As Long as We Are Alive in This World, We Are Held Midway between Heaven and Hell and Kept in Spiritual Equilibrium There, Which Is Free Choice

In order to know what free choice is and what qualities it has, we need to know where it comes from. Once we have learned its origin, we recognize not only what it is but what qualities it has.

Free choice originates in the spiritual world, where our minds are kept by the Lord. Our mind is the spirit within us that lives after death. Our spirit is continually in contact with people in that world who are similar to us. Our spirit is also present with people in the physical world through the material body with which it is surrounded. The reason we do not know that our minds are among spirits is that the spirits we are associating with in the spiritual world think and speak in a spiritual way, but our spirit, as long as it is in a physical body, thinks and speaks in an earthly way; and spiritual thought and speech cannot be understood or perceived by an earthly person, or the reverse. This is also why we cannot see them. But when our spirit is spending time with spirits in their world, then it uses spiritual thought and speech to communicate with them, because the inner mind is spiritual, but the outer mind is earthly. Therefore we communicate with spirits through our inner faculties, but we communicate with other people through our outer faculties. The former communication gives us perceptions and the ability to think analytically. If we did not have this inner communication, we would think no more and no differently than an animal. And if all interaction with spirits were taken away from us, we would die instantly.

To make it possible to comprehend how we can be held midway between heaven and hell and kept as a result in spiritual equilibrium, which is the origin of our free choice, a few words will be said about this.

The spiritual world consists of heaven and hell. Heaven is above the head and hell there is below the feet. Hell is not, however, in the center of the earth that we inhabit. It is below the lands of the other world, which are spiritual in origin and therefore do not have extension, although they appear to have it.

Between heaven and hell there is a great gap, which, to those who are in it, appears like an entire globe. Into this intervening area evil in great abundance exhales from hell, and on the other hand goodness, also in great abundance, flows in from heaven. This interspace is what Abraham was referring to when he said to the rich man in hell, “Between us and you a great gulf has been established, so that those who try to cross over from here to you cannot, and neither can those who are there cross toward us” (Luke 16:26).

The spirit of every human being is in the midst of this vast interspace for one reason: so that we will have free choice.

Because this interspace is so huge and looks to those who are there like a great globe, it is called “the world of spirits.” It is also full of spirits, because every human being first comes there after death and is prepared there for either heaven or hell. There we are among spirits and in interaction with them, just the way we had previously been among people in our former world. (There is no purgatory there. Purgatory is a fable invented by Roman Catholics.) That world is specifically dealt with in Heaven and Hell (published in London in 1758) Sections 421–535.

from True Christianity, Section 475

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