Ask yourself an important question: Who am I? Are you your physical body? Your physical body will eventually decay, disintegrate and die. Are you your life story and memories? Your memories will eventually fade. Are you your thoughts and feelings? Your thoughts and feelings are constantly changing. One minute you may think rational thoughts and experience love and the next you may fall into anger and think morbid thoughts. But there is a state of being to which you return most often. And this state is defined by what you love the most and what you believe to be true. In fact, you ARE your inner or ruling love and its corresponding beliefs. And since your beliefs flow forth from what you really love, your real beliefs must be in exact correspondence with your inner or dominant love. This means that if you are in love of abuse, love of the world or love of self, you are probably lying to yourself and using all kinds of excuses and false beliefs to justify your selfish behavior.
Now, you may not know who you are or, in other words, what your real loves and beliefs are. And you may even hide them from yourself and others by presenting some kind of false personality that would be more acceptable to the world. However, if you really would like to know who and what you are in reality, listen to your inner dialogue and watch what you do in secret. You will often obtain a glimpse of someone you would not be proud to be.
In the spiritual world, there is no hypocrisy and our real loves and beliefs eventually emerge to be perceived by all. Even the outward appearance that we will project will be an exact representation of our inner love and beliefs. Hence, it would be wise for us to discover who we really are before we die. And, if we really do not like what we find, we should begin to change these loves and beliefs so they are more in accordance with the Love and Wisdom of Heaven. This is why the Lord advised us to repent.
How can we change or even choose who we really are?
Before we are reformed and regenerated, we are in self-love, love of the world and love of abuse. And, as a consequence, we erroneously think that we can attain happiness by enjoying the pleasures of the flesh and the world. Now, since our loves and beliefs must always correspond, we search for Truth until we find a belief system that tends to match our selfish loves. For example, if we enjoy lust, we adopt some new-age belief that says that God is all Love and compassion, that there is no hell and that, after we die, God will probably save us instantly by direct mercy. This is how we silence our spiritual conscience, justify our selfish loves and continue to live in sin. And this holds true for all other human sins and vices. For example, if we are greedy, we justify our greediness by saying that God is infinite and He wants us to have an abundance of money, cars, boats and houses.
Yes, God does want us to have abundance, a real abundance, not a false one. All the pleasures and vanities of the world have no real value. We can have all the money in the world, live in the most beautiful place on earth, have as much sex with as many persons as we like, be glorified by the world and still be the most miserable person in the universe. And then, according to Swedenborg, after we die, we will automatically be attracted to some hellish society that matches our selfish loves, false beliefs and their corresponding infernal delights. We will continue to burn with lust and greed and clash with others like us because these selfish desires can never be satisfied.
God is not only a God of Love, mercy and freedom, He is also a God of Truth, judgment and law. If we desire to be in His Kingdom of abundant Love, Freedom, Joy and Peace, we must obey His Laws. And we must do this FREELY and WILLINGLY. This means that we must first “repent” or change our mind by understanding, acknowledging and believing the real Truth (from the Word), not some false belief system concocted by some sinful and flawed human being. Then, we must resist our selfish urges for the rest of our life. As we do this, our false beliefs and selfish loves will be gradually replaced by God’s Love and Truth. We will then possess a NEW MIND and a NEW WILL. And it is only by means of this new mind and will that we will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
A great deal of my experience has testified to the fact that we are our love or intention after death. All heaven is differentiated into communities on the basis of differences in the quality of love, and every spirit who is raised up into heaven and becomes an angel is taken to the community where her or his love is. When we arrive there we feel as though we are in our own element, at home, back to our birthplace, so to speak. Angels sense this and associate there with kindred spirits. When they leave and go somewhere else, they feel a constant pull, a longing to go back to their kindred and therefore to their dominant love. This is how people gather together in heaven. The same applies in hell. There too, people associate according to loves that oppose heavenly ones.
We may also gather that we are our love after death from the fact that anything that does not agree with our dominant love is then removed and apparently taken away from us. For good people, what is removed and apparently taken away is everything that disagrees and conflicts, with the result that they are admitted to their love. It is much the same for evil people, except that what is taken away from them is everything true, while for good people everything false is taken away. Either way, the result is that ultimately everyone becomes his or her own love. This happens when we are brought into our third state, which will be discussed below.
Once this has happened, we constantly turn our faces toward our love and have it constantly before our eyes no matter which way we face.
All spirits can be led wherever you want as long as they are kept in their dominant love. They cannot resist even though they know what is happening and think that they will refuse. Spirits have often tried to do something in opposition, but without success. Their love is like a chain or rope tied around them, with which they can be pulled and which they cannot escape. It is the same for people in this world. Our love leads us as well, and it is through our love that we are led by others. It is even more so when we become spirits, though, because then we are not allowed to present a different love or pretend to a love that is not ours.
It is obvious in every gathering in the other life that our spirit is our dominant love. To the extent that we act and talk in keeping with someone else’s love, that individual looks whole, with a face that is whole, cheerful, and lively. To the extent that we act and talk against someone else’s dominant love, though, that individual’s face begins to change, to dim, and to be hard to see. Eventually it disappears as though it were not even there. I have often been amazed at this because this kind of thing cannot happen in the world. However, I have been told that the same thing happens to the spirit within us, in that when we turn our attention away from someone, that individual is no longer in our sight.
I have also seen that our spirit is our dominant love from the fact that every spirit seizes and claims whatever suits his or her love and rejects and repels whatever does not suit it. Our love is like a spongy, porous wood that absorbs whatever liquids prompt its growth, and repels others. It is like animals of various kinds. They recognize their proper foods, seek out the ones that suit their natures, and avoid the ones that disagree. Every love actually wants to be nourished by what is appropriate to it-an evil love by falsities and a good love by truths. I have occasionally been allowed to see that some particular simple and good people wanted to teach evil people things that were true and good. Faced with this teaching, though, the evil people fled far away; and when they reached their own kind, they seized on whatever falsities suited their love with great delight. I have also been allowed to see good spirits talking with each other about truths, which other good spirits in attendance listened to eagerly, while some evil ones who were there paid no attention, as though they did not hear anything.
In the world of spirits you can see paths, some leading to heaven and some leading to hell, each one leading to some specific community. Good spirits travel only the paths that lead to heaven, and to the community engaged in their own quality of love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else. On the other hand, evil spirits travel only the paths that lead to hell and to that community there which is engaged in the evil of their own love. They do not see paths that lead anywhere else; and if they do see them, they still do not want to follow them. Paths like this in the spiritual world are “real appearances” that correspond to true and false [understandings]; so this is what “paths” in the Word mean.
A great deal of experience has also convinced me that after death we remain the same forever in regard to our volition or dominant love. I have been allowed to talk with some people who lived more than two thousand years ago, people whose lives are described in history books and are therefore familiar. I discovered that they were still the same, just as described, including the love that was the source and determinant of their lives.
There were others who had lived seventeen centuries ago, also known from history books, and some who had lived four centuries ago, some three, and so on, with whom I was also allowed to talk and to learn that the same affection still governed within them. The only difference was that the pleasures of their love had been changed into corresponding ones.
Angels have told me that the life of our dominant love never changes for anyone to all eternity because we are our love, so to change it in any spirit would be to take away and snuff out his or her life.
They have also told me that this is because after death we can no longer be reformed by being taught the way we could in this world, since the outmost level, made up of natural insights and affections, is then dormant and cannot be opened because it is not spiritual. The deeper functions of our mind or spirit rest on this level the way a house rests on its foundation, which is why we do stay forever like the life of our love in the world. Angels are utterly amazed that people do not realize that our nature is determined by the nature of our dominant love and that many people actually believe they can be saved by instantaneous mercy, simply on the basis of their faith alone, regardless of the kind of life they have led, not realizing that divine mercy operates through means. The means involve being led by the Lord in the world as well as afterward in heaven, and the people who are led by mercy are the ones who do not live in evil. People do not even know that faith is an affection for what is true, an affection that comes from a heavenly love that comes from the Lord. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH 479-480]