The Hells of Those Who Spent Their Lives in Hatred

There are people who nurse a murderous hatred and therefore meditate revenge, seeking nothing short of their victim’s death and not resting until they have achieved it. Spirits like this are kept in a deep, cadaverous hell—one that reeks with a stench like that given off by corpses. Strange to say, the people there enjoy the stench so much that they prefer it to the most pleasant smells; such is their horrendous nature and the crazy thinking it spawns. The odor described actually wafts from that hell. When the place yawns open—as it rarely does, and then just briefly—so foul a smell pours out that spirits cannot stay in the vicinity.

Some demons, or rather avenging furies, were let out of that hell in order for me to discover what they were like. They infected the air with such poisonous and pestilential fumes that the spirits around me could not remain. At the same time they affected my stomach in such a way that I threw up.

They presented themselves in the form of a young child with a tolerably attractive face and a concealed dagger, whom they sent to me with a flask in hand. From this I learned that they had a taste for murder, either by dagger or poison, under the guise of innocence. The bodies of the spirits themselves were naked and quite black.

Soon, though, they were sent back into their cadaverous-smelling hell, and then I was able to watch the path of their descent. They headed to the left, keeping level with my left temple and going quite a distance without moving downward. Later they did descend, traveling first into a fire that appeared, then into a cloud of fiery smoke like that from a furnace, and directly afterward to a point below the furnace and in front, where many dark and gloomy caves led farther down. Along the way, they were constantly devising evil plots and schemes. Their intended victims were primarily the innocent, whom they targeted without cause. While passing through the fire, they wailed loud and long.

When released from their hell, they take with them a kind of ring that allows others to identify where they come from and what they are like. The ring is set with spikes which are made of something like bronze and which they grip tightly and twist with their hands—a sign that they are this type of spirit and that they are under restraint.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 814


Spirits and angels have memory just as we do. What they hear and see and think and intend and do stays with them; and through their memory they are constantly developing their rational ability forever. This is why spirits and angels are being perfected in intelligence and wisdom through experiences of what is true and good just the way we are.

I have been shown that spirits and angels have memory by a great deal of experience as well. I have seen everything they had thought and done called up from their memory both in public and in private, when they were with other spirits. I have also seen people who had been focused on some truth from simple virtue become steeped in insights and in a consequent intelligence and then taken up into heaven.

It should be realized, though, that they are not steeped in insights and a consequent intelligence beyond the level of the affection for what is good and true that engaged them in the world. In fact, each spirit and angel retains the amount and kind of affection she or he had in the world, and this is afterward perfected by being filled in. This too goes on forever, since everything is capable of infinite variation and enrichment by different means, so it can be multiplied and can bear fruit. There is no end to any instance of goodness, since its source is the Infinite.

The fact that spirits and angels are constantly being perfected in intelligence and wisdom by means of insights into what is true and good has been presented in the chapters on the wisdom of heaven’s angels (Sections 265–275); on non-Christians or people outside the church in heaven (Sections 318–328); and on infants in heaven (Sections 329–345). This happens at the level of the affection for the good and the true that engaged them in the world, and not beyond it (Section 349).

from Heaven and Hell, Section 469

Sections 265-275: Published 10/18/2017-10/24/2017

Sections 318-325: Published 7/17/2017-7/23/2017

Sections 329-345: Published 7/9/2018-7/17/2018


While we are living in the world, if we are engaged in a love for the Lord and in thoughtfulness toward our neighbor, we have with and within us an angelic intelligence and wisdom, but it is hidden away in the depths of our inner memory. There is no way this intelligence and wisdom can become visible before we leave our bodies. Then our natural memory is put to sleep and we are awakened into consciousness of our inner memory and eventually of our actual angelic memory.

I do need to explain briefly how our rational ability is developed. A genuine rational ability is made up of true elements and not of false ones. Anything made up of false elements is not rational. There are three kinds of true elements: civic, moral, and spiritual. Civic truths have to do with judicial matters and the governmental affairs of nations—in general, with what is fair and equitable. Moral truths have to do with matters of personal life in its societal and social contexts, in general with what is honest and upright, and in particular with all kinds of virtues. Spiritual truths, however, have to do with matters of heaven and the church, in general with what is good in respect to love and what is true in respect to faith.

There are three levels of life in every individual (see above, Section 267). Our rational ability is opened at the first level by means of civic truths, at the second level by moral truths, and at the third level by spiritual truths.

We need to realize, though, that our rational ability is not formed and opened simply by virtue of our knowing these truths, but by virtue of our living by them. Living by them means loving them out of a spiritual affection; and loving them out of a spiritual affection means loving what is fair and equitable because it is fair and equitable, what is honest and upright because it is honest and upright, what is good and true because it is good and true. On the other hand, living according to them and loving them out of a physical affection is loving them for the sake of oneself, one’s repute, prestige, or profit. Consequently, to the extent that we love these truths out of a carnal affection, we do not become rational because we do not love them; we love ourselves, with the truths serving us the way slaves serve their master. When truths become slaves, they do not become part of us or open any level of our life, not even the first. Rather, they stay in our memory like information in material form and unite with love for ourselves there, which is a physical love.

We may gather from this how we become rational, namely that at the third level it is through a spiritual love of what is good and true in regard to heaven and the church; at the second level it is through a love of what is honest and upright; and on the first level it is through a love of what is fair and equitable. The latter two loves also become spiritual from a spiritual love of what is good and true that flows into them and unites itself to them and forms its own face in them, so to speak.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 467-468

Section 267: Published 10/20/2017


In the other life, people are sometimes shown what memories are like by having them presented visually in forms that are merely appearances (many things are presented visually there that for us here are strictly conceptual). The outer memory there looks like a callus, while the inner looks like the medullary substance found in the human brain. This also enables us to recognize their quality.

For people who have focused solely on memorization during their physical lives, without developing their rational ability, their memory has a callused quality that looks hard and streaked with tendons inside. For people who have filled their memories with false notions it looks shaggy because of the random mass of disorganized stuff. For people who have focused on memorization with themselves and the world first in mind, it looks stuck together and bony. For people who have tried to probe divine secrets through acquired information, especially philosophical information, without believing anything before they are convinced by the information, their memory looks dark, with a quality that actually absorbs rays of light and turns them into darkness. For people who have been guileful and hypocrites it looks bony and hard as ebony that reflects light rays.

However, for people who have focused on the good of love and truths of faith, no such callus is visible. This is because their inner memory is transmitting rays of light into their outer memory, and those rays find definition in its objects or concepts as though it were their foundation or their soil, and find congenial vessels there. This is because the outer memory is the outmost element of the design, where spiritual and heavenly matters come gently to rest and dwell when there are good and true contents in it.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 466


One particular spirit resented the fact that he could not remember much of what he had known during his physical life. He was grieving over the pleasure he had lost because it had been his chief delight. He was told, though, that he had not lost anything at all and that he knew absolutely everything. In the world where he was now living he was not allowed to retrieve things like that. It should satisfy him that he could now think and talk much better and more perfectly without immersing his rational functioning in dense clouds, in material and physical concerns, the way he had before, in concerns that were useless in the kingdom he had now reached. Now he had whatever he needed for his functioning in eternal life, and there was no other way he could become blessed and happy. So it was the counsel of ignorance to believe that the removal and dormancy of material concerns in the memory led to the disappearance of intelligence, when in fact the more the mind can be led out of the sensory concerns that are proper to the outer person or the body, the more it is raised up to spiritual and heavenly concerns.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 465

After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body (Continued)

While our outer or natural memory is still part of us after death, still the merely natural things that are in it are not recreated in the other life, only spiritual things that are connected to the natural ones by correspondence. Still, when they are presented visually, they look just the same as they did in the natural world. This is because everything we see in the heavens looks as it did in the world, even though in essence it is not natural but spiritual, as has been explained in the chapter on representations and appearances in heaven (Sections 170–176).

As for our outer or natural memory, though, to the extent that its contents are derived from matter, time, space, and everything else proper to nature, it does not fulfill the same function for the spirit that it fulfilled in the world. This is because in the world, when we thought on the basis of our outer sensitivity and not at the same time on the basis of our inner or intellectual sensitivity, we were thinking on the natural level and not on the spiritual one. However, in the other life, when our spirit is in the spiritual world, we do not think on the natural level but on the spiritual one. Thinking on the spiritual level is thinking intelligently or rationally. This is why our outer or natural memory then goes dormant as far as material things are concerned. The only things that come into play are what we have gained in the world through those material things and have made rational. The reason our outer memory goes dormant as far as material things are concerned is that they cannot be recreated. Spirits and angels actually talk from the affections and consequent thoughts of their minds, so they cannot utter anything that does not square with these, as you may gather from what was said about the language of angels in heaven and their communication with us (Sections 234–257).

This is why we are rational after death to the extent that we have become rational by means of languages and the arts and sciences in this world, and emphatically not to the extent that we have become skilled in them.

I have talked with any number of people who were regarded as learned in the world because of their knowledge of such ancient languages as Hebrew and Greek and Latin, but who had not developed their rational functioning by means of the things that were written in those languages. Some of them seemed as simple as people who did not know anything about those languages; some of them seemed dense, though there still remained a pride, as though they were wiser than other people.

I have talked with some people who had believed in the world that wisdom depends on how much we have in our memory and who had therefore filled their memories to bursting. They talked almost exclusively from these items, which meant that they were not talking for themselves but for others; and they had not developed any rational function by means of these matters of memory. Some of them were dense, some silly, with no grasp of truth whatever, no sense of whether anything was true or not. They seized on every false notion sold as true by people who called themselves scholars. They were actually incapable of seeing anything as it actually was, whether it was true or not, so they could not see anything rationally when they listened to others.

I have talked with some people who had written a great deal in the world, some of them in all kinds of academic fields, people who had therefore gained an international reputation for learning. Some of them could quibble about whether truths were true or not. Some of them understood what was true when they turned toward people who were in the light of truth; but since they still did not want to understand what was true, they denied it when they focused on their own false opinions and were therefore really being themselves. Some of them did not know any more than the illiterate masses. So they varied depending on the way they had developed their rational ability through the treatises they had written or copied. Still, if people had opposed the truths of the church, had based their thinking on the arts and sciences, and had used them to convince themselves of false principles, they had not developed their rational ability but only their skill in argumentation—an ability that is confused with rationality in the world, but is in fact a different ability from rationality. It is an ability to prove anything one pleases, to see false things rather than true ones on the basis of preconceptions and illusions. There is no way people like this can be brought to recognize truths because it is impossible to see truths from false principles, though it is possible from true principles to see what is false.

Our rational faculty is like a garden or flower bed, like newly tilled land. Our memory is the soil, information and experiential learning are the seeds, while heaven’s light and warmth make them productive. There is no germination without these latter. So there is no germination in us unless heaven’s light, which is divine truth, and heaven’s warmth, which is divine love, are let in. They are the only source of rationality.

Angels are profoundly grieved that scholars for the most part keep attributing everything to nature and therefore close the deeper levels of their minds so that they can see no trace of truth from the light of truth, the light of heaven. As a result, in the other life they are deprived of their ability to reason so that they will not use reason to spread false notions among simple people and mislead them. They are dismissed to desert areas.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 464

Sections 170-176: Published 12/9/2019-12/12/2019

Sections 234-257: Published 4/26/2021-5/19/2021

After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body (Continued)

When we are being faced with our deeds after death, angels who have been given the task of examining look searchingly into the face and continue their examination through the whole body, beginning with the fingers first of one hand and then of the other and continuing through the whole. When I wondered why this was so, it was explained to me. The reason is that just as the details of our thought and intention are inscribed on our brains because that is where their beginnings are, so they are inscribed on the whole body as well, since all the elements of our thought and intention move out into the body from their beginnings and take definition there in their outmost forms. This is why the things that are inscribed on our memory from our intention and consequent thought are inscribed not only on the brain but also on the whole person, where they take form in a pattern that follows the pattern of the parts of the body. I could therefore see that our overall nature depends on the nature of our intention and consequent thought, so that evil people are their own evil and good people are their own good.

We may also gather from this what is meant by our book of life, mentioned in the Word. It is the fact that all our deeds and all our thoughts are written on our whole person and seem as though they are read from a book when they are called out of our memory. They appear in a kind of image when our spirit is looked at in heaven’s light.

I should like to add to this something noteworthy about the memory that we keep after death, something that convinced me that not just the general contents but even the smallest details that have entered our memory do last and are never erased. I saw some books with writing in them like earthly writing, and was told that they had come from the memories of the people who had written them, that not a single word was missing that had been in the book they had written in the world. I was also told that all the least details could be retrieved from the memory of someone else, even things the person had forgotten in the world. The reason for this was explained as well; namely, that we have an outer and an inner memory, the outer proper to our natural person and the inner proper to our spiritual person. The details of what we have thought, intended, said, and done, even what we have heard and seen, are inscribed on our inner or spiritual memory. There is no way to erase anything there, since everything is written at once on our spirit itself and on the members of our body, as noted above. This means that our spirit is formed in accord with what we have thought and what we have done intentionally. I know these things seem paradoxical and hard to believe, but they are true nevertheless.

Let no one believe, then, that there is anything we have thought or done in secret that will remain hidden after death. Believe rather that absolutely everything will come out into broad daylight.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 463

After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body (Continued)

As for our keeping our whole memory when we leave the world, I have been shown this by many examples and have seen and heard a great deal worth talking about. I should like to cite a few examples in a sequence. There have been people who denied the crimes and transgressions they had committed in the world. To prevent them from believing they were blameless, everything was disclosed and drawn out of their own memory in sequence from the beginning of their life to the end. Most of these transgressions were acts of adultery and promiscuity.

There were people who had deceived others with malicious skill and had stolen from them. Their deceptions and thefts were also recounted one after the other, many of them known to practically no one in the world other than themselves. They even admitted them because they were made plain as day, along with every thought, intention, pleasure, and fear that mingled in their minds at the time.

There were people who had taken bribes and made money from judicial decisions. They were similarly examined from their own memories, and everything was recounted from their first taking office to the end. The details of amount and value, of the time, and of their state of mind and intention, all consigned to their remembrance together, were brought to view, a hundred or more instances. In some cases, remarkably enough, the very diaries in which they had recorded these deeds were opened and read to them, page by page.

There were men who had lured virgins to dishonor and violated their chastity. They were summoned to a similar judgment, and the details were drawn out of their memory and listed. The actual faces of the virgins and other women were presented as though they were there in person, along with the places, the words, and the thoughts. It was done as instantaneously as when something is actually being witnessed firsthand. Sometimes these presentations lasted for hours.

There was one man who thought nothing of slandering others. I heard his slanders recounted in sequence as well as his blasphemies, along with the actual words, the people they were about, and the people they were addressed to. All these were presented together as lifelike as could be even though he had very carefully kept them hidden from his victims while he was living in the world.

There was one man who had defrauded a relative of his legacy by some devious pretext. He was exposed and judged in the same way. Remarkably, the letters and documents they exchanged were read aloud to me, and he said that not a word was missing.

This same man had also secretly killed a neighbor by poison just before his own death, which was disclosed in the following way. A trench seemed to open under his feet, and as it was opened, a man came out as though from a tomb and screamed at him, “What have you done to me?” Then everything was disclosed—how the poisoner had talked amicably with him and offered him a drink, what he had thought beforehand, and what happened afterward. Once this was uncovered, the murderer was condemned to hell.

In a word, all their evils, crimes, thefts, wiles, and deceptions are made clear to every evil spirit. They are drawn from their own memories and exposed. There is no room for denial because all the circumstances are presented together.

I also heard that angels have seen and displayed from the memory of one individual everything he had thought one day after another over the course of a month, with never an error, recalled as though he himself were back in those very days.

We may gather from these instances that we take our whole memory with us, and that nothing is so concealed in this world that it will not be made known after death, made known in public, according to the Lord’s words, “Nothing is hidden that will not be uncovered, and nothing concealed that will not be known. So what you have said in darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear will be proclaimed from the rooftops” (Luke 12:2–3).

from Heaven and Hell, Section 462b

After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body (Continued)

Nevertheless, the difference between our life in the spiritual world and our life in the natural world is considerable, in regard both to our outer senses and the way they affect us and to our inner senses and the way they affect us. People who are in heaven have far more delicate senses. That is, they see and hear and also think more discerningly than when they were in this world. This is because they are seeing in heaven’s light, which vastly surpasses the world’s light (see above, Section 126), and they hear by way of a spiritual atmosphere that vastly surpasses the atmosphere of the earth (see Section 235). The difference in their outer senses is like that between something clear and something hidden by a cloud, or like noonday light and the dimness of evening. Because it is divine truth, heaven’s light enables angels’ sight to notice and differentiate the slightest things.

Further, their outer sight is responsive to their inner sight or discernment, since for angels the one sight flows into the other and they act as a single faculty. This is why they are so keen. Their hearing is similarly responsive to their perception, which is a function of both discernment and volition. So they pick up in the tone and words of speakers the slightest shadings of their affection and thought—shadings of affection in the tone, and shadings of thought in the words (see above, Sections 234–245).

However, the other senses are not as delicate for angels as their senses of sight and hearing, because sight and hearing serve their intelligence and wisdom, while the others do not. If the other senses were as sensitive, they would take away the light and pleasure of angels’ wisdom and interject a pleasure of motivations centering in various physical appetites, appetites that obscure and weaken the intellect to the extent that they flourish. This happens to people in the world as well, who become dull and mindless in regard to spiritual truths to the extent that they pander to their taste and to the sensual allurements of the body.

What was presented in the chapter on the wisdom of heaven’s angels (Sections 265–275) may suffice to indicate that the deeper senses of heaven’s angels, the senses of their thought and affection, are more delicate and perfect than the ones they had in the world.

As for the difference in state of people who are in hell from their state in the world, this too is substantial. The perfection and wonder of the outer and inner senses of angels in heaven is paralleled by their imperfection for people in hell. However, we need to deal with their state later.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 462a

Section 126: Published 7/2/2019

Sections 234-245: Published 4/26/2021-5/7/2021

Sections 265-275: Published 11/24/2019-11/30/2019

After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body

REPEATED experience has witnessed to me that when we move from the natural world into the spiritual, which happens when we die, we take with us everything that pertains to our character except our earthly body. In fact, when we enter the spiritual world or our life after death, we are in a body as we were in this world. There seems to be no difference, since we do not feel or see any difference. This body is spiritual, though, so it has been separated or purified from earthly matter. Further, when anything spiritual touches and sees something spiritual, it is just like something natural touching and seeing something natural. So when we have become a spirit, we have no sense that we are not in the body we inhabited in the world, and therefore do not realize that we have died.

As “spirit-people,” we enjoy every outer and inner sense we enjoyed in the world. We see the way we used to, we hear and talk the way we used to; we smell and taste and feel things when we touch them the way we used to; we want, wish, crave, think, ponder, are moved, love, and intend the way we used to. Studious types still read and write as before. In a word, when we move from the one life into the other, or from the one world into the other, it is like moving from one [physical] place to another; and we take with us everything we owned as persons to the point that it would be unfair to say that we have lost anything of our own after death, which is only a death of the earthly body.

We even take with us our natural memory, since we retain everything we have heard, seen, read, learned, or thought in the world from earliest infancy to the very end of life. However, since the natural objects that reside in our memory cannot be reproduced in a spiritual world, they become dormant the way they do when we are not thinking about them. Even so, they can be reproduced when it so pleases the Lord. I will have more to say soon, though, about this memory and its condition after death.

Sense-centered people are quite incapable of believing that our state after death is like this because they do not grasp it. Sense-centered people can think only on the natural level, even about spiritual matters. This means that anything they do not sense—that is, see with their physical eyes and touch with their hands—they say does not exist, as we read of Thomas in John 20:25, 27, 29. The quality of sense-centered people has been described above in Section 267, and in note c there.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 461


Section 267: Published 10/20/2017