4417. I was once conversing with spirits concerning life - that no one has any life from himself, but from the Lord, although he may seem to live from himself (compare n. 4320). First of all we spoke of what life is, namely, that it is to understand and to will; and as all understanding bears relation to truth, and all willing to good (n. 4409), that the intelligence of truth and the will of good are life. But some reasoning spirits made reply (for there are spirits who are to be called reasoners, because they reason about everything as to whether it is so, and such are for the most part in obscurity in regard to all truth), and said that those who are in no intelligence of truth and will of good nevertheless live, and in fact they preeminently believe that they live. But it was given to answer them that the life of the evil does indeed appear to them like life, but nevertheless it is the life which is called spiritual death, as they might know from the consideration that as to understand truth and to will good are life from the Divine, it follows that to understand falsity and to will evil cannot be life, because evils and falsities are contrary to life itself.
 To convince them they were shown the quality of their life, which when seen appeared like the light from a coal fire mingled with smoke. When they are in this light, they cannot but suppose that the life of their thought and of their will is the only life there is, and this the more from the fact that the light of the intelligence of truth, which is that of life itself, cannot appear to them at all, for the moment they come into this light their own light becomes dark, so that they can see nothing at all, thus neither can they perceive anything. They were further shown what was then the state of their life, by the withdrawal of the delight they had from what is false, which in the other life is effected by separating the associate spirits. On this being done they appeared with ghastly faces, like those of the dead, so that they might have been called images of death. But as regards the life of animals, of the Lord's Divine mercy this subject shall receive particular treatment.