The Spiritual Life:

IV. Cleansing the Inside

It is acknowledged that man’s interior must be purified before the good that he does is good; for the Lord says,

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may be clean also” (Matt. xxiii. 26).

Man’s interior is purified only as he refrains from evils, in accordance with the commandments of the Decalogue. So long as man does not refrain from these evils and does not shun and turn away from them as sins, they constitute his interior, and are like an interposed veil or covering, and in heaven this appears like an eclipse by which the sun is obscured and light is intercepted; also like a fountain of pitch or of black water, from which nothing emanates but what is impure. That which emanates therefrom and that appears before the world as good is not good, because it is defiled by evils from within, for it is Pharisaic and hypocritical good. This good is good from man and is meritorious good. It is otherwise when evils have been removed by a life according to the commandments of the Decalogue.

Now since evils must be removed before goods can become good the Ten Commandments were the first of the Word, being promulgated from Mount Sinai before the Word was written by Moses and the prophets. And these do not set forth goods that must be done, but evils that must be shunned. For the same reason these commandments are the first things to be taught in the churches; for they are taught to boys and girls in order that man may begin his Christian life with them, and by no means forget them as he grows up; although he does so. The same is meant by these words in Isaiah:

“What is the multitude of sacrifices” to Me? Your meat offering, your incense, “your new moons, and your appointed feasts, My soul hateth. . . And when you multiply prayer I will not hear. . . Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil . . . . Then though your sins were as scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they were red as purple they shall be as wool” (i. 11-19).

“Sacrifices,” “meat offerings,” “incense,” “new moons,” and “feasts,” also “prayer,” mean all things of worship. That these are wholly evil and even abominable unless the interior is purified from evils is meant by “Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings, and cease to do evil.” That afterward they are all goods is meant by words that follow.

When man’s interior is purified from evils by his refraining from them and shunning them because they are sins, the internal which is above it, and which is called the spiritual internal, is opened. This communicates with heaven; consequently man is then admitted into heaven and is conjoined to the Lord.

There are two internals in man, one beneath and the other above. While man lives in the world he is in the internal which is beneath and from which he thinks, for it is natural. This may be called for the sake of distinction the interior. But the internal that is above is that into which man comes after death when he enters heaven. All angels of heaven are in this internal, for it is spiritual. This internal is opened to the man who shuns evils as sins; but it is kept closed to the man who does not shun evils as sins.

This internal is kept closed to the man who does not shun evils as sins, because the interior, that is, the natural internal, until man has been purified from sins, is hell; and so long as there is hell there heaven cannot be opened; but as soon as hell has been set aside it is opened. But let it be noted that in the measure in which the spiritual internal and heaven are opened to man, the natural internal is purified from the hell that is there. This is not done at once, but successively by degrees. All this makes clear that man from himself is hell, and that man is made a heaven by the Lord, consequently that he is snatched out of hell by the Lord, and raised up into heaven to the Lord, not without means but through means; and these means are the commandments just mentioned, by which the Lord leads him who wishes to be led.

When the spiritual internal is opened, and through it communication with heaven and conjunction with the Lord are granted, enlightenment takes place with man. He is enlightened especially when he reads the Word, because the Lord is in the Word, and the Word is Divine truth, and Divine truth is light to angels. Man is enlightened in the rational, for this directly underlies the spiritual internal, and receives light from heaven and transfers it into the natural when it is purified from evils, filling it with the knowledges of truth and good, and adapting to them the knowledges (scientiae) that are from world, for the sake of proof and agreement. Thus man has a rational, and thus he has an understanding. He who believes that man has a rational and an understanding before his natural has been purified from evils is deceived, for the understanding is seeing truths of the church from the light of heaven; and the light of heaven does not flow into those not purified. And as the understanding is perfected, the falsities of religion and of ignorance and all fallacies are dispersed.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God

The Spiritual Life:

III. Shunning Evils (Continued)

Man is placed in the middle between heaven and hell. Out of heaven goods unceasingly flow in, and out of hell evils unceasingly flow in; and as man is between he has freedom to think what is good or to think what is evil. This freedom the Lord never takes away from anyone, for it belongs to his life, and is the means of his reformation. So far, therefore, as man from this freedom has the thought and desire to shun evils because they are sins, and prays to the Lord for help, so far does the Lord take them away and give man the ability to refrain from them as if of himself, and then to shun them.

Everyone is able from natural freedom to shun these same evils because of their being contrary to human laws. This every citizen of a kingdom does who fears the penalties of the civil law, or the loss of life, reputation, honor, wealth, and thus of office, gain, and pleasures; even an evil man does this. And the life of such a man appears exactly the same in external form as the life of one who shuns these evils because they are contrary to the Divine laws; but in internal form it is wholly unlike it. The one acts from natural freedom only, which is from man; the other acts from spiritual freedom, which is from the Lord; both acting from freedom. When a man is able to shun these same evils from natural freedom, why is he not able to shun them from spiritual freedom, in which he is constantly held by the Lord, provided he thinks to will this because there is a heaven, a hell, a life after death, punishment and reward, and prays to the Lord for help?

Let it be noted, that every man when he is beginning the spiritual life because he wishes to be saved, fears sins on account of the punishments of hell, but afterward on account of the sin itself, because it is in itself abominable, and finally on account of the truth and good that he loves, thus for the Lord’s sake. For so far as anyone loves truth and good, thus the Lord, he so far turns away from what is contrary to these, which is evil. All this makes clear that he that believes in the Lord shuns evils as sins; and conversely, he that shuns evils as sins believes; consequently to shun evils as sins is the sign of faith.

But as all the evils into which man is born derive their roots from a love of ruling over others and from a love of possessing the goods of others, and all the delights of man’s own life flow forth from these two loves, and all evils are from them, so the loves and delights of these evils belong to man’s own life. And since evils belong to the life of man, it follows that man from himself can be no means refrain from them, for this would be from his own life to refrain from his own life.

An ability to refrain from them of the Lord is therefore provided, and that he may have this ability the freedom to think that which he wills and to pray to the Lord for help is granted him. He has this freedom because he is in the middle between heaven and hell, consequently between good and evil. And being in the middle he is in equilibrium; and he who is in equilibrium is able easily and as of his own accord to turn himself the one way or the other; and the more so because the Lord continually resists evils and repels them, and raises man up and draws him to Himself. And yet there is combat, because the evils which belong to man’s life are stirred up by the evils that unceasingly rise up from hell; and then man must fight against them, and, indeed, as if of himself. If he does not fight as if of himself the evils are not set aside.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God

The Spiritual Life:

III. Shunning Evils

In the previous chapter two things are said to be necessary that works may be good, namely, that the Divine of the Lord be acknowledged, and that the evils forbidden in the Decalogue be shunned as sins. The evils enumerated in the Decalogue include all the evils that can ever exist; therefore the Decalogue is called the ten commandments, because “ten” signifies all.

The first commandment, “Thou shalt not worship other gods,” includes not loving self and the world; for he that loves self and the world above all things worships other gods; for everyone’s god is that which he loves above all things.

The second commandment, “Thou shalt not profane the name of God,” includes not to despise the Word and doctrine from the Word, and thus the church, and not to reject these from the heart, for these are God’s “name.”

The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” included the shunning of frauds and unlawful gains, for these also are thefts.

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” includes having delight in adulteries and having no delight in marriages, and in particular cherishing filthy thoughts respecting such things as pertain to marriage, for these are adulteries.

The seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” includes not hating the neighbor nor loving revenge; for hatred and revenge breathe murder.

The eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” includes not to lie and blaspheme; for lies and blasphemies are false testimonies.

The ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house,” includes not wishing to possess or to divert to oneself the goods of others against their will.

The tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, his man-servants,” and so on, includes not wishing to rule over others and to subject them to oneself, for the things here enumerated mean the things that are man’s own.

Anyone can see that these eight commandments relate to evils that must be shunned, and not to goods that must be done.

But many, I know, think in their heart that no one can of himself shun these evils enumerated in the Decalogue, because man is born in sins and has therefore no power of himself to shun them. But let such know that anyone who thinks in his heart that there is a God, that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, that the Word is from Him, and is therefore holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death, has the ability to shun these evils. But he who despises these truths and casts them out of his mind, and still more he who denies them, is not able. For how can one who never thinks about God think that anything is a sin against God? And how can one who never thinks about heaven, hell, and the life after death, shun evils as sins?

Such a man does not know what sin is.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God

The Spiritual Life:

II. Goods of Charity

What is meant by goods of charity or good works is at this day unknown to most in the Christian world, because of the prevalence of the religion of faith alone, which is a faith separated from goods of charity. For if only faith contributes to salvation, and goods of charity contribute nothing, the idea that these goods may be left undone has place in the mind. But some who believe that good works should be done do not know what is meant by good works, thinking that good works are merely giving to the poor and doing good to the needy and to widows and orphans, since such things are mentioned and seemingly commanded in the Word. Some think that if good works must be done for the sake of eternal life they must give to the poor all they possess, as was done in the primitive church, and as the Lord commanded the rich man to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and take up the cross and follow Him (Matt. xix. 21).

It has just been said that at this day it is scarcely known what is meant by charity, and thus by good works, unless it be giving to the poor, enriching the needy, doing good to widows and orphans, and contributing to the building of churches and hospitals and lodging houses; and yet whether such works are done by man and for the sake of reward is not known; for if they are done by man they are not good, and if for the sake of reward they are not meritorious; and such works do not open heaven, and thus are not acknowledged as goods in heaven. In heaven no works are regarded as good except such as are done by the Lord in man, and yet the works that are done by the Lord in man appear in outward form like those done by the man himself and cannot be distinguished even by the man who does them. For the works done by the Lord in man are done by man as if by himself; and unless they are done as if by himself they do not conjoin man to the Lord, thus they do not reform him.

But for works to be done by the Lord, and not by man, two things are necessary: first, there must be an acknowledgment of the Lord’s Divine, also that He is the God of heaven and earth even in respect to the Human, also that every good that is good is from Him; and secondly, it is necessary that man live according to the commandments of the Decalogue, by abstaining from those evils that are there forbidden, that is, from worshipping other gods, from profaning the name of God, from thefts, from adulteries, from murders, from false witness, from coveting the possessions and property of others.

These two things are requisite that the works done by man may be good. The reason is that every good comes from the Lord alone, and the Lord cannot enter into man and lead him so long as these evils are not set aside as sins; for they are infernal, and in fact are hell with man, and unless hell is set aside the Lord cannot enter and open heaven. This is what is meant by the Lord’s words to the rich man: Who asked Him about eternal life, and said that he had kept the commandments of the Decalogue from his youth; whom the Lord is said to have loved, and to have taught that one thing was lacking to him, that he should sell all that he had and take up the cross (Matt. xix. 16-22; Mark x. 17-22; Luke xviii. 18-23). “To sell all that he had” signifies that he should relinquish the things of his religion, which were traditions, for he was a Jew, and also should relinquish the things that were his own, which were loving self and the world more than God, and thus leading himself; and “to follow the Lord” signifies to acknowledge Him only and to be led by Him; therefore the Lord also said, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but God only.” “To take up his cross” signifies to fight against evils and falsities, which are from what is one’s own (proprium).

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God

The Spiritual Life

1. How Spiritual Life is Acquired (Continued)

Consider, when a man thinks that the Lord suffered for our sins, that He took away the curse of the law, and that merely to believe these things, or to have faith in them without good works saves, whether this is not to regard as of little worth the commandments of the Decalogue, all the life of religion as prescribed in the Word, and furthermore all the truths that inculcate charity. Separate these, therefore, and take them away from man, and is there any religion left in him? For religion does not consist in merely thinking this or that, but in willing and doing that which is thought; and there is no religion when willing and doing are separated from thinking.

From this it follows that the faith of this day destroys spiritual life, which is the life of the angels of heaven, and is the Christian life itself. Consider further, why the ten commandments of the Decalogue were promulgated from Mount Sinai in so miraculous a way; why they were engraved on two tables of stone, and why these were placed in the ark, over which was placed the mercy-seat with cherubs, and the place where those commandments were was called the Holy of holies, within which Aaron was permitted to enter only once a year, and this with sacrifices and incense; and if he had entered without these, he would have fallen dead; also why so many miracles were afterward performed by means of that ark.

Have not all throughout the whole globe a knowledge of like commandments? Do not their civil laws prescribe the same? Who does not know from merely natural lumen, that for the sake of order in every kingdom, adultery, theft, murder, false witness, and other things in the Decalogue are forbidden? Why then must those same precepts have been promulgated by so many miracles, and regarded as so holy? Can there be any other reason than that everyone might do them from religion, and thus from God, and not merely from civil and moral law, and thus from self and for the sake of the world? Such was the reason for their promulgation from Mount Sinai and their holiness; for to do these commandments from religion purifies the internal man, opens heaven, admits the Lord, and makes man as to his spirit an angel of heaven. And this is why the nations outside the church who do these commandments from religion are all saved, but not anyone who does them merely from civil and moral law.

Inquire now whether the faith of this day, which is, that the Lord suffered for our sins, that he took away the curse of the law by fulfilling it, and that man is justified and saved by this faith apart from good works, does not cancel all these commandments. Look about and discover how many there are at this day in the Christian world who do not live according to this faith.

I know that they will answer that they are weak and imperfect men, born in sins, and the like. But who is not able to think from religion? This the Lord gives to everyone; and in him who thinks these things from religion the Lord works all things so far as he thinks. And be it known that he who thinks of these things from religion believes that there is a God, a heaven, a hell, and a life after death; but he who does not think of these things from religion does not, I affirm, believe them.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God

The Spiritual Life

1. How Spiritual Life is Acquired

Spiritual life is acquired solely by a life according to the commandments in the Word. These commandments are given in summary in the Decalogue, namely, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet the goods of others. These commandments are the commandments that are to be done, for when a man does these his works are good and his life is spiritual, and for the reason that so far as a man shuns evils and hates them so far he wills and loves goods.

For there are two opposite spheres that surround man, one from hell, the other from heaven; from hell a sphere of evil and falsity therefrom, from heaven a sphere of good and of truth therefrom; and these spheres do [not immediately] affect the body, but they affect the minds of men, for they are spiritual spheres, and thus are affections that belong to the love. In the midst of these man is set; therefore so far as he approaches the one, so far he withdraws from the other. This is why so far as a man shuns evils and hates them, so far he wills and loves goods and the truths therefrom; for no one can at the same time serve two masters, for he will hate the one and will love the other. (Matt. vi. 24).

But let it be noted, that man must do these commandments from religion, because they are commanded by the Lord; and if he does this from any other consideration whatever, for instance, from regard merely to the civil law or the moral law, he remains natural, and does not become spiritual. For when a man acts from religion, he acknowledges in heart that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. But when he acts from regard merely to the civil and moral law, he may act in the same way, and yet in heart may deny that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. And if he shuns evils and does goods, it is merely in the external form, and not in the internal; thus while he is outwardly in respect to the life of the body like a Christian, inwardly in respect to the life of his spirit he is like a devil. All this makes clear that a man can become spiritual, or receive spiritual life, in no other way than by a life according to religion from the Lord.

I have had proof that this is true from angels of the third or inmost heaven, who are in the greatest wisdom and happiness. When asked how they had become such angels, they said it was because during their life in the world they had regarded filthy thoughts as abominable, and these had been to them adulteries; and had regarded in like manner frauds and unlawful gains, which had been to them thefts; also hatreds and revenges, which had been to them murder; also lies and blasphemies, which had been to them false testimonies; and so with other things. When asked again whether they had done good works, they said they loved chastity, in which they were because they had regarded adulteries as abominable; that they loved sincerity and justice, in which they were because they had regarded frauds and unlawful gains as abominable; that they loved the neighbor because they had regarded hatreds and revenges as abominable; that they loved truth because they had regarded lies and blasphemies as abominable, and so on; and that they perceived that when these evils have been put away, and they acted from chastity, sincerity, justice, charity and truth, it was not done from themselves, but from the Lord, and thus that all things whatsoever that they had done from these were good works, although they had done them as if from themselves; and that it was on this account that they had been raised up by the Lord after death into the third heaven. Thus it was made clear how spiritual life, which is the life of the angels of heaven, is acquired.

It shall now be told how that life is destroyed by the faith of the present day. The faith of this day is that it must be believed that God the Father sent His Son, who suffered the cross for our sins, and took away the curse of the law by fulfilling it; and that this faith apart from good works will save everyone, even in the last hour of death. By this faith instilled from childhood and afterward confirmed by preachings, it has come to pass that no one shuns evils from religion, but only from civil and moral law; thus not because they are sins but because they are damaging.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God


Some souls recently from the world who long to see the glory of the Lord before they are qualified to be admitted, are lulled in regard to the exterior senses and lower faculties in a kind of sweet sleep, and then their interior senses and faculties are aroused into a high degree of wakefulness, and thereby they are admitted into the glory of heaven, but when wakefulness is restored to their exterior senses and faculties, they return into their former state.

Evil spirits most vehemently desire and burn to infest and attack man when he is sleeping, but man is then especially guarded by the Lord, for love does not sleep. The spirits who infest are miserably punished. I have heard their punishments oftener than I can tell; they consist in rendings, under the heel of the left foot, and this sometimes for hours together.

Sirens, who are interior enchantresses, are they who are especially insidious in the night time, and then try to insinuate themselves into a man’s interior thoughts and affections, but are as often driven away by the Lord by means of angels, and are at last deterred by the severest punishments. They have also spoken with others in the night time, exactly as if they spoke from me, and as it were with my speech, so like that it could not be distinguished, pouring in filthy things, and persuading false ones.

I was once in a very sweet sleep, in which I had nothing but soft repose. When I awoke, some good spirits began to chide me for having (as they said) infested them so atrociously that they supposed they were in hell-throwing the blame upon me. I answered them that I knew nothing whatever about the matter, but had been sleeping most quietly, so that by no possibility could I have been troublesome to them. Astonished at this, they at last had a perception that it had been done by the magic arts of sirens. The like was also shown afterwards, in order that I might know the quality of the crew of sirens.

They are chiefly of the female sex, who in the life of the body had studied to allure male companions to themselves by interior artifices; insinuating themselves by means of outward things, captivating their lower minds in every possible way, entering into each one’s affections and delights, but with an evil end, especially that of exercising command. Hence they have such a nature in the other life that they seem able of themselves to do all things, imbibing and inventing various arts, which they absorb as easily as sponges do waters, whether clean or filthy. So do they imbibe and put into act things profane as well as holy, with the end, as before said, of exercising command. It has been granted me to perceive their interiors, and to see how foul they are, being defiled by adulteries and hatreds. It has also been granted me to perceive how powerful in its effects is their sphere. They reduce their interiors into a state of persuasion, in order that these may conspire with their exteriors toward such things as they intend. They thus compel and violently draw spirits to think exactly as they do.

No reasonings appear in connection with them, but they make use of a kind of simultaneous rush of reasonings that are breathed into the person’s evil affections and so they work by applying themselves to the natural inclinations, and thereby they get into the lower minds of others, whom they lead on, and by persuasion either overwhelm or captivate them. They study nothing more than to destroy the conscience, and when it is destroyed they get possession of men’s interiors, and even obsess the men, although these are ignorant of it.

At this day there are not as formerly external obsessions, but there are internal ones, by spirits of this class. They who have no conscience have become obsessed in this way. The interiors of their thoughts are insane in a manner not unlike this, but are concealed and veiled over by an external decorum and a pretended honorableness, for the sake of their own honor, gain, and reputation. And this such men may know, if they pay attention to their thoughts.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 1982-1983


Moreover there are other spirits, who belong to the province of the left side of the chest, by whom they are often interfered with; as well as by others whom they disregard.

After such dreams I have very frequently been permitted to speak with the spirits and angels who had introduced them; and they told what they had introduced, and I what I had seen. But it would be too tedious to relate all my experience of these matters.

It is worthy of mention that when after waking I related what I had seen in a dream, and this in a long series, certain angelic spirits (not of those spoken of above) then said that what I related wholly coincided, and was identical, with the subjects they had been conversing about, and that there was absolutely no difference; but still that they were not the very things they had discoursed about, but were representatives of the same things, into which their ideas were thus turned and changed in the world of spirits; for in the world of spirits the ideas of the angels are turned into representatives; and therefore each and all things they had conversed about were so represented in the dream.

They said, further, that the same discourse could be turned into other representatives, nay, into both similar and dissimilar ones, with unlimited variety. The reason they were turned into such as have been described, was that it took place in accordance with the state of the spirits around me, and thus in accordance with my own state at the time. In a word, very many dissimilar dreams might come down and be presented from the same discourse, and thus from one origin; because, as has been said, the things that are in a man’s memory and affection are recipient vessels, in which ideas are varied and received representatively in accordance with their variations of form and changes of state.

I may relate one more instance of a similar kind. I dreamed a dream, but a common one. When I awoke, I related it all from beginning to end. The angels said that it coincided exactly with what they had spoken of together; not that the things seen in the dream were the same, for they were wholly different, being things into which the thoughts of their conversation were turned, but in such a way that they were representative and correspondent; and this in every particular, so that nothing was wanting.

I then spoke with them about influx, as to how such things flow in and are varied. There was a person of whom I had the idea that he was in natural truth, which idea I had gathered from the acts of his life. There was a conversation among the angels about natural truth, and on this account that person was represented to me; and the things he said to me, and did, in my dream, followed in order representatively and correspondently from the discourse of the angels with one another. But still there was nothing precisely alike, or the same.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 1978-1981


As regards dreams, it is known that the Lord revealed the arcana of heaven to the prophets, not only by visions, but also by dreams, and that the dreams were as fully representative and significative as the visions, being almost of the same class; and that to others also as well as the prophets things to come were disclosed by dreams; as by the dreams of Joseph, and of those who were in prison with him, and by those of Pharaoh, of Nebuchadnezzar, and others, from which it may be seen that dreams of this kind, equally with visions, flow in from heaven; with this difference, that dreams occur when the corporeal is asleep, and visions when it is not asleep. How prophetic dreams, and such as are found in the Word, flow in, nay, descend from heaven, has been shown me to the life; concerning which I may relate the following particulars, from experience.

There are three kinds of dreams. The first kind come from the Lord mediately through heaven; such were the prophetic dreams that are treated of in the Word. The second kind come through angelic spirits, especially those who are in front above at the right, where there are paradisal scenes; from this source the men of the Most Ancient Church had their dreams, which were instructive. The third kind come through the spirits who are near when man is sleeping, which are likewise significative. But fantastic dreams come from a different source.

In order that I might fully know how dreams flow in, I was put to sleep, and I dreamed that a ship came laden with delicacies and savory food of every kind. The things in the ship were not seen, but were stowed away. Upon the ship stood two armed guards, besides a third who was its captain. The ship passed into a kind of arched dock. So I awoke and thought about the dream. The angelic spirits, who were above in front to the right, then addressed me, and told me that they had introduced this dream; and in order that I might know with certainty that it was from them, I was put into a state as of sleep and at the same time of wakefulness; and they introduced in the same way various things that were pleasant and delightful; for instance, an unknown little animal which was dispersed in a likeness of blackish and shining rays, that darted with marvelous quickness into my left eye. They also presented men and also little children adorned in various ways; and other things besides, with inexpressible pleasantness, about which I also spoke with them. This was done, not once, but many times, and each time I was instructed by them with the living voice.

The angelic spirits who are at the entrance to the paradisal scenes, are they who insinuate such dreams; and to them is also intrusted the duty of watching over certain men when they sleep, lest they should then be infested by evil spirits. They perform this duty with the greatest delight, so that there is rivalry among them as to who shall be present, and they love to affect the man with the enjoyable and delightful things which they see in his affection and genius. They who have become angelic spirits are from those who in the life of the body had delighted and had loved in every way and with the utmost pains, to make the life of others delightful. When the hearing is opened sufficiently far, there is heard from them, as from a distance, a sweetly modulated sound, as it were of singing.

They said that they do not know whence such things, and representatives so beautiful and pleasant, come to them in a moment; but it was said that it was from heaven. They belong to the province of the cerebellum; for, as I have been informed, the cerebellum is awake in time of sleep, when the cerebrum sleeps. From this source the men of the Most Ancient Church had their dreams, together with a perception of what they signified; from whom in great part came the representatives and significatives of the ancients, under which were set forth things that are deeply hidden.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 1975-1977


To describe all the kinds of visions would be too tedious, for there are many.

For the sake of illustration, I may describe two visions, from which their character may be seen; and also at the same time how spirits are affected by the things which they see, and how evil spirits are tormented when the ability to see the things that others are seeing and hearing is stolen away from them, for they cannot bear to have any such thing taken away from them; for spirits have not the sense of taste, but in place of it they have a desire, or a kind of appetite, for knowing and learning. This is as it were their food by which they are nourished. The nature of their distress, therefore, when this food is taken away may be seen from the example that follows.

After a troubled sleep, about the first watch, a very pleasant sight was presented. There were wreaths as of laurel, quite fresh, in most beautiful order, with motion as if alive: of such form and elegance of arrangement that description fails to express their beauty and harmony, and the affection of bliss that flowed forth from them. They were in a double series, at a little distance from each other, and running on together to a considerable length, and constantly varying the state of their beauty. This was plainly seen by spirits, even by evil ones. This was afterwards followed by another sight still more beautiful, in which there was heavenly happiness, but it was only dimly visible: there were infants in their heavenly sports, that affected the mind in a manner inexpressible.

I afterwards spoke with spirits concerning these sights, who confessed that they saw the first as much as I did, but the second only so dimly that they could not tell what it was. This caused them to feel indignation, and afterwards by degrees envy, from the fact that it was said that angels and little children had seen it; and this envy of theirs it was given me to perceive sensibly, so that nothing escaped me so far as concerned my instruction. The envy was of such a nature as to cause in them not merely the utmost annoyance, but also a feeling of anguish and interior pain and this merely because they did not see the second vision also, and the consequence was that they were led through varieties of envy until they were in pain in the region of the heart.

While they were in this state I spoke with them about the envy, telling them that they might be content with having seen the first vision, and that they would have been able to see the second also if they had been good; but this excited in them a feeling of indignation which intensified their envy, causing it to increase further to such a degree that they could not afterwards bear the least recollection of the matter without being affected with pain. The states and progressions of the envy, together with its degrees, aggravations, and varied and mingled distresses of mind and heart, cannot be described. It was thus shown how much the wicked are tormented by envy merely, when they see from afar the blessedness of the good, and even when they merely think of it.

from Arcana Coelestia, Sections 1973-1974