Function of the stomach


[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Afterlife, stages in" (search under Afterlife/Afterlife, Heaven, Hell)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.7": detail "Section 5173 - 5176"
That the correction and purifying of the blood, serum, and chyle, and of the food in the stomach, have a correspondence with things in the spiritual world, cannot but seem strange to those who in natural things think only of what is natural, and especially to those who believe in nothing else, thus denying that there is or can be anything spiritual that acts and rules within natural things; yet the truth is that in each and all of the things in nature and her three kingdoms there is an inward active force from the spiritual world; and unless this were so, nothing whatever in the natural world could act as cause and effect, and consequently nothing could be produced. That which is within natural things from the spiritual world is called a force implanted from the first creation; whereas it is an endeavour, on the cessation of which, action or motion ceases. Hence it is that the universal visible world is a theatre representative of the spiritual world.
 The case herein is like that of the motion of the muscles from which comes action; unless there were in this motion an endeavour from man's thought and will it would cease in a moment; for it is according to laws known in the learned world that when endeavour ceases, motion ceases, and also that all determination is in endeavour, and that in motion there is nothing real except endeavour. It is clear that this force or endeavour in action or motion is the Spiritual in the Natural; for to think and will is spiritual, and to act and be moved is natural. Those who never think beyond nature have no conception of this, and yet they cannot deny it. Nevertheless that in the will and thence in the thought, which produces, is not alike in form to the action that is produced; for the action merely represents that which the mind wills and thinks.
 It is known that the food in the stomach is agitated in many ways, in order that its inner elements may be extracted, and may serve for use, that is, may pass into chyle, and then into blood; and that it is further agitated in the intestines. Such agitations are represented by the first agitations of spirits, which all take place according to their life in the world, in order that evils may be separated, and goods brought together to serve for use; and therefore it may be said of souls or spirits that, shortly after death or release from the body, they come first as it were into the region of the stomach, and are there agitated and purified. They in whom evils have obtained the ascendency, after being agitated with no good result, are conveyed through the stomach into the intestines, even to the last, namely, the colon and rectum, and thence are cast forth into the privy, that is, into hell. But they in whom goods have had the ascendency, after some agitations and purifications become chyle, and pass into the blood, some by a longer and some by a shorter way, some being agitated severely, some gently, and some scarcely at all. These last are represented by the food juices which are at once imbibed by the veins and carried into the circulation, even into the brain; and so on.
 For when a man dies and enters the other life, his life resembles food, which is softly taken hold of by the lips and is then passed through the mouth, throat, and esophagus, into the stomach, and this according to the nature contracted in the life of the body by various activities. At first most spirits are treated gently, being kept in the company of angels and good spirits, and this is represented by the food being first touched softly by the lips, and then tasted by the tongue to discover its quality. Food that is soft, and contains what is sweet, oily, and spirituous, is at once absorbed by the veins, and carried into circulation; but food that is hard, and contains what is bitter, disagreeable, and but little nutritious, is reduced with more difficulty, being let down through the esophagus into the stomach, where it is corrected in various ways and windings; and food that is still harder, more disagreeable, and innutritious, is thrust down into the intestines, and at last into the rectum, where first is hell; and finally it is cast out, and becomes excrement. It is similar with the life of man after death. He is at first kept in externals, and because he had externally led a civil and moral life, he is with angels and upright spirits; but after external things are taken away from him, there is revealed the inner nature of his thoughts and affections, and finally of his ends, and his life remains according to these last.
 So long as spirits are in the state resembling food in the stomach, so long they are not in the Grand Man, but are being introduced into it; but when they are representatively in the blood, then they are in the Grand Man.