Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4527

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

4527. I have talked to some just a few days after their decease, and being at that time recent arrivals they dwelt in a light which to them was little different from the light of the world. Because that light seemed little different to them they doubted whether it came from any source other than that of the world's light. They were for that reason taken to where heaven begins, to where the light was brighter still, and from there they talked to me. They said that they had never seen light like that, and yet this was long after the sun had set. They now wondered at the fact that spirits had eyes to see with, since during their lifetime they had believed that the life spirits had was pure thought, entirely separated indeed from any subject. The reason they had believed this was that they had been unable to think about any subject of thought because they had not seen it. This being so, they inevitably supposed that, being thought alone, the soul would be dissipated together with the body in which it existed, just like a puff of wind or fire, if the Lord did not in a miraculous way hold it together and keep it in being. Those spirits taken to where heaven begins also saw how easily the learned may fall into error concerning the life after death and that they more than any others do not believe anything apart from what they actually see. They were amazed therefore at their possessing not only thought but also sight, as well as each of the other senses. They were even more amazed that they looked to themselves entirely like people, that they saw, heard, and conversed with one another, and that they could touch and feel their own bodily parts, doing so more perfectly than during their lifetime. Consequently they were astounded that when living in the world man is totally ignorant of all this, and they felt pity for the human race's complete lack of knowledge about such things because of their utter lack of belief, most of all among those who dwell in greater light than others, namely those who are within the Church and possess the Word.

[2] Some of them had not believed anything other than that after death human beings would be like ghosts, an idea which they had become convinced was true because of the apparitions they had heard about. But from this they concluded that a ghost was no more than some gross principle of life which is initially released from the life of the body but then returns again to the corpse, and in so doing is snuffed out. Others had believed however that they would not rise again until the time of the Last Judgement when the world would be destroyed, at which time they would rise again with the body which, though it had crumbled to dust, would be reassembled and in this way they would rise again with their bones and flesh. And because they had in vain been awaiting that Last Judgement or destruction of the world for many centuries they had sunk into the error of thinking that they would not rise again at all. They had not thought about what they had learned from the Word, and had sometimes even quoted that when a person dies his soul is in the hand of God,a and is among the happy or the unhappy depending on the life he had come to know; nor have they thought about what the Lord said concerning the rich man and Lazarus. But these recently arrived spirits were informed that everyone's last judgement takes place when he dies, at which time it seems to him that he is endowed with a body as when in the world, and has the use of every sense as he has done here, though that sense is now purer and more perfect because nothing bodily imposes any limitations on it, and things which belong to the light of the world no longer cloud over those that belong to the light of heaven. Thus he now lives in a body that so to speak has been purified. In that world he could not possibly carry around a body of bones and flesh like that he had in the world, for in this case he would once again be invested with earthly dust.

[3] I have talked on this subject to some on the very day that their bodies were being buried, and through my eyes they have seen their own dead body, bier, and interment. They then said that they were casting that body aside, and that it had served them for uses performed in the world in which they had been but that now they were living in a body which served them for the uses performed in that world in which they were now. They also wished me to tell these things to their mourning relatives, but I was led to reply that if I did they would laugh at it because they did not believe in the existence of anything which they were unable to see with their own eyes, and so they would include what I said among visions which were mere illusions. For people cannot be brought to believe that as men see one another with their eyes so spirits see one another with theirs, and that man is unable to see spirits except with the eyes of his spirit, and that he sees them when the Lord opens his sight, as happened to the prophets, who saw spirits and angels, and also many of the things in heaven. But whether people living today would have believed those things if they had seen them at that time is open to doubt.


a A saying that is possibly derived from Deut 33:3, or from Wisdom of Solomon 3:3 in the Apocrypha.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church