31. It must be known, however, that after death a person is not a natural person, but a spiritual person, and yet he appears just the same to himself, and so much the same that he is not aware of being anywhere else than still in the natural world. For he is the same in body, in facial appearance, in speech and in the sensations he feels, because he is the same in affection and thought, having the same will and intellect.
He is, in fact, not actually the same, because he is spiritual and therefore an interior man. But the difference is not apparent to him, because he cannot compare his present state with his earlier, natural state, having put off the natural state and being in a spiritual state.
I have quite often heard such persons say, therefore, that they are not aware of being anywhere else than in the previous world, with the sole difference that they no longer see people whom they left behind in that earlier world, while they do see those who had departed or passed on from that world.
Nevertheless, the reason they now see people who had passed on and not those whom they left behind is because they are not natural people but spiritual or essential people, and a spiritual or essential person sees another spiritual or essential person in the same way as a natural or material person sees another natural or material person.
Natural people and spiritual people do not see each other, however, on account of the difference between the essential and the material, which is like the difference between something prior and something subsequent. And because the prior is in itself purer, it cannot be seen by the subsequent, which, in itself, is cruder; nor can the subsequent, owing to its being cruder, be seen by the prior, which in itself is purer. Consequently, an angel cannot be seen by a person of this world, neither can a person of this world be seen by an angel.
A person after death is a spiritual or essential person because the spiritual or essential person lay hidden within the natural or material person. The latter served him as clothing, or like a shell to be put off, and when it is laid aside, the spiritual or essential person emerges, being thus purer, more interior and more perfect.
A spiritual person is still a complete person, even though not visible to a natural person, and this was clearly shown by the Lord's appearances to the apostles after His resurrection, in that He appeared and then disappeared, and yet remained the same person He was whether He was seen or unseen. They also said that when they saw Him, their eyes were opened. 1