Most people grieve when their friends or family members leave this world. And many of them wonder if they will ever see them again and be reunited in some way. But, when we understand how the universe was designed, we know the answer to this question.
The most important difference between the physical and the spiritual world is that in the spiritual world there cannot be any hypocrisy because all things are separated by means of Truth and united by means of Love. Thus only those beings with similar loves and beliefs can ultimately remain affiliated with each other.
On earth, we can be in the same space or even live with other beings who do not share our loves and beliefs, although we may feel somewhat uncomfortable. But, in the spiritual world, this is impossible because the atmosphere in which we exist is in exact correspondence with our loves and beliefs.
Thus, when we die, we may meet again with our friends and family members because we are still in our external mind. But, after we are stripped of all that is superficial and our internal or true loves and beliefs begin to emerge, we will start to feel uncomfortable in the presence of some of them. It is then that we will separate and be attracted to a spiritual society of spiritual beings who embody similar loves and beliefs as our own.
In this society we will feel perfectly accepted and loved because these beings are and always were our true friends. In fact, although we were not conscious of it, when we were on earth, we were already affiliated with these real brothers and sisters by means of our true loves and beliefs. Hence, when we discover our spiritual society, we will rejoice in this reunion of minds and hearts.
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. Thus is one life continued into the other, and death is merely transition.
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 he 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. 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.
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.
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 everyone 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. Everyone 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.
When the first state, which is the state of the exteriors treated of in the preceding chapter, has been passed through, the man-spirit is let into the state of his interiors, or into the state of his interior will and its thought, in which he had been in the world when left to himself to think freely and without restraint. Into this state he unconsciously glides, just as when in the world he withdraws the thought nearest to his speech, that is, from which he speaks, towards his interior thought and abides in the latter. Therefore in this state of his interiors the man-spirit is in himself and in his very life; for to think freely from his own affection is the very life of man, and is himself.
In this state the spirit thinks from his very will, thus from his very affection, or from his very love; and thought and will then make one, and one in such a manner that he seems scarcely to think but only to will. It is nearly the same when he speaks, yet with the difference that he speaks with a kind of fear that the thoughts of the will may go forth naked, since by his social life in the world this has come to be a part of his will.
When the spirit is in the state of his interiors it becomes clearly evident what the man was in himself when he was in the world, for at such times he acts from what is his own. He that had been in the world interiorly in good then acts rationally and wisely, and even more wisely than in the world, because he is released from connection with the body, and thus from those earthly things that caused obscurity and interposed as it were a cloud. But he that was in evil in the world then acts foolishly and insanely, and even more insanely than in the world, because he is free and under no restraint. For while he lived in the world he was sane in outward appearance, since by means of externals he made himself appear to be a rational man; but when he has been stripped of his externals his insanities are revealed. An evil man who in externals takes on the semblance of a good man may be likened to a vessel shining and polished on the outside and covered with a lid, within which filth of all kinds is hidden, in accordance with the Lord’s saying:
Ye are like whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness (Matt. 23:27).
Everyone goes to his own society in which his spirit had been in the world; for every man, as regards his spirit, is conjoined to some society, either infernal or heavenly, the evil man to an infernal society and the good man to a heavenly society, and to that society he is brought after death. The spirit is led to his society gradually, and at length enters it. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH 493, 494, 497, 498, 502, 503, 505, 510]