There were some spirits who while they were in the world had thought their way into the conviction that they would get into heaven and would be accepted before anyone else because they were well educated and knew a lot about the Word and the doctrine of the churches. They believed that they were wise, that they were the people meant by the prophecy in Daniel 12:3 that “they will shine like the glory of the firmament and like the stars.” However, they were examined to see whether their learning was lodged in their memories or in their life. The ones who had a real affection for truth—that is, for the sake of constructive acts apart from merely physical and worldly motives, acts that were essentially spiritual—once they had been instructed, were accepted into heaven. They were then granted knowledge of what does shine in heaven. It is the divine truth (which is heaven’s light there) in constructive living, this being the facet that receives that light and turns it into various kinds of radiance.
For others, though, the learning was lodged only in their memories. They had thereby acquired an ability to reason about truths and to prove the ones they accepted as fundamental, notions that looked true once they were proved, even though they were false. These people were not in heaven’s light at all, but were wrapped up in a faith based on the pride that characterizes so many people of like intelligence, a pride in being especially erudite and therefore destined for heaven where they will be waited on by angels. Because of all this, to extract them from their conceited faith, they were taken up to the first or outmost heaven to be admitted into one particular angelic community. Even as they were entering it, though, their sight began to darken at the inflow of heaven’s light. Then their intellects began to be confused, and eventually they began to labor for breath as though they were dying. Not only that, when they began to feel heaven’s warmth, which is heavenly love, they began to feel profound agonies. So they were expelled, and then were taught that knowledge does not make an angel, only the actual life that people have gained through their knowledge. This is because in and of itself, knowledge is outside of heaven; but a life gained through knowledge is inside heaven.
After spirits have been prepared for heaven in these learning sites (which does not take long, because they are surrounded by spiritual concepts that comprehend a great deal at once), they are dressed in angelic clothing, usually white as linen, taken to a path that leads up toward heaven, and turned over to guardian angels there. Then they are accepted by other angels and put in touch with their communities and with a host of blessings. The Lord then takes each angel to her or his community. This happens in various ways, sometimes with detours. No angel knows the paths along which they are taken, only the Lord. When they arrive at their own communities, their inner natures are opened, and since they are in harmony with the inner natures of the angels who are members of that community, they are recognized instantly and accepted with joy.
I should like to add here something remarkable about the paths that lead from these sites to heaven, the paths by which newly arrived angels are admitted. There are eight paths, two from each teaching site. One leads up toward the east and the other toward the west. People who are entering the Lord’s heavenly kingdom are admitted by the eastern path, while people who are entering the Lord’s spiritual kingdom are admitted by the western path.
The four paths that lead to the Lord’s heavenly kingdom are graced by olive trees and various fruit trees, while the ones that lead to the Lord’s spiritual kingdom are graced by grapevines and laurel. This is because of correspondence, since vines and laurel correspond to an affection for truth and its uses, while olive and fruit trees correspond to an affection for what is good and its uses.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 518-520