661. * At this point I shall insert the following accounts of experiences, of which this is the first.
In the higher northern region of the spiritual world near to the east there are places of instruction for boys. (There are also places for youths, men and old men.) All who died in childhood are sent to these places and are brought up in heaven. Likewise all who are recent arrivals from the world, and want to know about heaven and hell, are sent there. The area is close to the east, so that all may be taught by the inflow from the Lord. For the Lord is the east, being in the sun there, which is undiluted love coming from Him. Hence the heat from that sun is in essence love, and the light from it is in essence wisdom. These are breathed into them by the Lord from that sun; the degree to which this happens is dependent upon their ability to receive it, and this is dependent on their love for being wise. After periods of instruction those who have become intelligent are discharged from there, and these are called the Lord's disciples. On being discharged they go first to the west, and those who do not remain there proceed to the south, some passing through the south to the east. They are admitted to communities where they will be given a home.
 Once when I was reflecting about heaven and hell, I began to wish I had a general knowledge of the state of each. I knew that anyone with a general knowledge can afterwards grasp the particulars, since these are contained in the general view, like parts in the whole. So under the influence of that desire I looked towards that region in the north bordering on the east, where the places of instruction were, and went there by a road which was then opened up for me. I went into one college where there were young men, and approaching the senior teachers who were instructing them, I asked whether they knew any general facts about heaven and hell.
They replied that they only knew a little; 'but,' they said, 'if we look eastwards towards the Lord, we shall be enlightened and then shall know.'
 They did so, and said: 'There are three general facts about hell, but those about hell are diametrically opposed to those about heaven. The general facts about hell are the three loves: the love of controlling as the result of self-love, the love of possessing other people's goods as a result of love of the world, and scortatory** love. The general facts about heaven are the opposite three loves: the love of controlling as the result of being of service, the love of possessing worldly goods as the result of the love of being of service by their means, and truly conjugial love.'
After this conversation I wished them peace, and leaving them went back home. When I was at home, I was told from heaven: 'Examine those three general facts above and below, and then we shall see them on your hand.' They said 'on your hand' because everything a person examines with his understanding appears to the angels as if written on his hands. That is why it is said in Revelation that they had a mark on their forehead and on their hand (Rev. 13:16; 14:9; 20:4).
 After this I examined the first general love of hell, the love of controlling as the result of self-love, and then the general love of heaven which is its opposite, the love of controlling as the result of the love of being of service. I was not allowed to examine one love without the other, because the understanding does not perceive one love without the other, since they are opposites. So in order to perceive either, they need to be set opposite, each facing the other. For a pretty or beautiful face shines out when confronted by its ugly and deformed opposite. When I discussed the love of controlling as the result of self-love, I was allowed to perceive that this love is hellish above all others, and so is experienced by those who are in the deepest hell; and the love of controlling as the result of the love of being of service is heavenly above all others, and is experienced by those who are in the highest heaven.
 The reason why the love of controlling others as the result of self-love is hellish above all others is that controlling as the result of self-love comes from the self (proprium), and a person's self is from birth sheer evil, and sheer evil is diametrically opposed to the Lord. The more, therefore, these people advance into that evil, the more they deny God and the holy things of the church, worshipping themselves and Nature. I beg those who are possessed by that evil to seek it out in themselves, and then they will see it.
This love is also such that in so far as checks are relaxed, something that happens provided there is no insuperable obstacle, it rushes from one stage to the next until it reaches its acme. Nor does it even stop there, but grieves and groans, if there is no further stage for it to reach.
 In the case of politicians this love climbs so high that they want to be kings and emperors, and control, if possible, everything in the world, earning the title of king of kings and emperor of emperors. In the case of clergy the same love rises to the point that they want to be gods and, so far as possible, to control everything in heaven, acquiring the title god of gods***. It will be seen in what follows that both these groups of people do not at heart acknowledge any God. On the other hand, those who want to exercise control from a love of being of service are unwilling to exercise control from themselves, wanting it to be from the Lord, since the love of being of service is from the Lord, and is the Lord Himself. These people look upon high offices as nothing but means to be of service. They regard such services as far superior to high office, but the others regard high office as far superior to services.
 When I had reached this point in my reflexion, word was sent to me by the Lord through an angel who said: 'Now you shall see and receive visual proof of what that hellish love is like.'
The ground suddenly opened on the left, and I saw a devil coming up from hell. On his head he had a square hat pulled down over his forehead to the eyes, a face covered in spots like those of a raging fever, glowering eyes, and a chest swollen up in the shape of a lozenge****. He belched smoke from his mouth like a furnace, his loins were plainly on fire, and in place of feet he had bony ankles devoid of flesh. His body gave off a heat that smelt rotten and filthy. I was terrified by this apparition, and called out: 'Don't come closer. Tell me where you are from.'
'I am from the underworld,' he replied in a hoarse voice, 'and I belong with two hundred others to a community which is the most exalted of all. All of us there are emperors of emperors, kings of kings, dukes of dukes, princes of princes. There is no one there who is merely an emperor, king, duke or prince. There we sit on thrones of thrones, from where we despatch our commands through all the world, and beyond.'
'Don't you See,' I said to him, 'that your imagined pre-eminence has driven you mad?'
'How can you say such a thing,' he replied, 'when this is exactly what we seem to ourselves to be and we are acknowledged by our companions as Such?'
 On hearing this I was unwilling to go on telling him he was mad, because his madness was the result of his imagination. I was allowed to know that when that devil lived in the world he had been nothing but the steward of a household. He had then been so haughty in spirit that he despised the whole human race compared with himself, and indulged in the fancy that he was of higher rank than the king or even the emperor. This pride made him deny the existence of God and treat all the holy things of the church as of no value to him, but merely something for the unintelligent populace.
At length I asked him: 'How long are the two hundred of you there going to go on boasting to one another?'
'For ever,' he said. 'But those of us who torture others for denying our pre-eminence sink down below. For we are allowed to boast, but not to harm anyone.'
'Do you know,' I went on to ask, 'what awaits those who sink down below?' He said that they sink into a sort of prison, where they are called lower than the low, the lowliest of all, and there they work. Then I told the devil to take care that he too did not sink down.
 After this the ground opened again, but this time on the right, and I saw another devil rising up. He had on his head a sort of mitre with coils wrapped round it like a snake's, but with its peak jutting out. His face was leprous from forehead to chin, and so were both hands. His loins were bare and black as soot with a dull glow of fire as if from a hearth showing through. His ankles were like two vipers.
The first devil on seeing him went down on his knees and worshipped him. I asked him why.
'He is the God', he answered, 'of heaven and earth, and is omnipotent.'
So I asked the other devil: 'What have you got to say to this?'
'What can I say?' he replied. 'I have all power over heaven and hell; the fate of all souls is in my hand.'
'How can he,' I asked again, 'who is emperor of emperors so humble himself, and how can you accept his worship?'
'He is none the less my Servant,' he replied. 'What is an emperor in the sight of God? I hold in my right hand the thunderbolt of excommunication.'
 Then I said to him: 'How can you be so crazy? In the world you were only an ordinary clergyman; and because you laboured under the delusion that you had the keys, and so the power to bind and to release, you let your spirit be so far carried away that you have now reached such a pitch of madness as to make you believe that you are God Himself.'
He was annoyed at this and swore that he was, and that the Lord had no power in heaven; 'because,' he said, 'He has transferred it all to us. We need only issue orders, and heaven and hell respectfully obey us. If we send anyone to hell, the devils immediately accept him; and so do the angels when we send anyone to heaven.'
'How many,' I went on to ask, 'are there of you in your community?'
'Three hundred,' he said, 'and all of us are gods; but I am the god of gods.'
 After this the ground opened beneath the feet of both, and they sank deep down to their own hells. I was allowed to see, and beneath their hells were prison workshops, into which any who harm others can fall. For everyone in hell is allowed to keep his delusion and to boast about it, but not to do anyone else harm. The reason why people there are like this is that a person is then in his spirit, and the spirit, when it has been separated from the body, enjoys complete freedom to act in accordance with its affections and the thoughts they give rise to.
 Later I was allowed to look into their hells. The hell, where the emperors of emperors and kings of kings were, was full of all kinds of filth. They themselves looked like various wild beasts with glowering eyes. It was much the same in the other hell, where the gods and the god of gods were. In that hell were to be seen the ill-omened night birds called ochim and iyim***** flying around them. Their delusions produced images like this to my sight.
These experiences made it plain what the self-love of politicians and ecclesiastics is like. The latter want to be gods, the former emperors. In so far as the restraints placed on these loves are relaxed, they want this and strive to achieve this.
 After seeing these sad and horrifying sights I looked around and saw two angels standing not far from me in conversation. One was dressed in a woollen robe gleaming with flaming purple with a tunic of glistening linen underneath. The other was similarly dressed in red with a mitre which had a few rubies mounted on the right side. I went up to them and greeted them with the word 'peace'. I asked respectfully: 'Why are you down here?' 'We have travelled down here from heaven,' they replied, 'in response to the Lord's instruction that we were to talk to you about the blessed state of those who want to control others because they love performing services. We are worshippers of the Lord; I am the prince of our community, and the other is the chief priest in it.'
The prince said that he was the servant of his community, since he served it by performing services. The other one said that he was the minister of the church there, since his service to them was the administration of holy rites for the service of their souls. They both enjoyed perpetual joys arising from the everlasting happiness the Lord bestows on them. They said that everything in their community was splendid and magnificent, gleaming with gold and precious stones, and magnificent in its palaces and parks. 'The reason,' he said, 'is that our love of controlling others does not arise from self-love, but from the love of performing services. Since this love comes from the Lord, all good services in heaven sparkle and gleam. And since all in our community share this love, the atmosphere there appears golden as the result of the light it receives from the sun's flame. It is this flame-coloured sunlight which corresponds to that love.'
 When they said this an atmosphere of this kind became visible around them; and I smelt an aroma from it, as I also told them. I begged them to add a little more to what they had said about the love of performing services. So they went on to say: 'The ranks we enjoy are something we sought, but for no other purpose than to perform services more fully and to spread them over a wider range. We also have honours heaped on us, and we accept them, not for ourselves, but for the good of the community. Our brethren and colleagues who belong to the common people there are hardly aware that the honours of our rank are not in us or that the services we perform do not come from us. But we can tell the difference; we feel that the honours of rank lie outside us, being like clothes in which we dress. But the services we perform come from the love of performing them which is within us coming from the Lord, and this love derives its blessedness by being shared with others by means of services performed. We know by experience that in so far as we perform services as a result of our love for them, so far does that love increase, and wisdom increases with it, as a result of which it is shared. But to the extent that we keep these services to ourselves and do not share them, to that extent our blessedness departs. Then the performing of services becomes like food stored in the stomach instead of being carried around to nourish the body and its parts; but if it remains undigested it causes nausea. In short, the whole of heaven is nothing but a container of services, from first to last. What is a service but the realisation in action of love for the neighbour? And what holds the heavens together but this love?'
 On hearing this I asked: 'How can anyone tell whether he is performing services out of self-love or out of a love of service? Everyone, good as well as wicked, performs services and does so at the bidding of some love. Suppose that in the world there were a community composed of none but devils, and another composed of none but angels. It is my opinion that the devils in their community, fired by self-love and resplendent in their self-esteem, would perform just as many services as the angels in their community. Who then can tell what is the love and the origin from which these services come?'
The two angels replied to this speech thus: 'Devils perform services for their own sakes and to get a reputation, so as to be promoted to honours, or to make a profit. But angels do not perform services for these reasons, but for the sake of the services and their love of being of service. No man can distinguish between those services, but the Lord can. Everyone who believes in the Lord and shuns evils as sins performs services at the Lord's bidding. But anyone who does not believe in the Lord, and does not shun evils as sins, performs services for himself and for his own sake. This is the difference between services performed by devils and those performed by angels.'
After saying this the two angels went away; and from a distance they appeared to be travelling in a chariot of fire like Elijah, until they were taken up into their own heaven.
* This passage is repeated from CL 261-266. ** A technical term used to mean the love of adultery not regarded as a sin, the opposite of conjugial or marriage love; see CL 423. *** The last two words are added from the parallel passage in CL 262.3; cf. 661.12 below. **** It is impossible to be sure exactly what this phrase means. ***** Hebrew words apparently meaning 'howling creatures'.