THE NATURAL BASIS
CORRESPONDENCE OF THE HEART AND LUNGS--PART 1 THE CHURCH AND THE HUMAN RACE
Correspondences are seen in their most excellent forms in man
54. Although the whole realm of nature exists from the spiritual world by means of correspondences, some natural things are more remote than others. Mineral matters are most remote, plants less so, and human beings the least remote because nearest to the Lord. Thus the human and animal body derives its existence from the spiritual forces that flow into it, but these forces are not merely general influences, like gravity for example, but most particular and minute. Every smallest part of the human body represents some specific spiritual thing and much may be learned about the spiritual world from the uses of the various organs of the body, as has already been suggested with regard to the eye. These uses are reflected in the anatomy and physiology of each organ; therefore, these sciences also contribute to an understanding of the correspondences. Before entering in detail into the correspondences, it is useful to consider an aspect of the subject in which a result of correspondence or a derivation of it is seen rather than the correspondence itself as precisely understood. This aspect involves the idea that the human race can be seen spiritually as one body, different groups constituting different members. A perception of this truth was probably the origin of the famous chapter XII in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians; and now, by correspondences and the sciences, we can follow the theme in greater detail.
55. In considering the human race as a whole, we nevertheless distinguish between the good and the evil, calling the former the Church Universal, irrespective of their religious loyalties. The Church Universal and Specific is described as follows:
Those who are outside the Church, and yet acknowledge one God, and live according to their religion in a kind of charity towards the neighbor, are in communion with those who are in the Church; because no one who believes in God and lives well is condemned. From this it is evident that the Lord's Church is everywhere throughout the whole world, although it is specifically where the Lord is acknowledged, and where the Word is. (AC 10765)Further details are to be found in AC 3263 which includes the following specially beautiful and poetic passage:
The Lord's spiritual Church…extends throughout the whole globe; for it is not limited to those who have the Word, and who thereby know the Lord, and some truths of faith; but it is also amongst those who have not the Word, and who therefore are altogether ignorant of the Lord, and consequently do not know any truths of faith (for all the truths of faith have respect to the Lord), that is, it is amongst the Gentiles remote from the Church. For there are many amongst them who know by rational enlightenment that there is one God, that He created all hings, and that He preserves all things, likewise that from Him comes all good, consequently all truth, and that likeness with Him makes man blessed; and who moreover live according to their religion, in love to that God, and in love towards the neighbor; from the affection of truth they worship the Highest. They who are such amongst the Gentiles are those who are in the Lord's spiritual Church; and although they are ignorant of the Lord during their abode in the world, still they have in themselves the worship and tacit acknowledgement of Him, when they are in good, for the Lord is present in all good.56. So we call the Lord's spiritual Church, which extends throughout the whole globe, the Church Universal and we call that Church, which is specifically where the Word is, the Church Specific. For example, we find in Heaven and Hell:
The universal Church on earth in the sight of the Lord resembles one man just as heaven does…but the Church where the Word is and where the Lord is known by means of it is like the heart and lungs in that man. It is known that all the viscera and members of the entire body draw their life from the heart and lungs through various derivations; and it is thus that those of the human race live who are outside the Church where the Word is, and who constitute the members of that man. (HH 308)and in TCR there is this passage:
[The Church] is like the heart and lungs; the Lord's celestial kingdom like the heart and His spiritual kingdom like the lungs. As from these two fountains of life in the human body all other members…live, so also do all those people in every part of the earth who…worship one God and live good lives…live from the conjunction of the Lord and heaven with the Church by means of the Word. (TCR 268)A starker aspect of the same truth is seen in AC 637:
The Lord's church on earth is as the heart whence the human race, even that part of it which is outside the church, has life…the whole human race on earth is as a body with its parts, wherein the Church is as the heart; and…unless there were a Church with which as with a heart the Lord might be united through heaven and the world of spirits there would be disjunction; and…the human race…would instantly perish…because regarded in himself man is much viler than the brutes…every one loves himself more than others, and thus hates allThe Church functions spiritually as a heart and lungs because the heart corresponds to love and the lungs to wisdom
57. We note that the Church is "like" the heart and lungs, but correspondences are behind this similitude, and we remember what is said perhaps even more often, namely, that "the heart corresponds to love and the lungs to wisdom" (TCR 37). Thus it is only according to the measure of their love and wisdom that members of the Church can function as heart and lungs to the rest of the human race.
58. Some of the quotations given above indicate that the Church where the Word is constitutes the heart and lungs of a man formed by all who are in good, but AC 637 indicates that the Church is a heart to the whole human race. In another place we are told that unless there were communication of heaven with man by means of the Church the human race would annihilate itself (AC 4545:7).
59. From these passages it is difficult at first to decide whether the Church specific is as a heart in the Church universal or in mankind as a whole. However, there is no real contradiction. Life from the Lord descends even to hell. So it descends even to the most evil on the earth. Evil men, however, are not in the Grand Man. They "do not correspond to any organs and members in the body but to various corruptions and diseases induced in them" (AC 4225). The body all too often includes diseases and disorders of various kinds. Many of the bacteria and other organisms that cause these diseases derive their nourishment from the blood or from tissues built up by the blood. Moreover, the organisms are usually controlled by antibodies and other defence mechanisms provided by the blood. Thus we have a clear illustration of the function of the Church specific in preventing the human race from annihilating itself. This concept in no way weakens the correspondences between the Church as a whole and the body itself which lives according to order by means of the blood and the heart.
60. But let us consider in more detail how the Church functions as heart and lungs. The most obvious action of the heart is in pumping the blood (although it was not obvious before Harvey, and he was not so very long before Swedenborg!). So we need to know something about the correspondence of the blood.
61. In the first and most general sense the correspondence of blood
can be the same as that of the heart, for "containing vessels in the Word
signify the same as their contents: thus a cup signifies the same as the
wine, and a platter as the meat" (AR 672). In Angelic Wisdom Concerning
Divine Love and Wisdom, we sometimes find "blood" being used in the same
sense that "heart" has been used previously (DLW 419, 420). It is clear,
however, that the correspondence, or cause of the existence, of a vessel
cannot be exactly the same as that of its contents (although the end or
purpose may be the same). The signification may be the same but, as already
mentioned, there is sometimes a difference between signification and correspondence.
So if we look more closely we find differences between the correspondences
of the vessels and of their contents. Generally vessels mean scientifics
(i.e., knowledges) because "every scientific is a vessel of truth and every
truth is a vessel of good" (AC 3068; see also 3079). This suggests, as
does common sense, that the contents correspond to something higher or
62. We may think, then, that in terms of general ideas
blood corresponds, as does the heart, to the celestial or to love and to
those in the Church who have it. For more particular detail we may look
in Arcana Coelestia, where we find that blood signifies celestial things
which are of the Lord alone, and thus, relative to man, the celestial things
he receives from the Lord (AC 1001); that blood (or wine) represents and
signifies spiritual Divine Love (flesh or bread representing celestial
Divine Love) (AC 4735:2); that blood signifies the holy of love, consequently
charity and faith, for these are the holy things of love, consequently
blood signifies holy truth proceeding from the Lord (AC 7326); that blood
means and signifies Divine Truth proceeding from the Divine Good of the
Lord (AC 7850, 10026). Here we have signifies and represents, which are
63. As we might expect when we move from generals to particulars, some different details emerge which at first look like contradictions: the blood corresponds to love, to affections of love, and also to truth; and truth seems to be so different from good! Nevertheless, truth is only separable from good in the thought of man. In reality, genuine truth always has good or love actually inside it. ("Truth is a vessel of good") It is much the same with blood. Although it is mostly water (corresponding to truth), it includes sugar and fat (corresponding to good) and many other good things which it takes to the parts of the body which need them.
64. It is impossible to realize the scope of the correspondences of the blood without looking at its functions. As it would require a whole treatise to describe them in detail, a brief list of the more obvious ones must suffice. They are as follows:
1. The control of the amount of water in tissues by providing it where needed and removing it if it is present in excess (with the aid of the kidneys).65. It does not require much imagination to translate these functions in a general way into their corresponding functions in the spiritual world, and by doing so one can get a clearer picture of the conditions there. For example we are told that each individual in heaven is the centre of all influxes (AC 4225:3). Any attempt to picture this paradox in the terms of geometry whether two-dimensionally, three-dimensionally or n-dimensionally, is likely to produce nothing but confusion. But in terms of the body and its blood we can see that every cell is in "contact" with every other cell via the blood and so can receive from all and give to all. Moreover, the numerous functions we have just listed indicate the richness and abundance of the types of communication.
66. It was noted above (No. 62) that blood signifies the celestial things a man receives from the Lord, but this is not saying that things corresponding to blood flow into man directly from the Lord. There is much to be deduced from the correspondences of the bodily origins of the blood; it is a vast and wonderful subject. We can only hint at a few possibilities here. Others will be mentioned when we consider the lymphatic system which contributes much to the blood (See Chapter VIII).
67. It is a brute fact of physiology that the blood is made in various parts of the body other than the heart (e.g., the red cells and some of the white cells in the bone marrow, other cells in lymphoid tissue, proteins responsible for clotting in the liver). How are we to understand the correspondences of these facts? If we think merely of the "blood" being the Lord's or of its being made in heaven, we run into difficulties regarding the function of the Church (but see also Nos. 77-83).
68. Although we have the simple statement that blood corresponds to truth (AE 962:9), most of the references indicate a correspondence to truth from good from the Lord, suggesting perhaps that it comes directly from the Lord, though often indicating through heaven. Neither of these ideas agree very well with the fact that blood in the body is manufactured in organs other than the heart and lungs. Thus if the Church Specific is as a heart and lungs in a man to which the Church Universal corresponds, we must accept that the "blood" is made in the Church Universal and not in the Church Specific. However, correspondences exist at various levels (and the Writings seldom give the whole series in one place). Thus the spiritual heaven is in correspondence with the celestial. Representatives corresponding to the ideas of angels appear in the lower spiritual world. There are also numerous degrees between which correspondences may occur. The three degrees of celestial, spiritual and natural are only general ones. Each contains subdivisions.
69. We have, for example, "good seeks to live in truths, and truths seek to live in scientifics, and these in things of sense, and things of sense in the world" (AC 6077). We are also instructed that good produces truths and disposes them into a heavenly order by means of which further good is produced, and from this further truths (AC 3579). These series show life flowing down, or causes producing effects, and are thus examples of correspondences, although this word itself is not used in these passages.
70. In natural good there are also civil good and
moral good. We may, therefore, accept that there is a kind of good-and-truth
corresponding to blood which may come to us from the non-specific (universal)
Church. It is really from the Lord, of course, since all good and truth
are from Him. And indeed the most external kind of "blood" from the Church
Universal must exist with them from a celestial inmost, even with those
who have no knowledge of such things. This is the higher "blood" which
can be directly from the Lord and of which the Church Specific can have
some little knowledge. It may well be that there is a whole series of degrees
of good-and-truth to be thought of as correspondences of blood of different
apparent origins. As "blood" which can originate in the non-specific Church,
we have all those civil laws made for the purposes of true
71. These ideas suggest that civil and moral good-and-truth cannot originate within the Church. This is a shocking conclusion until we realize that it applies only to merely civil and moral matters and that within the Church nothing of the kind can exist because all moral and civil good-and-truth must be an expression of spiritual good-and-truth. The importance of the teaching to be derived from the correspondence is that we should in no way despise the merely civil and moral goods, but play our spiritual part as a heart and do our best to pump them around the community, and as lungs to freshen them with God's good air.
72. A further step in the development of the subject is to understand what is involved in the teaching that the heart rules throughout the body. It is said in DLW that the heart rules throughout the body by means of the blood vessels; also, that "the whole angelic heaven resembles one man and so appears in the Lord's sight. Consequently its heart makes one kingdom and its lungs the other" (DLW 381).
73. We also have: "for by means of the blood vessels the heart rules in the whole of the body and in all its parts; and the lungs in all its parts by the respirations" (AC 3887). So what are we to think about the rest of the organs? Further reading makes it clear that to whatever province (organ) an angel or spirit belongs, he is also either in the heart or lungs or both. Thus those of the province of the head are divided into celestialand spiritual, the celestial belonging to the province of the heart and the spiritual to the province of the lungs (AC 3886). And there are "spirits of the middle sort belonging both to the province of the heart and that of the lungs" (AC 4046).
74. The picture now emerging is that the heart "rules in" all the other organs. As confirmation of this idea we read: "all things of the body (have relation) to the heart and lungs" (DLW 374). A clearer statement reads: "the heart and lungs are the two things which reign…in the body" (DLW 382). The heart is then thought of as extending throughout the body, as in the following: "the heart and its extension into the body through arteries and veins…" (DLW 399).
75. We have already noted the similarity in correspondences of the heart and blood. It is now clear that arteries and veins are to be included with the heart, and it seems reasonable to add the smaller arteries, veins (arterioles and venules), capillaries, and other spaces occupied by the blood. We now begin to see what is involved in the idea of the heart "ruling" throughout the whole body. It becomes even more clear if we consider a few details.
76. In most organs the arterioles divide into capillaries
which are not only microscopic but also extremely thin walled. Many, though
not all, constituents of the blood can pass through the walls and actually
do so to feed, cleanse, and help to control the tissues. The simple picture
we are sometimes given of the blood passing through the capillaries to
be collected again in the venules and then veins and so back to the heart
tends to obscure the essential details. With respect to the numerous constituents
of the blood that have small molecules (e.g., water, salts, glucose, oxygen,
carbon dioxide, hormones), it is more true to think of the blood as permeating
the whole organ, and continually soaking through it. Thus it provides all
the cells with a continually-changing liquid environment from which they
take nourishment and into which they discharge waste products. So we can
see how intimate is the connection between the cardiovascular system and
the rest of the body. See Figure 1 for an illustration of the capillaries.
Regarding that system and its blood as one, we can see more clearly now
than anyone could in
A simplified diagram showing how capillaries branch from an arteriole and pass between body cells, dispensing nutrients and other substances (e.g. hormones) in the water that exudes where the blood pressure is highest. The capillaries are so narrow, (see scale), that there is a great drop in pressure along their length so that water in the tissue spaces can flow back into the bloodstream in capillaries at some distance from the origins, (which are different for different capillaries, as the diagram shows). The capillaries pass between the body cells, but here the cells in front have been omitted for clarity. They also vary in shape and size.
77. Although it was stated above (No. 57) that the heart corresponds to love, it has perhaps not been made sufficiently clear that because of that correspondence the heart also corresponds to the will, which is the residence of love, and to the celestial heaven which is also a residence of love since all the angels there are primarily in love to the Lord. Since the celestial heaven is the highest heaven, it can be thought of as ruling the rest of the spiritual world. In the individual man it is his will or love that effectively rules in him (although he often tries to make it appear otherwise). Now, as love rules spiritually, we would expect the heart, by correspondence, to rule naturally or, if you prefer it, physiologically. This is what the Writings teach. It is not what medical science teaches. Yet both are true, and by bringing them together we can see several points of doctrine which might otherwise be less clear.
78. We hesitate first at the use of the word "rule." We do not observe any rule of the body by the heart except when it is inadequate. Yet according to the heavenly order from which the correspondence comes, it is quite clear. The heart rules, or is greatest, because it serves all the other organs. As the Lord teaches: "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:11 and similarly in 20: 27).
79. The correspondence of the rule of the heart which has just been described confirms a very important teaching that recent writers are putting forward to counteract a tendency some of us have to think we can be just intellectual. They point out that experience and the Writings both indicate the importance of love, affection, or feeling in every aspect of our lives. The Rev. P. V. Vickers shows in God-Talk and Man-Talk (Vickers, 1970) that no matter how intellectual we may be nor how carefully we marshall truths and deduce conclusions, what really rules with us is our affections. And in an essay devoted mainly to demonstrating the unity of love and wisdom and all their derivative functions, Dr. Wilson Van Dusen emphasizes the importance of love, affection, and feelings (Van Dusen, 1975, p. 401). These teachings are not new, of course, but the awareness of them seems to have become somewhat keener recently, and it is gratifying to find them so vividly portrayed in anatomy and physiology.
80. The correspondences also help us to gain a clearer idea of heaven. Although we are taught to remove ideas of space and time, we are also told that the celestial live on the mountains; and we (or at least I) had an idea of the celestial as "way up there" beyond our reach, of the spiritual as lower, and of the natural as lower still. We see, however, from the correspondence with the body, that the celestial, in the kingdom of the heart, are in the closest possible relation with all the other provinces, so close in fact that the use of the word "other" is difficult to justify.
81. We must similarly consider the place of the Church Specific in the Church Universal. The correspondence indicates an extremely close relationship, since the Church Specific is as the heart and lungs and the Church Universal as the rest of the body, or even the whole of mankind on the earth as the rest of the body. We can discover something more about this relationship from certain passages of the Writings.
all in the whole earth, those who constitute the universal church, [live] from the church where the Word is; for thence the Lord flows in with love and with light, and vivifies and enlightens all who are in any spiritual affection of truth… (AE 351:2).We have already seen that without this relationship (or association) mankind could not live for a single moment, or that the race would "instantly perish" (AC 637). The instantaneous result of the severing of the association shows that it cannot be a natural one based on teaching and example but something taking place in the spiritual world (in which, of course, we are all living). Thus there is an occult influx of life through the Church into the rest of the human race, and by its means the evil are restrained. How this may function can be deduced from what we are told about the representatives of a Church amongst the Jews. The representatives affected the spirits who were with men and thereby the angels in heaven (AC 4545:6). Thus we may expect that anything of a Church in man will affect the spirits with him, and these spirits will communicate with others who are associated with people outside the Church and will have some influence upon them.
83. Let us now return to the fact that blood is not made in the heart-and-lungs. We have seen how the "kingdom of the heart" extends throughout the whole body, and it would seem that when "heart" is mentioned in the Writings it is usually the "kingdom of the heart" which is meant, or, as we would now call it, the cardiovascular system. Thus it may be correct to place the various organs which manufacture the various constituents of the blood in the kingdom of the heart, and we could then account for the many civil, moral, and natural goods that "originate" in the Church Specific. Indeed in one way the matter is quite simple for, although at one level the Church Specific may be as the heart and lungs, at another level it is as a whole man.
84. The effect of the Church through associated spirits does not, of course, preclude the more obvious effects of the church in disseminating truth and encouraging good. We have already referred to the several degrees of correspondence and these more obvious effects are clearly like the pumping out of blood, which concept brings us again to that most essential teaching that the Church Specific should rule in the Church Universal by being the servant of all. How the Church Specific serves the Church Universal at a practical level varies according to the loves and abilities of different groups and individuals. Perhaps it is a matter that ought to receive greater attention.