Heaven and Hell/47

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XLVII, Man After Death is in a Complete Human Form

XLVII
Man After Death is in a Complete Human Form[edit]

453. It has already been shown in several previous chapters that the form of the spirit of man is the human form, that is, that the spirit is a man even in form, especially where it is shown that every angel has a complete human form (n. 73-77) that in respect to his interiors every man is a spirit (n. 432-444); and that the angels in heaven are from the human race (n. 311-317).

[2] This can be seen still more clearly from the fact that it is by virtue of his spirit, and not by virtue of his body that man is a man, and that the bodily form is added to the spirit in accordance with the spirit's form, and not the reverse, for it is in accordance with its own form that the spirit is clothed with a body. Consequently the spirit of man acts into every part of the body, even the minutest, insomuch that if any part is not actuated by the spirit, or the spirit is not active in it, it does not live. Any one can see that this is true from this fact alone, that thought and will actuate all things and each thing of the body with such entire command that everything concurs, and any thing that does not concur is not a part of the body, but is cast out as something without life; and thought and will belong, not to the body, but to the spirit of man.

[3] A spirit that has been loosed from the body or the spirit in another man, is not visible in the human form to man, because the body's organ of sight, or its eye, so far as it sees in the world, is a material organ, and what is material can see only what is material, while what is spiritual sees what is spiritual. When, therefore, the material part of the eye becomes darkened and is deprived of its cooperation with the spiritual, the eye sees spirits in their own form, which is the human form, not only the spirits that are in the spiritual world, but also the spirit of another man while it is yet in its body.


454. The form of the spirit is the human form because man is created in respect to his spirit in the form of heaven, for all things of heaven and of the order of heaven are brought together in the things that constitute the mind of man;[1] and from this comes his capacity to receive intelligence and wisdom. Whether you say the capacity to receive intelligence and wisdom or the capacity to receive heaven it is the same thing, as can be seen from what has been shown about the light and heat of heaven (n. 126-140); the form of heaven (n. 200-212); the wisdom of angels (n. 265-275); and in the chapter that the form of heaven as a whole and in part reflects a single man (n. 59-77); and this by virtue of the Divine Human of the Lord, which is the source of heaven and its form (n. 78-86).


455. That which has now been said can be understood by the rational man, for he can see it from the connection of causes and from truths in their order; but it is not understood by a man who is not rational, and for several reasons, the chief of which is that he has no desire to understand it because it is opposed to the falsities that he has made his truths; and he that is unwilling to understand for this reason has closed to his rational faculty the way to heaven, although that way can still be opened whenever the will's resistance ceases (see above, n. 424). That man is able to understand truths and be rational whenever he so wishes has been made clear to me by much experience. Evil spirits that have become irrational in the world by rejecting the Divine and the truths of the church, and confirming themselves against them, have frequently been turned by Divine power towards those who were in the light of truth, and they then comprehended all things as the angels did, and acknowledged them to be true, and also that they comprehended them all. But the moment these spirits relapsed into themselves, and turned back to the love of their will, they had no comprehension of truths and affirmed the opposite.

[2] I have also heard certain dwellers in hell saying that they knew and perceived that which they did to be evil and that which they thought to be false; but that they were unable to resist the delight of their love, that is, their will, and that it is their will that drives their thought to see evil as good and falsity as truth. Evidently, then, those that are in falsity from evil have the ability to understand and be rational, but have no wish to; and they have no wish to for the reason that they have loved falsities more than truths, because these agree with the evils in which they are. To love and to will is the same thing, for what a man wills he loves, and what he loves he wills.

[3] Because the state of men is such that they are able to understand truths if they wish to, I have been permitted to confirm spiritual truths, which are truths of heaven and the church, even by reasonings, and this in order that the falsities by which the rational mind in many has been closed up may be dispersed by reasonings, and thus the eye may perhaps in some degree be opened; for to confirm spiritual goods by reasonings is permitted to all that are in truths. Who could ever understand the Word from the sense of its letter, unless he saw from an enlightened reason the truths it contains? Is not this the source of so many heresies from the same Word?[2]


456. That the spirit of man, when it has been loosed from the body, is still a man and in a like form, has been proved to me by the daily experience of many years; for I have seen such and have listened to them a thousand times, and have talked with them about this fact, that men in the world do not believe them to be men, and that those that do believe this are regarded by the learned as simple. Spirits are grieved at heart that such ignorance still continues in the world, and above all within the church.

[2] But this belief they said had emanated chiefly from the learned, who had thought about the soul from ideas derived from bodily sense; and from such ideas the only conception they formed of the soul was as being mere thought; and when this is regarded apart from any subject as its containant and source it is merely a fleeting breath of pure ether that must needs be dissipated when the body dies. But as the church believes from the Word in the immortality of the soul they are compelled to ascribe to it something vital, such as pertains to thought, but they deny to it any thing of sense, such as man possesses, until it has again been joined to the body. On this opinion the doctrine in regard to the resurrection is based, with the belief that the soul and body will be joined again at the time of the final judgment. For this reason when any one thinks about the soul in accordance with this doctrine and these conjectures, he has no conception that it is a spirit, and in a human form. And still further, scarcely any one at this day knows what the spiritual is, and still less that spiritual beings, as all spirits and angels are, have any human form.

[3] Consequently, nearly all that go from this world are greatly surprised to find that they are alive, and are as much men as before, that they see, hear, and speak, and that their body enjoys the sense of touch as before, with no difference whatever (see above, n. 74). And when they cease to be astonished at themselves they are astonished that the church should know nothing about this state of men after death, thus nothing about heaven or hell, when in fact all that have ever lived in the world are in the other life and live as men. And as they wondered also why this had not been disclosed to man by visions, being an essential of the faith of the church, they were told from heaven that although this might have been done, since nothing is easier when it is the Lord's good pleasure, yet those that have confirmed themselves in the opposite falsities would not believe even if they themselves should behold it; also that there is danger in confirming any thing by visions when men are in falsities, for they would then first believe and afterwards deny, and thus would profane the truth itself, since to believe and afterwards deny is to profane; and those who profane truths are cast down into the lowest and most grievous of all the hells.[3]

[4] This danger is what is meant by the Lord's words:

He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts lest they should see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and should turn and I should heal them (John 12:40).

And that those that are in falsities would not believe [even if visions were given] is meant by these words:

Abraham said to the rich man in hell, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. But he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one came to them from the dead they would be converted. But Abraham said to him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead (Luke 16:29-31).


457. When the spirit of man first enters the world of spirits, which takes place shortly after his resuscitation, as described above, his face and his tone of voice resemble those he had in the world, because he is then in the state of his exteriors, and his interiors are not as yet uncovered. This is man's first state after death. But subsequently his face is changed, and becomes entirely different, resembling his ruling affection or ruling love, in conformity with which the interiors of his mind had been while he was in the world and his spirit while it was in the body. For the face of a man's spirit differs greatly from the face of his body. The face of his body is from his parents, but the face of his spirit is from his affection, and is an image of it. When the life of the spirit in the body is ended, and its exteriors are laid aside and its interiors disclosed, it comes into this affection. This is man's second state. I have seen some that have recently arrived from the world, and have recognized them from their face and speech; but seeing them afterwards I did not recognize them. Those that had been in good affections appeared with beautiful faces; but those that had been in evil affections with misshapen faces; for man's spirit, viewed in itself, is nothing but his affection; and the face is its outward form. Another reason why faces are changed is that in the other life no one is permitted to counterfeit affections that are not his own, and thus assume looks that are contrary to his love. All in the other life are brought into such a state as to speak as they think, and to manifest in their looks and gestures the inclinations of their will. And because of this the faces of all become forms and images of their affections; and in consequence all that have known each other in the world know each other in the world of spirits, but not in heaven nor in hell (as has been said above, n. 427).[4]


458. The faces of hypocrites are changed more slowly than those of others, because by practice they had formed a habit of so managing their interiors as to imitate good affections; consequently for a long time they appear not unbeautiful. But as that which they had assumed is gradually put off, and the interiors of the mind are brought into accord with the form of their affections, they become after awhile more misshapen than others. Hypocrites are such as have been accustomed to talk like angels, but interiorly have acknowledged nature alone and not the Divine, and have therefore denied what pertains to heaven and the church.


459. It should be known that everyone's human form after death is the more beautiful in proportion as he has more interiorly loved Divine truths and lived according to them; for everyone's interiors are opened and formed in accordance with his love and life; therefore the more interior the affection is the more like heaven it is, and in consequence the more beautiful the face is. This is why the angels in the inmost heaven are the most beautiful, for they are forms of celestial love. But those that have loved Divine truths more exteriorly, and thus have lived in accordance with them in a more external way, are less beautiful; for exterior affections only shine forth from their faces; and through these no interior heavenly love shines, consequently nothing of the form of heaven as it is in itself. There is seen in the faces of such something comparatively obscure, not vivified by any thing of interior life shining through it. In a word, all perfection increases toward interiors and decreases toward exteriors, and as perfection increases and decreases so does beauty. I have seen angelic faces of the third heaven of such radiance that no painter with all his art could possibly give any such light to his colors as to equal a thousandth part of the brightness and life that shone forth from their countenances. But the faces of the angels of the lowest heaven may in some measure be equalled.


460. In conclusion I will mention a certain arcanum hitherto unknown to any one, namely, that every good and truth that goes forth from the Lord and makes heaven is in the human form; and this not only as a whole and in what is greatest, but also in every part and what is least; also that this form affects everyone who receives good and truth from the Lord, and causes everyone who is in heaven to be in the human form in accordance with his reception of good and truth. It is in consequence of this that heaven is like itself in general and in particular, and that the human form is the form of the whole, of every society, and of every angel (as has been shown in the four chapters from n. 59 to 86); to which let it be added that it is the form of the least things of thought derived from heavenly love with the angels. No man, however, can easily comprehend this arcanum; but it is clearly comprehended by the angels, because they are in the light of heaven.


  1. Man is the being into whom are brought together all things of Divine order, and by creation he is Divine order in form (n. 4219, 4222, 4223, 4523, 4524, 5114, 6013, 6057, 6605, 6626, 9706, 10156, 10472). So far as a man lives in accordance with Divine order he is seen in the other life as a man, complete and beautiful (n. 4839, 6605, 6626).
  2. The truths of doctrine of the church derived from the Word must be the starting-point, and these must first be acknowledged, and afterwards it is permissible to consult knowledges (n. 6047). Thus it is permissible for those that are in an affirmative state towards the truths of faith to confirm them rationally by knowledges, but it is not permissible for those who are in a negative state (n. 2568, 2588, 4760, 6047). It is in accordance with Divine order to enter rationally from spiritual truths into knowledges, which are natural truths, but not to enter from the latter into the former, because spiritual influx into natural things is possible, but not natural or physical influx into spiritual things (n. 3219, 5119, 5259, 5427, 5428, 5478, 6322, 9109, 9110).
  3. Profanation is the mixing of good and evil and of truth and falsity in man (n. 6348). Only those can profane truth and good, or the holy things of the Word and the church, who first acknowledge them, and still more who live according to them, and who afterwards recede from the belief and reject it, and live for themselves and the world (n. 593, 1008, 1010, 1059, 3398, 3399, 3898, 4289, 4601, 10284, 10287). If man after repentance of heart relapses to former evils he profanes, and his latter state is then worse than his former (n. 8394). Those that have not acknowledged holy things, still less those that have no knowledge of them, cannot profane them (n. 1008, 1010, 1059, 9188, 10284). The heathen who are out of the church and do not have the Word cannot profane it (n. 1327, 1328, 2051, 2284). On this account interior truths were not disclosed to the Jews, for if they had been disclosed and acknowledged that people would have profaned them (n. 3398, 4289, 6963). The lot of profaners in the other life is the worst of all, because not only the good and truth they have acknowledged, but also their evil and falsity remain, and as these cling together, the life is rent asunder (n. 571, 582, 6348). Consequently most careful provision is made by the Lord to prevent profanation (n. 2426, 10287).
  4. The face is so formed as to correspond with the interiors (n. 4791-4805, 5695). The correspondence of the face and its expressions with the affections of the mind (n. 1568, 2988, 2989, 3631, 4796, 4797, 4800, 5165, 5168, 5695, 9306). With the angels of heaven the face makes one with the interiors that belong to the mind (n. 4796-4799, 5695, 8250). Therefore in the Word the face signifies the interiors that belong to the mind, that is, to the affection and thought (n. 1999, 2434, 3527, 4066, 4796, 5102, 9306, 9546). In what manner the influx from the brain into the face has been changed in process of time and with it the face itself as regards its correspondence with the interiors (n. 4326, 8250).