WHEN ONE LOOKS at pictures supposed to represent life in the so-called hell, one shrugs one’s shoulders and dismisses them with a half-ironical, half-contemptuous smile, thinking that only morbid imagination or fanatical blind faith can conjure up such scenes.

Very rarely will anyone seek even for the slightest grain of truth in these pictures.

And yet the most gruesome imagination can hardly contrive a picture that comes anywhere near depicting the torments of life in the dark regions!

Poor deluded fools who imagine they can carelessly dismiss it with a mocking shrug of the shoulders!

In the moment when the appalling truth dawns upon them such carelessness will revenge itself bitterly!

It will be of no avail to struggle or turn aside; they will be drawn into the whirlpool awaiting them, unless they can rid themselves in time of the deep-seated ignorance which always characterizes the hollowness and narrow-mindedness of such people!

The ethereal body will hardly have detached itself from the physical body* before these souls receive their first great surprise by experiencing that this has not brought conscious being and life to an end.

As a result they first of all become confused, and then follows an unexpected apprehension, which again often gives place to a state of dull resignation or dreadful despair.

All resistance is vain; vain are their lamentations and even their pleading, for they must reap what they have sown during their life on earth!

If they ridiculed the Word brought down to them from God, which points towards life after physical death and the consequent responsibility for every serious thought and action, the least that is awaiting them will be what they themselves willed – utter darkness!

* Lecture II–30: “Death

Their ethereal eyes, ears and mouths are closed through their own volition.

They are blind, deaf and dumb in their new surroundings!

That is the most favorable thing that can happen to them!

A guide and helper from the beyond cannot make himself understood because they keep themselves closed to such a possibility.

A sad condition indeed, which can only be gradually changed by the slow inner maturing of such a soul, which in turn can only come about through an increasing desperation!

Thus with this ever-increasing longing for light, rising upwards like a perpetual cry for help from such an oppressed and tormented soul, lighter conditions will ultimately prevail around it, until in fact it may also learn to discern others in the same need of help!

If such a one then feels a desire to help those souls still languishing in greater darkness towards lighter conditions, the exertion required by the effort to help will bring it increased strength, so that others still further advanced may in turn approach and help this soul onwards to more luminous regions.

Thus these souls squat about dejectedly because their ethereal bodies have become too enfeebled to walk owing to their negative attitude.

And if there is any movement at all, it is but a cumbersome and uncertain crawling along the ground!

Others again grope about in this darkness, and stumble and fall, but quickly get up again, only to bump themselves against this and that, inevitably suffering painful injuries.

Depending entirely on the nature of its own darkness, and on its consequent density and weight, a human soul sinks into that region which exactly accords with its own ethereal gravity and which is thus of the same ethereal species.

Its new environment will therefore be just as tangible, perceptible and impenetrable as is the gross material environment for a physical body.

Every knock, every fall, or every injury will be just as painfully felt there as the physical body experienced during its life on the gross material earth.

Such is the case in every region regardless of its depth or height!

Everything of like substance has a like tangibleness and a like mutual impenetrability.

But every higher region or, in other words, every lighter species of substance can penetrate the lower, denser species of substance unhindered; as, for instance, all ethereal substance can penetrate the different texture of the gross material substance.

The case is different with those souls who, in addition, have to atone for some kind of injustice.

This is a question which stands on its own, but it can be redeemed the moment the perpetrator can obtain full and genuine pardon from the person he has harmed.

But what binds a human soul more firmly is a propensity or craving which is the mainspring to one or more deeds!

This propensity lives on in a human soul, even when the latter has passed into the beyond after severance from its physical body.

As soon as the limitations of everything to do with gross matter fall away, the propensity will immediately become even more pronounced in the ethereal body, because then the intuitive perceptions work with much greater animation and less restraint.

And again it is such a propensity which will define the density and thus the weight of the ethereal body!

The result is that, after its liberation from the physical body, the ethereal body will immediately sink to that region which exactly corresponds to its weight and density.

And there it will also find all those which indulge the same propensity.

Through their radiations its propensity will be further nourished and intensified, causing it to rage madly while indulging it!

All the others there will naturally do likewise!

That such unrestrained raging must be a torment for the surroundings is not hard to understand.

As in those regions this happens only on a mutual basis, however, every single soul will have to suffer bitterly from the others what in turn it is trying continuously to inflict upon them.

Thus life there becomes hell, until such a human soul gradually tires of and intuitively feels disgusted by it!

Then, after a long while, the desire will gradually awaken to get away from such an environment!

This desire and disgust are the beginning of improvement.

They will grow into a cry for help and finally into a prayer.

Only then can a hand be stretched forth to help the soul ascend, but decades, centuries or sometimes even longer may often pass before this happens.

It is thus the propensity of a human soul which weighs upon and encumbers it most!

Hence it follows that an unpremeditated deed can be much more easily and quickly atoned for than a propensity clinging to a human being, no matter whether it is expressed in a deed or not!

A person with an unclean propensity which he has never expressed in a deed because his earthly circumstances have favored him will therefore have to make greater amends than a person who has inadvertently erred through one or more deeds without evil intent.

The latter can be immediately forgiven his unpremeditated actions without developing evil karma, but a propensity can only be forgiven when it has been completely eradicated from a human being.

And there are many kinds of propensities!

Be it greed and its cousin avarice, sordid sensuality, the urge to steal or murder, incendiarism, or merely fraud or careless negligence; no matter what it is, such a propensity will make the soul concerned sink or be dragged to the region where it will be among its own kind!

It serves no purpose to give pictures of life in those regions.

They are often so terrible that a human spirit on earth can hardly believe in their reality without seeing them.

Even then he would still think they must only be the visions of a feverish and highly fanciful imagination!

Thus he should be content intuitively to feel a moral shyness in regard to all such evils!

This will liberate him from the bonds of all that is base so that there will no longer be any obstacle barring his ascent towards the Light.

Such are the dark regions resulting from the principle Lucifer strives to introduce.

The eternal cycle of Creation rotates and reaches the point where disintegration begins and all matter loses its form and reverts to primordial seed which, in rotating further, brings a new blending and new forms with fresh power and virgin soil.

What until then could not detach itself from gross and ethereal matter to cross over the highest, finest and lightest boundary and enter the Sphere of Spiritual Substantiality, thereby leaving all matter behind, will inevitably be drawn into the disintegration, whereby its form and whatever else is personal about it will be destroyed!

And that alone is eternal damnation, the extinction of all conscious personality!

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