DEFORMATION >> Fierce Passions >> Hatreds >> Revenge >> Falsity >> Evil
All spirits in the hells, when seen in any light of heaven, appear in the form of their evil; for everyone there is an image of his evil, since his interiors and his exteriors act as a one, the interiors making themselves visible in the exteriors, which are the face, body, speech and movements; thus the character of the spirit is known as soon as he is seen. In general evil spirits are forms of contempt of others and of menaces against those who do not pay them respect; they are forms of hatreds of various kinds, also of various kinds of revenge. Fierceness and cruelty from their interiors show through these forms. But when they are commended, venerated, and worshiped by others their faces are restrained and take on an expression of gladness from delight.
 It is impossible to describe in a few words how all these forms appear, for no one is like another, although there is a general likeness among those who are in the same evil, and thus in the same infernal society, from which, as from a plane of derivation, the faces of all are seen to have a certain resemblance. In general their faces are hideous, and void of life like those of corpses; the faces of some are black, others fiery like torches, others disfigured with pimples, warts, and ulcers; some seem to have no face, but in its stead something hairy or bony; and with some only the teeth are seen; their bodies also are monstrous; and their speech is like the speech of anger or of hatred or of revenge; for what everyone speaks is from his falsity, while his tone is from his evil. In a word, they are all images of their own hell.
 I have not been permitted to see what the form of hell itself in general is; I have only been told that as the entire heaven in one complex reflects a single man (n. 59-67), so the entire hell in one complex reflects a single devil, and might be exhibited in an image of a single devil (see above, n. 544). But the forms of particular hells or infernal societies I have often been permitted to see; for at their entrances, which are called the gates of hell, a monster commonly appears that represents in a general way the form of those within. The fierce passions of those who dwell there are represented at the same time in horrible and hideous ways that I forbear to describe.
 But it must be understood that this is the way infernal spirits appear in the light of heaven, while among themselves they appear as men. This is of the Lord’s mercy, that they may not appear as loathsome to one another as they appear before the angels. But this appearance is a fallacy, for as soon as any ray of light from heaven is let in, their human forms appear changed into monstrous forms, such as they are in themselves (as has been described above). For in the light of heaven everything appears as it is in itself. For this reason they shun the light of heaven and cast themselves down into their own light, which is like that from lighted coals, and in some cases like that from burning sulphur; but this light also is turned into mere thick darkness when any light from heaven flows in upon it. This is why the hells are said to be in thick darkness and in darkness; and why “thick darkness” and “darkness” signify falsities derived from evil, such as are in hell. [HH553]
From an inspection of these monstrous forms of spirits in the hells (which, as I have said, are all forms of contempt of others and of menaces against those who do not pay them honor and respect, also forms of hatred and revenge against those who do not favor them), it became evident that in general they were all forms of the love of self and the love of the world; and that the evils of which these are the specific forms have their origin in these two loves. Moreover, I have been told from heaven, and it has been proved to me by much experience, that these two loves, the love of self and the love of the world, rule in the hells and constitute the hells as love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor rule in the heavens and constitute the heavens; also that the two loves that are the loves of hell and the two loves that are the loves of heaven are diametrically opposite to each other. [HH554]
At first I wondered how it is that love of self and love of the world could be so diabolical, and how those who are in these loves could be such monsters in appearance; for in the world not much thought is given to love of self, but only to that elated state of mind in external matters which is called haughtiness, and that alone, being so apparent to the sight, is regarded as love of self. Furthermore, love of self, when it is not so displayed, is believed in the world to be the very fire of life by which man is stimulated to seek employment and to perform uses, and if he found no honor or glory in these his mind would grow torpid. It is asked, Who has ever done any worthy, useful, and distinguished deed except for the sake of being praised and honored by others, or regarded with esteem and honor by others? And can this be from any other source than the fire of love for glory and honor, consequently for self. For this reason, it is unknown in the world that love of self, regarded in itself, is the love that rules in hell and constitutes hell in man. This being so I will first describe what the love of self is, and then will show that all evils and their falsities spring from that love as their fountain. [HH555]
The love of self is wishing well to oneself alone, and to others only for the sake of self, even to the church, one’s country, or any human society. It consists also in doing good to all these solely for the sake of one’s own reputation, honor, and glory; and unless these are seen in the uses he performs in behalf of others he says in his heart, How does it concern me? Why should I do this? What shall I get from it? and therefore he does not do it. Evidently, then, he who is in the love of self does not love the church or his country or society, nor any use, but himself alone. His delight is solely the delight of the love of self; and as the delight that comes forth from his love is what constitutes the life of man, his life is a life of self; and a life of self is a life from what is man’s own, and what is man’s own, regarded in itself, is nothing but evil. He who loves himself loves also those who belong to him, that is, in particular, his children and grandchildren, and in general, all who are at one with him, whom he calls his. To love these is to love himself, for he regards them as it were in himself, and himself in them. Among those whom he calls his are also all who commend, honor, and pay their court to him. [HH556]
What love of self is can be seen by comparing it with heavenly love. Heavenly love consists in loving uses for the sake of uses, or goods for the sake of goods, which are done by man in behalf of the church, his country, human society, and a fellow-citizen; for this is loving God and loving the neighbor, since all uses and all goods are from God, and are the neighbor who is to be loved. But he who loves these for the sake of himself loves them merely as servants, because they are serviceable to him; consequently it is the will of one who is in self-love that the church, his country, human societies, and his fellow citizens, should serve him, and not he them, for he places himself above them and places them beneath himself. Therefore so far as any one is in love of self he separates himself from heaven, because he separates himself from heavenly love. [HH557]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)