no doubt appear wonderful to most men, but it is most true, having been testified to me through a living, manifest, and sufficiently long-continued experience. - 1748, May 10.


When it is given of the Lord to the angels to flow into ideas, there is then such a universal sensation of delights in all their plenitude, that they can never, even to their least parts, be declared. This I have very often observed, but of the multifarious experiences vouchsafed me, I cannot relate even one, as much because they cannot be expressed in words, as because they are incredible, for they do not penetrate into corporeal or sensual ideas, but are regarded by such ideas as nothing, or a kind of shadow without substance. - 1748, May 10.


Hence it may appear how it is given to the angels to know the interior thoughts of man, when yet he does not believe that the angels are cognizant of even his ruder and more compound thoughts, which even spirits know, and that too better than man, because they are in the world of spirits. - 1748, May 10.


THAT SPIRITS ARE EXCITED BY A MAN, WHO ARE OF SIMILAR QUALITY AND AFFECTION WITH THE MAN HIMSELF. ((It appears that a man's states undergo changes not only every day but every hour, and, in fact, every moment; wherefore, there are many states of understanding and states of affection, besides which there is, in every man, something which predominates. Into whatever state a man passes or comes, correspond and co-operate; thus not the same [always] but a succession; and these all think themselves to be the man; but as to myself, that they are [merely] present with me. That such is the fact, it was given me today to know by experience, as I observed the changes of state, and at the same time the utterances of the spirits, which corresponded [with those changing states]. I spoke with these spirits, who confessed their identity, and were indignant at being such, for they thus recognized themselves.))


(Indeed, I noticed the [joint] operation of several of them at the same time; for there are societies of such disposed by the Lord, so that they may correspond with each particular, and yet still be held in bonds to prevent their going beyond [the proper limits].


The case is almost wholly similar in the human body, where whatever any particular part or member, such as a little gland or the like, may require, it excites, according to all the changes of its state, somewhat similar in the neighboring parts, and thus everywhere in the body, yea, even from the blood and the fluids it educes something similar, which is suited to it at the time. - 1748, May 10.)


These things [take place] in the world of spirits; in heaven, among the angels, the case is similar; but the variety and the correspondence is infinitely superior.


THAT SOULS [RECENTLY DEPARTED] RECOGNIZE THE THINGS WHICH WERE UNKNOWN TO THEM IN THE LIFE OF THE BODY, WHILE THEY ARE BEING REPRESENTED. It has often happened that souls known to me in the life of the body recognized everything that was known to them in the life of the body, as well the things which they had spoken as those that they had done, as also their acquaintances, friends, relatives, wives, children, and the like, so that the memory which they had in the life of the body remains, but for many reasons it is not permitted to exercise it, or to draw upon its contents, unless when specially granted by the Lord, and when the acts of their lives are to be called to mind, of which each single item may be drawn forth, and recognized by them just as in the life of the body, with all the series, causes, and other circumstances pertaining to them, so that they cannot but be perfectly convinced thereby.


A certain one, whom I had not previously known, and who seemed to have but recently died, was with me today; and when it was permitted to inquire whence he was, he was led [by my memory] through various unknown cities, of which he said it was not there; but when he was conducted through his own city, then he recognized the streets, and everything connected; and if I had known the situation of the houses, I could also have found the house where he had lived; but this was not permitted. - 1748, May 10.


"TO LIE DOWN SECURELY, WITH NONE TO MAKE AFRAID." - Lev. 26:5, 6, etc. This was experimentally confirmed on a night of this month, when evil spirits from malice would fain have terrified me while reposing on my bed. They shook the joints of my whole body with trembling, so that there was a universal tremor, such as I had occasionally experienced at other times, namely, an invasion of all the joints and fibers, and the striking me with a trembling so sensible, that it seemed as if the souls of the dead had taken entire possession of me, and that, too, accompanied with terror, from the suggestion that they had died or were killed in that place, and that I should betake myself elsewhere. I beheld direful visions and [visionary beings] speaking with me concerning these spirits. But in the midst of this inwrought terror, I was so secure as to be afraid of nothing, notwithstanding such a lively tremor pervading all my fibers as I am no ways able to express, coming as it did from evil spirits. Had any other one experienced what I have occasionally done of this nature, he would have supposed he was possessed by demons. - 1748, May 10.


THAT THE KNOWLEDGES OF TRUTHS WITH MAN ARE A KIND OF VESSELS. It may be sufficiently known that we have only the most general knowledges of things, although they seem to us [exceedingly] subtle; for every single notion, whatever it be, contains an infinity of particulars, as every truth, be it what it may, may be augmented to infinity. Thus the knowledges of truths with men may be called merely vessels or recipients, and that too of a rude, yea, of the rudest kind, into which are poured from the Lord those things which they were designed to contain; for without the most general truths as vessels nothing of [higher] truth can be insinuated. These things were said in the presence of angels, and [by them] confirmed. - 1748, May


THAT SOME PERSONS ARE MORE EASILY LED BY THE LORD [THAN OTHERS]. Although all can be led by the Lord whithersoever He pleases, yet some more easily than others. The reason is, that the Lord leaves to everyone the liberty of thinking according to his inclination, which liberty he does not break. Those, therefore, who are in faith, who believe that the Lord governs everything, and who do not suffer themselves to be acted upon by cupidities and falsities, are easily led. This also is said in the presence of spirits. - 1748, May 11.


There was a debate on this subject among the spirits, some of whose reasonings and responses I heard and received, though many I did not hear. They were, in my judgment, so subtle that men would wonder how a controversy could be carried on by such exquisitely framed arguments. But I observed that the minds of some, after the discussion, were so obscured that they knew not what was true, as often happens in regard to truths which are long disputed about - they become obscure, so that the disputants at length stumble in [the light of] the very truth itself. With some of these I was present. As far as relates to the effecting of the thing through the agency of omnipotence and miracles, it were as easy to the Lord to lead one as another; but when it pleases the Lord to lead one according to order, then it is easier for Him to lead one who is in order than one who is not, for such an one is first to be brought back into the [right] way, or into order, which is necessarily a work of time, that the spirit may not be broken, whereto I might add many confirming considerations, which, if they were adduced, would come into discussion, and thus into obscurity and ambiguity. This the Lord has seen fit to teach me by an abundant personal experience.


CONCERNING THE SPIRITS WHO ARE WITH MEN. (The spirits who were with me were oftentimes moved to wonder and astonishment that they were in such a way with men in general, and in a still more peculiar way with me, - almost, in fact, as if they had been [living men] in the world and in the body. Some of them experienced this wonder today, for they cannot realize but that they are the men with whom they are, so little are they conscious of a difference, for they come forthwith into the possession of everything that belongs to him, that is, everything of his memory, when, notwithstanding, the man is [apparently] left to himself, as he is himself a spirit, and thus in the society of spirits, as it was often given to me to show them. - 1748, May 12.


Souls are spirits; for when a man dies, he becomes a spirit. Thus he can also be present to man, which was evinced to me by much experience; for there were with me many of those known to me in the life of the body, and that, too, for a very considerable period, even for days, weeks, and months, which they in like manner confessed, supposing that they thus returned into the body or into the world. Without reflection granted them that they were spirits, and were separated [from men in the flesh], and that, upon their removal, others had succeeded in their place, they would not be able to know that they were spirits. Very many who had departed life but a little while before, were with me, which I could discover as much from their stupor as from other indications. - 1748, May 12.)


WHEN EVIL SPIRITS INTEND EVIL TO THE GOOD, THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE CLOSING OF THE COMMUNICATION. It is something wonderful and worthy of observation, that whenever it is permitted to evil spirits to intend any special evil towards the good, that the evil entirely fails to reach them; all and singular the things which they intended are forthwith closed in. This fact is also represented by a spiritual idea, namely, by the sudden closing up or closing in of lines or radii, so as to embrace nothing within; in like manner [the threatened evil] does not reach to the good.


This may be illustrated by things pertaining to the human body; when, for instance, any offending substance touches the fibrils, or the sensitive parts in the organs, or the insensible in the viscera, the fibers instantly constringe, and put on such a form and quality that they cannot be injured, although assailed by that which is painful, foul, and disagreeable. The effect is similar in the case of evil spirits attempting to injure the good.


Evil spirits cannot even intend the least of evil against the angels, inasmuch as they are in an interior degree; for if nothing of evil can befall [good] spirits, much less can it the angels; just as nothing of evil [or injury] reaches to the yet purer fibers in the organs or the organic parts of the body.


As to the unpleasantnesses and pains arising from this source, I do not as yet know much about them from reflections, only that both unpleasantnesses and pains do exist, and that for a variety of reasons they are permitted. - 1748, May 12.


THAT THE PERMISSIONS OF EVILS FLOWING FROM SPIRITS ARE REPRESENTED BY A REMISSION OF THEIR EFFORTS. In a spirit, as in a man, there is nothing but evil, with an indefinite variety according to subjects. Wherefore they are continually attempting evil, although they do not perceive it while they are held in bonds, and according to the strictness and quality of the bond. Wherefore, when it is permitted to evil spirits to do evil, it takes place by a remission of their endeavors; for such it is represented. They then immediately rush to the thinking and acting of evil, according to the natural genius of each one. - 1748, May 12.


Thence is their genius known by others, and the fact is recognized by themselves by means of reflection at the same time given.


THE PERVERSION OF ORDER THE GENERAL CAUSE OF PERMISSIONS. I have sometimes wondered that it was permitted to spirits to do evil and to infest me so frequently. I knew, indeed, that such a permission was granted them for many reasons; but the evil spirits inferred from the Lord's permitting it that He was the cause of it, which they continually insinuated, when yet it was false; for the Lord never by any means wills that a man should be infected by evil spirits.


But when a man or a spirit passes through many states of the intellect and the affections, which states ought to be in their own order, but are not, and yet are to be reduced into order,  1947-1


 1948-1 CONCERNING LIBERTY. I remarked to spirits that the man who neither thinks nor acts anything from himself - that such an one does really think and act much good; while he that does everything from himself - he does nothing good, but much evil; the one is free, while the other is a slave. This seemed a paradox to the spirits, but yet it is most true, and is confirmed by the angels, as also by much experience of my own. - 1748, May 12.




THE CHARACTER OF [MERE] CRITICS IN THE OTHER LIFE. Certain spirits, who in the life of the body had devoted much labor and time, not to the sense of words, but to the words themselves, and who had consequently devoted themselves to the art of criticism (of whom also several had labored in translating the Sacred Scriptures), were with me; but I can declare, that whilst they were present, all things whatsoever that were written and thought, were rendered [by their sphere] so obscure and confused, that I could scarcely understand anything whatever, - yea, my thought was kept, as it were, in a prison, because they determined all the thought solely to the words, abstracting it from the sense of the expressions, so that they wearied me extremely, even to indignation; whilst, nevertheless, they thus imagined themselves to be wiser than others; whereas, such as are from the lowest class of the people, and even children, are much wiser, and can more wisely understand the sense; - hence of what quality such erudition, or such human wisdom is, abundantly appears, namely, that it is much inferior to that of rustics and of children, inasmuch as they thereby close the way to interior things.


1914-1 This phase (sed aliter) was probably intended as a mere memorandum for the author, to remind him that there was some different aspect in which the subject might be presented, and which he might perhaps give at another time.


1948-1 Dr. Tafel suggests that 1949 should come after 1948. This, he says, differs slightly from that of Swedenborg's manuscript.

1949-1 then such things exist, which is also an indication that unless the Lord should reduce all and single things to order, especially in these last times, that no flesh could be saved. - 1748, May 12.

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