The Trigger of Psychic Visions:
Emanuel Swedenborg's Near-Death
(1688--1772) was born in Stockholm,
Sweden, and was quite renowned in his
day for his contributions in various
fields of natural science. His writings
were first oriented towards anatomy,
physiology, and psychology gained substantial
recognition. Later in his life, he experienced
a religious crisis and began to write
of experiences of being in communication
with spiritual entities. His later spiritual
writings abound with vivid descriptions
of what life after death is like. The
parallels between his out-of-body spiritual
experiences and NDEs are quite remarkable.
So remarkable, in fact, that in
ground-breaking book on near-death experiences,
has an entire section devoted these
parallels. In this article you will
learn these parallels and read an excerpt
from Swedenborg's most famous work entitled
which was translated into the book entitled
Emanuel Swedenborg and His Out-of-Body Journeys
The following information
comes the section of Dr. Raymond Moody's book,
Life After Life, on Emanuel Swedenborg.
what happens when bodily functions such as respiration
and circulation cease. This description is similar
to what people describe when
dying during an NDE.
man does not die, but is only separated
from the corporeal part which was of
use to him in the world ... Man, when
he dies, only passes from one world
Swedenborg wrote how
he himself has been through the early stages
of death and had experiences outside of his
body. This corresponds to the out-of-body experience
component of the NDE.
brought into a state of insensibility
as to the bodily sense, thus almost
into the state of the dying; yet the
interior life with thought remaining
entire, so that I perceived and retained
in memory the things which occurred,
and which occur to those who are resuscitated
from the dead ... Especially it was
given to perceive ... that there was
a drawing and ... pulling of ... mind,
thus of my spirit, from the body."
out-of-body experiences, he encountered beings
whom he identifies as angels. They ask him,
in effect, if he is prepared to die. This corresponds
to NDEs where
spirit guides appear and help the experiencer.
angels first inquired what my thought
was, whether it was like the thought
of those who die, which is usually about
eternal life; and that they wished to
keep my mind in that thought."
The communication which
took place between Swedenborg and the spirits
are direct transfers of thought - a way of communicating
in which there is no possibility of misunderstanding.
This corresponds to people having NDEs who describe
communication as being telepathic.
converse with each other by universal
language ... Every man, immediately
after death, comes into this universal
language ... which is proper to his
of an angel or a spirit with man is
heard as sonorously as the speech of
a man with a man; yet it is not heard
by others who stand near, but by himself
alone; the reason is, because the speech
of an angel or spirit flows first into
the man's thought ..."
how the newly dead often do not realize they
are dead because they still inhabit a body resembling
their physical body in several respects. This
kind phenomenon appears in many NDE testimonies
such as that of
Dr. George Ritchie.
state of man after death is similar
to his state in the world, because then
in like manner he is in externals ...
Hence, he knows no otherwise than the
he is still in the world ... Therefore,
after they have wondered that they are
in a body, and in every sense which
they had in the world ... they come
into a desire of knowing what heaven
is, and what hell is."
how - compared to physical life - the spiritual
life has less limitations. Perception, thought,
and memory are more perfect. Time and space
no longer pose the obstacles they once had in
physical life. This corresponds with NDE testimonies
thought becomes more expansive and how
the afterlife realms exist in a timeless state.
faculties of spirits ... are in a more
perfect state, as well their sensations
as their thoughts and perceptions."
According to Swedenborg,
the dying person may meet with other departed
spirits whom they knew in life. These other
spirits are there to help the dying person in
their transition to life on the Other Side.
This corresponds to NDE testimony involving
the experiencer being
welcomed by loved ones in a kind of homecoming.
of man recently departed from the world
is ... recognized by his friends, and
by those whom he had known in the world
... wherefore they are instructed by
their friends concerning the state of
eternal life ..."
Swedenborg wrote how
the departed person may have their entire life
shown to them in a vision. The departed person
remembers every detail of it and there is no
possibility lying or concealing anything. This
corresponds to the
life review of NDEs.
memory ... is such that there are inscribed
in it all the particular things ...
which man has at any time thought, spoken,
and done ... from his earliest infancy
to extreme old age. Man has with him
the memory of all these things when
he comes into another life, and is successively
brought into all recollection of them
... All that he had spoken and done
... are made manifest before the angels,
in a light as clear as day ... and ...
there is nothing so concealed in the
world that it is not manifested after
death ... as if seen in effigy, when
the spirit is viewed in the light of
Swedenborg also mentioned
the "light of the Lord" which permeates the
hereafter. It is a light of ineffable brightness
which Swedenborg claims to have glimpsed himself.
It is a light of truth and of understanding.
This corresponds to
the otherworldly Light seen in many NDEs.
Insights from Emanuel Swedenborg's Out-of-Body
Moody provides insights of how Swedenborg's
experiences provide striking parallels to contemporary
During several of
Swedenborg's near-death experiences, he would
witness people dying and see their happenings
in the afterlife. He stated that immediately
following death, there is a period of self-discovery
in which the social masks worn by people on
Earth dissolve away and the true self is revealed.
Each person then shapes their own eternity to
correspond with their real inner nature. Some
people become irrational, driven by fear and
greed. Such people are in a spiritual condition
which Swedenborg called "hell."
Hell is a psychological condition corresponding
to the suffering that people experience on Earth
when they allow themselves to be driven by the
blind greed of their own egos. There are
no devils in hell
to inflict punishments because in the hellish
spiritual condition each person acts out their
own malice by tormenting others. This is perfectly
Howard Storm's NDE
After death, most
people find within themselves the psychological
state Swedenborg called
a joyous condition
a state of expanded
of perceiving more and more of
the grand plan of
The heaven which Swedenborg experienced, corresponds
Therefore, persons from many cultures and religions
the societies of heaven.
Swedenborg often mentioned that these societies
- the "Church of the Lord" as he calls them
- are universal. This Church of the Lord consists
of all those who have lived in the goodness
of love according to their own spiritual life
into the afterlife provide us with more than
just a glimpse of the Other Side; they provides
us a very clear picture. The following is an
Awaken From Death
- an English translation of Swedenborg's classic
Heaven and Hell.
A Person's Strongest Love Is Revealed at Death
is a strongest love which a person keeps after
death and which never changes throughout eternity.
Everyone has a considerable number of loves,
but they all go back to their strongest love
which a person makes one with - or
taken all together - comprise it.
the elements of intention that are in harmony
with their strongest love are called desires,
because they are desired. Some of these
desires are more inward, some more outward.
There are some desires that are directly bound;
some are nearer, some are farther away. There
are various kinds of subordination.
all together, they make up a kind of kingdom.
Thus, a person's desires are organized within
themselves even though they are completely unaware
it. To some extent, however, this is made
known to people in the afterlife where they
have an outreach of thought and affection depending
upon this organization. This becomes an
outreach into the heavenly communities if the
strongest love is made up of the desires of
heaven. But this becomes an outreach into hellish
communities if the strongest love is made up
of desires of hell. From this information, we
then can understand the following:
After death, people become their desire
Throughout eternity, people stay the
way they are insofar as their impulses
or strongest love is concerned.
People who have a heavenly and spiritual
desire will enter heaven; while people
who have a physical and worldly desire
without a heavenly and spiritual desire
will enter hell.
People do not keep their faith if it
does not come from a heavenly desire.
Desire in action is what lasts; hence
this is the person's true life.
death, a person is his desire or intention (impulses).
This has been made clear to me by observing
experiences over and over again. The whole of
heaven is divided into communities on the basis
of differences in the good that comes from desire.
Every single spirit who is raised into heaven
and becomes an angel is taken to the community
where his or her desire is, and once there they
are where they belong, so to speak - as
though they were at home, where they were born.
An angel senses this and makes close friends
with others like themselves.
they leave and go to another community, there
is a certain constant resistance. This is the
effect of their longing to return to those who
are like themselves which means to their own
strongest love. This is how close friendships
are formed in heaven. The same holds true in
hell, where people also form friendships on
the basis of desires which are opposed to heavenly
establish that, after death, people are their
desire from the fact that there is a removal
after death, a kind of carrying away of the
elements which are not consistent with their
strongest love. If people are good, then all
the things that are discordant, or that disagree
with their true love, are removed and, so to
speak, are carried away. In this way they are
installed in their own desire. The same happens
with people who are evil (the difference
being that true things are carried away from
them), until finally all individuals become
their own true inner desire. This takes place
when a spirit-person is brought through into
the third state described below. Once this has
happened, people constantly turn their face
toward their inner desire, keeping it always
before their eyes wherever they turn.
same holds true for people in this world: their
own desires leads them, too, and they are led
by others by means of their own desires. It
is all the more true when they become spirits,
because then they are not allowed to present
the semblance of any other desire, or to pretend
a desire that is not really theirs.
personal associations in a person's life is
evidence of the fact that people's spirits reflect
their strongest love. In fact, whenever anyone
acts and talks in keeping with someone else's
desire, that person seems complete, with a fully
expressive, cheerful, lively face. But
whenever anyone acts and talks contrary to someone
else's desire, that person's face begins to
change, to become hazy, and to fade from view. Eventually
the whole person vanishes as though they had
never been there. I have often been amazed that
this is so, since nothing like it occurs in
our world; but I have been told that something
like this does happen to the spirit of a person
which is no longer within another person's view
when it turns away from that other.
times I have been enabled to see how good, simple
folk wanted to educate evil people in matters
of truth and goodness, and how such people ran
away from this education; and when they reached
their own kind, they grasped the false elements
that suited their desire with an intense pleasure.
I have also been enabled to see good spirits
talking with each other about true things, which
the good people present listened to eagerly,
while the evil ones who were also present paid
no attention whatever, just as though they did
not hear anything.
are visible in the spiritual world. Some lead
to heaven, some to hell; one to one community,
one to another. Good spirits travel only
along paths that lead to heaven, to the community
which is involved in the particular good that
comes from their own desire. They do not see
paths leading in other directions. Evil spirits
follow only paths that lead to hell, to the
particular community there which is involved
in the evil that comes from their own desire.
They do not see paths leading in other directions;
and even if they do, they do not want to follow
after the first and second states have been
completed, these two classes are separated so
that they no longer see or recognize each other.
Everyone becomes their own desire, not only
in regard to the more inward elements of their
mind, but also in regard to the more outward
matters that are proper to their face, body,
and speech; for all people become an image of
their desire, even in outward things.
who are involved in a physical desire are wholly
incapable of living in heaven's warmth, since
heaven's warmth is heavenly desire. They
are however capable of living in hell's warmth,
which is a desire of cruelty toward other people
who do not support them. The pleasures of this
desire are various kinds of contempt for others,
of enmity, hatred, and revenge. When they are
involved in these, they are involved in their
own life, utterly ignorant of what it means
to do something good to others on the basis
of and for the sake of the good act itself - only
of acting on the basis of what is evil and for
the sake of what is evil.
who are involved in a physical desire cannot
breathe in heaven. If an evil person is taken
there, he draws each breath like someone hard
pressed in a struggle. But people who are involved
in a heavenly desire breathe more freely and
live more fully the farther into heaven they
The First Stage After Death Involves More Outward
are three stages people pass through after their
death before arriving in heaven or hell.
The first stage involves their more outward
aspects, the second stage involves their more
inward aspects, and the third stage is a state
of preparation. People pass through these stages
in the world of spirits.
Insofar as the first stage is concerned -
the stage involving people's more outward
aspects - this is where people come to
immediately after death.
people have more inward and outward aspects
to their spirit. A person's more outward aspects
are the means by which they adjust to the their
body in the physical world (especially his face,
speech, and manner) for associating with other
people. But the spirit's more inward aspects
are the ones which belong to the person's intention
and resultant thought, which are seldom evident
in the face, speech, or manner. From infancy,
people get used to displaying friendliness,
kindness and sincerity, and hiding their real
thoughts and feelings. So, as a matter of habit,
they reflect a moral and civic life outwardly,
no matter what they are like inwardly.
habit is the source of people's virtual ignorance
of what lies deeper within them and also of
their inattention to these matters.
first stage after death is very much like their
condition in the physical world, since at that
point they are similarly involved in outward
matters. They have much the same face, speech,
and spirit. Consequently, they have much the
same moral and civic life.
is why they are then quite unaware that they
are not still in the physical world unless they
pay attention to things happening to them and
to what they were told by angels when they were
awakened - namely, that they are now spirits.
one life continues into the other. Death is
only a crossing over.
individuals in the spirit world think about
someone else in the spirit world, they set the
person's face before themselves in their thought,
together with many other things that characterized
the person's life. When they do that, the other
person becomes present as though he had been
called and summoned.
kind of thing happens in the spiritual world
because thoughts are communicated there and
because distances do not have the same attributes
as they have in the natural world. This is why
everyone, upon first arriving in the spirit
world, is recognized by friends, relatives,
and acquaintances of one sort or another. And
this is why they communicate with each other
and associate with each other along the lines
of their friendships in the physical world.
are taught by their friends about the state
of eternal life and are taken around to different
places - into different communities. Some are
taken to cities, some to gardens and parks; but
most are taken to splendid places because this
sort of place delights the outward nature they
are still involved in. Then they are intermittently
led into thoughts they had during their physical
life about the soul's condition after death,
about heaven and hell, until they come to resent
their former utter ignorance of things like
this, and resent the Church's ignorance of such
people are able to travel anywhere on Earth
as well. The powers of the mind after death
can be first realized in this earthbound realm
where more spiritually developed souls are able
to guide them to higher realms if they so desire.
Swedenborg's description of the first stage
is similar to accounts of near-death experiences
in this earthbound realm.]
all of them are eager to know whether they will
get into heaven. Most of them believe they will
because they have led a moral and civic life
in the physical world, without considering that
both evil and good people lead lives that are
similar in outward aspects and do good works
for other people in a similar fashion, attend
church, listen to sermons and pray. They
are wholly unaware that outward behavior and
outward worship do not accomplish anything;
but rather it is the inner elements - from which
the outward ones come - that really counts.
one out of several thousand people knows what
their own inner elements are, or knows that
those inner elements are where heaven and the
church dwell within a person.
the people who arrive from the physical world
are put in connection either with a particular
community in heaven or with a particular community
in hell; but this applies only to their more
inward elements. These more inward elements,
however, are not visible to anyone as long as
the spirits are involved in more outward matters,
since outward matters are used to cover and
hide inner matters, especially by people who
are involved in something evil on a more inward
level. Later on, when they come into the second
stage, their more inward elements become obvious
because at this point their more inward elements
are opened and their more outward ones recede.
The Second Stage After Death Involves More Inward
second stage after death is called the stage
of the more inward elements, because at that
point people are brought into an involvement
in the more inward things belonging to their
mind, or their intention (impulses) and thought,
while the more outward things they were involved
in during their first stage go to sleep.
result, when people are in this stage they are
involved in their true selves and in their real
lives. Thinking freely from one's very own affection
reflects a person's real life, and is the real
in this stage are thinking on the basis of their
very own intention, which means they are thinking
from their very own affection or desire. At
this point, their thinking brings about a unity
with their intention - such a unity in
fact - they hardly seem to be thinking at all
and are simply intending. It is about the same
when they communicate; except they communicate
with a certain fear that the things their intention
is thinking about might come out naked. This
is because their fear becomes part of their
intention in the physical world due to the demands
of a civic life.
everyone is directed into this stage after death
because it is the actual state of the spirit. The
earlier stage is the way people were in their
spirit when they were in the company of others
which is not their proper condition.
people are in this condition that is proper
to their more inward concerns, it becomes very
obvious what kind of people they were intrinsically
in the physical world. At this point, they are
acting on the basis of what really belongs to
them. If they were inwardly involved in something
good while in the physical world, then they
behave rationally and wisely - more wisely
in fact - than they did in the physical world
because they are released from their ties to
a physical body and are therefore free from
the things that darken and, so to speak, cloud
other hand, if they were involved in something
evil in the physical world, then they behave
senselessly and crazily - more crazily in fact
- than they did in the physical world because
they are free and not repressed. When they lived
in the world, they were sane in outward matters
because they were using them to fabricate a
rational person. So once these outward matters
are taken away from them, their madness is unveiled.
people who, while living in the physical world,
were involved in what is good and who acted
out of conscience (those who have acknowledged
something divine and loved divine truths, especially
those who have applied them to their lives),
it seems to all such people that when they are
brought into the condition proper to their more
inward concerns, it is as though they have been
roused from sleep and come awake or have come
from darkness into light.
are thinking on the basis of heaven's light
and therefore out of a deeper wisdom. They are
acting on the basis of what is good and therefore
out of a deeper affection. Heaven is flowing
into their thoughts and affections with something
very deeply blessed and pleasant which they
had not known about before.
are in communication with heaven's angels. At
this time, they also recognize the Lord and
are worshipping him out of their real life.
They are involved in their very own life when
they are in this stage of their more inward
elements as we have just stated. Furthermore,
they are recognizing and worshipping him from
their freedom because their freedom is part
of their deeper affection.
are then withdrawing from what is outwardly
holy and are entering into that which is inwardly
holy where true worship takes place.
enters hell until they are engaged in their
own evil and engaged in the false things that
are evil. This is because no one there is allowed
to have a divided mind - to think and say one
thing while intending something else. All who
are evil there will think what is false because
of their evil and will speak out of their evil's
falsity. Both their thinking and their
speech will come from their intention and therefore
out of their own proper desire and its delight
and pleasure, in the same way they thought within
themselves in the physical world when they were
thinking from their more inward affection.
souls arrive at the type of community where
their spirits were in the physical world. In
fact, every person on Earth is bonded to a particular
heavenly or hellish community: the evil person
to a hellish one and a good person to a heavenly
one. A person is guided there step-by-step and
eventually gains entrance.
evil people are involved in the condition of
their more inward elements, they are turned
in stages toward their own community. Eventually
they are turned straight toward their community
before their condition is completed. Once this
condition is completed, they hurl themselves
into the hell where there are people like themselves.
is a very good description of the
experienced in NDEs.
It is where nothing there exists but our own
true inward nature. The purpose for this realm
or "stage" is to reflect and understand who
we have become from the physical life just lived.
Seeing ourselves as we really are can be a paradise
if love is found there. The love within us then
draws us out of the Void and toward the light.
But if there exists mostly "evil" within us,
then we may remain in the Void for some time
or return to the
This is hell for
those who are bound there; but it is not eternal
damnation. It is God's "time out" place for
people to deal with their problems. And like
all "Prodigal Sons," those in hell will eventually
come to their senses, have a change of heart
and be rescued.]
of evil souls from good soul occurs in the course
of this second stage, whereas during the first
stage they were together. The reason for this
is that, as long as people are involved in their
outward concerns, it is the same as when they
were in the physical world. Evil people are
together with good ones and good people are
together with evil ones. But it becomes
different when they are brought into involvement
on the basis of their more inward concerns and
left to their own nature or intention.
separation of good people from evil people occurs
in various ways. Broadly speaking, it occurs
when evil people are taken around to those communities
which they were in contact with through their
good thoughts and affections during their first
stage. In this way, they are taken to those
communities where they were persuaded by their
outward appearance that they were not evil.
Normally, they are taken on an extensive circuit
where their true self is continuously exposed
to good souls. Upon seeing the evil souls, the
good souls turn away. As they turn away, the
evil souls also turn away from the good ones
and turn toward the region of hellish communities
which they truly belong.
The Third Stage After Death is Preparing For
Heaven Through Instruction
third stage of the soul after death is a state
of instruction. This stage is for people who
are entering heaven and in the process of becoming
angels. It is not for those people entering
hell because they cannot be taught. As
a result, the second stage is also the third
stage for those entering hell. It concludes
when they completely turn toward their own desire
and therefore turn toward a hellish community
where its members are involved in similar desires.
When this has been accomplished, they intend
and think from this desire - and since their
desire is hellish - they intend nothing but
evil and think nothing but falsehood. They are
delighted in their intentions and thoughts because
they belong to this hellish desire. Consequently,
they spurn anything that is good and true which
they adopted earlier as it was only a useful
tool for their desire.
good people are brought through the second stage
into a third stage - that of preparing for heaven
by means of instruction. No one can be
prepared for heaven except by means of insights
into what is true and good through instruction.
This is because people cannot know what is good
and true on a spiritual level, or what is evil
and false, unless they are taught. In the physical
world, it's possible to know what is good and
true on a civic and moral level and what is
called fair and honest. This is because there
are civil laws which teach falsehoods. There
are also social contexts in which a person learns
to live by, such as moral laws, all of which
deal with what is honest and right. But what
is good and true on a spiritual level is not
learned in the physical world, but rather in
people realize and recognize these facts, they
cannot think spiritually. Without thinking about
these matters, they cannot intend them. If one
does not know something, they cannot think about
it. If one does not think about it, they cannot
intend it. When a person does intend these things,
then heaven flows in. The Lord's life flows
into the person's life through heaven. The
divine essence flows into intention and through
intention into thought. Then through thought
into life. Intention and thought are the source
of a person's spiritual life.
see from these considerations that there is
no learning what is good and true on a spiritual
level from the physical world; but rather from
heaven. And we see how no one can be prepared
for heaven except by being taught.
Lord brings the good souls who are to be taught
to these places after their second has been
completed. However, this does not apply
to everyone because some people have been taught
in the physical world and have already been
prepared for heaven by the Lord. They are brought
into heaven by another route. Some of these
people are brought in immediately after death.
I believe Swedenborg is referring to people
who grew spiritually on Earth and therefore
and go straight into
souls have been prepared for heaven though instruction (which
takes only a short time amount of time because
the souls are taught spiritual concepts which
include many elements at the same time), they
are dressed in angelic clothes - most of which
are white as though made of linen. Once dressed,
they are brought to a path that heads up toward
heaven and are committed to angel guardians
there. Then they are accepted by other angels
and introduced into communities where there
are many forms of happiness.
Swedenborg's description of this third stage
agrees with those NDE experiencers who have
entered and left the tunnel and enter into the
light where they are met by loved ones, religious
figures, the Council of Elders, etc.]
The Way to Heaven is Not Hard
people believe it is hard to lead a heaven-bound
life (which is also called a spiritual life) because
they have heard that a person needs to renounce
the world, give up the appetites associated
with the flesh and live like spiritual beings.
They believe to lead a heaven-bound life mean
nothing short of rejecting what is worldly -
especially wealth and prestige - and walk around
in constant devout meditation on God, salvation,
and eternal life. They believe they must pass
their time in constant prayer and in reading
the Word and devotional literature. They believe
they must renounce the world and live constantly
by the spirit instead of by the flesh. But an
abundance of experience and discussion with
angels has enabled me to know that leading a
heaven-bound life is completely different from
this. In fact, people who renounce the world
and live by the spirit in this fashion build
up a mournful life for themselves - one that
is not receptive of heavenly joy. This is because
everyone's life on Earth stays with them when
they enter the spiritual realm. On the contrary,
if people are to accept a life in heaven, they
must by all means live in the physical world
and become involved in its functions and dealings. Then
through a moral and civic life they will receive
a spiritual life. This is the only way
a spiritual life can be formed in people and
their spirit be prepared for heaven.
an inward life and not an outward life at the
same time is like living in a house with no
foundation. It gradually settles, or develops
cracks and gaps, or totters until it collapses.
examine a person's life with rational acuity,
we discover it to be threefold: there is a spiritual
life, a moral life, and a civic life. These
lives distinct from each other. There are people
who live a civic life but not a moral or a spiritual
one. Then there are people who live both a civic
life and a moral life and a spiritual as well.
These are the ones who are leading heaven's
life - the others are leading the world's
life separated from heaven's life.
first conclusion to be drawn from this is that
a spiritual life is not separated from a natural
one, or from the world's life. Rather, they
are bonded together like a soul with its body.
If they become separated, it is as previously
just mentioned, like living in a house without
considerations about to be presented will make
it possible to see that it is not as hard to
lead a heaven-bound life as some people believe
can't live a civic and moral life? Everyone
is introduced to it from the cradle on and is
acquainted with it from his life in the world.
Everyone, good or bad, leads it as well, for
who does not want to be called honest and fair?
everyone practices honesty and fairness in outward
matters, even to the point of seeming honest
and fair at heart, or as though they were behaving
out of real honesty and fairness. Spiritual
people need to live the same way which
they can do just as easily as natural people.
The only difference is that spiritual people
believe in what is divine and behave honestly
and fairly - not just because it is in keeping
with civil and moral laws, but because it is
in keeping with divine laws.
who are thinking about divine matters while
they are active are in touch with the angels
of heaven. To the extent that they are doing
this, they are joined to them and in this way
their inner person is opened, which seen in
its own right, is the spiritual person.
people are like this, they are adopted and led
by the Lord without realizing it. Then
anything honest and fair that they do as part
of their moral and civic life is done from a
spiritual source. Doing something honest
and fair from a spiritual source is doing it
out of what is genuinely honest and fair, or
doing it from the heart.
laws of a spiritual life, the laws of a civic
life, and the laws of moral life are handed
down to us in the precepts of the Ten Commandments.
The laws of a spiritual life are found first.
Then the laws of civic life are found next.
Finally, the laws of moral life are found last.
who are simply natural, live by these precepts
in the same way spiritual people do - in outward
form. They worship the divine in similar fashion,
go to church, listen to sermons, put on a pious
face, do not kill, commit adultery, steal or
bear false witness, and do not cheat their fellows
out of their possessions. But the natural person
does this simply for themselves and for the
world, or for appearances.
people who have recognized at heart what is
divine, who have focused on divine laws in the
deeds of their lives, and have lived by the
precepts of the Ten Commandments, things are
different for them. When they are led into
their inward aspects, it is like coming from
darkness into light, from ignorance into wisdom,
and from a mournful life into a blessed one. This
is because they are involved in what is divine,
and therefore in heaven.
now see that it is not as hard to lead a heaven-bound
life as many people think. Whenever something
gets in the way which people know is dishonest
and unfair, something their spirit moves toward,
it is simply a matter of thinking they should
not do it because it is against the divine precepts. If
people get used to doing this - and by getting
used to it gain a certain disposition - then
little by little they are joined to heaven.
As this takes place, the higher reaches of their
mind are opened. As their minds are opened,
they see what things are dishonest and unfair.
When they see what is dishonest and unfair,
they can break away from them. No evil can be
broken away from until after it is seen.
is a stage where people can enter due to their
freedom. And who cannot think this way due to
their freedom? Once this has begun, the Lord
works out all good things for them and arranges
things so they not only see evil elements but
dislike them and eventually turn away from them.
This is the meaning of the Lord's words, "My
yoke is easy, and my burden light."
life is not a life withdrawn from the world
but a life involved in the world. A life of
piety without a life of love (which occurs only
in this world) does not lead to heaven. Rather,
it is a life of love, a life of behaving honestly
and fairly in every task, every transaction,
every work, and from a more inward source which
leads to a heavenly one. This source is present
in life when a person behaves honestly and fairly
because it is in keeping with divine laws. This
life is not hard.