Perception and Auras in the Other Life (Continued)

There was one person who in bodily life had viewed himself as greater and wiser than others, although in other respects he had been honorable enough, not holding other people in contempt on that account. Because he had been born to high position, however, he had developed an air of prestige and power.

As such he came to me and for a long time said nothing. I noticed, though, that he was surrounded by a kind of fog, which drifted out from him and started to envelop other spirits and then to distress them. Speaking to me from inside it, they said that they could not possibly stay there, that they were being robbed of all freedom, so that they did not dare to say anything. He too began to talk and addressed them, calling them his children and at various times instructing them, but always with the authority that he had acquired.

This experience showed me what an aura of personal power is like in the other world.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1507

Perception and Auras in the Other Life (Continued)

Let me relate several experiences illustrating the nature of auras.

A certain spirit I had known and talked to when he lived in his body later appeared many times in the company of evil spirits. Because he had a high opinion of himself, he had developed an air of superiority to others. And because he was like this, the other spirits suddenly fled, so that none but he could be seen. He then filled up his whole environment in all directions, and the atmosphere was one of concentration on himself. Soon afterward, abandoned by fellow members of his own community as well, he sank into another state. (Those in the other life who are deserted by the community in which they live seem to become half dead at first. At that point, the only thing that keeps them alive is the influence of heaven on their inward capacities.) Then he began to complain and to suffer.

Other spirits later told me that they could not stand to have him near, because he considered himself more important than anyone else. Eventually, having formed ties with a new community, he rose high up and consequently seemed to himself to be governing the universe all alone. (Those are the lengths to which self-love inflates our pride when left to itself.) Afterward he was thrown down among hellish spirits. Such is the lot that awaits those who consider themselves greater than others. More than any other love, self-love is opposed to mutual love, which is the life of heaven.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1506

Perception and Auras in the Other Life (Continued)

In the other life, as mentioned [Sections 1388, 1396], one individual recognizes another’s character as soon as that other approaches, even if she or he says nothing. This experience reveals the fact that our inward reaches are somehow active (although we are unaware of it) and that their activity enables others to perceive what kind of spirit we are. I was able to see the truth of this by observing that the aura of this activity not only radiates far and wide but sometimes (when the Lord allows) makes itself perceptible in various ways.

In addition, I learned how we acquire these auras, which become so tangible in the other world. To put it in comprehensible terms, take the example of people who have formed an opinion of themselves as superior to others. They eventually develop the habit and the instinct, so to speak, of focusing on themselves whenever they see other people or talk to them, wherever they go. They do so consciously at first and then unconsciously, so that they themselves become blind to it. Still, the habit governs every one of their gestures and words, just as it governs every one of their feelings and thoughts. This is something we are capable of noticing in others. Such a trait is what creates an aura in the next life, and others perceive the aura, but no more often than the Lord allows.

The same is true with other attitudes as well. As a result, there are as many auras as there are moods and combinations of mood, which are countless. Our aura is like an image of ourselves projected outside us. In fact it is an image of everything inside us. What presents itself to view or to perception in the world of spirits, however, is only a general approximation. In heaven, on the other hand, our character is recognized in a more specific way. No one but the Lord, though, knows what we are like down to the smallest details.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, sections 1504, 1505

Divine Worship in Heaven (Continued)

All preachers are from the Lord’s spiritual kingdom and none from his heavenly kingdom. The reason they are from the spiritual kingdom is that people there are attuned to truths that stem from what is good, and all preaching comes from truths. The reason none is from his heavenly kingdom is that the people there are attuned to the good of love, and see and grasp truths on this basis, but do not talk about them.

Even though the angels who are in the heavenly kingdom grasp and see truths, there are still sermons there because sermons are means of enlightenment in the truths that the angels already know and lead to further perfection by means of many things they have not known before. The moment they hear them, they acknowledge them and therefore grasp them. The truths they grasp they also love, and by living according to them they make them part of their life. They say that living by truths is loving the Lord.

All preachers are appointed by the Lord and therefore enjoy the gift of preaching. No one else is allowed to teach in church. They are called preachers rather than priests. The reason they are not called priests is that heaven’s priesthood is the heavenly kingdom, priesthood meaning the good of love for the Lord that characterizes the people in that kingdom. In contrast, heaven’s kingship is the spiritual kingdom, kingship meaning the truth from what is good that characterizes people in that kingdom (see above, Section 24).

All the doctrines that govern the preaching focus on life as their end, none on faith apart from life. The doctrine of the inmost heaven is more full of wisdom than that of the intermediate heaven, and this in turn is more full of intelligence than that of the outmost heaven. The doctrines are in fact suited to the grasp of the angels of each heaven.

The essential of all the doctrines is the recognition of the Lord’s divine human.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 225, 226, 227

Divine Worship in Heaven (Continued)

So that I could learn what their church services are like, I have occasionally been allowed to go in and hear sermons. The preacher in the pulpit is stationed in the east. Directly in front sit the people who are in greater light of wisdom than others, while to their right and left are the people in less light. The seating is laid out in a circular form so that everyone can be seen by the preacher. No one is off to the sides and out of the preacher’s sight. Newcomers stand by the door at the eastern end of the church to the left of the pulpit. No one is allowed to stand behind the pulpit; if anyone is there, the preacher loses the train of thought. The same thing happens if anyone in the congregation disagrees, so anyone who does is obliged to look away.

The sermons there are given with such wisdom that their earthly counterparts cannot be compared to them: people in the heavens actually experience a more inward light.

Churches in the spiritual kingdom seem to be made of stone, and those in the heavenly kingdom of wood. This is because stone corresponds to the truth that occupies people in the spiritual kingdom and wood to the good that occupies people in the heavenly kingdom. The buildings in this latter kingdom are not called “churches” but “houses of God.”

Buildings in the heavenly kingdom are devoid of splendor, but in the spiritual kingdom they are more or less ornate.

I also talked with one particular preacher about the holy state characteristic of people who are listening to preachers in church. He said that there is something reverent, devout, and holy in all of us depending on the deeper levels of our love and faith, since there is something holy within our love and faith because the Lord’s divine [presence] is there. He added that he did not know what anything holy was apart from these. Further, he said that when he thought about something externally holy apart from these, it might possibly be something that mimicked holiness in outer appearance, something acquired either by skill or by hypocrisy. A deceptive fire arising from love for oneself and the world would generate and present this kind of appearance.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 223, 224

Divine Worship in Heaven

OUTWARDLY, divine worship in the heavens is not unlike divine worship on earth, but inwardly it is different. People there too have doctrines and sermons and church buildings. The doctrines agree in essentials, but those in the higher heavens are of deeper wisdom than those of lower heavens. The sermons are in keeping with the doctrines; and just as they have homes and mansions (Sections 183–190), they also have church buildings where the instruction takes place.

The reason things like this exist in heaven is that angels are constantly being perfected in wisdom and love. They have volition and intellect just as we do, and their intellect, like their intentions, is by nature constantly striving toward perfection—their intellect by means of the truths that constitute intelligence and their intentions through the values that constitute love.

However, the essential divine worship in the heavens does not consist of going to church regularly and listening to sermons but of a life of love, thoughtfulness, and faith in keeping with doctrine. The sermons in church serve only as means of instruction in how to live.

I have talked about this with angels and have told them that people in this world believe that divine worship consists solely of going to church and listening to sermons, taking communion three or four times a year, and observing other rituals according to the church’s regulations, as well as making time for prayer and behaving devoutly. The angels have told me that these are outward matters that are worth doing but that they are ineffective unless there is something within from which they flow, and that this something within is a life according to the principles that doctrine teaches.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 221, 222

Representations and Appearances in Heaven (Continued)

By way of illustration, I should like to offer one instance of the way things look to angels because of correspondences. To angels who are focused on intelligence there appear gardens and parks full of all kinds of trees and flowers. The trees there are laid out in the loveliest designs, joined into vaulted arches offering spaces for entrance, and with promenades around them. All this is so beautiful as to defy description. People who are focused on intelligence stroll there picking the flowers and weaving garlands to grace babies with. There are kinds of tree and flower there never seen, not even possible, in our world. In the trees, too, there are fruits in keeping with the quality of the love these intelligent angels are absorbed in. They see such things because a garden and a park, and the fruit trees and flowers, correspond to intelligence and wisdom.

It is known on earth that things like this exist in the heavens, but it is known only to people who are engaged in what is good and who have not extinguished heaven’s light within themselves by natural light and its deceptiveness. When the subject is heaven, people actually think and say that things are there that ear has never heard, nor eye seen.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 176

Representations and Appearances in Heaven (Continued)

When I have been allowed to be in the company of angels, I have seen what was there exactly the way I see things in our world, so perceptibly that I did not know I was not in our world and in the court of some king here. I have also talked with angels just as one person here talks to another.

Since all the things that are responsive to angels’ deeper natures also portray them, they are called representations. Since they vary depending on the states of the deeper natures for angels, they are called appearances, even though the things that are visible to angels’ eyes in the heavens and are perceived by their other senses appear and are sensed just as vividly as things are for us on earth, in fact far more clearly, crisply, and perceptibly. The appearances that arise in heaven in this way are called real appearances because they do actually come into being. There are also unreal appearances, things that seem to be present but do not correspond to deeper realities. But more on this later.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 174, 175

Representations and Appearances in Heaven (Continued)

But even though the things that are seen in the heavens are largely similar to things on earth, they are not alike in essence. The things that exist in the heavens come from heaven’s sun, while earthly things come from our world’s sun. Things that arise from heaven’s sun are called spiritual, while things that arise from our world’s sun are called natural.

Things that arise in the heavens do not arise in the same way as things on earth. In the heavens, everything comes into being from the Lord in response to the deeper natures of the angels. Angels do in fact have more inward and more outward natures. Everything that is deeper within them has to do with love and faith, and therefore with their intending and discernment, since their intending and discernment are the vehicles of their love and faith. Their more outward natures, though, are perfectly responsive to their inner natures. This can be illustrated by what we have said above about heaven’s warmth and light, that angels have warmth in keeping with the quality of their love, and light in keeping with the quality of their wisdom. The same holds true for the other things that impinge on angels’ senses.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 172, 173

Representations and Appearances in Heaven

ANYONE who thinks solely from natural light cannot understand that anything in heaven is like anything in our world. This is because such people, on the basis of this light, have both thought and decided that angels are nothing but minds, and that minds are like ethereal breath. This would mean that angels did not have the senses we do, so they would not have eyes; and if they did not have eyes there would be no objects [of sight]. However, angels do have all the senses we do—far more delicate ones, in fact—and the light in which they see is far brighter than the light in which we see.

On angels being people in a most perfect form with the use of all their senses, see Sections 73–77 above; and on light in heaven being far brighter than the light in our world, see Sections 126–132.

There is no way to describe briefly how things look to angels in the heavens. To a considerable extent, they look like the things we see on earth, but they are more perfect in form and also more abundant.

We may conclude that there are things like this in the heavens because of what the prophets saw—for example what Ezekiel saw of the new temple and the new earth as described in chapters 40 to 48 [of his book], what Daniel describes in his chapters 7–12, what John saw as described from the first through the last chapter of Revelation, along with other visions presented in both the historical and the prophetic books of the Word.121 They saw things like this when heaven was opened to them, and heaven is said to be opened when our inner sight, the sight of our spirit, is opened. For the things that exist in heaven cannot be seen with our physical eyes, but only with the eyes of our spirit; and when it pleases the Lord, these are opened. At such times we are led out of the natural light that our physical senses are in and raised into the spiritual light in which we dwell because of our spirit. This is the light in which I have seen the things that exist in the heavens.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 170, 171