True Christianity #80

By Emanuel Swedenborg

Study this Passage

Yiya esigabeni / 853  

80. The fifth memorable occurrence. On one occasion a satan was allowed to come up from hell. A woman came with him. He came to the house where I was. When I saw them I closed the window, but I did talk to them through the glass. I asked the satan where he came from. He said he came from a group of his own people. I asked him where the woman was from. He gave the same answer.

She was part of a gang of sirens. They have the ability to project images. They can give themselves looks, clothing, and accessories of any kind. On one occasion they give themselves the body of Venus; on another, they give themselves a gorgeous face, as if they were one of the Muses; on yet another, they array themselves as queens with crowns and robes and stride majestically, holding a silver staff. These are the characteristics of sirens in the world of spirits - they are whores who specialize in fantasy.

They project these images by thinking with the senses and shutting off any deeper level of thought.

I asked the satan whether this woman was his wife. He answered, "What is a wife? I don't know what that is. My community doesn't know what that is. She is my whore. "

Then she aroused her man's lust - another thing sirens are very good at. So he gave her a kiss and said, "Ah, my female Adonis. "

[2] But now to something more serious. I asked the satan what his job was. He said, "My job is to be learned. Don't you see the laurel wreath on my head?" His Adonis used her skills to conjure up a laurel wreath, which she put on him from behind.

"Since there is formal education in the community you come from," I said, "tell me what you believe, and what your colleagues believe, about God. "

He replied, "Our God is the universe, which we also call nature. Our simple folk call the universe the atmosphere, which they think of as the air. Our experts also call it the atmosphere, but they include the ether in that. As for God, heaven, angels, and the like - many people in this world have much nonsense to say about them, but they are empty words. Those are imaginary things triggered by unusual weather phenomena and things in the sky that trick the eyes of many people here.

"All the things that are visible on earth were created by the sun. Winged and wingless insects are born every time the sun returns in spring. Because of the sun's heat, birds come together in love and reproduce. Because of the sun's heat, warm earth turns seeds into shoots and then into offspring in the form of fruit. Doesn't this mean that the universe is God? Surely then nature is a goddess, the universes spouse, who conceives, bears, raises, and feeds all the things I just mentioned. "

[3] I went on to ask what his community believes, and what he believes, about religion. He replied, "Because we are more learned than the average person, religion to us is nothing but an evil spell cast on the multitudes. To average people, religion is like an atmosphere surrounding their senses and imaginations. Pious images fly in that atmosphere like butterflies in the air. Their faith hooks these images together into a chain like a silkworm building a cocoon, from which it will then emerge as the king of the butterflies. The ignorant crowd loves images that transcend what can be sensed or thought. Why? Because they wish they themselves could fly. With religion they make themselves wings so they can rise up like eagles and boast to the inhabitants of earth, saying, 'Look at me!' We, on the other hand, believe what we can actually see and love what we can actually touch. "

At that point he touched his whore and said, "I believe in this because I see it and I touch it. Those other charades we toss out our front windows, and we blow them away with our raucous laughter. "

[4] Afterward I asked him what he and his colleagues believe about heaven and hell. With a loud, mocking laugh he replied, "What is heaven but the ethereal firmament at its highest points? What are the angels there but the spots that wander around the sun? What are the archangels but comets with a long tail on which a whole gang of them lives? What is hell but the swamps where people imagine the frogs and crocodiles to be devils? Anything beyond these ideas of heaven and hell is garbage introduced by some church leader to win glory from the ignorant population. "

Now, the satan said all these things just as he had thought them in the world. He was unaware that he was living after death; he had forgotten everything he had heard when he first entered the world of spirits. So when he was asked about life after death he answered, "It is an imaginary thing. Perhaps some vapor rising off a cadaver in a grave in a kind of human shape, or else the idea of ghosts that people make up stories about - something like that brought the idea of life after death into the human imagination. "

At that point I could no longer keep myself from bursting into laughter. I said, "Satan, you are beyond insane! What are you now? You are human in form. You can talk, see, hear, and walk. Call to mind that you once lived in another world that you have forgotten, and that you are now living after death. Recall that the way you talked just now was exactly the way you used to talk. "

He was given recollection and he remembered. Then he felt ashamed and shouted, "I am insane! I saw heaven above and heard angels saying ineffable things, but it happened when I had just arrived here. Now I am going to remember this and go tell it to the colleagues I left behind. Perhaps they will be as embarrassed as I was. "

He kept saying over and over that he would call his colleagues insane, but as he went down, oblivion drove the memory away. When he arrived below he became as insane as they were, and called what he had heard from me insanity.

This shows how satans think and talk after death. People who have made falsity so strong in themselves that it becomes their belief are called "satans. " People who have made evil strong in themselves by living it are called "devils. "

Yiya esigabeni / 853  

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