When nothing is regarded as true, then fantasy is produced, and reigns in its place. Emanuel Swedenborg
Today, when it comes to the natural and external world of their physical senses, most people believe it is governed by Universal or scientific Laws. However, when it comes to their inner world of thoughts and feelings, many still believe that it is subjective and personal. And, consequently, they believe that there is no such a thing as Universal Truth and Good. But, it would surprise many of us to learn that the laws that govern our thoughts and feelings are just as scientific and Universal as those that regulate our outer physical world.
Although we are free to believe or reject Divine Truth and Good, the realm of our inner thoughts and feelings is still governed by Universal Law. Now, how do we characterize someone who does not believe in the Laws of Universal Gravitation or Electromagnetism? We usually say that such a person does not live in reality; he lives in fantasy or insanity. Sooner or later, such an individual will foolishly jump off a tall building and break his bones or put his fingers in an electrical socket and be electrocuted.
In fact, the natural, mental and spiritual worlds are in correspondence. The Universal laws of Gravitation and Electromagnetic Radiation correspond to the Universal Laws of involution and evolution of Love in higher dimensions. And the outer physical world of our physical body as well as the inner world of our higher-dimensional soul continue to be sustained and governed by these Universal Laws through correspondence and influx. If we expect to live in the reality of our inner world, we should understand these Universal Laws of Truth and Good. Otherwise, we will be living in fantasy, be tortured by morbid thoughts and negative emotions, lose our spiritual freedom and even cause damage to our soul. It is only by means of the sword of Truth and the shield of Heavenly Love that we can defend our mind from lies and our heart from evil.
Heaven is the higher-dimensional inner realm of Reality because the angels that live there freely and willfully obey the laws of Universal Truth and Good and function in the freedom of Love. But hell is a realm of fantasy, lies and bondage because those who exist there have chosen to reject the Laws of Universal Truth and Good and prefer to believe their own lies. For example, some believe that only nature governs the universe and, consequently, they can threaten and control others through fear and punishment. The hells are in fact the harsh and cruel spiritual prisons we create when we choose to believe our egocentric lies and behave according to falsehood and evil (selfishness). If we wish to live in the reality of Heaven, we must understand the Universal Laws of Truth and Good, believe that God (Infinite Being) rules the universe and live and behave according to these Universal Principles.
Our natural self is an empty spiritual receptacle that has the capacity to be filled by the Love (Good) and Wisdom (Truth) of God. But, when we believe that there is no such thing as Universal Truth and Good, our mind and heart cannot stay empty for long. Eventually, our mind becomes filled with fantasies and our heart with selfish lusts. In such a state of fantasy and evil, we reside in spiritual obscurity and tend to experience the Divine Truth and Love of Heaven as a blinding Light and a tormenting Fire.
Infernal fire or love comes into existence from the same source as heavenly fire or love, namely, the Sun of heaven, or the Lord; but it is made infernal by those who receive it. For all influx from the spiritual world is varied in accordance with reception, that is, in accordance with the forms into which it flows, just as it is with the heat and light from the sun of the world. The heat from that sun flowing into shrubberies and beds of flowers produces vegetation, and draws forth grateful and sweet odours; but the same heat flowing into excrementitious and decaying substances produces putrefactions, and draws forth rank and disgusting stenches. In like manner the light from the same sun produces in one subject beautiful and pleasing colours, in another unbeautiful and disagreeable colours. The same is true of the heat and light from the Sun of heaven, which is love; When the heat, or love, from that Sun flows into goods, as it does with men, and good spirits and angels, it makes their goods fruitful; but with the evil it produces a contrary effect, for their evils either suffocate it or pervert it. In like manner when the light of heaven flows into the truths of good it imparts intelligence and wisdom; but when it flows into the falsities of evil it is there turned into insanities and phantasies of various kinds. Thus, in every instance, the result is in accordance with reception. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH569]
THE PHANTASIES OF HELL.
In hell, the loves of self and the world reign; and, hence, enmities, bickerings, hatreds, revenge and ferocity are there prevalent. They torment each other, either by open force, or by magical arts, which are effected by the abuse of correspondences or by means of phantasies: by means of phantasies, they make them into whatever monsters they please. Emanuel Swedenborg [SE 5223]
But the form and the order imposed by the Lord on the hells is such that all are held bound and tied up by their cupidities and phantasies, in which their very life consists; and this life, being a life of death, is turned into dreadful torments, so severe that they cannot be described. For the greatest delight of their life consists in being able to punish, torture, and torment one another, and this by arts unknown in the world, whereby they know how to induce exquisite suffering, just as if they were in the body, and at the same time dreadful and horrid phantasies, with terrors and horrors and many such torments. The diabolical crew take so great a pleasure in this that if they could increase and extend the pains and torments to infinity, they would not even then be satisfied, but would burn yet again to infinity; but the Lord takes away their endeavors, and alleviates the torments. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 695]
Picture Credit: Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of J. Allen St. John’s The Face in the Pool, published 1905