The Spiritual Pit

Most of us have fallen into mental and emotional depression, one time or another. And, although most of us eventually emerge from such a negative state, some of us tend to stay in these dark states for unduly long periods and return often. It would therefore be valuable to discover what the Bible has to say about depression.

Now, when we are depressed, our heart is continually being filled with negative emotions. We feel worthless, powerless, useless and unloved. In addition, our mind is continually assaulted by negative thoughts. We think that we have wasted our life and believe that life is meaningless and purposeless. In addition, we tend to lose all energy and lack the power and motivation to do anything. And, since states of being are eternal, we erroneously think that we will probably remain in such a state forever. Fortunately, some of us who have had the experience know that it is possible to leave this state and return to a normal way of life.

The fact is that the state of depression is a specific place in the spiritual world. It is not hell (outer spiritual darkness) itself but very close to hell. This is probably why we are being assaulted by negative thoughts and emotions from the spirits of hell. This negative state in the Bible is called “the pit” or “lower earth.”

What we should remember when we are in “the pit” is that we are not necessarily evil or that God has abandoned us. Joseph and Jeremiah were also in “the pit” and we know that they loved God. The reason we are in the pit is because we need to understand and acknowledge certain things about God, the universe and our self. And, by being in the pit, these truths become very clear. What is the first thing we understand? By our own self (or without God), we are powerless and helpless. Our self is just an empty recipient that is able to receive and reflect God’s Love, Wisdom and Power. And, without understanding why we exist from studying the spiritual sense of the Word, our life eventually degenerates into vanity and meaninglessness. Next, we understand that the only way we can give meaning and purpose to our life is by loving God and others and being useful to them in our own unique way. Finally, we discover that the Truth that we know and the Good that we do do not belong to us. Hence, we should never attribute any merit to ourselves and give all honor and glory to the Lord.

Now, when we understand these true principles, surrender and attribute all power to God. and consistently practice love and usefulness, we are eventually lifted from the pit by the Lord. In fact, God’s only desire is that we should be as close as possible to Him and the angels in Heaven. Our mind will then be filled with meaning from the Word, our life will be imbued with power, use and purpose and our heart will overflow with Heavenly Love.

The reason ‘pits’ means falsities is that people who are immersed in false assumptions are kept for a considerable time after death beneath the lower earth, until falsities have been removed from them and so to speak cast away to the sidelines. The places situated there are called pits. Those who go there are people who have to undergo vastation. This is why by ‘pits’ in the abstract sense falsities are meant. The lower earth is directly below the feet, and is a region that does not extend to any great distance all around. There the majority stay after death before being raised up into heaven. Mention is also made of this lower earth in various places in the Word. Below it are places where vastation takes place, and they are called pits. Beneath these places and extending to quite a distance all around are the hells. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 4728]

In the lower earth, under the feet and the soles of the feet, are also those who have placed merit in good deeds and in works. Some of them appear to themselves to cut wood. The place where they are is rather cold, and they seem to themselves to acquire warmth by their labor. With these also I conversed, and it was given me to ask them whether they wished to come out of that place. They replied that they had not yet merited it by their labor. But when this state has been passed through, they are taken out thence. These also are natural, because the desire to merit salvation is not spiritual; and moreover, they regard themselves as superior to others, and some of them even despise others. If such persons do not receive more joy than others in the other life, they are indignant against the Lord; and therefore when they cut wood there sometimes appears as it were somewhat of the Lord under the wood, and this from their indignation. But as they have led a pious life, and have acted in this way from ignorance, in which there was something of innocence, therefore angels are occasionally sent to them who console them. And sometimes there appears to them from above on the left as it were a sheep, at the sight of which they also receive consolation. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 4943]

And they brought him hastily out of the pit. That this signifies a speedy rejection of such things as from the state of temptation were a hindrance; and thereby a change, is evident from the signification of a “pit,” as being a state of vastation and also of temptation; and from the signification of “bringing him hastily out of it,” as being a speedy rejection of such things as are from it, that is, from a state of temptation. For when a “pit” denotes a state of temptation, “to bring anyone hastily out of it” denotes to remove such things as are from that state, and consequently to reject them, as is plain also from what follows; for he rejected what was of the pit, inasmuch as he shaved himself and changed his garments.

A state of temptation in respect to the state after it is also like the condition of a pit or prison-squalid and unclean; for when man is being tempted, unclean spirits are near him, and surround him, and excite the evils and falsities with him, and also hold him in them and exaggerate them, even to despair. Hence it is that the man is then in squalor and uncleanness. Moreover when this state is presented to view in the other life (for all spiritual states can there be presented to the sight) it appears like a thick mist exhaled from unclean places, and a stench from it is also perceived. Such is the appearance of the sphere that encompasses one who is in temptation, and also in vastation, that is, who is in a pit in the lower earth.

But when the state of temptation ceases, the mist is dispersed, and the sky clears. The reason of this is that by means of temptation the falsities and evils with man are laid open and removed; when they are laid open that mist appears, but when they are removed the clear sky appears. The change of this state is also signified by Joseph’s “shaving himself and changing his garments.”

Moreover, a state of temptation may be compared to the state of a man when among robbers; on escaping from which his hair is disheveled, his countenance wild, and his clothing torn. If he yields in temptation, he remains in a state like this; but if he conquers in temptation, then after he has composed his face, combed his hair, and changed his clothing, he comes into a cheerful and serene state. Moreover, there are infernal spirits and genii, who like robbers surround and attack the man at these times, and bring on the temptations. From this it is now plain that by their “bringing him hastily out of the pit” is signified a speedy rejection of such things as from the state of temptation were a hindrance, and thereby a change. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 5246]

I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.
O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.
I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. PSALM 30