Spiritual background for GENESIS 4previous - next - text - Genesis - BM Home - Full Page
ON THE NATURE OF THE LIFE OF THE SOUL OR SPIRIT
AC 320. With regard to the general subject of the life of souls, that is, of novitiate spirits, after death, I may state that much experience has shown that when a man comes into the other life he is not aware that he is in that life, but supposes that he is still in this world, and even that he is still in the body. So much is this the case that when told he is a spirit, wonder and amazement possess him, both because he finds himself exactly like a man, in his senses, desires, and thoughts, and because during his life in this world he had not believed in the existence of the spirit, or, as is the case with some, that the spirit could be what he now finds it to be.
AC 321. A second general fact is that a spirit enjoys much more excellent sensitive faculties, and far superior powers of thinking and speaking, than when living in the body, so that the two states scarcely admit of comparison, although spirits are not aware of this until gifted with reflection by the Lord.
AC 322. Beware of the false notion that spirits do not possess far more exquisite sensations than during the life of the body. I know the contrary by experience repeated thousands of times. Should any be unwilling to believe this, in consequence of their preconceived ideas concerning the nature of spirit, let them learn it by their own experience when they come into the other life, where it will compel them to believe. In the first place spirits have sight, for they live in the light, and good spirits, angelic spirits, and angels, in a light so great that the noonday light of this world can hardly be compared to it. The light in which they dwell, and by which they see, will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be described hereafter. Spirits also have hearing, hearing so exquisite that the hearing of the body cannot be compared to it. For years they have spoken to me almost continually, but their speech also will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy be described hereafter. They have also the sense of smell, which also will Of the Lord’s Divine mercy be treated of hereafter. They have a most exquisite sense of touch, whence come the pains and torments endured in hell; for all sensations have relation to the touch, of which they are merely diversities and varieties. They have desires and affections to which those they had in the body cannot be compared, concerning which of the Lord‘s Divine mercy more will be said hereafter. Spirits think with much more clearness and distinctness than they had thought during their life in the body. There are more things contained within a single idea of their thought than in a thousand of the ideas they had possessed in this world. They speak together with so much acuteness, subtlety, sagacity, and distinctness, that if a man could perceive anything of it, it would excite his astonishment. In short, they possess everything that men possess, but in a more perfect manner, except the flesh and bones and the attendant imperfections. They acknowledge and perceive that even while they lived in the body it was the spirit that sensated, and that although the faculty of sensation manifested itself in the body, still it was not of the body; and therefore that when the body is cast aside, the sensations are far more exquisite and perfect. Life consists in the exercise of sensation, for without it there is no life, and such as is the faculty of sensation, such is the life, a fact that any one may observe.
AC 323. At the end of the chapter, several examples will be given of those who during their abode in this world had thought otherwise.
SOME EXAMPLES DRAWN FROM EXPERIENCE WITH SPIRITS CONCERNING WHAT THEY HAD THOUGHT DURING THEIR LIFE IN THE BODY ABOUT THE SOUL OR SPIRIT
AC 443. In the other life it is given to perceive clearly what opinions people had entertained while they lived in the body concerning the soul, the spirit, and the life after death; for when kept in a state resembling that of the body they think in the same way, and their thought is communicated as plainly as if they spoke aloud. In the case of one person, not long after his decease, I perceived (what he himself confessed) that he had indeed believed in the existence of the spirit, but had imagined that it must live after death an obscure kind of life, because if the life of the body were withdrawn there would remain nothing but what is dim and obscure; for he had regarded life as being in the body, and therefore he had thought of the spirit as being a phantom; and he had confirmed himself in this idea from seeing that brutes also have life, almost as men have it. He now marveled that spirits and angels live in the greatest light, and in the greatest intelligence, wisdom, and happiness, attended with a perception so perfect that it can scarcely be described; consequently that their life, so far from being obscure, is most perfectly clear and distinct.
AC 444. Conversing with one who while he lived in this world had believed that the spirit has no extension, and on that ground would admit of no word that implied extension, I asked him what he now thought of himself, seeing that now he was a soul or spirit, and possessed sight, hearing, smell, an exquisite sense of touch, desires, thoughts, insomuch that he supposed himself to be exactly as if in the body. He was kept in the idea which he had when he had so thought in the world, and he said that the spirit is thought. I was permitted to ask him in reply, whether, having lived in the world, he was not aware that there can be no bodily sight without an organ of vision or eye? and how then can there be internal sight, or thought? Must it not have some organic substance from which to think? He then acknowledged that while in the bodily life he had labored under the delusion that the spirit is mere thought, devoid of everything organic or extended. I added that if the soul or spirit were mere thought, man would not need so large a brain, seeing that the whole brain is the organ of the interior senses; for if it were not so the skull might be hollow, and the thought still act in it as the spirit. From this consideration alone, as well as from the operation of the soul into the muscles, giving rise to so great a variety of movements, I said that he might be assured that the spirit is organic, that is, an organic substance. Whereupon he confessed his error, and wondered that he had been so foolish.
AC 445. It was further remarked, that the learned have no other belief than that the soul which is to live after death, that is, the spirit, is abstract thought. This is very manifest from their unwillingness to admit of any term that implies extension and what belongs to extension, because thought abstractedly from a subject is not extended, whereas the subject of the thought, and the objects of the thought, are extended; and as for those objects which are not extended, men define them by boundaries and give extension to them, in order that they may comprehend them. This shows very clearly that the learned have no other conception of the soul or spirit than that it is mere thought, and so cannot but believe that it will vanish when they die.
AC 446. I have discoursed with spirits concerning the common opinion that prevails among men at the present day, that the existence of the spirit is not to be credited because they do not see it with their eyes, nor comprehend it by their memory-knowledges (scientias), and so they not only deny that the spirit has extension, but also that it is a substance, disputing as to what substance is. And as they deny that it has extension, and also dispute about substance, they also deny that the spirit is in any place, and consequently that it is in the human body; and yet the most simple might know that his soul or spirit is within his body. When I said these things, the spirits, who were some of the more simple ones, marveled that the men of the present day are so foolish. And when they heard the words that are disputed about, such as "parts without parts," and other such terms, they called them absurd, ridiculous, and farcical, which should not occupy the mind at all, because they close the way to intelligence.
AC 447. A certain novitiate spirit, on hearing me speak about the spirit, asked, "What is a spirit?" supposing himself to be a man. And when I told him that there is a spirit in every man, and that in respect to his life a man is a spirit; that the body is merely to enable a man to live on the earth, and that the flesh and bones, that is, the body, does not live or think at all; seeing that he was at a loss, I asked him whether he had ever heard of the soul. "What is a soul?" he replied, "I do not know what a soul is." I was then permitted to tell him that he himself was now a soul, or spirit, as he might know from the fact that he was over my head, and was not standing on the earth. I asked him whether he could not perceive this, and he then fled away in terror, crying out, "I am a spirit! I am a spirit!" A certain Jew supposed himself to be living wholly in the body, insomuch that he could scarcely be persuaded to the contrary. And when he was shown that he was a spirit, he still persisted in saying that he was a man, because he could see and hear. Such are they who, during their abode in this world, have been devoted to the body. To these examples very many more might be added, but these have been given merely in order to confirm the fact, that it is the spirit in man, and not the body, which exercises sensation.
AC 448. I have conversed with many who had been known to me in this life (and this I have done for a long time-for months and years), in as clear a voice, although an inward one, as with friends in this world. The subject of our conversation has sometimes been the state of man after death, and they have wondered exceedingly that during the bodily life no one knows or believes that he is so to live when the bodily life is over, when yet there is then a continuation of life, and such a continuation that the man passes from an obscure life into a clear one, and those who are in faith in the Lord into a life that is more and more clear. They have desired me to tell their friends that they are alive, and to write and tell them what their condition is, even as I had related to themselves many things about that of their friends here. But I replied that were I to tell their friends such things, or to write to them about them, they would not believe, but would call them delusions, would scoff at them, and would ask for signs or miracles before they would believe; and I should merely expose myself to their derision. And that these things are true, perchance but few will believe. For at heart men deny the existence of spirits, and even those who do not deny it are unwilling to hear that any one can speak with spirits. In ancient times there was no such state of belief in regard to spirits, but so it is now when by crazy ratiocination men try to find out what spirits are, and by their definitions and suppositions deprive them of all the senses, and do this the more, the more learned they desire to be. previous - next - text - Genesis - BM Home - Full Page