The only way to know the kinds and qualities of the spiritual pleasures into which natural pleasures turn after death is through a knowledge of correspondences. This teaches in general that there is nothing natural to which something spiritual does not answer, and it teaches specifically the identity and nature of whatever does so correspond. This means that people who are engaged in this knowledge can recognize and know their state after death provided they know their love and how it relates in its nature to the universally dominant love to which, as we have just stated, all loves go back.
However, people who are involved in self-love cannot know what their dominant love is because they love whatever is theirs and call their evils good. They also call false things true, the false notions that support them and that they use to rationalize their evils. If they were willing, though, they could still know [their dominant love] from other people who are wise, because these latter see what they themselves do not. This does not happen, though, in the case of people who are so enmeshed in their self-love that they have nothing but contempt for any teaching of the wise.
On the other hand, people who are in heavenly love do accept instruction and do see the evils into which they were born when they are led into them. They see them from truths because truths make evils obvious. Anyone can in fact see what is evil and the distortion it causes by seeing from the truth that arises from what is good; but no one can see what is good and true from an evil standpoint. This is because the false notions that arise from evil are darkness and correspond to it. So people who are caught up in false notions that arise from evil are like blind people who do not see things that are in the light, and they avoid them the way owls avoid daylight. On the other hand, the true perceptions that arise from good are light and correspond to light (see above, Sections 126–134). So people who are focused on the true perceptions that arise from good are sighted and open-eyed and can differentiate between things that are in light and shade.
I have been granted confirmation of this too by experience. The angels who are in the heavens both see and grasp the evil and false promptings that well up in them from time to time; and they can also see the evil and false promptings that engage the spirits in the world of spirits who are in touch with the hells, though the spirits themselves cannot see their own evil and false promptings. They do not grasp what the virtue of heavenly love is, what conscience is, what is honest and fair (except as it is to their own advantage), or what it means to be led by the Lord. They say these things do not exist and therefore make no difference whatever.
All this has been presented to encourage people to examine themselves and to identify their dominant love on the basis of their pleasures, so that according to their grasp of the knowledge of correspondences, they may know their state of life after death.
from Heaven and Hell, Section 487
Sections 126-134: Published 11/22/2016-11/28/2016