1017. Spirits have said that they inhabit the fourth and fifth heaven, and so on. What did they mean by this?
“You ask them which heaven they live in because you have the idea that there are different levels of heavens, like stories of a home, so they answer you according to your personal beliefs. For them, references to a fourth or fifth heaven mean different degrees of purification and happiness. The same applies when you ask a spirit whether it is in hell. If it is unhappy, it says yes because hell is synonymous with suffering. However, it knows perfectly well that it is not a furnace. A Pagan would have replied that it was in Tartarus.”
The same may be said of other similar expressions, such as “the city of flowers,” “the city of the elect,” “the first, second, or third sphere,” and so on, which are only allegories used by some spirits figuratively, whether out of ignorance about the nature of reality, or simply because they lack any knowledge of even the most elementary principles of science.
According to the restricted idea of specific locations for rewards and punishments, and the common belief that Earth was the center of the universe, that the sky formed a vault, and that there was a region of stars, people placed heaven up above and hell down below. This resulted in expressions such as to “ascend to heaven,” to be in “the highest heaven,” to be “cast down into hell,” and so on. Astronomy has mapped out Earth’s history and described its formation. Today science has demonstrated that the Earth is one of the smallest worlds in space and has no special significance, that space is infinite, and that there is neither up nor down in the universe. As a result, it has become necessary to stop placing heaven above the clouds and hell in the depths of the Earth. There was never a specific space assigned to purgatory. Spiritism provides the most rational, impressive and consoling explanation about all these three subjects to human beings. It shows us that heaven and hell exist in ourselves. In a similar vein, we find purgatory in the state of incarnation in our successive corporeal or physical lives.