Our Revival from the Dead and Entry into Eternal Life

When someone’s body can no longer perform its functions in the natural world in response to the thoughts and affections of its spirit (which it derives from the spiritual world), then we say that the individual has died. This happens when the lungs’ breathing and the heart’s systolic motion have ceased. The person, though, has not died at all. We are only separated from the physical nature that was useful to us in the world. The essential person is actually still alive. I say that the essential person is still alive because we are not people because of our bodies but because of our spirits. After all, it is the spirit within us that thinks, and thought and affection together make us the people we are.

We can see, then, that when we die we simply move from one world into another. This is why in the inner meaning of the Word, “death” means resurrection and a continuation of life.

The deepest communication of our spirit is with our breathing and our heartbeat; thought connects with our breathing, and affection, an attribute of love, with our heart. Consequently, when these two motions in the body cease, there is an immediate separation. It is these two motions, the respiratory motion of the lungs and the systolic motion of the heart, that are essential ties. Once they are severed, the spirit is left to itself; and the body, being now without the life of its spirit, cools and decays.

After this separation, our spirit stays in the body briefly, but not after the complete stoppage of the heart, which varies depending on the cause of death. In some cases the motion of the heart continues for quite a while, and in others it does not. The moment it does stop, we are awakened, but this is done by the Lord alone. “Being awakened” means having our spirit led out of our body and into the spiritual world, which is commonly called “resurrection.”

The reason our spirit is not separated from our body until the motion of the heart has stopped is that the heart answers to affection, an attribute of love, which is our essential life, since all of us derive our vital warmth from love. Consequently, as long as this union lasts there is a responsiveness, and therefore the life of the spirit is [still] in the body.

I have not only been told how the awakening happens, I have been shown by firsthand experience. The actual experience happened to me so that I could have a full knowledge of how it occurs.

I was brought into a state in which my physical senses were inoperative—very much, then, like the state of people who are dying. However, my deeper life and thought remained intact so that I could perceive and retain what was happening to me and what does happen to people who are being awakened from death. I noticed that my physical breathing was almost suspended, with a deeper breathing, a breathing of the spirit, continuing along with a very slight and silent physical one.

At first then a connection was established between my heartbeat and the heavenly kingdom, because that kingdom corresponds to the human heart. I also saw angels from that kingdom, some at a distance, but two sitting close to my head. The effect was to take away all my own affection but to leave me in possession of thought and perception. I remained in this state for several hours.

from Afterlife, Pages 6-8

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I may reveal what I have experienced for the past several years

Now that I may reveal what I have experienced for the past several years, I must begin with the circumstances of our resurrection, or the way in which we leave bodily life to enter eternal life.

To convince me that people live on after death, I was allowed to talk and spend time with many people known to me during their physical life, which I did, not just for a day or a week, but for months and almost as much as a year. Our interactions were the same as they had been in the world.

These acquaintances were positively astounded that while living the life of the body they had been (and many others still are) so skeptical—skeptical to the point that they did not believe they would continue to live after death. The truth, they found, is that little more than a day passes after the demise of the body before we enter the next life, since that life is a continuation of this.

However, the account of our resurrection would end up scattered and disconnected if it were mixed in with explanations of scriptural texts. So by the Lord’s divine mercy I will add it in a more orderly fashion at the beginning and end of each chapter in addition to making remarks along the way.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 70-71

Our Revival from the Dead and Entry into Eternal Life

WHEN someone’s body can no longer perform its functions in the natural world in response to the thoughts and affections of its spirit (which it derives from the spiritual world), then we say that the individual has died. This happens when the lungs’ breathing and the heart’s systolic motion have ceased. The person, though, has not died at all. We are only separated from the physical nature that was useful to us in the world. The essential person is actually still alive. I say that the essential person is still alive because we are not people because of our bodies but because of our spirits. After all, it is the spirit within us that thinks, and thought and affection together make us the people we are.

We can see, then, that when we die we simply move from one world into another. This is why in the inner meaning of the Word, “death” means resurrection and a continuation of life.

The deepest communication of our spirit is with our breathing and our heartbeat; thought connects with our breathing, and affection, an attribute of love, with our heart. Consequently, when these two motions in the body cease, there is an immediate separation. It is these two motions, the respiratory motion of the lungs and the systolic motion of the heart, that are essential ties. Once they are severed, the spirit is left to itself; and the body, being now without the life of its spirit, cools and decays.

The reason the deepest communication of our spirit is with our breathing and our heart is that all our vital processes depend on these, not only in a general way, but in every specific.

After this separation, our spirit stays in the body briefly, but not after the complete stoppage of the heart, which varies depending on the cause of death. In some cases the motion of the heart continues for quite a while, and in others it does not. The moment it does stop, we are awakened, but this is done by the Lord alone. “Being awakened” means having our spirit led out of our body and into the spiritual world, which is commonly called “resurrection.”

The reason our spirit is not separated from our body until the motion of the heart has stopped is that the heart answers to affection, an attribute of love, which is our essential life, since all of us derive our vital warmth from love. Consequently, as long as this union lasts there is a responsiveness, and therefore the life of the spirit is [still] in the body.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 445-447

Resurrection

We are created in such a way that as far as our inner being is concerned we cannot die. This is because we can believe in God and can also love God; so we can be joined to God by faith and love, and to be joined to God is to live forever.

Everyone who is born has this “inner being.” Our outer being is our inner being’s means of carrying out the intentions of its faith and love.

The inner being is what we call “the spirit,” and the outer being is what we call “the body.” The outer being, called the body, is adapted to functioning in an earthly world. It is cast off when we die. But the inner being, called the spirit, is adapted to functioning in a spiritual world. It does not die. If we have been a good person in this world, our inner being is then a good spirit and an angel; if we have been an evil person in this world, our inner being is then an evil spirit.

After the death of the body, our spirit has a human form that is visible in the spiritual world, just as it had a human form that was visible in this world. Our spirit enjoys the abilities to see, hear, speak, and have sensations, just as it did in this world, and is endowed with every faculty of thinking, willing, and doing, just as it was in this world. In a word, we are human beings in absolutely every respect, except that we are not clothed with the dense body we wore in this world. That we leave behind when we die, and we never put it back on.

This continuation of our life is what is meant by “the resurrection.” The reason people believe that they will not be resurrected until the Last Judgment, when the whole visible world is allegedly going to perish, is that they have not understood the Word. It is also because sense-oriented people locate life in the body and believe that unless their bodies are revived it will be all over for them.

Our life after death is the life of our love and our faith, so the kind of love and faith we have when we live in this world determines the kind of life that will be ours to eternity. It is a life of hell for people who have loved themselves and the world above all, but it is a life of heaven for people who have loved God above all and their neighbor as themselves. The latter are the ones who have faith; the former do not.

The life of heaven is what is called “eternal life.” The life of hell is what is called “spiritual death.”

The Word tells us that we live after death. It says, for example, that God is not the God of the dead but of the living (Matthew 22:32); that Lazarus was carried up into heaven after his death, but the rich man was cast down into hell (Luke 16:22, 23, and following); that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in heaven (Matthew 8:11; 22:31, 32; Luke 20:37, 38); and that Jesus said to the thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

from New Jerusalem, Sections 223-228