Although most spirits occupying spiritual levels in the Summerlands (and the higher realms) tend to remain within their native spiritual domain, some of these spirits voluntarily descend onto the transitional plane in order to act as spiritual guides for living people. Therefore, the transitional plane is occupied by both positive and negative spiritual energies. All of these spirits, both light and dark, hover around the living trying to affect them in one way or another.
Most people don’t realize that they are constantly being affected by both types of spirits. It’s a bit like the cartoon depictions that show the little red devil on your left shoulder whispering in your ear while the little white angel tries to get your attention by whispering in your right ear. It’s an entirely unconscious process, of course. They manifest to your consciousness simply as raw impulse, but as subtle as this process is, both the devil and the angel help you to make decisions on a daily basis. Which impulse you choose to follow is a matter of your own free will. Swedenborg summed it up nicely.
“With every individual there are good spirits and evil spirits… by the two he is kept in equilibrium, and being in equilibrium he is in freedom.”
If one assumes that spirits occupying the lower planes are motivated by evil intentions, and the spirits from the higher planes are motivated by good intentions, then the transitional plane is the place where both good and evil minded spirits can meet. Both types of spirits can interact with living people subconsciously, and thus influence their thoughts without the living being aware of any external influence. The degree to which any spirit can influence a particular person depends on the spiritual frequency that that person has acquired over the course of his or her life.
Dark spirits have little influence over the behavior of most ordinary people unless that person has a proclivity to allow those spirits to influence him or her. Everyone has “evil thoughts”, but most people just brush them aside and pay no attention to them. The juxtaposition of both good and evil forces allows living people to use their free will to make decisions about the direction they wish to take during their lifetimes. From this perspective, the earth is simply another spiritual plane which has certain advantages for an otherwise young and inexperienced spirit.
We initially covered the law of free will in chapter 3 when we discussed the concept of theodicy. It is because of free will that God allows the darkness to exist in equilibrium with good. We are free on earth to make our own decisions, but those decisions have consequences, and learning the relationship between our actions and the consequences of those actions is the whole point of living on earth. We develop a sense of who we really are by interacting with matter.