DEATH >> Resurrection

deathp_500_375 Man after death is his own love or his own will. This has been proved to me by manifold experience. The entire heaven is divided into societies according to differences of  good of love; and every spirit who is taken up into heaven and becomes an angel is taken to the society where his love is; and when he arrives there he is, as it were, at home, and in the house where he was born; this the angel perceives, and is affiliated with those there that are like himself. When he goes away to another place he feels constantly a kind of resistance, and a longing to return to his like, thus to his ruling love. Thus are affiliations brought about in heaven; and in a like manner in hell, where all are affiliated in accordance with loves that are the opposites of heavenly loves. It has been shown above (n. 41-50 and 200-212) that both heaven and hell are composed of societies, and that they are all distinguished according to differences of love.

[2] That man after death is his own love might also be seen from the fact that whatever does not make one with his ruling love is then separated and as it were taken away from him.  From one who is good everything discordant or inharmonious is separated and as it were taken away, and he is thus let into his own love. It is the same with an evil spirit, with the difference that from the evil truths are taken away, and from the good falsities are taken away, and this goes on until each becomes his own love. This is effected when the man-spirit is brought into the third state, which will be described hereafter. When this has been done he turns his face constantly to his own love, and this he has continually before his eyes, in whatever direction he turns (see above, n. 123, 124).

[3] All spirits, provided they are kept in their ruling love, can be led wherever one pleases, and are incapable of resistance, however clearly they may see that this is being done, and however much they may think that they will resist. They have often been permitted to try whether they could do anything contrary to their ruling love, but in vain. Their love is like a bond or a rope tied around them, by which they may be led and from which they cannot loose themselves. It is the same with men in the world who are also led by their love, or are led by others by means of their love; but this is more the case when they have become spirits, because they are not then permitted to make a display of any other love, or to counterfeit what is not their own. [4] All interaction in the other life proves that the spirit of man is his ruling love, for so far any one is acting or speaking in accord with the love of another, to the same extent is the other plainly present, with full, joyous, and lively countenance; but when one is speaking or acting contrary to another’s love, to that extent the other’s countenance begins to be changed, to be obscured and undiscernible, until at length he wholly disappears as if he had not been there. I have often wondered how this could be, for nothing of the kind can occur in the world; but I have been told that it is the same with the spirit in man, which when it turns itself away from another ceases to be within his view.

[5] Another proof that a spirit is his ruling love is that every spirit seizes and appropriates all things that are in harmony with his love, and rejects and repudiates all that are not. Everyone’s love is like a spongy or porous wood, which imbibes such fluids as promote its growth, and repels others.  It is also like animals of every kind, which know their proper food and seek the things that agree with their nature, and avoid what disagrees; for every love wishes to be nourished on what belongs to it, evil love by falsities and good love by truths. I have sometimes been permitted to see certain simple good spirits desiring to instruct the evil in truths and goods; but when the instruction was offered them they fled far away, and when they came to their own they seized with great pleasure upon the falsities that were in agreement with their love. I have also seen good spirits talking together about truths, and the good who were present listened eagerly to the conversation, but the evil who were present paid no attention to it, as if they did not hear it. In the world of spirits ways are seen, some leading to heaven, some to hell, and each to some particular society. Good spirits go only in the ways that lead to heaven, and to the society there that is in the good of their love; and do not see the ways that lead elsewhere; while evil spirits go only in the ways that lead to hell, and to the society there that is in the evil of their love; and do not see the ways that lead elsewhere; or if they see them have no wish to enter them. In the spiritual world these ways are real appearances, which correspond to truths or falsities; and this is why ways have this signification in the Word.{1} By this evidence from experience what has previously been affirmed on the ground of reason is made more certain, namely, that every man after death is his own love and his own will. It is said one’s own will because everyone’s will is his love. [HH479]


It has been shown in the preceding chapter that the ruling affection or dominant love in everyone continues to eternity. It shall now be explained how the delights of that affection or love are changed into things that correspond. Being changed into corresponding things means into things spiritual that correspond to the natural. That they are changed into things spiritual can be seen from this, that so long as man is in his earthly body he is in the natural world, but when he leaves that body he enters the spiritual world and is clothed with a spiritual body. It has already been shown that angels, and men after death, are in a complete human form, and that the bodies with which they are clothed are spiritual bodies (n. 73-77 and 453-460); also what the correspondence is of spiritual things with natural (n.  87-115).  [HH485]

 All the delights that a man has are the delights of his ruling love, for he feels nothing to be delightful except what he loves, thus especially that which he loves above all things. It means the same whether you say the ruling love or that which is loved above all things. These delights are various. In general, there are as many as there are ruling loves; consequently as many as there are men, spirits, and angels; for no one’s ruling love is in every respect like that of another. For this reason no one has a face exactly like that of any other; for each one’s face is an image of his mind; and in the spiritual world it is an image of his ruling love. In particular, everyone’s delights are of infinite variety. It is impossible for any one delight to be exactly like another, or the same as another, either those that follow one after another or those that exist together at the same time, no one ever being the same as another. Nevertheless, the particular delights in everyone have reference to his one love, which is his ruling love, for they compose it and thus make one with it. Likewise all delights in general have reference to one universally ruling love, which in heaven is love to the Lord, and in hell is the love of self.  [HH486]

 Only from a knowledge of correspondences can it be known what spiritual delights everyone’s natural delights are changed into after death, and what kind of delights they are. In general, this knowledge teaches that nothing natural can exist without something spiritual corresponding to it. In particular it teaches what it is that corresponds, and what kind of a thing it is. Therefore, any one that has this knowledge can ascertain and know what his own state after death will be, if he only knows what his love is, and what its relation is to the universally ruling loves spoken of above, to which all loves have relation. But it is impossible for those who are in the love of self to know what their ruling love is, because they love what is their own, and call their evils goods; and the falsities that they incline to and by which they confirm their evils they call truths. And yet if they were willing they might know it from others who are wise, and who see what they themselves do not see. This however, is impossible with those who are so enticed by the love of self that they spurn all teaching of the wise.

[2] On the other hand, those who are in heavenly love accept instruction, and as soon as they are brought into the evils into which they were born, they see them from truths, for truths make evils manifest. From truth which is from good any one can see evil and its falsity; but from evil none can see what is good and true; and for the reason that falsities of evil are darkness and correspond to darkness; consequently those that are in falsities from evil are like the blind, not seeing the things that are in light, but shunning them instead like birds of night.{1} But as truths from good are light, and correspond to light (see above, n. 126-134), so those that are in truths from good have sight and open eyes, and discern the things that pertain to light and shade.

3] This, too, has been proved to me by experience. The angels in heaven both see and perceive the evils and falsities that sometimes arise in themselves, also the evils and falsities in spirits in the world of spirits that are connected with the hells, although the spirits themselves are unable to see their own evils and falsities. Such spirits have no comprehension of the good of heavenly love, of conscience, of honesty and justice, except such as is done for the sake of self; neither what it is to be led by the Lord. They say that such things do not exist, and thus are of no account. All this has been said to the intent that man may examine himself and may recognize his love by his delights; and thus so far as he can make it out from a knowledge of correspondences may know the state of his life after death. [HH487]

How the delights of everyone’s life are changed after death into things that correspond can be known from a knowledge of correspondences; but as that knowledge is not as yet generally known I will try to throw some light on the subject by certain examples from experience. All who are in evil and who have established themselves in falsities in opposition to the truths of the church, especially those that have rejected the Word, flee from the light of heaven and take refuge in caves that appear at their openings to be densely dark, also in clefts of rocks, and there they hide themselves; and this because they have loved falsities and hated truths; for such caves and clefts of rocks,{1} well as darkness, correspond to falsities, as light corresponds to truths. It is their delight to dwell in such places, and undelightful to dwell in the open country.

[2] Those that have taken delight in insidious and secret plots and in treacherous machinations do the same thing. They are also in such caves; and they frequent rooms so dark that they are even unable to see one another; and they whisper together in the ears in corners. Into this is the delight of their love changed. Those that have devoted themselves to the sciences with no other end than to acquire a reputation for learning, and have not cultivated their rational faculty by their learning, but have taken delight in the things of memory from a pride in such things, love sandy places, which they choose in preference to fields and gardens, because sandy places correspond to such studies.

[3] Those that are skilled in the doctrines of their own and other churches, but have not applied their knowledge to life, choose for themselves rocky places, and dwell among heaps of stones, shunning cultivated places because they dislike them. Those that have ascribed all things to nature, as well as those that have ascribed all things to their own prudence, and by various arts have raised themselves to honors and have acquired wealth, in the other life devote themselves to the study of magic arts, which are abuses of Divine order, and find in these the chief delight of life.

[4] Those that have adapted Divine truths to their own loves, and thereby have falsified them, love urinous things because these correspond to the delights of such loves.{2} Those that have been sordidly avaricious dwell in cells, and love swinish filth and such stenches as are exhaled from undigested food in the stomach.

[5] Those that have spent their life in mere pleasures and have lived delicately and indulged their palate and stomach, loving such things as the highest good that life affords, love in the other life excrementitious things and privies, in which they find their delight, for the reason that such pleasures are spiritual filth. Places that are clean and free from filth they shun, finding them undelightful.  [6] Those that have taken delight in adulteries pass their time in brothels, where all things are vile and filthy; these they love, and chaste homes they shun, falling into a swoon as soon as they enter them. Nothing is more delightful to them than to break up marriages.  Those that have cherished a spirit of revenge, and have thereby contracted a savage and cruel nature, love cadaverous substances, and are in hells of that nature; and so on.  [HH488]

But the delights of life of those that have lived in the world in heavenly love are changed into such corresponding things as exist in the heavens, which spring from the sun of heaven and its light, that light presenting to view such things as have what is Divine inwardly concealed in them. The things that appear in that light affect the interiors of the minds of the angels, and at the same time the exteriors pertaining to their bodies; and as the Divine light, which is Divine truth going forth from the Lord, flows into their minds opened by heavenly love, it presents outwardly such things as correspond to the delights of their love. It has already been shown, in the chapter on representatives and appearances in heaven (n. 170-176), and in the chapter on the wisdom of the angels (n.  265-275), that the things that appear to the sight in the heavens correspond to the interiors of angels, or to the things pertaining to their faith and love and thus to their intelligence and wisdom.

[2] Having already begun to establish this point by examples from experience, to make clearer what has been previously said on the ground of causes of things I will state briefly some particulars respecting the heavenly delightful things into which the natural delights of those that have lived in heavenly love in the world are changed. Those that have loved Divine truths and the Word from an interior affection, or from an affection for truth itself, dwell in the other life in light, in elevated places that appear like mountains, where they are continually in the light of heaven. They do not know what darkness is, like that of night in the world; they live also in a vernal temperature; there are presented to their view fields filled with grain and vine-yards; in their houses everything glows as if from precious stones; and looking through the windows is like looking through pure crystal. Such are the delights of their vision; but these same things are interiorly delightful because of their being correspondences of Divine heavenly things, for the truths from the Word which they have loved correspond to fields of grain, vineyards, precious stones, windows, and crystals.{1}

[3] Those that have applied the doctrinals of the church which are from the Word immediately to life, are in the inmost heaven, and surpass all others in their delights of wisdom. In every object they see what is Divine; the objects they see indeed with their eyes; but the corresponding Divine things flow in immediately into their minds and fill them with a blessedness that affects all their sensations. Thus before their eyes all things seem to laugh, to play, and to live (see above, n. 270).

[4] Those that have loved knowledges and have thereby cultivated their rational faculty and acquired intelligence, and at the same time have acknowledged the Divine-these in the other life have their pleasure in knowledges, and their rational delight changed into spiritual delight, which is delight in knowing good and truth. They dwell in gardens where flower beds and grass plots are seen beautifully arranged, with rows of trees round about, and arbors and walks, the trees and flowers changing from day to day. The entire view imparts delight to their minds in a general way, and the variations in detail continually renew the delight; and as everything there corresponds to something Divine, and they are skilled in the knowledge of correspondences, they are constantly filled with new knowledges, and by these their spiritual rational faculty is perfected. Their delights are such because gardens, flower beds, grass plots, and trees correspond to sciences, knowledges, and the resulting intelligence.{2}

[5] Those that have ascribed all things to the Divine, regarding nature as relatively dead and merely subservient to things spiritual, and have confirmed themselves in this view, are in heavenly light; and all things that appear before their eyes are made by that light transparent, and in their transparency exhibit innumerable variegations of light, which their internal sight takes in as it were directly, and from this they perceive interior delights. The things seen within their houses are as if made of diamonds, with similar variegations of light. The walls of their houses, as already said, are like crystal, and thus also transparent; and in them seemingly flowing forms representative of heavenly things are seen also with unceasing variety, and this because such transparency corresponds to the understanding when it has been enlightened by the Lord and when the shadows that arise from a belief in and love for natural things have been removed. With reference to such things and infinite others, it is said by those that have been in heaven that they have seen what eye has never seen; and from a perception of Divine things communicated to them by those who are there, that they have heard what ear has never heard.

[6] Those that have not acted in secret ways, but have been willing to have all that they have thought made known so far as civil life would permit, because their thoughts have all been in accord with what is honest and just from the Divine-these in heaven have faces full of light; and in that light every least affection and thought is seen in the face as in its form, and in their speech and actions they are like images of their affections. Such, therefore, are more loved than others. While they are speaking the face becomes a little obscured; but as soon as they have spoken, the things they have said become plainly manifest all at once in the face. And as all the objects that exist round about them correspond to their interiors, these assume such an appearance that others can clearly perceive what they represent and signify. Spirits that have found delight in clandestine acts, when they see such at a distance flee from them, and appear to themselves to creep away from them like serpents.

[7] Those that have regarded adulteries as abominable, and have lived in a chaste love of marriage, are more than all others in the order and form of heaven, and therefore in all beauty, and continue unceasingly in the flower of youth. The delights of their love are ineffable, and increase to eternity; for all the delights and joys of heaven flow into that love, because that love descends from the conjunction of the Lord with heaven and with the church, and in general from the conjunction of good and truth, which conjunction is heaven itself in general, and with each angel in particular (see above, n. 366-386). What their outward delights are it is impossible to describe in human words.  These are only a few of the things that have been told me about the correspondences of the delights of those that are in heavenly love. [HH489]

All this makes evident that everyone’s delights are changed after death into their correspondences, while the love itself continues to eternity. This is true of marriage love, of the love of justice, honesty, goodness and truth, the love of sciences and of knowledges, the love of intelligence and wisdom, and the rest. From these loves delights flow like streams from their fountain; and these continue; but when raised from natural to spiritual delights they are exalted to a higher degree. [HH490]

And I saw the dead small and great standing before God, signifies all who had died from the earth, and were now among those who were in the world of spirits, of whatever condition and quality, gathered together by the Lord for judgment. By "the dead" are signified all who had departed from the earth, or who were dead as to the body, concerning whom more will be said below; by "small and great" are signified of every condition and quality (as at n. 604); by "standing before God," that is, before Him who sat upon the throne, is signified to be present and gathered together to judgment. By "the dead" in the Word the same thing is signified as by deaths, and "deaths" signify various things; for "death" not only signifies the extinction of natural life or decease, but also the extinction of spiritual life, which is damnation; by "death" is also signified the extinction of the loves of the body or the lusts of the flesh, after which there is a renewal of life; in like manner by "death" is signified resurrection, because man rises again immediately after death; by "death" is also signified neglect, non-acknowledgment, and rejection by the world, but in the most general sense by "death" the same is signified as by "the Devil," wherefore also the Devil is called "death," and by "the Devil" is meant hell where they are who are called devils, hence also by "death" the evil of the will is meant which causes man to be a devil. "Death" is used in this last sense in the next verse, where it is said that "death and hell gave up their dead," and that "they were cast into the lake of fire." From these things it may appear who are meant by "the dead" in the variety of senses; here are signified all those who had departed out of the world, or who had died from the earth, and were then in the world of spirits.

[2] It is said in the world of spirits, because all come into that world immediately after their decease, and are there prepared, the good for heaven, and the evil for hell; and some stay there only a month or a year, and others from ten to thirty years; and they to whom it was granted to make as it were heavens to themselves, several centuries; but at this day not longer than twenty years. There is there a vast multitude, and societies there as in the heavens and in the hells, concerning this world see above (n. 784, 791). Upon those who were in that world, the Last Judgment was executed, and not upon those who were in heaven, nor upon those who were in hell; for they who were in heaven were saved before, and they who were in hell were condemned before. From these considerations it may be seen, how much they are deceived who believe that the Last Judgment is to take place upon earth, and that then men are to rise again as to their bodies, for all who have lived from the first creation of the world are together in the spiritual world; and all are clothed with a spiritual body, which before the eyes of those who are spiritual appear as men in a similar form, just as they who are in the natural world appear before the eyes of those who are natural. [AC866]

To these I will add this Relation. All who are prepared for heaven, which is effected in the world of spirits, which is in the midst between heaven and hell, after a certain time, desire heaven with a certain longing, and presently their eyes are opened, and they see a way which leads to some society in heaven. They enter this way and ascend, and in the ascent there is a gate, and a keeper there. The keeper opens the gate, and thus they go in. Then an examiner meets them, who tells them from the governor, that they may enter in still further, and inquire whether there are any houses which they can recognize as their own, for there is a new house for every novitiate angel; and if they find any, they give notice of it and remain there. But if they do not find any, they come back and say they have not seen any. And then they are examined by a certain wise one there, to discover whether the light that is in them agrees with the light of that society, and especially whether the heat does; for the light of heaven in its essence is Divine truth, and the heat of heaven in its essence is Divine good, both proceeding from the Lord as the sun there. If any other light and any other heat than the light and heat of that society is in them, they are not received; that is, if any other truth and any other good is in them. Therefore, they depart thence, and go in the ways which are opened among the societies in heaven, and this till they find a society which agrees in every respect with their affections, and here they take up their abode to eternity. For they are here among their like, as among relations and friends whom, because they are in a similar affection, they love from the heart and there they are in the enjoyment of their life, and in a fullness of bosom delight derived from peace of soul; for there is in the heat and light of heaven an ineffable delight, which is communicated. Such is the case with those who become angels.

[2] But they who are in evils and falsities may, by leave given to them, ascend into heaven; but when they enter, they begin to draw their breath or to respire with difficulty, and presently their sight is obscured, their understanding is darkened, and thought ceases, and death seems present before their eyes, and thus they stand like a stock. And then they begin to have a beating at the heart, and a straitness over the breast, the mind is seized with anguish, and they become more and more tormented, and in that state writhe themselves about like a serpent laid before the fire; therefore, they roll themselves away, and cast themselves headlong down a precipice which then appears to them; nor do they rest till they are in hell among their like, where they can respire, and their heart can vibrate freely. Afterwards they hate heaven, and reject truth, and in heart blaspheme the Lord, believing that their tortures and torments in heaven proceeded from him.

[3] From these few things it may be seen what their lot is who make no account of truths, which yet make the light in which the angels of heaven dwell, and who make no account of goods, which yet make the heat in which the angels of heaven are. From these things it may appear how much they are in error, who believe that everyone may enjoy heavenly beatitude by mere admission into heaven. For the faith at this day is, that heaven is received from mercy alone; and that reception into heaven is like being admitted, in this world, into a house where there is a marriage, and then at the same time into the joy and gladness. But let them know, that there is a communication of affections in the spiritual world, man being then a spirit, and the life of a spirit is affection, from which, and according to which, is thought; and that homogeneous affection conjoins and heterogeneous affection disjoins, and that heterogeneity would torment a devil in heaven, and an angel in hell. For which reason they are separated exactly according to the diversities, varieties, and differences of the affections which are of love.

[4] It was granted me to see upwards of three hundred of the clergy of the Reformed world, all men of learning, who knew how to confirm the doctrine of faith alone even to justification, and some of them still further. And because there prevailed a belief among them also, that heaven consists only in admission by favor, leave was given them to ascend to a society in heaven, though not one of the higher ones. And as they ascended together, they appeared at a distance like calves. And when they entered into heaven they were received with civility by the angels, but when they discoursed with them, they were seized with trembling, afterwards with horror, and lastly with the agonies as it were of death, and then they cast themselves down headlong, and in their descent they appeared like dead horses. The reason of their appearing like calves as they ascended, was, because from correspondence the natural affection of seeing and knowing appears gamboling like a calf; and the reason why they appeared like dead horses as they fell, was, because from correspondence the understanding of truth from the Word appears like a horse, and the non-understanding of truth in the Word, like a dead horse.

[5] There were boys below, who saw them falling, to whom in their descent they seemed like dead horses. And then they turned away their faces, and said to their master, who was with them, "What is this portent? We beheld men and now instead of them there are dead horses, the sight of which we could not bear, and we therefore turned away our faces. Master, let us not stay in this place, but let us go away:" and they departed. The master then instructed them in the way what "a dead horse" is, saying, "'A horse' signifies the understanding of the Word; all the horses which you saw, signified that; for when a man goes meditating from the Word, then his meditation, at a distance, appears as a horse, noble and lively, as he meditates spiritually on the Word, and, on the contrary, poor and dead, as he meditates materially."

[6] The boys then asked, "What is it to meditate on the Word spiritually and materially?" And the master replied, "I will illustrate it by examples. Who, when he reads the Word, does not think of God, his neighbor, and heaven?
Everyone who thinks of God only from Person, and not from Essence, thinks materially; also he who thinks of the neighbor only from form, and not from quality, thinks materially; and he who thinks of heaven only from place, and not from the love and wisdom which heaven is, he also thinks materially." But the boys said, "We have thought of God from Person, of the neighbor from form, that he is a man, and of heaven from place; did we therefore, when we were reading the Word, appear to anyone as dead horses?"

[7] The master said, "No, you are yet boys, and could not think otherwise; but I have perceived in you an affection of knowing and understanding, which, because it is spiritual, shows that you have also thought spiritually. But I will return to what I said at first, that he who thinks materially, when he reads the Word or is meditating from it, appears at a distance like a dead horse; but he who reads it spiritually, like a living horse; and that he thinks materially concerning God and the Trinity, who thinks of God only from Person, and not from essence. For there are many attributes of the Divine essence, such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, mercy, grace, eternity, and others; and there are attributes proceeding from the Divine essence, which are creation and preservation, salvation and redemption, enlightenment and instruction. Everyone who thinks of God only from person, makes three Gods, saying that one God is the Creator and Preserver, another the Saviour and Redeemer, and the third the Enlightener and Instructor. But everyone who thinks of God from essence, makes one God, saying, God created and preserves us, redeems and saves us, enlightens and instructs us.
"This is the reason why they who think of the Trinity in God from Person, and thus materially, cannot, from the ideas of their thought, which are material, do otherwise than out of one God make three; but yet, contrary to their thought, they are held to saying, that in each there is a communion of all the attributes, and this solely because they have also thought of God obscurely from essence. Therefore, my pupils, think of God from His essence, and from that of His Person, and not from His Person, and from this of His essence, for to think of His essence from Person, is to think materially of His essence also; but to think of His Person from essence, is to think spiritually even of His Person. The ancient Gentiles, because as they thought materially of God, and also of the attributes of God, not only imagined three gods, but many even to the number of a hundred. Know then that the material does not flow into the spiritual, but the spiritual into the material. It is similar with the thought of the neighbor from form, and not from his quality, and with the thought of heaven from place, and not from the love and wisdom which heaven is. It is similar with each and everything in the Word. Therefore, he who cherishes a material idea of God, and likewise of the neighbor and of heaven, cannot understand anything there. The Word is to him a dead letter, and he himself, when he reads it or meditates on it, appears at a distance as a dead horse.

[8] "They whom you saw falling from heaven, and who appeared in your sight like dead horses, were such as had closed the rational sight in themselves and others by this peculiar dogma, that the understanding is to be kept in subjection to their faith; not considering that the understanding, when closed by religion, is as blind as a mole, and there is mere thick darkness in it, and such thick darkness as rejects from itself all spiritual light, opposes its influx from the Lord and from heaven, and sets up a barrier against it in the sensual corporeal part, far below the rational in matters of faith, that is, places it near the nose, and fixes it in its cartilage, on which account they cannot afterwards so much as scent spiritual things; whence some have become such that when they sensate the odor from spiritual things they fall into a swoon; by odor I mean perception. These are they who make God three. They say indeed from essence that God is one; but yet when they pray from their faith, which is that "God the Father would have mercy for the sake of the Son and send the Holy Spirit," they evidently make three Gods. They cannot do otherwise, for they pray to one to have mercy for the sake of another, and send a third." And then their master taught them concerning the Lord, that He is the one God, in whom is the Divine Trinity. [AR 611]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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