Natural and Spiritual Death

Many human beings are terrified of dying because they are not sure what will occur when they die. But, when we understand that the universe is higher-dimensional and that these higher dimensions are dimensions of mind and spirit, death is no longer a mystery.

Although our physical body is in the 3D realm of matter, our will, mind and life are in the spiritual world. When our breathing and heartbeat stop, our physical body disconnects from our will, mind and life.

When this fateful event occurs, we will still be alive because our very life never came from our biological body; it originated in the spiritual world. Eternal life emanates from the Lord and flows into all created beings. It is the Lord (Infinite Being) who was keeping us alive. And He will continue to do so in the spiritual world after we die.

Now, most persons who have had near-death experiences (NDE’s) tell us that they first seem to move through a dark tunnel or passageway and see a Light in the distance. They move towards and are eventually immersed in this Light where they feel unconditional Love and acceptance. After this event, they are compelled to experience a life review. Here, all the most significant events of their life are presented to their sight, and they feel how the actions of their life impacted others. This is their day of Judgment.

We also learn from Swedenborg that our spiritual body consists of what we truly love and believe. And this is where our delights originate. Thus, when we die, we will continue to experience these loves and beliefs and associate with others who are in similar loves and beliefs. But “the delights of our life will be changed after death into things that correspond.” This is perhaps why some of us are afraid of dying.


It has been shown in the preceding chapter that the ruling affection or dominant love in everyone continues to eternity. It shall now be explained how the delights of that affection or love are changed into things that correspond. Being changed into corresponding things means into things spiritual that correspond to the natural. That they are changed into things spiritual can be seen from this, that so long as man is in his earthly body he is in the natural world, but when he leaves that body he enters the spiritual world and is clothed with a spiritual body. It has already been shown that angels, and men after death, are in a complete human form, and that the bodies with which they are clothed are spiritual bodies; also what the correspondence is of spiritual things with natural.

All the delights that a man has are the delights of his ruling love, for he feels nothing to be delightful except what he loves, thus especially that which he loves above all things. It means the same whether you say the ruling love or that which is loved above all things. These delights are various. In general, there are as many as there are ruling loves; consequently as many as there are men, spirits, and angels; for no one’s ruling love is in every respect like that of another. For this reason no one has a face exactly like that of any other; for each one’s face is an image of his mind; and in the spiritual world it is an image of his ruling love. In particular, everyone’s delights are of infinite variety. It is impossible for any one delight to be exactly like another, or the same as another, either those that follow one after another or those that exist together at the same time, no one ever being the same as another. Nevertheless, the particular delights in everyone have reference to his one love, which is his ruling love, for they compose it and thus make one with it. Likewise all delights in general have reference to one universally ruling love, which in heaven is love to the Lord, and in hell is the love of self.

Only from a knowledge of correspondences can it be known what spiritual delights everyone’s natural delights are changed into after death, and what kind of delights they are. In general, this knowledge teaches that nothing natural can exist without something spiritual corresponding to it. In particular it teaches what it is that corresponds, and what kind of a thing it is. Therefore, any one that has this knowledge can ascertain and know what his own state after death will be, if he only knows what his love is, and what its relation is to the universally ruling loves spoken of above, to which all loves have relation. But it is impossible for those who are in the love of self to know what their ruling love is, because they love what is their own, and call their evils goods; and the falsities that they incline to and by which they confirm their evils they call truths. And yet if they were willing they might know it from others who are wise, and who see what they themselves do not see. This however, is impossible with those who are so enticed by the love of self that they spurn all teaching of the wise.

[2] On the other hand, those who are in heavenly love accept instruction, and as soon as they are brought into the evils into which they were born, they see them from truths, for truths make evils manifest. From truth which is from good any one can see evil and its falsity; but from evil none can see what is good and true; and for the reason that falsities of evil are darkness and correspond to darkness; consequently those that are in falsities from evil are like the blind, not seeing the things that are in light, but shunning them instead like birds of night. But as truths from good are light, and correspond to light, so those that are in truths from good have sight and open eyes, and discern the things that pertain to light and shade.

[3] This, too, has been proved to me by experience. The angels in heaven both see and perceive the evils and falsities that sometimes arise in themselves, also the evils and falsities in spirits in the world of spirits that are connected with the hells, although the spirits themselves are unable to see their own evils and falsities. Such spirits have no comprehension of the good of heavenly love, of conscience, of honesty and justice, except such as is done for the sake of self; neither what it is to be led by the Lord. They say that such things do not exist, and thus are of no account. All this has been said to the intent that man may examine himself and may recognize his love by his delights; and thus so far as he can make it out from a knowledge of correspondences may know the state of his life after death.

How the delights of everyone’s life are changed after death into things that correspond can be known from a knowledge of correspondences; but as that knowledge is not as yet generally known I will try to throw some light on the subject by certain examples from experience. All who are in evil and who have established themselves in falsities in opposition to the truths of the church, especially those that have rejected the Word, flee from the light of heaven and take refuge in caves that appear at their openings to be densely dark, also in clefts of rocks, and there they hide themselves; and this because they have loved falsities and hated truths; for such caves and clefts of rocks, as well as darkness, correspond to falsities, as light corresponds to truths. It is their delight to dwell in such places, and undelightful to dwell in the open country.

[2] Those that have taken delight in insidious and secret plots and in treacherous machinations do the same thing. They are also in such caves; and they frequent rooms so dark that they are even unable to see one another; and they whisper together in the ears in corners. Into this is the delight of their love changed. Those that have devoted themselves to the sciences with no other end than to acquire a reputation for learning, and have not cultivated their rational faculty by their learning, but have taken delight in the things of memory from a pride in such things, love sandy places, which they choose in preference to fields and gardens, because sandy places correspond to such studies.

[3] Those that are skilled in the doctrines of their own and other churches, but have not applied their knowledge to life, choose for themselves rocky places, and dwell among heaps of stones, shunning cultivated places because they dislike them. Those that have ascribed all things to nature, as well as those that have ascribed all things to their own prudence, and by various arts have raised themselves to honors and have acquired wealth, in the other life devote themselves to the study of magic arts, which are abuses of Divine order, and find in these the chief delight of life.

[4] Those that have adapted Divine truths to their own loves, and thereby have falsified them, love urinous things because these correspond to the delights of such loves. Those that have been sordidly avaricious dwell in cells, and love swinish filth and such stenches as are exhaled from undigested food in the stomach.

[5] Those that have spent their life in mere pleasures and have lived delicately and indulged their palate and stomach, loving such things as the highest good that life affords, love in the other life excrementitious things and privies, in which they find their delight, for the reason that such pleasures are spiritual filth. Places that are clean and free from filth they shun, finding them undelightful.

[6] Those that have taken delight in adulteries pass their time in brothels, where all things are vile and filthy; these they love, and chaste homes they shun, falling into a swoon as soon as they enter them. Nothing is more delightful to them than to break up marriages. Those that have cherished a spirit of revenge, and have thereby contracted a savage and cruel nature, love cadaverous substances, and are in hells of that nature; and so on.

But the delights of life of those that have lived in the world in heavenly love are changed into such corresponding things as exist in the heavens, which spring from the sun of heaven and its light, that light presenting to view such things as have what is Divine inwardly concealed in them. The things that appear in that light affect the interiors of the minds of the angels, and at the same time the exteriors pertaining to their bodies; and as the Divine light, which is Divine truth going forth from the Lord, flows into their minds opened by heavenly love, it presents outwardly such things as correspond to the delights of their love. It has already been shown, in the chapter on representatives and appearances in heaven, and in the chapter on the wisdom of the angels, that the things that appear to the sight in the heavens correspond to the interiors of angels, or to the things pertaining to their faith and love and thus to their intelligence and wisdom.

[2] Having already begun to establish this point by examples from experience, to make clearer what has been previously said on the ground of causes of things I will state briefly some particulars respecting the heavenly delightful things into which the natural delights of those that have lived in heavenly love in the world are changed. Those that have loved Divine truths and the Word from an interior affection, or from an affection for truth itself, dwell in the other life in light, in elevated places that appear like mountains, where they are continually in the light of heaven. They do not know what darkness is, like that of night in the world; they live also in a vernal temperature; there are presented to their view fields filled with grain and vineyards; in their houses everything glows as if from precious stones; and looking through the windows is like looking through pure crystal. Such are the delights of their vision; but these same things are interiorly delightful because of their being correspondences of Divine heavenly things, for the truths from the Word which they have loved correspond to fields of grain, vineyards, precious stones, windows, and crystals.

[3] Those that have applied the doctrinals of the church which are from the Word immediately to life, are in the inmost heaven, and surpass all others in their delights of wisdom. In every object they see what is Divine; the objects they see indeed with their eyes; but the corresponding Divine things flow in immediately into their minds and fill them with a blessedness that affects all their sensations. Thus before their eyes all things seem to laugh, to play, and to live.

[4] Those that have loved knowledges and have thereby cultivated their rational faculty and acquired intelligence, and at the same time have acknowledged the Divine-these in the other life have their pleasure in knowledges, and their rational delight changed into spiritual delight, which is delight in knowing good and truth. They dwell in gardens where flower beds and grass plots are seen beautifully arranged, with rows of trees round about, and arbors and walks, the trees and flowers changing from day to day. The entire view imparts delight to their minds in a general way, and the variations in detail continually renew the delight; and as everything there corresponds to something Divine, and they are skilled in the knowledge of correspondences, they are constantly filled with new knowledges, and by these their spiritual rational faculty is perfected. Their delights are such because gardens, flower beds, grass plots, and trees correspond to sciences, knowledges, and the resulting intelligence.

[5] Those that have ascribed all things to the Divine, regarding nature as relatively dead and merely subservient to things spiritual, and have confirmed themselves in this view, are in heavenly light; and all things that appear before their eyes are made by that light transparent, and in their transparency exhibit innumerable variegations of light, which their internal sight takes in as it were directly, and from this they perceive interior delights. The things seen within their houses are as if made of diamonds, with similar variegations of light. The walls of their houses, as already said, are like crystal, and thus also transparent; and in them seemingly flowing forms representative of heavenly things are seen also with unceasing variety, and this because such transparency corresponds to the understanding when it has been enlightened by the Lord and when the shadows that arise from a belief in and love for natural things have been removed. With reference to such things and infinite others, it is said by those that have been in heaven that they have seen what eye has never seen; and from a perception of Divine things communicated to them by those who are there, that they have heard what ear has never heard.

[6] Those that have not acted in secret ways, but have been willing to have all that they have thought made known so far as civil life would permit, because their thoughts have all been in accord with what is honest and just from the Divine-these in heaven have faces full of light; and in that light every least affection and thought is seen in the face as in its form, and in their speech and actions they are like images of their affections. Such, therefore, are more loved than others. While they are speaking the face becomes a little obscured; but as soon as they have spoken, the things they have said become plainly manifest all at once in the face. And as all the objects that exist round about them correspond to their interiors, these assume such an appearance that others can clearly perceive what they represent and signify. Spirits that have found delight in clandestine acts, when they see such at a distance flee from them, and appear to themselves to creep away from them like serpents.

[7] Those that have regarded adulteries as abominable, and have lived in a chaste love of marriage, are more than all others in the order and form of heaven, and therefore in all beauty, and continue unceasingly in the flower of youth. The delights of their love are ineffable, and increase to eternity; for all the delights and joys of heaven flow into that love, because that love descends from the conjunction of the Lord with heaven and with the church, and in general from the conjunction of good and truth, which conjunction is heaven itself in general, and with each angel in particular. What their outward delights are it is impossible to describe in human words. These are only a few of the things that have been told me about the correspondences of the delights of those that are in heavenly love.

All this makes evident that everyone’s delights are changed after death into their correspondences, while the love itself continues to eternity. This is true of marriage love, of the love of justice, honesty, goodness and truth, the love of sciences and of knowledges, the love of intelligence and wisdom, and the rest. From these loves delights flow like streams from their fountain; and these continue; but when raised from natural to spiritual delights they are exalted to a higher degree. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH 485-490]

OUR LIFE AFTER DEATH by Emanuel Swedenborg, translated by George F. Dole Courtesy of Swedenborg Foundation

Painting credit: Ascent of the blessed by Hieronymus Bosch