Conjugial Love #293

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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293. To this I will append two narrative accounts. Here is the first:

I once looked out my window toward the east and saw seven women sitting next to a rose garden by a spring drinking water. I strained my eyes intently to see what they were doing, and the intensity of my gaze caught their attention. With a motion of the head one of them therefore invited me over. Accordingly I left the house and hurried in their direction. And when I arrived, I politely asked them where they were from.

They then said, "We are wives. We are talking here about the delights of conjugial love, and we have concluded from a good deal of evidence that these delights are also delights of wisdom."

This response so delighted my heart that I seemed to be more interiorly in the spirit and to have on that account a more enlightened perception than ever before. So I said to them, "Permit me an opportunity to ask you some questions about those pleasant delights." And they nodded their assent.

So I asked, "How do you wives know that the delights of conjugial love are at the same time delights of wisdom?"

[2] They then replied, "We know it from the correspondence that exists between wisdom in our husbands and the delights of conjugial love in us. For the delights of this love in us heighten or diminish and take on altogether different qualities according to the wisdom in our husbands."

On hearing this I inquired further, saying, "I know you are affected by gentle words from your husbands and cheerful states of mind on their part, and that you take delight on account of these with all your heart. But I wonder at your saying that it is in response to their wisdom. However, tell me what wisdom is and what sort of wisdom you mean."

[3] To this the wives replied with annoyance, "You think we do not know what wisdom is and what sort of wisdom we mean, even though we continually reflect on it in our husbands and daily learn it from their mouths. Indeed, we wives think about the state of our husbands from morning to evening, with scarcely any time intervening in a day when this is interrupted or in which our instinctive thought is entirely withdrawn or gone from them. Our husbands in contrast spend very little time in the course of a day thinking about our state. As a result we know what sort of wisdom in them finds delight in us. Our husbands call this wisdom a spiritual-rational wisdom and a spiritual-moral one. Spiritual-rational wisdom, they say, is a matter of the intellect and its intellectual concepts, while spiritual-moral wisdom is a matter of the will and its mode of life. Yet they join the two together and regard them as one; and they maintain that the pleasant delights of this wisdom are transposed from their minds into delights in our hearts, and from our hearts back to their hearts, so that these return to the wisdom from which they originated."

[4] I then asked whether they knew anything more about this wisdom in their husbands - "wisdom," I said, "which finds delight in you."

"We do," they said. "It is a spiritual wisdom, and from that a rational and moral one. Spiritual wisdom is to acknowledge the Lord our Savior as God of heaven and earth, and through the Word and discourses from it to acquire from Him truths connected with the Church, from which comes a spiritual rationality; and in addition to live from Him according to those truths, from which comes a spiritual morality. Our husbands call these two the wisdom which in general works to produce truly conjugial love. We have also heard from them the reason, namely, that this wisdom opens the inner faculties of their mind and thus of their body, providing free passage from the firsts to the last of these for the stream of love, on whose flow, sufficiency and strength conjugial love depends for its existence and life.

"As regards marriage in particular, the spiritual-rational and spiritual-moral wisdom of our husbands has as its end and goal to love only their wives and to rid themselves of all desire for other women. Moreover, to the extent they achieve this, to that extent that love is heightened in degree and perfected in quality, and the more clearly and keenly do we then feel matching delights in us corresponding to the contented pleasures of our husbands' affections and the pleasant exaltations of their thoughts."

[5] I asked them next whether they knew how the communication took place.

They said, "All conjunction by love requires action, reception, and reaction. The state of our love and its delights is the agent or that which acts. The state of our husbands' wisdom is the recipient or that which receives. And this same wisdom is also the reagent or that which reacts in accordance with their reception. This reaction is then perceived by us with feelings of delight in our hearts according to our state and the measure in which it is continually open and ready to receive those elements which in some way are connected with and so emanate from virtue in our husbands, thus which in some way are connected with and so emanate from the final state of love in us."

At that point they also inserted, "Take care you do not interpret the delights we have mentioned to mean the end delights of conjugial love. We never talk about these, but only about the delights of our hearts which constantly correspond to the state of wisdom in our husbands."

[6] After that there appeared in the distance what looked like a dove in flight with a leaf from a tree in its mouth; but as it drew near, instead of a dove we saw a little boy with a piece of paper in his hand. Coming over to us then, he held it out to me and said, "Read it in the presence of these maidens of the spring."

So I read the following:

Tell the inhabitants of the earth among whom you live that there is such a thing as truly conjugial love, offering a million delights scarcely any of which are yet known to the world. But they will be discovered when the church betroths itself to her Lord and becomes His bride and wife.

Then I asked the wives, "Why did the boy call you 'maidens of the spring'?"

"We are called maidens when we sit by this spring," they replied, "because we are forms of affection for the truths of our husbands' wisdom; and an affection for truth in form is termed a maiden. The spring likewise symbolizes the truth of wisdom, and the rose garden we are sitting next to its delights."

[7] One of the seven wives then wove a garland of roses; and sprinkling it with water from the spring, she placed it over the cap the boy had on, fitting it around his little head and saying, "Receive the delights of intelligence. Your cap, you see, symbolizes intelligence, and the garland from this rose garden its delights."

Thus adorned the boy then departed, and in the distance he looked once more like a dove in flight, but this time with a little crown on its head.

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Many thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.