Spiritual Substance

Most of us believe the natural world is real because it consists of natural substances that we can touch and even kick. In fact, many people who choose to reject spirituality and religion say that they do not believe the spiritual world exists because they cannot see or touch it. It is certainly true that what is real should have substance and form. And, if the spiritual world is also real, it should consist of spiritual substances that we can touch and spiritual forms that we can see.

In the natural world, we experience the substance of natural objects by touching them. For example, we determine the difference between something that is soft like a furry teddy bear and something that is rough like sandpaper through touch. When it falls on our face, rain is pleasant to the touch, but hail is a substance that is not enjoyable to experience.

If the spiritual world is real and substantial, how do we experience or touch its spiritual substances? In the spiritual world, our soul touches other spiritual substances through feeling or affection. When someone does something loving, we even say that they have “touched” us. In the spiritual world, we experience spiritual forms or ideas through thought and spiritual substances through emotion or feeling. Hence, the more our emotional faculty is cultivated and sensitive, the more we can experience the harmonic spiritual substances of Heaven and the more real the spiritual world becomes.

Hence, those who have not developed and cultivated their rational and emotional faculties tend not to see (understand) the harmonic spiritual forms (true ideas) and touch (feel) the spiritual substances (loving affections) of Heaven. In the Bible, those who are evil or selfish are called “spiritually dead” because they are no longer able to feel the harmony and life of Heaven. Heaven consists of real harmonic spiritual substances that we can touch or feel through harmonic emotion or love. But, when we are in self-love and self-intelligence, we lack love and wisdom, we subsist in the darkness of fantasy and hatred and we can no longer see (understand) the harmonic spiritual forms nor touch or feel the harmonic spiritual substances of Heaven.

Now, the most ethereal substance in the material world is Light. Light also enables us to see and distinguish the qualities of all natural objects. But how do we experience or touch natural Light? Light enlivens and warms all natural beings through its heat. Light touches us through its heat. Without heat, nothing would live, grow, develop, evolve and transform in the material world. Thus, the natural world is enlightened and enlivened through the radiance and heat of natural Light. And, natural Light is in correspondence with spiritual Light. The radiance of spiritual Light is Wisdom and its heat is Love. And, in fact, Divine Wisdom is God’s form and Divine Love is His substance. When we reside in the harmonic fields of Heaven, God is able to touch our soul by means of His substance or Divine Love.

Spirits and angels reside in human feelings

By experiences I have been instructed that good spirits and angels are not only present with human beings, but even reside in their feelings. For every feeling has great extension, and because the ultimate plane is with human beings in their feelings, therefore this happens when the Lord enlivens, and then arranges them; just as good spirits are in the affection for gardening, where they have little abodes.

But there are two kinds of feelings, for truth and for goodness, or for understanding and for willing. Feeling for truth regards form, feeling for goodness regards essence. When one delights in praises of his wife, it is a feeling regarding form; the marriage love itself is a feeling regarding essence, from which and on account of which the feeling for form exists, to the extent that the feeling for goodness is in the feeling for truth. These are experiential matters, about which it was granted me to converse with angels. Emanuel Swedenborg [SE 4399]

Man’s natural mind consists of spiritual substances together with natural substances; thought comes from its spiritual substances, not from its natural substances; these recede when the man dies, while its spiritual substances do not. Consequently, after death, when man becomes a spirit or angel, the same mind remains in a form like that which it had in the world. The natural substances of that mind, which recede (as was said) by death, constitute the cutaneous covering of the spiritual body which spirits and angels have. By means of such covering, which is taken from the natural world, their spiritual bodies maintain existence; for the natural is the outmost containant: consequently there is no spirit or angel who was not born a man. These arcana of angelic wisdom are here adduced that the quality of the natural mind in man may be known, which subject is further treated of in what follows. Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 257]

‘Shall surely die’ means damnation. This is clear from the meaning of ‘surely dying’ as damnation, dealt with in 5407, 6119, 7494. The reason why ‘death’ means damnation is that with those who have been damned the truths of faith and forms of the good of charity have been wiped out. These are what constitute the most real kind of life a person has, for they are received from the Lord, who is the one and only source of life. When they have been wiped out their place is then taken by falsities and evils; and these, being the opposites of truths and forms of good which are the constituents of life, are therefore the constituents of death – spiritual death, which is damnation, hell, and eternal unhappiness. The reason why those immersed in evils and falsities, that is, those who are in hell, continue to be alive is that they were born human beings and consequently have the ability to receive life from the Lord. And they do receive life from the Lord, as much life as will enable them to think, reason, and speak, to make their evil look like good and their falsity like truth, and so to give the appearance of life. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 9008]