Heaven and Hell #462

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462. (a) Nevertheless, the difference between our life in the spiritual world and our life in the natural world is considerable, in regard both to our outer senses and the way they affect us and to our inner senses and the way they affect us. People who are in heaven have far more delicate senses. That is, they see and hear and also think more discerningly than when they were in this world. This is because they are seeing in heaven's light, which vastly surpasses the world's light (see above, 126), and they hear by way of a spiritual atmosphere that vastly surpasses the atmosphere of the earth (see 235). The difference in their outer senses is like that between something clear and something hidden by a cloud, or like noonday light and the dimness of evening. Because it is divine truth, heaven's light enables angels' sight to notice and differentiate the slightest things.

[2] Further, their outer sight is responsive to their inner sight or discernment, since for angels the one sight flows into the other and they act as a single faculty. This is why they are so keen. Their hearing is similarly responsive to their perception, which is a function of both discernment and volition. So they pick up in the tone and words of speakers the slightest shadings of their affection and thought - shadings of affection in the tone, and shadings of thought in the words (see above, 234-245).

However, the other senses are not as delicate for angels as their senses of sight and hearing, because sight and hearing serve their intelligence and wisdom, while the others do not. If the other senses were as sensitive, they would take away the light and pleasure of angels' wisdom and interject a pleasure of motivations centering in various physical appetites, appetites that obscure and weaken the intellect to the extent that they flourish. This happens to people in the world as well, who become dull and mindless in regard to spiritual truths to the extent that they pander to their taste and to the sensual allurements of the body.

[3] What was presented in the chapter on the wisdom of heaven’s angels (265–275) may suffice to indicate that the deeper senses of heaven’s angels, the senses of their thought and affection, are more delicate and perfect than the ones they had in the world. As for the difference in state of people who are in hell from their state in the world, this too is substantial. The perfection and wonder of the outer and inner senses of angels in heaven is paralleled by their imperfection for people in hell. However, we need to deal with their state later.

462. (b) As for our keeping our whole memory when we leave the world, I have been shown this by many examples and have seen and heard a great deal worth talking about. I should like to cite a few examples in a sequence. There were people who denied the crimes and transgressions they had committed in the world. To prevent them from being seen as blameless, everything was disclosed and drawn out of their own memory in sequence from the beginning of their life to the end. Most of these transgressions were acts of adultery and promiscuity.

[2] There were people who had deceived others with malicious skill and had stolen from them. Their deceptions and thefts were also recounted one after the other, many of them known to practically no one in the world other than themselves. They even admitted them because they were made plain as day, along with every thought, intention, pleasure, and fear that mingled in their minds at the time.

[3] There were people who had taken bribes and made money from judicial decisions. They were similarly examined on the basis of their own memories, and everything was recounted from their first taking office to the end. Hundreds upon hundreds of details of how much they took, and what kinds of things, at what time, and their mental state and their intentions, were all simultaneously recalled to their remembrance and exposed to view. In some cases, remarkably enough, the very diaries in which they had recorded these deeds were opened and read to them, page by page.

[4] There were men who had lured virgins to dishonor and violated their chastity. They were summoned to a similar judgment, and the details were drawn out of their memory and listed. The actual faces of the virgins and other women were presented as though they were there in person, along with the places, the words, and the thoughts. It was done as instantaneously as when something is actually being witnessed firsthand. Sometimes these presentations lasted for hours.

[5] There was one man who thought nothing of speaking ill of other people. I heard his slanders recounted in sequence, and his false testimony against them too - the actual words, the people they were about, and the people they were addressed to. All these were presented together as lifelike as could be even though he had very carefully kept them hidden from his victims while he was living in the world.

[6] There was one man who had defrauded a relative of his legacy by some devious pretext. He was convicted and judged in the same way. Remarkably, the letters and documents they exchanged were read aloud to me, and he said that not a word was missing.

[7] This same man had also secretly killed a neighbor by poison just before his own death, a fact that was disclosed in the following way. He appeared to be digging a trench under his feet, and as it was opened, a man came out as though from a tomb and screamed at him, “What have you done to me?” Then everything was disclosed—how the poisoner had talked amicably with him and offered him a drink, what he had thought beforehand, and what happened afterward. Once this was uncovered, the murderer was condemned to hell.

[8] In a word, all the evils, crimes, thefts, frauds, and deceptions committed by evil spirits are made clear to them and drawn directly from their own memories, and they are convicted. There is no room for denial because all the circumstances are presented together. I also heard that angels have seen and displayed from the memory of one individual everything he had thought one day after another over the course of a month, with never an error, recalled as though he himself were back in those very days.

[9] We may gather from these instances that we take our whole memory with us, and that nothing is so concealed in this world that it will not be made known after death, made known in public, according to the Lord’s words,

“Nothing is hidden that will not be uncovered, and nothing concealed that will not be known. So what you have said in darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear will be proclaimed from the rooftops” (Luke 12:2–3).

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