from Robert H. Kirven, "A Concise Overview of  Swedenborg's Theology, (Appleseed & Co. MA 2003)

Table of  Contents


Chapter 12


Creation; Levels;[29. 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 and void."

"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.

Even though 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," (literally, "God-in-everything").

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 "correspondence."

The question arises when Swedenborg describes the difference between distinct levels of reality. In 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 correspondence.

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 intellectual abstraction.

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 (e.g., 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 Chapter 13).

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 unity.

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 just below:

Review Secrets of Heaven 2987-3003 FROM CHAPTER SEVEN;
Secrets of Heaven 3213-3227, 3337-3355;
Divine Love and Wisdom 173-229, 282-301;
Soul-Body Interaction 11-12.


Creation; Levels; [30. Notes] Correspondences; Causality; Power

SH 3223

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 alone....

SH 3224

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).

SH 3225

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).

SH 3226

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, too, of 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.

[2] 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.

DLW 179

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....

DLW 181

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....

DLW 182

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

DLW 184

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 one-to-a-thousand—or one-to-tens-of-thousands.

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 "horizontal."

DLW 185

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 mineral kingdom.

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. Notes]

DLW 189

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 them here....

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....

DLW 190

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 others.

DLW 191

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.

DLW 192

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 homogeneous too....

DLW 195

The first level is the sum and substance of all lower or outer levels....

DLW 199

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 way.

DLW 200

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 the sun.
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 both....

DLW 202

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.

DLW 203

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....

DLW 204

....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.

DLW 205

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 order.

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 outside.

DLW 207

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.

DLW 208

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....

DLW 209

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....

DLW 210

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 sight without an eye, hearing without an ear, taste without a tongue, and so on.

DLW 212

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.

DLW 282

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."...

DLW 283

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 being.

DLW 285

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.

SBI 11

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 clothes.

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 periodically terminate.

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.

SBI 12

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 still?....


Review Secrets of Heaven 2987-3003 FROM CHAPTER SEVEN;
Secrets of Heaven 3213-3227, 3337-3355;
Divine Love and Wisdom 173-229, 282-301;
Soul-Body Interaction 11-12.


Re-read 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?

To Chapter 13