Heaven and Hell/53

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter LIII, Third State of Man After Death, which is a State of Instruction for Those who Enter Heaven

LIII
Third State of Man After Death, which is a State of Instruction for Those who Enter Heaven[edit]

512. The third state of man after death, that is, of his spirit, is a state of instruction. This state is for those who enter heaven and become angels. It is not for those who enter hell, because such are incapable of being taught, and therefore their second state is also their third, ending in this, that they are wholly turned to their own love, thus to that infernal society which is in a like love. When this has been done they will and think from that love and as that love is infernal they will nothing but what is evil and think nothing but what is false; and in such thinking and willing they find their delights, because these belong to their love; and in consequence of this they reject everything good and true which they had previously adopted as serviceable to their love as means.

[2] Good spirits, on the other hand, are led from the second state into the third, which is the state of their preparation for heaven by means of instruction. For one can be prepared for heaven only by means of knowledges of good and truth, that is, only by means of instruction, since one can know what spiritual good and truth are, and what evil and falsity are, which are their opposites, only by being taught. One can learn in the world what civil and moral good and truth are, which are called justice and honesty, because there are civil laws in the world that teach what is just, and there is interaction with others whereby man learns to live in accordance with moral laws, all of which have relation to what is honest and right. But spiritual good and truth are learned from heaven, not from the world. They can be learned from the Word and from the doctrine of the church that is drawn from the Word and yet unless man in respect to his interiors which belong to his mind is in heaven spiritual good and truth cannot flow into his life; and man is in heaven when he both acknowledges the Divine and acts justly and honestly for the reason that he ought so to act because it is commanded in the Word. This is living justly and honestly for the sake of the Divine, and not for the sake of self and the world, as ends.

[3] But no one can so act until he has been taught, for example, that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, that there is a life after death, that God ought to be loved supremely, and the neighbor as oneself, and that what is taught in the Word, ought to be believed because the Word is Divine. Without a knowledge and acknowledgment of these things man is unable to think spiritually; and if he has no thought about them he does not will them; for what a man does not know he cannot think, and what he does not think he cannot will. So it is when man wills these things that heaven flows into his life, that is, the Lord through heaven, for the Lord flows into the will and through the will into the thought, and through both into the life, and the whole life of man is from these. All this makes clear that spiritual good and truth are learned not from the world but from heaven, and that one can be prepared for heaven only by means of instruction.

[4] Moreover, so far as the Lord flows into the life of any one He instructs him, for so far He kindles the will with the love of knowing truths and enlightens the thought to know them; and so far as this is done the interiors of man are opened and heaven is implanted in them; and furthermore, what is Divine and heavenly flows into the honest things pertaining to moral life and into the just things pertaining to civil life in man, and makes them spiritual, since man then does these things from the Divine, which is doing them for the sake of the Divine. For the things honest and just pertaining to moral and civil life which a man does from that source are the essential effects of spiritual life; and the effect derives its all from the effecting cause, since such as the cause is such is the effect.


513. Instruction is given by the angels of many societies, especially those in the northern and southern quarters, because those angelic societies are in intelligence and wisdom from a knowledge of good and truth. The places of instruction are towards the north and are various, arranged and distinguished according to the kinds and varieties of heavenly goods, that all and each may be instructed there according to their disposition and ability to receive; the places extending round about to a great distance. The good spirits who are to be instructed are brought by the Lord to these places when they have completed their second state in the world of spirits, and yet not all; for there are some that have been instructed in the world, and have been prepared there by the Lord for heaven, and these are taken up into heaven by another way-some immediately after death, some after a short stay with good spirits, where the grosser things of their thoughts and affections which they had contracted from honors and riches in the world are removed, and in that way they are purified. Some first endure vastations, which is effected in places under the soles of the feet, called the lower earth, where some suffer severely. These are such as had confirmed themselves in falsities and yet had led good lives, for when falsities have been confirmed they inhere with much force, and until they have been dispersed truths cannot be seen, and thus cannot be accepted. But vastations and how they are effected have been treated of in the Arcana Coelestia, from which the notes below have been collected.[1]


514. All who are in places of instruction dwell apart; for each one is connected in regard to his interiors with that society of heaven which he is about to enter; thus as the societies of heaven are arranged in accord with the heavenly form (see above, n. 200-212), so are the places there where instruction is given; and for this reason when those places are viewed from heaven something like a heaven in a smaller form is seen. They are spread out in length from east to west, and in breadth from south to north; but the breadth appears to be less than the length. The arrangement in general is as follows. In front are those who died in childhood and have been brought up in heaven to the age of early youth; these after passing the state of their infancy with those having charge of them, are brought hither by the Lord and instructed. Behind these are the places where those are taught who died in adult age, and who in the world had an affection for truth derived from good of life. Again, behind these are those who in the world were connected with the Mohammedan religion, and lived a moral life and acknowledged one Divine, and the Lord as the very Prophet. When these withdraw from Mohammed, because he can give them no help, they approach the Lord and worship Him and acknowledge His Divinity, and they are then instructed in the Christian religion. Behind these more to the north are the places of instruction of various heathen nations who in the world have lived a good life in conformity with their religion, and have thereby acquired a kind of conscience, and have done what is just and right not so much from a regard to the laws of their government, as from a regard to the laws of religion, which they believed ought to be sacredly observed, and in no way violated by their doings. When these have been taught they are all easily led to acknowledge the Lord, because it is impressed on their hearts that God is not invisible, but is visible under a human form. These in number exceed all the rest, and the best of them are from Africa.


515. But all are not taught in the same way, nor by the same societies of heaven. Those that have been brought up from childhood in heaven, not having imbibed falsities from the falsities of religion or defiled their spiritual life with the dregs pertaining to honors and riches in the world, receive instruction from the angels of the interior heavens; while those that have died in adult age receive instruction mainly from angels of the lowest heaven, because these angels are better suited to them than the angels of the interior heavens, who are in interior wisdom which is not yet acceptable to them. But the Mohammedans receive instruction from angels who had been previously in the same religion and had been converted to Christianity. The heathen, too, are taught by their angels.


516. All teaching there is from doctrine drawn from the Word, and not from the Word apart from doctrine. Christians are taught from heavenly doctrine, which is in entire agreement with the internal sense of the Word. All others, as the Mohammedans and heathen, are taught from doctrines suited to their apprehension, which differ from heavenly doctrine only in this, that spiritual life is taught by means of moral life in harmony with the good tenets of their religion from which they had derived their life in the world.


517. Instruction in the heavens differs from instruction on earth in that knowledges are not committed to memory, but to life; for the memory of spirits is in their life, for they receive and imbibe everything that is in harmony with their life, and do not receive, still less imbibe, what is not in harmony with it; for spirits are affections, and are therefore in a human form that is similar to their affections.

[2] Being such they are constantly animated by an affection for truth that looks to the uses of life; for the Lord provides for everyone's loving the uses suited to his genius; and that love is exalted by the hope of becoming an angel. And as all the uses of heaven have relation to the general use, which is the good of the Lord's kingdom, which in heaven is the fatherland, and as all special and particular uses are to be valued in proportion as they more closely and fully have regard to that general use, so all of these special and particular uses, which are innumerable, are good and heavenly; therefore in everyone an affection for truth is so conjoined with an affection for use that the two make one; and thereby truth is so implanted in use that the truths they acquire are truths of use. In this way are angelic spirits taught and prepared for heaven.

[3] An affection for truth that is suited to the use is insinuated by various means, most of which are unknown in the world; chiefly by representatives of uses which in the spiritual world are exhibited in a thousand ways, and with such delights and pleasures that they permeate the spirit from the interiors of its mind to the exteriors of its body, and thus affect the whole; and in consequence the spirit becomes as it were his use; and therefore when he comes into his society, into which he is initiated by instruction, he is in his life by being in his use.[2] From all this it is clear that knowledges, which are external truths, do not bring any one into heaven; but the life itself, which is a life of uses implanted by means of knowledges.


518. There were some spirits who had convinced themselves, by thinking about it in the world, that they would go to heaven and be received before others because of their learning and their great knowledge of the Word and of the doctrines of their churches, believing that they were wise in consequence, and were such as are meant by those of whom it is said that

They shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars (Daniel 12:3).

But these were examined to see whether their knowledges resided in the memory or in the life. Such of them as had a genuine affection of truth, that is, who had uses separated from what pertains to the body and the world as their end, which are essentially spiritual uses--these, when they had been instructed, were received into heaven; and it was then given them to know what it is that shines in heaven, namely, Divine truth (which is the light of heaven) in use, which is a plane that receives the rays of that light and turns them into various splendors. But those in whom knowledges resided merely in the memory, and who had acquired therefrom an ability to reason about truths and to prove what they had already accepted as principles, seeing such principles, after they had confirmed them, as truths, although they were falsities, these, as they were in no heavenly light, and yet were in a belief derived from the conceit that usually adheres to such intelligence that they were more learned than others, and would for that reason enter heaven and be served by the angels, in order that they might be withdrawn from their delusive faith, were taken up to the first or outmost heaven to be introduced into an angelic society. But at the very threshold their eyes began to be darkened by the inflowing of the light of heaven, and their understanding to be disturbed, and at length they began to gasp as if at the point of death; and as soon as they felt the heat of heaven, which is heavenly love, they began to be inwardly tormented. They were therefore cast down, and afterwards were taught that knowledges do not make an angel, but the life itself, which is gained by means of knowledges, for knowledges regarded in themselves are outside of heaven; but life acquired by means of knowledges is within heaven.


519. When spirits have been prepared for heaven by instruction in the places above described, which is effected in a short time on account of their being in spiritual ideas that comprehend many particulars together, they are clothed with angelic garments, which are mostly glowing white as if made of fine linen; and they are thus brought to the way that leads upwards towards heaven, and are delivered there to angel guards, and afterwards are received by other angels and introduced into societies and into many blessednesses there. After this each one is led by the Lord into his own society, which is also effected by various ways, sometimes by winding paths. The ways by which they are led are not known to any angel, but are known to the Lord alone. When they come to their own society their interiors are opened; and as these are in conformity with the interiors of the angels who are in that society they are immediately recognized and received with joy.


520. To this I will add a memorable fact respecting the ways that lead from these places to heaven, by which the newly arrived angels are introduced. There are eight ways, two from each place of instruction, one going up in an eastern direction the other towards the west. Those that enter the Lord's celestial kingdom are introduced by the eastern way, while those that enter the spiritual kingdom are introduced by the western way. The four ways that lead to the Lord's celestial kingdom appear adorned with olive trees and fruit trees of various kinds; but those that lead to the Lord's spiritual kingdom appear adorned with vines and laurels. This is from correspondence, because vines and laurels correspond to affection for truth and its uses, while olives and fruits correspond to affection for good and its uses.


  1. Vastations are effected in the other life, that is, those that pass into the other life from the world are vastated (n. 698, 7122, 7474, 9763). The well disposed are vastated in respect to falsities, while the evil are vastated in respect to truths (n, 7474, 7541, 7542). The well disposed undergo vastations that they also may be divested of what pertains to the earth and the world, which they had contracted while living in the world (n. 7186, 9763). Also that evils and falsities may be removed, and thus there may be room for the influx of goods and truths out of heaven from the Lord, and ability to accept these (n. 7122, 9330). Elevation into heaven is impossible until such things have been removed, because they obstruct heavenly things and are not in harmony with them (n. 6928, 7122, 7186, 7541, 7542, 9763). Those who are to be raised up into heaven are thus prepared for it (n. 4728, 7090). It is dangerous to come into heaven before being prepared (n. 537, 538). The state of enlightenment and the joy of those who come out of vastation and are raised up into heaven, and their reception there (n. 2699, 2701, 2704). The region where those vastations are effected is called the lower earth (n. 4728, 7090). That region is under the soles of the feet surrounded by the hells; its nature described (n. 4940-4951, 7090); from experience (n. 699). What the hells are which more than others infest and vastate (n. 7317, 7502, 7545). Those that have infested and vastated the well disposed are afterwards afraid of them, shun them, and turn away from them (n. 7768). These infestations and vastations are effected in different ways in accordance with the adhesion of evils and falsities, and they continue in accordance with their quality and quantity (n. 1106-1113). Some are quite willing to be vastated (n. 1107). Some are vastated by fears (n. 4942). Some by being infested with the evils they have done in the world, and with the falsities they have thought in the world, from which they have anxieties and pangs of conscience (n. 1106). Some by spiritual captivity, which is ignorance of truth and interception of truth, combined with a longing to know truths (n. 1109, 2694). Some by sleep; some by a middle state between wakefulness and sleep (n. 1108). Those that have placed merit in works seem to themselves to be cutting wood (n. 1110). Others in other ways, with great variety (n. 699).
  2. Every good has both its delight and its quality from uses and in accordance with uses; therefore such as the good is such the use is (n. 3049, 4984, 7038). Angelic life consists in the goods of love and charity, thus in performing uses (n. 454). The Lord and therefore the angels, have regard to nothing in man but ends which are uses (n. 1317, 1645, 5854). The kingdom of the Lord is a kingdom of uses (n. 454, 696, 1103, 3645, 4054, 7038). Serving the Lord is performing uses (n. 7038). What man is, such are his uses (n. 1568, 3570, 4054, 6571, 6935, 6938, 10284).