160. Second memorable relation:
At one time in company with some angels I was walking in the world of spirits (which is intermediate between heaven and hell, and which all men enter first after death, the good being there made ready for heaven and the evil for hell), and I talked with them on various subjects, on this among others: That in the world where I am living in the body there are seen at night innumerable stars, larger and smaller, which are so many suns, only the light of which reaches our solar system; and I added, "When I saw that stars are visible in your world also I supposed them to be as numerous as those in the world where I live."
The angels, delighted with this conversation, said, "Perhaps they are, since every society of heaven, in the sight of those who are under heaven, sometimes shines like a star; and the societies of heaven are numberless, all arranged in order according to the varieties of the affections of the love of good; which affections in God are infinite, and thus from Him are numberless; and as these were all foreseen before creation, I suppose that in accord with their number there have been provided, that is, created, an equal number of stars in the world where the men live who were to be natural-material bodies."
 While we were talking together in this way I saw in the north a leveled way, so crowded with spirits that there was scarcely room to step between any two; and I said to the angels that I had already seen this way, with spirits thronging it like an army; and that I had heard that this is the way by which all pass when departing from the natural world. And the way is covered with such a vast number of spirits because many thousands of men die every week, and after death they all pass into this world.
The angels added, "This road terminates in the middle of this world where we now are-in the middle because on the sides towards the east there are societies who are in love to God and love towards the neighbor, and to the left towards the west societies of those who are opposed to these loves; while in front towards the south are societies of those who are more intelligent than the others. This is why the newcomers from the natural world move first to this point. When here, they are in the externals in which they had last been in the former world. Afterwards they are gradually let into their internals, and their characters are examined; and after the examination the good are borne to their places in heaven and the evil to theirs in hell."
 We stopped at the middle point, at the termination of this way of entrance, and we said, "Let us wait here awhile and talk with some of the newcomers." And from those approaching we picked out twelve, who having just come from the natural world did not know but that they were in it still. We asked them their views of heaven and hell and the life after death.
One replied, "Our sacred order impressed upon me the belief that we are to live after death, and that there is a heaven and a hell; and therefore I have believed that all who live a moral life go to heaven; and as all do live a moral life, that no one goes to hell; and therefore that hell is a fable manufactured by the clergy to frighten men from evil living. What does it matter whether I think about God in this way or that, Thought is only chaff, as it were, or like a bubble on the water that bursts and passes away."
Another near him said, "It is my belief that there is a heaven and a hell; and that God rules heaven, and the devil rules hell; and as they are enemies, and therefore opposed to each other, one calls evil what the other calls good; also that a moral man who is a dissembler, and who can make evil look like good and good like evil, will side with both parties. What, then, does it matter whether I am on the side of one Lord or the other, providing He favors me? Good and evil are equally delightful to men."
 A third, standing beside him, said, "Of what consequence is it to me to believe that there is a heaven and a hell? For who has come from either place and told us of them? If every man lives after death, why, out of so vast a multitude, has no one come back and told us?"
Next came a fourth, who said, "I will tell you why no one has come back and told. It is because when a man breathes his last and dies, he either becomes a ghost and is dissipated, or is like the breath of the mouth, which is merely wind. How can a being like that come back and talk with anyone?"
The fifth took up the matter and said, "Friends, wait till the day of the last judgment; for all will then return into their bodies, and you will see and talk with them, and each one will tell his fate to the other."
 A sixth, standing opposite, laughed and said, "How can the spirit, which is wind, return into a body that has been eaten up by worms, and into its skeleton that has been dried up by the sun and has crumbled into dust? Or how is an Egyptian, who has been made a mummy and mixed by a quack with extracts or emulsions into a potion or powder, to come back and tell anything? Therefore, if you have the faith, wait till that last day; but your waiting will be forever, and forever in vain."
After him a seventh said, "If I believed in a heaven and a hell, and therefore in a life after death, I would also believe that birds and beasts live after death likewise. Are not some of these quite as moral and as rational as men? It is denied that beasts live after death, therefore I deny that men do. The reasoning is equally good; one follows from the other. What is man but an animal?"
An eighth, standing at his back, came forward and said, "Believe in a heaven if you will, but I do not believe in any hell. Is not God omnipotent and able to save everybody?"
 Then a ninth, caressing his hand, said, "God is not only omnipotent He is also gracious; and cannot send anyone into eternal fire; and if anyone is there He cannot but take him out and raise him up."
A tenth ran out of his place into the midst and said, "Neither do I believe in a hell. Did not God send His Son, and did He not make expiation for the sins of the whole world and take them away? What can the devil do against that? And as he can do nothing, what then is hell?"
An eleventh, who was a priest, took fire at hearing this, and said, "Do you not know that those who have attained to the faith on which Christ's merit is inscribed are saved, and that those attain to that faith whom God elects. Does not election rest in the will of the Almighty, and in His judgment as to who are worthy of it? Who can prevail against these?"
The twelfth, who was a politician, kept silent; but being asked to crown the replies, he said, "From my own thought I will not say anything about heaven and hell and the life after death, since no one knows anything about them; nevertheless you should not blame the priests for preaching them; for in that way the minds of the vulgar are kept bound by an invisible bond to the laws and to their rulers. Does not the public welfare depend upon this?"
 We were amazed to hear such things as these, and we said to each other, "Although these go by the name of Christians they are neither men nor beasts, but they are men-beasts." However, to arouse them from their sleep we said, "There is a heaven and a hell and a life after death; of this you will be convinced when we have dispelled your ignorance of the state of life in which you now are. During the first few days after death no one knows but that he is still living in the same world in which he lived before; for the time that has passed is like a Sleep, on being awakened from which he had no other feeling than that he still is where he was before. So is it with you now; and therefore you have been speaking just as you thought the former world."
The angels then dispelled their ignorance; and they saw that they were in another world, and among those with whom they were not acquainted; and they cried out, "O where are we?"
We said, "You are no longer in the natural world, but in the spiritual world, and we are angels."
Then, being quite awake, they said, "If you are angels, show us heaven."
We replied, "Wait here a little, and we will return." And returning after half an hour we found them waiting for us; and we said, "Follow us into heaven." They did so, and we went up with them, and because we were with them the guards opened the gate and admitted us.
And we said to those who receive newcomers at the entrance, "Examine these men."
And they turned them about and saw that the hinder parts of their heads were quite hollow. They then said to them, "Go away from here, for there is in you the delight of the love of doing evil; therefore you are not in conjunction with heaven; for in your heads you have denied God and have despised religion."
And we said to them, "Do not delay, or you will be cast out." So they hastened down and departed.
 On the way home we talked about the reason why in the spiritual world the back parts of the head of those who take delight in doing evil are hollow. And I gave as the reason that man has two brains, one behind, called the cerebellum, and one in front called the cerebrum; and the love of the will dwells in the cerebellum, and the thought of the understanding in the cerebrum; and whenever the thought of the understanding does not guide the love of man's will the inmosts of the cerebellum, which in themselves are heavenly, collapse; hence the hollowness.