Few people know and reflect consciously on the fact that we are born into eternity.
We are born with a temporary physical body in time-place, and a permanent spiritual body in eternity. Upon death of the physical body, we are resuscitated in our spiritual body and continue our life in eternity. The spiritual body is our “spirit” which is made of our loves, understandings, and sensations. All this we know from the Letter of the Third Testament.
The logical implication of these facts is that our mental life of thoughts and feelings, the “me” that I consciously know myself to be -- the me who manages my life -- this “self” does not exist in the physical body or in the physical world anywhere. My mind is born into eternity, not into time or place. Our thoughts and feelings are organic spiritual substances making up our spiritual body. Therefore, upon death and resuscitation, we are not literally “passing on” from here to the other side. We are already on the “other side” since our birth.
Born into eternity means immortality. We have our immortality since birth. We don’t actually live on earth. We live in eternity in our spiritual body. In our first phase of life we are connected by correspondences to the physical body that the Lord assigns to each created soul. In the second phase of life, which starts at our resuscitation, we are liberated from this connection.
In my course on theistic psychology, which is based exclusively on the Third Testament, I use the expression “the mental world of eternity” instead of “the spiritual world.” But they mean the same thing. For instance the Letter says that heaven and hell are within the person. And also, that heaven is the Grand Human, and that hell is the Grand Monster. Logically it follows that the Grand Human and the Grand Monster are in every human being. The Letter says that everyone is created capable of seeing the Spiritual Sun. This implies that the Spiritual Sun is in every person. And we know from the Letter as well that the Lord is in every person. Putting all this together, it becomes clear that the spiritual world of the afterlife is nothing else than the mental world of human kind.
In other words, every human being is born into the mental world of eternity in a permanent spiritual body. Few people reflect on the fact that there is only one mental world. Your mental world, is my mental world, is every human being’s mental world. Born into eternity means born into the mental world of humanity.
At first it might be somewhat disappointing to think of the afterlife as living in a purely mental world. This is a natural feeling from a natural idea of the mental world. From this level of natural-sensuous thinking, our afterlife isn’t real unless it has a solid foundation somewhere, which some people think is the resuscitation of the physical body on this earth, while others think of another earth, or perhaps a new earth. These are physicalistic ideas that vanish when we raise our understanding to the rational level of the Letter of the Third Testament.
Here we learn that the physical is a derivative reality from the spiritual. This spiritual is the mental. The mental world of heaven is very real, more real and solid, than a palace on earth on a big island. The mental world is made of spiritual substances streaming out of the Spiritual Sun in every person’s mind. There is only one Spiritual Sun, and hence it is clear that every human being is in the same and only mental world of humanity.
The layers of our mind are the layers of the spiritual world. Swedenborg’s spiritual geography through the Grand Human and Grand Monster, was a travel through the mental world of eternity. He discovered and confirmed from experience that the three layers of heaven and hell are the three layers of our natural mind and our spiritual mind, both being housed as the spiritual body. It is not possible for the natural mind to be housed in the physical body. When we resuscitate we are conscious for awhile in the natural mind, though we are no longer connected to our physical body or world. This shows that the natural mind is together with the spiritual mind, both housed in the spiritual body, where they had been since birth and will remain forever.
Shortly after resuscitation everyone is led to discover their ruling love in the natural mind. Those who have not undergone regeneration, are now instructed in the truths of Sacred Scripture. If they are unwilling to receive this instruction, it is because their ruling love, now come out into the open of their awareness, prohibits it, resists the truths of Sacred Scripture because they are contrary to it. Now the ruling love takes complete possession of the person, and looks for or fabricates, different ideas and realities that it calls its own truth. Since their spiritual mind has not been opened by regeneration, before or after resuscitation, it is closed, non-functional. It does not operate. The person’s awareness cannot reach the loves, understandings, and sensations of their spiritual mind. The spiritual mind is then non-operative.
And so they have only the unregenerate natural mind to be conscious in. And this reality is called hell. The person in this mental reality exists somewhere in one of the endless spiritual societies of the Grand Monster in the Mental World of Eternity. They exist in their hellish loves, together with their falsifications of truth and reality. This infernal marriage spawns the sensorimotor world of hell, which Swedenborg has described.
On the other hand, those who are resuscitated in their regenerated natural mind have their spiritual mind opened and functional, ready to receive their consciousness, their new heavenly conjugial existence. Their ruling love is such that they can exist in one of the endless spiritual societies of the Grand Human.
I remind myself daily about heaven and hell, and that what I allow in my thinking all day long, establishes a spiritual union between the will and the understanding in me. This is how I cured myself of many things, including aggressive driving. By “cured” I don’t mean that the hostile thoughts don’t occur. The Lord said that we are not responsible for what enters the mind, but for what comes out of it. Our thoughts enter our consciousness, and we don’t seem to have control over what they are. But the Lord commands us to control our will, or our love for that thought which entered without invitation. If it is a thought that can exist in heaven, then it is a good thought, and I can love it. But if it is a thought that cannot live in heaven, then it belongs to hell, and I must not love it, must not allow it, must not live with it, but I must actively oppose it, reject it, learn to hold it in aversion, fearing it as I fear hell itself.
The Lord through the Letter of the Third Testament gives us a rational understanding which we lovingly refer to as Nunc Licet. We love the Lord for providing us with this new Divine Allowance. Our spiritual race on this earth is born Fallen. Our natural mind from birth already contains all the hell of humankind that we call the Grand Monster. Every evil love has sway over every human being – until regeneration. We enter this blessed and protected state sometime in adult life, when we are ready as-of self to engage in spiritual combat against the temptations the Lord presents to us. He fights for us in that battle, but only to the extent that we ourselves fight as-of self, feeling that we are alone struggling, but knowing that the Lord is close by, closer than ever, and lovingly progressing us through the required choices and realizations. Then our spiritual mind is opened and we have heaven within us, even as we are still on earth connected to the physical body.
The heaven that I found here, now that I am entering old age, is the conjugial unity I live with my wife Diane.
Few husbands realize that in order to achieve conjugial unity with one’s wife, they have to desire that kind of unity. But the inherited loves of the natural mind are contrary to this unity. A natural husband loves his wife naturally, and this is culturally associated with the male dominance mode of behaving. But a spiritual husband loves his wife spiritually as well as naturally. To achieve this mental union with his wife he has to give up behaving with her in accordance with the male dominant mode or attitude. When this is given up, the spiritual marriage begins in the married couple’s life and relationship.
In this mental state the husband realizes that he can’t just decide things on his own. He needs to consult with his wife. Often this consultation process turns out to be a negotiations process, in which the husband argues one way, and the wife another way. To resolve these kinds of conflicts, the married couple resorts to the equity model, or mode of behaving towards each other. They practice a kind of give and take, you do this and I’ll do that, or, it was your turn before, now it’s my turn, and so on. These equity negotiations increase the cognitive intimacy or union between the two, but it does not increase their affective intimacy.
In order to get out of the equity model, the husband needs to be enlightened by celestial love. This is acquired when the Lord brings celestial temptations. The chief of these temptations that I have experienced, and still struggle with today, is the masculine love for my own ideas, in preference to my wife’s ideas, when there appears to be a conflict or disagreement. Celestial temptations allow the husband to reject this love of affective independence, and to cleave to another love, which is the masculine love of making one’s wife happy by loving her feminine ideas more than their own masculine ideas, whenever there is a conflict between them.
A wife loves numerous masculine traits and ideas that her husband has. She loves them, relies on them, feels enriched by them. But she hates the numerous masculine traits and ideas her husband has that are disagreeable and grating to her feminine love for him. Among the chief fears and anxieties a wife has is that her husband will become stubborn and categorically refuse to go along with her when she wants him to. She receives the conjugial from the Lord directly, while he does not. He is dependent on receiving it from her. Unless he voluntarily and freely from love cleaves to her conjugial, she cannot achieve affective intimacy with him, cannot achieve celestial union.
When this realization came to me in 1985 from my study of the Book Conjugial Love (CL), I organized my thoughts into a principle of life for husbands that I titled The Doctrine of the Wife. Some of you in the LNC are aware of it from inter-communication over the years. I have written and published hundreds of pages on the Web regarding The Doctrine of the Wife (DOW), and you are welcome to read as much of it as you like. The gist of this principle for celestial marriages is that the husband compel himself never to disagree with his wife on anything. When men hear of this new principle, they want to nix it immediately. It is a natural reaction, and even spiritual men don’t like it and are motivated to construct all sorts of arguments that find fault with this principle. But husbands who are enlightened to desire the conjugial union of loves in their will, more than they desire the masculine independence of the will, are enlightened by this love to see that The Doctrine of the Wife applies to their own marriage and life.
We are each born into the mental world of eternity as a single-minded individual. As our natural mind grows and develops into adulthood, the Lord takes us on a journey of regeneration. He reveals to us through The Third Testament, and through our conscience, the Celestial Doctrine of Conjugial Love. We learn that we are not complete in our creation when we are in the phase of single-mindedness, which is made up of the loves of self and the world for the sake of self. The love of our conjugial partner gradually disengages us from the un-reality of selfhood as an individual. This love unites our spirits together, and this is an organic union that lasts forever and cannot be broken. I call this new coupled person, new coupled self, by the title “conjoint self.”
From self to conjoint self – this is the journey that the Lord has created for us. Swedenborg saw how a conjugial couple appears as one Angel from a distance, and then as a husband and wife from close up. He witnessed their conjoint self, shining from their faces, their beauty, and their wisdom. He was stupefied by this celestial appearance and reality. Now it is permitted for a husband and wife to create a heavenly union here on earth. And the power of this union rests on the Letter of the Third Testament.
Today we celebrate the power of that Testament given for the Lord’s Second Coming in the mental world of eternity. The Lord comes and exists in our mind through that Testament. If The Third Testament is in our mind as the Lord Himself in His Divine Human, then it exists for us. May the day come again as in the times of the Most Ancient Church, when every child born into this world is born from conjugial unions, and looks to achieve that as the goal around which all other goals in life are organized.
Useful Links to Articles by Leon James:
(1) Introduction to
(2) Scientific Meaning of Christmas:
(3) Lecture Notes on the Unity Model of Marriage:
Dr. Leon James is Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii.