Dying... What is it Like to Die?

Preface: The following is taken from Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets) by E. Swedenborg.  The great mystery concerning death awaits each one of us.  Below is a narration regarding how we pass from this world to the next.  This text is part of the volumes of books published in the 18th Century as the old age came to an end and as part of the Lord's Second Coming.  They have been openly available since that time but are being received very slowly as humanity remains in spiritual obscurity.  Those who are in search of answers will find this useful.

Regarding some terms used below, clarification is in order since many false ideas continue to hinder the proper understanding of the spiritual world.  Except for God Himself, who alone is Infinite, all of the people who live in the next life were once in a material body.  This includes those who we call angels as well as devils.  So when mention is made of angels, these are people who died at some point in the past and who willingly live within the life of Heaven.  Celestial angels pertain to those who are guided by love and who make up the province and extensions of the heart.  Spiritual angels are those who are guided by wisdom and who are part of the province and activity of the lungs.  Those who are referred to as spirits are people who have not yet reached their spiritual home - whether it be heaven or hell.  A celestial spirit is one who is guided by good as compared to those good spirits guided by truth or their understanding.

Hell is not a place where bad people are sent for punishment (because the Lord only desires for people to advance toward good).  But since there is no discord allowed in Heaven, those opposed to spiritual order are separated and live amongst their own.  This is called hell.  No one there is allowed to get worse than they were in the world.  So when someone goes out of bounds, so to speak, they are punished to bring them back to their former state (and discourage them from going there again).  And, what is a wonder, those who carry out the punishments are of the same disposition.  Thieves punish thieves; violent people punish the violent; adulterous punish the adulterous and so on.  And, to be clear, there is no supreme devil who rules over hell.  They are all devils or satans: and when acting collectively, can be seen as a single devil.  There is only one ruler of the complete universe and this is the Lord.

And, to be certain, all references to the Lord are to the Lord God Jesus Christ.  Another grave misconception of Christianity is that God is made up of three persons: one being who they call the Father, one being the Son and the third being the Holy Spirit.  And from this, their formula for salvation is derived: that God sent His Son as a sacrifice to appease His anger.  And those who verbally believe in this are saved - all else will go to hell.  This is entirely false.

Because of the catastrophic demise of mankind, at a designated point in time, God Himself filled the seed of Mary and took on a material body.  This gave hell the ability to attack God directly - in their entirety.  But this also gave God the ability to directly confront and defeat hell - in its entirety.  This was something that couldn't be done previously due to our freewill.  And anyone who knows anything about Infinity knows that it cannot be divided (we cannot have two or more "everythings").  So the Soul that was within Jesus was God Himself since it was from God... and as each combat was victorious, the body which God took on became more and more Divine.  With the last victory, God took on a completely Divine Body which has the ability to communicate more directly with His Creation.  This new form of communication is the Holy Spirit.

So in conformance to the First Commandment, there is One God with three aspects: the Lord's Soul is referred to as the Father, the Lord's body is the Son and the Lord's activity is called the Holy Spirit (just as we have soul, body and activity).  General salvation is achieved by understanding that God is a Human, Loving God and the life of faith is indeed a life of charity, not just a mental or verbal activity.  A more specific salvation is obtained by understanding that God is a Human God and that this is the Lord however, those who do not yet know this, and have lived a spiritual life, will have no trouble accepting the idea that the Lord is God when they enter the next life.

In 1745, Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist, was brought into the spiritual world to witness the last judgment and present a new revelation that would be part of the long awaited Second Coming.  This event would not be clearly visible in our world because of the necessity of preserving our spiritual freedom.  In the process, the internal (spiritual) sense of the Bible was opened, showing the deeper truths hidden within the literal text.  This is the meaning of the Lord coming in the clouds of Heaven.  The clouds are the obscurities of the literal Word (the letter kills and the spirit gives life).  Nothing is going to change here, except through our free will.  As people begin to gain a better idea of God and of the next life, these truths will set them free from the awful insanities that have been imposed onto religious beliefs.

Much more can be said; but, also, too much can be said.  We'll stop and let your own mind take it from here...



AC 168. Being permitted to describe in connected order how man passes from the life of the body into the life of eternity, in order that the way in which he is resuscitated might be known, this has been shown me, not by hearing, but by actual experience.

AC 169. I was reduced into a state of insensibility as to the bodily senses, thus almost into the state of dying persons, retaining however my interior life unimpaired, attended with the power of thinking, and with sufficient breathing for life, and finally with a tacit breathing, that I might perceive and remember what happens to those who have died and are being resuscitated.

AC 170. Celestial angels were present who occupied the region of the heart, so that as to the heart I seemed united with them, and so that at length scarcely anything was left to me except thought, and the consequent perception, and this for some hours.

AC 171. I was thus removed from communication with spirits in the world of spirits, who supposed that I had departed from the life of the body.

AC 172. Besides the celestial angels, who occupied the region of the heart, there were also two angels sitting at my head, and it was given me to perceive that it is so with every one.

AC 173. The angels who sat at my head were perfectly silent, merely communicating their thoughts by the face, so that I could perceive that another face was as it were induced upon me; indeed two, because there were two angels. When the angels perceive that their faces are received, they know that the man is dead.

AC 174. After recognizing their faces, they induced certain changes about the region of the mouth, and thus communicated their thoughts, for it is customary with the celestial angels to speak by the province of the mouth, and it was permitted me to perceive their cogitative speech.

AC 175. An aromatic odor was perceived, like that of an embalmed corpse, for when the celestial angels are present, the cadaverous odor is perceived as if it were aromatic, which when perceived by evil spirits prevents their approach.

AC 176. Meanwhile I perceived that the region of the heart was kept very closely united with the celestial angels, as was also evident from the pulsation.

AC 177. It was insinuated to me that man is kept engaged by the angels in the pious and holy thoughts which he entertained at the point of death; and it was also insinuated that those who are dying usually think about eternal life, and seldom of salvation and happiness, and therefore the angels keep them in the thought of eternal life.

AC 178. In this thought they are kept for a considerable time by the celestial angels before these angels depart, and those who are being resuscitated are then left to the spiritual angels, with whom they are next associated. Meanwhile they have a dim idea that they are living in the body.

AC 179. As soon as the internal parts of the body grow cold, the vital substances are separated from the man, wherever they may be, even if enclosed in a thousand labyrinthine interlacings, for such is the efficacy of the Lord‘s mercy (which I had previously perceived as a living and mighty attraction), that nothing vital can remain behind.

AC 180. The celestial angels who sat at the head remained with me for some time after I was as it were resuscitated, but they conversed only tacitly. It was perceived from their cogitative speech that they made light of all fallacies and falsities, smiling at them not indeed as matters for derision, but as if they cared nothing about them. Their speech is cogitative, devoid of sound, and in this kind of language they begin to speak with the souls with whom they are at first present.

AC 181. As yet the man, thus resuscitated by the celestial angels, possesses only an obscure life; but when the time comes for him to be delivered to the spiritual angels, then after a little delay, when the spiritual angels have approached, the celestial depart; and it has been shown me how the spiritual angels operate in order that the man may receive the benefit of light, as described in the continuation of this subject prefixed to the following chapter.


AC 314. After the use of light has been given to the resuscitated person, or soul, so that he can look about him, the spiritual angels previously spoken of render him all the kindly services he can in that state desire, and give him information about the things of the other life, but only so far as he is able to receive it. If he has been in faith, and desires it, they show him the wonderful and magnificent things of heaven.

AC 315. But if the resuscitated person or soul is not of such a character as to be willing to be instructed, he then desires to be rid of the company of the angels, which they exquisitely perceive, for in the other life there is a communication of all the ideas of thought. Still, they do not leave him even then, but he dissociates himself from them. The angels love every one, and desire nothing more than to render him kindly services, to instruct him, and to convey him to heaven. In this consists their highest delight.

AC 316. When the soul thus dissociates himself, he is received by good spirits, who likewise render him all kind offices while he is in their company. If however his life in the world has been such that he cannot remain in the company of the good, he desires to be rid of these also, and this process is repeated again and again, until he associates himself with those who are in full agreement with his former life in the world, among whom he finds as it were his own life. And then, wonderful to say, he leads with them a life like that which he had lived when in the body. But after sinking back into such a life, he makes a new beginning of life; and some after a longer time, some after a shorter, are from this borne on toward hell; but such as have been in faith toward the Lord, are from that new beginning of life led step by step toward heaven.

AC 317. Some however advance more slowly toward heaven, and others more quickly. I have seen some who were elevated to heaven immediately after death, of which I am permitted to mention only two instances.

AC 318. A certain spirit came and discoursed with me, who, as was evident from certain signs, had only lately died. At first he knew not where he was, supposing himself still to be in the world; but when he became conscious that he was in the other life, and that he no longer possessed anything, such as house, wealth, and the like, being in another kingdom, where he was deprived of all he had possessed in the world, he was seized with anxiety, and knew not where to betake himself, or whither to go for a place of abode. He was then informed that the Lord alone provides for him and for all; and was left to himself, that his thoughts might take their wonted direction, as in the world. He now considered (for in the other life the thoughts of all may be plainly perceived) what he must do, being deprived of all means of subsistence; and while in this state of anxiety he was brought into association with some celestial spirits who belonged to the province of the heart, and who showed him every attention that he could desire. This being done, he was again left to himself, and began to think, from charity, how he might repay kindness so great, from which it was evident that while he had lived in the body he had been in the charity of faith, and he was therefore at once taken up into heaven.

AC 319. I saw another also who was immediately translated into heaven by the angels, and was accepted by the Lord and shown the glory of heaven; not to mention much other experience respecting others who were conveyed to heaven after some lapse of time.


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.

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