Notes] Correspondences; Causality; Power
AS I MENTIONED IN CHAPTER 10, this course's
progression from subjects that are most concretely and
universally experienced to subjects that are most abstract
from experience, leads us into ideas that you may not have
thought of before. Indeed, the topics of this chapter and
the next may well be ones that nobody needs to think about.
One can live and die well without ever juggling the
dilemmas, paradoxes, and metaphysical abstractions that are
involved in them. But once that is said, two things must be
added: I have never known anyone who, having actually faced
one of these questions, could rest before finding an answer
with some degree of satisfaction; and, secondly, the
questions and answers alike are among the most exciting
mind-stretchers that the world of ideas has to offer.
The oldest of these questions, one
concerning creation and its simplest form, is this: was the
world created out of something or out of nothing? Pre-biblical thought, preserved for us in ancient near-eastern
creation myths, assumed the first option, namely, that there
was a great, formless something from the beginning and
creation consisted of shaping that something into the world
and its contents. Where you might expect to find a biblical
answer, there is none. The Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 holds no
clue within itself as to whether it should be translated:
(A) "In the beginning (before there was
anything), God created the heavens and the earth, and the
earth was waste and void," or,
(B) "When God began to create the heavens
and the earth, the earth (that already was there) was waste
"A" is probably more familiar to you because the
mainstream Judeo-Christian tradition has rested firmly in
the idea (first expressed explicitly in the history of
thought in Isaiah 45:5-7) that Jehovah ("Yahweh" in the
Hebrew and the "LORD"—in small capitals—in the Revised
Standard Version) is the only creator. If there had been
anything "when God began to create," then there was
something he did not create. That "something" would have to
be one of two things: either something that was (and is)
without ever having to be created—a description which Isaiah
and later theologians wanted to apply only to God—or (worse
yet!) something created by another creator. Since both of
those options were unacceptable (and there were no other
options with Translation B), most theologians went along
with the assumption that God created the world out of
nothing. That didn't make any sense, so they called it a
sacred mystery. Don't try to make sense out of it; even
trying to conceive of nothing has stumped the best thinkers,
let alone conceiving of making anything out of nothing.
So Swedenborg said, in the readings assigned
for this chapter, that of course God didn't create the world
out of nothing. That doesn't make any sense. God created the
world out of God.
Divine Love and Wisdom is primarily about creation,
you will notice that Swedenborg did not start out by saying
that God created the world out of God. He talked about some
other things first, especially the notion of "distinct
levels." Before we get to the meaning of levels that
Swedenborg saw in Reality, it may help to see their
importance in relation to his description of creation.
About a century before Swedenborg, a Jewish
philosopher in Holland, the Blessed (Hebrew "Baruch"
or Latin "Benedict") Spinoza, also had written that
God created the world out of God. But Spinoza drew a
conclusion from that: the world is God. That provoked
philosophers into all kinds of silly sarcasms (e.g., when
walking barefoot in the mud, be reverent when you squish God
through your toes!) that thoroughly discredited Spinoza's
notion of "Pantheism" (literally, "God all over"). Later
philosophers labeled the Swedenborgian teaching as "Panentheism,"
The idea of degrees of reality is important.
Let's look at it. Basically, Swedenborg was saying something
like, "Everything that is, is real; but some things are more
real than others" (to paraphrase George Orwell). Further,
some things are more real or less real than other things in
two different ways. They can be higher or lower (highest =
most real), or they can be more toward the inside or more
toward the outside (inmost = most real). The scale from
highest to lowest is made up of distinct levels, like steps
in a staircase, or notes on a piano. The scale from inmost
to outmost is made up of gradual levels, like an inclined
ramp or the sliding notes possible on a violin or a slide
trombone. Every real thing exists coordinately on both
scales. God, the "most real," is highest and inmost. Of his
creation, which is lower and more external, the celestial
heavens are next-to-highest and next-most-inward. The
spiritual heavens, the world of spirits, and the material
world are successively lower and more external.
The radical distinctions between the vertical levels of
reality make God absolutely separate from his creation.
Within his creation, the spiritual world is equally separate
from the material world. Nothing overlaps, standing on two
steps of that ladder; there are no intervening half-steps.
The levels between God and creation, between spirit and
matter, are discrete, distinct, separate.
But there is another coordinate to the
levels of reality. By gradual, stepless stages on a
continuum, the outer is differentiated from—but at the same
time connected to—the inner. Even the lowest, most
particular reality (each sparrow, each individual hair on
your head), may be radically and distinctly less real than
its spiritual correspondent or its primary source in God.
However, its external appearance is only relatively less
real because it exists on an unbroken continuum with that
same spiritual correspondent and even the Divine itself.
Stop a minute. Read (or reread)
Divine Love and Wisdom 179-212, and then look at
those last three paragraphs again. That may be the most
sophisticated and comprehensive idea in the history of
ideas. It provides one all-encompassing structure of
reality that differentiates all reality into its distinct
parts and levels, and at the same time interrelates all
reality into the single whole that stems from the oneness of
its creator. It affords not only a reasonable answer to the
ancient riddle of creation, but answers to I-don't-know-how-many
questions besides. For all the questions it answers,
however, the doctrine of levels, especially of distinct
levels, raises at least one question; the answer to which is
The question arises when Swedenborg
describes the difference between distinct levels of reality.
Soul-Body Interaction 3, for instance, he dwells so
strongly on the absolute distinction between the natural
world and the spiritual world that there seems to be no
connection between them. He establishes that connection from
one perspective in the reading from
Soul-Body Interaction 11, in the paragraph about
accomplishments. However, he makes the connection more
frequently in another way. There is influence between one
level of reality and another, he says, in speaking of
distinct heavens in
Heaven and Hell 207, and
"communication by means of influx by correspondence." And in
Secrets of Heaven 3225, in this assignment,
he notes that there is correspondence between things
separated by a distinct level, and representations of higher
things can be seen in lower things because of that
So, the absolutely distinct levels of reality are connected
from within by the gradual levels of inwardness and
outwardness (horizontal levels). They are also connected
directly by a necessary and consistent relationship that is
inherent within the order of their creation. This
relationship, called correspondence, provides a medium of
influence and communication between them.
This fundamental relationship crosses the
radical separation of distinct levels of reality. It can be
seen as the expected consequence of reality's inner unity
and also as the final link that makes reality an indivisible
whole that cannot be reduced to independent parts except by
In this perspective, correspondence is
integral to all reality. It is the ground and communicator
of all the knowledge of spiritual reality that human beings
derive from their physical life in a material world. In
Chapter 7, correspondence—as a principle of biblical
interpretation—was described as having an authority grounded
in the created order that sets it apart from all arbitrary
systems of allegorical interpretation. This is the root
principle of correspondence that was referred to. It is a
concept that Swedenborg saw the need for and began to
develop in a speculative way in his early scientific works.
For awhile, he hoped to define the spiritual-physical
relationship in mathematical terms, which he thought would
convey its inherent consistency. Then he turned back, closer
to his original concept of correspondence, in a little work
from his transitional period, Hieroglyphic Key. But it was
not until his spiritual sight was opened while reading the
Word that he realized the infinite complexity and perfection
of the pattern of relationships that makes one reality out
of the apparent polarity of matter and spirit. The method of
biblical interpretation was an important consequence of this
discovery and conception, but the basic concept is a part of
Swedenborg's description of all that is, and a part of his
explanation and guarantee of all that is known.
The unity of causation is another bridge (or
the same bridge from another perspective) across the
interface of distinct levels. Swedenborg frequently describes the relationship between spirit and matter, or
between soul and body, as that between cause and effect
True Christianity 374 and especially in passages like
Secrets of Heaven 5711, at the beginning of his article on disease—the
concluding article in the series described in the note to
Generally, the distinction between a cause and
an effect serves to heighten the disparity between the
spiritual and the physical—the radical differentiation of
the distinct levels. But
Soul-Body Interaction 11 brings out another aspect
of the cause-effect relationship and specifically applies it
to the spirit-matter relationship as well. In emphasizing
the soul's use of the body (Soul-Body
Interaction 11, 12), he calls attention to the fact
that a purpose has no force without a tool. This points to
what should be equally obvious: a cause is not a cause
without an effect, any more than an effect is not an effect
without a cause. If my desire to fasten two boards together
(to make a box, to hold something, for some further purpose,
ad infinitum) is the final, or purposive, cause; and the
hammer and the nail are the efficient causes; then there is
no box until the purpose and the tools act in unison. The
purpose and the tools are only potential causes, theoretical
causes, until the moment when, with a bang, they cause the
effect of the two boards being fastened together. All the
power that the prior causes have is in the effect that they
produce and the use it serves.
Just as a cause is incomplete without its
effect, so the spiritual world—the whole spiritual level of
reality—is incomplete without its ultimation and effect in
physical reality. The distinction is real, but so is the
For this reason, the power in Swedenborg's theology
originates in higher levels and is completed in its
corresponding ultimate in lower levels. The power of
creation originates in God, is accomplished in the spiritual
world (an intermediate effect that becomes the mediating
cause) and finds its completion in its corresponding
ultimate in the material world. Therefore, there is no power
but God; the power of God is found in ultimates—in the
letters of the Word, the hairs of the head, of his
creations! Reality is a whole. It is one creation, by God,
out of God, separated and united by levels, interrelated by
correspondence and unified in accomplishment.
Read the following Passages from Swedenborg. For further
reading in other published versions, see the passages listed
Secrets of Heaven
Secrets of Heaven 3213-3227, 3337-3355;
Divine Love and Wisdom 173-229, 282-301;
Soul-Body Interaction 11-12.
PASSAGES FROM SWEDENBORG:
Creation; Levels; [30.
Notes] Correspondences; Causality; Power
There are two lights by which we are enlightened, the
world's light and heaven's light. The world's light is from
the sun; heaven's light is from the Lord. The
world's light is for our natural or external aspect,
illuminating what is in its view. Things are in this light
even though they do not appear to be, for our natural side
can perceive nothing except what becomes present and appears
in the natural solar world, that is, things having some kind
of form from the light and shade of that world. Ideas of
time and space are so important to our natural mind that we
cannot think without them and all of them are seen only in
the world's light.
Heaven's light is for our
spiritual or internal aspect. Our intellectual ideas, called
immaterial, are in our interior mind, in heaven's light. We
are unaware of this, even though we call our intellect sight
and ascribe light to it. So long as we are in worldly and
bodily things we perceive only those things that are in the
world's light and not things which appear in heaven's light.
Heaven appears in heaven's light, which is from the Lord
It is surprising that people do not yet know that their
intellectual mind functions in a light different from the
world's light. The condition of those who are in the world's
light makes heaven's light look like darkness and the
condition of those in heaven's light makes the world's light
look like darkness. This difference comes principally from
different loves—different heats bring different lights.
People who are involved in loving themselves and the world
are affected only by evils and falsities (which extinguish
what is true, what is in heaven's light). But those who love
the Lord and their neighbors, and who feel the spiritual
warmth of heaven's light, are influenced by what is good and
true (the things which obliterate falsities).
From this it can be established what correspondence is and
where it comes from, and also what representation is and its
origin. Correspondence exists between things belonging to
heaven's light and things in the world's light, that is,
between things proper to our internal or spiritual self and
those proper to our external or natural aspect.
Representation is whatever appears among things belonging to
the world's light (or within our external or natural life)
in relation to things in the light of heaven (things arising
in our internal or spiritual life).
Although we are unaware of it, one of the eminent faculties
we possess (and take with us into the next life when
released from our body) is the ability to perceive the
meaning of representatives. Our soul's sense is capable,
expressing fully in a moment of time more than we could
express over hours in our body. This is possible using ideas
from things which are in heaven's light, assisted (and, as
it were, given wings) by visual images illustrating the
ideas under discussion. Images like this defy description.
Since everyone enters into those abilities after death (and
does not need to be taught them in the next life), it can be
seen that we are in them (that is, they are in us) in this
life, even though we do not know it.
 The reason for this is that there is a continuous
influence on us from the Lord through heaven—an influence by
spiritual and heavenly things falling into our natural
things (where they appear representatively)....Since
spiritual and heavenly things flow in from heaven and appear
to us representatively in our natural things, they remain
implanted in us. Therefore, when we put off our body and
leave the world behind, these things are part of us.
There are levels of love and wisdom and, therefore, levels
of heat and light; and, finally, levels of atmospheres.
If you do not know that there are levels, what they are and
what they mean, the rest of this will be incomprehensible
(since there are levels in every form of every created
thing). Consequently, we must discuss levels.
The existence of levels of love and wisdom can be made clear
by considering angels of the three heavens. Angels of the
third heaven surpass angels of the second heaven to such an
extent—and these latter so surpass angels of the lowest
heaven—that they cannot live together. Levels of love and
wisdom separate them. This is why angels of lower heavens
cannot climb up to angels of higher heavens and, if they do
climb up, then they cannot see them or see anything around
them. They cannot see them because the higher angels are on
a high level, transcending their perception....
Because there are levels of love and wisdom, there are
levels of heat and light. "Heat" and "light" mean spiritual
warmth and light—like angels have in the heavens and we have
in our more inward regions (regions of our mind)—for we
experience the warmth of love and the light of wisdom as
angels do. In the heavens, the quantity and quality of
angels' love determines the quantity and quality of their
warmth. Their light is proportionate to their wisdom in the
same way....The same holds true for people on earth, with
this difference: angels feel this warmth and see this light,
but we do not. We are in natural warmth and light, and as
long as we are, we feel spiritual warmth only as a kind of
pleasant sensation of love and see spiritual light only by
perceiving something true.
Since we cannot be aware of the spiritual heat and light
within us as long as we are feeling natural warmth and
light, and our only means of becoming aware is experience
from the spiritual world, we must discuss the heat and light
that surround angels and their heavens....
Levels of spiritual warmth cannot be described from
experience because the love to which spiritual warmth
corresponds does not fall into intellectual concepts,
although levels of spiritual light can be described because
light (being a property of thought) does fit. Thus, we can
understand levels of spiritual warmth by means of levels of
light, since the levels are parallel.
....I have been allowed to see the spiritual light with my
own eyes. Light for angels of the higher heavens is so
brilliant that I can compare it only to new snow (yet it is
so rich that it still cannot be described, surpassing even
the glory of our sun, surpassing our noonday light on earth
by a thousandfold). On the other hand, light for angels of
lower heavens can be described by comparisons, although it
still surpasses the brightest light of our world. The light
of angels of the higher heavens cannot be described because
it is like their wisdom—indescribable compared to our
wisdom—so their light is equally indescribable....
There are two kinds of levels—vertical and horizontal
Knowing about levels is like having a key for unlocking the
causes of things[31.
Notes] and getting inside them. We can know
little, if anything, about cause without this knowledge.
Although the objects—and, indeed, the subjects—of both
worlds seem so simple (as though they contained no more than
meets the eye), the truth is that the ratio between what
meets the eye and what lies within is on the order of
Interior aspects of things are not visible, nor can they be
unveiled, without knowing about levels. Actually, more
outward aspects of things progress to more inward—and from
there to the inmost aspects—all by levels.
The progression is not by gradual levels, but by distinct
levels. I use the term "gradual levels" to describe losses
or decreases (coarser to finer, or denser to more
scattered)—or, better, to describe additions or increases
(finer to coarser, from more scattered to more dense)—like
levels of light progressing to darkness, or levels of heat
progressing to cold.
Distinct levels, on the other hand, are quite different.
They are like beginning, following and final things; like
end, cause, and effect. I call them "distinct" levels because the beginning exists in its own right,
the following entity exists in its own right, and the final
in its own right—and yet they constitute a single entity if
taken together....These distinct levels are what we call
"vertical," and the former, gradual levels are called
Each and every thing that comes to be in either the
spiritual or the natural world arises from both distinct and
gradual levels together, that is, from both vertical and
horizontal levels. The dimension determined by distinct
levels is called "height," and the dimension determined by
gradual levels is called "width." Their orientation relative
to the eye's viewpoint does not affect the terminology.
Without recognizing these levels, we cannot know anything
about the division into three heavens, the distinction
between the love and the wisdom of the angels there, the
distinction between the warmth and the light they are
involved in, or the distinctions in the atmospheres which
surround and contain them. Further, without recognizing
these levels, we cannot recognize distinctions between the
more inward mental faculties of people on earth or anything
about their condition in respect to reformation and
regeneration. Neither can we know anything about
distinctions within the more external faculties pertaining
to angels—and to people on earth, as well. We can know
absolutely nothing about the distinction between what is
spiritual and what is natural. Therefore, we can know
nothing about distinguishing between the life of humans and
animals, or between more or less perfect animals, or between
the forms of the vegetable kingdom and the substances of the
So you can see that people who do not know about these
levels cannot see causes by exercise of sound judgment. They
only see results and judge causes on this basis....Vertical
levels are compatible, with one derived from another in
sequence—like purpose, means, and result.[32.
Horizontal or gradual levels—including such examples as
light to shade, hot to cold, hard to soft, dense to
scattered, coarse to fine, and so on—are familiar from sense
experience and visual observation. Vertical or distinct
levels are not, so we need to give particular attention to
People know that purpose, means, and result follow in order,
like beginning, following, and final. They realize that
purpose must produce means, and a result through the means,
for the purpose to emerge; and more along the same line.
Knowing these things without applying them to concrete instances is knowing mere abstractions, which occupy the mind
only while focused on abstractions....
Every three-dimensional or compound thing that occupies the
world is made up of vertical or distinct levels. Observation
shows that every muscle in the human body is made up of
minute fibers. These fibers are compounded in layers and
compose larger fibers (called motor fibers), and another
complex (called a muscle) arises from these bundles. It is
the same with nerves: minute fibers are joined together into
larger ones which look like threads and a nerve is formed by
gathering and joining these together. The same is true in
other...organs and viscera,...each and every member of
the vegetable kingdom,...and the mineral kingdom....So we can see what distinct levels are like: namely, that
one thing derives from another, a third (called a compound)
derives from that, and each level is distinct from the
On this basis, we can draw conclusions about things our eyes
cannot see, because their situation is similar. Some
examples are: organic substances in the brain (recipients
and abodes of thoughts and affections), atmospheres, heat
and light, or love and wisdom. Atmospheres are recipients of
heat and light, and heat and light are recipients of love
and wisdom. Therefore, since there are levels of
atmospheres, there are similar levels of heat and light as
well; also, similar levels of love and wisdom. The
relationship of levels in these latter examples is precisely
the same as in the former ones.
From what has been presented, we can draw the conclusion
that levels are homogeneous, that is, they have the same
character and nature. Smallest, larger, and largest nerve
fibers are homogeneous; wood fibers, from the smallest to
their compounds, are homogeneous; and the same holds true
for the various kinds of wood and metal. Organic
substances—recipients and abodes for thoughts and
affections—are homogeneous, from the simplest substance to
the general aggregate, which is the brain. Atmospheres, from
pure ether to air, are homogeneous; so are levels of heat
and light in the sequence that depends on levels of
atmosphere; and consequently levels of love and wisdom are
The first level is the sum and substance of all lower or
All perfections increase and rise by levels and according to
levels....We say that distinct levels rise and fall, since
they are vertical; gradual levels increase and decrease,
since they are horizontal. Vertical levels are so different
from horizontal levels that they have nothing in common, so
they must be perceived separately and not confused in any
All perfections increase and rise by levels and according to
levels, because all attributes are secondary to their
subjects. Perfection and imperfection are general
attributes. Perfection and imperfection are predicated of
life, forces, and forms.
Perfection of life is perfection of love and wisdom. This
includes perfection of perception and discernment, since
these are life's recipient vessels. Consequently, it also
includes perfection of affections and thoughts. Further,
since spiritual heat contains love and spiritual light
contains wisdom, their perfection also can be related to
perfection of life.
Perfection of forces is perfection of everything that life
activates or sets in motion (but which has no life in
itself). Activities of atmospheres are forces of this kind,
as well as inner and outer organic substances of both humans
and animals. So, too, are all things in the natural world
which are impelled to activity (directly or indirectly) by
Perfection of form is the same as perfection of forces, for
the nature of forms depends on the nature of forces. The
only difference is that forms are substantial, while forces
are their activities. Levels of perfection are the same for
In the spiritual world, there are three levels arranged
vertically. The highest heaven contains angels who surpass
angels in the middle heaven in overall perfection. The
middle heaven contains angels who surpass angels of the
lowest heaven in overall perfection. The levels of
perfection are like this: angels of the lowest heaven are
unable to rise even to the threshold of perfection of angels
in the middle heaven, and these angels cannot rise to the
threshold of perfection of angels of the highest heaven...because they are gathered by distinct, rather than by
gradual, levels. I have learned from much experience that
there is a difference between angels of higher and lower
heavens—such great differences of affections, thoughts, and
speech, that they have nothing in common. I have learned
that communication occurs only through correspondences; they
are brought about by the Lord's influence
flowing directly into all the heavens, and indirectly
through the highest heaven into the lowest....
We can get some idea of the distinctions by thinking like
this: thoughts of angels of the highest or third heaven are
thoughts about purposes. Thoughts of angels of the middle or
second heaven are about means, and thoughts of the lowest or
first heaven concern results....Angels of the lower
heavens do think about means and purposes, but angels of the
higher heavens think on the basis of means and purposes.
Thinking on the basis of them is concerned with higher
wisdom and thinking about them involves lower wisdom.
Thinking on the basis of purposes is a matter of wisdom,
thinking on the basis of means is a matter of intelligence,
and thinking on the basis of results is a matter of being
informed. This shows how all perfection rises and falls by,
and according to, levels.
Our more interior aspects—the realms of our intention and
discernment—are in levels like the heavens. We really are
heavens in miniature with regard to the inner aspects of our
minds. So the perfections of our inner aspects are like
those of heaven....
....Of course, the essence of perfection is the Lord and,
consequently, is the sun (which is the first emanation of
his divine love and divine wisdom). Perfection occurs in the
next things in sequence, and so on (in order) all the way to
the lowest things, which are more imperfect as they are more
remote. Without this kind of primary perfection in
antecedent and simple substances, neither humans nor any
animals could emerge from seed and survive after emerging.
Neither could the seeds of trees and fruits sprout and
multiply. Indeed, the more antecedent an antecedent is—or
the simpler a simple substance is—the more immune to harm it
is, because it is more perfect.
In sequential [vertical] order, the first level constitutes
the highest and the third level constitutes the lowest: but
in simultaneous [horizontal] order, the first level
constitutes the inmost, and the third the outmost.
There are sequential and simultaneous orders. A sequential
order of levels is from highest to lowest or from top to
bottom. The angelic heavens are in this order: the third of
these heavens is the highest, the second the middle, and the
first is lowest. This is how they are placed in relationship
to one another. Conditions of angels' love and wisdom are in
the same order, as are
conditions of warmth and light and spiritual atmospheres.
All the perfections of forms and forces are in the same
Vertical or distinct levels occur in sequential order. They
are comparable to a tower divided into three levels through
which one can go up or come down. The most perfect and
beautiful things are in the upper rooms of this tower, with
less perfect and beautiful things in the middle, and still
less perfect and beautiful things on the lowest one.
However, levels look different if they are arranged in
simultaneous order. What was highest in the sequential order
(the most perfect and beautiful...) is in the center; lower
things are in an intermediate area, and the lowest things
are around the circumference. Picture a solid object
composed of three levels—the subtlest elements in the
center, less subtle elements surrounding them, and coarser
elements compounded from these others on the surfaces making
up the circumference. It is as though the tower described
above had settled into a plane, with the highest level
making up the center, the middle level filling the
intermediate area, and the lowest level making up the
These distinct levels are present in simultaneous order in
the last member of any series. The motor fibers in every
muscle, the fibers in every nerve, the fibers and ducts in
every viscous substance and organ...every seed and every
fruit, every metal and mineral...are in fact sequential
components (varieties of layering), compacted out of simple
elements which are their primary sources or materials.
Levels like this exist in every "ultimate" thing [the last
member of a series] and, therefore, exist in every result.
Every ultimate consists of antecedents, and these consist of
primary things. Also, every result consists of a means, with
the purpose constituting the whole of the means, and the
means being all there is to the result....So the purpose
constitutes the center, the means the intermediate area, and
the result constitutes the circumference....
The final level is the aggregate, container, and foundation
of the antecedent levels.
....The scope of
this doctrine [of levels] includes not only natural
phenomena [used for illustration], but also each and every
detail of civil, moral, and spiritual things. There are two
reasons why the teaching about levels extends to such things. The first reason is that there is a
trine in every thing that we can say anything about—a trine
comprising purpose, means and result [also called end, cause
and effect]—and these three are related to each other
according to vertical levels. The second is that there is no
civil, moral, or spiritual phenomenon separate from
substance (in fact, they are substances). Love and wisdom
are substances—and not abstractions (See
Divine Love and
Wisdom, 40-43)—and the same is true for every phenomenon
we call civil or moral or spiritual. Of course, we can think
about them as being abstract and insubstantial; but
intrinsically, they are not abstractions.
Consider other examples—feeling and thinking, charity and
faith, intending and discerning—that illustrate the same
point as love and wisdom. That point is that they do not
occur apart from some subject which is a substance and, in
fact, they are conditions of those substances....
People can think—in fact, they
have thought—about intending and discerning, feeling and
thinking, and even caring and faith, as abstract and
separate from the substances which underlie them. When
people have done so, the result has been the death of any
accurate idea of them (the idea that they are conditions of
substances or forms)...nothing but rational
abstraction...like sight without an eye, hearing
without an ear, taste without a tongue, and so on.
The motion of purposes, means, and results supports the idea
of the final level being the aggregate, container, and
support of its antecedent levels. A result collects,
contains, and supports its means and purpose...a purpose
(with all its properties) and a means (with all its
properties) actually are effectively present in the result;
the result is their complete aggregate.
The eternal Lord, who is Jehovah, created the universe and
everything in it from himself, and not from nothing.
There is one god from eternity
who created the universe. This is known throughout the world
and is intuitively acknowledged by every wise person. We
learn from the Bible that God, creator of the universe, is
called "Jehovah" (from the [Hebrew] verb, "to be") for he
alone is.... The Lord from eternity is that Jehovah.
Jehovah is called the Lord from eternity because Jehovah put
on a human nature to save people from hell and at that time
he ordered his disciples to call him "Lord."...
Everyone who thinks from clear reason sees that the universe
was not created from nothing because nothing can be made out
of nothing. Making something out of nothing is
self-contradictory. Anything that contradicts itself is
opposed to the light of what is true—the light from divine
wisdom. Anything that does not come from divine wisdom does
not come from divine omnipotence, either.
Everyone who thinks from clear reason also sees that
everything was created from substance (that is, from
substance itself), which is the actual reality [esse] that
makes existence possible for everything that is. Since God
alone is substance itself and, therefore, reality itself,
there is no other source [than God, the Lord] from which
things can emerge.
Many people see this
because it seems reasonable to them, but have been unsure
because they fear that thinking this way would lead them to
believe that the universe is God (since it comes from him);
or that nature is self-generated and, therefore, its inmost
level is what we call God....They could not extricate their
understanding because they were thinking of God—and his
creation of the universe—on the basis of time and space.
These are properties of nature, and no one can perceive God
and the creation of the universe on the basis of nature.
However, everyone whose understanding enjoys a more inward
light can perceive nature and its creation on the basis of
God, since God is not within time and space....
The Lord from eternity, or Jehovah, could not have created
the universe and everything in it unless he were a human
If you have a natural, physical concept of God, you have
absolutely no way of understanding how God as a human being
could have created the universe and everything related to
it. You might think to yourself, "How could God, as a human
being, travel from place to place through the universe to
create things?" Or, "How was he able to speak a word from
his place and have whatever he said be created?" This kind
of thought comes to mind in describing God as a human, if
you think about God-Man in the same way you think about a
person on earth, that is, if you think about God on the
basis of nature and its properties, which are time and
space. However, if you do not think about God-Man on the
basis of nature and its space and time, you may conceive
clearly that the universe could not have been created unless
God were a human person.
Transfer your thought to the angelic concept of God as
person, banish the notion of space as completely as you can,
and you will come close to
truth in your thinking. Even some scholars grasp the notion
of the spiritual as apart from space. Spirits and angels are
not in space. Actually, the spiritual is like thought: it is
in you and enables you to be present somewhere else—
anywhere, no matter how distant. This is the kind of
situation characteristic of spirits and angels (who are
people, even to the extent of having bodies). They can be
seen wherever their thoughts are, since spaces and distances
are "appearances" in the spiritual world, acting in concert
with the affection-based thought of spiritual people.
From this viewpoint, you can conclude that God—who appears
far above the spiritual world as a sun, possessing no
appearance of space—cannot be thought of in spatial terms.
Thus you can see that he did not create the universe from
nothing, but from himself. You can see that his human body
cannot be conceived of as large, small, or any particular
height (since these, too, are matters of space). Therefore,
you can conclude that he is the same in first things and in
last, in the biggest and the smallest and, even further,
that his human (apart from space) is the inmost level in
every created thing....
The spiritual clothes itself with the natural, as one
clothes oneself with a garment.
There is an active aspect and a passive aspect to every
event and nothing emerges from the active alone or the
passive alone. It is the same with what is spiritual and
what is natural: the spiritual, being a living force, is
active; the natural, being a dead force, is passive. It
follows that anything which has come to exist in this
subsolar world, from its beginning, exists out of the
spiritual by means of the natural. This applies not only to
members of the animal kingdom, but to members of the
vegetable kingdom as well.
Something similar can be said of every accomplishment:
namely, that there is something original and something
instrumental in everything that is done. In each
accomplishment, these two aspects look like one, although
they are distinguishably two. One of the rules of wisdom,
therefore, is that the original cause and the instrumental
cause, taken together, make a single cause—just as the
spiritual and the natural make one. In actual
accomplishments, these two look like one because the
spiritual is within the natural like a fiber inside a
muscle, blood inside an artery, thought inside words, or
affection inside sounds. The spiritual makes itself felt by
means of the natural. This lets us see, although we see
dimly, that spirit puts on nature the way a person puts on
The physical body with which the soul clothes itself can be
compared to a garment because the soul does put the body
on—and also takes it off and
throws it away like old clothes when, through death, it
crosses from the natural to the spiritual world. The body
also grows old, like a garment, but the soul does not. The
soul is a spiritual substance that has nothing in common
with natural changes from beginnings to endings, which
If you do not think of the body as clothing (or some kind of
covering) for the soul—intrinsically dead, simply fitted to
receive living energies that flow into the soul from
God—then you cannot help deciding (on the basis of your
error) that the soul lives on its own and the body on its
own, with a pre-established harmony between the two lives.
Or, you might decide that the soul's life flows into the
body's life, or the body's life flows into the soul's life,
so that you would imagine a spiritual or a natural inflow.
However, every created thing demonstrates that what follows
does not act from itself but from what preceded it (its
source); this source in turn does not act on its own, but
from something that preceded it. So nothing acts except from
a first One (who does act on his own), that is, God. Life is
unique and cannot be created. However, life is eminently
capable of flowing into forms that are organically fitted to
receive it. Each and every created thing in the universe is
this kind of form....
Spiritual elements, clothed in this fashion, enable a person
to live as a rational and moral being, that is, as a
spiritual-natural human being.
This principle we have just established—that the soul puts
on a body the way a person puts on clothes—leads to the
following conclusion: the soul flows into the human mind and
through it into the body, bringing with it life that it
constantly receives from the Lord. The soul conveys this
life indirectly into the body where, by a most intimate
union, it creates the appearance that the body is alive....
It looks as though the tongue and lips speak from some
intrinsic life, and as if the arms and hands act similarly.
However, it is intrinsically spiritual thought that speaks
and intrinsically spiritual intention that acts, each doing
so by means of its own organs which are intrinsically
material (being assembled from the material world). The
truth of this is as clear as daylight from the following: if
you take the thought out of speaking, is the mouth not mute?
If you take intention out of acting, is the hand not
EXTENDED READING FOR CHAPTER TWELVE:
Secrets of Heaven
Secrets of Heaven 3213-3227, 3337-3355;
Divine Love and Wisdom 173-229, 282-301;
Soul-Body Interaction 11-12.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER TWELVE:
Divine Love and Wisdom 336 from Chapter Three and
discuss the paragraph heading concerning the origin of evil
in the light of
Divine Love and Wisdom 282 and the
presentation's discussion of creation.
Can you draw a diagram (or pair of diagrams) which
illustrates the relationships between the three discrete and
continuous degrees of reality?
Give a one-sentence definition of "correspondence" as it is
used in this lesson.
What questions or issues does the
lesson raise for you?