Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

A great deal of experience has also convinced me that after death we remain the same forever in regard to our volition or dominant love. I have been allowed to talk with some people who lived more than two thousand years ago, people whose lives are described in history books and are therefore familiar. I discovered that they were still the same, just as described, including the love that was the source and determinant of their lives.

There were others who had lived seventeen centuries ago, also known from history books, and some who had lived four centuries ago, some three, and so on, with whom I was also allowed to talk and to learn that the same affection still governed within them. The only difference was that the pleasures of their love had been changed into corresponding ones.

Angels have told me that the life of our dominant love never changes for anyone to all eternity because we are our love, so to change it in any spirit would be to take away and snuff out his or her life.

They have also told me that this is because after death we can no longer be reformed by being taught the way we could in this world, since the outmost level, made up of natural insights and affections, is then dormant and cannot be opened because it is not spiritual (see above, Section 464). The deeper functions of our mind or spirit rest on this level the way a house rests on its foundation, which is why we do stay forever like the life of our love in the world. Angels are utterly amazed that people do not realize that our nature is determined by the nature of our dominant love and that many people actually believe they can be saved by instantaneous mercy, simply on the basis of their faith alone, regardless of the kind of life they have led, not realizing that divine mercy operates through means. The means involve being led by the Lord in the world as well as afterward in heaven, and the people who are led by mercy are the ones who do not live in evil. People do not even know that faith is an affection for what is true, an affection that comes from a heavenly love that comes from the Lord.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 480


Section 464: Published 8/2/2018


Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

A great deal of my experience has testified to the fact that we are our love or intention after death. All heaven is differentiated into communities on the basis of differences in the quality of love, and every spirit who is raised up into heaven and becomes an angel is taken to the community where her or his love is. When we arrive there we feel as though we are in our own element, at home, back to our birthplace, so to speak. Angels sense this and associate there with kindred spirits. When they leave and go somewhere else, they feel a constant pull, a longing to go back to their kindred and therefore to their dominant love. This is how people gather together in heaven. The same applies in hell. There too, people associate according to loves that oppose heavenly ones. On the fact that both heaven and hell are made up of communities and that they are all differentiated according to differences of love, see Sections 41–50 and 200–212 above.

We may also gather that we are our love after death from the fact that anything that does not agree with our dominant love is then removed and apparently taken away from us. For good people, what is removed and apparently taken away is everything that disagrees and conflicts, with the result that they are admitted to their love. It is much the same for evil people, except that what is taken away from them is everything true, while for good people everything false is taken away. Either way, the result is that ultimately everyone becomes his or her own love. This happens when we are brought into our third state, which will be discussed below. Once this has happened, we constantly turn our faces toward our love and have it constantly before our eyes no matter which way we face (see above, Sections 123–124).

All spirits can be led wherever you want as long as they are kept in their dominant love. They cannot resist even though they know what is happening and think that they will refuse. Spirits have often tried to do something in opposition, but without success. Their love is like a chain or rope tied around them, with which they can be pulled and which they cannot escape. It is the same for people in this world. Our love leads us as well, and it is through our love that we are led by others. It is even more so when we become spirits, though, because then we are not allowed to present a different love or pretend to a love that is not ours.

It is obvious in every gathering in the other life that our spirit is our dominant love. To the extent that we act and talk in keeping with someone else’s love, that individual looks whole, with a face that is whole, cheerful, and lively. To the extent that we act and talk against someone else’s dominant love, though, that individual’s face begins to change, to dim, and to be hard to see. Eventually it disappears as though it were not even there. I have often been amazed at this because this kind of thing cannot happen in the world. However, I have been told that the same thing happens to the spirit within us, in that when we turn our attention away from someone, that individual is no longer in our sight.

I have also seen that our spirit is our dominant love from the fact that every spirit seizes and claims whatever suits his or her love and rejects and repels whatever does not suit it. Our love is like a spongy, porous wood that absorbs whatever liquids prompt its growth, and repels others. It is like animals of various kinds. They recognize their proper foods, seek out the ones that suit their natures, and avoid the ones that disagree. Every love actually wants to be nourished by what is appropriate to it—an evil love by falsities and a good love by truths. I have occasionally been allowed to see that some particular simple and good people wanted to teach evil people things that were true and good. Faced with this teaching, though, the evil people fled far away; and when they reached their own kind, they seized on whatever falsities suited their love with great delight. I have also been allowed to see good spirits talking with each other about truths, which other good spirits in attendance listened to eagerly, while some evil ones who were there paid no attention, as though they did not hear anything.

In the world of spirits you can see paths, some leading to heaven and some leading to hell, each one leading to some specific community. Good spirits travel only the paths that lead to heaven, and to the community engaged in their own quality of love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else. On the other hand, evil spirits travel only the paths that lead to hell and to that community there which is engaged in the evil of their own love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else; and if they do see them, they still do not want to follow them.

Paths like this in the spiritual world are “real appearances” that correspond to true and false [understandings]; so this is what “paths” in the Word mean.

These proofs from experience support what was said above on rational grounds, namely that after death we are our own love and our own intent. I say “intent” because for each of us, our intent is our love.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 479


Sections 41-50: Published 5/7/2017-5/10/2017

Sections 200-212: Heaven’s Form, Which Determines How People Associate
and Communicate: Not yet published

Sections 123-124: 11/20/2016-11/21/2016

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

There is a dominant love that remains with each of us after death and never changes to eternity. We all have many loves, but they all go back to our dominant love and form a single whole with it, or compose it in the aggregate. All the elements of our volition that agree with our dominant love are called loves because they are loved. There are deeper and more superficial loves, loves that are directly united and loves that are indirectly united; there are closer and more distant ones; there are loves that serve in various ways. Taken all together they make a kind of kingdom. They are actually arranged in this way within us even though we are utterly unaware of their arrangement. However, the arrangement becomes visible to some extent in the other life because the outreach of our thoughts and affections there depends on it. The outreach is into heavenly communities if our dominant love is made up of loves of heaven, but it is into hellish communities if our dominant love is made up of loves of hell.

On the outreach into communities of all the thought and affection of spirits and angels, see the previous chapters on the wisdom of heaven’s angels and on heaven’s form, which determines its gatherings and communications [Sections 265–275, 200–212].

What I have said so far, though, is addressed only to our rational thought. In order to present the matter to sensory observation, I should like to add some experiences that may serve to illustrate and support the claims that first, we are our love or intention after death; second, we remain the same forever in regard to our volition or dominant love; third, we come into heaven if our love is heavenly and spiritual, and into hell if our love is carnal and worldly without any heavenly and spiritual dimension; fourth, our faith does not stay with us unless it comes from a heavenly love; and fifth, love in action, and therefore our life, is what remains.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 477, 478


Sections 265-275: 10/18/2017-10/14/2017

Sections 200-212: Heaven’s Form, Which Determines How People Associate
and Communicate: Not yet published

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

We should realize as well that we present our whole person in our works and deeds and that our volition and thought, or the love and faith that are our inner constituents, are not complete until they are [embodied] in the deeds and works that are our outer constituents. These latter are in fact the outmost forms in which the former find definition; and without such definitions they are like undifferentiated things that do not yet have any real presence, things that are therefore not yet in us. To think and intend without acting when we can is like a flame sealed in a jar and stifled, or it is like seed sown in the sand that does not grow but dies along with its power to reproduce. Thinking and intending and doing, though, is like a flame that sheds its light and warmth all around, or like seed sown in the soil, that grows into a tree or a flower and becomes something. Anyone can see that intending and not acting when we can is not really intending, and loving and not doing good when we can is not really loving. It is only thinking that we intend and love; so it is a matter of isolated thought that disintegrates and vanishes. Love and intent are the very soul of the deed or work. It forms its own body in the honest and fair things that we do. This is the sole source of our spiritual body, the body of our spirit; that is, our spiritual body is formed entirely from what we have done out of love or intent (see above, Section 463). In a word, everything of our character and our spirit is [embodied] in our works or deeds.

We may gather from this what is meant by the life that stays with us after death. It is actually our love and our consequent faith, not only in theory but in act as well. So it is our deeds or works because these contain within themselves our whole love and faith.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 475, 476


Section 463: Published 8/1/2018

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

Since deeds and works are matters of intention and thought, they are also matters of love and faith to the point that their quality is the quality of their love and faith. That is, it amounts to the same thing whether you talk about our love or about our intentions, whether you talk about our established faith or about our thought, since what we love we also intend, and what we believe we also think. If we love what we believe, we intend it as well and do it to the extent that we can. Anyone can realize that love and faith dwell within our intentions and thought and not outside them, since intent is what is kindled by love and thought is what is enlightened in matters of faith. This means that only people who can think wisely are enlightened; and depending on their enlightenment they think what is true and intend what is true, they believe what is true and love what is true.

We do need to recognize, though, that volition makes us who we are. Thought does so only to the extent that it arises from our volition, while deeds and works come from both. Or in other words, love is what makes us who we are; faith does so only to the extent that it arises from love, and deeds and works come from both. It follows from this that love or intent is the actual person, for the things that come forth belong to the person they come forth from. To come forth is to be produced and presented in a form suited to observation and sight.

We may gather from this what faith is apart from love—no faith at all, only information with no spiritual life in it. The same holds true for deeds apart from love. They are not deeds or works of life at all, only deeds or works of death containing some semblance of life derived from a love of evil and a faith in what is false. This semblance of life is what we call spiritual death.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 473, 474

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World (Continued)

Works and deeds,” though, does not mean works and deeds solely the way they look in outward form. It also includes their deeper nature. Everyone knows, really, that all our deeds and works come from our intention and thought, for if they did not come from there they would be no more than motions like those of machines or robots. So a deed or work in its own right is simply an effect that derives its soul and life from our volition and thought, even to the point that it is volition and thought in effect, volition and thought in an outward form. It follows, then, that the quality of the volition and thought that cause the deed or work determines the quality of the deed or work. If the thought and intent are good, then the deeds and works are good; but if the thought and intent are evil, then the deeds and works are evil, even though they may look alike in outward form. A thousand people can behave alike—that is, can do the same thing, so much alike that in outward form one can hardly tell the difference. Yet each deed in its own right is unique because it comes from a different intent.

Take for example behaving honestly and fairly with an associate. One person can behave honestly and fairly with someone else in order to seem honest and fair for the sake of self and to gain respect; another person can do the same for the sake of worldly profit; a third for reward and credit; a fourth to curry friendship; a fifth out of fear of the law and loss of reputation and office; a sixth to enlist people in his or her cause, even if it is an evil one; a seventh in order to mislead; and others for still other reasons. But even though all of their deeds look good (for behaving honestly and fairly toward a colleague is good), still they are evil because they are not done for the sake of honesty and fairness, not because these qualities are loved, but for the sake of oneself and the world, because these are loved. The honesty and fairness are servants of this love, like the servants of a household whom their lord demeans and dismisses when they do not serve.

People behave honestly and fairly toward their colleagues in a similar outward form when they are acting from a love of what is honest and fair. Some of them do it because of the truth of faith, or obedience, because it is enjoined in the Word. Some of them do it for the sake of the goodness of faith or conscience, because they are moved by religious feeling. Some of them do it out of the good of thoughtfulness toward their neighbor, because one’s neighbor’s welfare is to be valued. Some of them do it out of the goodness of love for the Lord, because what is good should be done for its own sake; so too what is honest and fair should be done for the sake of honesty and fairness. They love these qualities because they come from the Lord, and because the divine nature that emanates from the Lord is within them. So if we see them in their true essence, they are divine. The deeds or works of these people are inwardly good, so they are outwardly good as well; for as already noted, the nature of deeds and works is entirely determined by the nature of the thought and intent from which they stem, and apart from such thought and intent they are not deeds and works but only lifeless motions.

We may gather from this what is meant by works and deeds in the Word.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 472

There Are Two Loves

There are two loves from which arises everything that is good and true, as though from their very wellsprings, and there are two loves from which arises everything that is evil and false. The two loves that are the source of everything good and true are love for the Lord and love for our neighbor, while the two loves that are the source of everything evil and false are love for ourselves and love for this world.

from Regeration

Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World

ANY Christian knows from the Word that our life is still with us after death, since it says in many places that we will be judged according to our deeds and works and rewarded accordingly. Further, anyone who thinks on the basis of what is good and from real truth cannot help but see that people who live well enter heaven and people who live evil lives enter hell. However, people who are intent on evil do not want to believe that their state after death depends on their life in the world. They think rather, especially when their health begins to fail, that heaven is granted to all on the basis of mercy alone no matter how people have lived, and that this depends on a faith that they keep separate from life.

It does say in many places in the Word that we will be judged and requited according to our deeds and works. I should like to cite a few passages here.

The Human-born One is to come in the glory of the Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his or her works. (Matthew 16:17 [16:27])

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Truly, says the spirit, so that they may rest from their labors, their works follow them. (Revelation 14:11 [14:13])

I will give to all according to their works. (Revelation 2:23)

I saw the dead, small and great, standing in the presence of God, and books were opened, and the dead were judged according to what was written in the books, according to their works; the sea gave up those who had died in it, and death and hell gave up the people who were in them, and they were all judged according to their works. (Revelation 20:13, 15 [20:12, 13])

See, I am coming; and my reward is with me, and I will give to all according to their works. (Revelation 22:12)

Everyone who hears my words and does them I will compare to a prudent person, but everyone who hears my words and does not do them is like a foolish person. (Matthew 7:24, 26)

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many people will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through your name, and through your name cast out demons, and in your name done many powerful deeds?” But then I will confess to them, “I do not recognize you. Get away from me, workers of iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22, 23)

Then you will begin to say, “We have eaten in your presence and drunk, and you have taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not recognize you, workers of iniquity.” (Luke 13:25–27)

I will repay them according to their work, and according to the deeds of their hands. (Jeremiah 25:14)

Jehovah, whose eyes are open upon all our paths, to give to us all I will visit upon their ways and repay them their works. (Hosea 4:9)

Jehovah deals with us according to our ways and according to our works. (Zechariah 1:6)

Where the Lord is predicting the Last Judgment, he recounts only deeds, and [says] that the people who have done good works will enter eternal life, and that the people who have done evil works will enter damnation (Matthew 25:32–46). There are many other passages as well that deal with our salvation and damnation.

We can see that our outward life consists of our works and deeds, and that the quality of our inner life is manifested through them.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 470, 471

Wise and Simple People in Heaven (Continued)

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

Wise and Simple People in Heaven (Continued)

I have been allowed to talk with many scholars after their departure from our world, with some who were quite renowned and celebrated throughout the learned world for their publications, as well as with some who were not so well known but who still had within themselves a hidden wisdom.

The ones who at heart denied the Deity, whether or not they acknowledged the Deity out loud, had become so stupid that they could scarcely understand any civic truth, let alone any spiritual truth. I could both comprehend and see that the inner levels of their minds were so shut off that they looked inky black (things like this are made visible in the spiritual world), and that this meant they could not bear any heavenly light or let in any inflow from heaven. The blackness that enveloped their deeper levels was greater and more extensive for people who had convinced themselves of their opposition to the Divine by means of their secular scholarship.

In the other life, people like this gladly accept anything false. They soak it up like a sponge soaking up water; and they repel anything true the way something bony and springy repels anything that falls on it. It is also said that if people convince themselves of their opposition to the Divine and their advocacy of nature, their deeper levels actually become bony. Their heads even look callused, as though they were made of ebony, and this reaches all the way to their noses, a sign that they no longer have any perception.

People like this are sunk in quagmires that look like swamps, where they are pestered by the hallucinations that their falsities turn into. Their hellfire is their craving for glory and fame, which leads them to denounce each other and to torment with hellish zeal anyone who does not worship them as gods. They do this to each other by turns. This is what becomes of all earthly learning that does not accept light from heaven into itself by our acknowledgment of the Divine.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 354