Divine Love #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg
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That this is little comprehended is evident from the common saying "What is love?" What it is, is not known for the reason that love is not manifest to the understanding, and the understanding is the receptacle of the light of heaven. What comes into that light is interiorly seen, for what a man thinks, that he has knowledge of. For this reason a man says that this or that is in the light of his understanding, also that he sees this to be so; likewise he prays that he may be enlightened and illumined by God. Moreover, there is spiritual light to which natural light corresponds, and it is from this that one says, with reference to his understanding, that he sees. and a wise man prays to be enlightened and to be illumined by God, that is, that he may understand. Man, therefore, can form no idea concerning love, for this reason, that although the understanding, by means of the thought, presents itself to be seen, love does not. And yet love is the very soul or life of thought, and if love be taken away thought grows cold and dies, like a flower deprived of heat; for love enkindles, vivifies, and animates thought. Set your mind at work and consider whether you can think apart from some affection that is of love; and you will find in your own case that it is impossible. From this it is plain that love is the life of the understanding and of thought therefrom; and what is the life of the understanding and of thought therefrom is also the life of the whole man; for it is the life of all the senses and of all motions, thus the life of the organs by means of which senses and motions exist. That it is also the life of the rest of the viscera, will be seen in what follows.

It is not known what love is, for the further reason that man's love is universal life. By universal life is meant life that is in most minute particulars; for of these the term universal is used, as the term general is of parts. What is thus universal is perceived simply is a one; and a one without a particular perception of the particulars is obscure, comparatively as it is with an intense light that blinds the eye. Such also is the universal Divine in the most minute particulars of the world; consequently this Divine is so obscure to man as not to be manifest to the eye when opened, but only to the eye, when closed; for the whole of the world is a work of the Divine love and the Divine wisdom; and wisdom in its most minute particulars is, as was said before, an intense Divine light that blinds.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.