THE NATURAL BASIS
CORRESPONDENCES OF THE HEART AND LUNGS--PART 3
113. The conjunctions between the will and the understanding, which are almost too wonderful to comprehend, can be illustrated by the way the heart and lungs act together.
114. Perhaps there are people to whom this subject seems simple and straight forward. Others may experience difficulty. But for all, a reading or re-reading of Part V of DLW is highly recommended. The wisdom therein is often transcendent, and there are numerous cherubim (see AC 308). However, the prepared mind can enjoy many fascinating walks in paradise, and even see birds of paradise (DLW 374). In what follows we descend somewhat to natural and scientific things, for we are so constituted that it is necessary for us to keep our feet on the ground (AC 4939; 2557:2). This we do with the aid of correspondences (AC 9300:3), and we hope to progress by walking (AC 519). Our need to think from correspondences is also spelled out in DLW 402, where we read:
Why it is so cannot be fully described except in spiritual language because love and wisdom, and will and understanding therefrom, are spiritual concepts, which can indeed be taught in natural language, but only so as to be vaguely perceived on account of the ignorance of what love, wisdom, affections of goodness, and affections of wisdom which are affections of truth, are. Yet one can see the nature of the betrothal and of the marriage of love with wisdom, or of the will with understanding, through the parallelism that exists in their correspondence with the heart and lungs. For it is the same with these as with love and wisdom, so much so as to make absolutely no difference except that one is spiritual and the other natural.This statement (like several others) encourages us to attempt to see the spiritual in the natural, and we hope that our modern knowledge of the natural will enable us to picture the spiritual more clearly. But for our knowledge of the spiritual itself we are still dependent on the natural language in the Writings and it is inevitable that we shall be labouring with spiritual concepts "vaguely perceived."
115. We have contemplated the activities of the heart and lungs in the
body as a whole and we have seen how these activities are integrated so
closely that they form one service to the body and reflect the far-reaching
influence of love united with wisdom in the whole mind (Nos. 77, 78, 106-111).
It is obvious, however, that this unity in service could not exist without
that other union within the chest through arteries and veins. A general
idea of how the heart is joined to the lungs through arteries and veins
can be obtained from Figure 2. This is to give a first, most general picture
of the whole heart-lung system. A more detailed anatomical drawing of the
opened heart has been presented in Figure 3. Figure 4 shows a more accurate
but still modified drawing of the arterial connections to the left lung.
The conjunction of the heart and lungs through their blood vessels enables
them to be together in their effect, which is the maintenance of conditions
necessary for the life of all the tissues in the whole body. Similarly,
the will and understanding provide conditions for the life of the whole
mind, and nothing is more important than their life together which develops
through three conjunctions (DLW 404). These conjunctions take place "after
the nuptials," but as the nuptials mean man's state from ignorance to intelligence
and thence to wisdom, they would seem to cover the whole of man's mental
progress. The conjunction of the will and the understanding is compared
to a marriage, and the definition of nuptials suggests that the conjunctions
should always be preceded by something of a marriage. Also that a binding
covenant is not merely entered into once and for all, but that all conjunction
should begin with a wooing, and progress through consent to a holy agreement.
Such a sort of wooing may even be considered relevant on the merely physiological
level of the operation of the lungs; for in disorderly states there can
be so much tension and constriction of arteries and chest muscles that
breathing cannot function properly. In states of good order the "request"
by the control centres (see No. 124) for more air is quickly met by increased
ventilation in the lungs.
116. The three conjunctions of the will with the understanding arise through three affections: (1) for knowing, (2) for understanding, (3) for seeing truth. Each conjunction produces its particular offspring: (1) affection for truth, (2) perception of truth, (3) thought. We now consider each conjunction in more detail, as diagrammed in figure 5, and find that the first conjunction takes place through an affection for knowing, as already said, but this leads to an affection for reasoning and forming conclusions on matters the person delights in. When this latter affection is exalted to spiritual things it becomes the affection for truth. These various affections are from the will in the understanding and thus correspond to blood vessels in the lungs.
117. The second conjunction takes place through an
affection for understanding which gives rise to the perception of truth.
The affection and the perception are so related that we may conclude that
one who loves to understand can perceive truth according to the extent
of his love. Again the affection corresponds to blood vessels, but perception
and the thoughts from it correspond to the branches of the air ducts or
bronchia (DLW 405).
figure to enlarge
118. The third conjunction takes place through an
affection for seeing truth, from which springs thought. Once more, affection
corresponds to blood vessels, but thought in this context seems to correspond
to the air saccules. We find in DLW 413:
The minutest air cells, which are receptacles for the air used in breathing; these are the things with which the thoughts act in conjunction by correspondence.
The minutest air cells are a sort of continuation of the branches of the bronchia, for these continue to divide until they reach the microscopic size of the air cells. Thus the perception from the second conjunction is related to the thoughts from the third.
119. While this section of DLW repeatedly invites us to study the anatomy of the lungs and heart and their conjunction, the exact correspondence between the mental or spiritual things and the bodily things is not always clear, and it is difficult to relate DLW 405 precisely to No. 404. It is said in 405:
It may be seen from the influx of the blood from the heart into the lungs, how the will inflows into the understanding and brings to pass those effects…relating to the affection and perception of truth and relating to thought.Still, the bodily correspondence of the three conjunctions eludes us. For we have three affections: (1) for knowing, (2) for understanding, (3) for seeing truth; but in DLW we have only two routes of corresponding arteries: (1) the bronchial, (2) the pulmonary (and the veins we need not consider, as they merely provide for the return flow).
120. When we consider the pulmonary arteries we find
with surprise that there is no comment in DLW on the fact that the pulmonary
arteries take the whole stream of blood (for it comes together into the
right side of the heart and is then all discharged through the lungs).
Perhaps this is meant when it is said that the pulmonary arteries come
from the heart alone (This point is further discussed in No. 172). The
way the blood flows can be imagined from Figure 2. The actual anatomic
arrangement within and around the heart is shown in Figure 3. No organ
other than the lungs takes the whole of the blood supply in this fashion.
Although so little is said about this peculiarity of the pulmonary circulation,
the correspondence of it is described where it is said that the love does
nothing except in conjunction with wisdom (DLW 409). Thus pulmonary and
bronchial arteries differ from one another more than one might imagine
from a reading of the text; indeed they could not be more different: The
pulmonary arteries take all the output from the right ventricle and direct
it to the air-saccules of the lungs, while the bronchial arteries take
a little of the output from the left ventricle and direct it to the bronchial
tubes and associated structures as well as to the surface of the lungs
beneath the pleura, but not to the air saccules (alveoli). Figure 4 assists
visualization. The bronchial arteries are for the nutrition of the lungs;
the pulmonary arteries are for making use of the lungs to refresh the whole
of the blood before it is re-distributed to the body. So we have two very
different circulations; but we need a third if we are to have a special
circulation to correspond with each conjunction. In DLW we are not told
that either of the two sets of arteries corresponds to a particular conjunction.
This reticence probably arises from the need for accommodation to the limited
knowledge of the period (see, e.g., DLW 405, 512). A brief survey of modern
shows the subject to be
121. The branches of the bronchial artery become more numerous and finer as they ramify along the bronchia and bronchioles among other structures. The finest branches are, of course, the capillaries through which nourishment passes to the various tissues other than the air saccules. The bronchial system does not reach to these. However, there is a very abundant blood supply to the air saccules through the pulmonary system which must therefore supply nourishment to them. Although the blood in the pulmonary artery is depleted in oxygen, it is not likely to be so depleted in other nutrients (amino acids, glucose, vitamins, minerals) that the abundant flow will not compensate for the lower level of those nutrients.
122. Soon after leaving the heart, the pulmonary arteries form several branches which differ merely in supplying different segments of the lungs, and it would be difficult to justify a division into two systems rather than several, especially as this would merely be a minor subdivision.
122A. The bronchial arteries can be divided into
three groups and the veins into two. The three groups of arteries supply
the walls of the bronchia, the areolar tissue between the lobes of the
lungs, and the surface of the lungs beneath the pleura. The veins fall
into two systems, one of which empties into pulmonary veins or the left
(!) atrium, the other into one of the azygous veins or an intercostal vein,
but also communicating with the pulmonary veins. Thus, some of the blood
flowing into the bronchial arteries finds its way into the pulmonary veins
rather than the bronchial veins and thus returns to the same side of the
heart that it left. Branches of the bronchial arteries also join those
of the pulmonary arteries in parts of the pleura and smaller bronchi.
122B. A proposition is developed below with the intention of including
other organs that assist the heart and lungs to act jointly. These organs
must have their correspondences or they would not exist. Their importance
is easily discerned when they are described, but it shows up still more
clearly when we think about the development of the embryo, because they
help to explain the difference between "the heart first forms the lungs"
and "afterwards conjoins itself with them" (DLW 402). The explanation hinges
on the fact that the organs to be described are not active in the embryo
but, like the lungs themselves, become active after its birth. For one
may ask how the heart can first form the lungs without being in some way
united with them. Can it do so at a distance? If it does not, one might
suggest that the bypassing of the blood flow through the foramen ovale
and ductus arteriosus shows a withholding of the full stream of blood from
the heart into the lungs so that the heart could be imagined as drawing
back from full conjunction. But then it would be as already suggested,
that conjunction could not be represented by the
122C. We are encouraged by DLW to include the embryo in our studies, for this section of DLW (no. 398) includes 22 propositions. No sooner do we come to the exposition of the second one (DLW 400) than we are invited to consider the embryo as follows:
It is a known fact that all things of the body are formed in the womb…through fibres from the brains and…blood vessels out of the heart.In no. 402 near the end we find:
The heart first forms the lungs; and afterwards conjoins itself with them; it forms the lungs in the embryo, and conjoins itself with them afterThere are now many more "known facts" which enable us to add detail to the statement that the heart first forms the lungs and to see by how much or how little the heart first forms the lungs and to see by how much or how little the heart conjoins itself with them during this formation. So we launch into a small bay of the sea of Embryology.
122D. The very young and very small embryo develops quickly. Rapid changes
take place during the first few weeks but the fourth seems particularly
dramatic. Early in the fourth week, the embryo being only 2.4 mm long,
the umbilical arteries and veins are already defined and are beginning
to link up with vessels which will complete the chorionic circulation.
By comparison with the chick embryo, it is thought that the heart begins
to beat at about this time. As the channels for circulation are not yet
complete, the fluid in them can only flow to and fro. At this same time,
the lungs begin to grow as buds on each side of the oesophagus. They are
nourished at this time through a network or plexus of capillaries connected
with the aortic sac (which is a relatively wide, odd-shaped vessel between
the ventricle and the beginnings of the aorta). There is a well marked
dorsal aorta at this time and to this the capillary network (plexus) is
eventually connected, and it then grows into a distinct artery, all the
time remaining as the route for the supply to the lung buds. The new artery
is known at this stage as the 6th aortic arch, but it shortly
122E. Three phases are recognized in the development
of the lungs. During the first one, which is known as the glandular phase,
the lungs are mostly a concentrated mass of tissue with an appearance normally
associated with glands. This period lasts from the beginning of embryo
development to the 11th week. Thus it includes the development described
just above when the pulmonary trunk is being formed. The second phase is
the canalicular. It lasts from the 16th to the 24th week, and during this
time the channels proliferate and branch and some cells become flattened
and applied close to capillaries. The third stage is the alveolar. It covers
the major development of the alveoli. It lasts from the 24th week until
after the birth. Although the foramen ovale and the ductus arteriosus cause
most of the heart's output to go into the aorta, the pulmonary arteries
are not blocked. There must be some flow through them which may well be
enough to provide for the growth of the alveoli and their surrounding capillaries,
for these tissues are so delicate that their total mass is small. There
is some belief also that in the newborn, the
122F. During their development, the alveoli have no air to open them and allow room for proper growth, but they are expanded by fluid from other tissues. Some embryologists believe also that respiratory movements before birth cause some of the amniotic fluid to be drawn into the lungs. Even before full term, i.e. after premature delivery, the lungs are capable of respiration once the efforts, or assisted efforts, of the fetus have ejected the fluid so that air can be drawn in from the surrounding atmosphere. After birth the alveoli continue to develop. They become more numerous and complex in shape as they keep up with the increase of bodily size.
122G. The bronchial arteries arise from the descending aorta (Figure 4) or from the posterior (aortic) intercostal arteries. As previously noted, they supply the various air passages in addition to other tissues. Once circulation is established, new arteries grow out as branches from earlier ones and it is clear that the bronchial arteries will be functioning in the canalicular phase if not sooner. They will be taking their full quota of blood. A limited quantity will also be flowing through the pulmonary arteries and it may seem that conjunction between the heart and lungs is progressing. As for the closeness of conjunction, it seems that from about the fourth week after fertilization of the ovum, if not earlier, conjunction has been very close indeed. It has extended to the intimate relationship necessary for the transfer of so many nutrients and growth factors from the blood to the growing cells. This adumbration of a few facts from the great array in embryology gives us some appreciation of "the heart first forms the lungs."
122H. In view of the close union between heart and lungs for so long before birth, how can we explain an even closer union which conjunction appears to mean? The blood has already been flowing through all the vessels for a long time, though at a slow rate through the pulmonary artery. We need to note that Swedenborg wrote of conjunction after the birth although he obviously knew that the formation of the lungs involved a close association with the heart. Why then did the situation after birth promote conjunctions? The philosophy of the Writings can come to our aid. It need not be brought forward in detail but it seems to show that the normal progression of end to cause to effect occurs only for the sake of use.
122I. If this philosophy be applied to the heart-lung
situation, we see that the end or purpose of all development is use in
the body, in order that the body may be useful so the neighbor and the
Lord may be served. It might be accepted, therefore, that it is use that
unites. The heart and lungs cannot be fully united until they are in use.
This happens only after birth. Therefore, we then have conjunction, and
indeed it is easy to see three conjunctions once it is accepted that use
122J.The chest and its muscles have only been mentioned in passing, but they must be integrated with the rest of our picture. An obstacle to the clearer understanding of correspondences is the belief that the two arterial systems supplying the lungs enables them to breathe at a different rate from the heart's beat. Let it be understood that what makes the lungs inflate is the contraction of certain muscles of the chest and diaphragm. The cage of ribs is so structured that when certain muscles between them contract, the volume of the chest is increased. The three dimensional geometry behind the movement is subtle but the facts are plain. Other muscles quite nearby can serve to diminish the volume and so expel air, but expulsion is often an effect of relaxation. The muscular diaphragm is effective because its domed shape is flattened when its muscles contract. This is a simplified account from conclusions from a great deal of experimental work published in the medical literature. Some of the evidence varies in detail, but for the picture as a whole, it is uncontroversial and more than adequate. We can therefore allow ourselves to believe that ribs, muscles and diaphragm enable the lungs to be expanded.
122K. The need for activity of the diaphragm and chest muscles (intercostals) corresponds well with the spiritual fact that the understanding does nothing of itself (DLW 412). It is added that all the conditions of the lungs depend upon the blood and "when the inflow of blood stops, breathing stops." This is because the lungs can do nothing of themselves. Now we can see more detail of how the blood flow enables them to breathe. As is said in DLW 413, "this cell-like substance [the alveoli] is such that it can be expanded and contracted in twofold fashion." The evidence now is that the bronchial arteries have little to do with the actual mechanics of the expansion, but the alveoli are indeed expanded in two ways as follows: (1) blood from the pulmonary artery causes the expansion of the network of capillaries around each alveolus; (2) blood from the aorta goes to the intercostal muscles (i.e. those between the ribs) and to the diaphragm, enabling them to expand the chest and hence the alveoli so as to draw air into them. (Some readers may like to be reminded that the aorta is the highway for blood travelling to the body from the heart. The intercostal muscles are not supplied through the bronchial artery but through a different one also, of course, branching from the aorta.) These matters of anatomy and physiology show Swedenborg having to write within the scientific limits of his time but being biased towards a correct view by the angelic wisdom. He was allowed to say expanded in two ways (DLW 413), but not to say what the two ways really are.
122L. Perhaps it can now be seen that a better appreciation of the will and the understanding and of their conjunction can be obtained with the help of modern anatomy and physiology if we also widen our field of view according to the hints we find in many places. First, in DLW 408 we read that love introduces wisdom "into many things of its house" and that the house means the whole man, also that "the lungs are introduced into all…[parts of the body] in the same way as the understanding into all things of the mind." Moreover, we have already noted that there is a union of the heart and lungs everywhere in the body (no. 108) though in the AC this is modified by "as it were."
123. The collaboration between heart and lungs in supplying oxygenated
blood to the whole organism (no. 115) shows how they work together for
the sake of use. What is to be seen of this use in every organ is the last
link of a segment of the end-cause-effect chain. There is, however, a link
or two missing in the earlier part of this chain as we now view it, because
we have not examined adequately the facts concerning the mechanism by which
the lungs are expanded and contracted. The diaphragm and the muscles between
the ribs have been mentioned as the means whereby the lungs are expanded,
but those muscles cannot, of themselves, respond to the varying requirements
of the body for air. Therefore, there are special centres which monitor
the condition of the blood and provide information enabling the control
centres to maintain the activity of the chest muscles and diaphragm at
the optimum level. One does not often realize the importance of these centres.
It is scarcely
Source: David K. Rubins, The Human Figure.
124. What makes a child take its first breath (i.e., the mechanism through which the inflowing life from the Lord operates) is still a matter of speculation. Dejours (1981, p. 169) suggests several stimuli, but once breathing has started, control is necessary. There are structures, probably in the medulla oblongata, certainly in the carotid bodies (see below) and probably elsewhere, that are sensitive to the amount of oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and acidity (pH) in the blood. These sensitive structures send impulses to the respiratory centres also in the medulla oblongata. Signals are also received from muscles of the chest, from the lungs themselves, from moving parts of the body by reflex action, and probably from the brain itself. The respiratory centres then presumably process all this information and "instruct" the muscles which expand the chest to make appropriate movements. Figure 6 provides a pictorial summary of this chain of events. The carotid bodies mentioned just above are found in the neck at the junction of the internal and external carotid arteries. They are sensitive to oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood which circulates through them and although they only control ten to fifteen percent of the breathing (via the respiratory centres), this may be enough to maintain a steady state under certain conditions. Control to the extent of one hundred percent is often in command, e.g., in sleep, and it is to be assumed that other monitoring devices contribute. Some, for example, are to be found near the arch of the aorta. All these sensory bodies are in a position that enables them to respond to the chemical composition of the blood soon after it leaves the heart. So they are part of the continuous monitoring system that determines how the chest and diaphragm will respond to the needs of the rest of the body by drawing air into the lungs more frequently or less, more deeply or less. From what has already been said it is clear that the muscles which change the volume of the chest are an essential part of this system that is being suggested as a correspondence of the second conjunction (no. 122J). As already stated, the respiratory centres in the medulla oblongata issue instructions, according to the information they receive, thus bringing into being a viable system for the control of breathing.
125. As the medulla oblongata is part of the brain, the respiration depends on fibres from the brain. But we are told (DLW 412) that it is respiration of the spirit that depends on fibres from the brains. These fibres are probably of an origin different from that of the former ones. This would enable its main brain (or higher centres, i.e. the cerebrum and cerebellum) to overrule the lower parts of the brain, one of which is the medulla oblongata. Conscious control, which is of the will or spirit, can obviously overrule for a limited period. Unconscious effects such as lead to sighing are well known to result from a state of the spirit.
126. The necessary involvement of the central nervous
system corresponds presumably to the impossibility of explaining the activity
of man's understanding without involving influences from the spiritual
world. It is inevitable that in our thoughts we link the involvement of
the nervous system with the more internal activities of will and understanding,
for the "messages" from the carotid bodies must go through higher centres
before they can affect the lungs. So we immediately think of conscience,
and conscience is a species of perception (AC 2144:3). Thus we have arrived
at the second conjunction of DLW 404, "from which springs perception of
truth." However, we must not forget that what the respiratory centres "perceive"
is the state of the blood, not the freshness of inspired air, so their
activities including those of the carotid bodies would correspond to a
persons perception of his need rather than of Truth from the Lord. We also
keep an open mind about the validity of this interpretation, as it is said
that, "the branches of the bronchia of the lungs [correspond] to perceptions
and thoughts…" (DLW 405). The
127. We now have three clearly defined routes of circulation which are of special importance to the lungs:
1. the bronchial arteries branching from the
aorta (some directly, some indirectly),
It is suggested that these circulations correspond in this order to the three conjunctions of DLW 404. It is the picture as a whole that leads to the choice of this order and it will become clear in what follows, but some of the detailed argument is summarized in footnote 10 in No. 142.
128. In an earlier essay the second conjunction between the will and the understanding was said to correspond to that of the heart with the bronchia through the bronchial arteries (Berridge, 1979B). Perhaps this is true also. Since each part is an image of the whole (HH 58), each conjunction bears a resemblance to all three as they follow one another in due order to make one mind.
130. This is clear from what has already been said (120, 121, 122E, and 122G) about the nourishment of the lungs and associated tissues through the bronchial arteries, and about the correspondence of the lungs with the understanding. These arteries are said to be "almost separate from the heart" (DLW 413, 415). Nevertheless, as we have seen, "the heart first forms the lungs" and the arterial connections are very close, though, clearly, not so immediate as those of the pulmonary arteries. This "almost separate" is such an important distinction and yet seems rather artificial, for the blood in the bronchial arteries was in the heart a few seconds earlier. However, it probably refers to the great difference between the bronchial route of circulation and the pulmonary route as already emphasized above (No. 120).
131. The bronchial arteries also nourish structures
associated with the lungs, such as the pleura, for example. Thus we see
how, in the early stages of the growth of the understanding, the affections
producing the growth are slightly different from the main will or perhaps
ruling love; various affections also nourish associated things necessary
for the proper functioning of the understanding. So the bronchial arteries
are complex both in functions purely their own and in their varying connections
with the pulmonary arteries and veins. Is not this picture typical of the
complexity of the growth of the mind? Obviously, and in agreement with
the correspondences, the affections play a predominant part. However, we
see in the bronchial system arteries which do not come directly from the
heart but from the aorta, and as they branch, so they seem to be further
away. This suggests that the understanding grows by many affections, some
more nearly, others more distantly related to love. It is obvious that
there are many ways by which the growth of understanding is stimulated,
and knowledge is sometimes gathered even in
132. The connections between the blood vessels of the bronchial system and those of the pulmonary system are believed to permit a "leak" of only one or two percent of blood back to the "wrong" side of the heart (Dejours, 1981). The existence of these connections may correspond to a childish state when the understanding is biased by the will and does not work with precision. Such a state is all too common among adults, of course, but it is nevertheless childish. This also agrees with anatomical observations, which show that such connections are fewer in adults than in the very young. (My earlier suggestion (Berridge, 1979B), which was that the connections illustrate how readily the affection for knowing develops into the affection for truth, agrees with the one now put forward, inasmuch as the affection for knowing begins in the childish state and can only gradually become the affection for truth.)
133. The bronchial arteries do not disappear when growth ceases. The living tissues in the lungs still need nourishment, cleansing, refreshment and the replacing of worn out parts by new growth. In the same way, the understanding needs to be continually refreshed; hence the need for recreation and change. These considerations show that the first conjunction of will and understanding is not limited to childhood. It happens all the time. We shall see later (No. 153) how the other conjunctions improve the first and facilitate each other.
134. Since the product of this first conjunction is an affection (which is of love, hence of the heart), we assume that it corresponds to the blood vessels which are being produced in the lungs in accordance with their growth.
135. It is interesting to express some of the phrases of proposition (vi) in DLW 404 in more common if less exact words: "affection for knowing" can be "wanting to know," "affection for reasoning" can be "wanting to know and to argue" and "affection for forming conclusions on matters in which he takes delight" can be "deciding what he wants to do." So we have a series typical of the young child: wanting to know, then to know why and argue, and finally to do something. This series at its own level is very like the series of propositions vi, vii and viii, and we are reminded that in spiritual things the parts are an image of the whole (see for example HH 58).
136. That they correspond to affections is clear from it having been said so many times that arteries "belonging" to the heart correspond in that way. The activation of conscience corresponds to all the parts that cause the chest to expand and draw air into the lungs. The carotid bodies, their nerve connections through the medulla oblongata and the various obedient muscles (see no. 124) must all be part of this system. It is said in part because all the blood courses through the aorta and supplies all parts of the body, which, of course, includes many that have nothing to do with respiration except their dependence on it.
137. With respect to the second conjunction we read in DLW 404 that it "comes through an affection for understanding from which springs perception of truth," and a little later, "everyone has as much perception of truth as he has affection for understanding." From the rest of this paragraph we deduce that anyone of sound reason who loves to understand is able to perceive truth according to the measure of his love. This suggests further that here perception means not that special faculty which is confined to the celestial genius, but something we all have. (On the other hand one may argue that love in the spiritual man is so weak that his perception, which depends on love, is of a different order of magnitude, though of the same kind, as that of the celestial.)
138. In examining the physiological correspondence
that I have suggested for this, the second conjunction, we bear in mind
that the conjunction depends on an affection, or a will, wish, or desire
to understand. How similar is the longing for understanding to the longing
for a deep breath of fresh air! The invigorating air enlivens the body
as the spirit of the Lord renews the soul of man. But breathing must continue
all the time. The blood must be pumped continually to the head through
the carotid arteries and past the carotid bodies which in turn will continually
"inform" the nerve centres whether more or less air is needed. Perhaps
we will not be going far astray if we see here a correspondence of the
continual vigilance of conscience. For the love is continually urging many
activities and in the regenerating man all the impulses of love cannot
avoid being examined to see whether they are acceptable to the conscience.
As the "blood" of the spirit is on its way to the "head" we can think that
it is being monitored by a higher faculty with celestial affinities. As
the carotid bodies are in the neck they might correspond to a faculty that
partakes of both the spiritual (chest) and celestial (head) and the longing
to understand genuine truth must be an
139. Conscience comes into the picture quite readily, for the product of this second conjunction is "perception of truth," and conscience is a species of perception (AC 2144:3). Now, however, we find that the branches of the bronchia are the things which correspond to perceptions and thoughts from affections for truth (DLW 405). Are these latter perceptions and thoughts different from that perception of truth arising from the second conjunction which is the one we are trying to understand now? They may well be different. We are suggesting that conjunction No. 2, i.e., through affection for understanding, corresponds to the whole operation of the system which controls the breathing. This system ensures the proper working together of the heart and lungs. Thus it is a conjunction. On the other hand, the perceptions and thoughts from affections for truth are mentioned later (DLW 404: viii) and presumably follow the others. So this later perception is different, but the former is equally important, for if the lungs are to breathe there must be ducts for the air to get in. Believing the air corresponds to the Divine Spirit, we can imagine that the ducts leading it in must correspond to a kind of perception other than that which makes man aware of his need. Although there is only one life it is received at many different levels. It is all a highly complex process forming a continual cycle. The life which is within activates the monitoring system which indicates a demand (or a satisfied demand) for more life. Nevertheless it can be conceived of as one process.
140. In this way the physiology extends our ideas of conscience and perception. The product of the second conjunction between the will and the understanding is "perception of truth." We find this concept difficult to grasp when it refers to the celestial genius, but the perception everyone has is easier to apprehend. If we accept the suggestion that the corresponding product in the body is not merely an organ, nor even the use of an organ, but a whole integrated system of control in addition to the organs mentioned (the bronchia), we can possibly enrich our ideas of perception.
141. Just above, "affection for understanding" was paraphrased by "desire to understand." It is a striking point in the correspondences that the stimulation of the carotid bodies and other sensory organs by vitiated blood produces a desire to draw breath - on occasion an irresistible urge. So we see a perfect parallelism when a man, feeling his lack of truth, draws in the Divine breath or Spirit. For him to have spiritual life he must do this continually, drawing in the breath of God more or less deeply according to his need. But this will do him little good if the air fails to reach the spiritual "air saccules" where it meets the "blood." His perception of truth will be sterile unless he puts it to use. And the difference between a sterile perception of truth and a fruitful one is like the difference between shallow and deep breathing. The breathing gets deeper when the lack of air is felt. The perception of truth gets keener when its absence is troublesome. The lack of air for the body is felt more and more as exercise or work (i.e., application to use) is undertaken. So also as the life of the spirit expresses itself in uses, the soul (will joined to understanding) is stimulated to draw Divine Truth deeply into itself so that it may purify and refresh the blood of the spirit. Here, however, we are already thinking of the third conjunction, for it is from this that thoughts of wisdom and hence of use are born. The affection leading to this third conjunction seems to correspond to the pulmonary arteries, to which we now turn.
142. The pulmonary arteries form the third arterial system of special importance to the lungs, so that we consider now how they are related to the third conjunction. Of this we read, "The third conjunction comes through an affection for seeing truth, from which springs thought" (DLW 404, proposition viii). From what follows in that paragraph one is led to infer that the thought referred to is not necessarily merely that kind which shows up in bodily speech and action when anyone is in the company of others. This latter thought is contrasted with the thought a man has when an affection for understanding leads him to perceive truth. This kind of thought is called thought of the spirit or meditation. It also falls into the thought of the body but not obviously so, for it is above thoughts which come from memory and it makes use of them for conclusions or confirmations. It is said to look down on them, but naturally it also influences them greatly in selecting from them according to the use required.
143. It was mentioned above (No. 135) that in spiritual matters each part is an image of the whole (HH 58). It is the same with the affections corresponding to the pulmonary arteries. The fact that the branches of these arteries follow one another so closely suggests that the corresponding affections may also follow very closely, and form a triad like the three conjunctions. The affections for truth, for understanding, and for seeing what is understood are the result of love entering the understanding. It would appear that they follow one another as closely as do the branches of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. For consider the affection for truth; does anyone love truth and not wish to understand it? When he understands it, does he not love to turn it over in his mind and see it from different points of view? Hence it can be seen that the third conjunction includes elements of the former two.
144. Remembering that thought is the product of this third conjunction, we now come to consider the correspondences and note that thought corresponds to the "minutest air cells, which are receptacles for the air used in breathing" (DLW 413). We read further that thought flows from conscience and it is "little else but an unfolding of the things that are of conscience and thereby the partition of them into ideas and then words" (AC 1919). This unfolding and partitioning reminds one of the repeated branching and dividing of the bronchia until they end in the innumerable "minutest air cells."
145. I have suggested that the affection leading
to the third conjunction corresponds to the pulmonary arteries. These undergo
branching and dividing more or less as do the bronchia until they end in
the minutest capillaries in the surfaces of the minutest air cells. The
agreement between the correspondences of the affection (pulmonary arteries
and derived capillaries) and those of the thoughts, arising from the conjunction
the affection produces (the minutest air cells), is seen in the close association
of the two structures. Here we have the closest possible intimacy belonging
to the marriage of the heart and lungs. In these minute air cells the blood
is separated from the air by the thinnest of membranes; here the capillaries
are very densely packed, yet in a single layer, and their walls are exceedingly
thin (0.2 micron, i.e. 0.0002 millimeters). Everything is arranged to facilitate
the exchange of gases between the blood and the air in the lungs. We see
from this how every thought is a marriage of will and understanding: as
the oxygen refreshes the blood so the truth enlivens the love, and this
takes place in every
146. We may now reiterate the products of the three conjunctions, namely, affection of truth, perception of truth, and thought. In DLW 404 (proposition viii) these three are repeated in different words which help the reader to grasp the meaning:
It first begets affection for truth, then affection for understanding what it knows, and finally affection for seeing in bodily thought that which it understands.Since this last is used for conclusions and confirmations, it is the driving force within wisdom of speech and charity of action.
147. The psychology of the three conjunctions is
said to be "but dimly seen by those who are unable to perceive the mind's
workings separately…" because "the mind's workings are simultaneous in
the thought with those who have both affection for truth and the perception
of it…" (DLW 404: viii).
148. We have first the bronchial arteries in the embryo. By their means the lungs and all accessory tissues are nourished and are able to grow. Also the bronchia, their branches, and the minutest air cells are formed. These last two would correspond, respectively, to means aiding perception, and to thoughts; but as they are not yet in use, they cannot correspond. Just before birth the whole system is ready, but not working. From this we may deduce that the betrothal between the will and the understanding produces in due order all the faculties of the future mind, and facilitates their growth, but not their activity. Obviously, mental growth continues for a long time after activities begin, just as the heart and lungs keep pace with the growth of the body. As the embryo itself has no will and no understanding, it may seem difficult to accept this summary explanation. Nevertheless, there must be some form of correspondence for these things to come into existence. We cannot doubt that the correspondence is with the will and understanding of the angels who are close to the embryo, and perhaps with those of the mother if she is angelic. We remember also that spiritual matters are not bound in with our bodily, four dimensional space-time continuum. What seems future to us is present with the Lord, and, by derivation, to some extent with angels also. What appears as future can act as a cause in our natural sphere, besides the immediate influx from the Lord.
149. We have, secondly, the carotid bodies together with similar sensitive structures and the nerve centres and muscles through which they operate. Through their means the machinery which has been formed will be animated and controlled. Knowledge will be brought to life, truth will be perceived as something beyond mere fact, but thought in accordance with the truth perceived waits on the third conjunction.
150. We have, thirdly, the pulmonary arteries (The third signifies completion) in full flow after birth. The difference is fantastic! It is the dawn of life, the baby's first cry; it is Man, the work of the Creator. Only now can the other two conjunctions operate fruitfully. Growth and control are meaningless until use follows. The physiology shows it so clearly. Now at last the pulmonary arteries can convey the full flux of blood to the millions of air cells whereby the blood and thence the whole body will receive all the oxygen it needs, and eliminate the carbon dioxide that would poison it. Similarly when the will, as a receptacle of love from the Lord, completes the three stages of its conjunction with the understanding, as the receptacle of wisdom from the Lord, the man can truly begin to live.
151. What is worth contemplating more closely is that, as the whole of the blood must circulate in its turn through the lungs, so all the activities of the will must be subjected to the understanding for purification (corresponding to the elimination of carbon dioxide) and for potentiation (corresponding to the absorption of oxygen). All the blood from the lungs comes back to the heart to be pumped at higher pressure to the heart muscles themselves as well as to the whole body. This must mean that when the understanding has invigorated the thought, the will itself receives invigoration, enabling it, in turn, to fill the whole mind with vigour.
152. What is also very remarkable is that when this refreshed blood is returned to the heart and re-distributed, it is continually assessed to determine whether its refreshment is commensurate with requirements, and if not, higher centres make the necessary adjustments. Similarly, in the mind or spirit, the activities performed by the will with the aid of the understanding are continuously observed by the conscience or perception to determine whether they conform to the standards required. If they do not, the understanding is further stimulated, or, alternatively, commanded to rest. From the correspondence it is clear that conscience and perception are far more than can be put into two simple words. They must be complex sensing and controlling systems through which the Lord works (see for example AC 875).
153. We notice now that although the three conjunctions of heart and lungs follow over a period of time in the embryo and young child, they become simultaneous after birth. So with the spirit; each conjunction must be properly effected in order and its offspring may be produced. After that, affection of truth, perception of truth, and thought follow so closely as to seem simultaneous, but it seems easier to imagine that they form a cycle which can be repeated with great rapidity. The short time required for the circulation of the blood emphasizes this point. A thought will stimulate the affection for truth so that a further perception arises, whence new thoughts originate, and in a few seconds an entirely new mental condition prevails. Changes continue! Thought as an end in itself is useless. The correspondence of heart and lungs by themselves is obvious. The rest of the body is needed for use. The will must be determined into action, but in such a way that "whatever is done from this appears as if by the man's will, but is really done by the Lord" (AC 875).
154. Throughout this chapter we have assumed that we are dealing with
a regenerating man, but in many places we are told that regeneration involves
the giving of a new will in place of the old one which is irredeemably
evil. The lack of obvious reference to this part of the subject in DLW
poses a serious problem. This problem is considered in the next chapter.
5 It is important to distinguish between the bronchia which are air tubes and the bronchial arteries and veins which are blood vessels. Failure to do so can lead to confusion. The mere omission of the final letter 'l' can easily happen as a misprint. This seems to be the case in the 1969 Swedenborg Society edition of DLW (p. 184).
6 Connections of both blood and nerves to the muscles of the ribs and diaphragm are very important, but they are not essential for survival because either the ribs or the diaphragm can be used for breathing, when partial paralysis occurs (as in poliomyelitis, for example) even muscles of the neck can be used to draw up the ribs and expand the lungs.
7 The inclusion of this route as important in the relationship between the heart and lungs is precisely a matter of fact, but it is also in harmony with the Writings, for, twice in DLW 412 the aorta only is mentioned as the source of arterial blood other than the heart (the vena cava being merely the return route), and all the arteries of the third system are branches coming from the aorta. Of course, the blood from the aorta comes from the heart, but here, coming from the aorta is contrasted with coming from the heart, because much of the blood coursing through the aorta goes elsewhere, but all the blood from the right side of the heart goes through the pulmonary arteries. This is discussed further in Section 8 of Chapter VII.
8 It is said (122D) that the 6th aortic arch of the embryo soon becomes recognizable as the pulmonary trunk, the heart being already clearly linked to the lungs. At this early stage, however, the contribution of the bronchial arteries is difficult to evaluate.
9 This correspondence may be deduced from the meaning of "wind" as explained in AE 419, for wind is nothing but air in motion. In AE 1012, however, air is said to signify thought. The signification and correspondences are harmonious when man is in order and his thoughts are from truths. In states of disorder a man will seek stale or foul air (falsities) rather than a fresh breeze. The equivalence of breath and spirit is mentioned in AC 9987, and DLW 383 as well as in AE 419.
10 The inferences here drawn are derived in part from
the following details. The word "perception" is omitted from the series
towards the end of proposition viii (DLW 404, 3rd conjunction) where we
find "when love enters into the understanding,…it first begets affection
for truth, then affection for understanding what it knows, and finally
affection for seeing in bodily thought that which it understands." But
we have seen that affection for understanding produces perception of truth
(vii), also that this perception is the thought of his spirit, i.e., meditation
(vii middle) which falls into bodily thought, but hidden or silent thought.
When we compare this with the former quotation we see that the thought
mentioned there is not hidden, thus the 3rd conjunction is tending towards
producing effects in the natural, and as we have said, the thoughts or
meditations it produces make use of ideas from the memory for conclusions
or confirmations, which are thoughts of wisdom.