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Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg




The Necessity of Death

Death is necessary in this narrow world of ours. Despite the appearance that it is a harbinger of misfortune and grief, yet it is needed for human happiness.

We are not referring to the fact that our globe cannot conceivably hold the offspring of mankind if the harvester Death was not ever at work in the vast field of human life, mowing down the rotating crops as they mature. There are indeed limits to the numbers which an earth is capable of supporting; as we see from statements concerning the planet which Swedenborg identified with Jupiter. There the life spans of the inhabitants are generally only about thirty years—by a providential adjustment to their multitude and fertility.2 There they love nothing more than to have offspring.3 The entire cycle of life is there quickened; growth and ripening are more swift; death as well as birth is more frequent. The celestial race on that planet regards birth and death as equally important and necessary. Except some who are wicked, they rarely die from disease, "but die tranquilly and as it were in sleep, so that they go by sleep into the other life."4

The Jovians are wise. For fear of becoming indocile, they do not hanker after great age. They understand better than Paul that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God"!5

Imagine eternal existence in the flesh! Even granting a body continually healthy, could everlasting happiness be captured in a life within the bonds of earthly space? As generation after generation rises around a man, will he not wish to withdraw from a society of younger minds who view the uses of the world from a different perspective? Even in a race not so burdened by sin as is ours, there must come a friction of ages and attitudes. Age should normally grow away from the trivial and the external. It must encourage youth to take on responsibility. But it wearies of tasting of youth's mistakes and must leave to new generations to solve the recurrent problems of life. It is less interested in experiment and more in realization. And on our sinful globe the aged become increasingly conscious of their declining bodily strength, and find difficulty in keeping up with modern innovations and the catch phrases of each new generation.

But if they are blessed with the innocence of wisdom those of advanced age come to see how little we can depend on human ingenuity or on the artifices used to prolong physical life for happiness. They come to look to eternal values and view things in the more serene light of spiritual truths. Indeed, they have a patient longing for another world, where their spirits may renew their strength to partake again in the uses of society.

As long as we live in the limited space here below, there is no withdrawal from the busy world of earthly affairs. The world is too narrow to allow for the segregation of different generations, still less of different genius or different basic interests. It cramps development, cramps the individualization to which it has given birth. It promotes social cooperation, but hinders realization. For it is only a world of beginnings.

The world of fixed time and space seems to negate the infinite, eternal purposes of God. It serves indeed for a realm adapted for the exercise of choice. But when the choice has been made and man's individuality has been fixed, there is need for a liberation of the spirit from the bonds of extraneous circumstances.

This need is engraved in human nature. The instinct of realizing one's fixed love or ambition is stronger than the fear of suffering or of death or of hell itself. The chance of death is no deterrent to one who loves fame or has pride in his reputation for courage.6 The love of a mother or a lover or a patriot greets the moment of supreme sacrifice with a smile. Even with animals the herding instinct—the implanted blind instinct for racial preservation—is stronger than the fear of individual death. The reason is that the purpose of the Creator always extends to the realization of a goal beyond death. And in man, the crown of creation, that realization is still individual, because man's soul is individual rather than merely racial: man's instinct, which he strives to realize beyond death, is that of free choice.

The Dread of Death

It is only in moments when man's inner will overrules him, that he overcomes his natural fear of death, which is an implanted instinct for self-preservation. Man loves life. Even those who, in a rebellious mood, argue that they wish they had never been born, yet love life. The regenerating man does not feel the dread of death so much, for he does not love the world for the sake of self; and when death impends—unless his physical disease affects his thinking or he is concerned for his family — his thoughts are mostly about eternal life. Those who are led by the love of self rarely show piety in the face of death, although the worldly-wise often manifest a spurious death-bed repentance.7

Irrespective of a man's character, he may dread the pain which, in many diseases, seem to attend the demise of the body. But it is doubtful whether there is any pain connected with the actual death. Death is but the "twin sister of sleep." Consciousness ceases in the body before the heart stops: and until the heart has ceased functioning, death is not complete.8

The Physiology of Death

It is of importance to know what is involved in the death of the body. The Writings describe it as a process by which the spirit is released. The general teaching is that the conjunction of the body with the spirit depends on the motions of the heart and the lungs of the body being conjoined with the corresponding pulsations and animation of the spirit. For the spirit also has a body with a pulse and respiration. Death occurs when, from any kind of disease or accident, the body comes into such a state as to be unable to act in unison with its spirit and carry out its behests. What is called Death occurs when the vital motions of the lungs and the heart cease and the correspondence with the activities of the spirit's heart and the spirit's lungs is broken.9

The breathing or animation of the spirit is thought, and the pulse of the spirit is affection; and thought communicates with the breathing, while affection—or love—communicates with the motion of the mortal heart.10 That such a conjunction exists, common sense can easily confirm. Our spirit's heart, or the will, can quicken the throbbing of our mortal heart and express our emotions. And our spirit's lungs, which is the understanding, control the natural lungs in order to express our thoughts in speech. In fact, man's bodily consciousness, or thought, is constantly tied up with the breathing. The unborn babe has no consciousness. The moment our lungs cease to respire in their own independent rhythm, as in suffocation, the mind slides into vacancy.

We are accustomed to think of our mind or spirit as lodged in the head—in the cerebral substance. The ancient gentiles used to think of it as in the heart or the diaphragm. But we have good confirmations for our modern habit of thought, since physiology proves that the brain is the organ which controls all motions in die body; and we become impressed by the fact that when we exert a mental decision the body responds through the brain and the motor nerves. Should it not be imagined, then, that death— the severance of the body from the spirit—would take place in the brain rather than by the ceasing of the motions of the heart and the lungs?

We cannot escape this problem by nullifying the doctrinal statements. For they are quite clear. "Those are greatly deluded who assign a particular place to the soul, whether in the brain or in the heart; for the soul of man which is to live after death is his spirit."11 It is not enough to regard the soul as a vague abstraction and to say merely that the soul dwells within the body and that the body invests it. For "the spirit of man is in his body, in the whole and in every part of it; and it is its purer substance, both in its organs of motion and in those of sense, and everywhere else; and the body is the material part that is everywhere annexed to it, adapted to the world in which he then is."12 "The spiritual accompanies every stamen [of man's viscera and organs] from ulti-mates to inmosts, and therefore also all the minute structures and fibres of the heart and the lungs. When therefore the connection between man's body and spirit is dissolved, the spirit possesses a form similar to that which the man had before; it is merely a separation of the spiritual substance from the material."13

Thus the spirit has heart and lungs, and obviously also a brain with cortex and fibres, corresponding in function to the mortal brain. While on earth the spirit is spiritually coextensive with the mortal organism and acts into it by influx according to correspondence. In the other life, the spirit thinks and wills in his spiritual brain as we in our natural brain. But the activity of his heart and lungs make a one with his will and understanding— which he also regards as dwelling in his head!

The spirit's heart and lungs are nothing but the organization, in his spiritual body, of his mind or his will and understanding which in their primes reside in his cortical substances.14 All things of the body of a spirit "from head to foot" are "derivatives" (principiata) constructed through fibres from the beginnings in the brain which are receptacles of love and wisdom.15

It is the spiritual heart which is the constant formative cause of the mortal heart's growth and functioning. If the mortal heart ceases to throb, the spiritual heart cannot by means of the brain stimulate it to action. The connection of the natural body and the spiritual body is broken—the circuit of life is cut off, not in the brain, but at the heart.

In one of his early treatises on psychology, Swedenborg notes that death occurs from below: the forms or connections which first dissolve are the most external—those of the red blood.16 And the Writings also show that life in the body depends on the circulation which supplies the tissues with vital heat. Physiology takes account of the fact that in organic bodies heat is being maintained in calculable degrees of temperature and amounts of energy, through the consumption of oxygen by the tissues. But it becomes "vital heat" only by its receiving from the soul a living conatus which in its essence is love, or spiritual heat, and which directs it for the maintenance of the uses of the body.17 When the heart stops and the body grows cold—which differs as to time according to the fatal disease—the bond between the spirit and the material body is dissolved.18

What of man's life perishes by death? The Writings answer, Nothing.19

Nothing of man's life remains in the dead body. "Everything that lives in the body and acts and feels from life, belongs exclusively (unice) to the spirit and nothing of it to the body. . . . Whatever lives and feels in man is of his spirit, and everything in man, from his head to the sole of his foot, lives and feels. . . ." The body is only the material and this is in itself devoid of life. "And because the material does not live, but only the spiritual, it can be seen that whatever lives in a man is his spirit."20 "All the life of sense that man has does not belong to his body but to his spirit. . . ."21 "The life which is felt in the body belongs to the spirit, wherefore spirits take it with them. . . ,"22

In some early study notes, Swedenborg called the body "the ultimate natural" and wrote: "When the ultimate natural perishes the life adhering to it does not perish but remains in the higher mind as a latent ability (indoles) . . ."— an ability to sense spiritual things.23

Thus when the spirit has been liberated from the body, nothing is lost, but its senses are exercised in the spiritual world instead.24Man rises as to his spirit or his spiritual body; and this includes everything in the body that lives, feels, thinks, thus everything except the dead corpse which consists of material substance. Only the Lord rose from the dead as to His body also. This doctrine is distinctive of the New Church: that the Lord, while in the world, made His whole Human Divine and, differently from man, rose again both as to His Spirit and as to His body. This He indicated to His disciples when He said, "Behold My hands and My feet that it is I Myself: touch Me and see. For a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have."25

Specifically, the Lord, after He had dissipated or extirpated the hereditary forms imposed on His body through Mary, "rose as to the whole body which He had in the world"—so that "that of the body which with those who are born of human parents is rejected and putrified, was with Him glorified and made Divine."26 Nor did He leave anything of the body in the sepulchre, "as is the case with every other man who rises only as to his spirit and never as to his material body."27


The Process of Resuscitation

Paul, in his famous but somewhat vague description of the resurrection, given in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. xv) , imagined that the quick and the dead, on the sounding of the judgment trumpet, would all be changed and put on immortality "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." For Paul, in his youth, sat at the feet of Gamaliel, the celebrated Jewish rabbi, and he reflects much of the doctrine of the Pharisees, who believed in a last judgment day common to the living and the dead.28

In the Writings, however, it is revealed that the resurrection of man is individual, and that it occurs not in the twinkling of an eye but as a process, a gradual change of state. Death is indeed sudden, in the sense that there is a moment when the spirit's departure is unavoidable. But the resurrection is a process—a gradual adjustment of the spirit to conscious, free life in the eternal world.

Death occurs when the two vital motions, the respiration of the lungs and the beating of the heart, cease, and the body, deprived of the life of the spirit, grows cold and begins to decay. But until the heart's motion is entirely stopped the spirit continues in the body "for a short time."29 And even after the body is apparently cold, life may with some persist as conscious thinking. The spirit can of course not have any sensation of its natural environment— since respiration has stopped—nor can it move even a particle of the gross matter of the body.30 The spirit, though definitely severed from the body, may still abide in it, by virtue of the "finest substances of nature" which are not affected by death but are retained by the spirit as a "limbus" which eventually "recedes" as a cutis-like covering.31 These substances would not leave the body until the "interior corporeals" grow cold. The thought here described would be tranquil and unaffected by the state of the body.32

Death is, in a manner, like sleep; for in sleep celestial agencies are at work to relax and restore man's body and mind. But the celestial angels who attend man's resuscitation are concerned with preserving the sense of the continuity of life. They are drawn to man on the faintest notion of the approach of death, or whenever the proprium of man is awe-struck with fear or paralyzed by uncertainty. Their presence is felt in the spiritual world as an aromatic odor, which causes evil spirits to flee.33 And it is due to their wise ministrations that the spirit of a dying man is held in the last thought which he entertains as he is expiring—a thought which is commonly about eternal life. The celestial angels have the effect of quieting all man's own affections—all his anxiety, impatience, revenge, lust, and ambition. This the Lord accomplishes by temporarily cutting off any communication with the attendant spirits which man had himself invited while on earth, or with any societies in the world of spirits or in hell. Man thus becomes passive, as if in sleep. Indeed, these spirits then suppose that man is dead. For as the poets have noted, Death is but the somber sister of Sleep.34 And the angels breathe no accusation, no reproach, whatever man's quality had been. For "they love every one," seeing not his proprium, but the "remains" of celestial good with which the Lord has endowed every man from childhood.35

Thus man's mind becomes docile as a babe's. His thought, guided by angelic affections, is drawn out—vaguely but persistently—while a blissful feeling of security enwraps him. This single thought, sensed as a soothing monotone, is like a narrow bridge whereon the spirit is borne up without sense of time or self-consciousness, and is carried across the abyss which we call Death, into the land of Resurrection.

The Three Stages of Resuscitation

All those who die, whether good or evil, are received in the spiritual world as welcome guests.36 But their introduction is gradual, by orderly stages.

That he might learn something of these successive stages, Swedenborg was reduced into a state resembling that of a dying person.37 This occurred on the morning of March 1, 1748. His spirits then withdrew, thinking that he was dead, because his proprial affection was taken away. His heart beat was normal while his respiration became tacit; he became insensible of the world and yet remained conscious so that he remembered what occurred.

By means of this experience he was instructed how a spirit is prepared for his resurrection—how he is received first by celestial angels, later by spiritual angels, and finally by good spirits more akin to his own life; and how, "on the third day," he awakens into the world of spirits, to take up his own life where he left it off.38

These three states of resuscitation precede his final awakening in the world of spirits which takes place "on the third day."39There is need for such an introductory period and for a brief recapitulation of the spiritual history of his life. The Lord needs to reorient the spirit around the celestial and spiritual remains and surviving moral states which evil has not destroyed and which were the Lord's own creations in his mind. Soon enough the spirit will resume control of his own life, follow the biddings of his proprial affections, and begin the journey towards the goal of his ruling love. But first the Lord needs to revive and integrate what is of the Lord's own with man, and thus marshal the saving elements in the rising spirit. And this—the gathering and organizing of all "remains" and the removal and quieting of the trivial worries of natural life, must be done for the evil as well as for the good.

It is the Lord who is the Resurrection and the Life. (John 11:25) The resuscitation of man's spirit is effected by the living and mighty attraction of the Lord's mercy, who said, "And I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto Me."40

The inmost "soul" of man is the abode of the Lord and the medium of His unimpeded influx by which He, by Himself, organizes and builds both spirit and body. He needs no angelic assistance in that work, or in the gathering of such "human internals" to Himself.41 Neither angel nor man is aware of His secret labors.

But the "spirit," or mind, is formed in the sphere of angels and spirits. And in the order of its building, the celestial angels came first to assist. It is through them that the interiors of the minds of every man are furnished in infancy with those celestial "remains" which made a beginning for all that is orderly and rational and human in man. It is these same angels "of the province of the heart"42—who are now the first to assist in the reconstruction of the mind of the spirit from within, from the innocent states of infancy, for its adaptation to a purely spiritual environment.

With every one who dies, two celestial angels also generally appear seated near his head.43 These seem to be in meditation-communicating their thoughts without words or images, and by as it were "inducing their faces" upon the spirit; and when their thoughts are recognized as theirs, and not the spirit's own, they know that the spirit can be withdrawn from the body.44 They maintain man's final thought, however, lest man's identity be lost in the transition. For in all change there must be an inner connective. And for all their own desire to hold the spirit in their sphere the celestials will nothing more than the freedom of man. And after a time the spirit begins to gravitate towards externals-unable to sustain the profound peace of innocence and selfless love.45

The celestial angels do not leave the resuscitating spirit, but act more remotely.46 But the spirit now requires something they cannot give. His first need was one of spiritual warmth, for a revival of that inmost motivation of innocence from which his infant heart had begun to beat. His new need is one for spiritual sight. And even as in each child and youth, the spiritual heavens superintend the storing up of spiritual "remains" of truth and intellectual sight, which intimately correspond to the societies of the second heaven,47 so now these remains must be revived for use in the new spiritual environment.

So far, in the background of the spirit's thought, there was a dim idea that he was still living in the body.48 But when spiritual angels approach from the province in the Grand Man which answers to the tunics of the eyes, they seek to communicate by visual representations and thereby to give spiritual light—the light which reveals the spiritual world.49 The appearance to the spirit is as if they gently rolled off a tunic from his eyes, until dim light begins to show through — like the light of the newly awakened before the eyelids are opened; or like what took place with the blind man whom the Lord cured and who at first saw only "men, as trees, walking."50 Various types of imagery present themselves as their vision clears—presaging a new sight which sees in concrete fashion that which man before had perceived only as abstractions. This is effected by a removal or sinking back of corporeal ideas.51Something seems to be unveiled from the spirit's face — which represents his passing from natural thought into the type of thinking that is common to all in the after-life. And with this a new sense-perception is given by degrees. In some cases the spirit is enveloped by a golden light and he is given a feeling of happiness and gladness—a feeling of the commencement of a new life. And he is then told that he is a spirit!52 He can look about him and see spiritual things in the customary symbolism of his thought — as if they were natural.53 But the spiritual angels delight to inform him about eternal life and, if he had been in faith or at least in some external belief in heaven, they will show him the wonders of the heavenly mansions—as if in a prophetic preview.54

The Arcana Coelestia reveals concerning the dying, that "scarcely a day intervenes after the death of the body before they are in the other life."55 And on the cross the Lord said to the penitent robber, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise."56 Perhaps this refers to the paradises which the spiritual angels show to the rising spirits! In one case Swedenborg may have been present with other angels at this stage of the resurrection process. For he tells that he spoke to Eric Brahe twelve hours after the latter had been executed.57

When a spirit is informed by the spiritual angels that he is a spirit, this does not seem to cause him any surprise. His state seemingly is still passive—as man is in a dream. But with the consciousness of life there usually comes also "self-consciousness"— with a revival of old desires. Even instruction about heaven wearies him eventually, and so he withdraws himself from the spiritual angels.

Next, he finds himself in a society of good spirits—presumably angels of the natural or lowest heaven, where truths are taught by representations. The spirit man seems to himself to be in the flower of his youth and riding a horse which, strangely enough, cannot move a step although he is directing it towards hell!58 He then dismounts and walks—being instructed that his reasonings would lead him astray unless he was guided by knowledge which distinguishes between right and wrong. The good spirits among whom he now is, do not at first know his quality.59 But they delight to show him every kindness—evoking so far as possible the states of moral good and the virtues which he had made his own.60

But actually the spirit is sinking back towards the state of life in which he was when death overtook him. The process of resuscitation is not complete until he has returned into his customary sphere of thought, and "associates himself with those who are in full agreement with his former life in the world, among whom he finds as it were his own life... ." ". .. After sinking back into such a life, he makes a new beginning of life. . . ."61

Resurrection on the Third Day

The Lord's death and resurrection are often taken as a model of man's transition. The Lord suffered a violent death on the cross at about three o'clock on a Friday afternoon, and rose from the sepulchre in His glorified Human at dawn on the following Sunday; thus after about thirty-eight hours had elapsed. This period is referred to in the expressions "on the third day" and "after two days."62 The Hebrews sometimes used the phrase "three days" counting each part of a day as one day; and, in a hyperbole, the Lord once predicted His abode in the tomb as lasting "for three days and three nights"—the significant number "three" being emphasized to indicate completeness.63

It might be observed that the apostle Peter states that the Lord, being put to death in the flesh, was "quickened by the Spirit; by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison."64The implication is that "when He rose again" He descended "into the lower regions" of the world of spirits and liberated these captive souls.65 The Lord may have been present spiritually and indeed visibly with them even during His sojourn in the tomb. No such activity is shown by the spirit of man during the process of his resuscitation. For man is then in a state of passivity.

The consistent doctrine of the Writings is that man rises into the world of spirits on the third day. All that befalls before this is a preparation. And of this preparation, described above, we read in the work Heaven and Hell:

"This opening (exordium) of man's life after death does not last more than some days. . . ." "I have talked with some on the third day after their death, and then those things which were described above (nos. 449, 450) had been accomplished." The spirit's entrance into the world of spirits "takes place shortly after his resuscitation, as described above."66

The separation of the spirit from the body is said to be completed mostly "on the second (altero) day after the last agony," and thus most are introduced into the spiritual world "after a period of two days,"67 or "on the third day after he has expired."68The spirit, on the third day, thus awakes into the state of his corporeal memory, and it appears to him as if he was still in the body and "that the time elapsed since death has been only as a sleep," with lingering memories of dreams beyond recapture.69

He now begins to attract to himself such spirits, good or evil, as agree with his own affections or cupidities. He has forgotten the premonitory instructions of the angels.70 His corporeal memory of earthly events becomes again active in a brief revival. This is necessary in order that death may be shown to be a continuation of normal life and thus assure the continuity of his personality. He begins his own life de novo by taking up the pattern of his memory as it existed at the moment of his death.71 Thus "every one, in the first days after death, knows no otherwise than that he lives in the same world in which he was before. For the time since passed is as a sleep, from which, when he is awakened, he does not perceive otherwise than that he is where he was."72

Resuscitation of Infant Spirits

The expression "on the third day," as used in connection with the Lord's resurrection, meant only about thirty-eight hours. With men in general, this period may not always be distributed over three days; nor can we suppose that the process is one of exact solar time, but may be rather akin to the physiological and mental periodicities which govern the human body.

But there are other reasons for allowing for exceptions. Infants who have died at a tender age lack the ultimates of a natural memory with its wealth of material ideas, but have only "a spiritual-natural plane" ready to receive spiritual sensations.73 Their transition into the other life must therefore be quite different. Since they have no spiritual remains nor any moral goods to be aroused we presume that they do not—during their resuscitation— need the ministrations of other angels but may be retained within the charge of the celestial74 and "taken into heaven" more directly.

Certainly they are spared the progress through the three states of the World of Spirits, although they too are in the state of spirits as they grow towards maturity.75

The Awakening

The entrance of man as a spirit into the world of spirits is described in a memorable relation:

"When any man after death enters into the spiritual world, which mostly occurs on the third day after he has expired, he appears to himself in a life similar to that in which he had been in the world, and in a similar house, chamber and bedroom, in similar coat and dress, and in similar companionship within the house. If he was a king or a prince he would appear in a similar court, if a peasant in a similar cottage; rustic things would surround the latter, splendor the former.

"This happens to every one after death in order that death shall not appear as death but as a continuation of life, and that the last of the natural life may become the first of the spiritual life, and that from this [point] a man may progress to his goal which will cither be in heaven or in hell.

"Such a similarity of all things appears to those just deceased because their mind remains the same as it was in the world. And because the mind is not only in the head but also in the whole body, therefore [a spirit] possesses a similar body; for the body is the organ of the mind and is continued from the head, wherefore the mind is the man himself, but then no longer a material man but a spiritual man. And because he is the same man after death, there are given him—according to the ideas of his mind—similar things to those which he had possessed at home in the world; but this lasts only some days. . . ,"76

The angels testified of Melanchthon77 that "as soon as he entered the spiritual world, a house was prepared for him, similar to that in which he lived in the world. This is also the case with most of the newcomers. ... In his chamber also all things were similar, a similar table, a similar desk with drawers, and also a similar library. Therefore, as soon as he came thither, as if he had just awakened from sleep, he sat down at the table and continued with his writing."78

The risen spirit may thus find death imperceptible, and at first nothing seems to indicate that he is not still on earth. Spirits "are nothing else than human minds and souls in a human form stripped of coverings (exuviae) . . . which being cast off, the forms of men's minds, such as they had been inwardly in their bodies, become visible."79 The spirit finds himself the same as to age and looks and even the tone of his voice seems the same.80 He retains all his personal traits, his prejudices, beliefs, and attitudes. His natural memory is complete and functioning; but since it is not fed by any new impressions from the world, it soon sinks into quiescence. Physical ailments could perhaps persist for a few days in so far as the menial habit of regarding them has been ingrained. But "there are no natural diseases among spirits in the spiritual world." Those who in the world were idiots or retarded are likewise so on their first arrival in the other world; but when externals are removed and internals opened they receive an understanding in accord with their genius and previous life.81

We need not think that the things and persons which are seen by the novitiate spirit during these first few days are merely phantasies, mere memory survivals or insubstantial illusions. The spirit actually sees and handles spiritual things. The illusive features which distort the inner truth come solely from the fact that he interprets spiritual things as material, and sees them through the spectacles of his earthly past. Yet angels, visiting a newcomer in his little home of memory, would see that home almost as the spirit did. For what the angels would see as a spiritual object is the state of that spirit.

All spirits on their awakening entertain this first impression that they are still on earth. They may also seem "very dull," to other spirits, as if they "knew almost nothing"; for they remain at first in gross ideas.82 They also feel some confusion of thought, for as yet they are not gifted with any reflection.83 And this reflection may have to be induced by others.

It is indeed said in the Spiritual Diary that in the other life it is impossible to be quite alone!84 But the novitiate is always being shielded from strange spirits by angels who are secretly his "overhead" guardians, and by others who attend him openly.85 But these latter are said to approach him when he is out of his house; for within only those can converse who are of one opinion.86

It is therefore angels who greet the newcomer and engage him in conversation with the view of renewing that vanishing thread of thought about eternal life—not salvation or even heaven, but eternal life—which has been maintained like a diapason during the states of his resuscitation. As wise teachers, they first draw out the spirit's own opinions about the after-life. Usually, at this day, with disappointing results!87 For the faith in the immortal life, where it exists at all, is vague, filled with absurdities, or admittedly mere guesswork. The spirit is imagined as a winged being in the stars, hovering in dark space as mere thought, or as an etherial breath or a volatile flame-like form that will be rejoined to its material body at the end of the world. Nothing daunted, the angels joyfully bid them welcome, telling them the good news that they have come into another world, and that they now live in a spiritual body, altogether as before in a material body.

The spirits—thus drawn out of their home of memory—are astounded. But they are asked to examine their bodies, touch the objects around them. By a thousand proofs the novitiate spirits are made to recognize the reality and substantial concreteness of their present existence, and to see that they are no longer in the natural world.88

Occasionally some newcomer might be utterly panic-stricken at this revelation, and rush away, crying out (as Swedenborg once relates), "I am a spirit, I am a spirit!"89 But in the presence of the angels, the new guests are ordinarily filled with relief and gratitude, and cry out their thanks to God.90

One of the things that surprises newcomers is that there is light—and indeed a far superior light—in the spiritual world.91The newcomer begins to notice what he had not before realized: that he sees others in a brighter light, and objects in greater distinctness and splendor.92 He draws a fuller breath of air like nectar. His senses are keener.93 His bodily movements are more effortless, his mind more active, despite some confusion in his memory. His speech immediately becomes more acute, expressing in a minute what would take an hour on earth.94 The objects of his surroundings look like natural objects; "but still they are not like them, for they have in diem what is living, which those things which properly belong to the natural world do not have." Yet spirits seldom reflect on the difference.95

The angels assist the novitiate spirit in every way, and tell him about heaven and the Lord, the God of heaven, and about the angelic life. They show that he is now in the World of Spirits— with heaven above them and hell below. But the spirit is as yet in the state of his externals.96 And what is told him repeatedly about the spiritual world, may fade from his mind as there recurs the anxiety about his daily bread and about the worldly possessions he left behind. It is related in much detail how one spirit, when he realized that the Lord was providing everything for him, pondered how he might repay kindness so great. And since his life had been one of charity, he was then taken up into heaven.97

At first all his needs are provided for—as for a new guest. A few days after their resurrection they usually leave their first abode (which was so illusively like their natural home) and they begin to wander about, in the company of other novitiates, perhaps with good spirits as guides, and then settle down briefly in some society of newcomers—to resume their ordinary habits of life, social, forensic, and moral.98 They find some employment similar to their own occupations, seek out the kind of people with whom they were accustomed to associate, converse with acquaintances and simulate friendships as before.

Swedenborg, in company with an angel, once saw represented a paved road leading from the "North" and terminating at the center of the world of spirits. It was so crowded with spirits that there was hardly room to step between them. And it was shown that all newcomers must travel by this road. It led from the North, because the North in the other life stands for spiritual ignorance; and it terminated in the middle which indicates a state of freedom amidst the externals of civil life, from which point the spirits are able to progress into interiors—towards the East of love, the South of wisdom, or the West of hatred.99

Novitiate spirits at first are in much the same habits of life and thought as on earth. Good and evil jostle each other there as here. For the externals of decent behavior and prudent speech are equally important to both. Roads in the other life mean habits of thought. All spirits therefore travel by the same road, at first. And it is in one's own familiar externals that one can feel free.100 This first external life serves the purpose of harmonizing externals with internals.101

The development which now commences is a reorganization of the spirit's natural affections. The world of spirits is indeed arranged into innumerable societies according to various natural affections, good and evil.102 It is a state wherein the natural affections of the spirit are explored by good spirits, to discover what groundwork there may be for his regeneration. Unless something of a spiritual conscience has begun to control and purify these natural affections, there is no correspondence in his life with heaven, and no means whereby heaven can lead him. The way to salvation lies through vastation and through judgment. This judgment comes to him through his relationship with others. For the World of Spirits which he has entered is a vast society—a world of human relations.

Every Man's Desire

But what are the "natural affections" and longings which had motivated these spirits—both good and evil—who now enter this new world? What did they conceive in their hearts to be the kind of world they would like to live in?

Does not every reasonable man, even on earth, desire long life devoid of illness? Does he not wish for every protection against disturbance of the peace, against foreign invaders and domestic criminals? Does he not want assurance against an oppressive government and lawless mobs? And the right to worship whatever God he knows? Personal liberty to follow out his talents and carry on the uses which he cherishes—to taste of the fruits of his labor and to embellish his life with legitimate comforts and a variety of diversions? A place in the society of his like? A sufficiency of food and clothing, and a guarantee against economic disaster? Does he not wish for a partner and a home where these things can be realized? A freedom to progress—to seek knowledge, pursue education, and to practice and enjoy the creative arts? Does not human research constantly look to a conquest of the limitations of space and time—to produce a freer communication of minds, and a more universal understanding among nations and races, as well as to solve the riddle of the stars? These are the things men dream of and think fit to strive for.

And in an eminent way, all these things which seem to men to make life worth while on earth are freely offered by the Lord in the spiritual world! "For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."103


What Is Meant by "The Spiritual World"

"The universe in general is distinguished into two worlds, the spiritual and the natural."104 By the spiritual world is generally meant the realm in which angels and spirits are.105 But the spiritual world was prior to the creation of angels and spirits, and since all angels and spirits were once men, and were born on some earth in the natural world, we must widen the concept of "the spiritual world." Thus whenever the creation of the universe is spoken of, the Writings show the spiritual world as the world of causes from which all the things in nature are derived as effects or results.106"All things that exist in the world of nature—atmospheric, aqueous, or earthy—as to every particle thereof, are effects produced by the spiritual as a cause. . . ,"107 The spiritual world is thus prior to the natural as to substance and degree—for the natural draws its origin from the spiritual.108 In The True Christian Religion it is shown that the creation of the universe began with that of the spiritual Sun from which three atmospheric degrees were produced as the substantial planes in which all future heavens were to be founded; and at last proceeded to the formation of a natural sun with its corresponding atmospheres and earths, so that spiritual things might be clothed with material swathings.109 The natural world is thus created by the Lord mediately through the spiritual world.110

In order that there may be a habitable world, there must be a sun, the heat and light of which can sustain the derivative planets. The physical universe of space and time requires many suns and stellar systems. But the spiritual world is beyond space and the Sun of that world is thus everywhere present and the same for all.111 The spiritual world is also called "the expanse of the center of life" and is said to subsist from its own Sun. This expanse around the Sun of the angelic heaven is not an extense; yet it is present by influx in the extense of natural creation and is with the living subjects there according to reception, and reception is dependent on the forms and states of such living organisms.112

The causes and the "souls" of all natural things are therefore in the spiritual world.113 We speak of our mind, our soul, our thoughts, etc., being in our body or brain. Actually, however, the mind or spirit is not in the material body or in the natural world; only the effects of our spirit's activities are there. These effects we see, and can describe, only as motions in space and time. If we should inquire "where" the spiritual world is or "where" angels and spirits are, the Writings can only give the answer that the spiritual world is where man is, and that spirits abide or dwell in man's thoughts and affections, and in no wise remote from him. The reason for this statement is that "the spiritual world is not in space."114

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The fact that the spiritual world acts by influx into the natural world and causes certain things there to seem alive, must not be taken to mean that there is only one world. It was one of the errors of the ancients that they failed to distinguish between the spiritual and the natural. The spiritual with men became so immersed into bodily and worldly things that they began to think of the spiritual as a finer or purer natural, and of the soul as a body of purer natural stuff which had its abode high up in the ether or in the region of the stars, thus within nature and its spaces and times.115 In all things of the natural world the spiritual and the corresponding natural are indeed so conjoined as to appear as a one, like the hand and the glove may appear as one. Yet this appearance of identity is dissipated in the Writings.

"There are two worlds," they state. "The spiritual world does not derive anything whatsoever from the natural world, nor the natural world anything from the spiritual world!" The two are altogether distinct, in fact "so distinct that they have nothing in common between them; yet are so created that they may communicate, yea, be conjoined, through correspondences." Therefore the spiritual world is under another Sun, which in its essence is love proceeding from the Lord God. The natural sun is "pure fire in which there is absolutely nothing of life."116 Nothing of its heat or light can pass over into the spiritual world, for "solar fire is death itself."117

When man dies his spirit therefore "entirely withdraws from the world of nature and leaves all of it behind, and enters a world in which there is nothing of nature; and in that world he lives so separated from nature that there is not any communication . . . except through correspondences."118 "Those in the one world cannot see those who are in the other world. For the eyes of man ... are of the substance of his world, and the eyes of an angel are of the substance of his world, . . . each formed adequately for the reception of his own light."119

These two worlds, which are so utterly distinct, are of course both necessary, that the Divine ends of creation might be carried out. It cannot be said that the spiritual world is limited by the natural or is confined within the limits of nature's extense; for the spiritual is not in space, and what is not in space cannot be so confined.120 But it can be said that the spiritual world cannot act out its effects or uses, and thus stand forth, without a natural world.121Nature was created that creation might be carried to a completion and subsist in ultimates; and that the spiritual might be terminated and clothed with correspondent forms, and that through new births and generations its uses may persist and endure.122

We can conceive of a cause without an effect or prior to it. But not of an effect without any cause! "Because the natural arises from the spiritual, as the material from the substantial, they are together everywhere"—i.e., everywhere "in this world" of nature. "The spiritual and the natural are thus united in each and everything of the world"; for here the spiritual is the soul or cause while the natural is the embodiment or effect.123

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To sum up the teachings we thus note that the spiritual world is to be denned not only as the. world wherein the souls of men continue to live, and, as angels and spirits, carry on their conscious life; but also as the realm of the causes of all the things which exist in nature. It is a world beyond the limitations of space, yet present by influx. It originates from the Lord through His "spiritual Sun," the first and only substance of creation, which is non-material, being the source of love and of spiritual light which is wisdom.124 It includes several descending ranges of atmospheres, which, though spiritual, terminate in their order and form the heavens in which the angels dwell. Nothing natural (or physical), from the heat and light of any of nature's suns, can enter the spiritual world.125 Since neither space nor time can be ascribed to the substance and essence of the spiritual world, there is no distance, no spatial dimensions, nothing material in that world.126 It is a world of spiritual realities such as we experience in this world only as mental states, or perceive in our inner being as affections, thoughts, perceptions, memories, and delights. Yet it is of such elements, in themselves entirely devoid of material reality, that our human lives consist. It is these elusive spiritual things that we gather and compact into our "character" and "mind"—throughout our years here on earth. And it is these, and these alone, that we can take along when our bodies die; it is these that come to constitute our immortal spirit, our real "self."

In this immaterial spiritual world lie concealed the causes of all material existence, and in its bourne our inner life is even now being carried on. If it is indeed designed for eternal life and everlasting progress, its perfection must be marvelous. Yet to all appearance it will offer us much the same kind of sensory experience as our life on earth. Sensory appearances of spaces, distances, and times, and objects of sight and touch, will still make up the terms, the language, the forms, in which our conscious life is transacted. But the difference is also vast. For all the objects surrounding us then will no more testify of a fixed physical world as on earth, but will be the symbols of states of spiritual life-representations of the shifting and ripening states of our mind and the minds of others. The objects about us will be the living forms of our own affections and those of other spirits, and will make up an environment which will become permanent and secure, as an abode in which our ruling love can find its most complete expression and a delightful repose.


Since men—both good and evil—differ as to their ruling love, there must be spiritual environments suited to every such love. This is the meaning of the Lord's saying, "In My Father's house are many mansions." The spiritual world is clearly distinguished, yea, divided, into regions visibly apart and strikingly different.

The testimony of the Writings about the spiritual world furnishes us with a distinct word picture in which our reflections about the after-life may find a basis.

We are first of all assured that the spiritual world, as to external aspect or sensory appearance, is much like this natural world of ours, although indeed far more perfect and varied. This is of course true also of our minds, in that the life of our thoughts is freer and more varied than our physical experience itself. But our thoughts are often dim and indistinct. Our imagination is seldom as clear as our actual sensation. Our emotions are usually also confused and undefined, and more or less blunted by the grosser appetites and demands of the body. This vagueness and dullness of our mental life will vanish when we pass into the other world. There we will perceive spiritual things or mental objects in a clarity which surpasses the light of nature beyond any comparison.

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It may be safely said that we human beings can see or know only a tiny, infinitesimal part of the natural world although we are affected by the radiations from billions of stars and unthinkable numbers of galaxies, and can surmise in the least grain of matter the existence of inconceivable complexities of parts within parts. Our life is laid upon the surface of one tiny planet and we experience only a small part of what it offers to our senses. Only the Lord the Creator can see the cosmos in its entirety.

How much more true this is about the spiritual world! The Lord alone can vision the wholeness, the depths and heights and supernal expanse of the spiritual world. Each inhabited earth has its heavens, its world of spirits and probably its hells; and to the spirits of that earth these three parts usually appear quite separate from the spiritual worlds of other planets. The reason for this is that the races of each planet have a certain community of genius—certain mental characteristics based on heredity and on the environmental conditions of their particular earth. The testimony of the Writings does not indicate any very essential physiological divergencies among the various planetary races, or note the existence of any of those dominant insect breeds or monstrous "Martians" which recent Science Fiction loves to conjure up; but the differences are mainly confined to mental development and spiritual type and thus to the potential spiritual uses of each planet — enough to hold its spirits within a specific spiritual world of their own. There can indeed be a certain communication among spirits from widely separate parts of the universe, for in the spiritual world there is no space except in appearance. Thus the knowledge of the Lord's advent can be made manifest to spirits and angels even from other earths.121Spirits from the earth and from Mercury and other planets—even evil spirits—are able to meet whenever there are spiritual intermediations and a mutual adaptation of states. Yet the spiritual differences are so profound as to make such intercourse exceptional. Nonetheless our spirits receive spiritual influxes from other planets.128 And it is even taught that "when the Word on our earth is read and preached," its supreme and inmost sense is presented before "angels in heaven from whatever earth they come."129

Order would seem to demand that there be a unifying factor which conjoins these spiritual worlds of all the planets. And we should find this in the highest of the heavens of each earth— in the celestial heaven where the Lord's inflowing love is most immediately received, and through which the heavens are conjoined.130

Thus it would appear that even an angel cannot see heaven as a whole. But the Lord can reveal— to him as to us— the general order of the unseen world. The Writings describe the spiritual world of our own planet, which no doubt, follows a universal pattern:

"The arrangement is such that the heavens are like expanses one above another, and under the heavens is the world of spirits, and under this are the hells, one below another. Influx from the Lord takes place according to this successive order, thus through the inmost heaven into the middle one, and through this into the ultimate one, and from these in their order into the hells which lie beneath. The world of spirits is between, and it receives influx both from the heavens and from the hells, each one there according to the state of his life."131

Here, then, we meet up with the vast differences between the spiritual world and the world to which we are accustomed here on earth! The same objects that we are familiar with exist in the other life. But the order and combination in which these sensory elements are seen is utterly different— their connections and sequences do not follow what we so often call "natural law." What we perceive in terms of sensation there, is the relationship of spiritual states, the relative positions of spiritual beings in their orientation to each other and to the Divine source of life and to the media by which that life is communicated. In the natural world, men see each other in relation to physical orientations, or with respect to their proximity in space and their place on earth in relation to the physical sun. Our bodily senses testify of changes in our physical environment and the objects we perceive in our sensual mind correspond most nearly to actual physical things around us. All men, good and evil, live here on the same earth and mostly mingle with each other irrespective of internal character or motivations.

Contrast this with the spiritual world! For this appears divided into levels of existence — as a series of expanses, each of which is like an earth or a world of its own. As a whole, this arrangement of spiritual levels is visible only to the Lord's sight. Yet when necessary it can be suggestively represented in various ways so as to reveal the mutual relationship between various states. Ordinarily, the higher heavens may thus appear, either as mountain ranges in the distance, or as unattainable expanses in the clouds.132 This appearance is before the eyes of the spirit, and spiritual sight conveys the truth in the form of natural imagery that "corresponds" to inner spiritual realities.

Correspondence is an inevitable law of the human mind. What is as yet unattainable we mentally picture as distant, or as above us, as high, as superior, as lofty. We speak of higher motives, superior intelligence, sublime wisdom, superb skill, transcendent meanings and supreme delights. We think of a government as above us, and in society we often recognize social strata distinguished by those of greater or less education or social influence. Even though democracy has sought to guarantee that men shall be enabled to start life with nearly equal educational opportunities or on the same general level, the differences in men's character and genius causes some to climb or be elevated to higher uses than others, owing to their willingness to assume greater responsibilities and submit to stricter self-discipline and training.

Even in this world, therefore, we find—in various fields of skill and learning—groups whose common interests and superior development set them apart as living on a level or plane above the average man. They are not necessarily segregated from others in a social sense. But they live in a mental world into which others cannot easily enter. We also observe that there is a world of social outcasts—an "underworld" of convicted criminals and derelicts—in most human communities; who have sunk too low to take part in the normal life of society.

In the natural world many external, hereditary, educational and artificial factors contribute to the formation of the levels of society. But in the spiritual world, the discrete levels of life are determined solely by the ruling loves which move men to seek their heaven among those who delight in similar uses and a similar mental environment, that is, in a kindred charity and a corresponding intelligence. This is the reason why the heavens appear in three distinct "expanses," seemingly separated from each other. For there are three loves that rule in heaven, and these three are quite discrete. The highest is love to the Lord, the middle one is love towards the neighbor, and the third is a love of obedience to the things of faith. The life of an angel is built around one of these loves, which serves him as an inmost motivation in all that he wills, thinks, and does. Yet within the love of obedience there must be an influx of charity and love from the higher heavens. And into the love towards the neighbor there must inflow a love to the Lord; for this is what conjoins all the heavens into a one, and directs all towards the same ends.

The Expanses of Heaven

To the teaching that there are three expanses of the heavens, and under the heavens a world of spirits and beneath this the three hells, one below the other, must be added another remarkable statement which is made to illustrate how the Lord, by His infinite power and wisdom, holds the affections of all in an equilibrium or balance. The statement is, that "good affections, which are angels, dwell on a globe that is called heaven, and evil affections, which are spirits of hell, dwell at a great depth beneath them. The globe is one, but is divided into expanses, as it were, one below another. There are six expanses. In the highest dwell the angels of the third heaven, below them the angels of the second heaven, and beneath these the angels of the first heaven. Below them dwell the spirits of the first hell, beneath these the spirits of the second hell, and beneath them the spirits of the third hell . . ,"133 And the passage goes on to explain that the lowest hell is held in bonds by the good affections of the highest heaven, and so forth — a government by balanced opposites.

What interests us especially at this point is that each level or expanse appears as a globe, and all the expanses are pictured as concentric spheres. We note also that there are other appearances in the spiritual world which are quite frankly inconsistent with the attempt to picture that space-less world in a single and complete spatial framework. For the spiritual Sun, in which the Lord abides and whence He radiates the light and heat of wisdom and love, is said to remain in the "East" of heaven and to be constantly sensed by the angels as before their foreheads, no matter toward which quarter the angel might turn his attention! It is explained that the Sun of heaven is the inmost or first substance of creation, and is therefore universal; that is, it is not in space. It is also revealed that that Sun does not appear to rise and set, as ours does; nor does the earth or globe on which the angels dwell, revolve like ours, but the heavens maintain always a permanent situation in reference to their Sun—to indicate the permanent relation of each angel's ruling love to the Lord.

It is clear from all this that the spiritual world is not under the rule of what we usually call "natural law", nor can that world be crammed into any unified fixed geographical concept. The living relationships of spiritual states, of affections and perceptions and spiritual uses, cannot be represented by the fixed order of the natural world. Yet the phenomena of sensation are the same. It is their sequence and order that differ.

And if we reflect we must realize that something similar is true also in our mind. The stream of changing imagery which marks the course of our conscious thought when this is not interrupted by new sensations from the outside world, is a representation, not of the events of the natural world but of the states of our mind. One mental object is not the cause of the next, but all are the results of an inner sequence of states, desires, and directing affections which bring up these objects from the memory as if by magic, to reveal new connections or ideas. And we feel no surprise at all when the pageantry of our imagination shifts from one field to another, or when we select some new series of mental objects as a basis or an ultimate connective for our thoughts. In our memory there appear to lodge series within series of ideas or concepts, one within another, and all associated with the others, yet there is no interference between them. We think, for instance, of the human body, by a mental picture. Yet our thought proceeds to make that body transparent, and we see before us the various organs in their connection with the bloodstream. The next moment we might see instead the nervous system and its cells and fibres as if enlarged by a microscope. We can even think of all these series at once without any sense that they block each other out or are inconsistent.

In the other life all must have certain basic and more or less permanent sensual concepts without which there could be no appreciation of the relationships of spirits and angels. These concepts form a common connection between spirits. Spirits in the world of spirits coming from all parts of the world thus feel that they live on a globe—an earth as before; and their mental kinships and differences due to race, culture, or nationality, are perceived in terms of proximity or distance. The world of spirits is ordered into societies according to the natural affections, good and evil, that still activate those who have recently died. And as a rule spirits of each nation and each race and religious communion have their separate societies there, in situations and quarters which are relatively permanent, although their populations are constantly moving on towards heaven or hell.134But because spirits in the world of spirits are in general in the same state of life, their mental world is on a common plane of thought and affection, and they can therefore all come into contact with each other as if they lived on the surface of the same globe.

It was mentioned that the three heavens appear as discrete expanses—worlds of their own—above the world of spirits. The reason is that angels are in spiritual ideas and spiritual affections which make their whole life so distinctly different that it cannot be understood by spirits in the world of spirits. The only entrances by which adult spirits can be elevated into heaven lead therefore from societies of instruction in the world of spirits, and into these good spirits are introduced when their state is ready and they have been vastated from external evils. Here they learn how to think by spiritual ideas, and their natural affections are ordered to correspond with the spiritual uses of intelligent charity. When this is accomplished they are led by certain roads into heaven; and heaven then does no longer seem to them as an. expanse in the sky but as a higher country reached by an easy ascent.

It is the function of the Lord's special church on earth to serve the use of preparing men to think spiritually—to think from spiritual loves rather than from merely natural affections. So far as men are prepared so to think while on earth, they will be able to avoid much vastation and delay in the world of spirits. They will not be captivated by merely natural spirits and will come into greater spiritual freedom. This instruction in spiritual truths —i.e., the truths of spiritual charity—is meant by coming to the wedding properly clothed in "wedding garments." None can be received in heaven or partake of its life unless he is spiritually prepared.135

And this need—of thinking spiritually rather than from the light of nature—becomes obvious when we attempt to understand what the Writings say about the nature of the spiritual world. What, for an instance, can purely natural thought make us see in the statement that "each expanse [of the heavens] is like an earth under the feet of those who are there"? To angels, it is indeed solid ground, which they can stamp with their feet, and on which their houses are securely founded. Their gardens and fields and forests are not mere appearances, their bodies are not phantoms.136


When we deny the properties of nature, such as space, to spiritual things, we do not deny that spiritual things have spiritual properties and proportions, and indeed spiritual "extension"! We cannot think of the spiritual world unless we predicate of it spiritual "ultimates"—in which the living spiritual terminates and comes to rest, yet which are not part of the physical universe.

But our own mental life supplies an adequate illustration of what is meant by spiritual ultimates. For what is the ground on which our conscious spirit walks? After all, we are spirits! Our conscious life is conducted in our minds—within the confines of our knowledge and cognitions. Beyond our mental concepts we cannot reach. They are what serve as objects of thought, as the objects of our present spiritual world—the world of our conscious existence. We could not even take a step in the physical world around us until we knew about it, learned its nature and had faith in our knowledge!

Our spirit walks and stands upon the firm ground of accepted knowledge—upon the convictions and principles that we have made our faith. We live in the habits of thought we have made our own. We build our spiritual home on the level of our confirmed and ruling love. And this love, whatever it may be, is the soil, fertile or barren, which must bring forth the delights of our life as the final flower and fruit in the harvests of eternity.

And these things are not mere similes or oratorical metaphors. They are spiritual facts. The outstanding difference between our mental life here and our spiritual life after death, is that when our body dies we shall meet other spirits whose loves and affections we can openly share and whose intelligence or wisdom we can partake in as if it were our own.

The contents of our minds likewise becomes apparent before others in the form of correspondences, and this even if we should endeavor to hide it. "For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed or hid that shall not be known." And what we here on earth had perceived in the mind as objects within ourselves, or as subjective and abstract states, can in the other world be seen by ourselves and by others as our objective and tangible environment, amplified by the appearance of what comes from the minds of other spirits and angels also. The heaven or hell within us becomes revealed as the fitting abode of our spirit.

The very soil of each heaven, which appears to those below as an expanse in the sky, a cloud land, is formed by the Lord as the ultimate correspondent of the love that rules there. The Writings therefore state concerning the spiritual world: "In that world there are all things which exist in the natural world in its three kingdoms, and they are correspondences of the affections and thoughts ... as well as of the ultimates of the life of those who are there." "The correspondence of man's affections and of the thoughts thence is with all things of the animal kingdom; of his will and the understanding thence with the plant kingdom; and of the ultimates of his life with the mineral kingdom."137 An angel "knows that they are representations of himself; yea, when the inmost of his understanding is opened, he recognizes himself and sees his own image in them, hardly otherwise than as in a mirror."138

"Affections appear formed into animals by the spiritual in its intermediates and ... into plants in its ultimates, which are the lands there . . ." Plants and animals are changed as the affections change, "but this occurs outside of the societies."139 Certain angels, having shown Swedenborg that even the furniture of their homes and the jewels which adorned their wives were all correspondences, added, "From all these things we perceive what each one is as to love and wisdom. Those things which are in our homes and serve for uses, constantly remain there; but to the eyes of those who wander from one society to another, such things are changed according to consociation."140

Here it should be observed that a spirit or angel, when he first approaches, may often be seen, not as a man but as an animal "corresponding" to his natural affection or appetite—thus as a sheep or a wolf, a dove or a hawk, or even as some composite animal like a dragon.141

Animals born on earth do not have immortal souls. And since they are ruled by general influx and cannot depart from the order of their connate nature, they have no need of attendant spirits, as do men.142 Their souls are indeed spiritual in origin, but "spiritual-natural", and when an animal dies, its soul "relapses into nature."143 In animals, the forms which had been receptive of the influx of life "cannot but be dissipated; for with them the influx passes through their organic forms all the way into the world, and there terminates and vanishes, and never returns."144

The animals and plants appearing in the spiritual world are therefore not the surviving souls of individual beasts or plants on earth, but the active affections of some spirit or angel, represented in a correspondential form. Such animals or plants are not mere phantoms. It is related that a beautiful bird appeared in the other life to a noted scientist, who fondled it and examined it to show that it was real and substantial and did not differ from a similar bird on earth; although he knew that it was nothing but an affection of some angel represented outside of him as a bird, and that it would vanish or cease with the affection that produced it.145

To novitiate spirits or corporeal spirits, the things seen in heaven are seen as appearances of spaces and times. But they are not appearances of spaces or times. They are appearances of the loves and perceptions of the angels: "for these objects are created in a moment by the Lord," and if the state of the angels should change, they are immediately dissipated. The angels "do not think of them from space" or "from their appearance, but according to the things from which these appearances spring."146

Note the statement that these things are created by the Lord. "There are interior and exterior spiritual things. Interior spiritual things are all those that are of affection and thought thence . . . and exterior spiritual things are so created by the Lord that they might clothe or invest interior spiritual things. And when these are clothed and invested then there stand forth forms like those in the natural world . . ." Thus there are in heaven representative animals and other forms like those in the world.147 Such things are often described in the visions of the prophets. For "the Word was written from such things as were seen and heard in the ultimates of heaven, thus by pure correspondences and representatives, in each of which lie concealed innumerable and ineffable arcana of Divine wisdom."148

"Because there is nothing which does not have its ultimate where it ceases and subsists, so also the spiritual. This its ultimate is in an earth (tellure), in its lands (terris) and waters . . ."149"In everything spiritual . . . there are three forces"—the active force, the creative force, and the formative force—and these "progress continually to their ultimates . . . Hence it is that there are lands equally in the heavens, for the lands there are those forces in ultimates. There is this difference—that the lands there are spiritual from their origin, but here they are natural; and that the productions from our lands are effected from the spiritual by means of nature, but in those lands without nature."150 "The idea of state and thence the idea of the appearance of space and time, is not given except in the ultimates of creation there, and from them; the ultimates of creation there are the lands on which the angels dwell... "151 "The matters of the lands of our earth are fixed, and the germinations from them permanent; while the matters, or substances, in the lands which are in the heavens are not fixed and consequently neither are the germinations thence permanent."152 "Ultimates and terminations in heaven differ from ultimates and terminations in the world in this, that in die world these have respect to spaces, but in heaven they have respect to goods conjoined with truths."153

* * * * *

These and similar teachings show that the very forms which surround spirits and angels, yea, the lands or globe on which they dwell, correspond intimately to the states of these spiritual beings, and concur with their ruling loves. But they also make plain that they are not creations of the angels. They are created by the Lord by means of the forces that are present in the spiritual in all its degrees, and are presented in the ultimates of the spiritual world in objective reality.

And these same spiritual forces are what produce and sustain the elemental substances of natural creation—suns and atmospheres and planets — with which all spiritual degrees can, as living "souls," become clothed and perpetuated as organic forms in nature.154 And as the last and foremost among such organic natural forms the Lord created immortal man—in His own image and according to His likeness—that through man the uses of all creation may ascend and as it were return to God the Creator.155


1 The general teaching is given in HH 445-452, AC 168-189, SD 1092-1109

2 AC 8851, SD 546f

3 EU 84:2

4 SD 580, 4592, AC 8850e, 5726

5 SD 546, AC 8851, 1 Cor. 15:50

6 SD 1238

7 SD 1235-1238, AC 177

8 Wis. vii. 4:2, cp HH 446f

9 DLW 390f, Wis. vii. 4

10 HH 445f, DLW 390, Wis. vii. 4:2

11 Wis. vii. 2e

12 AC 4659

13 Wis. vii. 2:4, cp CL 315:11, TCR 793, 583

14 Cp. DLW 369

15 DLW 369, 387

16 R. Psych. 488-492, 512, cp. 521, 524; WE 5081

17 DLW 379f, Love xx

18 AC 179,2119, HH 447

19 See Appendix, page 469

20 HH 433, 432, cp AC 1436, 4373, SD 2386, 2355

21 HH 434

22 SD 2355

23 WE 5081, cp AC 4622

24 HH 434, 461, 463:2, cp. AC 6322, 6948:3

25 Luke 24:39, HH 316, AC 2083:2, 2658, 3318e, 10252, HD 286, Lord 35, AE 66:3, 1112:2, DLW 221:2, TCR 109, LJ post. 87, 129:2

26 TCR 109, LJ post. 87

27 LJ post. 129, cf SD 5244, AC 5078

28 Cp 1 Thess. 4:15 seq., Phil. 3:21

29 AC 179, 2119, HH 446

30 HH 433

31 DLW 257, TCR 103, Wis. viii.

32 AC 179, 4622:4, cp 177f, SD 1102, HH 449

33 AC 175, 179, 171, HH 449, SD 1096, 1100

34 Of Lazarus, who was raised to new bodily life on the fourth day, the Lord said that "he sleepeth," And despite Martha's fears, no decomposition seems to have set in. (John 11)

35 AC 315

36 AC 2119, 1631

37 AC 168f, 182ff, 314-316, SD 1092-1109, 1115-1120, HH 449f

38 AC 314ff, HH 450

39 HH 451, 457, 452

40 John 11:25, 12:32; SD 300,1104, AC 179, HH 449, 447

41 AC 1999:4, LJ 25, HH 38, ISB 8

42 AC 170, 172

43 SD 1096, AC 172ff, HH 450. Some variations seem indicated in Mark 16:5, Luke 24:4, John 20:12 44 AC 173, HH 449, SD 1097

45 AC 182

46 AC 182, SD 1105 suggests that they may stay near for some weeks.

47 AC 5344, 5342

48 AC 178

48 SD 1106, AC 183f, 4411f, HH 450

49 Mark 8:24

51 SD 1116

52 HH 450, AC 185f

53 AC 314

54 AC 314f, 186, SD 815£

55 AC 70

56 Luke 23:43

57 SD 5099

58 AC 187f, SD 1118

59 SD 1107

60 AC 316

61 AC 316, HH 450

62 Compare the expression in Hosea 6:2

63 Matt. 12:40, Jonah 1:17

64 1 Peter 3:19

65 Compare AC 7932a, 7828, 8018, 9229:10; Matt. 27:52, 53

66 HH 450, 451, 457. "Exordium" means a groundwork, a warp, or an introduction.

67 Wis. vii. 4:2, DLW 390e, HH 312:4

68 5 Mem. 4, AR 153, HH 452, TCR 138, AC 8939, 2119, cp SD 5492

69 TCR 797

70 TCR 80

71 SD 885, 1337, 12891, 5 Mem. 4, 5, AC 8991

72 TCR 160:7, cp 797

73 HH 345, AC 5857

74 HH 332, cp SD 1022, 1035

75 AC 5174f, cp SD 5162, seq., HH 342f, 514f

76 5 Mem. 4, 5

77 The German reformer who died in 1560.

78 TCR 797. "Those things first of all occur which took place at the point of death, and during the disease or at the end of life" (SD 885). "For whatever happens in the last hour of death remains a long while before it vanishes . . ." This is illustrated in the case of a suicide. (SD 1337, 1336, cp 1289f)

79 CL 192

80 HH 457

81 Docu. 243, "Letters and Memorials . . ." (Acton), 1955, page 696

82 SD 400, 5163

83 SD 2031

84 SD 1484, 1864

85 TCR 797, SD 2030

86 AC 9213:5

87 TCR 160, 5 Mem, 6, AC 4527

88 5 Mem. 7,10, CL 44:1, HH 412, TCR 568

89 AC 447, SD 2288

90 5 Mem. 7

91 AC 4415, 4527, cp 1533 and SD 4293

92 CL 44, AC 4527, 2367

93 AC 4622:3,5078, SD 4166

94 AC 1641, 3957

95 AC 5079:2, SD 4716, 5177, 2142e

96 CL 44, 461, SD 299, 5 Mem. 6, 7, HH 495, F 41ff

97 SD 2030-2039, AC 318

98 AR 153

99 TCR 160; cp SD 5798, HH 534; DLW 119-134

100 SD 886

101 SD 5688 seq.

102 SD 885, AR 153/TCR 281

103 Matt. 6:33

104 DLW 163

105 Lord 62, DLW 83-92

106 DLW 154,340, AE 1206:3, 1207:4, SD 4585f, Coro. 19 etc.

107 AE 1207:3

108 CL 320, 328, 207, SD 4066, Can., God iv, HH 89

109 TCR 76, 33

110 Can., God iv

111 HH 116-124

112 TCR35:11

113 AE 1206, DLW 119

114 DLW 92, 343e, LJ 9

115 DLW 85, 92, 350, ISB 9:4. Additions to TCR, n. 15.

116 DLW 90

117 DLW 88f

118 DLW 83

119 DLW 90,91

120 AC 7381:3, TCR 35:11

121 TCR 76:3. Can., God iv. 10, LJ 9

122 AE 1196:2, 1207:4, 1218:2, 3, LJ 9, DLW 167

123 Can., God iv. 10, AE 1196:3, 1197:2

124 DLW 300, DP 6, TCR 24 (5), 76, 280:5, Ang. Id., AE 1218, AC 7381:3

125 DLW 88, HH 116

126 DLW 7, 71, AC 5658:1

127 AC 9356

128 Cf SD 4742

129 AC 9357

130 AE 744; AC 6701, 7078; SD 522, 1200

131 AE 702

132 CL 11, 42, AE 1133:6, HD 4, Coro. 16, cp 5 Mem. 21

133 AE 1133:6. See pages 85, 98ff, 394-397, 437

134 SD 5240, 5244, LJ post. 126, cp AE 1133:6

135 CL 10

136 AR260, 876, AE 702:2

137 DLW 52, AE 1226:2

138 DLW 63

139 AE 1212:2,3

140 TCR 78, 66

141 SD 4705-4707, cp AE 1199:2, 1200:3, 1212:3

142 SD 2378

143 DLW 346, Wis. viii. 2

144 AC 5114e, LJ 25:3

145 DLW 344

146 Wis. vii. 5

147 AE 582

148 AE 369

149 AE 1210e, 1209, 1208:5

150 AE 1211

151 AE 1219:5

152 AE 1211

153 AC 9499

154 AE 1206, DLW 219

155 LJ 9, DLW 61-68, AC 3702


The Spiritual World
Spirits and Men
Talks: Spiritual World
10Q: Life After Death


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3. Resurrection

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