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CONCERNING THE PERCEPTION OF SPIRITS AND OF ANGELS AND CONCERNING SPHERES IN THE OTHER LIFE
AC 1383. Among the wonderful things in the other life are perceptions, Of which there are two kinds. One kind, which is angelic perception, consists in perceiving what is true and good, and what is from the Lord, and what from the persons themselves; and also in perceiving the source and quality of their thoughts, words, and actions, when these are from themselves. The other kind is common to all, to angels in the highest perfection, and to spirits according to their respective qualities, and consists in knowing the quality of another on his first approach.
AC 1384. As regards the first kind of perception, which is angelic, and which consists in perceiving what is true and good, also what is from the Lord and what from the persons themselves; and also in perceiving the source and quality of their thoughts, words, and actions, when these are from themselves, it has been granted me to converse with the sons of the Most Ancient Church concerning their perception. They said that of themselves they neither think nor can think anything, nor of themselves will anything; but that in all things whatever which they think and will, both in general and in particular, they perceive what comes from the Lord, and what from other sources; and they perceive not only how much is from the Lord, and how much is as from themselves, but also, when it is as from themselves, they perceive whence it is, from what angels, and likewise the quality of the angels and what their thoughts are, distinguishing every difference; thus they perceive what the influx is, and numberless other things. Perceptions of this kind exist in much variety. With the celestial angels, who are in love to the Lord, there is a perception of good, and from this, of all things of truth; and as they perceive truth from good, they do not admit of any speaking, and still less of any reasoning, about truth but they say that it is so, or that it is not so. Whereas the spiritual angels, who likewise have perception, although not such as the celestial have, speak concerning truth and good; but still they perceive them, although with a difference; for there are innumerable varieties of this perception, the varieties having reference to their perception as to whether a thing is of the Lords will, as to whether it is of His leave, or as to whether it is of His permission, all of which are perfectly distinct from each other.
AC 1385. There are spirits who belong to the province of the skin, especially the scaly skin, who desire to reason about everything; they have no perception of what is good and true; indeed the more they reason, the less they perceive; they make wisdom consist in reasoning, and on this base their claim to seem wise. They have been told that it is of angelic wisdom to perceive without reasoning whether a thing is good and true; but they do not apprehend that such perception is possible. These are they who in the life of the body had confused truth and good by means of matters of knowledge and of philosophy, and thereby had seemed to themselves to be pre-eminently learned; but as they had not previously adopted any principles of truth from the Word, they have less common sense than others.
AC 1386. So long as spirits suppose that they are under their own guidance and think from themselves, and that they have knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from themselves, they cannot have perception, but believe it to be a fable.
AC 1387. I have several times conversed about perception with those in the other life who, while they lived in the world, had regarded themselves as able to penetrate and understand all things telling them that angels perceive that they think and speak, and will and act from the Lord. But still they could not conceive what perception is, but supposed that if all things were to inflow in this way, they would be bereaved of all life; because in that case they would think nothing from themselves, or from what is their own; and in this they had made life to consist; and that in that case it would be another who was thinking, and not themselves; so that they would be mere organs devoid of life. But they were told that between having perception, and not having it, the difference of life is like that between light and darkness; and that men first begin to feel alive when they receive such perception; for then they live from the Lord, and also have what is their own, which is given together with all happiness and delight. It was also shown them by varied experience how the case is with perception, and at the time they acknowledged the possibility of it; but after a while they again did not know, doubted, and denied. From this it has been made evident how difficult it is for man to comprehend what perception is.
AC 1388. The second kind of perception, as has been said, is what is common to all, in the highest perfection to angels, and to spirits according to their quality. It consists in knowing the quality of another at his first approach, even if he does not speak. He manifests himself forthwith by a certain wonderful influx. It is known of a good spirit, not only of what goodness he is, but also of what faith; and when he speaks, this is known from every word. Of an evil spirit it is known of what evil he is and of what unbelief; and when he speaks, this is known from every word, and so manifestly that there can be no mistake. Something similar appears with men, who likewise can sometimes know from another’s gesture, looks, or speech, what he is thinking, even although it is contrary to what he says; and this knowledge is natural to man, deriving its origin and character from the nature of spirits, and thus from the spirit of the man himself, and its communication with the world of spirits. This communicative perception has its beginning in the fact that the Lord wills that all goods may be communicable, and that all may be affected by mutual love, and so be happy. Hence such a perception reigns universally also among spirits.
AC 1389. Souls that have come into the other life have wondered that there is such a communication of another‘s thoughts, and that they at once know the quality of another person’s faith, as well as that of his disposition. But they were told that the spirit receives much more excellent faculties when it has been separated from the body. During the bodily life there is an influx of the objects of the senses; and also of phantasy from those things which thence inhere in the memory; besides anxieties for the future; various cupidities that are excited by external things; cares for food, clothing, place of abode, children; and other things, concerning which they take no thought in the other life; and therefore on the removal of these obstacles and hindrances, together with the corporeal parts that are of gross sensation, they cannot but be in a more perfect state. The same faculties remain, but are much more perfect, clear, and free; especially with those who have lived in charity and faith in the Lord, and in innocence; for the faculties of all such are immensely elevated above those which they had in the body, being finally elevated even to the angelic faculties of the third heaven.
AC 1390. Nor is there a communication merely of another‘s affections and thoughts, but also of his memory-knowledge, to such an extent that one spirit supposes that he has known what another knows, even if he had known nothing about such matters. Thus there is a communication of all the other’s knowledge. Some spirits retain what is thus communicated, and some do not.
AC 1391. Communications are made both by conversation with one another, and by ideas together with representations; for the ideas of thought of spirits are simultaneously representative, and by this means all things are set forth in great fullness. They can represent more by a single idea than they can utter by a thousand words. But the angels perceive what is within the idea, what the affection is, what the origin of the affection, what its end; besides other things that are interior.
AC 1392. The delights and happiness in the other life are wont to be communicated from one to many by a real transmission that is wonderful, by which they too are affected in a similar manner; and these communications are effected without any loss to him who makes the communication. It has been granted me also thus to communicate delights to others by transmissions. From this may be seen what must be the happiness of those who love the neighbor more than themselves, and who desire nothing more than to transfer their happiness to others; a condition that originates in the Lord, who in this manner communicates felicities to the angels. The communications of happiness are such continual transmissions; but without any reflection that they are from such an active origin, and from a determination as it were open and voluntary.
AC 1393. Communications are also effected in a wonderful way by means of removals, the nature of which cannot be perceived by man. Sad and troublesome things are removed in an instant, and thus things that give delight and happiness are presented without any hindrances; for when these have been removed, the angels flow in, and communicate their happy feelings.
AC 1394. It is owing to the existence of such perception as enables one to know in an instant what is the quality of another in respect to love and faith, that spirits and angels are joined together into societies in accordance with their agreement, and are separated from fellowship according to their disagreement; and this so exquisitely that there is not the smallest difference which does not dissociate or consociate. Hence the societies in the heavens are so distinct from one another that nothing can be conceived to be more so; and this in accordance with all the differences of love to the Lord, and of faith in Him, which cannot be numbered. Hence comes the form of heaven, which is such as to represent one man; and this form is continually being perfected.
AC 1395. As regards this kind of perception, I have learned many things from experience, but it would be tedious to relate them all. Often have I heard the deceitful speaking, and have perceived not only that there was deceit, but also what the deceit was, and what special wickedness there was in it. There is as it were an image of the deceit in every tone of the voice. I could also perceive whether the deceit belonged to him who was speaking, or to others who spoke through him. The case is similar with those who are in hatred: the nature of the hatred is at once perceived, and more things that are in it than man can in any wise be induced to believe. When the persons are presented against whom the hatred has been felt, a lamentable state results, for whatever had been thought and plotted against them stands forth to view.
AC 1396. A certain spirit who while he lived in the world had desired to arrogate to himself merit for his acts and his teaching, went away to the right and came to those who were not of such a character. In order that he might be associated with them, he said that he was nothing, and that he desired to serve them; but instantly, on his first approach, and indeed while he was still far away, they perceived what he was; and they at once replied that he was not what he professed to be, but that he desired to be great, and therefore could not be in agreement with them, who were little. Being ashamed at this, he withdrew, wondering that they knew him so far away.
AC 1397. As the perceptions are so exquisite, evil spirits cannot approach a sphere, or any society, where there are good spirits who are in mutual love. When they merely approach it they begin to be distressed, and they complain and lament. In his audacity and self confidence, a spirit who was evil obtruded himself into a certain society that is at the first threshold of heaven; but from the moment of his arrival he was scarcely able to breathe, and became sensible of a cadaverous stench from himself, and therefore fell back.
AC 1398. There were a number of spirits about me who were not good. An angel came, and I saw that the spirits could not endure his presence; for, as he came nearer, they fell back more and more. I wondered at this, but it was given me to know that the spirits could not stay in the sphere which he had with him. From this, and also from other experience, it has been made evident that one angel can put to flight myriads of evil spirits, for they cannot endure the sphere of mutual love. And yet it was perceived that the sphere of the angel had been tempered by means of others who were associated with him: if it had not been tempered, they would all have been dissipated. From all this it is evident what a perfect perception exists in the other life; and how those who are there are associated together, and also separated from fellow ship, in accordance with the perceptions.
AC 1399. Every spirit has communication with the interior and with the inmost heaven, though he is wholly ignorant of it, and without this communication be could not live. What he is inwardly, is known by the angels who are in his interiors, and he is also ruled by the Lord by means of these angels. Thus there are communications of his interiors in heaven, as there are of his exteriors in the world of spirits. By the interior communications he is disposed to use, to which he is led, beyond his knowledge. The case is the same with man: he likewise communicates with heaven by means of angels, although of this he is wholly ignorant-for otherwise he could not live. The things which flow in therefrom into his thoughts, are only the ultimate effects; all his life is from this source, and from this are ruled all the endeavors (conatus) of his life.
AC 1400. A continuation concerning perceptions and the spheres that arise from them, will be found at the end of this chapter.
CONTINUATION CONCERNING PERCEPTION; AND CONCERNING SPHERES IN THE OTHER LIFE
AC 1504. It has already been said that it is known in the other life what another is on his first approach, even though he does not speak. From this it may be known that a man’s interiors are in a kind of unconscious activity, and that from this the quality of the spirit is perceived. That it is so has been evidenced by the fact that this sphere of the activity not only extends itself to a distance, but that sometimes also, when the Lord permits, it is in various ways made perceptible to the senses.
AC 1505. I have also been informed how these spheres, which in the other life become so perceptible to the senses, are acquired. Take as an example one who has formed a high opinion of himself and of his own pre-eminent excellence. He at last becomes imbued with such a habit, and as it were with such a nature, that wherever he goes, though he looks at others and speaks with them, he keeps himself in view; and this at first manifestly, but afterwards not manifestly, so that he is not aware of it; but still it is regnant, both in the particulars of his affection and thought, and in those of his bearing and speech. Men can see this in others. And this is the kind of thing that in the other life makes a sphere, which is perceived, but no more frequently than the Lord permits. The same is the case with other affections; and therefore there are as many spheres as there are affections and combinations of affections, which are innumerable. The sphere is as it were the man‘s image extended outside of himself, the image in fact of all things that are in him. In the world of spirits that which is presented to the view or perception is only something general; what the man is as to particulars, is known in heaven; but what as to the least particulars is known to none but the Lord.
AC 1506. In order that the nature of spheres may be known, I may adduce some things from experience. A certain spirit who had been known to me and with whom I had conversed while he lived in the body, appeared many times afterwards among the evil; and as he had a high opinion of himself, he had acquired a sphere of pre-eminent excellence, because of which the spirits suddenly fled away, so that none appeared but himself alone; and he filled the whole surrounding sphere, which was one of self-regard. Being deprived of companions, he presently fell into another state; for in the other life one who is deprived of the society in which he is, at first becomes as if he were half dead, for his life is then supported solely by the influx of heaven into his interiors. He then began to lament and feel torment. The other spirits afterwards said that they could not endure his presence, because he desired to be greater than others. Being at last brought into association with others, he was carried up on high, so that it seemed to him that he alone governed the universe; to such a degree does the love of self puff itself up when left to itself. He was then cast down among the infernals. Such a lot awaits those who think themselves greater than others. More than any other love is the love of self contrary to mutual love, which is the life of heaven.
AC 1507. A certain person during his bodily life had seemed to himself to be greater and wiser than others in other respects he was well disposed, and not much given to despising others in comparison with himself; but as he had been born of high rank, he had contracted a sphere of supereminence and authority. In this character he came to me, and for a long time spake not, but I noticed that he was encompassed as with a mist, which going forth from him began to cover the other spirits; at which they began to be distressed. Thereupon, addressing me, they said that they could not possibly stay there, for they were deprived of all their freedom, so that they did not dare to say anything. He also began to speak to them, calling them his sons, and at times instructing them, but with the authority that he had contracted. This showed the nature in the other life of a sphere of authority.
AC 1508. Many times has it been given me to observe that those who in the world had been endowed with high rank, could not help contracting thereby a sphere of authority, and therefore in the other life they could neither hide nor get rid of it. In those of them who had been endowed with faith and charity, the sphere of authority is in a wonderful way conjoined with a sphere of goodness, so that it is not troublesome to any one; indeed a kind of corresponding subordination is shown them by well-behaved spirits; and in fact they have no sphere of commanding, but only a sphere that is natural to them from their high birth, and which after some delay they put off; for they are good, and strive to put it off.
AC 1509. For several days such spirits were with me as during their life in this world had cared nothing for the good of society, but only for themselves, being useless members of the commonwealth, and who had no end but to live sumptuously, to be clothed splendidly, and to grow rich; being well practiced in simulation, and in ways of insinuating themselves by various forms of flattering assent and a display of services, but only that they might seem devoted, and be intrusted with their master’s goods, while they looked down with contempt upon all who were earnestly employed. It was perceived that they had been courtiers. The effect of their sphere was to take from me the power of close application, and to make it so irksome for me to act and to think in serious matters, true and good, that at last I scarcely knew what to do. When such as these come among spirits, they induce on them a similar torpor. In the other life they are useless members, and are rejected wherever they come.
AC 1510. Every spirit-and still more every society of spirits--has his own sphere from his principles and persuasions, which sphere is that of his principles and persuasions. Evil genii have a sphere of cupidities, and in their case the sphere of principles and persuasions is such that when acting upon another it makes truths to be as falsities and calls forth all things that are confirmatory, so as to induce a belief that falsities are truths, and that evils are goods.
 This has shown how easily a man may be confirmed in falsities and evils, if he has no belief in the truths which are from the Lord. Such spheres are dense in proportion to the nature of the falsities. These spheres can by no means agree with the spheres of spirits who are in truths. If they approach, there arises a repugnance; and if by permission the sphere of falsity prevails, the good come into temptation and into anxiety. I have also perceived the sphere of unbelief, which is such that those who are in it do not believe anything that is said, and scarcely what is presented to their sight. There is also the sphere of those who believe nothing but what they apprehend by the senses.
 A certain one was seen by me, clothed in something dark, sitting at a mill, as if grinding meal, and at the side were seen little mirrors, and I afterwards saw some things produced by phantasy, but which were aerial. I wondered who he was; but he came to me and said that he was the one who sat at the mill; and that he had such ideas, as that all things whatsoever are only phantasies, and that nothing is real. For this reason he had become such as he was.
AC 1511. It has been made known to me by much experience, so well known that nothing can be more so, that spirits who are in falsities flow into the thought, and induce a persuasion exactly as if what is false is true, so that it cannot possibly appear otherwise, and this they do from their sphere. In like manner genii, who are in evils, inflow in the same way into the will, and produce an effect exactly as if what is evil is good, so that it cannot possibly be felt otherwise; and this also from their sphere. This influx of spirits of both kinds it has been given me to plainly perceive a thousand times; also from whom it came, and how angels from the Lord removed such things; besides many other things that cannot so well be specifically narrated; so that I have become assured, with all possible certainty, whence come the falsities and evils with man; and also that such spheres as remain after the death of the body and manifest themselves so evidently, are from principles of falsity and cupidities of evil.
AC 1512. The spheres of phantasies, when presented in visible form, appear like clouds, more or less dense according to the quality of the phantasy. There is a certain misty rock under the left foot, where the antediluvians are, and under which they stay. That cloudiness, by which they are kept apart from all others in the other life, arises from their phantasies. From those who have lived in hatred and revenge, there exhale such spheres as cause swooning, and excite vomiting. Such spheres are as it were poisonous; and it is usual to test how poisonous they are, and how dense, by fillets of a dull azure color: as these fade away, the sphere also is lessened.
AC 1513. A certain spirit came to me of those called the luke-warm, who bore himself as if he had repented; nor did I perceive the deceit, although I thought that he was concealing something within. But the spirits said that they could not endure his presence, and that they felt within themselves such an effect as men feel when moved to vomit, and that he was among those who are to be spewed out. He afterwards spoke abominable things; nor could he desist, however much he was persuaded not to speak so.
AC 1514. Spheres are also made susceptible to sense by odors, which spirits smell much more exquisitely than men; for, wonderful to say, odors correspond to spheres. When the sphere of those who have indulged in the practice of simulation and have thereby contracted a nature, is turned into an odor, there is a stench of vomit. When the sphere of those who have studied eloquence to the end that everything may redound to self-admiration, is made odoriferous, it is like the odor of burnt bread. With those who have indulged in mere pleasures, and have been in no charity and faith, the odor of their sphere is like that of excrement. So is the odor of those who have spent their lives in adulteries, but this is still more offensive. When the sphere of those who have lived in deep hatred and revenge, and in cruelty, is turned into odors, there is a cadaverous stench. The stench of mice is diffused around from those who have been sordidly avaricious; the stench of bedbugs from those who persecute the innocent. These odors cannot be smelled by any man, except by one whose interior sensations are opened, so that he may be in company with spirits.
AC 1515. The sphere of the stench of a certain woman was perceived, who was afterwards associated with sirens; and that stench exhaled for some days wherever she went. The spirits said that the stench seemed deadly; yet she perceived nothing of it. The stench of sirens is similar, because their interiors are filthy, while their exteriors are for the most part becoming and fair (n. 831). It is wonderful how quickly the sirens in the other life learn all things there, and know better than others how things are, even matters of doctrine; but all to the end that they may turn them into magic, and arrogate to themselves command over others. They enter into the affections of the good by the simulation of good and truth; but still their quality remains, which shows that what is doctrinal is nothing, unless the man becomes as it teaches, that is, unless he has the life as the end in view and besides, there are many among the infernals who had been pre-eminently skilled in doctrinal things. But they who have lived a life of charity are all in heaven.
AC 1516. I have spoken with spirits about the sense of taste, which they said that they do not possess, but a something from which they know what taste is, and which they likened to an odor, but which they could not describe. It was brought to my recollection that taste and smell meet in a kind of third sense, as is evident also from animals which examine their food by the smell, from which they know whether it is wholesome and suitable for them.
AC 1517. A vinous odor was perceived, and I was informed that it came from those who compliment one another from friendship and rightful love, so that there is also truth in the compliments. This odor exists with much variety, and comes from the sphere of the beautiful in forms.
AC 1518. When the celestial angels are with the body of a deceased person who is to be raised up, the smell of the body is turned into an aromatic odor; on perceiving which, evil spirits cannot approach.
AC 1519. The spheres of charity and faith, when perceived as odors, are most delightful; the odors are pleasant, as of flowers, lilies, and spices of various kinds, with indefinite variety. Moreover, the spheres of the angels also are sometimes made visible as atmospheres or auras, which are so beautiful, so pleasant, and so various, that they cannot possibly be described.
AC 1520. But in regard to what has been said of the possibility of perceiving the interiors of a spirit by spheres extended and projected outside of him, as also by odors, it is to be known that these are not always perceptible and besides, they are tempered in various ways by the Lord, in order that the quality of spirits may not always be exposed before others. previous - next - text - Genesis - BM Home - Full Page