Most people come to rest after their earth lives in relatively comfortable circumstances. Always remember that you don’t have to have lived a perfect life to find yourself in one of the Summerlands after your death. Everyone makes mistakes. Some even make very bad mistakes. However, the point of living in the plane of matter is to learn from those mistakes, and if one HAS learned, if one has tried to advance his or her life in constructive ways, then their spirit finds itself residing, after the death of the body with kindred spirits on a plane that allows it both rest and advancement.
The more evolved the soul, the higher the level, and the brighter and more pleasant the environment it experiences. This is the meaning of the term “Summerlands.” I pluralize the term because even within the boundaries of the Summerlands there is room for spiritual advancement. Thus, there are many levels. The higher a spirit advances there, the brighter the environment and the more advanced are its spiritual neighbors. This doesn’t mean that spirits can’t temporarily go to other nearby levels within the Summerland environment, however it always yearns to return to its natural home where it is most comfortable.
Note: It’s important not to over-interpret the term “pleasant”. Sunny, bright, sweeping vistas, green flower-filled fields, good friends and someone to love may be appealing to many people, but to others, it would be boring and they would gladly abandon these “pleasant” conditions for a dark and drunken night of drugs, sex and loud music. Heaven is in the eye of the beholder.
The summerlands are the picture of the Christian heaven. They are actually places of rest for spirits still attached to materiality. There is no immediate “pressure” to evolve or change in any way. However, over time, the souls get bored with an unceasing vacation, and begin to long for change. It is at that point that they make the decision to move on, generally to higher levels of evolution, or occasionally, even back to earth for another go-around at life in matter. The spirits in the summerlands could be said to live in a permanent luxury vacation.
Remember that all the environments in the world of spirit are created by the communal imagination of the spirits that live there. When Emanuel Swedenborg reported that the conditions in the Summerlands were idealized versions of earthly habitats, he received mocking resistance from virtually every corner because even in an age in which practically everyone believed in heaven and Hell, most people, especially the elites believed that the conditions there were so otherworldly that they could not be described in human language. Over the years, however, many modern mediums have described pleasant and idealized conditions in the Summerlands that, if not earth-like, are fair approximations.
The Summerlands can be very pleasant indeed, with clean “air”, beautiful sounds, bright light and wonderfully decorated dwellings, all created by the inhabitants. Of course, spirits do not need to breath air, eat food or drink water, but, because the Summerlands are all part of what Frederick Myers called the plane of illusion, spirits there sense all the pleasurable feelings that one experiences in a healthy human body. The inhabitants of the Summerlands create pleasant earth-like environments using their own memories and imaginations, and use those environments for their enjoyment and as props to help them evolve spiritually.
The inhabitants of the planes of illusion do not live in an ethereal dreamlike state. Just because their surroundings are created by their collective imaginations, that doesn’t mean that their surroundings appear to them as temporary and dreamlike. Their environment is perceived by them as quite real, substantial and enduring. This is true throughout the entire spiritual realm; not just in the planes of illusion. Even though spirits build their environments with their imaginations, once they have created a “thought form”, it simply becomes “solid” spiritual matter which is as real to the resident spirits as our earthly environment is to us. Even in heaven, if I build a house with a beautiful garden, I can invite my friends to enjoy it too. If my friend loved to cook, then she can prepare tasty food for all of her friends. (My kind of Heaven!)
Sounds, colors, odors, tactile sensations and emotions appear to be intertwined in the spiritual environment. In the material world, the ability of a person to hear a color, or see and smell a sound is called synaesthesia. In our everyday lives, this is considered to be a form of hallucination and a mental aberration. In the spiritual world, synaesthesia is a normal attribute of every spirit. In the Summerlands, the environment is filled with this sort of warmth, color, music, pleasant odors and joyful feelings, operating in a kind of harmony which forms the background of life in the upper layers. It is the intentional result of the communal efforts of the spirits who reside there.
As they progress up the spiritual evolutionary ladder, however, souls find it less necessary to maintain their earthly bodily forms and the trappings of the earth that they have left behind. The higher the spirit progresses, the more ethereal they and their surroundings become until they exit the summerlands and reach the higher planes. There, they may take on forms that are not only different than the ones they had while living on earth, but may not even resemble human bodies. Each form is unique since each soul is unique. As a soul perfects its form, it begins to discard its spiritual body altogether and begins an existence entirely without the need for either a body or an individual identity. They relinquish the need for any physical props at all. Eventually, as they enter the highest plane, they shed their earthly identities and become pure consciousness. Ultimately, they combine together as they merge into the great consciousness of God.