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

Spiritual Diary


What therefore could exist out of so many concurring causes of human thoughts and actions but a mere confusion and nothing at all, did not the Lord rule each and everything: like as the instrumental causes are ruled in one body. - 1748, May 27.


CONCERNING PEACE. I was in a sort of peace, therefore was removed from the cupidities which spirits would insinuate, which they observing wondered at, and said how could I thus possibly possess life, because there were with me no cupidities. They supposed that no life is granted but one of cupidities, because such [a life] proceeds from them, for they know of no other life than that which they suppose to be theirs, therefore one of cupidities; but it was granted to reply to them that then I may enjoy a much superior life, for I am [sunt for sum I think] in the life of the Lord, who is Peace Itself, therefore a heavenly life or one of celestial affections of which they are ignorant. Moreover, they supposed that such a life must be without, not within one; but the thought was given that they suppose the life of cupidities which they think their own to be within them, wherefore also sins are imputed to such a one [ei], although these are not their own, consequently there could be no imputation if they were in faith toward the Lord as respects the life of the Lord, that is still more appropriated by man, because more interiorly and inwardly and in the inmost place, wherefore do they also possess the perception of much more exquisite joys. - 1748, May 28.


THAT SOCIETIES ARE ESPECIALLY CONSTITUTED OF SUCH AS ARE OF ONE GENUS, TOGETHER WITH THEIR SPECIES. That societies spiritual and angelic are constituted of such as are of one genus with their species is evident from the affection of similarities: for likes are associated in the world, as it were, spontaneously; in the world of spirits and in heaven it occurs by the Lord's ordering, and because societies are not conjoined from necessity, and the want of similars, as is the case in the earth, therefore are associated by the Lord such as are alike as to affections and intellectual persuasions.


That societies are such is also evident from experience sometimes granted me, when faces were represented, which were changed in a moment of time into many other faces in succession, in which a similar genus of affection shone forth, but was varied continually according to species which was nothing else than the acting of one society, and of one in succession after another in the society.


That societies are changed according to the states of mind [animi] and mind [mentis] was also manifested, and indeed sometimes in a very small space of time. - 1748, May 28.


THAT SPIRITS WERE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THEMSELVES FROM MY FACE AS SEEN IN A MIRROR. Many times it happened when I beheld my face in a mirror, being led to do so because of the thoughts of the spirits who were with me, who at the same time saw through my eyes, but who did not observe but that they were in the body or in the world, they supposed that they had faces like what they had in the life of the body; hence also the countenance [vultus faciei] was changed in some degree, as far as possible, into their countenance - they recognized themselves, one after another - many were indignant, others thus recognized that they were in another life. Then they perceived in the mirrors what sort of minds [animus] they had with themselves, as regards which they recognized as often as I spoke with them. - 1748, May 28.


WHAT REFLECTION IS. Spirits and angels have no reflection except what the Lord gives them, although they think they reflect more than men. Reflection is a sight proceeding from things past; hence it is self-knowledge.


CONCERNING A HARMONIOUS SINGING. Again have I heard a harmonious singing, and the harmony thereof was brought forth from unharmonious things by the Lord to the delights of spirits and angels, who were so spell-bound [obstupescebant] from the delights alone, that they said they did not know but they were translated into the inmost heaven, even spirits who were not good, so that they must be carried out of themselves with the sweetness. It still continues, and such is the quiet, that I have not often perceived such a stillness, because they were in a delightful stupor. - 1748, May 28.


Whilst they were in that state, to wit, in a delightful stupor, they were translated to heaven among the celestials; for in such a state, so long as it lasts, they are, as it were, laid asleep as to externals, corporals, and phantasies, which are then quiescent, and they imagine that they are in heaven, as also they had said, and they are still there. But when that state ceases, they then return to their first state, which happens by degrees and slowly, that they may not hurt the celestials, and may not themselves be injured. I heard a certain one saying that he perceived what he could not express; doubtless it was the state, restless, uneasy, and the like, of such as were returning to their phantasies and cupidities. ((((((Meanwhile one of them spoke with me, whilst still there, to the effect that now he for the first time felt how much joy there is in heaven, and that it is a great fallacy for them to entertain another idea about the celestials, to wit, that they had no sensation or perception, as they often before had supposed and said, when yet they feel their inmost perception of joy in a more indefinite manner, than pleasures in the life of the body, which, as he says, he now despises, and perceives how vile and filthy was that with which they were delighted. He says, what more can)))))) a spirit have than the ample perception of joys which first affects them in heaven; because these affect the interiors, and are, as it were, proper to them, because perceived by an interior sense.


 2111-1 Meanwhile I wrote concerning the neighbor, as that when they did not hold the neighbor in hatred, then were they in a state almost celestial, and they confessed that to them that was now an abominable and horrid thing, since it destroys all their felicity, and that the perceived that they should hold their own selves in hatred whilst they were therein [in iis]. There is still a deep silence, which is a rare thing; it has now lasted more than an hour. Such is their lethargy, as it were, that they feel [perceive] nothing, to such a state are they brought. Indeed, not the least thing is heard by them, although they are present.


In the life of the body also the evil may in a certain state be, as it were, carried out of themselves, when they hear instrumental music, and can perceive, as it were, a celestial sweetness. - 1748, May 28.


WHAT IS PROPERLY SIGNIFIED BY THE PREPUCE. The prepuce properly signifies envy at the happiness of others; wherefore the prepuce, on account of its representing envy at the happiness of others, was to be cut off. This was shown me today, for I perceived that good spirits and angels were brought into interior joy, or into a felicity superior to what they had possessed; and meanwhile there were spirits who were indignant and filled with envy, as is usual with them, because others were brought into a state of happiness. The state of both, to wit, the felicity of the happy, as well as the envy mingled with indignation of the spirits, it was granted me to perceive plainly enough and whence it came, and it was represented for me, when those who were indignant and filled with envy were also brought into a superior felicity, that the prepuce as it were was carried away, and it was told me by a certain angel that thence may be known what is signified and represented by the prepuce and circumcision. - 1748, May 29.


Therefore does the prepuce represent what opposes the things of love, consequently the happy states which come from love alone: for in a state of integrity nakedness sprung from innocence; thus was innocence, but in the perverted state nakedness could not even be named, for scandals immediately arose, because loves are filthy.


THAT IT CAN NEVER BE DISPROVED [negari] THAT THE HARMONIES OF THE INTERIOR HEAVEN SPRING FORM SUCH AS MOVE INWARD, AND FROM THE LORD. By a spiritual idea of a subtler kind it was granted me to see that many things may be seen by the angels as it were simultaneously, and that they immediately know what is harmonious, or what is good or true, when yet they are indefinites in one idea, and yet these are distinct from each other, and form the harmony which they receive. It was granted me to see in some measure such things as were in simultaneous harmony; hence I said did not these come from such as move inward, therefore from a more inward heaven, consequently from the Lord, because otherwise they could not be exhibited as distinct, and there could not be a harmony of so many indefinites, still less a selection from them. This view was confirmed by the voice of one in heaven, saying that he, by means of such a spiritual idea, now first recognizes the same thing; while in the state of the life of the body such an idea cannot be given, and is not therefore acknowledged. He doubted whether anyone would acknowledge it, when yet it is the simple truth.


They also acknowledged with living voice that it was not possible but that what came from the Lord was the most perfect and best; for if there should be the least thing in principles which was not the perfectest and best, there would exist the greatest confusion and ruin thereof in derivatives, or in the ways leading downward or outward therefrom.


Hence also they perceived in spiritual idea that naught of evil comes from the Lord, but that evil springs only from man or spirit, who solely is the cause of evil; which also they perceived plainly as a necessary consequence. - 1748, May 29.


At the same time could they also then see whatever was within or without, very manifestly whatever was in the human mind, its thoughts, or ideas common and singular, and many things which man never wishes to believe. I can scarce declare the rest, for they say that they see more than they dare acknowledge, because there were the basest things in me, which appear so manifestly that nothing can be more so. - 1748, May 29.


THAT INFANTS CAN PLAY AND NEVER FEAR ANYTHING, ALTHOUGH WICKED SPIRITS ARE PRESENT AND ENDEAVOR TO BRING EVIL UPON THEM. I have experienced today, and several times previously when it was granted to be in society with infants, who played innocently, for whatever they do innocence is therein, that then the wicked spirits around were enraged and smitten with anger, and calumniated them, speaking ill, therefore attempting to bring evil unto them; but infants do not fear anything at all whenever wholly ignorant that such were present, and thus aspersed them, and if they had known would still be protected by their innocence thus does it come to pass [coincidit] that lions and bears shall lie down with sheep, and the suckling play with the serpent in his den. - 1748, May 29. [See Isaiah 11:6-8.]


THAT SPIRITS ARE MORE UNLIKE EACH OTHER IN THE OTHER LIFE THAN THEY APPEARED TO BE DURING THE LIFE OF THE BODY. In another life, inasmuch as they are left to themselves, and not permitted, as in the life of the body, to show ought in the countenance at variance with what they have in the mind, for there assent with the externals is not allowed; since immediately anything of simulation is plainly distinguished, should there be the slightest disagreement of words and thoughts; therefore when in the other life they are obliged to act according to their disposition, it is then given to know from experience that they who in the life of the body maintained an affable countenance, so that scarcely ought that was imperious and morose appeared, were yet so morose that they could not live without chiding, and nothing suited their wishes. They were allowed to chide me, supposing that they could rule over me, as many thought - by which means I experienced that they were continually delighted with scolding [dicteriis]; and even those who had been men of consideration threw out scolding without concealment, hardly differing from such as in the life of the body were of the lower and lowest class of people [plebs] who have no shame. So that many, and perhaps a very great number of these who had been men of condition, differ but little from them. Therefore whatever they bear inwardly is made manifest; for when they are loosed from bonds, or fear on account of laws or their own loves, they are such (:interessen ). - 1748, May 29.


CONCERNING THE EAST WIND. It happened that spirits who were around me, on account of some delay, associated themselves into hurtful societies, which could scarcely be ruled any longer according to order. This was also shown, when a certain society thus heterogeneously made up [confarcta] began to worry a certain one, and cast him hither and thither, and this wantonly, continually striving to work him harm, from which, as well as other of their plottings, which spirits and celestial angels could observe, it was manifest that the societies of such were conjoined together by them in order to work hurt to many; as is their custom when left at all to themselves.


Then, when these societies were thus heterogeneously made up [confarctoe], a cohort, quite numerous of spirits, was heard, and this coming from the anterior region, a little to the right, about the right temple, the region between the right eye and right ear, yet on high. It was a sort of a tumult that was heard fluctuating as it were, and of great sound. When these were heard, and drew near, then confusion sprung up among the spirits; some were dispersed here, some there, and because of the tumult there occurred uproar and dissolution of the societies of spirits heterogeneously made up. It seemed to them as if the Last Judgment was now at hand, and that all would therefore perish; some lamented, others were in distress. Nevertheless it was granted me not to be afraid: such also was my case, because previously this had happened once or twice around me, when also they had supposed the Last Judgment was about to come. I heard the sound of this great cohort of spirits, as alternating. A spirit tells me that to his ear it was like the sound of horses. But one heard it different from another, according to the state of fear. To me it sounded like a continual murmur with alternate undulation, distinct, and, indeed, of many together.


Then was I instructed, when it continued, what was the purpose of that great cohort, to wit, to disperse the societies that had been miscellaneously constituted by themselves with malicious intent, composed of spirits, who in this way plotted evil against others, as by [from] experience was previously made manifest. At such time that cohort of spirits thinks of nothing else than separating one from another in the society, by smiting them with terror, that the whole society may be destroyed. Thus is one separated from another, and they think of nothing but flight, and some of their own destruction.


Then did they also tell me that by such a dispersion, as by the wind in the atmosphere, everything was reduced to order; for, however dissolved, they are still reassembled by the Lord at His own good pleasure. This also it was given me to apprehend, by a spiritual idea, that when these things that maliciously conspire are dispersed, then are they reassembled by the Lord according to order.


This is represented in the Word of the Lord by the east wind, concerning which I have here and there treated: as that it produced the locusts in Egypt, and dried up the Red Sea [suph], for thus was it granted the children of Israel to pass over on dry land, for unless the evil consociations of spirits are dispersed, they cannot abide anyone who is a child of Israel, but infest him, and hinder his transit to good societies; therefore the communications of souls with good spirits and angels, for evil consociations, immediately take away communications which are afterwards restored. - 1748, May 30.


As it is on a greater scale, so it is on a less, even as respects single souls with whom interiors are at variance with externals; in such case, dissociation occurs by a mode of discerption, as you may see in what has gone before.


After that tumult had passed away, serenity prevailed, so that not a voice was heard or machination perceived. This was also acknowledged by those who were present. - 1748, May 30.


CONCERNING PLEASURES. It was represented to me in spiritual idea of what quality are the pleasures of the body and senses. When separated from interior pleasure, that they are as gross as those of beasts, because pertaining to the body only, as, to wit, the pleasures of drinking; and how sweet are interior pleasures wherein is peace or innocence; which pleasures may be perceived and known by a spiritual idea and by those who are therein, but not by such as are in the life of the body. Such pleasures are then separated, and pertain almost entirely to the body. - 1748, May 30.


THAT WHEN SOCIETIES OF THE EVIL HAVE BEEN HETEROGENEOUSLY MADE UP [confarctoe], THEY MAY BE DISSOLVED IN OTHER WAYS. ((We have already treated of the cohort of spirits, which dispersed the consociations of evil spirits, to which in the Word corresponds the east wind. But there are innumerable media besides for dissolving such consociations not only in the aggregate, but in the individual, to wit, when the ideas belonging to some one spirit or soul have been heterogeneously made up, and are dispersed. It was not granted me to know all the media, but I was told what they are. In the body, also, all the solvent menstrua correspond thereto, which are innumerable, and suited to every conglutinated particle, as is known from the saliva-menstrua and those which flow from the liver. Thus every wicked compound of societies has its own solvent media.))


I can describe here but one; that they were united together more closely, thus were conglutinated as it were. They thus appear to each other; and by cupidity were respectively separated, because the perception of the disadvantage to them is augmented so that they are finally dissolved, as of their own accord.


Most easy is the dissevering of such consociations, for they all hate each other: should abundance be granted them, according to their nature of acting, they would instantly be dissolved, but the Lord does not will this, for thus cupidities would be broken.


That there also exist consociations even in the interior heaven, which likewise must be tempered by media, cannot be doubted, concerning which I have treated elsewhere; as that such an instance occurred, when there appeared in heaven as it were a certain fermentation, occasioned by evil spirits who were permitted to insinuate themselves, on account of such consociations as were not becoming. - 1748, May 30.


CONCERNING SAINTS. A certain one of the Catholic religion came to me today, as do nearly every day some of various religions who have lately died. This Roman Catholic conversed with me, and his discourse was about such as were made saints in the earth. He was told that there is no saint [holy one] in all heaven but the Lord alone, and that it is from the Lord's holiness that the angels are called saints [holy], who is Holiness Itself; hence also He is called the Holy Spirit. Such as are angels confess that in them is nothing at all holy, but that it is filthy, and that holiness is the Lord's alone; for it is known from the Psalms of David that the angels are not holy.


Then some of those who were sainted in the earth said unanimously, although with a certain mixed, and as it were tumultuous sound, that their sanctity was of the Lord alone, and that they are filthy and of no repute.


Respecting others who regard themselves as holy because sainted on earth, see elsewhere.


Inquiry was made how it was with Peter, to whom were given the keys of the kingdom of the heavens. The answer was, that by Peter is understood faith, and to faith are given the keys of the Lord's kingdom, because no one can be admitted into heaven save through faith in the Lord, and no one grants faith but the Lord, wherefore the Lord alone has the keys of the heavens, and gives heaven to whomsoever it is His good pleasure; so that it is not of any man. Faith is understood by Peter, like as by the other apostles, the things which are of faith; as, for instance, by James charity, and by John the fruits of charity: and because therein are all the things of faith, he was on the bosom of the Lord. - 1748, May 31.


THAT FROM THE SPEECH OF SPIRITS ALL LANGUAGES DERIVE THEIR ORIGIN. ((((Spirits, whenever they speak, with whatever persons, speak the language of such as if it were their own [vernacula], nor do they know other than that they were born in their land, and educated in that language. It is, as it were, their own tongue [vernacula], nor do they know differently, unless reflection is given them. Thus such as had lived in Europe and other parts of the earth, and had died some thousands of years before, spoke with me in my language, with which they were as well acquainted as I myself. They were not aware that it was my vernacular, therefore belonged to another region, before they were told; yea, if it is the Lord's good pleasure, they can speak a language much more correctly and fluently than one born in that region and educated in the language. This was also a matter of my personal experience.


From this it follows that the speech of spirits is a universal speech, and from it are sprung, and, as it were, born all the languages; for it is spiritual ideas which constitute their speech. When these inflow into man's memory they excite words corresponding to the ideas and the like, which man has in his memory; moreover, they excite ideas which are mixed, or which are many for the same word, as is usually the case, as also such as have been blended with each other from various circumstances, and many which adhere, as it were, round about. All this occurs according to the nature and disposition of spirits, for spirits excite ideas, hence words which suit their nature, thus this occurs according to all that variety and diversity which belongs to spirits and to their states.


Hence it is plain that the speech of angels, which is still more universal, is, as it were, the mother of the speech of spirits, therefore that it inflows into the ideas of different spirits, which ideas burst forth therefrom according to all the variety of their nature.


Hence it also follows that there is a still more universal speech, to wit, that of the more interior and inmost heaven, which is not intelligible to the angels of the interior heaven, still less to spirits and men, wherefore it contains ineffable and incredible things; for in the least idea of an angel of the interior heaven are contained infinite things which are perceived by the angels of the more interior and inmost heaven, according to the Lord's good pleasure.


Hence now it is evident that the Lord alone is Speech and Word, because all things are from Him. - 1748, May 31.)))) (((That men and spirits cannot at all wander out of their appointed limits. This was shown by various experience, for spirits suppose that they enjoy an unbounded freewill or license.)))


CONTINUATION CONCERNING THE SPEECH OF SPIRITS. ((((Spirits speak, as already said, with the primitive ideas of words; for it must be known that every word has some idea therein, and every composition of words a composite idea expressed by many words. Such as is our thought apart from words, such is the speech of spirits with each other, and it is in fact not only thought which also they have, but is their speech with each other. This I could also observe, and they had told me that they were speaking with each other, and I heard the murmur thereof. This, when it entered my internal sense, was then parted into distinct words, and the discourse of spirits unexpectedly flowed into my ideas, and therefore into words, when they were conversing, and they said that they were then conversing about me, or concerning such and such. But spirits cannot observe, nor do they know that they speak in a spiritual speech, because they do not reflect thereupon, as neither can man know with what tongue he speaks, and what are his words, unless he reflects.))))


But angelic language is still more interior. That it may be comprehended, I will relate only what it was granted me to learn from experience, that in a single, simple idea are indefinite things. This can be evident only to such as take note, that if but a single word be assumed, as, for instance, heaven or earth, which are simple words and similar in idea, and yet these contain indefinites, so in all the rest, which are in the simple idea of spirits, do these things appear in an interior degree, and in truth indefinite [in number]. These a spirit can never perceive by any perception, but only intellectually, and consequently by a common gross and most obscure perception, hardly otherwise, if I may use the illustration, than famine and thirst is perceived as a common affection, and scarcely aught is perceived but famine and thirst, when yet there are indefinites in the body, every member, every fiber, and every globule of blood, and the interiors which constitute and make hunger and thirst to be what they are. In like manner is it with every sense, as, to wit, with taste, which is only perceived as a common affection, yet do innumerable things constitute it both in the tongue and the object. So is it with all the rest.


In like manner are the ideas of the angels of the interior heaven now perceived in a still more interior degree by the angels of the interior heaven.


Hence it is manifest of, what quality is their perception for aught that is spiritual, as well as of what quality is the perception when they are only in corporeals, and have scarcely any relish for aught that is spiritual, as well as of what quality is the perception of ideas belonging to the corporeal memory only. - 1748, May 31.


THAT THEY ALSO SPEAK IN SIMULTANEOUS SOCIETY. Moreover, all the speech of spirits and angels is in society; for apart from speech, in a society consisting of many, cannot be given an idea of anything. A spirit then knows nothing, he is so stupid as to be as it were nothing. But his sagacity, consequently his speech, is directed according to society and the state of the society.


Whilst a spirit speaks, in order that he may not know different than that it is he alone who speaks, although there are others who simultaneously speak the same, a speech [occurs] that may be called simultaneous speech. There were some who thus spoke, and I at the same time, and such as heard afterwards said that it was I who spoke, and he who thus addressed me was thinking that he was alone, and did not know that others simultaneously were saying the same thing. - 1748, May 31.


CONCERNING THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL. I commenced thinking that there are men who long for the immortality of fame by exploits, writings, and the like, as also by sepulchral statues and many other things, from which it is plain that something impelled them to the desire of immortality, though they knew that they were to die, and the greatest part of them could scarce credit that they were to live after death. Such was the case with the Romans, of whom it is known that they longed for immortality more than others, so that they would have devoted themselves to death for their country could but their name survive death. Yet many of them could scarcely have thought about the immortality of the soul, or the life after death.


It was granted me to consider whence came such desire, because without an influx of a superior cause it could not be given; and I conversed about the same matter with the celestials, and thus perceived that the cause was that the Lord infuses into everyone the perception of immortality, to the end that it may be hidden from nobody that they are to live after death, and that this is a common influx flowing into all, just as just as storge, or the affection for children, is common influx from the Lord; apart from him it could by no means exist. So it is with the desire of fame and of interior fame, that is, of immortality after death.


But as happens in everything else, every such influx is circumstanced in its subjects or objects, according to their disposition, nature, form, so that although such continual incentive [admonitio] flows into some, with certain it is changed, according to their lives or cupidities, into passion alone; with others it occurs differently; with many it is changed into the lust of fame, merely for the attainment of their loves; with some it scarcely makes its appearance. In a word, it is circumstanced according to their lives, that is, according to cupidities and desires. - 1748, May 31.


THAT MEN AND SPIRITS CANNOT DO THE LEAST THING FROM SELF, THOUGH TO THEMSELVES EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE FROM THEM. (It was granted me today to know by much experience that spirits cannot effect the least, although it seems to them that they can think, speak, and do everything from themselves. My experience [on this head] is so copious, that if all the rest should be displayed, it would fill every page. I will only relate that it was today told the spirits that they could effect nothing from themselves, whereat being indignant, they said they were able of themselves; wherefore it was shown them that they could effect nothing, that what they spoke was permitted them. I perceived in spiritual idea that there was, as it were, a sphere having limits, beyond which they could by no means pass. Wherefore such spheres were shown; and when spirits attempted to pass beyond, or speak, they could by no means do so.


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