When we observe human behavior, we can conclude that human beings are very paradoxical creatures. On earth, we may witness a whole spectrum of human behavior ranging from unselfish, useful, creative, noble and courageous acts to works of maliciousness, mischief, violence, theft, adultery, gratuitous sex, rape and murder. What is driving human behavior? It is self-evident that all of us human beings are seeking happiness, joy or delight. But what we may not know is that this delight flows forth from what we love. So, essentially, what we love drives our intentions, our thoughts, our whole life and behavior. We are continually finding ways to realize what we love. And, since we evolved from the earth and the animal kingdom, we are filled we all kinds of selfish urges or natural desires.
So, it is natural for us to love our self, to wish to control our outer environment and to erroneously believe that we will attain happiness by fulfilling our selfish desires. But, if you have ever been observant, you may have noticed that fulfilling these selfish desires does not ever result in any lasting joy, contentment or satisfaction. In fact, it leads to more intense desires. For instance, some desire power, fame or glory in the world but, as soon as they obtain some satisfaction, they become restless again and desire even more notoriety, control and power. We can see this behavior in dictators who eventually wish to dominate and rule the whole universe. Some desire sexual gratification. And so, they start out by fulfilling some sexual fantasy. But sooner or later they become involved in pornography and fall into a spiral of sexual perversion and addiction. Eating can be delightful but, when we lose control of our appetites, we become gluttons. Money and things can also be useful for living. But, when we experience delight from loving and desiring money and things for their own sake, these desires can become destructive. Finally, some human beings become so depraved that they actually experience delight from hurting and killing others. Swedenborg says that all these selfish desires and their corresponding infernal delights are flowing forth from our love of self and the world. But, if there is no permanent joy and peace to be found by fulfilling our selfish or natural desires, where can we find true peace and joy?
Since human beings were designed in the image of God, they also possess rationality and conscience. As a consequence, they also have spiritual desires. They thirst for spiritual Truth and hunger for spiritual Love. This is why some of us experience delight from studying science, art, psychology, philosophy or theosophy. This is a pure or unselfish joy that results from our love of Truth and beauty. Others of us derive joy from helping our fellow human beings or from realizing justice. Yet others are delighted by performing some useful or creative work. What is the ultimate source of these delights? In fact, these delights flow forth from Heavenly loves: love of use, love of neighbor (or Truth) and love of God (or Good). Unlike hellish or selfish loves which lead to bondage and suffering, these Heavenly loves result in eternal joy, freedom and peace. And this joy can continue to grow forever as the Wisdom and Love of God are infinite. All angels in Heaven derive joy from understanding Truth and being useful and loving to others.
From what we have discussed so far, it becomes increasingly clear that we are not here on earth to fulfill our selfish desires. The earth is the place where we freely choose what we love. And what we really love from the freedom of our self is our spiritual substance. Therefore, it is very important to decide what we really love while we are still on earth because, when we die, we will continue in these loves and their delights and associate with others who are in similar loves and beliefs. Heaven and hell are not realms of reward and punishment; they are the spiritual atmospheres where we feel most comfortable. In fact, Swedenborg says that, when devils try to approach the spiritual spheres of Heaven, they are seized with torment and they must return into spiritual darkness.
"All delights flow forth from love, for that which a man loves he feels to be delightful. No one has any delight from any other source. From this it follows that such as the love is such is the delight. The delights of the body or of the flesh all flow forth from the love of self and love of the world; consequently they are lusts and their pleasures; while the delights of the soul or spirit all flow forth from love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor, consequently they are affections for good and truth and interior satisfactions. These loves with their delights flow in out of heaven from the Lord by an inner way, that is, from above, and affect the interiors; while the former loves with their delights flow in from the flesh and from the world by an external way,that is, from beneath, and affect the exteriors. " Emanuel Swedenborg