For Chapter 4, click here.
As the rock group The Police say in their song of the same title, “We are spirits in the material world.” While the hope of an afterlife certainly fuels our fascination with near-death experiences, we miss much of their significance if we take them only as interesting information about what will happen to us when we die.
Most of us have a number of years left in our lives here on earth before the afterlife will become a present reality for us. For us, the greatest significance of NDEs, as well as Swedenborg’s and others’ descriptions of the afterlife, is in what they mean for us here and now. If we think of the material world as an expression of the spiritual world, all these descriptions of the afterlife can take on this kind of here-and-now meaning for us.
If we read accounts of NDEs simply out of fascination for the descriptions of the spiritual world, it will not necessarily touch our hearts and lives. But if we think of them as patterns for our life here we are presented with a deep and lasting challenge. The Book of Revelation speaks of a city descending to earth out of heaven from God. Our knowledge of the spiritual world provides a blueprint: a plan that we can use to build communities based on mutual love and understanding right here on earth.
This community-building must start in the soul of each one of us. By starting on a spiritual path and taking the steps described one way in this book, and other ways in others, we lay the foundations for the heavenly city in ourselves. As each of us finds our own spiritual path, we will also be reaching out to those around us and forming a spiritually-based community, built on mutual love and understanding. This, I believe, is the direction we are being shown by those who have experienced the spiritual world and come back to tell us about it.