Heaven and Hell #457

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457. When we first enter the world of spirits (which happens shortly after the reawakening just described), our spirit has a similar face and tone of voice as it did in the world. This is because at that point we are in the state of our external concerns, with our deeper concerns not yet uncovered. This is our initial state after decease. Later, though, our face changes and becomes quite different. It comes to look like the ruling affection in which the deeper reaches of our minds were engaged in the world, the kind of affection characteristic of the spirit within our body, because the face of our spirit is very different from the face of our body. We get our physical face from our parents and our spiritual face from our affection, which it images. Our spirit takes on this face after our physical life is over, when the outer coverings have been removed. This is our third state.

I have seen some newcomers from the world and have recognized them by their faces and voices; but when I saw them later, I did not recognize them. People who were engaged in good affections had lovely faces, while people who were engaged in evil affections had ugly ones. Seen in its own right, our spirit is nothing but our affections, whose outward form is our face.

The reason our faces change is that in the other life no one is allowed to pretend to affections they do not really have, so we cannot put on a face that is contrary to the love we are engaged in. We are all refined down to a state in which we say what we think and manifest in expression and act what we intend. This is why our faces all become forms and images of our affections; and this is why all the people who have known each other in the world still recognize each other in the world of spirits, but not in heaven or hell, as already noted (427). 1


1. Our faces are formed to be responsive to our inner natures: 4791-4805, 5695. On the correspondence of our faces and their expressions with the affections of our minds: 1568, 2988-2989, 3631, 4796-4797, 4800, 5165, 5168, 5695, 9306. For heaven's angels, the face forms a single whole with the deeper levels of the mind: 4796-4799, 5695, 8250. So in the Word, "the face" means the deeper levels of the mind, or of affection and thought: 1999, 2434, 3527, 4066, 4796, 5102, 9306, 9546. How the inflow from the brains into the face changed in the course of time, and with it the face itself in regard to its responsiveness to our deeper natures: 4326, 8250.

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