Arcana Coelestia #2477

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2477. On one occasion I heard spirits talking to one another about the fact that whatever is made a basic assumption, no matter what, can be confirmed in countless ways, and with a person who has confirmed himself in it, it can at length be made to look altogether like the truth even though it is false, and that people can be persuaded more easily of falsity than of truth. To convince them of this it was suggested to them that they should think about and discuss among themselves whether it would be beneficial for spirits to use the exterior memory. (Spirits discuss such matters in far more excellent a fashion than man is capable of believing or indeed apprehending; but each spirit does so according to his own affection.) Spirits who were in favour of bodily and worldly things confirmed in many ways that it would be beneficial, for the following reasons: That they would then have lost nothing but would be just as much men after death as they had been before; that they would then be able by means of man to return into the world; that the exterior memory contains the joy of life; and that intelligence and wisdom reside in no other capability or gift. There were yet other considerations by which they confirmed themselves in the assumption they made, so that it appeared to them to be true. Other spirits at that time however thought and spoke from a contrary assumption. They knew that what they thought and said was true, because it stemmed from Divine order. They said that if spirits were allowed to use the exterior memory their condition would in that case be as imperfect as it had been previously when they were men. That being so, their ideas would be more gross and obscure than of those who employ the interior memory. They would accordingly not only grow more and more stupid, they would also decline and not progress, and so would not live for ever. Indeed to engross themselves once again in worldly and bodily things would be to surrender themselves once again to a mortal condition. Furthermore they said that if spirits were allowed to use the exterior memory the human race would perish since all men are governed by the Lord by means of spirits and angels, and that if from the exterior memory spirits were to flow into man, man would be unable to think from his own memory, only from that of a spirit. Thus man would no longer have any life and judgement of his own but would be a man possessed. Possession of people in the past was nothing else. There are further considerations besides these.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.