Essays on the After-Life and on the Last Judgment
by Hugo Lj. Odhner
Academy Publication Committee Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Copyright 1968, THE ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
1968 Printing, 1000 copies
PRINTED By GEORGE H. BUCHANAN COMPANY
PART ONE: FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN
1 The Revelation of the After-life 1
2 Immortal Man 22
3 Death and Resurrection 56
4 The World of Spirits 94
5 The Disclosure of Internal States 126
6 judgment and Instruction 134
7 Children in the Other Life 147
8 Spirits from the Starry Heavens 159
PART TWO: THE ANGELIC HEAVENS
9 The Sun of Heaven and Its Atmospheres 171
10 The Word in Heaven 179
11 The Degrees of the Mind and the Three Heavens 190
12 The Two Kingdoms of Heaven 202
13 The Three Heavens 216
14 The Societies of Heaven 233
15 The Occupations of Angels 247
16 A Day in an Angelic Society 264
PART THREE: THE NATURE OF THE HELLS
17 The Fallacy of Universal Salvation 281
18 Spiritual Penalties 295
19 The Nature of the Hells 313
20 The Government of Hell 325
21 Inequalities and Divine Justice 336
22 Phantasy and Reality 347
23 Divine Foresight and Providence 360
PART FOUR: THE LAST JUDGMENT
24 Expectations and Prophecies 377
25 The Scene of the judgment 389
26 The judgment on "Babylonia" 402
27 The Fall of "Babylon" 416
28 The judgment on the Reformed 429
29 The Downfall of "the Dragon" 442
30 The Effects of the Last Judgment 456
Appendix ........................................ 469
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was granted to describe the angelic heavens and the hells "from things seen and heard, in the hope that ignorance may thus be enlightened and unbelief dissipated." (HH 1e)
This book of essays seeks to give a survey of Swedenborg's testimony, and some reflections on its many facets. It can give only samplings of the extensive and profound teachings of his Writings, and does not pretend to do more than hint at the underlying philosophy, and to emphasize the reality of the spiritual world. The subject of the Last judgment has been given special consideration with a view to arranging the many spiritual events recorded by Swedenborg into their chronological sequence and bringing out some of the laws distinctive of the spiritual realm. Wherever possible, reiteration of ideas has been avoided, but a certain amount of repetition has been inevitable for the sake of clarity and context, and to make the chapters readable as independent essays.
For help in preparing the typescript, and for proofreading and editorial assistance, the author is especially indebted to Mrs. Cora M. Smith, Mr. Lennart O. Alfelt, and Miss Beryl G. Briscoe. Two portions of the text (pages 22 to 55, 337 to 468) were previously published in NEW CHURCH LIFE, 1957 and 1960, and are here slightly revised.
The text has been furnished with footnotes giving references to the Writings, for the use of readers who desire to follow out the topics in greater detail, or students who require source material.
These essays do not cover all the aspects of the spiritual world which the Writings present. For example, the doctrine concerning the heavens as a "Grand Man" is only lightly touched upon, and demands a separate treatment. And for the teachings about the relationship of spirits with men the reader is referred to the book entitled "Spirits and Men," published by the Academy Book Room, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, in 1958 and 1960.
In this "post-Christian" era when the New Christian Church is as yet among a few, it is difficult for the impatient minds of men to detach themselves sufficiently from the concerns of this world to think spiritually and rationally about things beyond the grave or contemplate the essence of the supernatural world. Our contemporaries, while demanding more than a blind faith in the letter of Scripture, have come to doubt that God could have spoken to mankind again to reveal something new. The message of Swedenborg is as yet known to few. But future ages will see more clearly. "The time is coming when there will be enlightenment." (AC 4402)
Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
HUGO Lj. ODHNER
ABBREVIATIONS used for titles of Swedenborg's Writings
AC - Arcana Coelestia (1749-1756)
AE - Apocalypse Explained
AR - Apocalypse Revealed (1766)
Ath. - Athanasian Creed (posth.)
BE - Brief Exposition (1769)
Can. - Canons (posth.)
Char. - Doctrine of Charity (posth.)
CL - Conjugial Love (1768)
CLJ - Continuation of The Last Judgment (1763)
Conv. Ang. - Conversations with Angels (posth.)
Coro. - Coronis to TCR (posth.)
De Conj. On Marriage (posth.)
De Ver. - The Word from Experience (posth.)
DLW - Divine Love and Wisdom (1763)
Docu. - Tafel's "Documents"
DP - Divine Providence (1764)
Ecc. Hist. - Ecclestiastical History of the New Church (posth.)
EU - Earths in the Universe (1758)
F - Doctrine of Faith (1763)
5 Mem. - Five Memorable Relations (posth.)
HD - New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine (1758)
HH - Heaven and Hell (1758)
ISB - Intercourse of Soul and Body (1769)
Inv. - Invitation to the New Church (posth.)
LJ - The Last Judgment (1758)
LJ post. - Last Judgment and the Spiritual World (posth.)
Life - Doctrine of Life (1763)
Lord - Doctrine of the Lord (1763)
Love - On the Divine Love (posth.)
SD - The Spiritual Diary (posth.)
SD min. - The Spiritual Diary Minor (posth.)
SS - Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture (1763)
TCR - The True Christian Religion (1771)
WE - The Word Explained (Adversaria) (posth.)
WH - Concerning the "White Horse" (1758)
Wis. - On the Divine Wisdom (posth.)
Publication dates in parentheses.
From Earth to Heaven
In the life of the body, all thoughts and actions should have reference to eternal life - the life after death.
EMANUEL SWEDENBORG in his "Spiritual Experiences," no. 2809
1 THE REVELATION OF THE AFTER-LIFE
THE BELIEF IN IMMORTALITY
History seems to testify that in all past ages there has been among men a belief in some kind of a life after death and in the existence of mighty, intelligent powers which operate unseen within, above or beyond the visible world. The ethnic religions of India, the Mohammedan faith, the old Babylonian, Egyptian and Graeco-Roman religions and many primitive cults, have or had their special eschatology or teachings about the after-life, although they differed widely, ranging from crude superstitions to elaborate philosophies. In many of these religions, there is a substratum of truth that may be traced to a common origin in the lost traditions of the Ancient Word,1 but these remnants were overlaid with hideous falsities. And although ancient Israel knew virtually nothing of the life after death, beyond the vague idea that men, at death, were "gathered to their fathers" in some gloomy underworld, there grew up among the Jews, after the Captivity, sects like that of the Pharisees who developed sundry doctrines about a bodily resurrection of the dead and a final judgment.
The Catholic church indeed formulated a comprehensive structure of doctrine and tradition about the supernatural realm. According to this picture the unseen realm consists of a heaven, presided over by the three "persons" of the Godhead and peopled by a graded hierarchy of angels created before the world, and of rebellious devils who under their chief, Lucifer or Satan, hold their court in hell. As to the fate of men, the common idea has been that the spirits of the dead would be kept in an intermediate state, separated from their physical bodies, until the unknown "last day" on which the earth is to be destroyed or purged by fire; when they would again be reunited to their bodies, now glorified, to live a happy life to eternity if they are judged to be worthy. Catholic text-books often place this resurrection and judgment on the physical earth; and they defend the idea that the wicked will be condemned to suffer everlasting punishments in a hell of material fire, which they imagine to be located in the bowels of the earth.2
2. God and Creation, by Thomas B. Chetwood, S.J., 1928, pp. 250, 253, 259
Immediately after death, and before the judgment, Catholics believe, the departed spirits - if salvable - must undergo penance in the fires of purgatory for various sins for which they have not paid the debt. But those who pass out of life in actual mortal sin go down immediately into hell. Souls who have made satisfaction in purgatory or who have been released through the prayers of the faithful and the intercession of saints, are thereafter held in a state of happiness until they rejoin their bodies; and Catholic writers picture the joys of such spirits as those of companionship and pursuit of knowledge, although it would chiefly aspire to an ecstatic contemplation of God - a beatific vision.
Protestants have no belief in any "purgatory," and their ideas of the after-life are more diverse and usually less dogmatic, and indeed often verge upon skepticism and denial. Some sects in the Protestant world deny that there is a permanent hell; and it is unusual at this day to hear clergymen preach about a personal Devil. In each generation, a few sects arise which insist that the Last Judgment is at hand to be followed by a heaven on earth. Spiritistic ideas have also had a wide influence. But the tendency is not to dwell on this phase of Christian doctrine, and many modern Protestants do not encourage any belief in another world - in angels or spirits, or in any resurrection, whether of spirits or of bodies. They feel rather that their mission is one of social and moral reform, and that the only heaven that can be reasonably expected will be right here on earth.
But many of the erroneous ideas of Christendom stem directly from too literal an understanding of Scripture. So for instance, Ezekiel's vision of the valley of bones - where the Spirit of God caused the skeletons of the slain to revive and put on flesh - is supposed to picture a physical resurrection on the day of the last judgment; although it is clear from the context that it symbolized the restoration of the house of Israel to their land.3 The sudden appearance of "many bodies of the saints" to people in the "holy city" after the Lord's resurrection4 is also used to confirm the idea. Christian creeds ignore Paul's distinction between a spiritual body and a natural body5 and fail to note that John in his prophetic vision of the last judgment specified that it was "the dead, small and great," who were to be arraigned before the throne of judgment.6
3. Ezek. 37:11
4. Matt. 27:52
5. I Cor. 15:44
6. Rev. 20:12
* * * * * * * * * *
The fact is that men generally have no concept of what the soul is or what a spiritual world is, or what heaven and hell really mean. Even in ancient times we mark how people confused the two worlds.
In the Christian Church no clear boundary line was drawn between the natural and the spiritual. The departed spirit was usually thought of as a purified natural body, or - in its intermediate state before the resurrection - as devoid of the human form, as a flame or breath in the atmospheres; and angels were imagined as at home in the stars. And while there have been philosophers who sought to show that the spirit of man is of a nature or substance widely differing from that of the physical body, there has not been - before the revelations to the New Church - any clear idea of a spiritual world.
Indeed, if we consult an encyclopedia of religious or biblical knowledge, we might in vain look for any article on the "spiritual world."
The cause of this general ignorance is that men tend to think sensually about the soul and eternal life, and have had difficulty to associate reality with things beyond space and time. "For man in his thought has not penetrated beyond the interior or purer things of nature. And for this reason many have placed the abodes of angels and spirits in the ether, and some in the stars, thus within nature, and not above or outside it; when nevertheless angels and spirits are altogether above or outside of nature and in their own world which is under another Sun!"8
8 DLW 92
Heaven and hell and life after death are scarcely at all known in the world and many born within Christendom, especially the worldly wise, refuse to believe in them. "Therefore" - so wrote Swedenborg in the preface to his work Heaven and Hell
* * * * * * * * * *
The essential purpose of this new revelation of the spiritual world is that men might be enabled to think spiritually about the after-life. Actually, there is considerable information about the spiritual world to be gathered from the Word of the Old and New Testaments. We are given to understand that angels appeared frequently to the patriarchs; that Jacob saw the messengers (or angels) of God ascending and descending the ladder between earth and heaven;9 that Moses saw the pattern of the tabernacle in heaven;10 that the spirit of Samuel spoke with Saul through the witch of Endor;11 that Elisha's servant had his eyes opened to see the guardian hosts of spirits around the mountain where they stood;12 that the prophets experienced innumerable visions of spiritual judgments and angelic throngs; that Moses and Elijah - long dead - appeared with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration.13 There is "a cloud of witnesses"! Angels appeared, as young men, to announce the Lord's birth and resurrection.14 In His parable of the rich man and Lazarus,15 the Lord pictures men's souls as almost immediately transported to places in "hades" or in heaven - which were separated by a great gulf.
The Lord assured us that there are "many mansions" in His Father's house and that He was going ahead to prepare room there for His faithful. "If it were not so," He added, "I would have told you." He intimated that He had many more things to tell His disciples. But He said, "Ye cannot bear them now."21 Certainly He speaks of a judgment to come, and of a heaven and a hell - both equally permanent.
2l. John 14:2, 16:12, Matt. 25:19, Luke 16:19
All the teachings of Scripture are however couched in parables - in the language of earthly similes, symbols, and correspondences. Aside from glimpses of interior doctrine, as when the Lord said that the kingdom of God "is within you,"22 it is only the external phases of the spiritual world that are revealed in the Biblical Scriptures - the appearances and representatives of the other world. It may thus be inferred that the literal sense of the Word portrays many external aspects of the spiritual world.23
22. Luke 17:21, cp. John 16:25
23. AC 6048
It is apparent that the early Israelites had certain obscure concepts about an invisible underworld, or Sheol, where the dead dolefully relived their memories as shades of their former selves;
The Writings of Swedenborg show that the Jewish people had little knowledge of the spiritual world, nor any clear assurance that they would live after death.25 This was of Providence, lest they profane the truth. Yet various pagan ideas of the after-life influenced the Jews, and at the time of the Lord the Pharisees taught about a resurrection of the body at a coming "last day."
25. AC 10490:2, 6963:2, 3479, 4289:2
The prophets of Israel indeed saw visions and dreamt dreams, but had no understanding of the spiritual meaning of what they experienced or of what they recorded under the constraint of Divine inspiration. Their testimony of their spiritual experiences therefore remained in the field of symbols rather than open truths, and sometimes it appears confusing, incomplete, inconsistent, and far from conclusive. Similarly the New Testament only gives assurance that there is a spiritual world but tells nothing definite about its nature.
When, at the end of the Christian Church, it was necessary for the Lord to restore to mankind a real knowledge of the spiritual world, it had to be done by means of a man who was prepared throughout his early youth and manhood by the investigation of the causes of things - a scientist and observer, a man who inquired philosophically into the laws and reasons of things, and who could view and analyze the phenomena of both heaven and hell dispassionately and calmly from a love of truth, and thus be led and enlightened by the Lord and inspired to recognize and describe the order and essence of the spiritual world.
* * * * * * * * * *
One of the facts we must accept before understanding the testimony of Emanuel Swedenborg is that every human being is from creation equipped to have commerce with spirits.
Spirits who speak to men by the Lord's permission - and this has been granted to many for ages back - say only a few words and do not attempt to instruct men.29 In fact they are mostly of the man's own religion, and can only confirm his opinions. That there are instances still of spirits addressing men and appearing before their mental senses is supported by too great a body of evidence to be doubted. But claims involving such personal experiences are difficult to judge of singly, since they may only be - and most commonly are - "the delusions of an abstracted mind," or akin to what the Writings call "phantastic visions"; to which must be added the hallucinations that attend those who suffer from mental diseases. That all these are caused by spirits is of course obvious, since even dreams are the results of the influx of spirits at times when man is not in active control of his memory. But spirits cannot operate in nature without the intermediation of natural organisms. Nowhere in the Writings do we find any real indication that a concentration of thought or mental effort can move physical objects by "telekinesis" or action at a distance.
29. DP 135
On the other hand, the records of societies devoted to so- called "psychical research" contain much testimony about unexplained cases of apparitions and alleged conversations (through "mediums") with the dead, as well as other abnormal occurrences. Wherever professional "mediums" are involved, the suspicion lingers that the phenomena are produced by connivance or skill rather than by spirits, especially as the Writings do not grant to spirits the powers either of "materializing" or of foreseeing the future, or of instructing men about the other life. Where the latter occurs, the information the supposed "spirit" gives is usually vague and confused or contradictory; but occasional descriptions are given which resemble the truth, but then always in cases where the medium or the interlocutor has had some direct or indirect knowledge of the testimony of Swedenborg, as in the famous instance of Sir Oliver Lodge. We may of course take it as quite possible that in an induced state of hypnosis the subconscious memory can become vocal. It is also worth noting that some men of science who have interested themselves objectively in this "psychical research" have not thereby been led to confirm a belief in a spiritual world, or a permanent survival of man's spirit in a heaven or a hell, but rather theorize that man's mental elements at death may take a long time to dissipate and in the meantime may leave active impressions upon living men's minds.
* * * * * * * * * *
It is therefore clear that the occasional intercourse of spirits with men is quite insufficient to supply mankind with a knowledge of the other world. This can be done only by an immediate Divine revelation, by the introduction of a man into the spiritual world - not for a few hours of trance or vision but for many years of wakeful experience. And to carry out such a Divine commission, a man must obviously be gradually prepared for his ordained task of communing with spirits and angels, and be surrounded with a special Divine protection, even as were the prophets of old.
Swedenborg had no desire of his own to enter into intercourse with spirits or to dabble in forbidden mysteries from idle curiosity. He was also strikingly devoid of spiritual pride.
His introduction into the spiritual world was gradual.30 There came first a period during which he experienced remarkable dreams in which he recognized symbolic references to the studies he was then making in physiology. At times he enjoyed states of extraordinary clarity of mind while writing, and confirmatory lights. Later he began to perceive the presence of spirits as if they affected his bodily senses, and this was sometimes accompanied by moods of temptation, despair, and horror, as when evil spirits attempted to obsess him when he wrote what was contrary to their pleasure. Sometimes, as he awakened in the morning, he would hear voices. And finally, one evening, a certain spirit addressed him in a few words on the subject that he was then thinking about. This was accompanied with a vision of the spirit, which frightened Swedenborg. He was also amazed and indignant that the spirit could thus read his thoughts; and the spirit was equally amazed at Swedenborg's surprise, since thought is spiritual speech. Yet "after some days," the new relationship with spirits in wakefulness became habitual and familiar to Swedenborg.31
30. SD 2951
31. SD 2951, 4726, 4390, AC 6214, 5855. Journal of Dreams 242.
It was less than a year later that Swedenborg received his final solemn appointment to his spiritual mission by the Lord, who appeared to him in the middle of April, 1745. From that time, he describes himself as having conversed almost daily with the inhabitants of heaven (i.e., with departed spirits) while at the same time being among his friends on earth. And he writes: "In a certain manner I have been intromitted into heaven itself, not merely as to the mind, but also with the whole body as it were or with the sense in the body, and that, too, when I was fully awake."32 He was suffused with a humble gratitude, for he experienced states of ineffable happiness.33 He speaks of himself as having joined speech with spirits "as though he were himself become a spirit."34 He was present among them as to every sense, even touch.
Indeed, he learnt that he had to be very cautious. In order that he might understand the various relationships existing between the two worlds, he had to be introduced into a great variety of states. He came among spirits who loved to impersonate the Biblical patriarchs; he was led into both representative visions and illusory visions; he experienced visions like those of the ancient prophets, and even various forms of inspiration, such as that of the prophets when they wrote the Word. And sometimes spirits compelled him to write from them by oral dictation, at times automatically or unwittingly, so that he adds, "I abhor writing these things"!36 And all this so that he might learn to discriminate between the myriad varieties of spiritual influxes which focused upon him, and to learn their sources, good or evil.
36. WE 1711-1712
It would not have served the Divine purpose for Swedenborg to act as a mere medium for spirit-dictation, or to write like the prophets without understanding the contents. In several instances, this is exactly what happened, in order to show how the Scriptures had been inspired in the past: but "the papers which were so written were deleted" or obliterated.37
37. WE 4477, 7006, 1892
During the many varied states which were superinduced upon Swedenborg, his own poise of mind, his own power to reflect on his experiences, were maintained. So, for instance, when he was - for the sake of our instruction - brought into the state of those who die and are raised into the other life, he was throughout always aware what went on, so as to be able to relate it in detail.38 Sometimes also he was "obsessed" by spirits who then acted as it were through him; but all the while he was granted to be fully aware of their actions and never gave up his own rational judgment.39 In other words, he was allowed to study the manner in which spirits operate upon man.
38. SD 1092-1109, AC 168ff, HH 448ff
39. WE 4477, SD 3963
Although, for more than twenty-six years, he conversed with spiritual beings and traversed both the heavens and the hells, he was never taught by spirits or angels, but by the Lord alone, who gave him a perceptive enlightenment to see clearly what came from the Lord and what from angels. "What has come from the Lord has been written," he testified, "and what has come from the angels has not."40 The enlightenment was an influx or dictation interiorly into his thoughts.41 And it took place especially "while reading the Word."42 Even when he was in appearance seeking information from good or evil spirits or by the many representations of the spiritual world, he was being taught from the mouth of the Lord alone.43 He was introduced into the spiritual world, he states, that he "might imbibe immediately in light from the Lord the truths of faith by means of which man is led to eternal life."44
40. AE 1183, AR preface, DP 135
41. WE 7006
42. TCR 779e
43. SD 4034, 1647
44. Inv. vii, 55, Coro. Mir. iv
If we are to study Swedenborg's testimony as to the spiritual world, it is of course important to understand the unique state in which he was able to explore that world as no other man had. For although - for the sake of preparation and instruction - he was permitted to pass through many experimental states, and among these also to experience "visions" such as those of the prophets, he affirms solemnly that the things which he had seen habitually in the other life for so many years and described, were in no wise visions "but things seen in the highest wakefulness of the body."45
45. AC 1885, CLJ 35, TCR 157, HH 442
"Visions," such as those of the prophets of Israel, in which they saw symbolic beasts or angelic hosts or thrones of judgments, etc., were not possible while they were in bodily wakefulness. They occurred when the minds of the prophets were in a hypnotic or somnambulistic state. In such states the spiritual senses can be fully awakened into exquisite perceptivity, and the spirit as it were be withdrawn from the body, as was the case with the prophets when their interior sight was opened by the Lord. When the interior sight is thus opened, "the things which have actual existence" in the other life can be seen, "not merely representatives but also the spirits themselves."
But Swedenborg makes clear that he did not see spiritual things simply in "vision." Occasionally he did experience visions, but only that he might know their nature.47 But it was his unique and apparently unprecedented privilege to be intromitted into the other world not merely as to the mind or spirit while the body was asleep, but as it were with the whole body, in full wakefulness. The reason for this might be that only when the body is awake can a man-still living on earth-retain his full freedom and exercise his human responsibility and judgment.
47. AC 1882-1885, HH 440-442
It is of course utterly impossible for the physical body to enter into the spiritual world! But Swedenborg explains: "The Lord has so united my spirit to my body, that I am in both at the same time."48 "To me it is granted to be in both spiritual and natural light at the same time. By this means it has been granted me to see the marvels of heaven, to be together with angels like one of them, and at the same time to draw forth truths in light, and thus to perceive and teach them; consequently to be led by the Lord."49 He declined to have this called a miracle. For "every man is in the spiritual world as to his spirit, without separation from his body in the natural world; I however, with a certain separation, though only as to the intellectual part of my mind, but not as to the voluntary."50
48. AR 484e
49. Inv. 52
50. Coro. Mir. v
Swedenborg was thus led through the realms of the other world, not by spirits but by the Lord, and not (as the prophets) by compulsion but by his own choice and with free exercise of his reason. His voluntary part was equally active while among men and spirits. His own free life as an inhabitant of earth was not given up. It is remarkable that he had lived consciously among spiritual beings constantly for at least fifteen years, had written down his experiences meanwhile in his private journal, and had published anonymously the Arcana and five other books, before it became known to his friends, among whom he moved as before, that he was in society with spirits.51
But as to his understanding, his spirit could as it were be separated from the body and its sensations and be elevated to various levels of spiritual light. His thought shifted between different degrees of clarity. He complains that once in a while when he had to attend to worldly affairs such as money matters, the spirits seemed absent from him, and could not address him.52 But by the same token, by virtue of a certain separation of the understanding from bodily things, he could roam through the most distant parts of the spiritual world, and accordingly appear before spirits from other earths: which all took place by changes of state in his understanding.53 He could journey in spirit among the celestials or visit the hells without fear.
52. SD 185, 304, 1166
53. EU 125, 127
Yet the states of the understanding are, with man, tied up with the states of his bodily lungs and their breathing. The unique mission of Swedenborg required an ability to breathe by what he describes as a "tacit" or internal respiration, which was an aid to intense speculation about truths. From childhood, he had often fallen into such states when the breathing was almost withdrawn; and this type of respiration-during which sensations from the physical body could not disrupt the thought-became renewed when heaven was opened to him.54 When Swedenborg was introduced into a state like that of the angels, his bodily respiration became tacit and the respiration of his spirit was made harmonious with that of the angels.55
54. SD 3464
55. Wis. vii. 3
It must be observed that Swedenborg had two kinds of intercourse with spirits. "I have talked," he writes, "with spirits as a spirit, and I have talked with them as a man in the body. And when I talked with them as a spirit, they knew no otherwise than that I myself was a spirit, in a human form as they were. Thus it was my interiors that appeared before them, for when talking with them as a spirit my material body was not seen."56
SWEDENBORG'S GRADUAL INFORMATION
Swedenborg was gradually introduced into full wakeful consciousness of the spiritual world. The Divine purpose in thus allowing a man living on earth to perceive the things of the other life was that this man might explore the world of spirits, the heavens and the hells, come to know and understand what he found there, to witness the Last judgment, and testify before men concerning the order and life and faith of the heavens and concerning the states of spirits outside of heaven.
Swedenborg was chosen for this exploration of the spirit-world partly on account of his love of truth and his experience in natural research.58 It was necessary that he should approach his task objectively-discarding the preconceptions of his contemporaries. He had to gather his material patiently, and record with fidelity what he saw and heard and felt even when he did not understand it fully or at once. That he did not always understand the reasons or causes which lay behind the phenomena which he describes in the first years of his sojourn among spirits and angels, is clear from the early entries in his Diary where he frequently uses the expressions, "I do not yet know," or "I do not know."59 Rather than jumping to quick conclusions he suspended his judgment in the manner of a mature student. And when the explanation came, he notes it with the phrase, "It was granted me to know . . . ." or "granted me to perceive. . . ."
58. TCR 850, ISB 20, Docu. 246
59. SD. 281, 278, 637e, 1011, 1005, 1042, etc.
Even spiritual experiences require time! He could not at once enter into the inmost heavens. In the first few years after his call, the spirits with whom he openly associated were largely "spirits such as are with man," or spirits recently deceased. There were many mixed strata of spirits in the unjudged spirit-world! These ranged in quality from very good to very bad. But owing to the state of the world of spirits at that time, most of them were very corporeal and in gross hallucinations, thinking that there was no after-life but that they were still in the material body. Since spirits are unable to use their own corporeal memory they usually did not know who they had been on earth; but they entered into agreeable parts of Swedenborg's memory-field so fully that at the time they believed themselves to be he, and thought that they were doing and writing and experiencing the things which he did and sensed in the natural world. Such spirits could not remain long with Swedenborg, for he often undertook to show them that they were not men. They spoke with Swedenborg in his own language, taking on the forms of his natural memory which they then felt as their own.
Spirits of this type helped to acquaint Swedenborg with the relationship of spirits to men-a communion, of which, under ordinary circumstances, both men and spirits are entirely unconscious. He thus learned how closely men and spirits depended on each other: how spirits had their ultimates of order in the "material ideas" or gross sensual concepts of men; how the thought of each spirit rested (or was terminated) in particular groups of preferred objects in a man's memory, in ideas of certain places and foods, garments and books, etc., to which the spirit had, by suggestion or correspondence, attached some pleasant meaning or association of ideas in which he felt satisfied or at home because they recalled the delights of his love. On the other hand, Swedenborg's experience showed that every mood or mental state of a man was dependent on the spirits who attended him, although the man was still free to divert his mind by deliberately turning his attention elsewhere and thus change these unseen mediations by which the influx of life was modulated and attuned for his reception.
Swedenborg's situation would be misrepresented if we gave the impression that his early contacts were confined to the sphere of these external spirits. For he was at the same time given glimpses into the world of spirits itself-not only seeing representations of heavenly character and meeting groups of harmonious spirits in concourse with each other, but also coming to realize how vastly the spirits differed in type and contrasting character. He also made another discovery: "From experience," he wrote, "I have at length been taught that the spirits who speak with me are the subjects or, as it were, the concentrations, of many spirits; because all spirits, even the evil, are distinguished into their genera and species."60 He found that the speech and thought of interior spirits could not reach him without some such "subject- spirit" or ambassador through whom they spoke and acted. When these spirits spoke among themselves in their spiritual language of ideas, they could indeed affect Swedenborg with gladness or melancholy or other emotional tone, but he could not hear or understand what they said.61
60. SD 405
61. SD 3631ff, 5778
That Swedenborg was raised interiorly into the light of heaven by degrees or stages, he himself testifies; and he adds: "As I was raised up my understanding was enlightened even so far that I perceived what I had not perceived before, and finally such things as I could in no wise comprehend by thought from natural light. Sometimes I was indignant that they were not comprehended when yet they are so clearly and plainly perceived in heavenly light."62 At first he complains, "What spirits [in the world of spirits] did in particular, that I could feel, could hear and thus distinctly perceive; but not what occurred in heaven, except so far as they operate in common."63 "Those things which I have seen in the world of spirits I have seen in clear light, but those in the heaven of spirits I have seen more obscurely, and still more obscurely those in the heaven of angels, for the sight of my spirit has rarely been opened to me so far. But by a certain perception, which is such that it cannot be described, it is given to know what they have said-often through intermediate spirits.
There is no doubt that Swedenborg's understanding of the things which he saw in the world of spirits was gradually clarified, during the years 1744 to 1748, as he was being equipped for the writing of the Arcana Coelestia. In His providence, the Lord inspired Swedenborg to write down his spiritual experiences in his Diary, sometimes from day to day, so that we may trace some of the stages of his journey of discovery.
Thus it appears that one of Swedenborg's first concerns was to dissuade corporeally minded spirits from the notion that they still lived in a material body of spatial dimensions and physical weight. Spirits indeed appeared, before Swedenborg as well as before themselves, in a complete human form, with bodies and garments, and as living in houses in a world deceptively like ours, But what was the relationship of these appearances to the underlying reality? Surely, Swedenborg argues in the Diary, such things could not be predicated of spiritual and celestial things, of heavenly beings! They must be regarded as fallacies or phantasies. What need would spirits living a heavenly life have of arms or legs or stomach, lungs, and other viscera? Some spirits insisted that even if they did not have viscera, they surely have man's external form; since they actually feel shame unless they are clothed!65 That spiritual essences also must possess some form, Swedenborg grants, and he also freely admits that he does not yet know what this form might be. Once he calls to mind the marvelous forms of the inmost substances within the brain and suggests them as an effigy of the form (not the shape) of the spirit.66 When a spirit insisted that he spoke with actual lips, Swedenborg remonstrates that they were only a "representation of lips."67 Yet that spirits had sensation, of this there was no doubt:
It is not mere phantasy, then, this sensory life of spirits! The phantasy in which corporeal spirits are immersed is merely due to their imagining that the things they sense are natural, and that their bodies are physical. This notion they retain from their life in the world, and it is with difficulty extirpated.70 Swedenborg found that the angels have no such ideas, yet their sensory life is marvelously rich and varied.
70. SD 1672 1/4, cp 4207, AC 10758e
It seemed indeed astonishing to him "that such things as are merely corporeal should exist even in the world of spirits, namely that they appear to themselves to be bodies, yea, to be clothed in garments, that they perceive pain, and thus have the sense of touch, besides other things which are merely corporeal and would in nowise seem to belong to spiritual essences or spirits; that nevertheless they exist is so true that the whole heaven affirms it."71 And when certain spirits doubted the existence of a spiritual world Swedenborg warned them that they should believe in their own sense-experience.72
71. SD 1715
72. SD 3058
In the early Diary it is noted that the garments of spirits are due to phantasies which do not exist in heaven, although angels also appear to spirits in beautiful garments representative of their character.73 Later, in the Arcana, Swedenborg is able to testify that the garments of the angels "are real substances, thus essences in form."74 It is obvious that the problems in his mind were being solved. To corporeal spirits it was indeed a phantasy that they have lips and legs and use food and garments;
Thus Swedenborg came to recognize-i.e., "was given to perceive"-certain universal laws which governed the phenomena of the other life. As he assimilated the accumulating evidence he saw that spiritual things, sensed by a spiritual subject, i.e., by a spirit or angel, are indistinguishable in consciousness from the corresponding material things sensed by a material subject, or by the bodily sense-organs of a man on earth. "When what is spiritual touches or tastes what is spiritual, it is altogether as when what is material touches or tastes what is material."75
75. LJ post. 323, HH 461, AE 926:2, DLW 91
Those who have once seen and accepted this simple law, need not be afraid to describe the things of spiritual sensation-i.e., spiritual phenomena-in terms of the corresponding natural sense-objects. Thus Swedenborg, when he had entered fully into the realm of angelic realities, nevermore hesitated to ascribe reality and substance to the "appearances" of the spiritual world, any more than we do when we describe our material world in terms of our sense-experience, or in terms of the "appearances" or phenomena through which we study the nature and substance of the world.
Sensation is necessary to consciousness for spirits as well as for men. As to its external face, the spiritual world resembles the natural, for both are perceived by the same human mind and in the same "appearances" of time and space.76
76. DLW 163, Wis. vii. 5
Swedenborg therefore was commissioned, in his descriptions of the other life, to give us a definite pictorial basis for our own thought about the spiritual world. He insistingly teaches that all things of earth's four kingdoms do also exist in heaven, delusively the same yet from a more direct or spiritual origin-atmospheres, minerals, plants, animals; human bodies with brains and blood and viscera; and also works of art and artifice;
77. LJ post. 314-323, LJ 27, DLW 321, Wis. ii. 3:4
Yet the spiritual, as to internal face and essence, is of a different origin and substance, an essence which can only be defined in the terms of life or states of mind. And the quality of this inner essence of the spiritual world can be known only from the unique laws of love and wisdom which are displayed in the life of spiritual beings - a life utterly different from the activities of nature.
* * * * * * * * * *
It is this spiritual world that is revealed in the pages of the Writings. Swedenborg's information had to be gradual. But this information, gained through his intercourse with spirits and angels and even devils, and through his observing the unique representations, processes, and events of the other life, was but the means of furnishing his mind with the material from which the Lord, in making His second advent, could by inspiration construct through Swedenborg's mind and pen a doctrine concerning the spiritual world for the use of the New Christian Church. This is the reason why Swedenborg insists that "what has come from the Lord has been written, and what has come from angels has not."78
78. AE 1183, DP 135, SD 4043, 1647, TCR 779
It is therefore not Swedenborg's opinions, but the revealed doctrine, which we attempt to present and discuss in the following pages.
2 IMMORTAL MAN
BIRTH, DEATH AND SURVIVAL
The Fact of Death
In this our age there is a constant insistence on facts. The sternest, most recognized fact of human experience is that all men are mortal. Death strikes young and old with equal finality. There is no arguing with death as a fact which all must be ready to face.
Yet facts are elusive. Facts, however actual, are appearances, phenomena which sometimes endure and sometimes vanish away. The solidity of a piece of ice is a fact real enough, but while we look away it has disappeared. The ice has left a pool of water which eventually evaporates into an invisible gas. This gas, or steam, might be recaptured, and by electrolysis be turned into elements still more evasive. And these in turn might themselves be resolved into tiny bundles of measured energy in forms which imagination cannot picture, but which science generally holds to be the final constituents of that which we know as material substance.
Death is a fact. Yet it, too, is only the appearance of a change, whereby the body functions become disordered and inactive, and the organs and members no longer exhibit those mysterious yet familiar reactions which testify of sensation, consciousness and will, or in short, of life.
Ideas of Immortality
But since time immemorial men have generally felt assured that the death of the body could not mean a destruction of that personality which is built up through a lifetime of human experience and effort. For if so, what was the purpose and intent behind life itself? Why should man pass through so many arduous stages of learning and analytic understanding-such as animals never attain - if the human mind, so marvelously formed, was destined to sink back into dissolution and never put its acquired powers to permanent use? In the primitive celestial church, this necessity of man's immortality was a basic perception flowing from the instinct order of its life, confirmed by every experience of nature. Later, it took the form of doctrine, incorporated in the symbolic histories of the most ancient Scriptures. And when these Scriptures-the Ancient Word-were mostly lost, the idea and hope of an immortal life survived in myth and legend. Classical philosophy purged away some of the grosser features of the myths, but retained in general the concept of the soul's survival, debating its possibilities pro and con. And when Christianity became dominant throughout western civilization, it not only taught of man's immortality, but it borrowed both from legend and philosophy to amplify the picture of the soul's after-life. It became a picture confused and contradictory, bemuddled by the persistent feeling that the eventual heaven was somehow possible only on earth at the end of the world.
And in recent times, after the faith of Christendom had been undermined by new modes of thinking which centered men's attention upon worldly goals-upon a heaven on earth more immediately attainable through scientific research and without the help of God-the concept of personal immortality has increasingly come under indictment as an unnecessary assumption or as an unlikely possibility.
It is necessary for the New Church man from time to time to review the teachings of the Writings about man's immortality, with a view to seeing that his understanding of these teachings is not so vague and indefinite that it cannot stand up against the doubts that are current in the world around him.
The Fount of Immortality
What is it that makes man immortal? The Lord said: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."1 The Writings say: "Man is so created that as to his internal he cannot die." And the reason is that "he can believe in God and also love God and thus be conjoined to God by faith and love; and to be conjoined to God is to live to eternity."2
1. John 11:25
2. HD 223, ISB 8, HH 39
From this passage of doctrine it might sound as if only those who believe in God will become immortal. But a closer reading shows that it is because man is so created that he can believe in God and love Him that he also will live to eternity. Every man has the faculty or potentiality of believing and loving because his inmost soul receives life continually from the Lord. The Lord pours His own life into every man's soul, whether a man's mind turns itself against the Lord or not. The Lord's love is unceasing, and He never takes back the gift of life from any man; not even from the devils of hell, whom He continually seeks to save from their own evils. In the inmost soul, which is above the conscious mind of either angels, spirits or men, and which can therefore never be perverted by human vice or folly, the Lord can find an abode or receptacle even with the evil.3
3. AC 1940, 1999, LJ 25:5,6
Two Conditions for Immortality
It is from this inmost soul or "human internal" that man has the faculty of conjoining himself with God, and also the responsibility of using this faculty. Animals, although they have sensation and a certain analogue of reason, do not have such a faculty, and cannot conceive of God, because their souls are merely natural affections.
We note that there is a second condition for immortality. The first is the possession of the human internal. But the second condition is that man shall be born into the natural world. This implies that no human being can be created immediately into the spiritual world, as has been imagined by Christians in general, who speak of God creating a host of angels and archangels before the earth was ever formed. These angels were described as purely spiritual beings, and tradition pictures them as living a life of ecstasy continuously glorifying God. It is even claimed that some of these angels, under Lucifer their leader, rebelled and formed an empire of their own, and that this is what is meant by the Devil and his crew which have troubled mankind since the time of Paradise.
Similarly, many ancient philosophers, including some of the Christian church fathers, believed that human souls were first created to inhabit the stars, and that it was when these souls began to long for a more corporeal life that they were born into the world as men.
In ancient times, as still among many Orientals, it was thought that the pre-existing soul could remember something of its previous life and could indeed be born again and again, by transmigration-born in different forms, either human or animal!4
4. HH 256, SD 3285, 3917, AC 5858, 2478
The Writings indeed teach that the Lord creates the human soul and by the agency of that soul forms the body. The soul is prior, as a cause is prior to its effect. The soul is not an effect of the body, but the body of man is formed by the soul; or rather, by the Lord through the soul or "human internal."
In a remarkable passage in the Arcana Coelestia, it is said, among other things, that "man's internal is that from which he is a man.... By means of this internal he lives after death and to eternity as a man.... The very heaven that is nearest the Lord is from these human internals but this is entirely (usque) above even the inmost angelic heaven, and therefore these internals are the Lord's alone. . . ." Yet they are forms receiving the Lord's life, and do not have "life in themselves."5
5. AC 1999:3, 4
This inmost degree of man which immediately receives the Lord's life is also called the dwelling place of the Lord in heaven and in the angel, "for what is there transacted an angel does not know."6 The Spiritual Diary notes that it lacks a name7 but in the later Writings it is sometimes contrasted with the lower degrees of man's spirit or mind, and is then called the "Soul."8 Thus the angels are said to have a soul, a mind and a body, the inmost being called the soul; although in a general sense the entire spirit or mind which departs from the body at death is commonly called "the soul" in the Writings.
6. SD 5548, cf 3474, AC 1940
7. SD 4627:3
8. ISB 8
The Arcana does not state that the human internals existing above the inmost angelic heaven were created before mankind and are there waiting until proper parents are available for incarnation on earth. "What is there transacted" not even an angel knows! The soul is "a superior spiritual substance" which must not be thought of from either time or space. Certainly the Lord foresees from eternity all the possible needs of mankind. In His view, creation is already as it were completed, "according to the idea of an infinite heaven."9 With Him there is no time. In the Divine, proceeding to create, are contained all the possible uses of the Grand Man of the heavens-and what are human souls except the first expression of such potential uses?
9. Cp SD 4845
The creative process of the Lord is continual. And His creative urge or conatus is transferred into the souls which He creates. Hence the soul, which in its essence is spiritual, from an implanted effort to self propagation, wills to procreate itself;
Creation of Human Minds
The effort within the soul is not only to receive life immediately from the Lord,11 which it does unconsciously, but also to form more and more such immortal receptacles which can receive this life consciously, so as to appreciate the Lord's love and wisdom and co-operate with His will and His laws of truth. And this conscious reception of life can come into being only by the soul forming itself into a human mind, which not only receives and transmits life passively but reacts in freedom.
11. ISB 8
The inmost soul does not have this kind of freedom because it does not have consciousness. These two, freedom and consciousness, go together. Without these two-or without the faculties of rationality and liberty-there can be no reciprocal conjunction with God, and therefore no permanent individuality, no eternal life. Thus the doctrine stresses again and again that it is the human mind that is the spirit which lives after death. And this mind, which constitutes man's individual reaction to life, cannot be formed except on the basis of that experience which we call birth into the natural world.
We may well ask why this is so. One answer which the Writings give is found in the little work Divine Wisdom: "One who knows what the substances of the spiritual world are like compared to the material things in the natural world can easily see that no procreation of angelic minds is possible or can occur except in those and from those who inhabit an earth, the ultimate work of creation.... Substances in the spiritual world appear as if they were material, but still they are not; and because they are not material, therefore they are not constant.
Note here that the angels, although they are spiritual substances, do not disappear or dissolve, although the creations around them do so if the angelic states change or the angels go away.13 The reason is that the angels were born on earth and thus acquired a permanent individuality. The spiritual substance of their souls was as it were anchored in time and space. The soul had by birth been made aware of its separate existence! It was no longer an unconscious part of the flux of life, as it was in the embryo, which lives solely from the Lord and has no conscious sensation or action.
13. Cp DLW 344
Birth and Immortality
The Writings thus show us that the miracle of birth is a one with the miracle of immortality. By birth man enters not only life on earth but also eternal life. But we must still consider how this is effected. How does the soul become an immortal spirit at the moment of birth? For all things have many beginnings. The soul of a child, we are taught, commences as an offshoot or graft from the soul of the father.14 Such offshoots are transferred into the innumerable paternal seeds from one of which conception of a new individual takes place. The soul of the offspring thus may be said to have its inception (inchoct) - or second beginning - in the ovum of the mother, and it is "afterwards perfected in her womb" while its tender body is being formed.
We read in Genesis that the Lord God formed man out of dust of the ground, and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man "became a living soul." Only by the first breath of earth's air, or, as the Writings say, by the opening of the lungs, does the soul obtain immortality. For the respiration of the lungs is a condition of consciousness. No feeling of self-life is possible, no sensation is felt, as long as the lungs are inactive. The cerebrum, in which we consider consciousness to operate, must be stimulated by the oxygen breathed into the lungs and carried up to the brain by the bloodstream. The brain, which in prenatal life has been conjoined with the motion of the heart, becomes instead harmoniously attached to the rhythm of breathing, and takes up the conscious government of its body.16 Life, which had hitherto been directed solely to the formation of the body, is thus short-circuited in the intricate organic network of the cortical cells and fibres of the cerebrum, and the soul begins to realize its individual independence for the first time! The body is born-but also the spirit!
16. DLW 401, 407, Wis. iii. 5, 6, v, vi. 8, 9
Memory and Personality
Why individuality cannot commence except in the world of nature, is worth some reflection. For what is the basis of our individuality? Is it not memory of sensory experiences? - a memory built up from defined beginnings in time and space? I am "I" because born at a definite time, in a particular place; and all my experiences, gathered up into a vast complex of memories, were basic to every reaction of my will, marked the external limitations of my thoughts, the field in which my personality gradually formed itself.
And memory, the memory of an earth experience, therefore limits or finites one's life; but note, only from below. It makes every person uniquely different, a vessel of life precious in the eyes of the Lord. It provides a ground in which all the states of a man's life are preserved as eternal. In it every feature of a man's character is represented. It is ordered not only chronologically, but according to all man's affections-his valuations and interests, his ruling loves. The Writings call this ultimate plane of man's life "the corporeal memory." The ideas of which it consists are derived directly from bodily sensations and are called "material ideas." For it is the record of man's corporeal life in this world.
But how is this corporeal memory held permanent? Ideas, even though they may be ideas of material things, are not themselves material, but are spiritual states of mind, states of a spiritual substance. But as we have read, spiritual substances are not permanent in form, but change. Memory is permanent, we know, as long as the texture of the brain is intact. Things long forgotten can be recalled perfectly if the right parts of the brain are given some physical stimulus. But what happens to it at death, when the body, with all the visible organisms of the brain, dies and decays? Is the memory then also dissolved, to vanish as the objects around the angels sometimes do?
The Doctrine of the "Limbus"
The answer to this question lies in the doctrine concerning the "limbus." This Latin term is used in a special sense in True Christian Religion, n. 103. It means a border, or fringe, or hem, or edge. The reference is to the border substance of the natural world, the inmosts of nature; where nature as it were touches the spiritual world, or where the body is immediately responsive to the influx of the spirit. Unless we know something of the function of this border substance we cannot come to understand why man's memory and thus man's spirit can be preserved from dissolution when the body dies.
"Man's mind is his spirit, and the spirit is the man, because by the mind is meant all of man's will and understanding, and these are in principles in the brains and in principiates [or derivatives] in the body; therefore they are all things of man as to their forms .... For the first thread of the human form or the human form itself with each and everything thereof, is from the beginnings from the brain continued through the nerves. . . . It is this form into which man comes after death and which is then called a spirit and angel, and who is in all perfection a man, but a spiritual man. The material form that is added and superinduced in the world is not a human form from itself, but from the spirit to which it is added and superinduced that man may be able to perform uses in the natural world, and also to draw unto itself from the purer substances of the world a fixed containant of the spiritual things, and thus continue to perpetuate life . . . ."18
18. DLW 387,388
Thus man is born in an earthly body not only to perform uses in the world, but-and this is of primary importance-in order that his spirit may draw a subtle natural substance unto itself and fashion it as a permanent containant for his spirit. Concerning this we read in the work The Divine Providence:
"The conjunction of temporal and eternal things with man is the Lord's Divine providence. . . . It is from Divine providence that man by death puts off what is natural and temporary, and puts on what is spiritual and eternal.... Extremes and ultimates are containants; and these are in the natural world. Hence it is that no angel and spirit was created immediately but that they were all first born men. . . . From this they have extremes and ultimates which in themselves are fixed and stable (stata), within which the interims can be held together in connection. But man at first puts on the grosser things of nature; from these is his body. But these things he puts off by death, and retains the purer things of nature which are nearest [or next] to the spiritual things, and these then are his containants.
"Inasmuch as the extremes or ultimates of nature cannot receive spiritual or eternal things ... he retains only the interior natural things, which agree and conform with spiritual and celestial things and serve them as containants . . . ."19
It is clear that it is by birth that man first puts on and appropriates these interior natural things in which his spirit may dwell not only during life on earth but forever. But whence are they derived? What function do, they serve during man's life? And what is their relation to the spirit after death?
These questions we shall consider in our next section.
In beginning a consideration of what there is in man's constitution that is immortal, it was shown that immortality has its origin in the Lord, who has created man with an inmost soul which is appropriated to him at his birth in the natural world. Man's spirit is thus born at the same time as his body.
Through this fact, the birth of a man may be seen as a very important event! It is the beginning of his mind, the beginning of consciousness and of the formation of the memory, which is the basis of individual or proper life. Without memory, man's life could not be marked off from all the currents of life which affect him. Nor could his spirit awaken after death as the same person, if he had not carried with him all the mental experiences that had occasioned the formation of his character.
Yet the question left unanswered was: How is this memory preserved after the body has died and his brain has decayed? We indicated that the answer lies in the doctrine of the "limbus," which speaks of the existence of a plane of substance taken from the inmost of nature to serve as a "containant" for the spiritual things that compose man's mind or spirit. The need for such a containant is shown in the work The Divine Providence;20 and other teachings indicate that an angel created directly into the spiritual world-not having obtained, by a life on earth, such a containant or "limbus" from nature-would not be any more permanent than the correspondential objects around the angels. But whence does this containant come? And how is it formed?
The Source of the Substance of the Limbus
The general source of the substance of the "limbus" is said to be "the inmosts of nature";21 "the purer substance of the world";22 or "the purer" or "purest things of nature,"23 "nearest to spiritual things."24 But what could this mean? Doctrine tells us that nature's substances are created in discrete degrees, one composite of the other. Some scientists have assured us that the matter we handle is indeed composed of masses of molecules held together by mystical bonds which no one really claims to understand, and that these molecules are in turn constituted of elemental "atoms" which can be compared to miniature solar systems in which incredibly mobile electrons whirl like planets around a center of nuclear particles. The Writings speak of three successive physical atmospheres from which three degrees of matter originated.25 These atmospheres are the active forces which are the mediate causes of all natural phenomena. The highest, most universal of these spheres originates the force of gravity,26 and may thus be taken as the "inmost" of nature; for in theory, the original form of matter must be conceived as gravitational fields of force. However this sphere may be conceived, it would somehow answer to what is called the "purest things of nature" out of which the "limbus" is said to be formed.
21. Wis. viii: 4
22. DLW 388
23. DP 220, TCR 103
24. DP 220
25. DLW 302
26. LJ post. 312
But how can the spirit of man draw unto itself, from the inmosts of nature, such a substance? Obviously this formation of a "containant" of the spirit must be an organic process, a process begun even before birth.
That there is such a type or degree of substance in the seed from conception is, in fact, indicated in the work Conjugial Love,27 where it is stated: "In the seed of man is his soul in a perfect human form, veiled over with substances from the purest things of nature, out' of which the body is formed in the mother's womb." And a further teaching is given in The True Christian Religion to the same effect:
The substance is thus at hand in the very seed for the formation of what later is to be the "limbus" of the eternal spirit. It is the purest substance of nature - able to convey the soul and serve as its first embodiment. But what use does it serve during man's life on earth?
To understand this we must realize that the soul, as a spiritual substance, forms itself into three discrete degrees, which in the Writings are called the celestial, the spiritual and the spiritual-natural. These three degrees are in every man from birth, and are meant to be opened successively.29 The lowest, which is called the spiritual-natural or ultimate spiritual degree,30 operates in the organics of the physical brain and body, and there it prepares for itself the natural mind - the mind which man consciously uses in the world and which is the basis of his character. It is this natural mind which contains the memory of earthly things. It is in that degree of the mind that man has sensation, memory, imagination and reason, and that he forms his attitudes towards good and evil, by an exercise of conscious choice.
29. DLW 236
30. DLW 345
The two higher degrees of the mind-the celestial and the spiritual-are beyond man's consciousness while on earth, even though they can be opened by regeneration and furnished to receive the Lord's influx. It is told that these higher degrees derive their form "solely from the substances of the spiritual world."31
All through man's life on earth, the subtlest natural substances distilled in the inmost recesses of the brain and the nervous system act as the agents of the spiritual substances which think and will. The spirit, through these most subtle essences of nature, is present throughout the body. Hence we read: "The spirit of a man is not a substance that is separate from the viscera, organs and members of the man, but it cleaves to them in conjunction; for the spiritual accompanies every stamen of them from the lowest to the inmost. . . ." "That man after death is equally a man ... is because his spiritual is adjoined to his natural, or the substantial of the spirit to the material of the body, so aptly and unitedly that there is not a fibrilla, stamen, or least thread from these where the human of the spirit is not a one with the human body . . . ."34 Death is nothing but a separation of the natural substance from the spiritual.
34. Wis. vii:2, 4
The spirit or mind is, in one sense, present throughout a man's body. But the common center towards which all sensations travel, and from which all motor impulses proceed, is the brain. Within the subtle organics of the brain the natural mind becomes conscious of the states of the body and the world and organizes a memory of all its sensations. And in the brain the lowest or ultimate spiritual adapts the purest things of nature into a permanent basis, in which the mental states of memory, thought and affection are represented in an image by corresponding motions.
It is therefore said: "Man's natural mind consists of spiritual substances and at the same time of natural substances. From the spiritual substances, but not from the natural substances, comes thought. . . ."35 And to make it clear that these natural substances - which are thus for all practical purposes an operational part of the natural mind while man is living in the world - are not destroyed along with the body, which, brain and all, decays in the grave, it is added: "These [natural substances of the natural mind] recede when man dies, but not the spiritual substances; wherefore, after death when man becomes a spirit or angel, that same mind remains in similar form in which it was in the world."36
35. DLW 257
36. DLW 257
Thus the spiritual substance - which is the real natural mind - remains, while the natural substances associated with it, "recede" or fall back. Being natural they can certainly not enter the spiritual world!37 But they do not perish. Instead they "recede" - withdraw from that intimate relation which they had with the spiritual substances while in the life of the body. For in the material body, all man's conscious thought was tied in with changes in these natural substances of his brain. But after death the spirit is freed from this dependency, and can perceive things apart from nature; can directly perceive his spiritual environment, to which he formerly had been blind! He can see other spirits and can commune with them through a spiritual medium which has nothing in common with space or natural substance. He is released into "another world where there are other functions, and other powers and abilities, to which the quality of his body there is adapted."38 For he is now in a spiritual body.
37. DLW 83, 88
38. AC 5078:4
What this spiritual body is like, as described in the Heavenly Doctrines, we shall consider more fully in our next chapter. But our interest at this point is in the question as to what happens to "the natural substances of the natural mind" when they so gracefully "recede" to allow the spirit a fuller freedom. The teaching in The Divine Love and Wisdom thus continues:
It is clear from this that the purest things - or inmost things - of nature, selected and organized in the interiors of the brain as the natural basis of the memory, are the very substance which is elsewhere called the "limbus." "Every man, after death ... retains the spiritual which he had from the father, together with a certain border (limbo) from the purest things of nature around it. . . ."40
40. TCR 103
The departing spirit retains this "border." Nowhere do the Writings say that he takes it along into the spiritual world! For nothing natural can enter, or be a part of, the spiritual world. Yet he retains it, and its use is likened to that of a cutaneous covering for (or around) the spiritual body-which seems like a very intimate function. If we were literalists we might here evolve a rather grotesque picture of a spiritual body which, being spiritual, is not in space, but which has a skin made of natural substance!
It is reasonably clear, however, that the Writings here employ a comparison, The living flesh which we carry is surrounded by a skin, or cutaneous covering. The skin is our boundary, the nether limit of our individuality. And as long as the body is living, the surface of the skin, or cuticle, consists of cells of flattened epithelium which gradually are deprived of life and dry up like scales and flake off. Yet without this covering of almost lifeless skin our bodies could not withstand the impact of the world or be protected from undue influences. In a parallel way the spiritual body is protected by the "limbus" as by a cutaneous envelope. Its obvious use is negative-to fix the corporeal memory so that it can no more change!
But another teaching makes this more clear. Speaking of the necessity that man be born on an earth, the little work Divine Wisdom goes on to say:
Let us note well that the "limbus" is not here given any role in the spiritual world as a medium in the intercourse of one spirit with another. It has a definite role in fixing the personality of a spirit. But it is a medium between spirits and men. We presume this to mean that when a spirit is exerting an influence on, or influx into, the mind of a man, there is an activity in the limbus of the spirit and a communication set up in the inmost sphere of nature which affects the natural substances of the natural mind of the man, or those inmost organics of his brain which are on the same level or degree and in a receptive state. But all this is in the realm of speculation, since little is known factually of the innermost substances of the brain or the inmosts of nature.
Indeed, the "medium" is from the inmosts of nature, and this "cannot be described except by abstractions." In recent times many scientists seem to have been forced to a similar conclusion. The hypothetical ingredients of the atom are admittedly mental constructs. Science shies at any mechanical models, but describes the inner sphere of nature in "a sheaf of mathematical formulae" - to borrow a phrase from Sir James Jeans.
But the New Church man must attach importance to the teaching that the immortal persistence of our personality depends on an inmost natural substance which is organized during his bodily life on earth. What natural substance is this?
This question occupied Swedenborg's mind at least ten years before he was called to his spiritual office. The growing skepticism among the learned led him to attempt to prove that there existed within man's body an inmost substance which was so subtle and perfect that it could not be affected by the destructive forces of disease or death. It was the purest substance, derived from the highest or universal aura of nature and organized by man's mind into a correspondent form. In The Economy of the Animal Kingdom he called it "the spirituous fluid," and asserted that "no corporeal language could adequately express its nature." "I should," he wrote, "be obliged to resort to analogues and eminences, by abstraction from the things brought out by sense, in which case even truths savor of hypothesis."42
42. 1 Econ. 650, 2 Econ. 167
This eminent and transcendental fluid was next to the soul or spirit, and was the soul's agent in the body. But after death it would be "emancipated from the bonds and trammels of earthly things," and, immortal, retain its organization. On its substance would be impressed a form corresponding to the man's character as to his reception of love and wisdom. It would even retain the record of all his earthly life.43
43. 2 Econ. 314
Swedenborg's speculations in his Economy were, of course, not final. Yet he clearly perceived that man was born on earth because he needed to procure from nature "a containant" for his spirit. And he realized that the nature of this inmost containant could be grasped only by abstractions and by a sort of "mathematical philosophy of universals"!
There are so many things in nature beyond our understanding that we cannot afford to scoff at the idea that the inmosts of our brain substance can be organized into an image of our entire sensory history, a permanent record of our sensations and actions. A lecturer's words may be transferred to a magnetic tape, where they are stored in the form of magnetic stresses ready to be retranslated into words at any time.
Death and the Limbus
The question might be asked, "Where then does the 'limbus' go at death?" That it remains in nature is not to be doubted. Yet what does its locale matter, if its substance is not affected any more by the changes of nature, but remains, independent, in a realm of simples, beyond the corpuscular universe of atoms and molecules which are within the narrow range of our sensory experience? At least, so we may surmise on the basis of what we now know of doctrine and of science. For all we know, the "limbus" might be a structure of wave-patterns, the form of which we can describe only by abstractions, and which is perpetually re-integrated without losing its characteristic uniqueness. If any one thinks this to be impossible, let him reflect on the fact that the whole pattern of a future man and his hereditary peculiarities are actually contained within the microscopic germ-plasm, which is not in the form of the body, yet in a perfect human form which, as to its interior structure, is known, it is said, to the Lord alone!
In one of his early commentaries, Swedenborg speaks of death in these words: "First of all there is released, from its connection with the earthly things which are properly called the body, that substance whose essence is mediate between the natural and the spiritual. This takes with it, because it encloses, that superior substance whose essence is spiritual and which is called the intellectual mind.... This, in turn, encloses man's principal and purer substance the essence of which is supra-celestial and which is properly called the soul .... "44
44. WE 3058
And the Spiritual Diary notes that at death "that of man which is vital is gathered together in a moment even if parts of the body were scattered over a thousand miles."45 "As soon as the interiors of the body grow cold, the vital substances in the man are separated from the man, wherever they are, even if enclosed in a thousand labyrinths. . . .
The vital substances here spoken of seem to refer to the limbus as well as to the spirit itself. For the limbus is still living, even as the body was living, from the soul. Yet the limbus is a natural substance, and thus has no spiritual attributes, no mental powers. It is not the mind, not the soul: its only attributes are those of nature, thus of motion; even though these motions, or potentialities to motion, are like the magnetic Stresses on the recording tape which may be referred to as invisible wave-patterns rather than movements.
The limbus is physical and can never be said to enter the spiritual world. The angels never see it, they only know that it exists.47 It is not to be identified or confused with the spirit or even with the spiritual body. Yet it serves the spiritual body of man as a natural basis and gives it a certain "permanence" and "fixity." We also read that through it the spirit has "a relativity to those things which are in nature." In this life, such "relativity" is possible because the memory-which is the ultimate of the mind or spirit - has a basis in the natural organisms of the brain. The limbus must therefore be that which fixes the order of the corporeal memory for the after-death man.
47. Wis. viii. 4, 5
Let us, then, dismiss any idea that the "limbus" is identical with the mind we use in this world, or with the spirit which lives to eternity in the spiritual world. We must learn to think spiritually of the immortal soul which is raised into the world of life on the third day after death. Man rises into that world, not in a limbus, but in a spiritual body, which has been formed during earthlife "by the truths and goods which flow in from the Lord through the spiritual world and are received by man within such things as are from the natural world and are called civil and moral."48
48. TCR 583
That the limbus takes no real or active part in the life of spirits among themselves - as it would if it were the actual skin or cutis of their spiritual bodies - is clear. And since the limbus gives fixation to the corporeal memory of man, which marks the lowest or spiritual below!49
The Writings are given that we may see spiritual things in the light of heaven. In the next section we shall cite some of the revealed teachings about the spiritual body - the real immortal man. What is this spiritual organism? What is its relation to man's memory? What are its powers and functions in the eternal life? Far from being mystifying, these questions are clearly and simply answered in the Writings.
THE SPIRITUAL BODY
Man's natural thought is so focused on physical things that he finds it difficult to ascribe reality to anything which is not measurable in terms of space and weight and material values. Although most religions have acknowledged that man's spirit lives after death, people have often thought of spirits as flitting spectres or transparent bodies in the air or ether, awaiting the Last judgment, when they would rejoin their bodies, The learned have defined a spirit as abstract thought, as an incorporeal essence, or as a simple substance or monad; and some, as a spark of the Divine. Others deny that it is a substance, calling it a process in the material body which perishes with the 'flesh.
But the simple, both among Christians and Gentiles, who are not confused by reasonings or false doctrines, can usually see from a common perception that the spirit is the real man, and lives as a man after death. This idea pervades human speech and literature. Yet such a bare acknowledgment without definite knowledge is unable to withstand the worldly wisdom which is continually infecting the simple and sincere with a spirit of doubt and denial;
The Mind of Man is Organic
Spirits and angels, the Writings reveal, "are nothing else than human minds and souls in a human form, stripped of the coverings which were composed of elements found in waters or soils and of the exhalations diffused thence into the air. When these are cast off, the forms of men's minds are seen such as they had been inwardly in their bodies. . . ."52 Man's spirit or soul is thus the interior man. It is his mind, which was organized on earth, interiorly of spiritual substances, and exteriorly of natural substances, and finally from material things.53 The affections, the thoughts, and the memory of man are nothing but changes in, and states of, the "purely organic substances of the mind."54
52. CL 192
53. TCR 38, AC 1594:5
54. DP 279
The whole concept of man's regeneration given in our doctrine springs from the fact that the mind is organic. It is impossible to change the quality of one's mind suddenly. The shunning of evils and the formation of new and better habits of thought are a work of years - yea, of a lifetime. For all our confirmed states are inwoven into the web of our spirit. The natural mind, which from birth carries with it hereditary evils, has to be reformed and regenerated until it no longer resists the action of the spiritual mind. This reformation is likened to the untwisting of a spiral until the gyres of its habitual action coil in the same direction as those of the spiritual mind.55 For the mind, or what is the same, the spirit of man, is organic. It must not be thought of as something simple, without constituents, for it is far more complex than the physical body.
55. DLW 270, 263, AE 1168:3, DP 319:3
But when we say that the mind or spirit is "organic," this might easily be misunderstood. For it is usual for men to think only of the vegetable and animal forms on the earth as organic; meaning material forms so organized that they manifest the signs of what is vaguely called "life," such as feeling, growth, propagation and purposiveness.
The Bodies of Spirits and Angels
Now the Writings reveal in unmistakable terms that the spirit which had lived in the body of a man has, after death, "a form like that in which the man was before; there is only a separation of the spiritual substance from the material. For this reason the spirit has a heart and lungs the same as the man in the world, and for the same reason it has like senses and like motions, and also speech; and there can be no senses or motions or speech without heart and lungs." Spirits also, it is added, "have atmospheres, but spiritual."56 And - to dismiss the idea that a spirit is a disembodied and fleeting ghost - the doctrine continues: "He is just as much a man as before he died, except that after death he becomes a spirit- man."57
56. Wis. vii. 2:4
57. Wis. vii. 4
After death, then, "man appears to himself in a body just as in the world, with a similar face, members, arms, hands, feet, breast, belly and loins; so that when he sees and touches himself he says that he is a man as in the world. But still it is not his external which he carried about in the world that he [now] sees and touches, but it is the internal which constituted the human itself which lived and which had an external about it or outside of every part of it, by which he could be in the world and be adapted to act and carry on functions there. This earthly corporeal is no longer of any use to him, he being in another world, where there are other functions, and other powers and abilities, to which his body there is adapted. This body he sees with his eyes, not by those he had in the world, but by those ... of his internal man.... This also he feels with the touch, not with the hands or the sense of touch which he enjoyed in the world, but with the hands and the sense of touch which he there enjoys, which is that from which his sense of touch in the world had existed.
It is not to be wondered at that spirits when they awaken into the spiritual world have at first no realization that they are not still in a material body. They learn this only when they find that all the phenomena of the other life arise from spiritual causes rather than from natural causes such as could be observed on earth. Some, when they realize that they are spirits, become utterly frightened, thinking themselves to be in an empty world. Yet it appears much the same as the world they left, and is sensed with exquisite reality. Indeed, the law is soon taken for granted, that "when what is spiritual touches or sees what is spiritual, it is altogether as when what is natural touches or sees what is natural." In fact, this law, the key to understanding the spiritual world, is repeated again and again in the Writings.60 And "nothing in the spiritual world is material, but everything there is spiritual." Nor can the spirit any more see or touch the material environment, or any man or object therein! "Those who are in the one world cannot see those who are in the other world. For the eyes of a man, who sees by natural light, are from the substance of his world, and the eyes of an angel are from the substance of his world."61
60. HH 461; LJ 24, AE 926, TCR 79, LJ post 323
61. DLW 91. In a letter to Oetinger Swedenborg wrote: "As regards the bodies of angels, they do not appear as luminous but as fleshy; for they are substantial and not material, and in the sight of the angels things substantial are not transparent. In its origin every material thing is substantial. It is into this substantial that every man comes when by death he puts off the material exuviae . . ." (Letters and Memorials of Em. Swedenborg, by Doctor A. Acton, SSA, Bryn Athyn, Pa., 1955, p. 646)
Here we meet with the warning that we must not think that the spiritual is only a "purer natural." For "the natural can never by subtilization approximate the spiritual so as to become it."62 The spiritual body is not a "purer natural," like the "limbus" of which we treated in a previous chapter, nor is it a further refinement of the limbus.
Formation of the Spiritual Body
The teaching is also given that man's soul or spirit "is a spiritual substance which does not have extension but impletion." It "has nothing in common with space or extension," "nothing in common with the changes of nature."64 This is said of the soul when it is present in the body. Yet it is true of the spirit after death that it has no extension except a spiritual extension; which has to do with the limitations, not of space, but of qualities and states. The spiritual world, like the human mind, is devoid of space, yet it has limitations and distances which appear as space. It is such appearances that limit and thus finite and distinguish spiritual things.65 These spaces and spatial forms under which all spiritual things-including the bodies of spirits-appear, "are called appearances because they are visible, and they are said to be correspondences, and are real, because they spring from creation. . . ."66
64. CL 220, TCR 103, ISB 11
65. TCR 29, Wis. vii:5
66. AE 553
It is hopeless to attempt to understand what is meant by a spiritual body unless we are willing to reflect on what composes it; that is, on what it is that appears as such a body or such a human form, in the other life. The first thing to note is that "as far as the spirit of man is concerned, it also is created from finite things. . . . The finite things from which it is [created] are spiritual substances which are in the spiritual world. . . ."67 But these spiritual substances - which, we are assured, are far more real than material things - are organized in a marvelous fashion into vessels responsive to the influx of life as this is channeled and modified through heaven or through hell. They are organized into ideas and thoughts combined into states of affection and delight; into knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, or into their opposites - into phantasies and corruptions. And because both good and evil spirits have an overruling human soul, this organization of all man's states of life is unified into a human form, which appears perfect and beautiful if there is a ruling love of what is true and good, but decrepit and ugly if the dominant love is evil.68
67. TCR 470,583
68. AC 6605
Even in the natural world we can discern at times how a man's mind and character will flash out in self- revelation, and transform the countenance into lovely beauty or contort it with repulsive hatred. The human body is indeed built to express the soul, but the mind can modify the Creator's intent; and when the spirit or mind has been released from the physical body, it is seen in a form corresponding to its inner quality, yet mercifully held by the Creator in the human form just so far as man has not perverted its order. And indeed, man or spirit has no power to destroy in entirety the order of his spiritual body. It is maintained by the Lord for the protection of his freedom.
Is the Spiritual Body only an Appearance?
What is this spiritual body? Is it a mere appearance? and if so, an appearance of what?
At first one might suppose that it is a man's habitual sight of nature that survives after death. His memory is filled on earth with natural objects and human shapes. Is the spiritual world perhaps a mere survival of his memory? But what shall we then say of infants who, dying at birth, had no such memories of this world, yet grow up in the other life as to both body and mind and see all spiritual things in the same natural forms; see all their companions in human forms, and see the gardens and lakes and mountains around them as clearly as other angels? Clearly the faculty to perceive all life in such mental terms, is inborn in them!
The secret law which is now revealed is that the terms of consciousness are the same in both worlds because the same mind senses objects in both worlds. Hence the spirit "neither sees nor feels any difference. But his body is then spiritual ... and when what is spiritual touches and sees what is spiritual, it is altogether as when what is natural touches and sees what is natural."71
The Components of a Spirit
The doctrine points out that "it is an error [to think] that a soul can exist without a body."72 Angels have a body, a rational and a spiritual.73 As to their body and its sensations, angels are in "a lower sphere."74 Their bodies have sensations and pleasures, their minds have affections and thoughts.75 Thus the spirit, like man on earth, consists of degrees - substantial degrees. "Exterior spiritual things are so created by the Lord as to clothe or invest interior spiritual things." And the exterior spiritual things are in forms like those in the natural world. Into these exterior spiritual forms the interior spiritual things - such as those of the angelic mind - close and have their ultimate existence.76 Indeed, "his whole spiritual body, from head to heel, is completely such as his mind."77
72. DLW 14
73. DLW 334
74. AE 926:2
75. CL 273, AC 5078
76. AE 582
77. AE 775:4
The changing states of affection and thought of spirits are represented as a spiritual flora and fauna around them, and these are said not merely to "appear" but to be "created" in correspondence with these states. They are real "because they spring from creation."78 But the ruling states which compose the character of each spirit are manifested as a spiritual body, permanent and complete. For the spirit is a man; and "that man may be man there must be no part lacking." Nothing is lacking, not even the genitals. The male remains male and the female female.79 This spiritual body is not a superficial appearance, but contains heart and lungs and brains and digestive organs. It is nourished on spiritual food. Spirits feel with their external senses, but think with their internal sensories or their brains!80 The body of a spirit contains substantial organs, fibres, nerves and vital fluids, answering to those in the material body. For the human mind has similar formations to the natural body. The reason given is that "there is a perpetual correspondence of all things of the mind with all things of the body."81
We tend to forget how complex our minds are - how ideas are, inwoven into each other in remarkable series of kinships, how marvelous the order through which we can recall the various elements of our thought. We seldom reflect on the laws of the association of ideas and how the most rational and logical processes can yet be upset and reversed by the sudden awakening of some affection or passion! We strain our mental muscles a times; and we digest knowledge in order to obtain its inner essence, the meaning that is of use in building our minds. Our minds feed on intellectual substances and are poisoned by falsities, and by phantasies of self-love.
These are not mere comparisons or metaphors! The spirit after death has inner degrees, answering to all the invisible interiors within the viscera and the brains. It has also its ultimate, which is the spiritual body.
The Spiritual Body and the Memory
We do not think with our bodies. Neither is the body of a spirit employed by the spirit in his thinking processes in the other life. Yet it is spiritual. It was indeed organized within the material body and "formed through goods and truths which inflow from the Lord through the spiritual world" and are received in civil and moral states.86 All man's states are preserved in the form of memory. This is the ultimate of man's mind, the sensual degree, which embodies his entire mind. And in it is inwoven his moral fibre, which we call character.
86. TCR 583, 454
This sensual degree is the first of man's mind to be awakened into consciousness at birth. It exists at birth, ready for use. In it are organized all sensations, which are gradually formed into a memory. It exists also with infants who die at birth; exists as a "spiritual-natural plane"87 which can develop and grow in the other life. But a man who grows up in the natural world develops that sensual degree into a corporeal memory, a "relatively fixed" plane which he takes with him into the spiritual world. "What sort of fixity it is can be known only by this, that all things which are on earth are also in the heavens, but there they are not fixed, but still they appear as fixed."88 The corporeal memory, or ultimate degree of the mind, thus cannot be changed after death, nor added to; and this means that he "remains to eternity" such as he had been in the world. "He has this plane with him, but it becomes altogether quiescent. Still, his interiors close in it. . . ."89
87. HH 345
88. SD 5552
89. SD 5552
Let us again ponder the fact that all the contents of our memory are organized by our special interests and affections, and ordered to reflect the image of our ruling loves, our whole personality.90 And this order imposed on our corporeal memory is fixed after death by the fact that it is devoid of physical sensory organs and thus cannot grow. "New harmonies and correspondences cannot be formed" with the interiors of the mind which rest in it.91 And the reason that it cannot change is also found in that mystical structure, the "limbus," which was the subject of our last section.
It is therefore stated in the doctrine that "the organization taken on in the world remains to eternity."92 "No one's life can be changed after death, because it is organized according to his love and faith, and hence according to his works.... A change of organization can take place only in the material body, and by no means in the spiritual body after the former is rejected."93
92. DP 326:5, 319
93. BE 110, CL 524:2
"Where the tree falleth, there it shall be."94 Not that all progress stops after death. He who is in good can be "perfected immensely, even to angelic wisdom - but correspondingly to the concordances and correspondences that exist between internals and externals while he lived in the world."95
94. Eccles. 11:3
95. SD min. 4645, cp. SD 5552, AC 4588, 3293
The general teaching is that after death a man takes along his whole natural memory "but is not allowed to use it," that is, recall its contents. It is closed, quiescent, like the body when it is asleep. If it were not, and its material ideas were reproduced in the other life, the spirit could not progress into spiritual thought, which is abstracted from persons, spaces and times, If the corporeal memory of a spirit were activated, his ideas would also mix themselves into the thought of the man with whom he was.96 But the spirits have full use of their spiritual or interior memory, in which they store all their experiences in the spiritual world.
96. HH 461, 464, 256
All these teachings strongly suggest that the corporeal memory becomes, after death, a body for the spirit; or rather, that the memory of man is impressed on that spiritual-natural plane which becomes his spiritual body. Man does not live in his brain only, but his soul and mind are present in every part of his body. His memory, even on earth, is impressed on his body, especially as to all acts and habits. (HH 345, TCR 583)
Thus we are told that if it becomes necessary to confront a spirit with his earthly misdeeds which he denies having committed, angelic examiners "inspect his face; and their search extends through the whole body, beginning with the fingers of each hand. . . .
Such spiritual palmistry would be impossible unless the spiritual body were formed in accordance with the thoughts and acts of man's will.98 The external memory with its inactive material ideas, seems thus to be represented in those basic structures such as bones and skin and sinews which have relatively little life, while the viscera and brains of the spirit are formed according to his internal memory, which he employs in his thinking and from which the immaterial sphere of his life unconsciously flows forth.99
98. HH 463e
99. AC 2489,10130,1504, DLW 291
Immortal man has not only a substantial body-which was the sensual degree of his natural mind-but also all the interior degrees which go to constitute his inner being. In his Diary, Swedenborg sums up the successive "interiors of man which do not die": the sensual, the natural, and the spiritual-natural, all of which constitute the external man; the celestial of the spiritual, the celestial, and the inmost, which make up the internal man; and the spiritual of the celestial which acts as a medium between the external man and the internal. All these immortal degrees really exist in every man, one of them being dominant. And in general, these seven degrees constitute three heavens.100 Celestial angels have the celestial degree organized and opened for use; the spiritual angels have the spiritual degree. All spirits have a natural mind or degree, which with the evil remains perverted and consists of "spiritual substances such as are in hell."101
100. SD 4627, cp. 5547-5552
101. TCR 38, cp SD 5547, 2157f
Yet all angels have a natural degree of the mind as well as a spiritual body. The body is the outward form of the mind and makes one with it.102 But since hereditary and other evils of man remain in his spiritual body like scars, there are things in the angel "so depraved that never to eternity can correspondence occur, did not the Lord continually bring it about."
It is therefore a law in the spiritual world that a state becomes apparent, either in the features of the visible spiritual body or in the corresponding environment which is created about spirits and angels, only if it is an active state. Here again the mercy of the Lord is seen. For who could stand if all the inner turmoil of his heart were always apparent, or the dormant hereditary passions which man had never measured were always exposed to view?105
105. Psalm 130:3
What are seen in the spiritual world are the active states of spirits and angels, perceived in the mental forms which correspond to them. These mental forms are the same as those into which we interpreted our natural environment, and thus appear the same.
The objective in our last three sections has been to examine what there is in man that is immortal. We found three things which do not perish at death: the soul, the mind within a spiritual body, and the "limbus" from the inmosts of nature. We also found that through the isolation of the "limbus" the corporeal memory was reduced to quiescence so that its material ideas are not used in the thinking processes of the spirit, but only those things which he had drawn out of the memory as conclusions and rational concepts.106
106. HH 364:2
Many fields of study are opened up through the Writings for those who are willing to think spiritually about the spiritual world and to realize that the spirit is an organization, not of physical elements but of states of good and truth. But no treatment of the subject of the bodies of spirits and angels would be adequate which did not point out the teaching that "a spirit does not subsist upon a basis of his own, but upon a common basis, which is the human race."107
107. LJ 9
But the spirit cannot use the ideas of his corporeal memory, any more than we can think with our hands or feed Instead of this - as the Writings repeatedly show - spirits can be with men and can use the contents of our memories as if they were their own. Their common basis - on which the external phases of their mental life are founded - is the whole human race. "The angelic mansions are indeed in heaven, to the sight separate from the habitations of men, but still they are with man in his affections of good and truth. That they stand forth to the sight as separate is from the appearance."108 "The spiritual world is where man is, and in no wise away from him."109 This conjunction of the two worlds is a unique doctrine of the New Church.
108. LJ 9
109. DLW 92
3 DEATH AND RESURRECTION
1. The general teaching is given in HH 445-452, AC 168-189, SD 1092-1109
The Necessity of Death
Death is necessary in this narrow world of ours. Despite the appearance that it is a harbinger of misfortune and grief, yet it is needed for human happiness.
We are not referring to the fact that our globe cannot conceivably hold the offspring of mankind if the harvester Death was not ever at work in the vast field of human life, mowing down the rotating crops as they mature. There are indeed limits to the numbers which an earth is capable of supporting; as we see from statements concerning the planet which Swedenborg identified with Jupiter. There the life spans of the inhabitants are generally only about thirty years-by a providential adjustment to their multitude and fertility.2 There they love nothing more than to have offspring.3 The entire cycle of life is there quickened; growth and ripening are more swift; death as well as birth is more frequent. The celestial race on that planet regards birth and death as equally important and necessary.
The Jovians are wise. For fear of becoming indocile, they do not hanker after great age. They understand better than Paul that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God"!5
5. SD 546, AC 8851, 1 Cor. 15:50
Imagine eternal existence in the flesh! Even granting a body continually healthy, could everlasting happiness be captured in a life within the bonds of earthly space? As generation after generation rises around a man, will he not wish to withdraw from a society of younger minds who view the uses of the world from a different perspective? Even in a race not so burdened by sin as is ours, there must come a friction of ages and attitudes. Age should normally grow away from the trivial and the external. It must encourage youth to take on responsibility. But it wearies of tasting of youth's mistakes and must leave to new generations to solve the recurrent problems of life. It is less interested in experiment and more in realization. And on our sinful globe the aged become increasingly conscious of their declining bodily strength, and find difficulty in keeping up with modern innovations and the catch phrases of each new generation.
But if they are blessed with the innocence of wisdom those of advanced age come to see how little we can depend on human ingenuity or on the artifices used to prolong physical life for happiness. They come to look to eternal values and view things in the more serene light of spiritual truths. Indeed, they have a patient longing for another world, where their spirits may renew their strength to partake again in the uses of society.
As long as we live in the limited space here below, there is no withdrawal from the busy world of earthly affairs. The world is too narrow to allow for the segregation of different generations, still less of different genius or different basic interests. It cramps development, cramps the individualization to which it has given birth. It promotes social cooperation, but hinders realization. For it is only a world of beginnings.
The world of fixed time and space seems to negate the infinite, eternal purposes of God.
This need is engraved in human nature. The instinct of realizing one's fixed love or ambition is stronger than the fear of suffering or of death or of hell itself. The chance of death is no deterrent to one who loves fame or has pride in his reputation for courage.6 The love of a mother or a lover or a patriot greets the moment of supreme sacrifice with a smile. Even with animals the herding instinct-the implanted blind instinct for racial preservation-is stronger than the fear of individual death. The reason is that the purpose of the Creator always extends to the realization of a goal beyond death. And in man, the crown of creation, that realization is still individual, because man's soul is individual rather than merely racial: man's instinct, which he strives to realize beyond death, is that of free choice.
6. SD 1238
The Dread of Death
It is only in moments when man's inner will overrules him, that he overcomes his natural fear of death, which is an implanted instinct for self-preservation. Man loves life. Even those who, in a rebellious mood, argue that they wish they had never been born, yet love life. The regenerating man does not feel the dread of death so much, for he does not love the world for the sake of self; and when death impends-unless his physical disease affects his thinking or he is concerned for his family - his thoughts are mostly about eternal life. Those who are led by the love of self rarely show piety in the face of death, although the worldly-wise often manifest a spurious death-bed repentance.7
7. SD 1235-1238, AC 177
Irrespective of a man's character, he may dread the pain which, in many diseases, seem to attend the demise of the body. But it is doubtful whether there is any pain connected with the actual death. Death is but the "twin sister of sleep." Consciousness ceases in the body before the heart stops: and until the heart has ceased functioning, death is not complete.8
8. Wis. vii. 4:2, cp HH 446f
The Physiology of Death
It is of importance to know what is involved in the death of the body. The Writings describe it as a process by which the spirit is released. The general teaching is that the conjunction of the body with the spirit depends on the motions of the heart and the lungs of the body being conjoined with the corresponding pulsations and animation of the spirit. For the spirit also has a body with a pulse and respiration. Death occurs when, from any kind of disease or accident, the body comes into such a state as to be unable to act in unison with its spirit and carry out its behests. What is called Death occurs when the vital motions of the lungs and the heart cease and the correspondence with the activities of the spirit's heart and the spirit's lungs is broken.9
9. DLW 390f, Wis. vii. 4
The breathing or animation of the spirit is thought, and the pulse of the spirit is affection; and thought communicates with the breathing, while affection-or love-communicates with the motion of the mortal heart.10 That such a conjunction exists, common sense can easily confirm. Our spirit's heart, or the will, can quicken the throbbing of our mortal heart and express our emotions. And our spirit's lungs, which is the understanding, control the natural lungs in order to express our thoughts in speech. In fact, man's bodily consciousness, or thought, is constantly tied up with the breathing. The unborn babe has no consciousness. The moment our lungs cease to respire in their own independent rhythm, as in suffocation, the mind slides into vacancy.
10. HH 445f, DLW 390, Wis. vii. 4:2
We are accustomed to think of our mind or spirit as lodged in the head-in the cerebral substance. The ancient gentiles used to think of it as in the heart or the diaphragm. But we have good confirmations for our modern habit of thought, since physiology proves that the brain is the organ which controls all motions in the body; and we become impressed by the fact that when we exert a mental decision the body responds through the brain and the motor nerves. Should it not be imagined, then, that death - the severance of the body from the spirit - would take place in the brain rather than by the ceasing of the motions of the heart and the lungs?
We cannot escape this problem by nullifying the doctrinal statements. For they are quite clear. "Those are greatly deluded who assign a particular place to the soul, whether in the brain or in the heart; for the soul of man which is to live after death is his spirit."11 It is not enough to regard the soul as a vague abstraction and to say merely that the soul dwells within the body and that the body invests it. For "the spirit of man is in his body, in the whole and in every part of it; and it is its purer substance, both in its organs of motion and in those of sense, and everywhere else; and the body is the material part that is everywhere annexed to it, adapted to the world in which he then is."12 "The spiritual accompanies every stamen [of man's viscera and organs] from ultimates to inmosts, and therefore also all the minute structures and fibres of the heart and the lungs. When therefore the connection between man's body and spirit is dissolved, the spirit possesses a form similar to that which the man had before; it is merely a separation of the spiritual substance from the material."13
11. Wis. vii. 2e
12. AC 4659
13. Wis. vii. 2:4, cp CL 315:11, TCR 793, 583
Thus the spirit has heart and lungs, and obviously also a brain with cortex and fibres, corresponding in function to the mortal brain. While on earth the spirit is spiritually coextensive with the mortal organism and acts into it by influx according to correspondence. In the other life, the spirit thinks and wills in his spiritual brain as we in our natural brain. But the activity of his heart and lungs make a one with his will and understanding - which he also regards as dwelling in his head!
The spirit's heart and lungs are nothing but the organization, in his spiritual body, of his mind or his will and understanding which in their primes reside in his cortical substances.14 All things of the body of a spirit "from head to foot" are "derivatives" (principiata) constructed through fibres from the beginnings in the brain which are receptacles of love and wisdom.15
14. Cp. DLW 369
15. DLW 369, 387
It is the spiritual heart which is the constant formative cause of the mortal heart's growth and functioning. If the mortal heart ceases to throb, the spiritual heart cannot by means of the brain stimulate it to action.
In one of his early treatises on psychology, Swedenborg notes that death occurs from below: the forms or connections which first dissolve are the most external - those of the red blood.16 And the Writings also show that life in the body depends on the circulation which supplies the tissues with vital heat. Physiology takes account of the fact that in organic bodies heat is being maintained in calculable degrees of temperature and amounts of energy, through the consumption of oxygen by the tissues. But it becomes 'vital heat" only by its receiving from the soul a living conatus which in its essence is love, or spiritual heat, and which directs it for the maintenance of the uses of the body.17 When the heart stops and the body grows cold - which differs as to time according to the fatal disease - the bond between the spirit and the material body is dissolved.18
16. R. Psych. 488-492, 512, cp. 521, 524; WE 5081
17. DLW 379f, Love xx
18. AC 179, 2119, HH 447
What of man's life perishes by death? The Writings answer, Nothing.19
19. See Appendix, page 469
Nothing of man's life remains in the dead body. "Everything that lives in the body and acts and feels from life, belongs exclusively (unice) to the spirit and nothing of it to the body. . . . Whatever lives and feels in man is of his spirit, and everything in man, from his head to the sole of his foot, lives and feels . . . . 11 The body is only the material and this is in itself devoid of life. "And because the material does not live, but only the spiritual, it can be seen that whatever lives in a man is his spirit."20 "All the life of sense that man has does not belong to his body but to his spirit. . . ."21 "The life which is felt in the body belongs to the spirit, wherefore spirits take it with them. . . ."22
20. HH 433, 432, cp AC 1436, 4373, SD 2386, 2355 21. HH 434
22. SD 2355
In some early study notes, Swedenborg called the body "the ultimate natural" and wrote:
Thus when the spirit has been liberated from the body, nothing is lost, but its senses are exercised in the spiritual world instead.24 Man rises as to his spirit or his spiritual body; and this includes everything in the body that lives, feels, thinks, thus everything except the dead corpse which consists of material substance. Only the Lord rose from the dead as to His body also. This doctrine is distinctive of the New Church: that the Lord, while in the world, made His whole Human Divine and, differently from man, rose again both as to His Spirit and as to His body. This He indicated to His disciples when He said, "Behold My hands and My feet that it is I Myself: touch Me and see. For a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have."25
24. HH 434, 461, 463:2, cp. AC 6322, 6948:3
25. Luke 24:39, HH 316, AC 2083:2, 2658, 3318e, 10252, HD 286, Lord 35, AE 66:3, 1112:2, DLW 221:2, TCR 109, LJ post. 87, 129:2
Specifically, the Lord, after He had dissipated or extirpated the hereditary forms imposed on His body through Mary, "rose as to the whole body which He had in the world"-so that "that of the body which with those who are born of human parents is rejected and putrified, was with Him glorified and made Divine."26 Nor did He leave anything of the body in the sepulchre, "as is the case with every other man who rises only as to his spirit and never as to his material body."27
26. TCR 109, LJ post. 87
27. LJ post. 129, cf SD 5244, AC 5078
The Process of Resuscitation
Paul, in his famous but somewhat vague description of the resurrection, given in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. xv) , imagined that the quick and the dead, on the sounding of the judgment trumpet, would all be changed and put on immortality "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." For Paul, in his youth, sat at the feet of Gamaliel, the celebrated Jewish rabbi, and he reflects much of the doctrine of the Pharisees, who believed in a last judgment day common to the living and the dead.28
In the Writings, however, it is revealed that the resurrection of man is individual, and that it occurs not in the twinkling of an eye but as a process, a gradual change of state. Death is indeed sudden, in the sense that there is a moment when the spirit's departure is unavoidable. But the resurrection is a process-a gradual adjustment of the spirit to conscious, free life in the eternal world.
Death occurs when the two vital motions, the respiration of the lungs and the beating of the heart, cease, and the body, deprived of the life of the spirit, grows cold and begins to decay. But until the heart's motion is entirely stopped the spirit continues in the body "for a short time."29 And even after the body is apparently cold, life may with some persist as conscious thinking. The spirit can of course not have any sensation of its natural environment - since respiration has stopped - nor can it move even a particle of the gross matter of the body.30 The spirit, though definitely severed from the body, may still abide in it, by virtue of the "finest substances of nature" which are not affected by death but are retained by the spirit as a "limbus" which eventually "recedes" as a cutis-like covering.31 These substances would not leave the body until the "interior corporeals" grow cold. The thought here described would be tranquil and unaffected by the state of the body.32
29. AC 179, 2119, HH 446
30. HH 433
31. DLW 257, TCR 103, Wis. viii.
32. AC 179, 4622:4, cp 177f, SD 1102, HH 449
Death is, in a manner, like sleep; for in sleep celestial agencies are at work to relax and restore man's body and mind. But the celestial angels who attend man's resuscitation are concerned with preserving the sense of the continuity of life. They are drawn to man on the faintest notion of the approach of death, or whenever the proprium of man is awe-struck with fear or paralyzed by uncertainty. Their presence is felt in the spiritual world as an aromatic odor, which causes evil spirits to flee.33 And it is due to their wise ministrations that the spirit of a dying man is held in the last thought which he entertains as he is expiring - a thought which is commonly about eternal life.
Thus man's mind becomes docile as a babe's. His thought, guided by angelic affections, is drawn out- vaguely but persistently-while a blissful feeling of security enwraps him. This single thought, sensed as a soothing monotone, is like a narrow bridge whereon the spirit is borne up without sense of time or self-consciousness, and is carried across the abyss which we call Death, into the land of Resurrection.
The Three Stages of Resuscitation
All those who die, whether good or evil, are received in the spiritual world as welcome guests.36 But their introduction is gradual, by orderly stages.
36. AC 2119, 1631
That he might learn something of these successive stages, Swedenborg was reduced into a state resembling that of a dying person.37 This occurred on the morning of March 1, 1748, His spirits then withdrew, thinking that he was dead, because his, proprial affection was taken away. His heart beat was normal while his respiration became tacit; he became insensible of the world and yet remained conscious so that he remembered what occurred.
37. AC 168f, 182ff, 314-316, SD 1092-1109, 1115-1120, HH 449f
By means of this experience he was instructed how a spirit is prepared for his resurrection-how he is received first by celestial angels, later by spiritual angels, and finally by good spirits more akin to his own life; and how, "on the third day," he awakens into the world of spirits, to take up his own life where he left it off.38
38. AC 314ff, HH 450
These three states of resuscitation precede his final awakening in the world of spirits which takes place "on the third day."39 There is need for such an introductory period and for a brief recapitulation of the spiritual history of his life. The Lord needs to reorient the spirit around the celestial and spiritual remains and surviving moral states which evil has not destroyed and which were the Lord's own creations in his mind. Soon enough the spirit will resume control of his own life, follow the biddings of his proprial affections, and begin the journey towards the goal of his ruling love. But first the Lord needs to revive and integrate what is of the Lord's own with man, and thus marshal the saving elements in the rising spirit. And this-the gathering and organizing of all "remains" and the removal and quieting of the trivial worries of natural life, must be done for the evil as well as for the good.
39. HH 451, 457, 452
It is the Lord who is the Resurrection and the Life. (John 11:25) The resuscitation of man's spirit is effected by the living and mighty attraction of the Lord's mercy, who said, "And I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto Me."40
40. John 11:25, 12:32; SD 300, 1104, AC 179, HH 449,447
The inmost "soul" of man is the abode of the Lord and the medium of His unimpeded influx by which He, by Himself, organizes and builds both spirit and body. He needs no angelic assistance in that work, or in the gathering of such "human internals" to Himself.41 Neither angel nor man is aware of His secret labors.
41. AC 1999:4, LJ 25, HH 38, ISB 8
But the "spirit," or mind, is formed in the sphere of angels and spirits. And in the order of its building, the celestial angels came first to assist. It is through them that the interiors of the minds of every man are furnished in infancy with those celestial "remains" which made a beginning for all that is orderly and rational and human in man.
With every one who dies, two celestial angels also generally appear seated near his head.43 These seem to be in meditation - communicating their thoughts without words or images, and by as it were "inducing their faces" upon the spirit; and when their thoughts are recognized as theirs, and not the spirit's own, they know that the spirit can be withdrawn from the body.44 They maintain man's final thought, however, lest man's identity be lost in the transition. For in all change there must be an inner connective. And for all their own desire to hold the spirit in their sphere the celestials will nothing more than the freedom of man. And after a time the spirit begins to gravitate towards externals - unable to sustain the profound peace of innocence and selfless love.45
43. SD 1096, AC 172ff, HH 450. Some variations seem indicated in Mark 16:5, Luke 24:4, John 20:12
44. AC 173, HH 449, SD 1097
45. AC 182
The celestial angels do not leave the resuscitating spirit, but act more remotely.46 But the spirit now requires something they cannot give. His first need was one of spiritual warmth, for a revival of that inmost motivation of innocence from which his infant heart had begun to beat. His new need is one for spiritual sight. And even as in each child and youth, the spiritual heavens superintend the storing up of spiritual "remains" of truth and intellectual sight, which intimately correspond to the societies of the second heaven,47 so now these remains must be revived for use in the new spiritual environment.
46. AC 182, SD 1105 suggests that they may stay near for some weeks.
47. AC 5344, 5342
So far, in the background of the spirit's thought, there was a dim idea that he was still living in the body.48 But when spiritual angels approach from the province in the Grand Man which answers to the tunics of the eyes, they seek to communicate by visual representations and thereby to give spiritual light-the light which reveals the spiritual world.49
The Arcana Coelestia reveals concerning the dying, that "scarcely a day intervenes after the death of the body before they are in the other life."55 And on the cross the Lord said to the penitent robber, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise."56 Perhaps this refers to the paradises which the spiritual angels show to the rising spirits! In one case Swedenborg may have been present with other angels at this stage of the resurrection process.
When a spirit is informed by the spiritual angels that he is a spirit, this does not seem to cause him any surprise. His state seemingly is still passive-as man is in a dream. But with the consciousness of life there usually comes also "self-consciousness" - with a revival of old desires. Even instruction about heaven wearies him eventually, and so he withdraws himself from the spiritual angels.
Next, he finds himself in a society of good spirits-presumably angels of the natural or lowest heaven, where truths are taught by representations. The spirit man seems to himself to be in the flower of his youth and riding a horse which, strangely enough, cannot move a step although he is directing it towards hell!58 He then dismounts and walks-being instructed that his reasonings would lead him astray unless he was guided by knowledge which distinguishes between right and wrong. The good spirits among whom he now is, do not at first know his quality.59 But they delight to show him every kindness-evoking so far as possible the states of moral good and the virtues which he had made his own.60
58. AC 187f, SD 1118
59. SD 1107
60. AC 316
But actually the spirit is sinking back towards the state of life in which he was when death overtook, him. The process of resuscitation is not complete until he has returned into his customary sphere of thought, and "associates himself with those who are in full agreement with his former life in the world, among whom he finds as it were his own life. . . ." ". . . After sinking back into such a life, he makes a new beginning of life. . . ."61
61. AC 316, HH 450
Resurrection on the Third Day
The Lord's death and resurrection are often taken as a model of man's transition. The Lord suffered a violent death on the cross at about three o'clock on a Friday afternoon, and rose from the sepulchre in His glorified Human at dawn on the following Sunday; thus after about thirty-eight hours had elapsed.
It might be observed that the apostle Peter states that the Lord, being put to death in the flesh, was "quickened by the Spirit; by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison."64 The implication is that "when He rose again" He descended "into the lower regions" of the world of spirits and liberated these captive souls.65 The Lord may have been present spiritually and indeed visibly with them even during His sojourn in the tomb. No such activity is shown by the spirit of man during the process of his resuscitation. For man is then in a state of passivity.
64. 1 Peter 3:19
65. Compare AC 7932a, 7828, 8018, 9229:10; Matt. 27:52, 53
The consistent doctrine of the Writings is that man rises into the world of spirits on the third day. All that befalls before this is a preparation. And of this preparation, described above, we read in the work Heaven and Hell:
"This opening (exordium) of man's life after death does not last more than some days. . . ." "I have talked with some on the third day after their death, and then those things which were described above (nos. 449, 450) had been accomplished." The spirit's entrance into the world of spirits "takes place shortly after his resuscitation, as described above."66
66. HH 450, 451, 457. "Exordium" means a groundwork, a warp, or an introduction.
The separation of the spirit from the body is said to be completed mostly "on the second (altero) day after the last agony," and thus most are introduced into the spiritual world "after a period of two days,"67 or "on the third day after he has expired."68
He now begins to attract to himself such spirits, good or evil, as agree with his own affections or cupidities, He has forgotten the premonitory instructions of the angels.70 His corporeal memory of earthly events becomes again active in a brief revival. This is necessary in order that death may be shown to be a continuation of normal life and thus assure the continuity of his personality. He begins his own life de novo by taking up the pattern of his memory as it existed at the moment of his death.71 Thus
70. TCR 80
71. SD 885,1337, 1289f, 5 Mem. 4,5, AC 8991
"every one, in the first days after death, knows no otherwise than that he lives in the same world in which he was before. For the time since passed is as a sleep, from which, when he is awakened, he does not perceive otherwise than that he is where he was."72
72. TCR 160:7, cp 797
Resuscitation of Infant Spirits
The expression "on the third day," as used in connection with the Lord's resurrection, meant only about thirty-eight hours. With men in general, this period may not always be distributed over three days; nor can we suppose that the process is one of exact solar time, but may be rather akin to the physiological and mental periodicities which govern the human body.
But there are other reasons for allowing for exceptions. Infants who have died at a tender age lack the ultimates of a natural memory with its wealth of material ideas, but have only "a spiritual-natural plane" ready to receive spiritual sensations.73 Their transition into the other life must therefore be quite different. Since they have no spiritual remains nor any moral goods to be aroused we presume that they do not-during their resuscitationneed the ministrations of other angels but may be retained within the charge of the celestial74 and "taken into heaven" more directly.
The entrance of man as a spirit into the world of spirits is described in a memorable relation:
"When any man after death enters into the spiritual world, which mostly occurs on the third day after he has expired, he appears to himself in a life similar to that in which he had been in the world, and in a similar house, chamber and bedroom, in similar coat and dress, and in similar companionship within the house. If he was a king or a prince he would appear in a similar court, if a peasant in a similar cottage; rustic things would surround the latter, splendor the former.
"This happens to every one after death in order that death shall not appear as death but as a continuation of life, and that the last of the natural life may become the first of the spiritual life, and that from this [point] a man may progress to his goal which will either be in heaven or in hell.
"Such a similarity of all things appears to those just deceased because their mind remains the same as it was in the world. And because the mind is not only in the head but also in the whole body, therefore [a spirit] possesses a similar body; for the body is the organ of the mind and is continued from the head, wherefore the mind is the man himself, but then no longer a material man but a spiritual man. And because he is the same man after death, there are given him-according to the ideas of his mind-similar things to those which he had possessed at home in the world; but this lasts only some days. . . ."76
76. 5 Mem. 4, 5
The angels testified of Melanchthon77 that
77. The German reformer who died in 1560.
"as soon as he entered the spiritual world, a house was prepared for him, similar to that in which he lived in the world. This is also the case with most of the newcomers. . . . In his chamber also all things were similar, a similar table, a similar desk with drawers, and also a similar library.
The risen spirit may thus find death imperceptible, and at first nothing seems to indicate that he is not still on earth. Spirits "are nothing else than human minds and souls in a human form stripped of coverings (exuviae) . . . which being cast off, the forms of men's minds, such as they had been inwardly in their bodies, become visible."79 The spirit finds himself the same as to age and looks and even the tone of his voice seems the same.80 He retains all his personal traits, his prejudices, beliefs, and attitudes. His natural memory is complete and functioning; but since it is not fed by any new impressions from the world, it soon sinks into quiescence. Physical ailments could perhaps persist for a few days in so far as the mental habit of regarding them has been ingrained. But "there are no natural diseases among spirits in the spiritual world." Those who in the world were idiots or retarded are likewise so on their first arrival in the other world; but when externals are removed and internals opened they receive an understanding in accord with their genius and previous life.81
79. CL 192
80. HH 457
81. Docu. 243, "Letters and Memorials . . ." (Acton), 1955, page 696
We need not think that the things and persons which are seen by the novitiate spirit during these first few days are merely phantasies, mere memory survivals or insubstantial illusions. The spirit actually sees and handles spiritual things. The illusive features which distort the inner truth come solely from the fact that he interprets spiritual things as material, and sees them through the spectacles of his earthly past. Yet angels, visiting a newcomer in his little home of memory, would see that home almost as the spirit did. For what the angels would see as a spiritual object is the state of that spirit.
All spirits on their awakening entertain this first impression that they are still on earth. They may also seem "very dull," to other spirits, as if they "knew almost nothing"; for they remain at first in gross ideas.82 They also feel some confusion of thought, for as yet they are not gifted with any reflection.83 And this reflection may have to be induced by others.
82. SD 400, 5163
83. SD 2031
It is indeed said in the Spiritual Diary that in the other life it is impossible to be quite alone!84 But the novitiate is always being shielded from strange spirits by angels who are secretly his "overhead" guardians, and by others who attend him openly.85 But these latter are said to approach him when he is out of his house; for within only those can converse who are of one opinion.86
84. SD 1484, 1864
85. TCR 797, SD 2030
86. AC 9213:5
It is therefore angels who greet the newcomer and engage him in conversation with the view of renewing that vanishing thread of thought about eternal life-not salvation or even heaven, but eternal life-which has been maintained like a diapason during the states of his resuscitation. As wise teachers, they first draw out the spirit's own opinions about the after-life. Usually, at this day, with disappointing results!87 For the faith in the immortal life, where it exists at all, is vague, filled with absurdities, or admittedly mere guesswork. The spirit is imagined as a winged being in the stars, hovering in dark space as mere thought, or as an etherial breath or a volatile flame-like form that will be rejoined to its material body at the end of the world. Nothing daunted, the angels joyfully bid them welcome, telling them the good news that they have come into another world, and that they now live in a spiritual body, altogether as before in a material body.
87. TCR 160, 5 Mem, 6, AC 4527
The spirits-thus drawn out of their home of memory-are astounded. But they are asked to examine their bodies, touch the objects around them. By a thousand proofs the novitiate spirits are made to recognize the reality and substantial concreteness of their present existence, and to see that they are no longer in the natural world.88
88. 5 Mem. 7, 10, CL 44: 1, HH 412, TCR 568
Occasionally some newcomer might be utterly panic-stricken at this revelation, and rush away, crying out (as Swedenborg once relates), "I am a spirit, I am a spirit!"89 But in the presence of the angels, the new guests are ordinarily filled with relief and gratitude, and cry out their thanks to God.90
89. AC 447, SD 2288
90. 5 Mem. 7
One of the things that surprises newcomers is that there is light-and indeed a far superior light-in the spiritual world.91 The newcomer begins to notice what he had not before realized: that he sees others in a brighter light, and objects in greater distinctness and splendor.92 He draws a fuller breath of air like nectar. His senses are keener.93 His bodily movements are more effortless, his mind more active, despite some confusion in his memory. His speech immediately becomes more acute, expressing in a minute what would take an hour on earth.94 The objects of his surroundings look like natural objects; "but still they are not like them, for they have in them what is living, which those things which properly belong to the natural world do not have." Yet spirits seldom reflect on the difference.95
91. AC 4415, 4527, cp 1533 and SD 4293
92. CL 44, AC 4527, 2367
93. AC 4622:3, 5078, SD 4166
94. AC 1641, 3957
95. AC 5079:2, SD 4716, 5177, 2142e
95. AC 5079:2, SD 4716, 5177, 2142e
The angels assist the novitiate spirit in every way, and tell him about heaven and the Lord, the God of heaven, and about the angelic life. They show that he is now in the World of Spirits - with heaven above them and hell below. But the spirit is as yet in the state of his externals.96 And what is told him repeatedly about the spiritual world, may fade from his mind as there recurs the anxiety about his daily bread and about the worldly possessions he left behind. It is related in much detail how one spirit, when he realized that the Lord was providing everything for him, pondered how he might repay kindness so great. And since his life had been one of charity, he was then taken up into heaven.97
96. CL 44, 461, SD 299, 5 Mem. 6, 7, HH 495, F 41ff
97. SD 2030-2039, AC 318
At first all his needs are provided for-as for a new guest. A few days after their resurrection they usually leave their first abode (which was so illusively like their natural home) and they begin to wander about, in the company of other novitiates, perhaps with good spirits as guides, and then settle down briefly in some society of newcomers-to resume their ordinary habits of life, social, forensic, and moral.98 They find some employment similar to their own occupations, seek out the kind of people with whom they were accustomed to associate, converse with acquaintances and simulate friendships as before.
98. AR 153
Swedenborg, in company with an angel, once saw represented a paved road leading from the "North" and terminating at the center of the world of spirits. It was so crowded with spirits that there was hardly room to step between them. And it was shown that all newcomers must travel by this road. It led from the North, because the North in the other life stands for spiritual ignorance; and it terminated in the middle which indicates a state of freedom amidst the externals of civil life, from which point the spirits are able to progress into interiors-towards the East of love, the South of wisdom, or the West of hatred.99
99. TCR 160; cp SD 5798, HH 534; DLW 119-134
Novitiate spirits at first are in much the same habits of life and thought as on earth. Good and evil jostle each other there as here. For the externals of decent behavior and prudent speech are equally important to both. Roads in the other life mean habits of thought. All spirits therefore travel by the same road, at first. And it is in one's own familiar externals that one can feel free.100 This first external life serves the purpose of harmonizing externals with internals.101
100. SD 886
101. SD 5688 seq.
The development which now commences is a reorganization of the spirit's natural affections. The world of spirits is indeed arranged into innumerable societies according to various natural affections, good and evil.102 It is a state wherein the natural affections of the spirit are explored by good spirits, to discover what groundwork there may be for his regeneration.
Every Man's Desire
But what are the "natural affections" and longings which had motivated these spirits-both good and evil- who now enter this new world? What did they conceive in their hearts to be the kind of world they would like to live in?
Does not every reasonable man, even on earth, desire long life devoid of illness? Does he not wish for every protection against disturbance of the peace, against foreign invaders and domestic criminals? Does he not want assurance against an oppressive government and lawless mobs? And the right to worship whatever God he knows? Personal liberty to follow out his talents and carry on the uses which he cherishes-to taste of the fruits of his labor and to embellish his life with legitimate comforts and a variety of diversions? A place in the society of his like? A sufficiency of food and clothing, and a guarantee against economic disaster? Does he not wish for a partner and a home where these things can be realized? A freedom to progress-to seek knowledge, pursue education, and to practice and enjoy the creative arts? Does not human research constantly look to a conquest of the limitations of space and time-to produce a freer communication of minds, and a more universal understanding among nations and races, as well as to solve the riddle of the stars? These are the things men dream of and think fit to strive for.
And in an eminent way, all these things which seem to men to make life worth while on earth are freely offered by the Lord in the spiritual world! "For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."103
103. Matt. 6:33
What Is Meant by "The Spiritual World"
"The universe in general is distinguished into two worlds, the spiritual and the natural."104 By the spiritual world is generally meant the realm in which angels and spirits are.105 But the spiritual world was prior to the creation of angels and spirits, and since all angels and spirits were once men, and were born on some earth in the natural world, we must widen the concept of "the spiritual world." Thus whenever the creation of the universe is spoken of, the Writings show the spiritual world as the world of causes from which all the things in nature are derived as effects or results.106 "All things that exist in the world of nature-atmospheric, aqueous, or earthy-as to every particle thereof, are effects produced by the spiritual as a cause. . . ."107 The spiritual world is thus prior to the natural as to substance and degree-for the natural draws its origin from the spiritual.108 In The True Christian Religion it is shown that the creation of the universe began with that of the spiritual Sun from which three atmospheric degrees were produced as the substantial planes in which all future heavens were to be founded; and at last proceeded to the formation of a natural sun with its corresponding atmospheres and earths, so that spiritual things might be clothed With material swathings.109 The natural world is thus created by the Lord mediately through the spiritual world.110
104. DLW 163
105. Lord 62, DLW 83-92
106. DLW 154, 340, AE 1206:3, 1207:4, SD 4585f, Coro. 19 etc.
107. AE 1207:3
108. CL 320,328, 207, SD 4066, Can., God iv, HH 89
109 TCR 76, 33
110. Can., God iv
In order that there may be a habitable world, there must be a sun, the heat and light of which can sustain the derivative planets. The physical universe of space and time requires many suns and stellar systems. But the spiritual world is beyond space and the Sun of that world is thus everywhere present and the same for all.111 The spiritual world is also called "the expanse of the center of life" and is said to subsist from its own Sun.
The causes and the "souls" of all natural things are therefore in the spiritual world.113 We speak of our mind, our soul, our thoughts, etc., being in our body or brain. Actually, however, the mind or spirit is not in the material body or in the natural world; only the effects of our spirit's activities are there. These effects we see, and can describe, only as motions in space and time. If we should inquire "where" the spiritual world is or "where" angels and spirits are, the Writings can only give the answer that the spiritual world is where man is, and that spirits abide or dwell in man's thoughts and affections, and in no wise remote from him. The reason for this statement is that "the spiritual world is not in space."114
113. AE 1206, DLW 119
114. DLW 92, 343e, LJ 9
* * * * *
The fact that the spiritual world acts by influx into the natural world and causes certain things there to seem alive, must not be taken to mean that there is only one world. It was one of the errors of the ancients that they failed to distinguish between the spiritual and the natural. The spiritual with men became so immersed into bodily and worldly things that they began to think of the spiritual as a finer or purer natural, and of the soul as a body of purer natural stuff which had its abode high up in the ether or in the region of the stars, thus within nature and its spaces and times.115 In all things of the natural world the spiritual and the corresponding natural are indeed so conjoined as to appear as a one, like the hand and the glove may appear as one. Yet this appearance of identity is dissipated in the Writings.
115. DLW 85, 92, 350, ISB 9:4. Additions to TCR, n. 15.
"There are two worlds," they state. "The spiritual world does not derive anything whatsoever from the natural world, nor the natural world anything from the spiritual world!" The two are altogether distinct, in fact "so distinct that they have nothing in common between them;
When man dies his spirit therefore "entirely withdraws from the world of nature and leaves all of it behind, and enters a world in which there is nothing of nature; and in that world he lives so separated from nature that there is not any communication . . . except through correspondences."118 "Those in the one world cannot see those who are in the other world. For the eyes of man. . . are of the substance of his world, and the eyes of an angel are of the substance of his world.... each formed adequately for the reception of his own light."119
118. DLW 83
119. DLW 90, 91
These two worlds, which are so utterly distinct, are of course both necessary, that the Divine ends of creation might be carried out. It cannot be said that the spiritual world is limited by the natural or is confined within the limits of nature's extense; for the spiritual is not in space, and what is not in space cannot be so confined.120 But it can be said that the spiritual world cannot act out its effects or uses, and thus stand forth, without a natural world.121 Nature was created that creation might be carried to a completion and subsist in ultimates; and that the spiritual might be terminated and clothed with correspondent forms, and that through new births and generations its uses may persist and endure.122
120. AC 7381:3, TCR 35: 11
121. TCR 76:3, Can., God iv. 10, LJ 9
122. AE 1196:2, 1207:4, 1218:2, 3, LJ 9, DLW 167
We can conceive of a cause without an effect or prior to it. But not of an effect without any cause! "Because the natural arises from the spiritual, as the material from the substantial, they are together everywhere"-i.e., everywhere "in this world" of nature.
* * * * *
To sum up the teachings we thus note that the spiritual world is to be defined not only as the world wherein the souls of men continue to live, and, as angels and spirits, carry on their conscious life; but also as the realm of the causes of all the things which exist in nature. It is a world beyond the limitations of space, yet present by influx. It originates from the Lord through His "spiritual Sun," the first and only substance of creation, which is non-material, being the source of love and of spiritual light which is wisdom.124 It includes several descending ranges of atmospheres, which, though spiritual, terminate in their order and form the heavens in which the angels dwell. Nothing natural (or physical), from the heat and light of any of nature's suns, can enter the spiritual world.125 Since neither space nor time can be ascribed to the substance and essence of the spiritual world, there is no distance, no spatial dimensions, nothing material in that world.126 It is a world of spiritual realities such as we experience in this world only as mental states, or perceive in our inner being as affections, thoughts, perceptions, memories, and delights. Yet it is of such elements, in themselves entirely devoid of material reality, that our human lives consist. It is these elusive spiritual things that we gather and compact into our "character" and "mind"-throughout our years here on earth. And it is these, and these alone, that we can take along when our bodies die; it is these that come to constitute our immortal spirit, our real "self."
124. DLW 300, DP 6, TCR 24 (5), 76, 280:5, Ang. Id., AE 1218, AC 7381:3
125. DLW 88, HH 116
126. DLW 7, 71, AC 5658:1
In this immaterial spiritual world lie concealed the causes of all material existence, and in its bourne our inner life is even now being carried on. If it is indeed designed for eternal life and everlasting progress, its perfection must be marvelous. Yet to all appearance it will offer us much the same kind of sensory experience as our life on earth.
Since men-both good and evil-differ as to their ruling love, there must be spiritual environments suited to every such love. This is the meaning of the Lord's saying, "In My Father's house are many mansions." The spiritual world is clearly distinguished, yea, divided, into regions visibly apart and strikingly different.
The testimony of the Writings about the spiritual world furnishes us with a distinct word picture in which our reflections about the after-life may find a basis.
We are first of all assured that the spiritual world, as to external aspect or sensory appearance, is much like this natural world of ours, although indeed far more perfect and varied. This is of course true also of our minds, in that the life of our thoughts is freer and more varied than our physical experience itself. But our thoughts are often dim and indistinct. Our imagination is seldom as clear as our actual sensation. Our emotions are usually also confused and undefined, and more or less blunted by the grosser appetites and demands of the body. This vagueness and dullness of our mental life will vanish when we pass into the other world. There we will perceive spiritual things or mental objects in a clarity which surpasses the light of nature beyond any comparison.
* * * * *
It may be safely said that we human beings can see or know only a tiny, infinitesimal part of the natural world although we are affected by the radiations from billions of stars and unthinkable numbers of galaxies, and can surmise in the least grain of matter the existence of inconceivable complexities of parts within parts.
How much more true this is about the spiritual world! The Lord alone can vision the wholeness, the depths and heights and supernal expanse of the spiritual world. Each inhabited earth has its heavens, its world of spirits and probably its hells; and to the spirits of that earth these three parts usually appear quite separate from the spiritual worlds of other planets. The reason for this is that the races of each planet have a certain community of genius-certain mental characteristics based on heredity and on the environmental conditions of their particular earth. The testimony of the Writings does not indicate any very essential physiological divergencies among the various planetary races, or note the existence of any of those dominant insect breeds or monstrous "Martians" which recent Science Fiction loves to conjure up; but the differences are mainly confined to mental development and spiritual type and thus to the potential spiritual uses of each planet-enough to hold its spirits within a specific spiritual world of their own. There can indeed be a certain communication among spirits from widely separate parts of the universe, for in the spiritual world there is no space except in appearance. Thus the knowledge of the Lord's advent can be made manifest to spirits and angels even from other earths.127 Spirits from the earth and from Mercury and other planets-even evil spirits-are able to meet whenever there are spiritual intermediations and a mutual adaptation of states. Yet the spiritual differences are so profound as to make such intercourse exceptional. Nonetheless our spirits receive spiritual influxes from other planets.128 And it is even taught that "when the Word on our earth is read and preached," its supreme and inmost sense is presented before "angels in heaven from whatever earth they come."129
127. AC 9356
128. Cf SD 4742
129. AC 9357
Order would seem to demand that there be a unifying factor which conjoins these spiritual worlds of all the planets. And we should find this in the highest of the heavens of each earth-in the celestial heaven where the Lord's inflowing love is most immediately received, and through which the heavens are conjoined.130
130. AE 744, AC 6701, 7078, SD 522, 1200
Thus it would appear that even an angel cannot see heaven as a whole. But the Lord can reveal-to him as to us-the general order of the unseen world. The Writings describe the spiritual world of our own planet, which no doubt, follows a universal pattern:
"The arrangement is such that the heavens are like expanses one above another, and under the heavens is the world of spirits, and under this are the hells, one below another. Influx from the Lord takes place according to this successive order, thus through the inmost heaven into the middle one, and through this into the ultimate one, and from these in their order into the hells which lie beneath. The world of spirits is between, and it receives influx both from the heavens and from the hells, each one there according to the state of his life."131
131. AE 702
Here, then, we meet up with the vast differences between the spiritual world and the world to which we are accustomed here on earth! The same objects that we are familiar with exist in the other life. But the order and combination in which these sensory elements are seen is utterly different-their connections and sequences do not follow what we so often call "natural law." What we perceive in terms of sensation there, is the relationship of spiritual states, the relative positions of spiritual beings in their orientation to each other and to the Divine source of life and to the media by which that life is communicated. In the natural world, men see each other in relation to physical orientations, or with respect to their proximity in space and their place on earth in relation to the physical sun. Our bodily senses testify of changes in our physical environment and the objects we perceive in our sensual mind correspond most nearly to actual physical things around us.
Contrast this with the spiritual world! For this appears divided into levels of existence - as a series of expanses, each of which is like an earth or a world of its own. As a whole, this arrangement of spiritual levels is visible only to the Lord's sight. Yet when necessary it can be suggestively represented in various ways so as to reveal the mutual relationship between various states. Ordinarily, the higher heavens may thus appear, either as mountain ranges in the distance, or as unattainable expanses in the clouds.132 This appearance is before the eyes of the spirit, and spiritual sight conveys the truth in the form of natural imagery that "corresponds" to inner spiritual realities.
132. CL 11, 42, AE 1133:6, HD 4, Coro. 16, cp 5 Mem. 21
Correspondence is an inevitable law of the human mind. What is as yet unattainable we mentally picture as distant, or as above us, as high, as superior, as lofty. We speak of higher motives, superior intelligence, sublime wisdom, superb skill, transcendent meanings and supreme delights. We think of a government as above us, and in society we often recognize social strata distinguished by those of greater or less education or social influence Even though democracy has sought to guarantee that men shall be enabled to start life with nearly equal educational opportunities or on the same general level, the differences in men's character and genius causes some to climb or be elevated to higher uses than others, owing to their willingness to assume greater responsibilities and submit to stricter self-discipline and training.
Even in this world, therefore, we find-in various fields of skill and learning-groups whose common interests and superior development set them apart as living on a level or plane above the average man. They are not necessarily segregated from others in a social sense. But they live in a mental world into which others cannot easily enter. We also observe that there is a world of social outcasts-an "underworld" of convicted criminals and derelicts-in most human communities; who have sunk too low to take part in the normal life of society.
In the natural world many external, hereditary, educational and artificial factors contribute to the formation of the levels of society.
The Expanses of Heaven
To the teaching that there are three expanses of the heavens, and under the heavens a world of spirits and beneath this the three hells, one below the other, must be added another remarkable statement which is made to illustrate how the Lord, by His infinite power and wisdom, holds the affections of all in an equilibrium or balance. The statement is, that "good affections, which are angels, dwell on a globe that is called heaven, and evil affections, which are spirits of hell, dwell at a great depth beneath them. The globe is one, but is divided into expanses, as it were, one below another. There are six expanses. In the highest dwell the angels of the third heaven, below them the angels of the second heaven, and beneath these the angels of the first heaven. Below them dwell the spirits of the first hell, beneath these the spirits of the second hell, and beneath them the spirits of the third hell . . ."133 And the passage goes on to explain that the lowest hell is held in bonds by the good affections of the highest heaven, and so forth-a government by balanced opposites.
133. AE 1133:6. See pages 85, 98ff, 394-397, 437
What interests us especially at this point is that each level or expanse appears as a globe, and all the expanses are pictured as concentric spheres.
It is clear from all this that the spiritual world is not under the rule of what we usually call "natural law", nor can that world be crammed into any unified fixed geographical concept. The living relationships of spiritual states, of affections and perceptions and spiritual uses, cannot be represented by the fixed order of the natural world. Yet the phenomena of sensation are the same. It is their sequence and order that differ.
And if we reflect we must realize that something similar is true also in our mind. The stream of changing imagery which marks the course of our conscious thought when this is not interrupted by new sensations from the outside world, is a representation, not of the events of the natural world but of the states of our mind, One mental object is not the cause of the next, but all are the results of an inner sequence of states, desires, and directing affections which bring up these objects from the memory as if by magic, to reveal new connections or ideas. And we feel no surprise at all when the pageantry of our imagination shifts from one field to another, or when we select some new series of mental objects as a basis or an ultimate connective for our thoughts. In our memory there appear to lodge series within series of ideas or concepts, one within another, and all associated with the others, yet there is no interference between them. We think, for instance, of the human body, by a mental picture.
In the other life all must have certain basic and more or less permanent sensual concepts without which there could be no appreciation of the relationships of spirits and angels. These concepts form a common connection between spirits. Spirits in the World of spirits coming from all parts of the world thus feel that they live on a globe-an earth as before; and their mental kinships and differences due to race, culture, or nationality, are perceived in terms of proximity or distance. The world of spirits is ordered into societies according to the natural affections, good and evil, that still activate those who have recently died. And as a rule spirits of each nation and each race and religious communion have their separate societies there, in situations and quarters which are relatively permanent, although their populations are constantly moving on towards heaven or hell.134 But because spirits in the world of spirits are in general in the same state of life, their mental world is on a common plane of thought and affection, and they can therefore all come into contact with each other as if they lived on the surface of the same globe.
134. SD 5240, 5244, LJ post. 126, cp AE 1133:6
It was mentioned that the three heavens appear as discrete expanses-worlds of their own-above the world of spirits. The reason is that angels are in spiritual ideas and spiritual affections which make their whole life so distinctly different that it cannot be understood by spirits in the world of spirits. The only entrances by which adult spirits can be elevated into heaven lead therefore from societies of instruction in the world of spirits, and into these good spirits are introduced when their state is ready and they have been vastated from external evils. Here they learn how to think by spiritual ideas, and their natural affections are ordered to correspond with the spiritual uses of intelligent charity. When this is accomplished they are led by certain roads into heaven; and heaven then does no longer seem to them as an expanse in the sky but as a higher country reached by an easy ascent.
It is the function of the Lord's special church on earth to serve the use of preparing men to think spiritually-to think from spiritual loves rather than from merely natural affections. So far as men are prepared so to think while on earth, they will be able to avoid much vastation and delay in the world of spirits. They will not be captivated by merely natural spirits and will come into greater spiritual freedom. This instruction in spiritual truths -i.e., the truths of spiritual charity-is meant by coming to the wedding properly clothed in "wedding garments." None can be received in heaven or partake of its life unless he is spiritually prepared.135
135. CL 10
And this need-of thinking spiritually rather than from the light of nature-becomes obvious when we attempt to understand what the Writings say about the nature of the spiritual world. What, for an instance, can purely natural thought make us see in the statement that "each expanse [of the heavens] is like an earth under the feet of those who are there"? To angels, it is indeed solid ground, which they can stamp with their feet, and on which their houses are securely founded. Their gardens and fields and forests are not mere appearances, their bodies are not phantoms.136
136. AR 260, 876, AE 702:2
When we deny the properties of nature, such as space, to spiritual things, we do not deny that spiritual things have spiritual properties and proportions, and indeed spiritual "extension"! We cannot think of the spiritual world unless we predicate of it spiritual "ultimates"-in which the living spiritual terminates and comes to rest, yet which are not part of the physical universe.
But our own mental life supplies an adequate illustration of what is meant by spiritual ultimates. For what is the ground on which our conscious spirit walks? After all, we are spirits! Our conscious life is conducted in our minds-within the confines of our knowledge and cognitions.
Our spirit walks and stands upon the firm ground of accepted knowledge-upon the convictions and principles that we have made our faith. We live in the habits of thought we have made our own. We build our spiritual home on the level of our confirmed and ruling love. And this love, whatever it may be, is the soil, fertile or barren, which must bring forth the delights of our life as the final flower and fruit in the harvests of eternity.
And these things are not mere similes or oratorical metaphors. They are spiritual facts. The outstanding difference between our mental life here and our spiritual life after death, is that when our body dies we shall meet other spirits whose loves and affections we can openly share and whose intelligence or wisdom we can partake in as if it were our own.
The contents of our minds likewise becomes apparent before others in the form of correspondences, and this even if we should endeavor to hide it. "For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed or hid that shall not be known." And what we here on earth had perceived in the mind as objects within ourselves, or as subjective and abstract states, can in the other world be seen by ourselves and by others as our objective and tangible environment, amplified by the appearance of what comes from the minds of other spirits and angels also. The heaven or hell within us becomes revealed as the fitting abode of our spirit.
The very soil of each heaven, which appears to those below as an expanse in the sky, a cloud land, is formed by the Lord as the ultimate correspondent of the love that rules there. The Writings therefore state concerning the spiritual world: "In that world there are all things which exist in the natural world in its three kingdoms, and they are correspondences of the affections and thoughts ... as well as of the ultimates of the life of those who are there." "The correspondence of man's affections and of the thoughts thence is with all things of the animal kingdom; of his will and the understanding thence with the plant kingdom; and of the ultimates of his life with the mineral kingdom."137
"Affections appear formed into animals by the spiritual in its intermediates and . . . into plants in its ultimates, which are the lands there . ." Plants and animals are changed as the affections change, "but this occurs outside of the societies."139 Certain angels, having shown Swedenborg that even the furniture of their homes and the jewels which adorned their wives were all correspondences, added, "From all these things we perceive what each one is as to love and wisdom. Those things which are in our homes and serve for uses, constantly remain there; but to the eyes of those who wander from one society to another, such things are changed according to consociation."140
139. AE 1212:2, 3
140. TCR 78, 66
Here it should be observed that a spirit or angel, when he first approaches, may often be seen, not as a man but as an animal "corresponding" to his natural affection or appetite-thus as a sheep or a Wolf, a dove or a hawk, or even as some composite animal like a dragon.141
141. SD 4705-4707, cp AE 1199:2, 1200:3, 1212:3
Animals born on earth do not have immortal souls. And since they are ruled by general influx and cannot depart from the order of their connate nature, they have no need of attendant spirits, as do men.142 Their souls are indeed spiritual in origin, but "spiritual-natural", and when an animal dies, its soul "relapses into nature."143 In animals, the forms which had been receptive of the influx of life "cannot but be dissipated; for with them the influx passes through their organic forms all the way into the world, and there terminates and vanishes, and never returns."144
The animals and plants appearing in the spiritual world are therefore not the surviving souls of individual beasts or plants on earth, but the active affections of some spirit or angel, represented in a correspondential form. Such animals or plants are not mere phantoms. It is related that a beautiful bird appeared in the other life to a noted scientist, who fondled it and examined it to show that it was real and substantial and did not differ from a similar bird on earth; although he knew that it was nothing but an affection of some angel represented outside of him as a bird, and that it would vanish or cease with the affection that produced it.145
145. DLW 344
To novitiate spirits or corporeal spirits, the things seen in heaven are seen as appearances of spaces and times. But they are not appearances of spaces or times. They are appearances of the loves and perceptions of the angels: "for these objects are created in a moment by the Lord," and if the state of the angels should change, they are immediately dissipated. The angels "do not think of them from space" or "from their appearance, but according to the things from which these appearances spring."146 Note the statement that these things are created by the Lord.
146. Wis. vii. 5
"There are interior and exterior spiritual things. Interior spiritual things are all those that are of affection and thought thence . . . and exterior spiritual things are so created by the Lord that they might clothe or invest interior spiritual things. And when these are clothed and invested then there stand forth forms like those in the natural world . . ." Thus there are in heaven representative animals and other forms like those in the world.147 Such things are often described in the visions of the prophets. For "the Word was written from such things as were seen and heard in the ultimates of heaven, thus by pure correspondences and representatives, in each of which lie concealed innumerable and ineffable arcana of Divine wisdom."148
147. AE 582
148. AE 369
"Because there is nothing which does not have its ultimate where it ceases and subsists, so also the spiritual.
* * * * *
These and similar teachings show that the very forms which surround spirits and angels, yea, the lands or globe on which they dwell, correspond intimately to the states of these spiritual beings, and concur with their ruling loves. But they also make plain that they are not creations of the angels. They are created by the Lord by means of the forces that are present in the spiritual in all its degrees, and are presented in the ultimates of the spiritual world in objective reality.
And these same spiritual forces are what produce and sustain the elemental substances of natural creation-suns and atmospheres and planets - with which all spiritual degrees can, as living "souls," become clothed and perpetuated as organic forms in nature.154
4 THE WORLD OF SPIRITS
Relation of Spirits to the "Grand Man"
The angelic heaven is the end of creation and manifests the purposes of the Creator. It is therefore in the very image and likeness of the Lord. The Writings describe the heavens as a Grand Man-a Maximus Homo. For viewed spiritually, it has the human form, in that it reflects all the possible uses or functions of which human life is capable.
The World of Spirits, on the other hand, is as it were outside of the Grand Man, for it is not a permanent state or a final end in itself. It is a preparatory state-an entrance gate or vestibule, such as the alimentary canal is for the human body.1
1. AC 5173ff, SD 1742, 5162-5169
The experiences of a spirit after death are strangely paralleled in remarkable detail in the digestive process. As food is first greeted by the soft lips, so the celestial angels of the resuscitation welcome the new spirits; and as the tongue then tastes and gently disjoins the parts of the food, the spiritual angels assort the spirits and instruct them through the universal spiritual language of ideas.
The bolus of food that is swallowed passes into the stomach; like novitiate spirits, good and bad together, enter the world of spirits-the forum of all states, the place of preparation and gradual judgment.2 The gastric juices and their enzymes seem to function much as the angels of the first heaven who instruct newcomers by arousing a desire for interior truth, thus separating the good from the evil.3
2. AR 791, 204, AC 5174
3. HH 496, AR 153
Evil spirits also arouse disturbances in the world of spirits, just as indigestion and anxieties affect the stomach and intestines. Food which cannot be digested in the stomach represents spirits who are confined in "the lower earth" of the state of arrested development.4
4. AC 5392f, 4805, 4728
Spirits in the world of spirits usually undergo three states. The first is one of externals, much like that in the world.5 The second state is one of internals, when the interior aims and confirmed loves of the spirit's life gradually become manifest, and the good are separated from the wicked. The third state is one of instruction. This is confined to the good, and is directly preparatory for life in an angelic society. These states have their analogies with the process of digestion. Evil spirits, upon whom instruction and discipline fail to have effect, correspond to the refuse which is cast off through the large intestines and the kidneys. But good spirits are represented by the aliments (like by the veins and led by the portal system into the liver; as well as by the chyle which is gathered up by the lacteals and which then, through the thoracic duct, is poured into the bloodstream. The liver, where many important uses are carried on for the blood, seems clearly to correspond to the places of instruction which are at the entrances to heaven; and the same seems true of the lacteals and chyle-duct.
5. This state may last for nearly a year. HH 498
The Intermediate World
The world of spirits is not heaven, nor is it hell, but is a place or state intermediate between the two; a world in which spirits are explored and prepared. "The time of their stay there is not fixed. Some merely enter it, and are soon taken into heaven or are cast into a hell; some remain only a few weeks (septimanas), some several years, but not more than thirty. These differences in time depend on the correspondence or non-correspondence of man's interiors with his exteriors."6
6. HH 426
Ideally, the preparation of a spirit for heaven should be completed during his life on earth. And mention is made in the Writings of spirits who enter heaven immediately after their resurrection is accomplished. There are also cases of men whose evils are so confirmed and uninhibited that their passions at once overpower them and they plunge themselves into hell a few days after death.7
7. HH 491, 513, AC 2595, SD 5495
But such instances are rare. Therefore there must be a state of preparation in which departed spirits may remain until their character is so unified that they can join a society in heaven or in hell, according to the ruling love which they have made their own in their bodily life. Even the literal sense of Scripture alludes to such a state: as when John at Patmos tells of "the souls under the altar" who were awaiting redemption.8 An impassable gulf between heaven and hell is mentioned in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. And in the Epistle of Peter it is hinted that Christ after His crucifixion "went and preached unto the spirits in prison."9 The Apostolic Church believed in such an intermediate state in which the spirits of men were held in abeyance until the Lord should return to judge the quick and the dead.
8. Rev. 6:9
9. Peter 3:19
As previously noted, the Christians developed many strange ideas about this intermediate state. Some teachers conceived that spirits before the day of bodily resurrection would only be flitting and formless breaths.
Only from the Writings can we learn the real nature of this intermediate state and the need for it. And the first thing we learn is that spirits, when they rise from death, find themselves in a world as real as ours to every sense, and in the company of vast numbers of other spirits who live in communities or towns as on earth. The appearance of this world of spirits varies. In this it is like the mind of man, the contents of which is marvelously ordered in many interlinking spatial series which yet do not interfere with each other. In the spiritual world, "not only have all the things which are in the natural world an existence," but "innumerable others besides" which mortal eye has never seen nor ear heard.10
10. LJ 27, LJ post. 314-323. Some of the arcana of the spiritual world which novitiate spirits learn, are noted in AC 4321
Spirits live in social intercourse, and indeed in communities which resemble towns or cities, where a variety of uses are carried on. Christians often imagine that spirits flit about in some indefinite cloud-land; and if you tell them what the Writings reveal, they might cry out, "What! cities and houses in the air?" They are afraid that if they think of spirits as complete men and women living in a tangible environment, they would make the spiritual world too gross and material. Hence they prefer to think of that world as empty and dark.11 But the non-material world is not empty. It is more truly substantial and more perfectly equipped than ours.
In outward aspect, the world of spirits may appear to the newcomer as a valley which winds between hills and mountains and stretches out into various plains.13 From this world there is a path and entrance to each heavenly society, and on the sides openings, like caves or dark abysses, leading down to the gates of the hells. These gates and paths are closed and inaccessible except when some spirit is ready to enter. The breath of heaven-the sphere of angelic delight-which is felt when an entrance to some heaven is opened, is torture to the nostrils of evil spirits, or spirits not prepared. And similarly, the delights of hell ascending from the openings of the underworld are felt as nauseous and fetid stenches from which good spirits flee.14 "The heavens are visible to spirits in the world of spirits only when their interior sight is opened; although they sometimes see them as mists or bright clouds" above them. Angels, being in an interior state of life, "are above the sight of those who are in the world of spirits. But spirits who dwell in the plains and valleys see one another."15
13. HH 429
14. AC 7161:4, 5394e, 4628e, CL 431e, HH 429
15. HH 583
A newcomer may thus be informed that this world into which he has entered is situated between heaven and hell-heaven being above, hell underfoot. For it appears as a place. In fact it is a place, but a spiritual place.16 And its reality is to every sense greater than that of the physical world. The senses of the spirit are keener than man's, even though the spirit can no longer sense earthly things, but only spiritual things in earthly forms.17
16. HH 421f, 428
17. AC 5078:3, 4
The World of Spirits is not a physical place. What there appears as travelling from place to place is really only a change of state.18 Indeed, the world of spirits, inwardly viewed, may be described as the composite natural mind of mankind. All the countless societies there are wonderfully ordinated according to natural affections, good and evil, and communicate either with some heaven or some hell.19
18. AC 1376f, 10734, SD 4087, 3941, 5646, HH 534:3
19. AR 153:2/TCR 281
20. DLW 252, HH 438, SD 5645, DP 307:2
Man has spiritual freedom-or freedom of choice-by virtue of his rational mind which is the third or highest degree of the natural mind in which his conscious life is active during earth life. And while the interior degrees, or the spiritual and celestial minds, opened by regeneration, correspond to the heavens, the rational mind, in the process of its formation, corresponds to the World of Spirits.21 For the rational mind is at a middle point from which the ways to heaven and hell diverge. It is as it were the rudder or balance wheel of man's life. Yet man is not born rational, although he has the faculty to become rational. He is born corporeal and sensual, and as he progresses in knowledge he becomes natural and at length rational.22 As to his hereditary sensual will every man is from birth in some infernal society.23 But as to his rational mind, which is his real and responsible self, he is in the midst of the World of Spirits. He is not confined to any one society; for his affections and thoughts extend their roots into innumerable societies which are indirectly connected, some with heaven and some with hell; and to these he is bound as if by elastic cords of sympathy and dependence.24 Through them he draws the life which directs and stimulates his mind. To change his state, and thus his place in the intermediate world, he must break some of these bonds and strengthen others. If he insists on leading himself he becomes more and more enmeshed in the cupidities and false persuasions which draw him towards hell; although the Lord still "as it were leads him by the hand, permitting and withholding as far as man is willing to follow in freedom."25
Nothing of this appears to man while in the world. But when he becomes a spirit, his spiritual companions become visible and audible, and he lives among spirits of his own kind as among friends or neighbors.
The Function of Memory
We must ponder the fact that even on earth our real life is mental: for man actually lives among the knowledges of his memory. They are the solid ground on which the house of his life is built.26 If one reflects one must realize that these knowledges mark the borderlines of each man's consciousness, which is widened continually by new experiences and by what he learns from others. His mind becomes a little world - a microcosm - in which there are all manner of changes and new creations, but which still possesses a certain basic stability, continuity, or individuality, which never greatly changes because it is imbedded in his irradicable memory. But it is also true that a man interprets whatever he experiences in terms of his own memories and concepts. It is colored by his prejudices and beliefs. As he walks through life, much that he sees and hears he simply ignores because he is not interested in it. Certain other things, however, such as ideas of places, often acquire a symbolic meaning and overtone because they are closely associated with his own loves, endeavors, and delights; and these ideas become fundamental to the life of his thoughts. He returns to them again and again, and dwells on them and in them. They come to correspond intimately to his life, his use, and his states of natural affections. Without this familiar field of ultimate mental objects he would feel lost and distressed. It is his mental environment in which alone he feels at home.
26. SD min. 4645f, AC 4588, Cp SD 3635, 3672. For a general treatment, see AC 2469-2494.
It would be a cruel thing if death suddenly and ruthlessly deprived us of this basic foundation of memory which seemingly connects our mental life into a whole.
It is for this reason, in the mercy of the Lord, that the spirit is only by degrees weaned from his earthly environment. His first experiences, on awakening into the World of Spirits to resume his life on the third day after death, are so deceptively like his former life that he knows no other than that he is still on earth.
There seems to be little reason to doubt but that this preliminary state is due to the persistent activity of the spirit's "corporeal memory." But this memory with its associated corporeal affections, soon grows dim. It remains indeed. It is not really lost. But it becomes quiescent, as if asleep. It no longer figures as an active factor in the spirit's mental and sensory life. In other words, the spirit-before long-ceases to recall the things which the physical environment impressed upon his senses or mere custom made him remember. Instead, his spiritual senses begin to take in the things of the spiritual world about him. And his experiences in that new world are retained in what the doctrine calls "the interior memory," of which man on earth had been unaware.
The closing of the corporeal memory does not imply that its use is over. It still serves as the ultimate record of his life, which can never change. Indeed, it is inscribed on the very body of the spirit.27 For this corporeal memory is so organized during our life on earth that in it the whole of man's acquired character and ruling love are rooted.28 Only for the sake of examination and judgment is it opened in the other life. Nothing of it is reproduced there "but the spiritual things which have been adjoined to the natural ones through correspondences; which, however. . . . appear in a form altogether as in the natural world . . ."29 Natural objects as such "cannot be reproduced in the spiritual world," but they can be represented. Yet with spirits from other earths it is sometimes reactivated when speech with men is permitted them.30
27. HH 461, SD 5493
28. SD min. 4645f, Eccles. 11:3
29. HH 463f, 461, SD 5552
30. HH 122, DLW 88, AC 10809, 10751
Normally no spirit from our earth whose corporeal memory is active, is allowed to be with men. If spirits were to use their own corporeal memory while with men, dire consequences would follow. The spirits would become foolish, and be reduced to "a state of death." Men would become obsessed (as in Old Testament times). Eventually, the human race would perish.31 Utter confusion would result in a man's mind, because the sequence of man's thinking would be disturbed and ideas would suggest themselves without order, conscious intent, or association. Occasionally this occurs-perhaps because of the aroused memory state of some newly risen spirit. And the man would then think the spirit's thought to be his own or feel as if he had already, some time in the past, experienced what he is seeing, although he had never seen it before. This deceptive "second memory" led some of the ancients to the idea that their souls, after some thousands of years, would be reincarnated and "return into their former life, and into every thing they had done."32 Some spirits are indignant that they cannot recall much which they had known. Yet nothing of their memory is lost, and by permission it can be recollected.33
31. AC 2477f
32. HH 256,298, AC 2478, SD 3285, 3917
33. AC 2479, seq., HH 464, seq.
When the corporeal memory of a spirit has become quiescent, his interior memory is opened. He enters thereby into a more vivid and abundant life and into new faculties which make spiritual life unique and almost indescribable in its perfection. So for instance, he comes into the ability to perceive the thoughts of other spirits whose ideas are within his range, and thus comes to know the quality of their faith and disposition at their first approach, Without any communication by spoken words.34 In this way spirits can share each other's knowledge as if it was all their own; although some do not retain what they thus learn.35
34. AC 1388
35. AC 6813, 5853, 5857, 1388-1394. The general doctrine is given in AC 5846-5866, 5976-5993. The topic is discussed in Spirits and Men, Academy Book Room, Bryn Athyn, Pa., 1958.
Spirits with Men
But the spirit also spontaneously acquires the peculiar "prerogative" of using the memories of men as if they were his own!36 He comes into this marvelous faculty unawares and does not know-unless instructed-that he is constantly borrowing the ideas of men's minds. He does not even know that he is present with men. He hardly realizes that his field of knowledge suddenly widens immensely to include at least a passing knowledge of things he never before knew. All this seems instinctive to the spirit, and creates in him no surprise. And it should be noted that the ideas and concepts which he thus gains from men do not generally appear as coming through his own spiritual senses or from his environment, but are felt as products of his own thought. Such is the case even with angels. For "man's natural thought is a plane in which all the things of angelic wisdom terminate. It is a foundation like that of a house. Into this plane all the things which the angels think fall."37
36. AC 5853, 5857, SD 5607, 5617
37. SD 5608, 3022, LJ 9
This is an arcanum which is revealed only in the Writings. It is said that the angels can benefit from the intelligence of a man whether he is awake or asleep, and also that many men can at the same time serve as a "plane" for one angel, what is absent in one man being supplied from another, by the Lord's provision.38
38. SD 5617
But a spirit who is thus sharing human ideas, perhaps from many men widely apart, at the same time feels himself in the company of other spirits, conversing with them and gaining from them further information and other ideas. He partakes with them in various occupations, exactly as on earth. In other words: besides enjoying a mental life of thought and affection which is as it were "telepathically" communicated both from his companion spirits and from every changing human mind with which he is more or less closely associated, the spirit has a complete and full sensory life from his spiritual environment. His surroundings usually appear relatively stable and permanent, except when the spirit changes his state and thus progresses from one society to another-which often appears to him as a journey from place to place.39
"Well," some one might be tempted to exclaim, "that is easily explained: The other life is only a sort of memory-survival. The material ideas-the memories of the familiar objects we used to sense on earth-simply persist as an echoing background for our spiritual experiences after death."
It was so that the ancient Greeks pictured the life of the departed shades who relived their earthly recollections in Hades or the Elysian Fields. And this may in a sense be true of that introductory state (mentioned above)41 which lasts a few hours or at most a few days after the resurrection-before the corporeal memory sinks into a permanent sleep because it is no longer fed by the bodily senses. But it is not true of the environment of the world of spirits proper, in which the newcomer is likely to remain, perhaps for a year, perhaps for twenty or thirty years.42 The Writings do not give sanction to the idea that what a spirit sees and feels around him in his settled abode-objects such as houses, forests, mountains, and fields, as well as other spirits-is any mere projection or revival of his own corporeal memory. They give instead a totally different explanation, as may appear from the following entry in the Spiritual Diary:
41. 5 Mem. 5
42. HH 498, 426, AR 866
"There appear, with spirits, cities similar to the cities in the world-a London, an Amsterdam, a Stockholm, etc. The cause of this is that every man has with him spirits [who are] in the other life, and these possess the interiors of the man, thus all the things of his memory. They do not indeed see the world through his eyes, but still [they see it] inwardly in him from his ideas. Hence there appear to them the ideas of similar houses, edifices, streets; and they appear just as if they were the very things.... Hence it is that spirits who are with men of some one city have the idea of the same city."43
This is the case with the spirits who are most nearly attending some particular man and who constantly dwell in his ideas to the point that they put on a great part of his memory. In the state of their externals, the novitiate spirit's surviving natural affections tend to bring him into close but unconscious spiritual association with the men on earth who are in the same affections and who endeavor to carry out similar uses. He remains with those of his own religious community, his own family, function, city and nation. But all spirits seek resting-places for their thought in material ideas. Swedenborg (whose relationship with spirits was of course unique) relates that certain spirits wanted him to remain in one room which they preferred to the others. Some spirits chose one, some another of his journals as their special focus of thought or "ultimate of order." Others tried to induce him to wear a certain garment or to use a special tea cup!44 But especially he found that all spirits were attached to some idea of a definite place, around which their sensory life and thus their thoughts and affections could center. If they are unable to find such an ultimate of order, they are bewildered, not knowing where they are.45 So strong can such an attachment to a place be that they may instill in a man who is away from home a feeling of nostalgia or home sickness.
44. SD 3753, 3894, cp 4530
45. SD 3605, 3644, 3857
Cities in the Other Life
The cities which spirits inhabit are never in detail identical with their earthly counterparts, or even the same as any one man's conception of them. What is derived from the men on earth is only a certain raw material unconsciously selected by the spirit, out of Which the Lord creates the environment which best corresponds to the spirit's mental state. The houses, like the inhabitants, are constantly changed. Swedenborg realized that the existence of such spiritual cities would seem incredible to men, "because such a thing does not fall into sensual ideas, but only into rational ideas enlightened by spiritual light, and that neither did they then know that the spiritual appears before a spirit as the material does before men, and that all things which exist in the spiritual world are from a spiritual origin. . . .
It is the Lord that builds the house;47 but it is the spirits who according to their states determine its form and character, its beauty or squalor. A spiritual city is a composite representation of the states and thought-settings of thousands of spirits who have some natural affection or use in common. Each spirit visions not only the image of his own affection therein, but also the concrete forms corresponding to the other spirits who at that juncture are his associates.
47. AC 6487, cp. SD min. 4692
Even while we live on earth our mind or spirit never actually touches or sees the world of matter: we only know and see the inner world of sensation, imagination, and reflection. We live in a sphere of ideas, although these ideas are as yet tempered by an environment of space, matter, and time, and thus bound down to the inexorable sequences of physical effects. In the other life, however, this dependency is broken, and the spirit's sense of reality is based on his mutual relationship with other spiritual beings-other minds.
It is therefore a mental relationship which a newcomer into the world of spirits sees and senses as a city-partly familiar, partly new-into which his life is fitted in so far as his active natural affections lead him. Spirits first settle down in societies of their own nationality, race, or religious practice, and there they seek occupations resembling those they had on earth. Such occupations are as objective as those on earth, filled with details and no doubt with natural anxieties. Each individual occupation, trade, or profession is a form either of charity or of selfishness. Those who are selfish develop an extraordinary cunning and a desire to control other spirits. But so long as they are bound to some office or use and are not openly wicked they are able to join in the life of the spiritual commonwealth.
Each "city" represents a network of mutual uses and activities which stem from habits and sociable affections which have been ingrained in the inhabitants. National traits are also marked even after death. Yet there is a striking fact to be noted: spirits have lost all recollection of their native tongue or the language of "words."
Cities in the world of spirits may be found very different from their earthly counterparts. Certain Dutch cities had streets covered with roofs to protect them against inspection.48 Other cities are described as double or triple, formed in levels, one below the other.49 Some cities, like London, appear in duplicate, one above, the other below. In the tipper city the good live in the middle but the evil in the circumference; while in the city below (which is much the same as to the layout of the streets) the evil would occupy the center which periodically sank down towards hell.50 At the time of the last judgment in 1757, Swedenborg was conducted to a strange mountain which enclosed a city containing an immense multitude of spirits, mostly monks - far too many for the apparent "size" of the mountain. The inhabitants were from various ages since the first rise of papacy. Those from the Dark Ages lived on the lowest level from where they ruled the rest.51 Seemingly these spirits all had the same city (which changed considerably during the centuries) as the ultimate basis of their sensory life. But there was no interference between the activities of those of older and more recent ages, for the spiritual law is that when spirits differ in opinions and manners they "turn to different quarters" and disappear from each others' sight; and then even their houses may vanish with them.52 This explained why so many spirits could appear in the same space-as if passing through each other!53
48. TCR 805
49. LJ post. 12, 19, SD 5249ff
50. Ibid., SD 5039
51. SD 5249
52. SD 5252, 5531f
53. SD 2338, cp 5249
Societies in the world of spirits are in constant flux or change, especially after a general judgment such as occurred in 1757. Since that time, the increase in travel and communication has supplied men in the world with a broader outlook, and local loyalties and provincial and national customs are less distinct. Most large modern cities have their cosmopolitan and international colorings, and few have any religious homogeneity.
The close connection between the inhabitants of these spiritual towns and countries and their earthly counterparts, is indicated by Swedenborg's testimony that on a certain occasion a conspiracy in the earthly city Where he was, was quelled by the Lord who caused the seditious spirits of the corresponding city in the world of spirits to be driven out, and other spirits brought in in their place.55
55. SD 5093
Spirits - and Man's Memory
Enough has been said in the above paragraphs to indicate that the life of spirits is based on that of mankind, even as the life of man depends on that of spirits. When man leaves the natural world, "then, because he is a spirit, he no longer subsists on his own basis, but upon a common basis, namely, the human race."56 "Many men can at the same time serve as a plane for one angel" or one spirit. "The Lord so arranges things that what is absent in one may be present in another."57 Spirits may have access to all the immeasurable riches of men's memories to use as their own. They enter into the peculiar power of using our knowledges without disturbing our own thinking or evoking our consciousness of the items of memory that they borrow.58 If closely conjoined with men the spirits think and will all that man thinks and wills, and whatever the spirits think and will the man then also thinks and wills. Yet both are utterly unconscious of this participation. Spirits do not see the man, except in cases of open intercourse as with Swedenborg.59
It might seem that such a use of man's memory might result in a man's having a divided mind - a fragmentation of his identity, a double personality - or cause other symptoms such as attend schizophrenia, a disease of the brain. But only bodily disorder can now bring this about. Besides, the integrity of the spirit's personality is always preserved even when he adopts a man's memory; for this is much like our own experience when we temporarily identify ourselves with a sympathetic character or with an author's point of view while we are reading a book. The widening of our range of knowledge derived from many sources does not cut up our mind or life into incoherent bits.
Yet, in the course of their "vastation," spirits do undergo all manner of unusual states - temptations and penalties, phantastic visions, even hypnotic obsessions by other spirits. Such states are samples of clinical methods available in the other life for spirits whose minds need correcting.
The continuity of our personality is derived from our ruling love. In this world it may appear that our natural thought is what gives us individuality. But in the other life the truth becomes evident-that the real person, the spirit, is the distinctive affection which selects and organizes the thought. The spirit's thought does not travel by associations of space and time, as ours does when one memory suggests another. He thinks from affection or cupidity or from the interior memory, which is his inner nature or character. By an indescribable mode, there comes to his mind's sight all that in man's memory, which harmonizes with his affection. And he suddenly knows all the ramifications of man's ideas far more acutely than the man.65 Indeed, man's unique power of analytic thought is due to the subconscious association of his mind with spirits, and the influx of spiritual light into the minds of all rational creatures.66
65. AC 6200
66. TCR 454, 475, DP 317
The spirits who are "with man" do not see the man.67 But in assuming things from his memory they may see and adopt the idea which the man has of himself. They may also adopt the whole field of conceptions that the man may wrongly or rightly entertain of some other person, living or dead. And so they may for the time believe themselves to be a certain apostle or saint or prophet or famous character-such as Paul or Mohammed or even the Holy Spirit! Thus they can come to feel themselves admired and perhaps worshipped, often to their great delight.
67. AC 1880, 5862, HH 292
The underlying law is that in the spiritual world one appears as to one's active state, and the active state of spirits proximately attending men is presented in forms taken from the man's memory. Such an impersonating spirit thus appears to other spirits like the person with whom he is consociated-similar in dress, in looks, in demeanor, and in opinions.
Normally, spirits do not know the man with whom they are consociated. But an exceptional case is related by Swedenborg. He attended a council of prominent Christians in the world of spirits, and found that the presiding prelate was consociated with a Doctor [Ernesti] of Leipzig, the editor of a theological review in which Swedenborg had been attacked.68 Swedenborg asked him to inform his earthly counterpart that by attacking the New Church doctrine he was robbing the Lord of Divinity. To this the spirit quite properly replied, "I cannot do this, because I and he, as to this matter, make almost one mind. But he does not understand the things that I say, while I understand clearly all that he says; for the spiritual world enters into the natural world and perceives the thoughts of men there; but not vice versa. . . ."69
68. Neue Theologische Bibliothek, Leipzig 1766, no. 8
69. TCR 137:8, 12
What interests us in this case is not that Swedenborg-in a facetious challenge-gave the spirit a message for the man on earth which he knew could not be delivered; but that the spirit knew all but the name of the man with whom he was consociated. For this he could not convey except from the memory of Swedenborg who uniquely was both a spirit and a man.
MEETING OF FRIENDS IN THE OTHER LIFE
When spirits first enter into the world of spirits, they appear as they did in the world. Their face and tone of voice, their dress and manners, and even their opinions, are the same. For they are as yet in a state of their externals.70 While in this "first state"-which seldom lasts more than a year-a spirit can be recognized by those of his children, relatives, friends, and acquaintances who have gone before him. The very sphere of his life conduces to this recognition.71 And since there is no such thing as space or distance in the spiritual world, any mutual affection or longing can bring them together.
It is also taught that there is a substantial sphere being exhaled from every part of a spirit or angel which conveys his activities to the spiritual atmospheres about him and "produces a perception as of his presence with others." This is similar to the sphere encompassing every man; yet it is "not material" but spiritual.74
74. DLW 291, AC 10130:2
When the spirit first resumes his life after death, his natural affections, his habits, tastes, beliefs, longings and loyalties are aroused. The Lord in His mercy provides that such affections, which are often contradictory and conflicting, often cherished without understanding and tied up with errors and falsities, should not be removed or suppressed suddenly. For man's whole personality is inwoven in these affections. In the world of spirits the Divine providence therefore operates-not to destroy man's natural affections-but rather to gently unravel the tangled web of human life and revamp its many loose threads into well-matched and integrated patterns. This is meant in the prophecy, "A bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not quench. He shall bring forth judgment unto truth."75
75. Isa. 42:3
Thus it is quite a matter of course that spirits after death should be drawn into communities of their like. And since a novitiate spirit would otherwise miss the friends and relations which he had on earth, he is brought into association with such as have died and with many whom he knew only by reputation.76
It is revealed concerning the people of some celestial races that when they died they rejoined their families in heaven, and so were, literally, "gathered to their fathers." Those of such a celestial genius were distinguished by the hereditary characteristics common to families.77 But those who, like our own race, are of the spiritual genius, are further individualized by the formation of their understanding, and thus by features derived from the environment, from education and association, by which family traits are varied into great diversity.78 Relatives will indeed - if the desire is present - meet and greet each other in the world of spirits with deep emotion. But unless there are found spiritual affinities or common ruling loves, they can be together only in the "first state" of the world of spirits-which is the state of externals. We are told of a tearful encounter of an adult with his brother who had died as an infant and grown up in heaven. In such a case there could be no recognition; and it is allowed only as the Lord grants, for some special purpose.79 As a rule, however, those already in heaven or in hell do not meet newcomers, unless these are tied to them by interior sympathies or similitudes. It is possible for an angelic spirit who is already in heaven to meet friends, relatives, and others in the world of spirits, by his being remitted into a state similar to his life in the world-"which is easily done."80
77. AC 2732, 2739, 483e; cp AE 988e, SD 834, CL 205
78. Cp. DP 277a:4
79. AC 2304:2, HH 340, SD 3545
80. HH 427, cp SD 1331f, AC 1636
What causes such a meeting of spirits is a meeting of minds - an intent thought that springs from a strong affection, The one thought of then becomes instantly present "before the internal sight."81 But life in the other world might become unbearable if the wish-thought of any irresponsible spirit could at any time compel one's presence. It is only "when the Lord permits" angels or spirits to call another to mind, that this spirit "unfailingly" appears present to sight and touch.82 No doubt a responsive affection is then aroused. And when this affection ceases, or "as soon as a spirit disagrees in opinion with another, he vanishes," perhaps along with the houses and surroundings of that spirit.83
The Writings warn us against the tragedies that might ensue in the other life for those who on earth have nurtured a smoldering O hatred for some one. For an evil love may arouse a wish to see or pursue one's enemy, and this also leads to spiritual encounters of various sorts.84
84. SD 2771, AC 6893
The Friendship of Love
Whether interiorly conjoined with a society of heaven or with some society of hell, all who have been friends or acquaintances on earth, and especially wives, husbands, brothers or sisters, generally "meet and converse together whenever they so desire."85 Very commonly there is mutual rejoicing over such reunions.86 The newcomer is of course eager to know something of this strange new world into which he has come, and his friends might then answer his questions so far as they can, and conduct him as a guest to various places, such as cities and parks, to please him.87 And they might also seek to introduce him into their own society.
85. HH 427
86. HH 494f
87. HH 495
Here certain dangers lurk. External friendships are formed in the world for various reasons, such as personal admiration, pleasant companionship, business advantage, similarity of taste and common interests. Such relationships can be broken off if internal incompatibilities, rooted in character, should become manifest.88
88. TCR 446
But the case is different if a person has become so enticed by flattery or become in some other way so dominated by another as to blind himself to the inward quality of his friend. And he is thus committed to a "friendship of love" which accepts a person without any proper judgment as to his character or any realization of his dissimilitude. The tragedy here lies in the fact that, owing to man's heredity, evil is contagious like a plague.
In such a case the interiors of a good spirit may be shut up and he may follow his evil friend or relative into some hell where he may for a time "suffer hard things," until at last his eyes are opened and the impossible hope of infusing good into an evil spirit is dissipated; so that he can be led back upon the way of reformation-"but with more difficulty than others."90
90. TCR 448, SD 4524, 2774
The possessive storge of a parent may be such that he utterly disregards whether his children be angelic or satanic. One case is mentioned in the Writings when the father had to be "bound" before his children could be released from his dominating influence.91
91. CL 406f
Societies of Friendship There are many "societies of friendship" among newcomers in the world of spirits. Such are composed of many who are associated solely from a delight in conversing-not caring whether their companions are good or evil so long as they are entertaining!92 These think only of their own pleasure, and tend to induce stupor and take away other people's enjoyment.93 An internal contempt for others, a lascivious lust, or a love of idleness may for a time be concealed by social modesty among such spirits.94
92. AC 4804, 4054, SD 4439, cp CL 5
93. SD min. 4716, SD 4796
94. SD min. 4777
And "societies of interior friendship" may also be formed - pietistic groups who call each other brethren and believe themselves the "elect," but who despise and condemn all outside of their communion.95
95. AC 4805, SD min. 4749, SD 4796, 4801
Among good people true friendship stems from a charity which acts from justice and with judgment96 and is attended by mutual respect for each other's freedom.
The Meeting of Husbands and Wives
Special teachings are given in the Doctrine concerning the meeting of married partners in the other life.98 "Almost everyone who has lived in marriage in the world, after death either meets with his wife, if she died first, or awaits her."99 Usually they then "congratulate each other" that they are now safely past the death which had beforehand seemed such a frightening ordeal.100 Having so much in common, they remain together and mutually explore each other's affections. This seems to be the case even with those whose minds are discordant; but these sooner or later feel a growing uneasiness and difficulty in breathing; and as they pass into "the state of their internals," they may break out into open enmity, quarrelling, and even combat! For some feel delight in having a partner to blame or at least to foil and outwit.
98. CL 45-54
99. De Conj. 50
100. HH 494
As the internal affections become manifest, the couple perceive the nature of the love and inclination which they had for each other.101 If this is concordant and sympathetic the marriage is confirmed by a far deeper conviction that they had been born for each other, and with a tender joy such as they had never known before. "The marriages of the angels of heaven are all provided by the Lord, who alone knows the similitude of souls that is to endure to eternity; and then the consort at first glance recognizes his mate. . . ."102
101. CL 47-49, HH 494, cp 427
102. Ibid., CL 316:3, 229, De Conj. 53
In a marriage of love truly conjugial, the partners "think and breathe what is eternal." Even if one such partner dies, his or her spirit still "dwells continually with the spirit of the one not yet deceased, and this until the death of the latter, when they meet again and reunite and love each other the more tenderly in that they are in a spiritual world."
But since genuine conjugial love is so rare on earth and the marriage choice is often very limited; and since marriages and other sex relations present such wide varieties, including marriages of convenience and external allurement, as well as sexual promiscuity or perversion, strange things may happen in the world of spirits. A man who has married again meets his partners in succession and may resume his life with the first wife while in the state of externals, unless their discordance is plainly evident; in which case he may look for his second wife. It is to be presumed that this floundering uncertainty is absent with those who have been in a marriage truly conjugial, for such a marriage is not broken by death, since their spirits still cohabit, and are interiorly conjoined with the same heavenly society.104
104. CL 49, 321
The doctrine indeed states of heaven, that "there are no marriages elsewhere; beneath heaven there are only wedlocks [connubia] which are joined and dissolved." The love of sex so strongly dominates some spirits that they cannot await the other consort, whether male or female, but are conjoined meanwhile to another spirit who simulates the partner.105
105. CL 192e; De Conj. 52, cp CL 320,321
Such simulation, or impersonation, is also common in the case of famous characters such as Mohammed, Abraham, Jacob, and the apostles.106 There are simple spirits who love to act or pretend or who enjoy being honored or who have a sincere hero-worship. These, from various motives, enact such roles and sometimes even come into the phantasy that they are such personages. In certain cases they are in position to impart needed instruction to their deluded audience. For the sake of this use are they suffered so to act.107
106. TCR 829f, 834, cp CL 6
107. LJ post. 71f, 79-83, TCR 829, cp CL 6:3
Obviously, such pretense is possible only before spirits who are still in the state of their externals. Yet spirits more advanced may again and again slip back into external states, and this especially if they seek to hide their real nature and delay the inevitable judgment. Such a delay was possible before the Last judgment was performed at the end of the Christian Church - possible especially for spirits who in the world had gained status and influence and who were held up as patterns of moral conduct, of piety and of learning.108 But since that judgment every spirit has become subject to an inexorable evolution of character which he cannot long stay or disguise.109
108. LJ 69-71
109. AE 754:3, LJ 64, LJ Post. 176f
COMMUNICATION BY THOUGHT AND SPEECH
Among the peculiar powers into which the novitiate spirit enters, is that of instinctively knowing the quality of other spirits at their first approach, even if they do not speak.110 He "perceives" their good and their evil, their faith and disposition. And within a society, what is known to one spirit is also at once communicated to the rest - and this "not by speech but by influx." But some spirits retain what is thus communicated, while others do not.111
110. AC 1388
111. AC 6813, 1390
At first this suddenly acquired faculty fills novitiate spirits with astonishment.112 But there are so many marvels confronting the newcomers that they soon come to accept them as the norm. Even in this world of ours there are so many things beyond comprehension which we accept as commonplace. Each rising generation dismisses with boredom many new inventions which still astound and mystify their elders. After all, it is life itself that is the great mystery-the fact of consciousness and the marvel of human desire and the rational processes of thought. Our knowledge of the eye's construction and of the electro-chemical changes within the optical centers help hardly a whit to explain why the mind can receive a meaning out of the sensory impulses. And how are the tremblings of the tiny bones of the ear somehow interpreted by us into perceptions of the states of emotion and thought which our neighbors entertain?
112. AC 1389
Essentially, all communication of knowledge or thought or beauty or joy is a mystery which we have ceased to wonder over. Here on earth we are accustomed to regard such communication as impossible unless conveyed through the natural world of spatial forms and fixed matter. Yet the fact is that the sentient mind lives above the physical changes within the sensories of our brain. The mind is the interpreter and supreme judge of the world of outward sense. It stands within its memory-world, and evaluates its meanings, accepting its testimonies or rejecting them. Nor can the immortal mind be thought of as forever boxed up in solitary confinement within the limited individual experience of its corporeal memory. But when it becomes a spirit, its horizon is no longer confined by spaces, but opens to spiritual extensions limited only by the finite affections in accordance with which the spirit selects his objects of thought.
Thus the barriers of ignorance which on earth cast men into artificial groups, are lowered in the other life; and a new kind of society is formed, bound by a community of affections.
Since thought, in the other life, is conveyed directly and as it were inadvertently, it may be surprising to learn that spirits and angels also have speech. Although "before a spirit speaks it is known from the thought alone what he intends to say; for the thought inflows more quickly than the speech."113
113. AC 1640e, 443
It is a law of the spiritual world that no one can speak except as he thinks.114 Nevertheless, thought has one use, speech another. Thought is freely communicated among spirits in a variety of ways, especially where there is a community of affections.115 Even on earth, we sometimes-sympathetically and perhaps telepathically-know the thoughts of those whom we love. But spirits feel this thought of their earthly kindred as an enrichment of their own thought-as if they originated it. Speech, on the other hand, is necessary to convey a thought as coming from another.
The spiritual world, in contrast to the world of nature, may indeed be described as a purely mental world; for it is the mind of man that becomes the spirit after death. Yet in itself that spiritual realm is quite as completely furnished with spiritual things as the corresponding natural world is with material things. It is a world, not a dream or a phantasy. The immortal spirit is there present as a complete spiritual man, having body, brain, and senses, as well as every spiritual organism of thought and affection.117 He lives in a world which has all the discrete degrees and planes necessary for life- including spiritual ultimates which are seen as lands and waters, and spiritual "intermediates" or atmospheres which consist of discreted substances or least forms originating in the spiritual Sun.118
117. TCR 38, DP 279:6, 319
118. DLW 174-178, AE 1210e, 1211e
Even as the minds of spirits and angels are not identical with their spiritual bodies, neither is the thoughts of their minds identical with their speech. Their speech indeed originates from their minds, but it "proceeds from the whole of them, thus not only from the thought but also from the whole body, for the entire spirit is his love, whence their speech comes."119 Their bodies and senses are spiritual. For there are both interior spiritual things (of affection and thought) and exterior spiritual things (of knowledge and sensation). And these latter are created by the Lord to invest and embody the interior things. They not only form that body by which every spirit can sense spiritual things; but when the love and wisdom of angels "descend into the lower sphere in which angels are as to their bodies and sensations,"120 they also cause to come into existence extensive representative creations around the spirits, which seem like replicas of nature.121 Thus the oral instruction which good spirits give to the well-disposed is often accompanied by marvelous visualizations or representations which affect the interior sight.
Speaking is a bodily function. But spiritual speech is utterly different from earthly languages. It is "not one of material words, but of spiritual words, which are ideas modified into words in a spiritual aura"- indeed, in the lowest atmosphere there, which serves as the spiritual air.124 "It is distinguished into words equally as is human speech; it is also uttered and heard with equal sound"; yet "it affects not only the ears but also the interiors of the mind."125
124. AC 7089:2, DLW 176
125. HH 235, 238
The speech of ideas is universal among all spirits, good and evil, of every age and from every habitable spot in the universe.126 It is not learnt but is instinctive with every one, because it is implanted in all men.127 Yet there are differences in types and degrees of ideas, which make the speech of some spirits and angels unintelligible or obscure to others. As a rule, spirits cannot hear angels.128
126. AC 2476, 2472, 6996:2, SD 5589, 5591
127. AR 29, HH 236, 243
128. AC 6996:2
Subconsciously, a man is continually using this "speech of ideas" in his interior rational thinking. Special attention should be paid to that very important factor in the human mind which is represented by his "subconscious intellection" - the hidden faculties of thinking. All mental proficiency comes from the spiritual world, from the fact that spirits and angels stimulate and guide what goes on in those inner recesses of the memory which we cannot ourselves consciously control, Whatever of genius there is in a man comes from his ability to utilize the spontaneous operations of that "super-conscious" level of the mind.
But a man cannot analyze the contents of the subconscious parts of his memory, although he may feel that his wisdom of life resides thus beyond scrutiny. Even the ideas of man's "interior natural memory," or his memory of rational abstractions (which are presented to spirits as immaterial ideas in visual appearances)129 are with man indistinguishable. Yet these ideas are the "initiaments" or primitives of words and terms with men, and constitute "the universal of all languages." "Such as is our thought apart from words, such is the speech of spirits with each other, and it is in fact not only thought (which they also have) but is their speech with one another."130
129. AC 6987:3, 3223, 4408, cp 10604:2, SD 5589
130. AC 1641, 6987:2, SD 2142, 5585. On the language of spirits and angels, see further, SD 5585-5597.
It is therefore an error to imagine that man thinks in words.131 He thinks in ideas which may or may not fall into corresponding words. This was the reason why, when spirits conversed with Swedenborg, their ideas usually fell into the words of the earthly languages with which he was familiar.132
131. SD 5102, 5588, 3637
132. SD 5590, 5585, 2137, CL 326:4, AC 1637:2
The ideas of a man's mind are like vast spheres of associated concepts within every word we use; and they become quite distinct and "discreted" or divided up into untold particulars when man becomes a spirit.133 They serve as spiritual "words," in which every least sound or articulated letter has a distinct meaning, so that more can be conveyed in a moment than man can utter in an hour. This enables spirits to speak upon various subjects with marvelous acuteness and perspicuity, and to reason with incredible power and persuasiveness.134 Indeed, spirits can also make calculations at incredible speeds.135
134. AC 1641, SD 5589
135. SD 5956. AC 10771, cp 10708, EU 167
Swedenborg testifies that when he was among spirits in the state of a spirit, he also could speak with them in their own speech, and was then ignorant of his own languages or his own sphere of ideas.136 But when he returned into his natural state, the spirits, if still with him, communicated in his own vernacular. If he then strove to retain in his memory the spiritual expressions, whether as sounds or as alphabetic writing, he found them utterly meaningless. But he learnt that each letter or sound in the language of spirits had a distinct correspondence and that their words were formed spontaneously. The letter L, for instance, meant both "a horse and chariot" and "the understanding of doctrine." Not one angelic expression coincided with any earthly word. Yet some spiritual expressions-like other spiritual objects-had an external resemblance to some natural words of different meaning-as was the case with the words "bono," "vita," "vitam velle"-or only as to sound, as "rua raha" or "scapuleja." The name of a certain nuptial garden was, for instance, "Adramandoni."137
136. CL 326, De Ver. 5, 6, SD 5102:3, 5770, 5589, AC 9094, 3346, cp 6210, AR 961, HH 255, 239:2
137. These instances are given in SD 6063, 6090, 4866, LJ post. 324, De Ver. iii (9), xxvi, and CL 183
* * * * *
In a sense "it is impossible to be alone" in the spiritual world.138 Not only is one's thought attended to by spirits far and near, but the immaterial sphere which wells forth spontaneously from each spirit is irrepressible, beyond one's control, and reveals one's character to others.139 Yet spirits, like men, enjoy a degree of personal privacy. They do not only have an active or "speaking thought," the ideas of which form the words of their speech. But they have also in their minds a realm of silent thought which they do not necessarily reveal, although it is involved in all that they say. While it is a law in the spiritual world that one must "speak as he thinks," yet he may choose to be silent.140
138. AC 816, SD 1484, 1864
139. AC 10130:2, 9606, AR 294
140. AC 9283, 6987, 8250:2, SD 5588, 1483
A spirit speaking from his reason, and one speaking from his memory, may sound much alike. And spirits may thus pretend to learning as in the world.141
The whole tendency of life is to express itself in its own corresponding forms. The laws of the other life lead spirits to that state in which their inmost affections shall be known. Spiritual speech is adapted to reveal, not to conceal. And this is aided by the fact that it is the interior memory from which the spirit now reflects - a memory which is not ordered in the categories of space and time, but in the order of the delights of his affections.143 Every event or new contact in the world of spirits conduces to a further self-revelation.1444 Insincere speech soon becomes impossible; it is seen as futile and foolish, since the real intent easily shines through.145 Yet in the places where newcomers gather there occur many phantasies which deceive the uninstructed or unwary.146 Premeditated deceit is not permitted in the world of spirits. The deceitful have a "tacit speech" which however can be recognized as such.147
143. AC 9386, 9723, 4901, 2469 seq., DP 193, HH 461ff
144. SD 1169
145. AC 830
146. AE 575:3
147. SD 2848, 2046f, cp AC 1695
And good spirits, like the angels, "have no desire to conceal from others what they think, since they think nothing unkind toward the neighbor."148
148. AC 5695, 4799:2, 6655:2
It is difficult to describe how much fuller and richer the mental life of a spirit becomes when the interior vistas of his memory are opened. For while his "corporeal memory" is rendered quiescent, his "interior natural memory" is aroused into consciousness. And-as shown above-it is the interior ideas and abstract concepts (which man on earth can with difficulty hold in focus) that constitute the speech of spirits-audible as "words."
Yet this "interior natural memory" is but the servant of another memory which the Writings generally refer to as "the interior memory." This memory is entirely unconscious to man while on earth, and makes a one with his real affections and interior character. Into it are gathered, unbeknownst to man, all that has ever affected him, even though he has never bestowed any reflection upon it.
The character of the interior memory of a good man was described by the Lord when He said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."154 And since all states return after death, these spiritual treasures are then opened to conscious realization.
154. Matt. 6:20
5 THE DISCLOSURE OF INTERNAL STATES
An expectation of punishment after death is often mentioned among religious people. But it should be observed that no one is punished after death for things done in the world. Man enters eternal life with entire forgiveness for the past. His sins are remitted him. Yet such a law of mercy can fully benefit only the good; since "their evils do not return." Indeed, their evils were not committed with any deliberate purpose of opposing the truth "or from any badness of heart other than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and they were borne into this by a blind delight" when carried off by external circumstances.1
1. HH 509
Yet the Apocalypse records that John heard a voice from heaven saying, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."2 And the spiritual law is that all the active states of thought or deed, which a man has entertained from infancy to old age, "not only remain in the other life, but return exactly as they were while he lived in the world."3
Through this return of states from childhood on, the spirit is given the opportunity gradually to judge himself, to re-evaluate his past in the light of his confirmed outlook on life. If well-disposed, he may see and renounce the sins of his youth and his later transgressions, and recognize that from himself he is nothing but an intricate mass of evils from which he now recoils in horror and disavows with aversion. They are judged by himself, in the light of truth.5 Thus
5. HH 487:3
"there is granted to every man after death ample means to amend his life, if possible. They are instructed and led by the Lord through angels. And then, because they know that they live after death and that there is a heaven and a hell, they at first admit truths. But those who in the world had not acknowledged God and shunned evils as sins, soon feel weary of truths and withdraw. And those who acknowledged truths with the mouth and not with the heart are like the foolish virgins who had lamps with out oil, and who begged oil from others and who went and bought and yet were not admitted to the wedding. 'Lamps' signify truths of faith, and 'oil' signifies the good of charity. . . ." (DP 328:9)
"The Lord has the power to separate and remove from infernal societies, that is, from evils, anyone He may wish; but such a change can continue only for a few hours, after which the evils return. 1 have frequently seen this done, and seen that an evil one continues evil as before. In the whole spiritual world there is not an instance of any one's having been removed from evils except through combat or resistance as of himself; or of any one doing this except from the Lord alone." (AE 1164e)
With an evil spirit, his deeds and thoughts return, and with such realism that persons whom he had hated are actually presented before him, and his concealed enmity is openly revealed, along with shame and grief and terror.
Thus it may be said that "good spirits, although they have done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return"-that is, the return is not accompanied with great anguish, for they feel the Lord's forgiveness. Angels minimize the faults of a well-disposed spirit, especially if he is unduly discouraged by his evils, or if he is unaware of them. The states which "return" with an upright spirit are those of friendship and love, and these are recalled with a new delight and a far deeper happiness.8 Similarly, the "states of holiness" which moved his heart during times of worship on earth "are preserved to him by the Lord for the use of eternal life. . . ."9
8. AC 561, 823
9. AC 1618
Remains with the Evil
Evil spirits, like evil men, are not all equally wicked. Each may have some lingering quality that makes them in some way attractive. Even criminals may "draw the line" against some forms of perversion. The Arcana Coelestia reveals the reason for this.
Even the evil were once innocent babes, with whom the Lord insinuated goods and truths. These states were stored up and preserved by the Lord entirely without man's knowledge, in the interiors of his mind, and are withdrawn from the evils and falsities which man later confirmed; and they are therefore called "remains."10 Only through such gift states which temper his evils is it possible for man to become rational." In fact, man is human in proportion to the "remains" which have set limits to his evils. With wicked spirits, these remains continue to establish a communication with heaven, sufficient to enable them to reason and act as human beings when they so choose.
It is true both of the good and the wicked that hereditary evils also remain within man's immortal spirit, and are not exterminated even with the regenerate. Especially the paternal heredity and genius remain to eternity.15 In order that good spirits may learn the truth about themselves, they may if necessary be let down into the hidden life of their connate nature, and its sphere of domineering and lust.16 But this lesson is for those who come into the idea that they are good from themselves. Hereditary inclinations may thus be recalled, but do not "return" in the other life.
15. AC 868, 2307, 4564, DP 277a, 79; AC 1414:2, TCR 103
16. HH 342, AC 2307f, cp AE 989e
"It is from Divine justice that no one should be punished for the evils of his parents, but for his own. Therefore the Lord provides that hereditary evils shall not return after death, but one's own evils; and it is for those that return that a man is then punished."17
17. AE 989e, AC 966
The State of Internals
In the "first state" of the World of Spirits, the newcomer is in his externals. By this is meant that he thinks, speaks, and acts-and looks-such as he was in regard to his spirit while in company with others in his earthly life. His speech may therefore still be full of social dissimulations.18
18. HH 504, DLW 415, 404:3; SD 2775, TCR 147, AC 3993:12
But this condition seldom lasts more than a year.19 For in the other life "no one is allowed to think and will one Way and speak and act in another." The spirit must become an image of his own love. His externals must come to correspond to his internals. The spirit therefore unconsciously glides into a state in which he thinks freely and without restraint from his interior will, which he had previously never been able to articulate.20 But there may still linger some fear of expressing this in words before others.21 Yet he seeks a social sphere where he can do so.
19. HH 498
20. HH 502
21. HH 503
Good spirits seem now to pass into a fuller wakefulness-a new day when the light of heaven dawns upon them, and they can worship the Lord in an internal sanctity.22 But spirits who are devoid of conscience begin to appear foolish, as their inward lusts break out, although they seem to themselves wiser than others because of their cunning intrigues. They lose their fear of loss of reputation. Some indeed are sometimes let back into the state of their externals and the contrast then makes them ashamed and angry that they are not permitted to remain permanently in the outward semblance of honesty. Yet the spiritual law forbids this for "there is nothing covered up that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known." "Every idle word that man shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."23
22. HH 506
23. HH 507, Luke 12:2. Matt. 12:36
Delights and Correspondences
One spirit, newly arrived in the world of spirits, was told that heaven was above his head and hell beneath his feet, but was not told what they were like. He now came into a state of anxiety from constant thought about them.
One peculiarity of the spiritual world is that when a spirit enters upon the state of his internals, he forgets many of the natural delights which he had enjoyed in the world. These delights are instead changed into spiritual delights which may appear in quite different forms, according to the law of correspondences.24 Evil spirits-meticulously neat and clean in their first state-may reveal a decided preference for unclean places. Although in the world fond of a sophisticated urban life, they might come to crave a life among barren rocks, in caves or on sandy wastes; or, strangely enough, develop a liking for darkness and magical arts. Those who once lived for the palate may turn to the most disgusting fare - for which they would feel very ashamed if let back into their externals. It is their mental predilection for disorder, filth, dishonesty and perversion, or for barren knowledge, that takes these repulsive forms as soon as the spirits recognize the complete satisfaction which is gained by an environment which really corresponds to their interiors.25
24. HH 485ff
25. HH 488f, DP end
By the same laws of correspondence, some of the learned, who loved to construct false and incoherent doctrinal systems, may find a sudden yearning to build houses-although what they build one day may fall down the next!26
With good spirits, this metamorphosis of natural delights into the representation of spiritual delights, involves no reversion, but is nonetheless a startling change. Their natural delights fade while their spiritual delights-which on earth had rarely been sensed-are sometimes represented by blessings of beauty and wealth, to correspond to the glories of spiritual usefulness. This beauty shines forth even from tile humblest things, and what is Divine is seen concealed therein. "The objects they indeed see with their eyes; but the corresponding Divine things inflow immediately into their minds and fill them with a blessedness by which all their sensations are affected."27
27. HH 489
Yet good spirits learn that the wealth, the lovely surroundings, the houses, the heavenly treasures that they may acquire as their interiors are opened, are not rewards, but the provided means by which their spiritual uses may be carried out. In this world it is one's fellow-men who estimate a man's uses and determine his rewards by faulty measures. But in the spiritual world the government of the Lord's justice and wisdom is more obvious, providing the means to carry out uses in an eminent way for those who have the love to do so.
The real means of use are truths. This is what is represented in the rich surroundings of regenerating spirits. But in the world of spirits these things are still not permanent, but signify the truths which they are offered. For as yet these spirits are transients, lacking a stable perspective or fixed point of view. This they will attain only when they reach their spiritual home. But in the meantime they often change societies, and while they may be allowed to visit their final heaven, they cannot stay there unless their preparation is completed.
The progress of spirits into the state of internals is not sudden. Man's faults and evils are not always easy to put away if they have become habits of thought. In the other life, habits of thought are seen and felt and used as paths or roads over which the spirit likes to roam. Evil habits bring him into all sorts of spiritual dangers, making him vulnerable to the attacks of mischievous, brutal and deceptive spirits.
In the spiritual world, "man's thoughts, which are born from his intentions or will, are represented as roads."28 Contrary to the common saying, it is the road to heaven that is "paved with good intentions." But none can reach heaven unless he actually walks therein.
28. HH 534:3, LJ 48e, AE 206, DP 60e
These individual ways are most complicated and devious, for each spirit walks in ways "according to his truths," ways which no one else sees. But the Lord alone knows all these roads, and He alone can lead the spirit on the paths by which he can reach his heaven.29 For the spirit is attached as if by elastic cords to various societies in the world of spirits, and among these societies he "walks free, although bound." "The Lord as it were leads him by the hand, permitting and withholding so far as the spirit is willing to follow in freedom."30
29. AE 940, 1153:8, SD 5986, AC 10422, 3477, cp Wis. i.5
30. AE 1174:2
The novitiate spirit, if he is affected by truths, is introduced to various societies, both good and evil. But after being explored, he is inducted into a society of his own type of natural affection where he can lead an agreeable life. His interiors then begin to open more and more. But salvation (or heaven with its spiritual safety), can be reached only when a spirit has been purged from such false principles and evil habits as had affected him while in the world.
Consequently he must undergo states of vastation or of temptation, by which he puts off his merely natural affections; and, eventually, comes into a state of instruction in which spiritual truths are perceived in new light.31
31. AR 153:4
6 JUDGMENT AND INSTRUCTION
THE SECOND STATE IN THE WORLD OF SPIRITS
Temptations in the Other Life
So far as a man has entered the regenerate life on earth, he is exempt from severe "vastations" in the other life. Nor does he have to undergo temptations, "for he who is tempted in the world, is not tempted after death."1 No one is regenerated without undergoing temptations. And "all who are let into temptations are saved." But those who are brought up in churches in which there are no genuine truths, may yet live a good life according to their religion, and thus be saved. For "the good of life holds deep within it the affection of knowing truths," and when such come into the other life they easily receive truths and drink them in.2 They can therefore be instructed in genuine truths and be confirmed by states of spiritual temptations which they formerly could not have sustained on account of the falsities of their religion.
1. AR 185
2. AE 474, 452
The evil, who have no conscience, do not feel spiritual temptations. In the course of their vastation they gradually reject the truths they once pretended to believe, and forget them or contort them.
Vastation, when suffered by good spirits, is simply a gradual removal of external evils, fallacies, and faults, which would make their companionship with angels impossible.3 But with the wicked, vastation consists of a removal of the external truths and natural goods by which they have disguised their evil purposes. Thus in both cases the object of vastations is that the character of the spirit may be integrated so that his external behavior and appearance may accord with his inward quality.
3. AC 9763, 1106-1113, 7984, SD 4038f
Vastations take greatly different forms. To illustrate their need the Spiritual Diary records how personal enmities and jealousies can pursue spirits and adhere, to their sorrow, long after death, until overcome. An instance is also given of a well-disposed spirit who on earth had habitually exploded into cursing, calling everything disagreeable "infernal" and constantly using the name of "the Devil."4 The spirits around him were indignant at such expressions, and he came to suffer agonies-feeling himself as if wrapped in a veil or net from which he could not escape. But eventually he was delivered not only from the phantasy of the veil but from the habit itself, which was represented by the veil. For man is actually enshrouded by a spiritual veil which cuts off the light of heaven, when his thoughts are ruled by some cupidity, such as prompts impatience or contempt of others.
4. SD 4056
Another form of vastation occurs with those whose habit it has been to use passages of the Holy Scripture to evoke laughter or derision, thinking that this is a form of elegant wit. Such holy things are profaned when by habit immersed in worldly and corporeal ideas, and have to be separated by a method which feels like a tearing apart of their spiritual bodies! "Let men beware, therefore, how they mix holy things with things profane. . . .
A thousand different phantasies are caused in the spiritual world by the return of corporeal states. States of the mind, which seem so abstract and vague in our earthly life, there become clear, objective, and tangible in representative forms. Many of our faults and cherished persuasions which here condition or contort our thinking, may there bind our spirit or submerge it as if in a vat, to the point of suffocation.6 Many of our wish-thoughts, if stubbornly maintained, may in the other life bring us into a spiritual captivity-a life where our progress is arrested.
6. AC 948, SD 1398
This is also the case when false doctrines or mistaken notions about spiritual duties or the way of salvation have brought men into needless fears and unsound inhibitions, or into reliance on their own "merit." Good spirits may thus linger for long periods in what the Writings describe as a "lower earth," beneath the World of Spirits-in societies connected with heaven but surrounded by the hells.7 They live an obscure life, but sometimes a cheerful one, for angels are occasionally sent to comfort them. Some seem to themselves to be cutting wood, thinking to merit heaven by their labors. Eventually they are redeemed from their vastation period and instructed in heavenly life. It is recorded about Melanchthon that he was repeatedly permitted to resume his writing about salvation by "faith alone," although what he wrote by day was obliterated by night. Other novitiate spirits who had been incurable bookworms and anxious for a reputation for learning, seemed to themselves in a cellar full of books where the candles continually blew out.8
7. SD 1771f, LJ post. 156, AC 1106, 7090
8. AC 4943, 6928, 1111, 1113, TCR 797, SD 385
One reason why good spirits may have to suffer such spiritual vastations is that old habits and false beliefs may be seen for what they are-as obstructions to heavenly life; and that conceits and feelings of merit may be softened and removed.
And spirits have very different notions of what heavenly joy is - ideas often based on biblical descriptions. Many imagine it as a paradise, or a festive garden with banquets or sensual pleasures. Some think of it as a social gathering where all converse to their heart's content, eager to talk or listen on the subject of their choice. Others, of pious or mystical bent, believe that heavenly life consists in an ecstatic worship of God in a phantasmal cathedral resounding with continual praise, with nothing to disturb the elevated mind. Again, some think of heaven as a reward, where "the elect" may sit on thrones as judges or kings.
And indeed there are "heavens"-probationary heavens-for those who seek to satisfy the joys of their imagination. Any one may enter such a "heaven," but none may leave until he is convinced by sad experience that a life of pleasure, or of mystic abstraction, or of continual praise of God, or of personal glory, will pall in a few days and turn into mental torture.10
10. CL 2-9
Those who think of heaven as a "place" may also, if insistent, be permitted to visit some society of heaven, and be shown its marvels. If unprepared, the light of heaven would blind them, their heart would palpitate, they would be unable to breathe. They would perhaps recall the parable of the man who came to the wedding without a wedding garment.11 They might feel as if stripped naked, or like an owl of the night, and might throw themselves out of heaven, to return to their home in the World of spirits. Their inordinate desire for heaven would be modified, and they would be ready to learn that "the joys of heaven and eternal happiness are not the enjoyment of a place, but of the state of a man's life"-from the conjunction of love and wisdom in a life of use.
Good spirits, having been made to realize the false conceptions they have of heaven, are imbued with renewed zeal to return to their own place and find their happiness in active uses.
Progress into Interior Uses
A good spirit's approach to "the state of his internals" would take the form of his entering more interiorly into his use.12 It is legitimate to imagine that a spirit in a city of newcomers would first enter into his customary activities among his fellows and into civic relations as on earth. An optician, for example, would want to provide lenses to correct faulty vision. Indeed, he would find that many novitiate spirits have experienced unbelievably strange things in their new life which they might, in their recurring doubtful states, attribute to their own eyesight! The optician would then, perhaps, examine their spiritual spectacles. If he had entered somewhat interiorly into his use, he might procure a real adjustment, a focusing of the blurred vision of those spirits to the perspectives of the spiritual world. He might do this by a gentle leading into the light of truths hitherto unknown, or by a kindly philosophy which opened new vistas of understanding.
12. Love xvii
A merchant, with whom charity would take the form of honesty, trust in the Divine providence, and a shunning of avarice as the root of many evils, would enter interiorly into his use when he comes to act from the faith that all the fruits and profits which he reaps, are really derived from the common good. He sees that the good of his fellow citizens, the public welfare and civic order, must be loved and protected because they all look to the treasures of wisdom, truth, and sustaining delight which the Lord provides out of heaven. He sees that the real trading of spiritual life is the exchange of spiritual truths and goods.13
13. DP 217:4, TCR 801, Love vi. 2, Char. 167, SD 3523, AC 5527
We may surmise that similar experiences befall those in other uses. And if some occupation is such that it does not conduce to a progression into interiors, a good spirit would find no difficulty in finding some employment which can be a better means to express an interior charity.14
14. HH 394, Char. 142, 137ff, 158ff, AE 1191, Wis. vii. 5:3, Love xii
Exploration by Angels
In the "first state" of the world of spirits, newcomers are examined as to their external acts. Evil doers who cannot control their vices are separated in various ways. Some cast themselves into the hell of their delight within a few days.15 Yet, if any doubt appears-certain signs of external amendment or self control or some remnant of religious acknowledgment - they are permitted to return into the world of spirits and adjust themselves to society with other unjudged spirits.
15. HH 491, 513, AC 2595, SD 5495
But when they enter the state of their internals, and resume their life of vice, they are subjected to an exploration by angelic examiners-who may be the invisible governors of the society. The exploration takes many forms. Sometimes, when a spirit denies his guilt and pretends innocence, the contents of his memory is opened up-in an unveiling, before other spirits, of his past deeds and intentions. His thoughts can be reconstructed without error, as they had been in their order, day by day, for any period of his past; and even letters and documents can be reproduced visually when necessary.
Every detail of a murder by poison can, for example, be recounted as it appears in the memory of the criminal-even to his superstitious fears that the victim would haunt him.16 And since the spiritual body is the product of all his moral and civil life, and the very substance in which his memory and character are inwrought, the exploration may involve an examination of the whole body, member by member, beginning with the fingers of each hand, The angels can thus "read him like a book"; for the memory is man's immortal book of life.17 As spiritual physicians, they can thus uncover the unwholesome rationalizations and subconscious complexes which are hidden behind the material symbols and associated ideas of the spirit's memory, and so compel him to admit his real intentions and loves. When guilt is finally confessed, the spirit is separated from the society and wanders about until he finds a home. After many vain attempts to join with good spirits, with a view to master them by some subterfuge, he will tire of pretense and fling himself into some open hell where he can indulge his phantasies without censure.
Separation of the Evil
The entrance into the "second state" marks a gradual separation between good and evil spirits. In part, this separation-or at least distinction-begins earlier, through the simple fact that evil spirits are generally not interested in internal things such as the truth of the Word or the uses of the church, while the good listen attentively to such information.18 After the separation, good spirits are not visible to the evil spirits, while the latter can still be seen by the good, who turn away from them and thus become invisible.19
18. HH 496
19. HH 583
But the evil are not punished or removed except when they transgress the decorum and order which their society requires, As long as they live morally, they can remain in their cities.20 In the suburbs there are usually present both good and evil spirits who have recently died and have not yet suffered vastation, but serve men for communication with heaven or with the hells. Some, although cast into hell, may for this reason return repeatedly into the world of spirits.21 Outside the cities, spiritual "robbers" often roam, who sometimes come into the streets. But they have no power there, for "in the cities law always reigns, and hence there is security, as in the cities of the world."22 But with general changes of state, as during the Last judgment which Swedenborg witnessed in the year 1757, when most of such cities were usurped by the evil, the houses as well as the spirits disappear, and reappear in a different situation.23
20. SD 5714, 5034f, 4930
21. SD 5529
22. SD 5361, 5365, 5714, 5711
23. SD 5252, 5531
The Fate of the Wicked
In a memorable relation, in the work The Apocalypse Revealed, the dismal story is told of what happens to evil spirits who are not affected by truth but by falsities. For he who loves falsities cannot but love evils also.
The Fork of the Road
The real touchstone by which the evil reveal themselves as to character and thus begin to separate themselves from the good, is spiritual truth. This is the truth derived from the acknowledgment of the Divine Human of the Lord. All of heaven is in the worship of the Lord in His glorified Human. The knowledge of the Lord is the universal of all things of doctrine and hence of the church, and is essential for entrance into heaven. Although there are many gates into the New Jerusalem, each gate is the same pearl of truth-the acknowledgment of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth.25
25. AR 916, 727
This fundamental truth through which there is introduction into heaven, was also called, in the Word, "the stone which the builders rejected" but which "is become the head of the corner."
Swedenborg was shown a broad way where many novitiate spirits were travelling, both good and evil together, talking with each other like friends. At some distance there was a great stone or rocky ledge where the broad way turned obliquely down towards hell, while a narrow path forked off to the left and led up towards heaven. The rock at the corner where the roads forked represented the acknowledgment of Peter, on which, the Lord said, "I will build My Church."27 The truth concerning the Divinity of the Lord's Human becomes a stumbling block to the evil who do not see it, and who turn away to the broad way "that leadeth to destruction." And "many there be which go in thereat."
27. Matt. 7:13, 14, 16:16-18, HH 534
THE THIRD STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH
Good spirits do not find their final abode without some special preparation. When they enter the state of their internals-called "the second state after death"-well-disposed spirits usually have to undergo certain states of "vastation" through which they are divested of the falsities of doctrine, the social insincerities or pretenses, and the bad habits which cling to them.28 They are then separated from the evil and led to societies which represent good natural affections. Evil spirits disdain any instruction in spiritual truths, but plunge instead into the phantasies of their ruling loves; and their "second state" is therefore also their "third state."29 But good spirits, before they can enter heaven, must enter a third state in which they learn to think like the angels-by spiritual ideas. This state of instruction, with adults, is of relatively short duration, for spiritual ideas are universals, which comprehend innumerable particulars within single concepts.30 Besides, such instruction is to be continued in heaven. Those taught are all in the love of truth for the sake of uses.31
To obtain such instruction, the spirits are introduced into special societies presided over by angels. There the newcomers learn to think, speak, and act in "choirs"-that is, in the rhythm of angelic uses. The Writings sometimes call these novices "angelic spirits."32 For each one, the Lord prepares uses, suited to his genius, for him to love; and that love is exalted by his hope of becoming an angel. Those being instructed are therefore said to "dwell apart," for each one is connected with the society of heaven for which he is being prepared.33
32. DLW 140, AR 875:4, HH 517
33. HH 514
In reference to the Grand Man, these places of instruction seem to be represented by the "province" of the liver, which receives and prepares the aliments which are to enrich the blood and feed the body tissues, and by the "province" of the mesentery and the lacteals where the digested food from the intestines is converted into chyle-both streams of nutriments to be eventually refined and purified in the lungs for the use of the brain.34
34. DP 164, AC 5173, 5180, SS 66
These outposts of the heavens are spread out widely in the world of spirits, There are places nearest heaven, for the instruction of those who have died in childhood and were brought up in heaven; there are places where Christian adults are taught; other places for Mohammedans, others for gentiles and pagans of different cults; among whom, it seems, "the best are from Africa."35 Those who had died as infants are taught by angels of the interior heavens. Their affections are stimulated by various representations of heavenly uses which bring with them interior delights. Some of these representations are taken from the literal sense of the Word.36 Adults are instructed mainly by angels of the ultimate heaven. Mohammedans and gentiles are under the tutelage of angels who had been of those religions and later accepted Christianity. Christians are taught from "the heavenly doctrine" which is the soul of the Word and which contains inner vistas of meaning beyond exhaustion.
When their preparation is completed the angelic spirits are given garments, mostly of glowing white, to signify their state. A profound longing for heaven possesses them, and they are brought to the way that leads upwards to their final abode.38 Two such ways pass from each of the places of instruction, and these winding roads are bordered and adorned by corresponding fruit trees, or by vines and laurels. The heavens formerly had seemed to be far above them and beyond attainment, but now for the first time they see the way.
38. HH 519f
Still, the novitiates do not necessarily find their own final home at once.39 Instead they might be given a general commission as "disciples of the Lord," and sent out from their situation in the "northern quarter" towards various directions, until they find those with whom they are in interior conformity, But everywhere, the angels greet them with joy and hospitality, and furnish them with angel guards. And they taste of the blessedness of all the societies in which they are received.
39. HH 519, CL 261
Their reception is orderly. For each heavenly community has its gates or barriers where examiners meet visitors, and-in the name of the governor-invite them in to inquire whether there are houses anywhere which they can recognize as theirs.40 If not, some wise man may examine them more intimately, as to whether they are adjusted to stand the heat and light of that society. When this is not the case, they are not given a permanent welcome, but depart again by "ways that open among the societies of heaven"-through lands and scenes which indicate the nature of each heaven.41
40. AR 611
41. AR 611, HH 520, cp CL 75:2, 3
When at last they find the house of their ruling love, all doubt vanishes and there are tender greetings. For they feel at once that they are "among their own as among relatives and friends" whom they love from the heart, amongst whom they may live and work in full enjoyment "from peace of soul." Indeed, "good spirits, on coming into a heavenly society, take on and possess all the wisdom of all in the society ... although in the life of the body they had known nothing at all of such things as are talked about."42 One reason for this is that their internal memory had already on earth been furnished unconsciously with the receptacles of such wisdom, and is now opened.
42. AC 5859, 5649:3, 1390
Their interiors-within and above their rational mind-are opened.43 While they were still in the world of spirits, the rational of their natural mind was in process of formation, and their thought was held in a state of balance and choice.44 But now their ruling love itself guides them-the confirmed love that is peculiar to their own heaven.
43. HH 519
44. HH 430
* * * * *
It was previously noted that ideally a spirit's preparation for heaven should be completed on earth. And some, who are regenerated and instructed in spiritual thinking in the world need simply to "cast off natural impurities along with the body."45 Swedenborg saw some such spirits taken up into heaven immediately after their resurrection had been effected. This is also the case with infants. Others, who have been sufficiently instructed while on earth, are taken up without entering "the third state."46
45. AC 2960e, HH 491
46. HH 513, 426
But such instruction in spiritual truth is far removed from the kind of teaching that men now obtain on earth. The spheres of modern Christendom spread a pall of darkness over any spiritual thinking.47
The New Church on earth is indeed established to serve as a society of instruction, to train our stubborn minds to think in terms of spiritual-rational ideas, ideas that flow from the love of the Lord and the charity of heaven, and open our understanding to view all things in the light that streams from the Sun of heaven.49
49. See pages 146, 398f
7 CHILDREN IN THE OTHER LIFE
There is nothing in man that makes him worthy of entering heaven. But all good is measured by the innocence which it contains. For real innocence is the willingness to be led by the Lord rather than by self-will. The helplessness and humility of an infant touches our hearts because the babe is asking for love, leading, and security. Even his hereditary evils and bodily appetites-for which the infant cannot be held responsible-are overlaid by a borrowed good or by an external innocence-the innocence of ignorance.1 This innocence is what makes the child docile-so that he can be taught to see things in the light of truth rather than from his inherited inclinations which he feels as his real self or "proprium."
1. AC 4563:2, AE 989:3
The infantile innocence which so attracts and charms adults is from an influx of good from the Lord through the celestial heavens. Therefore the Lord said, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven."2
Strange to say, the common Christian idea has been that infants who die remain babes to eternity-an idea which might stem from the fact known to the ancients that the celestial angels sometimes appear as infants.9 Catholics speak of unbaptized infants as excluded from heaven and held in a limbo near the hells. Many Protestants think that all who are not baptized are condemned or even annihilated; or that some are predestined to hell.10 Yet the Word clearly teaches that "the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers."11 "It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."12 Children are certainly not condemned for the evils of their inheritance.13
9. AC 2304, HH 340, CL 413
10. HH 329
11. Dent. 24:16
12. Matt. 18:14, DP 328:8, 324:9, AC 1059
13. AC 2307f, 828, SD 2710, 3899, AE 989, cf DP 281, TCR 521
"All children (infantes), whether born within the church or not" and whatever their heredity, "are adopted by the Lord and become angels. And their number reaches to a quarter or a fifth part of the whole human race on earth."14
Since all children are saved by the Lord through an angelic education, the question may arise whether this means that they are deprived of their human faculty of free choice! And the same question might be raised about those of the celestial church who were born before the Fall, and whom we might be tempted to envy, as being assured of an easy salvation obtained without having "borne the burden and heat of the day."20 But the Lord draws all men unto Him.21 Only those are lost who resist His invitation and refuse His leading by confirming evils of life by deliberate falsities. Every one does not have the same temptations. Freedom does not depend on the presence of evil.
Why so many die as infants, is partly seen from the general law that the Lord allows men to live only so far as they can be held in spiritual freedom.23 Yet every one "is born such that he can enter heaven. . . ." "All can be regenerated, each according to his state."24 It is not to be thought that when a child dies it is because his parental heredity is so evil that he could not be held in freedom. For the Lord calls men to the other life for various reasons; perhaps because they can best be perfected in the other life, or because they can supply some use known to the Lord alone, for the maintenance of the equilibrium of uses in the Grand Man. "Wherever forces fail they are balanced." This teaching is given in the Spiritual Diary:
23. Cp AC 828, SD 2710, 3899
24. DP 324:9, TCR 580, AE 989:3
"Concerning the durations of the life of men: why some live long, and some not so long.
"The life of every man is foreseen by the Lord, as to how long he will live, and in what manner; wherefore he is directed from earliest infancy with a regard to a life to eternity. The providence of the Lord, therefore, commences from earliest infancy.
"The reasons why some die as children, some as youths, some as adults, some in old age, are: 1st, on account of use while he is in the world to men; 2nd, on account of use, while he is in the world, to angels and spirits: for man, as to his interiors, is with spirits; and he is there as long as he is in the world, in which all things there terminate; 3rd, on account of use to himself in the world, either that he may be regenerated, or that he may be let into his evils lest they lie dormant and afterwards break out, which would result in his eternal ruin; 4th, therefore, on account of use afterwards in the eternal life, after death, to eternity; for every one who will be in heaven has his place in the Grand Man, or, on the other hand, he has his place in hell:
Infants, when they die, enter heaven by a shorter way than other spirits do. This is represented by the fine atmospheric aliments which are absorbed through the skin and tongue and are passed into the bloodstream without having to be broken up in the digestive canal.26
26. SD 1021f, 1035, cp AC 5174f
Since infants have not as yet had their proprium aroused, and have not attached themselves to many societies in the world of spirits, they do not have to pass through the same states as older spirits when they are resuscitated from death.27 Instead they remain with the celestial angels. One reason for this difference is that
27. Cp HH 450
"those who die in mature life have a plane acquired from the earthly and material world, and this they carry with them. This plane is their memory and its natural corporeal affection. This remains fixed and then becomes quiescent, but it still serves their thought as an ultimate plane, for the thought inflows into it. Hence it is that such as that plane is and such as is the way in which the rational corresponds with those things which are in it, such is the man after death. But infants who die as infants and are brought up in heaven, do not have such a plane, but a spiritual-natural plane; wherefore they derive nothing from the material world and the earthly body. On this account they cannot be in such gross affections and thence thoughts: for they derive all things from heaven. . . ."28
28. HH 345, cp SD min. 4645f
Until they are told they do not know that they were born on earth.29 Swedenborg once met an angelic couple from the heaven of innocence, who had grown up in heaven; and he found that they did not even know what evil was.30
29. HH 345, AC 2293, SD 5668:12, 4726
30. CL 444
It is however possible for a man who lives out his span on earth to come into as perfect a state as that of those educated in heaven: provided only that he removes the loves of self and the world and receives spiritual loves in their stead. "For there is the same in him as in the infant."31
31. HH 345e, DP 324:9
The angelic "mothers" of the inmost heaven are said to belong to the province in the Grand Man which corresponds to the genital organs of both sexes.32 We are also told of certain chaste and modest virgins, corresponding to the supra-renal capsules and the thymous gland, who care for babes and attend pregnant mothers.33 But the infants themselves are said to be in the province of the eyes, and in "rainbow heavens" among paradisal delights and surrounded by ineffable beauty.34 Such paradises are in the ultimates of heaven, or at the threshold of the superior heavens.35
32. AC 5053f, De Conj. 100, 106
33. AC 5391, 5172, SD 969f, 1004, 1048
34. AC 1621, 1623, SD 3213, AE 831e
35. AC 4528, SD 3213, 5668:5
The innocence of ignorance is a natural good.36 Infants are not angels, but angels in the making.37 They are with their angelic "mothers" and teachers, and receive the influx of the heaven of innocence,38 but their own state is as yet natural, and their spiritual situation, while they are being educated, is at first in the "north-east" of the world of spirits, and later more and more towards the "south."39 Thus while spared a lonely progress through the world of spirits, they are as yet in the state of spirits.40
36. AC 3504
37. AC 2304
38. CL 410, HH 332
39. Cp HH 513f, TCR 476
40. SD 5167
In heaven as on earth education is adapted to successive states. Infants there learn to walk and talk without any training, but their speech (which is the universal spiritual language of ideas) is at first expressive only of general affections rather than of thought. They are, however, quickly initiated into more particular ideas, and their speech becomes more distinct.41
As the children grow and their infantile ideas and affections mature and become rational, they also grow in stature. For the increase of intelligence and goodness-which is mental nourishment-is also the growth of their spiritual body in strength and beauty. Understanding and judgment make them appear as young men and virgins.44 When those brought up in heaven reach a stature similar to that of fifteen year old girls and eighteen year old boys, they have attained marriageable age and their external growth stops.45 In terms of our years this goal may even be reached much sooner.
44. SD 4297, AC 2289, 5576, HH 340, CL 44:2, 5, 411, 444
45. CL 444:8, cp 42:2, 3
Like other spirits, those who die in infancy possess spiritual bodies and spiritual senses. Their experiences enter into their interior memory and are translated into ideas devoid of the notions of space and time.46 But those brought up in heaven have a more plastic and adaptable character, and the special uses which they can perform may correspond to the softer and more liquid tissues of the body. They "become more celestial and spiritual than others," and "are nearest to the Lord"-as are the inmost angels. The speech of one such is described as "love itself speaking."47
46. SD 4726, 5623f, 5668:13
47. SD 3545, HH 280
But this does not necessarily imply that all who die in infancy become equally celestial. The main differences are those of inherited genius. In general, the races surviving the "Flood" are of a spiritual genius.48 But even at this day, some men are, as to disposition, like the antediluvians who would not listen to instruction, while others "can easily be regenerated."
In several memorable relations Swedenborg describes how children are brought up in heaven and instructed in adaptation to their hereditary genius.54 It is shown that their first instruction is by representations delightful to the eyes - such as gardens with trees laden with rich fruit and beds of spring flowers which seem to sparkle with joy when the children pass by or when they are used as wreaths to adorn them. Indeed, the gates of the garden might move as if living, and every object around them seems alive; even as children on earth think of their toys as living, since they have as yet formed no idea of any thing inanimate.55 But in the spiritual world this infantile perception is profoundly true, since the substance of that world is living. And sometimes their childish affections lead them to want to help the Lord ascend from the sepulchre by means of invisible cords.56 Within such innocent fancies they sense as it were the presence of the Lord.
54. The general teaching is given in CL 411, 17:2, HH 329-345, AC 2289-2309, SD 5660-5668, HH 342:2, 343.
55. HH 337f, SD 2844
56. HH 335, CL 412, AC 2299, SD 233ff
The most universal difference in genius faces us in the fact that sex is predetermined from conception. The male is masculine in every least part of his body and his mind.
Therefore the education of boys and girls in the heavens is very different, although hard to describe. While infants they are both under the care of angel nurses. But later the boys are placed under masters who teach them to think and act in manly ways. Boys and girls have sufficient association to enable them to appreciate each others' virtues and skills as these develop. The girls no doubt watch with delight and applause the competitive sports and discussions of the boys and young men. And a chaste love of the other sex arises, devoid of allurement; in which the beauty of the maidens is matched with the morality of the young men.58
58. CL 17, 44
Swedenborg describes the life of some maidens who lived together, each having their own bedroom with cupboards and a chest of drawers wherein they stored their treasured possessions. They were kept busy with embroidering linen, either for their own use or as gifts for others.59 They cared also for their gardens which flourished when they thought well; and they were sometimes given coins of silver or gold, not for trading, but as tokens of industry or virtue. If they thought ill or had done something wrong, their garden might disappear, or else they would find their garments indelibly spotted or missing. And if they still did not understand such portents a wife came and explained what was wrong. On the other hand, if they did well, a new garment would appear in their wardrobe.60
59. Cp CL 207
60. SD 5660 ff
Even as infants, they learn the Lord's Prayer and attend worship.61 Sometimes preachers visit them and examine them. The daily reading of the Word, of which they have their own copies, is a requirement without which their life languishes.62 Even girls of a celestial or celestial-spiritual genius need this. It is mentioned of certain ones that they understood the Word according to the internal historical sense, where no names of persons or places appear.63
61. SD 5668:3, 5666f
62. SD 5666, 5618
63. SD 5618
The instruction of boys would presumably also be based on a knowledge of the Word. Boys are taught by masters who introduce them by representations and by discussions into more abstract truths of intelligence and wisdom, and call forth their latent abilities. Swedenborg relates that some boys in the world of spirits watched certain evil spirits who were cast down from heaven and were seen as dead horses! They asked their master what this peculiar appearance might mean, and were told that dead horses represented spirits who understood the Word materially and who thought of God only from person-indeed as three persons-rather than from His essence. The boys confessed that they, too, thought of God from person rather than from His qualities. Would they also, they wondered, appear as dead horses? The master comforted them, explaining that they were only boys and could not yet think otherwise; but since they had a desire to understand, their thought partook of a spiritual quality. He then admonished them to try to think of the Lord's Person from His Essence or qualities - such as His omniscience and omnipresence, His mercy and love and wisdom.64
64. AR 611/TCR 623
There are "gymnasia" or colleges conducted by masters "in the upper northern quarter near the east" where young men are initiated into matters of wisdom.65 Here discussions are held among the pupils - some of whom had been brought up in heaven - on such topics as the three universal loves of heaven, the nature of the soul, the distinction between the spiritual and the natural, etc.
65. CL 261, 315, 326ff, AR 839
Maturity involves the ability to tell good from evil. When children brought up in heaven have become adults, they are now and then let down into the awareness of the terrible evils to which they have an inherited tendency; until they acknowledge that whatever good that is in them is solely from the Lord's continual influx.66
This immersion into the life of the proprium causes a temporary separation from heaven and makes for contacts with evil spirits. Thus it takes the place of the temptations which every one on his way to heaven must undergo if they were not experienced on earth.68
68. AE 452, 474:2
As the education of a spirit nears its conclusion he must have learned to think in spiritual ideas - which spring from love and charity.69 Their tutelage over, they are clothed in angelic garments and assume the name of the Lord's "disciples."70 By ways unknown they are led to their own society of heaven where they are immediately recognized and received with joy.71
69. HH 519
70. CL 261
71. HH 519f, AR 611
* * * * *
Another phase of the story needs to be shown. For when the young approach maturity they begin to feel an inclination to marriage.72 Heaven cannot be well imagined apart from a conjugial partner with whom to share the gift of life in its fulness and completion.
72. CL 187
"The marriages of the angels are all provided by the Lord, who alone knows the similitude of minds (animorum) which will endure to eternity . ."73
73. De Conj. 53
That conjugial pairs are born and, unknown to both, are continually educated for marriage, an angel confirmed to Swedenborg by the conjugial similitude seen in their faces.74 When they have reached marriageable age, the maiden and the youth
74. CL 316: 3, 229
"meet somewhere as if by chance and see each other. As if by instinct, they instantly know that they are mates; and, as though from a kind of inner dictate, think within themselves, the young man, 'She is mine,' and the maiden, 'He is mine.'
A wedding in heaven is described in some detail by Swedenborg.76 And in other passages he shows that the wedded couple generally settle in the home society of the wife.77 It is explained that in heaven betrothals are solemnized by a priest, as is proper also on earth; for "the consent is the essential of marriage." But at weddings, the angelic couple simply exchange pledges after which the invited guests call down a blessing from heaven.78 The wedding took place in a society which was devoted to the education of the young, and the emblem of which was an eagle brooding over her young in a nest on top of a tree.79 Thus is symbolized the most obvious obligation of the church in both worlds - the preparation of spirits for heavenly life. If this use of instruction in spiritual truths could be accomplished on earth, the way to heaven would be shortened.80
76. CL 20-22, cp 316
77. CL 411:2, cp SD 6027:16, HH 378
78. CL 301, 21:4, SD 6027: 10
79. CL 15
80. HH 491, 513
8 SPIRITS FROM THE STARRY HEAVENS
There is no physical space to intervene in the spiritual world. It is therefore possible for those in our "world of spirits" to communicate with spirits from inhabited orbs in the farthest bounds of the universe. Even evil spirits, with wrongful zeal to spread their falsities, may be permitted so to communicate, having a delight in travelling.1
1. EU 169, 172, AC 10785
Spirits are however represented as "near" their own earth,2 because they are conjoined with the men on their earth, serve them in many unconscious ways, and base much of their conscious life upon the memories of men.3 It is therefore said that spirits are about men and in touch with the earth, "because the spiritual world is not in space, but is where there is corresponding affection." "The angelic mansions are indeed in heaven, and to appearance separate from the mansions where men are; and yet they are with man in his affections of good and truth. Their presentation to the sight, as separate, is from appearances. . ."4
2. EU 1, 47, AC 9968, 9578, Ath. 115
3. LJ 9
4. DLW 343e, 92, AC 10604e, LJ 9
To represent this spiritual relation further, each planet, "in the idea of spirits and angels," is seen in a constant situation relative to spirits from our earth.5 This separate appearance also expresses the relation of each planet to different provinces in the universal Grand Man, which cannot be made up from one earth alone but from all the planets of the universe.6
5. EU 42, 86, 105
6. EU 5, 9, 86, 47, AC 6807, cp DP 326:10
Since the Fall of man, spirits from our earth serve a very lowly use in this Grand Man. Because our race is so involved in mundane and material affairs, the uses which it can perform in heaven are those of the senses, the skins and membranes.7 Yet the senses are the ultimate gateway and foundation for the mind. And the most essential function which they have performed is to testify of the Lord's coming in the flesh, in that "we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."8 To propagate this truth by voice and printed word, and to announce His birth, His glorification, and His second advent-not alone to men but to spirits and angels even from other earths- is the sublime mission of our race. Hence it is noted in the Spiritual Diary:
7. AC 9793, 8630, 9107, SD 1531, 1741, 1435, 4781f
8. John 1:14, EU 113-122
". . . The inhabitants and spirits of our earth are of the external sense . . . They are corporeal and thus approach the nature of beasts rather than the human . . . Yet they possess cognitions of the truths of faith which can serve for a ground, as it were, in which spiritual and celestial truths of faith can be sown. Without such a ground the truths of faith are not easily inseminated . . . For this reason the spirits of our earth enter more easily the interior and more interior heaven after the exteriors have been vastated; and since they take with them something from the life of the body, they may also serve as a ministering means for instructing others who do not possess such cognitions from Revelation. On this account the Lord loved our earth above others, since for perfect order to exist, celestial and spiritual truths must be inrooted in natural truths . . ."9
Swedenborg was privileged to communicate with spirits from extra-terrestrial earths by being transferred as to his spirit, by variations of states of mind, his natural body still remaining in its place.10 Occasionally, however, owing to their great differences in genius, the spirits of other earths had to be brought to him, by intermediate steps.11 And there are other spirits - from an earth called Mercury - whose nature it is to wander about in groups to explore the knowledges possessed by spirits of other planets throughout the starry heavens. Their interest is not in physical things like cities, houses, and sensual imagery, but in matters of laws and of government, and in differences of genius, manners, and beliefs. They therefore have reference to the memory of immaterial ideas in the Grand Man.12
10. EU 1, 126f, Ath. 115
11. AC 10585
12. EU 11, 14, 43, SD 3258, 3265, AC 6808ff, 10585
It is told of one planet-called "Venus"-that it has people of greatly different types, whose spirits were therefore represented as dwelling on opposite sides of the spiritual planet. One was a race of savage giants who delighted in plunder and violence, and who were stupid and worldly.13 Those of them who were saved had to undergo states of despair, vastation and suffering before being taken up into heaven. Yet, after deliverance and instruction, they are capable of a deep tenderness of joy.14 The other kind of spirits from that earth are humane and mild in disposition, and told Swedenborg that during their abode in the world - and more so since they became spirits - they acknowledged our Lord as their only God.15 These spirits have relation to "the memory of things material agreeing with memory of things immaterial" - thus are in fullest agreement with the spirits of "Mercury."
13. EU 105, 108
14. EU 110
15. EU 107
There is no written Revelation or Word on any other planet than ours. For this reason the spirits of most (if not all) of the other earths in the universe, can to differing extents talk with the inhabitants of their own earth.16 So, for instance, spirits from "Jupiter" often speak with the inhabitants and instruct them.
Evil is insinuated by certain evil spirits who had been banished from their society and who try to insinuate contrary notions into men.18 Certain inhabitants of "Jupiter" call themselves "saints" and forbid the worship of the Lord of the universe telling the people that they will mediate and present their supplications to the Overlord whose face is seen in the sun. These men attribute to themselves merit and sanctity. They are held in aversion by others, and are not addressed by any chastising or instructing spirits. After death these "saints" go into the "lower earth" for vastation - where they seem to themselves to cut wood to keep themselves warm.19 The Jovians have relation to "the imaginative of thought."20
18. EU 77
19. EU 70, 78
20. EU 64
The spiritual Sun is ordinarily seen in the other life only by angels of the inmost or third heaven. Others see only the light thence derived. Occasionally, however, other spirits are allowed to see the Sun. In one such case some doubted whether it could have been the Lord God, since they had not seen a face; but then the Sun again appeared, and in the midst of it the Lord encompassed with a solar circle. Then also the Lord was seen out of that Sun by spirits of our own earth who had seen Him in the world and who all confirmed that it was the Lord Himself, And the spirits of the planet Jupiter "declared aloud that it was He Himself whom they had seen on their earth when the God of the Universe appeared to them."21
21. EU 40
It seems probable that the Lord's appearance "on their earth" as well as on other planets is effected by some angel who is then infilled with the Divine and is seen when the spiritual sight is opened; even as occurred when the "angel of Jehovah" appeared to the ancient prophets on this earth.22
22. EU 91, AC 1925, 1745, cp 1594:5
23. EU 50, 55, 56