Heaven and Hell #512

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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512. Our Third State after Death, Which Is a State of Instruction for People Who Are Entering Heaven

Our third state after death, or the third state of our spirits, is one of instruction. This state is for people who are entering heaven and becoming angels, but not for people who are entering hell, because these latter cannot be taught. As a result, their second state is also their third, and ends in their turning straight toward their own love and therefore toward the hellish community that is engaged in a love like their own. Once this has happened, their intentions and thinking flow from that love; and since it is a hellish love, they intend only what is evil and think only what is false. These are their pleasures because they are matters of their love. Further, this results in their rejecting everything that is good and true that had served their love as means.

[2] Good people, though, are brought from the second state into a third, which is a state of preparation for heaven by means of instruction. In fact, no one can be prepared for heaven except by knowing at first hand what is good and true, and therefore only by being taught. This is because without being taught, no one can know what spiritual good and truth are and what the evil and falsity that oppose them are. We can know in the world what civil and moral good and truth are, what is called fair and honest, because there are civil laws there that teach what is fair, and there are also social situations where we learn to live by moral laws, which all deal with what is honest and equitable. Spiritual good and truth, however, are not learned from the world but from heaven. We can in fact know them from the Word and from the church's doctrine from the Word, but this still cannot flow into life unless we are in heaven in regard to the deeper levels of our minds. We are in heaven when we acknowledge the Divine Being and at the same time act fairly and honestly, recognizing that we should because it is commanded us in the Word. In this way we live fairly and honestly for the sake of the Divine and not for the sake of ourselves and the world as our primary goals.

[3] However, no one can behave like this without first having been taught things like the fact that God exists, that heaven and hell exist, that there is a life after death, that God is to be loved above all and our neighbor as ourselves, and that we are to believe what it says in the Word because the Word is divine. Without recognizing and admitting these principles we cannot think spiritually, and without thought about such matters we cannot intend them; for what we do not know we cannot think, and what we do not think we cannot intend. However, when we do intend such things, heaven flows in - that is, the Lord flows into our lives through heaven, for he flows into the will and through that into the thought, and through both of these into the life, since they are where our whole life comes from. We can see from this that spiritual good and truth are not learned from the world but from heaven, and that no one can be prepared for heaven except by instruction.

[4] Then too, to the extent that the Lord flows into our life he does teach us, since to that same extent he kindles our intentions with a love of learning what is true and enlightens our thought so that we know what is true. To the extent that this happens, our deeper reaches are opened and heaven is sown in them. Even beyond this, to that same extent what is divine and heavenly flows into the honest deeds of our moral life and the fair deeds of our civic life and makes them spiritual, since then we are doing them from the Divine because we are doing them for the sake of the Divine. The honest and fair deeds of our moral and civic life that we do from this source are actual effects of spiritual life; and an effect derives all its being from its efficient cause, because the quality of the cause determines the quality of the effect.

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