I have presented this to convince rational people that, seen in our own right, we are spirits, and that the physical nature appended to us so that we can function in the natural and material world is not the real person but only the tool of our spirit.
But some supporting instances from experience would be better, because rational arguments are beyond many people, and the ones who have convinced themselves of opposite opinions make these arguments grounds for their skepticism by arguing on the basis of sensory illusions.
People who have convinced themselves of an opposite opinion tend to think that animals live and sense just the way we do, so that they too have a spiritual nature like ours; yet this dies along with their bodies. However, the spiritual nature of animals is not the same as ours. We have an inmost nature that animals do not, a nature into which the Divine flows and which it raises toward itself, in this way uniting us to itself.
So we, unlike animals, can think about God and about divine matters of heaven and the church. We can love God because of these matters and by engaging with them; and can so be united to him; and anything that can be united to the Divine cannot be destroyed. Anything that cannot be united to the Divine, though, does disintegrate. In Section 39 above, I discussed this inmost that we have and animals do not. The reason for mentioning it again here is that it is important to dispel the illusions many people get from [believing that animals are just like humans], people who cannot draw rational conclusions about these subjects because they lack information or because their intellect is not open. What I said there was as follows:
I should like to disclose a particular secret about the angels of the three heavens that people have not been aware of until now because they have not understood the levels discussed in Section 38. It is this, that within every angel—and within every one of us here—there is a central or highest level, or a central and highest something, where the Lord’s divine life flows in first and most intimately. It is from this center that the Lord arranges the other, relatively internal aspects within us that follow in sequence according to the levels of the overall design. This central or highest level can be called the Lord’s gateway to angels or to us, his essential dwelling within us.
It is this central or highest level that makes us human and distinguishes us from the lower animals, since they do not have it. This is why we, unlike animals, can be raised up by the Lord toward himself, as far as all the deeper levels of our mind and character are concerned. This is why we can believe in him, be moved by love for him, and therefore see him. It is why we can receive intelligence and wisdom, and talk rationally. It is also why we live forever.
However, what is arranged and provided by the Lord at this center does not flow into the open perception of any angel, because it is higher than angelic thought, and surpasses angelic wisdom.
from Heaven and Hell, Section 435
Section 38: Published 7/6/2017