I need to mention how this happens. When we arrive in the other life, we are first taken up by angels who do everything for us and also tell us about the Lord, heaven, and angelic life and offer us lessons in what is good and true. However, if we as spirits are the kind of people who have been familiar with things like this in the world but have denied or rejected them at heart, then after some conversation we want to get away from them and try to leave. When the angels notice this, they leave us. After spending some time with various other people, we eventually take up with people who are devoted to similar evils (see above, Sections 445–452). When this happens, we are turning away from the Lord and turning our faces toward the hell we were united to in the world, where people live who are engaged in a similar love of evil.
We can see from this that the Lord is leading every spirit toward himself through angels and through an inflow from heaven, but that spirits who are absorbed in evil resist strenuously and virtually tear themselves away from the Lord. They are drawn by their evil—by hell, that is—as though it were a rope; and because they are drawn and want to follow because of their love of evil, it follows that they freely cast themselves into hell.
This is hard to believe in the world because of people’s notions about hell. In fact, it does not even look that way in the other life. It looks different for people who are outside of hell, though not to the people who are actually casting themselves in. They are entering voluntarily, and the ones who are doing so out of a burning desire for evil look as though they were diving in headfirst. This is why it looks as though they were being thrown into hell by divine power. There will be more on this below (see Section 574).
We can now see that the Lord does not throw anyone into hell. We throw ourselves in, not only while we are living in this world but after death as well, when we arrive among spirits.
from Heaven and Hell, Section 548
Sections 445-452: Published 5/12/2018-5/15/2018