274. (2) The natural mind that is a form or image of hell descends through three degrees It may be seen above (n. 222-229) that both in the greatest and in the least of all things there are degrees of two kinds, namely, degrees of height and degrees of breadth. This is also true of the natural mind in its greatest and its least parts. Degrees of height are what are now referred to. The natural mind, by its two capacities called rationality and freedom, is in such a state as to be capable of ascending through three degrees, or of descending through three degrees; it ascends by goods and truths, and descends by evils and falsities. When it ascends, the lower degrees which tend to hell are shut, and when it descends, the higher degrees which tend to heaven are shut; for the reason that they are in reaction. These three degrees, higher and lower, are neither open nor shut in man in earliest infancy, for he is then ignorant both of good and truth and of evil and falsity; but as he lets himself into one or the other, the degrees are opened and shut on the one side or the other. When they are opened towards hell, the reigning love, which is of the will, obtains the highest or inmost place; the thought of the false, which is of the understanding from that love, obtains the second or middle place; and the result of the love through the thought, or of the will through the understanding, obtains the lowest place. The same is true here as of degrees of height treated of above; they stand in order as end, cause, and effect, or as first end, middle end, and last end. The descent of these degrees is towards the body, consequently in the descent they wax grosser, and become material and corporeal. If truths from the Word are received in the second degree to form it, these truths are falsified by the first degree, which is the love of evil, and become servants and slaves. From this it can be seen what the truths of the church from the Word become with those who are in the love of evil, or whose natural mind is in form a hell, namely, that they are profaned because they serve the devil as means; for the love of evil reigning in the natural mind that is a hell, is the devil, as was said above.