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Theistic Psychology

THE SCIENCE OF IMMORTALITY

By Leon James

(selection)

1.6 Swedenborg's Description of How We Are Resuscitated After Death

Possibly the most "newsworthy" facts that most people can read in the Writings of Swedenborg are the empirically based observations he has made of the process of resuscitation. No one in the modern world of science prior to Swedenborg had been able to say anything empirical about what happens to the individual upon the death of the physical body. I emphasize that I'm referring to the scientific world and literature. No scientist before Swedenborg was able to give any proof of life after death. At the height of his career as a Swedish mining engineer and science publisher, Swedenborg suddenly found himself conscious in both worlds simultaneously. From the positive bias perspective we can see that this dual consciousness of a respected 18th century European scientist, ushers in a new era in science. He maintained this dual citizenship from age 57 to his death at 84 in 1772. He wrote voluminous daily notes of his observations and experiments, and today in English translation, the Writings of Swedenborg contain some 30 volumes published by him between 1745 and 1771.

This section presents a sample of the style and content of Swedenborg's reports. I will comment and expand upon some sections to bring attention to their significance for theistic psychology. Some of Swedenborg's observations are based on his own experimental states of resuscitation which he was able to undergo as part of his Divinely given mission to give a scientific account of dying and the life in eternity. Other parts of his observations are based on being present and observing the resuscitation of others, and of describing their state of mind and their behavior upon awakening from resuscitation.

I recall reading somewhere in the Writings (which I have not been able to find) that the resuscitation process takes about 30 hours. In most places, as below, he merely states that it takes "some hours."

As to the senses of the body I was brought into a state of insensibility, thus nearly into the state of the dying, but with the interior life and thought remaining unimpaired, in order that I might perceive and retain in the memory the things that happened to me, and that happen to those who are resuscitated from the dead.

I perceived that the respiration of the body was almost wholly taken away; but the interior respiration of the spirit went on in connection with a slight and tacit respiration of the body. Then at first a communication of the pulse of the heart with the celestial kingdom was established, because that kingdom corresponds to the heart in man. Angels from that kingdom were seen, some at a distance, and two sitting near my head. Thus all my own affection was taken away although thought and perception continued.

[2] I was in this state for some hours. Then the spirits who were around me withdrew, supposing that I was dead; and an aromatic odor like that of an embalmed body was perceived, for when the celestial angels are present everything pertaining to the corpse is perceived as aromatic, and when spirits perceive this they cannot approach; and in this way evil spirits are kept away from man's spirit when he is being introduced into eternal life.

The angels seated at my head were silent, merely sharing their thoughts with mine; and when their thoughts are received, the angels know that the spirit of man is in a state in which it can be drawn forth from the body. This sharing of their thoughts was effected by looking into my face, for in this way in heaven thoughts are shared.

[3] As thought and perception remained with me, that I might know and remember how resuscitation is effected, I perceived that the angels first tried to ascertain what my thought was, whether it was like the thought of those who are dying, which is usually about eternal life; also that they wished to keep my mind in that thought. Afterwards, I was told that the spirit of man is held in its last thought when the body expires, until it returns to the thoughts that are from its general or ruling affection in the world. Especially was I permitted to see and feel that there was a pulling and drawing forth, as it were, of the interiors of my mind, thus of my spirit, from the body; and I was told that this is from the Lord, and that the resurrection is thus effected. (HH 449)

More details are presented in the passages that are cited below. In the above passage Swedenborg discovers that there is an external sensation from the physical body and an interior sensation that is not in the physical body. Since he always insists (as in the selections below) that thinking is an activity and an activity must be carried out with organs, in this case mental organs constructed of spiritual substances. The mind is therefore born immortal in the spiritual world and is tied functionally to the temporary physical body born on earth. In other words, we are spirits in a physical body. Our mind is called the "spirit" because it is an organ constructed of spiritual substances from the spiritual world just as the physical body is constructed from matter originating from the sun or stars. The spiritual world also has a sun called the Spiritual Sun, from which stream out immortal substances out of which the mind is built up through experiences.

Resuscitation is therefore a process of "extracting the spirit" from the physical body. The spirit or mind is in it sown spiritual body. The physical and spiritual bodies are copies of each other, but they are made of very different substances, as proven by the fact the physical body dies, while the spiritual body is immortal. From the description above, we can see that the spiritual body possesses every organ that the physical body possesses, and that it also has the function of respiration. But this interior breathing of the spiritual body is not perceptible to us until the physical body dies.

Note also that when we are resuscitated we awaken in the world of spirits. We quickly discover this new kind of life and one of the new experiences is that people in their spiritual body, or "spirits," are able perceive the content of the thoughts of those we are with, though this a complex subject upon which much is written in the Writings.

Continuing with Swedenborg's reports:

CONCERNING THE RESUSCITATION OF MAN FROM THE DEAD, AND HIS ENTRANCE INTO ETERNAL LIFE
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 168)

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 169)

This passage tells us that the resuscitation process begins when the physical body no longer has any sensory activity and is in a "state of insensibility." Also, while this external physical source of stimulation is cut off, there is a an internal source of stimulation that remains active. This "interior life remains unimpaired" including a "tacit breathing" which is a more interior form of breathing in the spiritual body or mind. This internal breathing is sufficient to support thinking and perception of the inner stimulation that takes place during the process of resuscitation. The next Number says:

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 170)

The resuscitation process is attended or assisted by "celestial angels" which are the inhabitants of the highest or Third Heaven. These people live in the region of the heart in the Grand Human configuration that Swedenborg used to map out his travels in the spiritual world (see Chapter xx). The resuscitated person is mentally "united" to the celestial angels who are able to perceive and influence the thinking of the dying person.  The next Numbers:

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 171)

During resuscitation the person is shielded from further contact with other spirits. Prior to this stage of the resuscitation process we are in communication with various spirits who are associated with us in the vertical community (see Chapter xx). But at this point the unconscious spiritual contact is broken and only the celestial angels assisting in the resuscitation are allowed to associate with our mind. In the following Numbers:

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 everyone. (AC 172)

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 173)

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 174)

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 175)

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 176)

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 177)

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 178)

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 179)

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 180)

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 181)

Many remarkable details are given in the above Numbers about resuscitation. It's clear that this is a kind of medical process attended by the wisest and most advanced minds who live in the "Third Heaven" and have earned the title of Celestial Angels. It's also clear that they are able to communicate or influence our thoughts directly by a kind of telepathic exchange. Their purpose apparently is to assist us in the awakening process as our spiritual body undergoes the extraction phase. One technique they use is to pass up and ignore all the false beliefs the person has. and to concentrate instead on transmitting their own peaceful and happy emotions by a kind of induction process or emotional contagion.

During this process other spirits or inhabitants of the spiritual world are kept away from communicating or influencing the person being resuscitated. This is done by a distinct odor around the person which warns others and prevents them from approaching in thought or communication. Going on with the next Numbers:

CONTINUATION CONCERNING THE ENTRANCE INTO ETERNAL LIFE OF THOSE WHO ARE RAISED FROM THE DEAD.
When the celestial angels are with a resuscitated person, they do not leave him, for they love everyone; but when the soul is of such a character that he can no longer be in the company of the celestial angels, he is eager to depart from them; and when this takes place the spiritual angels arrive, and give him the use of light, for previously he had seen nothing, but had only thought. (AC 182)

I was shown how these angels work. They seemed to as it were roll off the coat of the left eye toward the septum of the nose, in order that the eye might be opened and the use of light be granted. To the man it appears as if this were really done, but it is only an appearance. (AC 183)

After this little membrane has been thus in appearance rolled off, some light is visible, but dim, such as a man sees through his eyelids when he first awakes out of sleep; and he who is being resuscitated is in a tranquil state, being still guarded by the celestial angels. There then appears a kind of shadow of an azure color, with a little star, but I perceived that this takes place with variety.  (AC 184)

Afterwards there seems to be something gently unrolled from the face, and perception is communicated to him, the angels being especially cautious to prevent any idea coming from him but such as is of a soft and tender nature, as of love; and it is now given him to know that he is a spirit. (AC 185)

He then commences his life. This at first is happy and glad, for he seems to himself to have come into eternal life, which is represented by a bright white light that becomes of a beautiful golden tinge, by which is signified his first life, to wit, that it is celestial as well as spiritual. (AC 186)

His being next taken into the society of good spirits is represented by a young man sitting on a horse and directing it toward hell, but the horse cannot move a step. He is represented as a youth because when he first enters upon eternal life he is among angels, and therefore appears to himself to be in the flower of youth. (AC 187)

His subsequent life is represented by his dismounting from the horse and walking on foot, because he cannot make the horse move from the place; and it is insinuated to him that he must be instructed in the knowledges of what is true and good. (AC 188)

Afterwards pathways were seen sloping gently upward, which signify that by the knowledges of what is true and good, and by self-acknowledgment, he should be led by degrees toward heaven; for no one can be conducted thither without such self-acknowledgment, and the knowledges of what is true and good. A continuation of this subject may be seen at the end of this chapter. (AC 189)

These fascinating details have never before been reported by a respectable and well known scientist. It's interesting to note that people in the afterlife continue to be differentiated and diverse in ability and motivation. When the resuscitated person is still not thinking clearly the highest caliber people can be present and assisting the individual. But when the person begins to reawaken to the self such as it was during the life in the physical body, there emerges a clash in thinking and feeling which compels the celestial people to be left behind. Other people then take their place in the assisting process. They are from the "Second Heaven" and are called spiritual angels. Elsewhere, Swedenborg describes the difference in mentality and intelligence between celestial and spiritual angels.

Another interesting detail above is that in the world of spirits where we are resuscitated people can represent thoughts and feelings to each other by outward appearances of things that correspond to the thoughts, feelings, and mood of the people present. Here a white light is represented to indicate the new life and sitting on a horse to indicate the new intelligence of the spirit's life. This new intelligence is  based on rational ideas that the person must now learn to understand. Their old intelligence and beliefs are not accurate with respect to the life in the spiritual world, and therefore cannot serve for their new state. This is represented by the horse that wont' budge, so that they have to walk on foot, which represents the effort of acquiring new rational ideas and concepts about the afterlife.

CONTINUATION CONCERNING MAN'S ENTRANCE INTO ETERNAL LIFE.
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 314)

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 everyone, 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 315)

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 316)

The Numbers above discuss the second phase of resuscitation, at the end of which, one undergoes a "second "death" as it were, at which time we enter our final state of mind, either in the upper regions of the mind called "heaven," or in the Lower regions called "hell." This second phase of resuscitation is more inward than the first. It is said above that we undergo various types of experiences that help us to get in touch with our deeper feelings and character. What is it that we really really enjoy and want to do? It takes awhile to shirk off the external personality traits we acquired and displayed in social life prior to our death. Our inner motives, feelings, and thoughts were hidden from others to protect ourselves from retaliation or disapproval. But many are hidden from our eyes because we may not be introspective or reflect much on what we think and how we feel.

Now in this final phase of the resuscitation process the outward act falls off and disintegrates as we realize more and more that we are no longer in the same world as before and the rules are completely different. As we let everything hang out, so to speak, things happen around us by which we come into contact with others who have similar feelings and thoughts. We feel reinforced and excited by being in the company of these people who seem so familiar and compatible. At last our inmost loves and desires come out to the surface and we life a life of complete freedom and immersion in whatever we want and desire.

But this life quickly and suddenly ends as we now enter our final state of resuscitation and awakening. We then appear outwardly as either a devil or an angel. Those who appear as devils with many deformations of the human form portray their inner life through this outward appearance. It's not just their boy appearance that changes but also their surrounding environment. Those who have hellish loves in charge of their character seem to themselves to be in places similar to what the imagination makes up about hell--dark caverns, hideous people, dangerous animals, foul smells, unspeakable actions and horrors that people there inflict upon each other. But those who have heavenly love sin the interior of their character appear beautiful, young, and peaceful, and their environment is paradisal--wonderful gardens, magnificent architecture, brilliant light and color.

The laws of the spiritual world are such that whatever thoughts and feelings we have the power to project outwardly what their nature is in relation to the rational and the good. Continuing:

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 317)

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 318)

ON THE NATURE OF THE LIFE OF THE SOUL OR SPIRIT.
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 320)

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 321)

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 anyone may observe. (AC 322)

At the end of the chapter, several examples will be given of those who during their abode in this world had thought otherwise. (AC 323)

How wonderful it is to discover that the life we have after the physical body dies is far more intense and alive than the life we were used to in the physical body. Swedenborg describes many things about the life in heaven and hell throughout the books of the Writings. These passages are a small sample of the whole account in which he describes their language, their script, their books, their cities, their occupations, and how they interact with people on earth. None of these interactions are perceptible to us while we are still living in the physical body. Going on:

SOME EXAMPLES DRAWN FROM EXPERIENCE WITH SPIRITS CONCERNING WHAT THEY HAD THOUGHT DURING THEIR LIFE IN THE BODY ABOUT THE SOUL OR SPIRIT.
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 443)

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 thoughts 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 444)

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 445)

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 446)

It is remarkable to be able to hear about these details. When we are resuscitated into the afterlife it becomes obvious that materialism and the negative bias are ludicrous perspectives on reality. Materialism and the negative bias do not seem to be ludicrous while we are living in the physical world, and many believe that the positive bias and religion are ludicrous. This balance is necessary for this world in order to allow people to develop their rational consciousness of the life in eternity. This life is  a life in "rational ether" which is the human mind. As explained later, the fundamental principle in theistic psychology is represented by the equation: the geography of the spiritual world = the anatomy of the mind. But this equation is not perceptible by the senses and can only be understood rationally. In this way we can develop our rational consciousness of spirituality, which is where our heaven is, or our hell, when the heavenly is denied and inverted. Continuing:

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!" (...) (AC 447)

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 anyone 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. (AC 448)

Here Swedenborg explains why he could not use his dual consciousness as a go between the departed of this life and those who are still here. He explains the injurious effects of spiritism, which is the attempt to contact those who have passed on. Contact with spirits destroys the balance of freedom of believing materialism or dualism through rational considerations. Such direct contact is sensory and sensory consciousness interferes with the development of rational consciousness. Sensory consciousness leads to mysticism, superstition, and sorcery, all of which are called  "persuasive faith" in which there is no rational freedom. Our rational consciousness develops when we have to struggle to understand the afterlife rationally and to form spiritual ideas that are rational, not sensuous. Swedenborg reports that those who come into the afterlife with a sensuous consciousness or a persuasive faith or religion, have their rational mind shut down or inoperative. Such a state leads to irrational beliefs, delusions, and obsessions, all of which create a hell in our life of eternity.