We might gather that they are like this when they arrive in the spiritual world after death simply from the fact that at that point everything in their natural memory becomes dormant, everything that is directly united to their physical senses, like the academic disciplines we listed just above. All that remain are the rational abilities that now serve as a basis for thinking and talking. We actually take with us our entire natural memory, but its contents are not open to our inspection and do not enter into our thought as when we were living in this world. We cannot retrieve anything from it and present it to spiritual light because the contents are not matters of that light. However, the rational or cognitive abilities we acquired through the arts and sciences while living in the flesh do square with the light of the spiritual world. So to the extent that our spirit has become rational by means of our insights and learning in this world, we are rational after our departure from the body. For then we are spirits, and it is the spirit that thinks within the body.
It is different for people who have acquired intelligence and wisdom by means of their insights and information, people who have applied everything to the service of their lives and have at the same time acknowledged the Divine Being, loved the Word, and led a life both spiritual and moral (as described above in Section 319). For them, learning served as a means to being wise and for substantiating matters of faith. The deeper levels of their minds are perceived and even seen as transparent to the light, with a bright color, fiery or azure, like that of clear diamonds or rubies or sapphires, depending on the support they derived, from their learning, for the Divine and for divine truths. True intelligence and wisdom look like this when they are presented visually in the spiritual world. This comes from heaven’s light, which is divine truth emanating from the Lord, the source of all intelligence and wisdom (see above, Sections 126–133).
The focal planes of this light in which the shadings stand forth like colors are the deeper levels of the mind; and it is the validations of divine truths through what we find in nature—that is, by learning—that produce these shadings. Actually, our inner mind probes the material in our natural memory and uses the fire of heavenly love to refine (so to speak) the things there that support it, to draw them off and purify them to the point that they become spiritual concepts. We are not aware that this is going on as long as we are in our physical bodies because in this state, though we are thinking both spiritually and naturally, we still do not notice what we are thinking spiritually but only what we are thinking naturally. However, once we have arrived in the spiritual world we are not aware of what we once thought naturally, in this world, only what we were thinking spiritually. This is how our state changes.
We can see from this that we become spiritual by means of our insights and learning and that these are means of becoming wise only for people who acknowledge the Divine Being in both faith and life. These people are received into heaven before others and live there with the ones who are in the center (Section 43) because they are in more light than others. In heaven they are the intelligent and wise ones who shine like the radiance of the firmament and gleam like stars. The simple people there, though, are the ones who have acknowledged the Divine Being and have loved the Word and led a spiritual moral life, but who have not developed the deeper levels of their minds through insights and learning in the same way. The human mind is like soil whose quality depends on the way it is tilled.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 355, 356
Section 319: Published 7/18/2017
Sections 126-133: Published 11/22/2016-11/27/2016
Section 43: Published 5/7/2017