MUS21CLEM1MAN2 The power of the body is exerted by the muscles, — which represent the love of work in the mind, and, in the heavens, societies of those who love the active uses corresponding to those of the muscles respectively. Thus, the diaphragm is not a passive means of communication between the thorax and the abdomen; its active force is essential both to the motions of the lungs and to the communication of those motions to the rest of the body. And the muscles of the diaphragm correspond to the angels who have active pleasure in the animations of wisdom and in the communication of them through the heavens. They combine and exert an animating pressure upon the provinces of digestion, inviting the expansion of the lungs; which, without this powerful cooperation, would be greatly confined in their action, as in cases of rheumatism of the diaphragm.

The heart itself is almost wholly muscular, and they who constitute it are in the active love of communicating love from the Lord to all whom they can influence, and sending them forth to do the uses of love. So all the active force exerted by the hands and feet, by the mouth in receiving food and in speaking, and by all parts of the body in their several uses, is exerted by muscles; which, accordingly, represent the active zeal of the provinces for those uses.

In these activities many angels combine, and exert their influence as a one. “How many spirits,” Swedenborg says, “concur in one action, was shown me by those who are in the muscles of the face, from the forehead even to the neck.... it was observed that they were only the subjects of very many, so that in every muscular fibre very many concur.... In heaven, or the Greatest Man, there are innumerable societies thus unanimous, to which the muscles corresponds” (D. S. Index. Musculus.”)

But the muscles exert their force mostly through tendons, or tendinous sheaths, by which they are attached to bones or to other parts of the body, and direct their action. And these tendons or ii-aments correspond to passive subjects, who love indeed to receive the influence and to communicate it, but do not themselves modify it.


It was also once shown me to the life what societies they are, and of what quality, and how they flow in and act, which constitute the province of the face, and flow into the  muscles of the forehead, of the cheeks, of the chin, and of the neck, and what communication there is between them. In order that this might be presented to the life, it was allowed them by means of influx and in various ways to present the appearance of a face. In like manner it was shown what societies, and of what quality, flow into the lips, into the tongue, into the eyes, and into the ears; and it was also given to speak with them, and thus to be fully instructed. In this way it was made evident that all who come into heaven are organs or members of the Grand Man; and also that heaven is never shut, but that the greater its numbers the stronger is the endeavor, the stronger the force, and the stronger the action; and further, that the heaven of the Lord is immeasurable, so immeasurable as to exceed all belief; the inhabitants of this earth being very few in comparison, and almost as a pool compared with the ocean. [AC3631]

I have spoken with spirits concerning influx into the ideas of thought, saying that men can by no means believe there are such countless things in them, for they conceive thought to be a merely simple and single thing; thus they judge from the exterior sensuous. The spirits with whom I then spoke were of the opinion that there is nothing within ideas, having impressed this upon themselves in the life of the body. But in order that they might comprehend that they perceive countless things as one, I was allowed to say that the motions of myriads of moving fibers concur in one action, and that also at the same time all things in the body move and adapt themselves for that action, both in general and in particular; and yet that little action appears simple and single, as if nothing of the kind were in it; and in like manner that countless things concur together to form one utterance, as the foldings of the lips and of all the muscles and fibers thereof; also the movements of the tongue, throat, larynx, windpipe, lungs, and diaphragm, with all the muscles thereof in general and in particular. Now as the man perceives one utterance therefrom as merely a simple sound which has nothing in it, it may be seen how gross is perception from the sensuous. What then must be the perception from the sensuous concerning those ideas of thought which are in a purer world, and thus more remote from what is sensuous! [AC6622]

Very few can believe that there are societies of spirits and of angels to which all the things in man correspond; also that the more societies there are, and the more in a society, the better and stronger is the correspondence; for in unanimous numbers there is strength. In order that I might know that this is so, it was shown how they act and flow into the face, how into the muscles of the forehead, into those of the cheeks, and into those of the chin and throat. Those who belonged to this province were permitted to flow in, and then every particular was varied according to their influx. Some of them also conversed with me, but they did not know that they were assigned to the province of the face; for to what province they are assigned is unknown to spirits, but not to angels. [AC4800]

 I have heard angels speaking concerning human minds, and concerning their thought and the derivative speech. They compared them to the external form of man, which comes forth and subsists from the innumerable forms that are within-as from the brains, the medulla, the lungs, the heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and intestines, besides many other organs, as those of generation in both sexes from the innumerable muscles encompassing these organs; and lastly from the integuments; and from all these being woven together from vessels and fibers, and indeed from vessels and fibers within vessels and fibers, from which come the ducts and lesser forms; thus that the body is composed of things innumerable; all of which nevertheless conspire, each in its own way, to the composition of the external form, in which nothing appears of the things that are within. To this external form they compared human minds, and their thoughts and the derivative speech. But angelic minds they compared to those things which are within, which are relatively illimitable, and also incomprehensible. They also compared the faculty of thinking to the faculty that belongs to the viscera of acting according to the form of the fibers, saying that the faculty is not of the fibers, but of the life in the fibers; just as the faculty of thinking is not of the mind, but of life from the Lord flowing into it. When such comparisons are made by angels they are at the same time exhibited by means of representatives, whereby the interior forms above spoken of are presented visibly and intellectually, in respect to their smallest incomprehensible parts, and this in a moment; but comparisons made by means of spiritual and celestial things, such as take place among the celestial angels, immeasurably surpass in the beauty of wisdom those made by means of natural things. [AC3347]

There are spirits small in stature who when they speak, thunder, one sometimes like a troop. It is innate in them to speak so. They are not from this earth, but from another, which of the Lord's Divine mercy will be spoken of when I speak of the inhabitants of the various earths. It was said that they relate to the shield like cartilage in front of the chest, and which serves as a support in front to the ribs, and also to the various muscles of tone. [AC5564]

Representations are nothing but images of spiritual things in natural ones, and when the former are rightly represented in the latter, the two correspond. Yet the man who knows not what the spiritual is, but only the natural, is capable of thinking that such representations and derivative correspondences are impossible, for he might say to himself, How can the spiritual act upon the material? But if he will reflect upon the things taking place in himself every moment, he may be able to gain some idea of these matters; namely, how the will can act upon the muscles of the body, and effect real actions; also how thought can act upon the organs of speech, moving the lungs, trachea, throat, tongue, and lips, and thus produce speech; and also how the affections can act on the face, and there present images of themselves, so that another often thereby knows what is being thought and felt. These examples may give some idea of what representations and correspondences are. As such things are now presented in man, and as there is nothing that can subsist from itself, but only from some other, and this again from some other, and finally from the First, and this by a nexus of correspondences, they who enjoy some extension of judgment may draw the conclusion that there is a correspondence between man and heaven; and further, between heaven and the Lord who is the First. [AC4044]

All things which have existence in the world, of which threefold dimension is predicated, that is, which are called compounds, consist of degrees of height, that is, discrete degrees; as examples will make clear. It is known from ocular experience, that every muscle in the human body consists of minute fibers, and these put together into little bundles form larger fibers, called motor fibers, and groups of these form the compound called a muscle. It is the same with nerves; in these from minute fibers larger fibers are compacted, which appear as filaments, and these grouped together compose the nerve. The same is true of the rest of the combinations, bundlings and groupings out of which the organs and viscera are made up; for these are compositions of fibers and vessels variously put together according to like degrees. It is the same also with each and every thing of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms. In woods there are combinations of filaments in threefold order. In metals and stones there are groupings of parts, also in threefold order. From all this the nature of discrete degrees can be seen, namely, that one is from the other, and through the second there is a third which is called the composite; and that each degree is discreted from the others. [DLW190]

 In every outmost there are discrete degrees in simultaneous order. The motor fibers in every muscle, the fibers in every nerve, also the fibers and the little vessels in all viscera and organs, are in such an order. Innermost in these are the most simple things, which are the most perfect; the outermost is a composite of these. There is a like order of these degrees in every seed and in every fruit, also in every metal and stone; their parts, of which the whole is composed, are of such a nature. The innermost, the middle, and the outermost elements of the parts exist in these degrees, for they are successive compositions, that is, bundlings and massings together from simples that are their first substances or matters. [DLW207]

From this universal origin of all things in the created universe, every particular thereof has a similar order; in that these also go forth from their first to outmosts which are relatively in a state of rest, that they may terminate and become permanent. Thus in the human body fibers proceed from their first forms until at last they become tendons; also fibers with vessels proceed from their first forms until they become cartilages and bones; upon these they may rest and become permanent. Because of such a progression of fibers and vessels in man from firsts to outmosts, there is a similar progression of their states, which are sensations, thoughts, and affections. These, also, from their firsts, where they are in light, proceed through to outmosts, where they are in shade; or from their firsts, where they are in heat, to outmosts where they are not in heat. With such a progression of these there is also a like progression of love and of all things thereof, and of wisdom and all things thereof. In a word, such is the progression of all things in the created universe. This is the same as was shown above (n. 222-229), that there are degrees of both kinds in the greatest and least of all created things. There are degrees of both kinds even in the least things of all, because the spiritual sun is the sole substance from which all things are (according to the spiritual ideas of the angels, n. 300).[DLW304]


 In order that this may come within the clear perception of the rational man and also of the natural man it may be illustrated by examples and in this order:

1. There is such a connection between external and internal things that they make one in every operation.
2. Man is associated with the Lord only in certain externals; and if he were at the same time in internals he would pervert and destroy the whole order and tenor of the course of the Divine Providence;

but as has just been said, it will be illustrated by examples.

[2] First: There is such a connection between external and internal things that they make one in every operation. This will be illustrated here by examples taken from several parts of the human body. In the whole body and in every part there are both externals and internals; its externals are called skins, membranes, and sheaths (or coverings); while the internals are forms variously composed and interwoven of nerve fibres and blood vessels. The surrounding sheath by offshoots from itself enters into all the interiors even to the inmost parts; and thus the external, which is a sheath, unites itself with all the internals, which are organic forms composed from fibres and vessels. From this it follows that as the external acts or is acted upon so the internals act or are acted upon; for there is a continuous binding together of them all.

[3] Take some common sheath in the body, the pleura for example which is the common sheath of the chest, or of the heart and lungs, and examine it with an anatomical eye; or if you have not made a study of anatomy, consult anatomists. You will learn that this common sheath, by various circumvolutions, and then by continuations from itself becoming finer and finer, enters into the innermost parts of the lungs, even into the tiniest bronchial branches and into the very minute sacs which are the beginnings of the lungs; not to mention its subsequent progress through the trachea to the larynx towards the tongue. From these things it is clear that there is a continuous connection between the outer-most things and the inmost. Therefore, just as the outermost acts or is acted upon so also the interiors from the inmost things act or are acted upon. This is the reason that, when this outermost sheath, the pleura, becomes congested or inflamed or ulcerated, the lungs labour from their inmost parts; and if the disease grows worse, all action of the lungs ceases and the man dies.

[4] It is the same everywhere else in the whole body; as with the peritoneum, the common sheath covering all the abdominal viscera, and also with the sheaths surrounding the several organs as the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, the spleen, the intestines, the mesentery, the kidneys, and the organs of generation in both sexes. Take any one of these viscera, and either examine it yourself and you will see, or consult those skilled in this science and you will learn. Take for instance the liver, and you will find that there is a connection between the peritoneum and the sheath of that organ and through the sheath with its inmost parts; for there are continual extensions from the sheath, and insertions towards the interior parts, and in this way continuations to the inmost parts. Hence there is a binding together of the whole so that when the sheath acts or is acted upon the whole form acts or is acted upon in like manner. It is the same with the rest of the organs, because in every form the general and the particular, or the universal and the singular, by wonderful conjunction act as one.

[5] It will be seen below that in spiritual forms and in the changes and variations of their state, which have relation to the operations of the will and the understanding, the same course is followed as in natural forms and in their operations, which have relation to motion and action. Now since man is associated with the Lord in certain external operations, and since no one is deprived of the liberty of acting according to reason, it follows that the Lord can only act in internals as He acts together with man in externals. Therefore, if man does not shun and turn away from evils as sins, the external of his thought and will and at the same time the internal become vitiated and are destroyed, comparatively as the pleura is affected by its disease called pleurisy, which causes the death of the body.

[6] Second: If man were at the same time in internals he would pervert and destroy the whole order and tenor of the Divine Providence. This also may be illustrated by examples from the human body. If man knew all the workings of both brains into the fibres, of the fibres into the muscles, and of the muscles into actions, and from his knowledge of these things were to dispose all things as he disposes his actions, would he not pervert and destroy them all?

[7] If man knew how the stomach digests, how the surrounding viscera absorb their own portion, work upon the blood, and distribute it for all the needs of life, and if he had the disposing of these as he has of external things, such as eating and drinking, would he not pervert and destroy them all? When he is unable to dispose the external, which appears to be a single thing, without destroying it by luxury and intemperance, what would he do if he had the disposition of the internals, which are infinite in number? Therefore man's internals, lest he should enter into them by the exercise of his will and gain control of them, are entirely removed from the scope of the will, with the exception of the muscles which constitute the covering; and, moreover, it is not known how these act; it is only known that they do act.

[8] It is the same with the other organs; as, for example, if man had the disposing of the interiors of the eye for seeing, the interiors of the ear for hearing, the interiors of the tongue for tasting, the interiors of the skin for feeling, the interiors of the heart for systolic action, the interiors of the lungs for breathing, the interiors of the mesentery for distributing the chyle, the interiors of the kidneys for secretion, the interiors of the organs of generation for propagating, the interiors of the womb for perfecting the embryo, and so on, would he not in innumerable ways pervert and destroy in them the order of the course of the Divine Providence? It is known that man is in externals, as, for example, that he sees with the eye, hears with the ear, tastes with the tongue, feels with the skin, breathes with the lungs, contributes to propagation, and so on. Is it not enough for him to know about the externals and to dispose them for the health of body and mind? When he is unable to do this, what would happen if he also had the disposing of the internals? Hence it may now be evident that if man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would interpose in the order and tenor of its course, and pervert and destroy that order. [DP180]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)

site search by freefind advanced


Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.