[Next Chapter] [Table of Contents] [Previous Chapter]

Chapter 51

The First State of Man After Death.

491. There are three states that man passes through after death before he enters either heaven or hell. The first state is the state of his exteriors, the second state the state of his interiors, and the third his state of preparation. These states man passes through in the world of spirits. There are some, however, that do not pass through them; but immediately after death are either taken up into heaven or cast into hell. Those that are immediately taken up into heaven are those that have been regenerated in the world and thereby prepared for heaven. Those that have been so regenerated and prepared that they need simply to cast off natural impurities with the body are at once taken up by the angels into heaven. I have seen them so taken up soon after the hour of death. On the other hand, those that have been inwardly wicked while maintaining an outward appearance of goodness, and have thus filled up the measure of their wickedness by artifices, using goodness as a means of deceiving -- these are at once cast into hell, I have seen some such cast into hell immediately after death, one of the most deceitful with his head downward and feet upward, and others in other ways. There are some that immediately after death are cast into caverns and are thus separated from those that are in the world of spirits, and are taken out from these and put back again by turns. They are such as have dealt wickedly with the neighbor under civil pretences. But all these are few in comparison with those that are retained in the world of spirits, and are there prepared in accordance with Divine order for heaven or for hell.

492. In regard to the first state, which is the state of the exteriors, it is that which man comes into immediately after death. Every man, as regards his spirit, has exteriors and interiors. The exteriors of the spirit are the means by which it adapts the man's body in the world, especially the face, speech, and movements, to fellowship with others; while the interiors of the spirit are what belong to its own will and consequent thought; and these are rarely manifested in face, speech, and movement. For man is accustomed from childhood to maintain a semblance of friendship, benevolence, and sincerity, and to conceal the thoughts of his own will, thereby living from habit a moral and civil life in externals, whatever he may be internally. As a result of this habit man scarcely knows what his interiors are, and gives little thought to them.

493. The first state of man after death resembles his state in the world, for he is then likewise in externals, having a like face, like speech, and a like disposition, thus a like moral and civil life; and in consequence he is made aware that he is not still in the world only by giving attention to what he encounters, and from his having been told by the angels when he was resuscitated that he had become a spirit (n. 450). Thus is one life continued into the other, and death is merely transition.

494. The state of man's spirit that immediately follows his life in the world being such, he is then recognized by his friends and by those he had known in the world; for this is something that spirits perceive not only from one's face and speech but also from the sphere of his life when they draw near. Whenever any one in the other life thinks about another he brings his face before him in thought, and at the same time many things of his life; and when he does this the other becomes present, as if be had been sent for or called. This is so in the spiritual world because thoughts there are shared, and there is no such space there as in the natural world (see above, n. 191-199). So all, as soon as they enter the other life, are recognized by their friends, their relatives, and those in any way known to them; and they talk with one another, and afterward associate in accordance with their friendships in the world. I have often heard that those that have come from the world were rejoiced at seeing their friends again, and that their friends in turn were rejoiced that they had come. Very commonly husband and wife come together and congratulate each other, and continue together, and this for a longer or shorter time according to their delight in living together in the world. But if they had not been united by a true marriage love, which is a conjunction of minds by heavenly love, after remaining together for a while they separate. Or if their minds had been discordant and were inwardly adverse, they break forth into open enmity, and sometimes into combat; nevertheless they are not separated until they enter the second state, which will be treated of presently.

495. As the life of spirits recently from the world is not unlike their life ill the natural world and as they know nothing about their state of life after death and nothing about heaven and hell except what they have learned from the sense of the letter of the Word and preaching from it, they are at first surprised to find themselves in a body and in every sense that they had in the world, and seeing like things; and they become eager to know what heaven is, what hell is, and where they are. Therefore their friends tell them about the conditions of eternal life, and take them about to various places and into various companies, and sometimes into cities, and into gardens and parks, showing them chiefly such magnificent things as delight the externals in which they are. They are then brought in turn into those notions about the state of their soul after death, and about heaven and hell, that they had entertained in the life of the body, even until they feel indignant at their total ignorance of such things, and at the ignorance of the church also. Nearly all are anxious to know whether they will get to heaven. Most of them believe that they will, because of their having lived in the world a moral and civil life, never considering that the bad and the good live a like life outwardly, alike doing good to others, attending public worship, hearing sermons, and praying; and wholly ignorant that external deeds and external acts of worship are of no avail, but only the internals from which the externals proceed. There is hardly one out of thousands who knows what internals are, and that it is in them that man must find heaven and the church. Still less is it known that outward acts are such as the intentions and thoughts are, and the love and faith in these from which they spring. And even when taught they fail to comprehend that thinking and willing are of any avail, but only speaking and acting. Such for the most part are those that go at this day from the Christian world into the other life.

496. Such, however, arc explored by good spirits to discover what they are, and this in various ways; since in this the first state the evil equally with the good utter truths and do good acts, and for the reason mentioned above, that like the good they have lived morally in outward respects, since they have lived under governments, and subject to laws, and have thereby acquired a reputation for justice and honesty, and have gained favor, and thus been raised to honors, and have acquired wealth. But evil spirits are distinguished from good spirits chiefly by this, that the evil give eager attention to whatever is said about external things, and but little attention to what is said about internal things, which are the truths and goods of the church and of heaven. These they listen to, but not with attention and joy. The two classes are also distinguished by their turning repeatedly in specific directions, and following, when left to themselves, the paths that lead in those directions. From such turning to certain quarters and going in certain ways it is known by what love they are led.

497. All spirits that arrive from the world are connected with some society in heaven or some society in hell, and yet only as regards their interiors; and so long as they are in exteriors their interiors are manifested to no one, for externals cover and conceal internals, especially in the case of those who are in interior evil. But afterwards, when they come into the second state, their evils become manifest, because their interiors are then opened and their exteriors laid asleep.

498. This first state of man after death continues with some for days, with some for months, and with some for a year; but seldom with any one beyond a year; for a shorter or longer time with each one according to the agreement or disagreement of his interiors with his exteriors. For with every one the exteriors and interior must make one and correspond. In the spiritual world no one is permitted to think and will in one way and speak and act in another. Every one there must be an image of his own affection or his own love, and therefore such as he is inwardly such he must be outwardly; and for this reason a spirit's exteriors are first disclosed and reduced to order that they may serve the interiors as a corresponding plane.

[Next Chapter] [Table of Contents]

Footnotes to Chapter 51

[Next Chapter] [Table of Contents]