Arcana Coelestia #5614

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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5614. 'We would by now have returned these two times' means that spiritual life, exterior and interior, [would have been restored]. This is clear from the meaning of 'going' as living, dealt with above in 5605, and therefore 'going back' is a subsequent phase of living (for they went to Egypt to acquire grain for themselves, and 'grain' means the good of truth that is the product of spiritual life); and from the meaning of 'these two times', since this has reference to life, as exterior life and interior life. The corn which they received the first time meant exterior life, which is life in the natural, for the reason, dealt with in the previous chapter, that they did not have the intermediary with them. But the grain which they receive this time means interior life, for now they did have Benjamin, who is the intermediary, with them, this being the subject in the present chapter and the next one. All this explains why 'we would by now have returned these two times' means spiritual life, exterior and interior.

[2] It is bound to seem strange that these things are meant, especially to someone who has no knowledge of what is spiritual; for it seems as though 'returning these two times' does not have the vaguest connection with what is actually meant, namely spiritual life. But this really is the inner meaning of these words. Indeed - if you are willing to believe it - that spiritual meaning is what the interior thought of a person moved by good comprehends, for that interior thought exists on the same level as the internal sense, though the person himself is totally ignorant of this while he lives in the body. For the internal or spiritual sense, which exists on the level of his interior thought, comes down without him knowing it into material ideas formed by his senses. These ideas rely for their formation on time and space and on the kinds of things that exist in the world, so that it is not evident to him that his interior thought is of such a nature. His interior thought is by nature the same as that of the angels, for his spirit dwells in communion with them.

[3] The fact that the thought of a person moved by good accords with the internal sense may be recognized from the consideration that when he enters heaven after death he knows that internal sense without ever at all having to learn about it, which would by no means be possible if in the world his interior thought had not existed on the same level as that sense. It exists on the same level because of the correspondence between spiritual things and natural ones, the nature of which is such that not even the smallest thing is without correspondence. Therefore since the interior or rational mind of a person moved by good is in the spiritual world and his exterior or natural mind is in the natural world, both of these parts of his mind inevitably engage in thought. But his interior mind thinks on a spiritual level, his exterior mind on a natural level; also what is spiritual comes down into what is natural, and then through correspondence the two act as one.

[4] A person's interior mind, in which the ideas constituting the thought there are called intellectual concepts and are referred to as immaterial ideas, does not rely, when it is engaged in thought, on verbal expressions belonging to any language. Consequently it does not rely on any natural forms. This may be recognized by anyone who is able to stop and reflect on these matters; for he can in an instant see in his mind what he can hardly express verbally in an hour, by the use of general observations which include very many details. The ideas constituting his thought are spiritual ones and are no different in nature, when the Word is read, from the spiritual sense. Even so, that person is quite unaware of this, for the reason already stated that those spiritual ideas flow into the natural and present themselves within natural ideas. Thus those spiritual ideas are in apparent, so completely that unless a person has received instruction in the matter he imagines that the spiritual does not exist unless it is like the natural, indeed that he does not think within his spirit in any different way from that in which he speaks in the body. Such is the way that the natural conceals the spiritual.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.