Some people believe that it is hard to lead a heaven-bound life (which is called a spiritual life), because they have heard that a person needs to renounce the world, give up the appetites that are associated with the body and the flesh, and live like spiritual beings. They take this to mean nothing other than rejecting what is worldly - especially wealth and prestige - walking around in constant devout meditation on God, salvation, and eternal life, passing their lives in prayer and in reading the Word and devotional literature. They think that this is renouncing the world and living by the spirit instead of by the flesh.
But an abundance of experience and discussion with angels has enabled me to know that the situation is completely different from this. In fact, people who renounce the world and live by the spirit in this fashion build up a mournful life for themselves, one that is not receptive of heavenly joy; for everyone's life stays with them. On the contrary, if people are to accept heaven's life, they must by all means live in the world, involved in its functions and dealings. Then through a moral and civic life they receive a spiritual life. This is the only way a spiritual life can be formed in people, or their spirit be prepared for heaven.
For living an inward life and not an outward life at the same time, is like living in a house with no foundation, which gradually either settles or develops cracks and gaps, or totters until it collapses.
If we look at and examine a person's life with rational acuity, we discover that it is threefold: there is a spiritual life, a moral life, and a civic life; and we find these lives distinct from each other. For there are people who live a civic life but not a moral or a spiritual one. Then there are people who live both a civic life and a moral life and a spiritual as well. These last are the ones who are leading heaven's life - the others are leading the world's life separated from heaven's life.
A first conclusion we can draw from this is that a spiritual life is not separated from a natural one, or from the world's life. Rather, they are bonded together like a soul with its body, and if they become separated it is, as just mentioned, like living in a house without a foundation.
The considerations about to be presented will make it possible to see that it is not so hard to lead a heaven-bound life as people believe it is.
Who can't live a civic and moral life? Everyone is introduced to it from the cradle and is acquainted with it from his life in the world. Everyone, good or bad, leads it as well, for who does not want to be called honest and fair?
Almost everyone practices honesty and fairness in outward matters, even to the point of seeming honest and fair at heart, or as thought they were behaving out of real honesty and fairness. Spiritual people need to live the same way - which they can do just as easily as natural people - the only difference being that spiritual people believe in what is divine, and behaves honestly and fairly not just because it is in keeping with civil and moral laws, but because it is in keeping with divine laws. For people who are thinking about divine matters while they are active are in touch with angels of heaven. To the extent that they are doing this, they are joined to them, and in this way their inner person is opened, which, seen in its own right, is the spiritual person.
When people are like this, they are adopted and led by the Lord without realizing it. Then anything honest and fair that they do as part of their moral and civic life is done from a spiritual source. Doing something honest and fair from a spiritual source is doing it out of what is genuinely honest and fair, or doing it from the heart.
The laws of spiritual life, the laws of civic life, and the laws of moral life are handed down to us in the precepts of the Ten Commandments. The laws of spiritual life are found first, the laws of civic life next, and the laws of moral life last.
People who are simply natural live by these precepts in the same way as spiritual people do, in outward form. They worship the divine in similar fashion, go to church, listen to sermons, put on a pious face, do not kill, commit adultery, steal or bear false witness, do not cheat their fellows out of their possessions. But they do this simply for themselves and the world, for appearances.
As for people who have at heart recognized what is divine, who have focused on divine laws in the deeds of their lives, and have lived by the precepts of the Ten Commandments, things are different for them. When they are let into their inward aspects, it is like coming from darkness into light, from ignorance into wisdom, and from a mournful life into a blessed one. This is because they are involved in what is divine, and therefore in heaven.
We can now see that it is not so hard to lead a heaven-bound life as people think. When something gets in the way that people know is dishonest and unfair, something their spirit moves toward, it is simply a matter of thinking that they should not do it because it is against the divine precepts. If people get used to doing this, and by getting used to it gain a certain disposition, then little by littler they are joined to heaven. As this takes place, the higher reaches of their mind are opened; and as they are opened, they see what things are dishonest and unfair; and as they see them, they can be broken off. For no evil can be broken off until after it is seen.
This is a state people can enter due to their freedom, for who cannot think this way, due to their freedom? And once this is begun, the Lord works out all good things for them, arranging things so that they not only see evil elements but dislike them, and eventually turn away from them. This is the meaning of the Lord's words, "My yoke is easy, and my burden light."
A heaven-bound life is not a life withdrawn from the world but a life involved in the world. A life of piety without a life of charity (which occurs only in this world) does not lead to heaven. Rather, it is a life of charity, a life of behaving honestly and fairly in every task, every transaction, every work, from a more inward source, hence a heavenly one. This source is present in that life when a person behaves honestly and fairly because it is in keeping with divine laws. This life is not hard.