The Magical Mystery Tour
In our modern materialistic age, people sometimes claim that there is no real information about the spiritual world.
That’s not true! There is a huge amount of information available about the spiritual world.
One of the clearest and most extensive sources of information on the afterlife was first published over 250 years ago: Heaven and Hell, by Emanuel Swedenborg. It offers a guided tour of heaven, hell, and our journey to one or the other after death.
Here’s a short version of that journey:
- Once we lose consciousness in this world, everything is warm and peaceful, because we are attended at death by the wisest and most loving angels.
- We then go on to a life much like we had here on earth—so much so that we may not even realize we have died.
- Sooner or later, our true inner self comes out, and is visible for all to see. We can no longer pretend to be someone we aren’t. It is now clear whether we’re headed for heaven or for hell.
- If we’re headed toward heaven, angels teach us what heaven is like before we actually travel to our own eternal home there.
Who says no one has come back to tell us?
Have you ever heard this one? “We don’t know anything about the afterlife because no one has ever come back to tell us about it.”
Either the people who say this haven’t been paying attention, or they simply don’t want to believe in an afterlife.
Some people used to think that Emanuel Swedenborg was the big exception to that old saying. Then we all found out back in 1975, when Raymond Moody published his book Life After Life, that thousands of people have had the experience of dying and coming back to tell about it. Many of them give vivid descriptions of what it was like to die and enter the spiritual world. And though every story is different, there are common threads running through them all. By now, so many books have been published with descriptions of near-death experiences that there’s really no excuse to keep on repeating that old canard about “no one has ever come back to tell us about it.”
Of course, skeptics say that all those people were just hallucinating because their brains were low on oxygen . . . and so on, and so forth. For those who don’t want to believe, there will always be ways not to believe. Jesus himself said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from death” (Luke 16:31).
Yes, it’s possible for people to harden their minds against the afterlife so much that they’ll reject and explain away all the evidence pointing to its existence. That is part of our human freedom in spiritual matters, which God always protects for us.
But if you are open to the possibility of an afterlife, there is plenty of information out there. In fact, over 250 years ago the scientist, philosopher, and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) published a detailed tour guide of the spiritual world based on extensive personal experience. What you’ll find in this article is just a small taste of the rich smorgasbord of knowledge about heaven, hell, and the world of spirits that you’ll find in his most popular book: Heaven and Hell.
For now, we’ll just look at what it is like to die, and what steps we then take on our journey toward heaven . . . or toward that other place.
The World of Spirits:
Grand Central Station of the Spiritual World
Some people believe in purgatory, where we pay for our sins before going on to heaven. There is no such place, says Swedenborg.
Instead, there is a halfway station that Swedenborg calls “the world of spirits.” It is called this because it is so vast as to be a world all its own, and it is made up entirely of the spirits of people who have recently died. This is where we get sorted out and routed to our eternal home in a process that may take minutes, days, weeks, months, or years—but at most a few decades.
The world of spirits looks and feels almost exactly like earth. In fact, it looks so much like earth that it is very common for people who have died to think they have not died at all, but are still living in the material world. There are even cities and towns there that match the cities and towns of this earth.
However, even though there is the appearance of permanent human dwellings in the world of spirits, it is by nature a temporary place for everyone living there. It is where we go right after our death because most of us are not quite ready for heaven or hell when we first die. We must go through a period of transition to prepare ourselves for our permanent home.
That period of transition comes in three stages—though the third is only for those who are headed for heaven. Let’s take a closer look at the process of dying and the three stages after death as described by Swedenborg.
What is it Like to Die?
Like most who describe their experiences of dying, Swedenborg says that once we lose consciousness in this world, death is a very peaceful experience. That’s because we are attended on the other side by the most loving and wise angels, who keep us enveloped in a peacefulness and a loving warmth that goes beyond anything we have ever experienced before.
At first we simply sense the angels’ thoughts and feel their love in our minds. But soon our spiritual eyes are opened, and we say goodbye to those warm, heavenly angels and begin our journey into the spiritual world. We are guided by lower angels—first more intellectual ones who answer our questions, then more pragmatic ones who guide us to our (temporary) homes and activities in the world of spirits.
Our First Stage After Death:
The Stage of Outward Life
At that point, we settle into a life very much like the one we had lived on earth. Why? Because that’s where our mind and heart are—and in the spiritual world, our thoughts and feelings determine our surroundings.
In fact, we may or may not even realize that we have died. Perhaps the experience of dying now seems to us like a particularly vivid dream. But everything around us looks pretty much the same, so we put it out of our mind and go about our daily business. We get up and go to work, go home, eat, relax in front of the TV or at the computer, and head to bed when we’re tired.
Maybe it will seem strange to us that we are no longer with the people we had been with here on earth. But it is amazing how the human mind can convince itself of things. And if we have not believed in an afterlife, we will probably convince ourselves that we are still living on earth.
If we have believed in an afterlife, though, we will accept the news when those first angels who guided us through the process of dying tell us that we have died and are now spirits. We then naturally want to see what the spiritual world is like. And of course, we want to see our family members and friends who have died before us.
We do have an opportunity to see and talk with everyone we had known who has gone on to the spiritual world. Just thinking about them brings them close to us—though at first we will probably experience this as their visiting us or our going to visit them in their homes. If we have been married and our spouse had died, we get back together and resume our life together. And of course, we can see children, parents, grandparents, and other friends and relatives who have died.
This existence similar to our life in the world continues for a longer or shorter time, depending on how strongly we cling to our former material existence.
Sooner or later, though, things begin to change.
Our Second Stage After Death:
The Stage of Inward Life
As long as we are living here on earth, we can think and feel one way, but say and do something else. We can hate someone’s guts, but treat them politely. Or we can love them and tell them that we don’t.
During our second stage after death we lose this ability to pretend to be one kind of person when we are different inside. Step by step, any outer masks that we had worn on earth, any false external personas, melt away from us, and our true self is exposed.
By the time we have gone through this second stage after death, we will always say exactly what we think, and we will always express our real feelings about the people and things around us. We may still be able to stop ourselves from saying or doing anything at all. But we can no longer lie, and we can no longer pretend we love what we hate and vice versa.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops” (Luke 12:2–3).
No one in heaven or in hell is allowed to speak and do what they do not think and feel. Any external politeness we have adopted without the internal kindness and consideration that it corresponds to will be stripped away. On the other hand, any external gruffness that conceals a heart of gold will also be stripped away.
By the time we are finished with this stage, each one of us will be a case of “what you see is what you get.” Even our physical appearance will change so that our very features express our inner character. That is why angels appear so beautiful, while devils appear so hideous.
Our Third Stage After Death:
The Stage of Learning
For people who are heading to hell, there is no third stage. They are so full of themselves that they do not believe anyone can teach them anything. So they reject any attempts of angels and good spirits to teach them. Once their inner selves have been fully revealed and they are just the same outwardly as they are inwardly, they rush down to their final homes in hell because that is where they most want to be. Hellish spirits prefer the company of other hellish spirits.
For those heading to heaven, though, there is a third stage. This is where we learn the ways of heaven before we actually go there.
It’s like going to live in a foreign land. Before we go there, it is a good idea to learn the local language and customs so that we’ll be able to get along in our new home.
The fact of the matter is that the churches here on earth have done a poor job of training people about heaven and what it is like. That’s because they have not known much about it—and what they have “known” is mostly mistaken. On the other side of the coin, most people have been so busy just getting along in this world that they haven’t taken advantage of the information that is available about heaven and how to live there. As a result, few people arriving from earth have any real knowledge about the ways of heaven.
So if our heart is good, after we have become outwardly exactly what we are like inwardly, we are taught by angels all the basics that we need to know about what makes heaven, and what we need to do to live there. There is no need to learn any new language because everyone in the spiritual world speaks the same spiritual language. But there is a need to learn such things as the fact that heavenly joy is not sitting on a throne being fanned by scantily clad beauties and having handsome waiters serving us peeled grapes . . . but that real heavenly joy is the joy of serving others, and the satisfaction of doing God’s will.
Of course, we will continue learning more and more about God and heaven to all eternity. But by the time we have gone through this third stage after death, we have the fundamental understanding we need to move into our homes in heaven.
Heading Toward Heaven
Once we are prepared in this way, we see a path open up before us. We eagerly follow it for a longer or shorter distance until we arrive at our own community and our own home in heaven. There, we are greeted with warmth and enthusiasm by those already living there. We instantly feel that we have known them all our lives, and that this is our true home.
And of course, by this time we will have found our true spiritual partner, if we hadn’t already on earth. We will continue living with him or her in a full and rich marriage relationship that becomes closer and deeper to all eternity.
Do we stop learning and growing? Not at all! Are there no more difficult tasks to accomplish? Certainly not! We will still use all of our human capabilities to the fullest, and we will always be challenged to do greater things. But we will do them willingly and with great energy, because these will be the things we love to do, and we will be doing them with the people we love most.
This article is © 2013 by Lee Woofenden
For more on the afterlife, see:
This new thing should be added to these observations: that these two are not even separated by the death of one, since the spirit of the deceased husband or wife continues to live with the husband or wife who is not yet deceased. And this continues until the other one’s death, when they meet again and reunite themselves and love each other more tenderly than before because they are in the spiritual world. Love in Marriage, no. 321
I see this as a contradiction to one passing into the ‘World of Spirits’ immediately upon death. You’ve said, as has Swedenborg, that upon death the soul enters the World of Spirits and can find there (or call upon) previously deceased friends and loved ones to visit with simply by thinking of them. And, that the soul remains there for a period of time, possibly many years, before getting ‘sorted’ and guided onto its final destination. And there, in that place, is where the surviving spouse will reunite with the first, upon their own death.
This puzzles me. As we continue here on Earth, the soul of our departed spouse is supposedly experiencing this arena, your “Grand Central Station”, so to speak. If re-acquainting with one’s deceased spouse really can’t occur until after the survivor’s death, then the first paragraph above seems a contradiction in stating the first’s spirit stays with the survivor until their death. If that were the case, when does all the re-acquainting happen for the first soul with all others before it?
Also, wouldn’t that also be a bit awkward for the remaining spouse should he or she find love again during their remaining life?
It helps to understand that even while we are living here on earth, our spirit is associated with one or another community in the spiritual world, even though we are not usually visible there to its regular inhabitants.
So when Swedenborg says that the spirit of the deceased partner remains with the spirit of the one still living on earth, this does not mean that the deceased partner remains somehow earthbound until the other partner dies. Rather, it means that the spirits of the two are still connected to one another in the spiritual world, even if there is not an actual visible and tangible presence. It’s more like a feeling of still being together the other person in spirit even though they are physically absent.
Then, when the surviving partner dies, and he or she becomes fully conscious and present in the spiritual world, the two meet again, and resume their in-person relationship, as Swedenborg states.
I say that we are not usually visible in the spiritual world while still living on earth. However, occasionally, when people living on earth are deep in thought on spiritual subjects, they will appear to other spirits in the spiritual community that they are associated with. They will seem to be walking along deep in thought, but will vanish if anyone tries to talk to them. This suggests to me that those who have left behind a husband or wife may occasionally catch fleeting glimpses of their spouse in the spiritual world, but will not be able to touch or interact with them until the other spouse, too, has died.
Is all of this difficult for the one who has died, also? I think for most people it probably is. But life isn’t always easy, even after we’ve died.
Love in Marriage #321 is in the context of Swedenborg’s statement at the beginning of the section that “Those who have lived together in real married love do not want to marry again, unless for reasons not connected with married love.” So the general idea is that people who have found and formed a relationship of genuine, spiritually based marriage love will not want to remarry–so that situation wouldn’t arise.
Of course, even Swedenborg recognizes that it’s more complicated than that. As he says, some people do remarry for pragmatic reasons. And others simply don’t do well being single–which seems especially so for men.
If a person who feels a genuine spiritual connection with a deceased spouse does remarry for social and pragmatic reasons, it’s likely that the second marriage will dissolve after death.
If he or she does form a marriage in which there is real love, though, the situation could get complicated. For more on this, see the article:
If You’ve been Married More than Once, Which One will you be With in the Afterlife?
When we die, do we recognise the people we have loved here? Do we remember our life in this material realm? Do relationships continue in the same way? For instance, do parent and child continue to have a parent/child relationship? Or can the two spirits reconnect in a relationship of a different nature? Will one’s earthly father still connect as one’s father? Or do these two spirits reconnect only on a basis of love and shared history? Do spirits sometimes wait around in the first spirit world for a loved one who is yet to pass? We have many love connections other than marital ones after all.
Good to hear from you again. These are all good questions.
In general, when we first arrive in the spiritual world, we can connect with and recognize all of the people we knew on earth who have passed over before us, and at first we will be in the same relationships with them that we were here on earth. However, over time these relationships will change based on the inner character of the relationship, and on the difference between the biological basis of life on earth and the spiritual basis of life in the spiritual world.
We do remember our life in the material realm when we first pass over, and in even more detail than we could remember it here on earth. However, the memory of our earthly life will tend to fade over time as we make new and more vivid memories in the spiritual world, just as our memory of our earliest few years of life here on on earth generally fades as we head into our teenage and adult years.
Parent/child relationships will be the same at first as they were when the parent and child were last living on earth. However, there is no biology in the spiritual world as there is on earth, so the physical basis of those relationships no longer exists there. Meanwhile, as both become angels, and live their own lives as fully mature adults, earthly parent/child relationships will tend to fade away and be replaced by brother/sister types of relationships. Consider whether after a thousand years of living as adults, two people would really have a parent/child relationship with one another. In heaven, God is the common parent of all people, and all people are brothers and sisters to one another.
Friendships, however, can continue as friendships if they are based on inner connections of shared love and understanding. For more on this, please see:
Can we Keep our Friends in the Afterlife?
It is not necessary for people to wait in the world of spirits for all of their family and friends to pass over. People in heaven are free to travel to the world of spirits to meet and greet people who are passing over. I do tend to think that we will keep our earthly memories somewhat fresh in our mind until the last people we had known on earth have passed over. This will enable us to connect with them and talk to them about events in their lives that happened after we died.
I should add that our earthly memories are never gone entirely. They are all indelibly recorded in our inner memory forever. If for some reason we do want to recall things from our earthly life, we are perfectly able to do so. It’s just that after everyone we have ever known has already passed over, there won’t be much reason for us to think about those times. After all, our life in heaven will be so much brighter and more beautiful that it would be like looking from a bright and sunny field back into the shadows of a cave from which we have emerged.
I hope this, and the linked article, answer your questions. But feel free to continue the conversation if you have further thoughts and questions.
i’ve read some of your old articles and let me tell you they’re very appealing to me.
I mean, somewhere in my heart a hope rose that i can see my god in afterlife.
Now what i understand that no matter from which religion you belong, if you do not find your god in what most of people believes then you may experience your god from your own..RIGHT?
Let’s say for example, im christian but i didnt find my god in jesus what my parents or neighbours taught me to, instead i find my god in something, lets say an animal or an illustration or a person or a fictional thing. It doesnt matter how you define god as long as you have the love and faith…isnt it? Correct me if im wrong.
It would be more clear if i explain you a bit. In Japan, some people including me belongs to shintoism but we never portraited god/goddess from our religion’s. Instead we worship our own favourite fictional characters(anime) as god/goddess.
Now i know it’s funny to a lot of people but this is the fact.
So, i want to know will our fictional characters come to life when we go to afterlife, will we stay with them there forever?
Im eager to know the fact.
Thank You, Lee.
Im looking forward to your answer.
The important thing from my perspective is whether the being you picture as god or goddess leads you to live a good and virtuous life with your fellow human beings and in your community.
As you say, we humans have many different views of God. I am a Christian, so I see Jesus as God. As I’ve said in other articles, I believe that all who worship God are worshiping the same God, which I believe is the Lord God Jesus Christ.
However, I understand that many people of other religions and cultures see it differently. The question we will be asked after we die is not what God we worshiped, but whether we loved our fellow human beings and took care of their needs. See Matthew 25:31-46.
About seeing your particular gods/goddesses in heaven, I do think that is possible. However, over time, if you truly want to know God, I believe you will see your god/goddess as a particular expression of the one God of heaven and earth. So I believe that the particular god/goddess is likely to fade in comparison with the presence of the great God of the universe that you will then feel.
However, Swedenborg does describe some people in heaven who still use images or representations of particular “deities,” or really, of particular virtues of God, to help them approach the God of the universe. So it is possible that you will see the figure of your god/goddess in heaven as a way to approach and be connected with God.
Hi , I’ve recently come across your site and I am so grateful . I feel you have documented so much of what I have felt for years and of course much much more . I am so looking forward to delving deeper into your opinions .
It’s nice to have you here. I’m glad the articles here are speaking to you! If you have any questions as you read, please don’t hesitate to ask.
How would Swedenborg explain the verses: To be absent from the body is to be present wither the lord by Saint Paul? I don’t see that anywhere in Swedenborgs wrightings.
I presume you’re talking about 2 Corinthians 5:8. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 Paul is talking about our earthly body and our struggles here on earth, where we are separated from the Lord in the material world, compared to our spiritual body in the spiritual body where we will be present with the Lord.
Swedenborg doesn’t comment specifically on these verses, except that he quotes 2 Corinthians 5:10 several times to show that Paul, like James, rejected faith without good works, and taught that we will be judged by what we have done, whether good or bad, and not just by what we believed.
Paul say all of use will appear before the judgment seat of the lord. Does Swedenborg conferm this?
Not a literal judgment seat, of course. God does not actually sit on a throne. But yes, all of us will face our day of judgment figuratively, when, after we pass from this life, our true character and nature is brought to light, and we reap the rewards or the consequences of what we have one with our life here on earth.
I have read Heaven and Hell and many of your articles and I have a question that I don’t think I’ve had clearly answered yet. I understand that when we die, and assuming we got to heaven, we will continue to learn and grow to eternity. However, will someone who is in the outmost heaven be able to tradition to the spiritual heaven and then into the innermost heaven? I know we can grow and move to different or better communities but I am not sure I found any information about angels moving from one heaven to another.
Thank you in advance.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.
It’s not so much that people cannot progress to a higher heaven, as that they have no interest whatsoever in doing so. Once people find their home in heaven, moving to a different part of heaven would feel like moving away from themselves. People’s homes and communities in heaven perfectly reflect who they are. Living anywhere else would mean leaving behind everything and everyone they love.
People’s specific place in heaven (or hell) is determined by their particular “ruling love,” which is what they love most of all. This ruling love forms the core of their character. It determines who they are closest to (people who have similar ruling loves), and what community, street, and house they will live in. It is their inner “home.” Their home in heaven (or hell) perfectly reflects and expresses it.
What can happen, however, is that as people learn and grow, they move closer to the center of the particular community of heaven in which they live. But they will never leave that community (except on trips and visits) because that is where their heart and their home is.
To use an earthly example, someone who loves nursing and trains to be a nurse can become a better and better nurse, and take on tougher nursing tasks and more responsibilities as he or she gains experience and skill. But a person who loves nursing would not be interested in becoming a doctor. That is a distinct profession, and not the one that a nurse is interested in. Being a doctor instead of a nurse would feel wrong and uncomfortable, because it is not what the person loves to do.
In the very same way, people in any particular heaven, whether it is a lower or higher heaven, have just as much happiness as they can possibly imagine for themselves. They don’t want to be in a higher heaven because they are perfectly happy and fulfilled right where they are.
But yes, all of us will face our day of judgment figuratively, when, after we pass from this life, our true character and nature is brought to light, and we reap the rewards or the consequences of what we have one with our life here on earth.
Do you mean how we treated or mistreated our fellow man?
Yes, that’s where the rubber hits the road when it comes to our spiritual life.
So even though Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and we believe and strive as much as humanly possible to live as he would have us live, we will still be punished or penalized for any sins we have committed during our lifetime? Col. 1:12-14. “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” I don’t believe we will be punished or penalized for our earthly weaknesses in some spiritual realm, and maybe not even be aware we’ve died, and then sometime later be given a body that matches our “real” inner self. No man or woman is without sin, no matter how hard we try. That’s why Jesus came and died for us. God knew no one would ever make it on their on. We will stumble, we will fall. We will get back up and try again. By God’s grace and through Jesus Christ we will be made perfect when we die. That old inner self will no longer exist. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we understand that while he expects us to strive for goodness and purity, we could never be good enough, or pure enough, or do enough good works to “earn” a place in Heaven. If this is not the case, then the Bible is lie. What did Jesus die for? Why was He crucified? When some one truly accepts that Jesus as their Lord and savior. he becomes a new creatures in Christ. If he is a new creature in Christ, good works will naturally follow. But perfection will not be attained until this life is over. We will eventually have a new glorified body. Our sin nature will be dead for all time. It seems like this Swedenborg person is being given more validity than the Holy Scriptures. I’ve spent quite a bit of time today reading what you have to say. Much of it lines up with my own thoughts and beliefs. But some of it is disturbing. I have never seen anything in the scriptures to back up these beliefs about what happens when we die.
Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughts.
Let me ask you something. Do you have children? Parents? Brothers and sisters? Friends?
Do you require them to be perfect in order to love them? If you discover that they are not perfect, that they’ve slipped up and done something wrong, maybe not something big, but something that is definitely a blotch on their character, do you at that point stop loving them and cut them out of your life? Or do you continue to love them anyway, despite their human imperfections and their occasional thoughtless words and actions?
Our Father in heaven has many billions of children. And he loves us all not just like a human parent, but like a divine Father, whose love is infinite. Jesus tells us that God continues to love us even when we make ourselves into enemies of God:
Those religious teachers who are telling you that God requires us to be perfect or else God will reject us and send us to hell may be sincere in their beliefs, but they are badly mistaken because they are not paying attention to what the Bible teaches us about God’s love. Nowhere does the Bible say that if we are not perfect God will reject us. And nowhere does it say that all of our sins here on earth will be held against us.
Here’s what the Bible does say:
God does not hold all of our past sins against us. Rather, God requires us to repent from our sins and live a new life of love and kindness to our fellow human beings. If we do so, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25:31–46, God will welcome us into eternal life with open arms. None of the transgressions that we have committed will be remembered against us.
This is the true teaching of the Bible. Please don’t listen to those religious teachers who are telling you all those things that the Bible simply doesn’t teach. God is a loving and merciful God, who does not hold our sins against us if only we repent from them, believe in him, and live according to his commandment that we love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34–35).
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Thank you for your reblog. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your precious little girl. We’ll keep you in our prayers.
Dear Lee Hello! three weeks back I lost my mother, she got a heart attact. I still can’t believe that she is no more. Life without her is just impossible, I myself will become a mom soon she was so excited and was suppose to come to stay with me but unfortunately this happened. I just want to know if in any form I can see her or feel her or if she can see me. I feel desperate some time to talk to her. please help me how can I move further in my life. thanks
Hi Mamta dias,
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your mother, especially just before you yourself are about to become a mother. That is very hard.
Though you may sometimes feel your mother present with you, and she will be able to have a sense of how you are doing, it’s best not to try to contact her. You must now move on with your own life, with her voice and love still within you, and build your own life on the foundation she built for you.
For more specifically on your situation with a beloved parent dying, please see this article: “What Does it Mean When My Parents Die? Will I See Them Again?” I hope it will be helpful to you.
Meanwhile, our prayers are with you as you grieve the loss of your mother, and as you welcome your child into the world.
thanks Lee for your valuable support and comment
Hello Lee, I have been reading most of your articles, in one of them you said that when we die, we get a spiritual body that is as much real as this one, do you get exactly the same body, sex, ethnicity etc? What happens if your current body has proven to be problematic in the physical word and you don’t want it? Do you still get the same old body? Thanks
That’s a somewhat tricky question to answer, because in the spiritual world your body reflects with full accuracy what’s in you mind and heart. So if your current physical body reflects your self-image and your actual character, it’s likely you’ll have a similar body in the spiritual world. But if your current physical body is very far from your image of yourself and your actual character, it’s likely that you’ll have a very different body in the spiritual world.
For many, if not most people, their sex and ethnicity is a key part of their identity and their character. So I would say that in general, people will be the same sex and ethnicity in the spiritual world as they are here on earth.
However, many, if not most people who have some sort of physical disability do not consider that to be an essential part of who they are, and would prefer to be without that disability. Ditto for people who are overweight, underweight, have a genetic disease, or simply a weak physical constitution that causes them to be sick a lot. These sorts of physical body characteristics that are not part of a person’s core identity, or that they could let go of without too much trouble, will not be part of that person’s spiritual body.
Here are two articles that say more about your question:
Beyond that, assuming we are headed to heaven, our spiritual body is in general better than our physical body. For one thing, it is made of spiritual substance rather than physical matter, so it is lighter and more fully responsive to our thoughts, feelings, and intentions than is our physical body here on earth. There is nothing about it that doesn’t fully express the person we are inside.
Also, if a person commits suicide will God be mad at them?
The issue isn’t really whether God will be mad at a person for committing suicide, but rather the forces that drove that person to suicide. God loves everyone, saint and sinner alike. But some people turn their backs on God and won’t accept God’s love.
My sense, however, is that most suicides are driven by desperation and despair, not by any evil intentions on the part of the person who commits suicide. And yet, going to the spiritual world does not change who we are. So committing suicide won’t necessarily get us away from what caused our desperation and despair, which is often within ourselves. We may well still have to deal with the very same unresolved issues on the other side. That’s assuming the suicide wasn’t a result of terrible physical and emotional abuse by the people around us. In that case, the abuse will stop, and healing may be faster than for those who have inner demons driving them to suicide. Even those people will have better help on the other side than they got here. But they will still have to face and work through their inner issues.
I should add that any brain chemistry issues that are distorting a person’s thoughts and emotions will also be taken away in the spiritual world, though there may be a transition period before the person is fully healed and able to move forward with full mental health.
For more on suicide, see my article, “Does Suicide Work?”
Hi Lee. I have a question that is sort of related to this topic.
I have looked into Revelations and boy, that book is a bit of a headache. However, one topic really jumped out. Why the Jews? A lot of that book and the Bible in general seems to be giving Jews a preferred position. Why is New Jerusalem even Jerusalem? Why are the gates inscribed with the 12 tribes of Judah? Who are the 144000 and why are they all Jewish? And even broader, why are Jews the chosen nation? What does that mean? Will Jews be ruling over Gentiles in Heaven? Why the Jews first and then the Gentiles (see Romans)?
I have to admit, this topic made me a bit sour. It contradicts that God shows to favouritism and yet there we have it. Are we to accept that whatever God chooses is just, even though our sense of justice says otherwise? It also contradicts Swedenborgs view of Heaven. Now, if I were to choose, I would choose the word of God. However, I also realize that there is a lot of things I do not get.
So yes, why the Jews first and what does it mean to the Gentiles? Does God play favourite after all? I hope you have something to ease my troubles, for God has yet to answer.
If we read the Bible literally, this certainly does make God out to be playing favorites by favoring the Jews over other people. And it is a very common belief among Jews to this day that they are God’s chosen people, favored over other nations by God, based on various statements to that effect in the Hebrew Bible. Many Christians believe the same thing, both about the Jews in former times and about the Christians from the time of Christ onward.
However, if we read the Bible spiritually, the meaning is very different.
In the spiritual meaning, “Jews” in a positive sense means people who are part of God’s universal church because they love the Lord and accept the Lord’s truth in their minds and hearts, and live by it. (It also has a more specific meaning that we don’t need to go into here.)
In the Bible, “Jews” in a positive sense is used as a general term for the people who are part of God’s church. Keep in mind that the New Testament, including the book of Revelation, was written before Christianity had coalesced as a “church” of its own distinct from Judaism. The original twelve Apostles and their groups of believers thought of themselves as the true Jews, who accepted Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, or “Christ.”
For example, when Revelation mentions “those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9, 3:9), it is not using “Jews” to mean the Jewish people as we think of them today, but rather to mean the true “Jews” as understood by the early Apostles: those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, it considers the real Jews to be the community of people whom we today would call the first Christians. By contrast, the phrase “those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” refers to the people whom we think of as the ancient Jews, but whom the early Apostles considered to be a synagogue of Satan precisely because they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah.
This is the general basis on which “the Jews” in a positive sense in the Bible’s spiritual meaning refers to everyone who is part of the Lord’s church. That church is not a human, institutional church, but rather is the sum total of all people who love God, believe in God’s teachings, and live by God’s commandments.
This is a huge subject, and I’ve only scratched the surface here. But I hope this gives you some sense of why “the Jews” assume such a prominent, favored place in the text of the Bible.
Yes, that makes more sense. Thank you, Lee.
Something also came to mind. In Luke 24:47 – “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” it says ‘beginning at Jerusalem’. This could explain what is meant with ‘Jews first, then Gentiles’. It is less of a ranking and maybe more of a chronological order. After all, Jesus was born in that region, so naturally the Gospel would be preached there first.
Connecting with the above, maybe I read the word ‘chosen’ wrongly. Maybe it means that the Christ was chosen to be of the seed of David and thus a Jew and that chosen merely means to be an example to others? Again, in chronological order, the Jews did it first and now it is our turn to do so. The Bible, in that sense, is a guide book with the Jews serving as an example so that we may understand it better.
Do you think there is any merit to that line of thought?
Good thoughts. Yes, this makes sense to me as well.
There are many layers to it—too many to get into at the moment.
However, another layer is that at any given time in history there is a “church” (or community of believers) on earth that represents the closest approximation of God’s true church that is possible on earth at that point in time, considering the overall spiritual level of humanity during that time period.
For a number of centuries prior to Christ, the Israelite or Jewish religion was that church. But at the time of Christ, a new church was begun that would take Judaism’s place as the focal point of God’s truth among human beings.
My belief is that the Christian church that started at that time has reached its end, and yet another new church, symbolized by the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, is now beginning on earth. For more on this, see: “Christianity is Dead. Long Live Christianity!”
However, having a leading church on earth does not mean that everyone else is left out in the cold. Rather, that church is supposed to be a light to the world, spreading God’s love, truth, and power to all of the peoples of the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean “converting” them, but rather being a continual source of light, inspiration, and love for the world.
When the former Christian church ceased to be that key source of light, inspiration, and love in the world, it ceased to be God’s leading church on earth, just as the ancient Jewish religion ceased to be God’s leading church on earth when it ceased to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles.”
Regardless of which community of believers on earth at any given time may represent the closest approximation to God’s divine truth and love, all people everywhere who love God (or some higher power or principle) in their own way, and live according to their beliefs as derived from that God or higher principle, will be saved and find their home in heaven once their time on this earth is complete.
Thank for the read. It is plenty to think about. However, I want to mention one thing. We see it as logical with our limited human mind. To be fair, God things with the same logic (or rather, we use His logic), but God still has far more information at His disposal. How can we be sure that our understanding is of the Spirit and not our own thoughts?
That is something each of us has to decide for ourselves. But when it comes to the afterlife, it does help that there are now thousands, if not millions of people who have briefly experienced the spiritual world and come back to tell about it. And though their stories do, of course, differ, the general pattern of their experiences very much supports what Swedenborg wrote about the afterlife over 250 years ago.
I have extremely low self esteem and suffer with sadness and depression. If I cant find healing in this life will god heal me in the age to come? I don’t want to suffer like this for all eternity. Please pray for me.
Don’t worry I would never kill myself, because I know I would wind up in hell for all eternity if I took my own life.
I’m glad to hear that you have no plans to kill yourself. That would cut short your ability to make progress in laying the foundation for your eternal life.
In answer to your question, no one in heaven is sad and depressed in their regular, everyday life. Yes they may occasionally experience bouts of sadness when they temporarily fall away from their focus on love for God and the neighbor, and get too wrapped up in themselves. But those bouts are brief, and they soon rise back up emotionally to their normal happy and satisfied life loving and serving the people around them.
So no, you won’t suffer like that to all eternity. The only way that could happen is if you choose to be self-centered and greedy, and do not develop your ability to love and serve your fellow human beings.
And for those who suffer with sadness and depression that is the key to finding some happiness. I don’t know very much about you and your life. But commonly depression involves being heavily wrapped up in one’s own feelings, struggles, and suffering. The strongest antidote to that is to make sure you are doing something for other people on a regular basis, ideally every day. Thinking about the needs, happiness, and wellbeing of others, and actively contributing toward their wellbeing, helps to get us out of our focus on our own troubles, and gives us a positive outside focus.
So my suggestion for you would be that even if it’s hard (nobody said it would be easy!), make sure you are devoting at least some of your time and energy to thinking about others and their wellbeing, and actively doing something for them. This might simply mean that when you do your job, you think about the benefits you are providing for people through the work that you do, and you focus on doing your work in such a way that it will be truly helpful to people. If you are not employed, and can’t get a job for one reason or another, you can still find volunteer opportunities, or just spent some time each day helping the people around you or doing good things around your community.
For more along these lines, please see this two-part article:
Even if you can’t entirely overcome your sadness and depression here on earth, if you make the effort to do some good for others each day, whether you feel like it or not, and you keep at it day after day and year after year, you will be building the foundation for a happy and fulfilled life in heaven, whether or not you achieve it here on earth.
So what do you think ghosts are? A lot of people have experienced some strange things they claim are hauntings.
Hi Foster! I’ll let Lee address your ghost question, I’m curious as well.
I just wondered how you were doing lately, how are you doing? Depression is a terrible disease that is not your fault. I’m wishing you much love that you are on your way to finding peace.
Lee wrote a little bit ago that “The strongest antidote to that [*depression*] is to make sure you are doing something for other people on a regular basis, ideally every day.” I think he is really on to something. Its hard to feel bad when I am doing something kind for someone else. But it surely can be darn near impossible to think of other people when I’m down.
So I, myself, start simple. My first step is to get out of my apartment. Its essential to go out into the world. Get some sunlight, move my legs. Then I head towards a large department store that see lots of foot traffic, like at the mall. Then it’s simple, as I walk in… I hold the door open for the next person. There is usually someone within several seconds behind me. I often get a genuine smile and a thank you. That tiny little spark of usefulness can really start a fire of happiness in my heart.
To go a little further… Do you have $5? A simple bouquet of flowers usually doesn’t cost any more than that, depending on where you go. It is a well known fact that elderly ladies love to receive flowers! All you have to explain to a nice stranger is that you hope they are having a good day and that you wanted to try to contribute to it in some small way. Get your flowers and try, say, the bus stop.
Don’t ditch your therapist if you have one, but to put it in perspective my copay was $40, so that’s 8 people I could potentially make smile! And the cascade of joy will extend to those who witness your kindness.
Last little tid bit I’ll share about what helps me… Music can be very powerful. Triumphant piano pieces work for me. Use headphones, breathe deep, relax. Try the pianist Doug Hammer who performs a song called Sunrise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_li_hMbk0sE
If that sounds pleasing search out a pianist named Brian Crain, Song for Sienna. I love the horns that enter at the end. For something a little faster I’ve enjoyed Elijah Bossenbroek, A Song Simply Remixed.
Best wishes. Good luck Foster.
According to Swedenborg, some very materialistic and physical-minded spirits (people who have died and gone to the spiritual world) long to be back on earth in their physical body, so they continually attempt to reconnect with this world. I suspect they are the source of most hauntings. For the most part they are unable to actually interact with physical matter. I believe that when people see ghosts, it is rarely if ever with their physical eyes, but rather with their spiritual eyes, which can be opened up briefly even while we are still living here on earth.
Poltergeist phenomena (spirits moving physical objects) are much rarer, but it does seem to be possible under certain circumstances.
Eventually these spirits will move on from the world of spirits, where they can still have some direct contact with earth, to their final homes, almost always in hell. At that point those particular spirits can no longer “haunt” people on earth.
So my church teaches that in the next life we will have resurrected body’s, that are physical and un-corrupable. We won’t just be spirits flooting around. I’m guessing Swedenborg drew that same conclusion?
It depends what you mean by “physical.” If you mean a physical body made out of physical matter and dwelling here in the physical universe, then no, that will not happen. Once we leave our physical body behind, we will never return to it, nor will we return to a future earth after some future Judgment Day.
But if you mean that we will have a solid, substantial body that is just as real, touchable, and huggable as your physical body here on earth, then yes, that is true. It’s just that it will be made of spiritual substance and dwell in the spiritual world rather than being made of physical matter and dwelling in the physical world. And in fact, it will feel much more real to you than your physical body here on earth. Plus, for those of us who have put on a few decades beyond our youthful years, it will be in much better shape! 😀
For more about this, see:
Is Heaven Physical? Can Angels Play Tennis?
There are a few more relevant articles linked from the end of this one, too.
… can those who have passed contact those that got left behind do you think? If they can visit anyone already passed… could they call the people still living? Do they even percieve someone is missing? I keep begging God and all the angels for help and to let me talk with him… even just for a few precious minutes… but all i seem to find is that each day left behind i hurt more because he isn’t there… why do they all let me suffer so much? It feels as if god is punishing me…
These days, most of the time people aren’t able to contact their loved ones who have passed on to the other world. I know that many people go to spirit mediums in an effort to make contact, but for the most part I don’t think that’s a very reliable method of communication with the dead. See: “What about Spiritualism? Is it a Good Idea to Contact Spirits?”
I know it’s hard. But most of us just have to struggle along here when we’ve lost someone we love.
However, that doesn’t mean our departed loved ones don’t think about us and care about us. There is still a spiritual connection between people who are separated by death. And he is still with you in spirit, even if you don’t sense it. If your heart and mind are bound together with the heart and mind of another person, even death has no power to break that connection. Though he can’t talk to you, he can sense your spirit and your presence, and he does have a sense of how you are feeling within yourself. And I’m sure he is grieving along with you, and doing what he can to give you help from within, from the other side.
As for feeling his presence, I would only suggest that you keep your mind and heart open to the possibility that he might make his presence known in some subtle way in a quiet moment. I have talked to people who had lost a husband or wife, and who had a strange experience that they were sure was their spouse sending them a subtle message. Often just seemingly silly little things, like feeling a breath on their cheek. And yet, they knew where it came from. At least, they felt it strongly, and were often afraid to tell anyone because they didn’t want their hope smashed by someone who pooh-poohed it. But I believe that those things are real. We just have to be open to them.
Whether you’ll ever feel such a thing I can’t say. Only God knows. But I hope my words will help you to feel that he is still with you, even if you don’t see any evidence of it.
And if, as I believe, he is still with you, he does not want to see you suffer and grieve too much. He is hoping you will find some reason to live, something to focus your life on, something that can give you some happiness and a sense of purpose during the rest of your life here. If nothing else, then thinking of how you can prepare yourself to reunite with him by continuing to grow in heart and mind, in love and thoughtfulness, in becoming the best you that you can be while you’re still here on earth, may give you some reason to keep moving forward.
I know it’s hard. And yet, I believe you’re still here for a reason. God has something in mind for you to accomplish during the rest of your life here. If you can gain a sense of what good thing you can accomplish both within yourself and in your community or your work, then maybe over time you’ll gain some peace, even if there is still a hole in your heart until it comes your time to reunite with him.
Can I ask for a clarification?
First in the second stage of the afterlife, you say that all lies would be stripped away, then how can I know who am I truly? While I do get angry/annoyed to the point where I do want to hurt people at times but I never act upon them held back by reasoning alone. And I do say vague things at times just so I don’t hurt others too badly by my own words. Does that mean that I won’t be able to well change my words just so I don’t hurt people? Or something else? So thus if there I learn of my true nature and it doesn’t really correspond to the “nature” fit for heaven does that mean I cannot change?
Second about the later parts of the afterlife about helping others and doing the works of God. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind the thought of helping others or working for that matter but what does it mean exactly? I know that I like the thought of playing adventure virtual games where you go out fight and explore, but I also like the thought of spending the day reading a nice book, or doing some strange things. Does this mean that I need to throw away an aspect of myself away? I mean I hate the thoughts of hell and eternal conflict, but I also don’t like the thought that to avoid hell I need to become someone I’m not.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your good questions.
In answer to your first question:
The first thing to know is that we remain the same person after death as before. (See: “The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!”) Only the superficial parts that don’t correspond to our true character are stripped away. So in the afterlife you (and everyone else) will know even more clearly than you do here who you truly are. Who you are will show not only in everything you say and do, but even in the appearance of your face and body.
And who you are is not perfect. So you will likely still at times make mistakes and even say stupid things that annoy people. However, assuming you are headed for heaven, keep in mind that you and everyone else around you will be acting primarily from love and thoughtfulness. That means everyone gives everyone else the benefit of the doubt. So if you say something that’s a little too blunt to someone, instead of leading to a feud, it’s likely to lead to a heart-to-heart in which you and that person face squarely and hash out the issues between you.
So no, you can’t lie once you’re past the second stage in the world of spirits. But that won’t matter as much as it does here because in heaven, people don’t think the worst of other people, and don’t use their words and actions against them. We’re all still very human there, but we’re also thoughtful, a little more willing than here to take constructive criticism constructively, and willing to work on our own inner and interpersonal issues. Everyone in heaven is still growing as a person.
It is still possible in the spiritual world simply not to speak. More perceptive people will sense what you’re thinking anyway from your face and your general aura. But less perceptive people who might take it the wrong way will be less likely to look so deeply.
About being able to change, our basic character as determined by our “primary love,” or the basic love that drives us as a person, does not change after death. However, as I said just above, we do continue to grow as a person in the direction determined by that primary love.
Really, the biggest difference in the spiritual world is that you will be much more free to be who you truly are without having to regularly suppress your thoughts and feelings in order to accommodate yourself to people and social situations that don’t match your character and personality.
In answer to your second question:
You won’t have to become someone you’re not, regardless of whether you go to heaven or to hell. In both places, people are exactly who they are in feelings, thoughts, and actions.
There is also plenty of time for R&R in heaven. Work days there seem to be shorter in general than they are here on earth. Many people apparently spend the morning working, and have the afternoon and evening free for recreation and relaxation. But that, I think, varies a lot just as it does here on earth, depending on the person and the occupation.
Basically, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to play your favorite games and to relax with a good book. God does not crack the whip over angel employees! 😉 Besides, whatever your job is there, you’ll do it because you love it. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be challenging and even hard at times. But you’ll throw yourself into it because it’s something you care about and want to accomplish.
Thank you, one last thing, I have read about people who have memories of their past life, what are your thoughts on this?
About remembering past lives, here’s the short version:
People who experience “past life regression” are not calling up their own memories of a past life; rather they are experiencing the memories of the earthly lives of various spirits who are now living in the spiritual world.
You see, in the spiritual world—which is the world our minds inhabit at a deeper level—it is very easy for the memories of one person (or “spirit”) to be transferred into the mind of another. This is what is happening when people “remember past lives.”
For the long version, please go to my article, “The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation,” scroll down to the section titled, “What does Emanuel Swedenborg say about reincarnation?” (It’s a long article!), and read that and the next two sections of the article.
Hello, I’ve been going around reading people’s account on what they saw after death, and I was wondering why do people see vastly different things in these accounts? According to some accounts, hell was like the Buddhism hell, some claimed to have seen Jesus before seeing hell, others claim it was a deep sleep, others also say that they saw the Buddhism version of the judge. If I understood correctly hell was supposed to be a place of constant conflict, then why all the different accounts? Why are there judges when your supposed to live for a while in the spiritual realm before moving on to either heaven or hell?
Oh, and if possible is there a way I could open my spiritual senses and see these things myself?
For most of us at this time in human spiritual history it is better not to have our spiritual senses open here on earth. We have a lot of hard work to do here. Seeing into the spiritual world can easily distract us from doing the work that is right in front of us.
I’m not so much talking about our job or employment, though that, too, can suffer among some people who have spiritual visions and aren’t able to function well here on earth because their mind is elsewhere. Mostly, I’m talking about the work on ourselves, to grow into better, more loving, and more thoughtful people. And for that, God has given us plenty of guidance through many holy people and holy books.
My suggestion, then, is not to seek to see these things for yourself except in your mind’s eye, and even then to do it mostly by putting what you do know of spiritual life into practice in your own daily life. If God sees that a spiritual vision would be good for your spiritual life, God will give it to you. But most of us have plenty of material to guide us along our path without having to have our spiritual eyes opened until after we leave this earthly plane.
Just as there are many different lands and cultures here on earth, so there are many different lands and cultures in the spiritual world. After all, the spiritual world is simply a continuation of our life here on earth, only without our physical body, but with a spiritual body instead. See: “The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!”
When we move on to the spiritual world, we take our whole character with us. That includes our cultural and religious character. We don’t become a whole different person just because we’ve died. We are the same person, living in the spiritual world instead of in the physical world.
And the spiritual world is very responsive to our character, culture, religion, and beliefs. In fact, God creates our surroundings there specifically to reflect our character, and the character of the community in which we live.
Also, people here on earth are associated with angels and spirits who are from a similar religious and cultural background that they are.
All of this is why people from various religions and cultures experience the spiritual world differently, each according to their own culture, when they have a near-death experience.
Just keep in mind that the spiritual world is even more varied and diverse than the physical world.
My mom passed away 2 weeks ago. I am not able to bear the pain. My mom was just 53 when she left. She had so much desires, out of which her most desire was to see my first child.
Can she feel me?
Can she my pain?
Can she hear me when I talk?
Will she reincarnate in the same family and take the form of my child ?
Are these things possible?
I saw her in my dream where I was holding her like a baby and she was crying on my shoulder. Whilst, I was trying to put her on sleep.
Hi ~ Feminine Secret ~,
I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your mother. Losing someone we love is one of the most difficult and painful things we humans experience in our lives.
Here is an article that might be helpful to you, and answer some of your questions: “What Does it Mean When My Parents Die? Will I See Them Again?”
Meanwhile, here’s the short version:
Yes, your mother can feel you. In the spiritual world, where she now is, thoughts and feelings are much more real than they are here. And we keep our connection with those we love even when we are separated by death. So yes, she can feel you, and your pain, even if she is not physically present with you. However, she also has her own life there, so she will not be enveloped with your pain. As for hearing you when you talk, what she’ll sense is more the feelings behind what you say. Our earthly words don’t penetrate to the spiritual world because that world has a whole different spiritual atmosphere.
Being a Christian, I don’t believe in reincarnation. Instead, I believe we will be reunited with those we love who have died after our own time on this earth is over. For a lengthy article laying out my views on reincarnation, please see: “The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation.”
And that is a touching dream that you had. If I were to guess as to its meaning, it would be that something about the character and life of your mother is in its “infancy” within your own spirit, and that you wish to comfort and nurture that within yourself. It is similar, I think, to Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. Spiritually, Jesus is born as a baby within us so that we can nurture that tiny inner presence of God until God can become a full-grown presence and power in our lives. While your life here on earth will move forward without your mother’s physical presence, the love and goodness she meant to you can continue to grow in your own soul, and become a part of your own character and life.
Thank you so much Mr. Lee for your swift response.
But as I said, finding it really hard to cope up with the fact that she’s not with us.
Secondly, my mom was so scared of death. She didn’t even realize that she’s dying. A day before this misfortune too.. we had conversations via WhatsApp. She was all good till she reached hospital next day.. and then she being unconscious. To add, she didn’t had any difficulties or suffering. But someone like her to leave by 52 is something which we are finding so difficult to accept. She had so much of desires and wishes to fulfill. It’s really hard and I wish if I could speak to her at least once. I am exploring a lot about spiritual world to understand how to connect with her. I wish to speak to her once. I still leave messages to her number expecting a response. Tough times of our life. Forgetting her is just not possible and is so difficult without her.
How do I convey to her what I wanted to tell, since the world they live in is entirely different than ours and so is their language.
Hi ~ Feminine Secret ~,
Yes, there’s no getting around that it is difficult to lose the people we are close to, especially when they die suddenly with no warning, earlier in life than we were expecting. I am very sorry to hear about your mother’s sudden passing.
I hope the above article is at least somewhat helpful to you. My belief is that even if we had unfinished business here, death does not mean the end of our life, or of our ability to continue doing the work and activities we love and care about. We simply continue our life and our work in the spiritual world.
Here are two more articles that might be helpful for you in getting some sense of what your mother is now experiencing, and what her future life as an angel will be like:
Although you may or may not receive any message from her, I hope the articles here about the afterlife at least give you some hope and assurance that your mother is still very much herself, and that even though she is no longer here on earth with you, she still has a good life in the spiritual world, and will be going on to even better things.
And yes, the spiritual world is different, and has a different language, than the physical world you and I are living in. However, that actually doesn’t mean there’s a language barrier. The language of angels and spirits is the language of ideas and feelings. It connects directly to what is in our heart and mind, bypassing human languages altogether. So even though you mother wouldn’t normally understand the words you are saying with your lips, she will fully understand the thoughts and feelings you are expressing through those words.
Also, when there is actual, conscious communication between people here on earth and angels or spirits, the angel or spirit enters into the person’s mind and memory, and from the person’s memory gains full access to and knowledge of the human language or languages they speak. That’s why people who have angel encounters hear the angels speaking in their own language.
So please don’t worry about whether your mother can understand what you want to say to her in your heart. Since she is now in the spiritual world, she can understand it even better than you yourself do, because now she can directly sense your thoughts and feelings, without the sometimes awkward barrier of language and words that can never fully express what we’re thinking and feeling.
Beyond all that, I would simply say: Grieving is hard. Allow yourself to feel your grief at your mother’s passing. Don’t try to avoid it. Our grief is a measure of the love we have for the people we have lost. In time, if we face rather than avoiding our pain, the wounds will gradually heal, and we can return to a life of joy and fulfillment, knowing that our loved ones have moved on to a place of joy and fulfillment, and that we will join them as well when our time here on earth is finished.
I appreciated this article. In some ways it gave me some relief. Personally I’ve not liked pain being caused to me and therefore some part of me has worried about dying through a painful circumstance because of this aspect of myself.
There were two things that I was hoping you could clarify. First when our inner self starts to show is there like a cleansing of some of the not so good parts? Let me clarify so that you might understand exactly what I am asking. I am asking this because there was a point in my life where it seemed like there was a spirit of rage over me. Very rarely would it ever show itself, but when it did it was like there was an inner demon being let loose. To some degree it felt like I wasn’t in control of myself and whenever I remember the incidents they almost feel like a dream. Because these time would happen unexpectedly at the time I was scared of myself. Luckily nothing has happened like that for many years, but when I read that part of the article it just made me wonder if the spirit was truly gone or if some part is just lying dormant deep inside and what exactly would happen in a situation like that.
The other thing I was trying to figure out was about the meeting with other people. Would you only meet people that you knew in your life or would you occasionally meet strangers while in the Spirit World?
There was one other thing that I just thought about. In regards to the learning period would it just be a time about learning about heaven or could you also learn about other things? Specifically what I am wondering about is if that would be a time to learn about your soulmate in better detail if we never met them in our life? Even if we recognize our soulmate, it seems like we wouldn’t truly know anything about them. Sure, we will know that they will be the perfect partner for us for all eternity, but we would really know the important things that make them who they are. The way I imagine it when we actually go into our community in heaven we would be living with our other half and personally I would just like to know my other half as a person before living together with them. It would be ridiculous to expect to know everything about them, we have all eternity to get to know each other. I just want some time to get to know them as a person before living with them.
Thanks for listening despite all the questions I have.
I’m glad you found this article helpful. And these are all good questions.
About the first one, yes, in general, people whose “ruling love,” or primary motive in life, is good will have any remaining serious bad parts of their character cleansed and sidelined before heading to heaven. In heaven, you can’t be a mix of good and evil.
Contrariwise, people whose ruling love is evil will have the good parts of them, which they’ve put on as social masks, stripped away and sidelined before heading to hell. You can’t be a mix of good and evil in hell, either.
However, there is some nuance to this.
No human being is ever perfectly good or perfectly evil. Even if we become angels, the evil parts of us are still present within us. They are simply quiescent and pushed to the side, so that they no longer form a part of our active, everyday character and life. Occasionally, though, some angels get a little too full of themselves, and think they are all good all by themselves. When this happens, their old evils resurface and these angels fall out of heaven for a time until they recognize their folly and give all the glory to God instead. Then they rise back up to their home in heaven again, chastened and wiser.
Similarly, even evil spirits in hell do have a rational part that understands their own folly. Occasionally they are allowed to rise up out of hell and see things in a clearer light, in which they realize that the life they have been living is an evil and insane one. However, because that is the life they desire in their heart, they soon fall back into their home in hell, and reject and deny everything they had seen when they had risen up into clearer light.
Finally, since no human being is ever perfect, angels continue to grow spiritually to eternity. And that involves recognizing any remaining taints of evil and putting them aside. Though all angels are focused on good and truth, and that forms the core and fabric of their lives, they still have spiritual work to do, and inner as well as outer challenges to face. So our process of spiritual growth and rebirth continues forever.
The difference is that there is no longer a possibility that we would turn back toward evil. We have already made our choice here on earth, and set our eternal direction. So we continue toward God, goodness, and truth forever in heaven.
Hi Lee (and happy Thanksgiving!),
I’m looking over what you’ve written here about dominant, and I’m tying it together with what you’ve written elsewhere both in conversation with myself and others, and a part of me wonders: who goes to hell? One thing that nearly all (non-Univeraliast) Christians would accept is that getting to hell is easy; following our hellish inclinations and living a hellish life is simply a matter of following our base, material impulses. Heaven, however, requires a commitment to something greater than ourselves, and that which is greater than ourselves is ultimately something *other* than ourselves.
But I can think of very few people who’s dominant love is outward- one that’s of other people. And I think that’s true of your average middle class person. Most people’s dominant love would seem to be for themselves, no? Everyone’s focused on their career path, their daily experiences at work, their social networks of friends and family and all the drama and fun contained therein. Everyone’s so focused on living *their* best possible life.
But here’s the thing, I also don’t think that this average person is inclined to manipulate or harm others in order to achieve their best life. The average person may be inwardly focused, but I also don’t think they’re saddled with avarice either. Sure, we all have a tendency to sometimes put ourselves first, we’ve all misled and deceived others while looking out for our own best interests, and sometimes we can be downright cruel. But for many of us, that’s not the pattern of our lives. In fact it seems very rare that we meet someone who has committed their lives to greed and gluttony at the expense of others.
So between that and people who are still eligible for Heaven by following their conscience- however faulty their teachings may have been- who goes to hell? We can see a little bit of heaven and hell in everyone, but when you spend time with the average person, you hear more heaven than hell in what they’re saying, and see more heaven than hell in their smile, even if the focus is more on themselves than others. So who goes to hell?
Hi Rami (And thanks! Hope you had a good one, too.)
About your question, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, it’s normal and good for people to take care of their own needs and livelihood. Self-love is not evil if it stays in its place and accomplishes what it’s meant to accomplish, which is to prompt us to take care of ourselves so that we will have the health, wellbeing, and necessities of life that make it possible for us to be of service to others. When people focus on their career path, their daily experiences at work, and so on, that is part of taking care of themselves—and that’s not bad, but good. Swedenborg speaks of self-love in its proper place being like a foundation on which the superstructure of the higher loves (for God and the neighbor) are built in our lives.
Second, not everyone in heaven is highly spiritual and heavenly. There is an “earthly” or “natural” heaven for ordinary Joes and Janes who just go about their daily business being of service to others and generally being decent people without any particular focus on learning about God and spirit or developing their spiritual life. This is where your average decent citizen will most likely end out. These are the people who may not be highly spiritual or religious, and may not even think about their lives all that much, but who get up in the morning and do a good job for their boss or their customers or their neighbors because that’s just what you do.
This, I suspect, is where most of the people you’re referring to are headed. They’re good, decent people, and for them that just means getting their day’s work accomplished and doing a decent job at it, without necessarily having any great high goals or ideals or becoming some sort of contemplative, spiritual saint.
The bulk of people who go to hell probably don’t look all that different from these “earthly heaven” types, except maybe they’re sort of jerks and self-centered, and don’t really feel that it’s necessary to do a good job for anyone. These are people whose only reason for working is to collect the paycheck, and who would do nothing at all for anyone else if they didn’t have to. They’re the people who take delight in cutting other people down and getting one over on them, and enjoy beating people up or destroying their reputation. All they care about is their own pleasure, getting money for themselves, and thinking of themselves as better than everyone else.
These are the people who will populate the hell that corresponds to the “natural” or “earthly” heaven. They’re just ordinary Joes and Janes who, instead of being good, honest, decent people in the main (nobody’s perfect!), are bad apples, liars, and jerks in the main.
There are also higher heavens and lower hells for people who really do consciously focus on living a good, spiritual, and godly life of love on the one hand, and people who are especially devious or malicious in carrying out their schemes and vendettas on the other hand.
About getting to hell being easy, in a sense, yes that’s true. It takes personal effort to not go to hell, whereas if we just coast along doing nothing at all to better our character or do something good in the world, however small, then we are indeed headed downward toward hell. However, many people headed in that direction after a while find that being a waste of a person causes you to go nowhere fast, and generally gets you into various kinds of trouble. So the bulk of people, I think, realize that doing nothing with your life really isn’t very satisfying, and set about making something more of themselves.
Jesus did say that the path to hell is a wide one, and by implication, easy to find and follow. But he also said that his (Jesus’) yoke is easy and his burden is light. The way to hell looks easy and requires little personal effort. However, psychologically, though the path to heaven looks hard when we first start out on it, before long in our travels on it we find that our spirit is at greater ease, and our psychological burden is lighter when we live a good and decent life instead of a bad and wasted life, with all the troubles it carries with it.
I was under the impression that the idea behind the path to hell being easy to follow was essentially referring to our inherited evil, in that following the path to hell is simply a matter of giving in to your natural tendency toward evil. Doing nothing would also seem to be of the path, and after all, slothfulness is indeed evil in its own right. But to your point, I feel that exercising on a path toward either heaven or hell makes our respective decisions more second nature. The more good you do, the more natural your impulses toward good become. The more evil you do, the more locked you become into the evil tendencies you were born with. So I can see that, over time, and as your evils become pushed further to side, the ‘easier’ living a heavenly life becomes.
About dominant love, I think the term itself can be a bit confusing. At the most basic level, your dominant love is that which you love above all else. And as for those average Janes and Joes we’ve talked about, for them, the self-love that we described *is* their dominant love. If you ask your average person as to what’s most important to them, chances are their answers will be something to the effect of living their best possible life. The orientation of their life is ultimately an inward one, and it sounds pretty dominant to me.
But an important part of that definition is the phrase ‘above all else.’ The simple fact is most of us- for however important our personal goals are- aren’t willing to hurt others and mess people over in order to achieve them. They may ultimately want for themselves, but they’re not willing to do so at the expense of others. I take this to mean that their own self love is mitigated and kept in check by a sense of commitment to the good of others, and in that regard, an outward sense of otherness is their dominant love. And again toward your point, even in cases where people are working toward their goals, they still understand themselves as belonging to a larger community, and recognize that doing a good job for others is more than doing it just because it helps advance your goals.
Of course, none of us are perfect, and all the self serving evils I’ve described are things that all of us have at one point or another indulged in. But I think what matters is the overall pattern of our lives, and for many of us, those acts of evil aren’t part of a prevailing pattern (though certainly can be if we persist in them long enough).
But one thing I have yet to understand about dominant love is the more general way in which love is ordered. What about the adulterer who cheats on his wife on Saturday, then volunteers at the soup kitchen each Sunday? Or a charitable person who thinks its okay to steal cable or pirate movies? These are patterns of evil off to the sides of their lives, but they don’t function to characterize the larger pattern of their lives. How do we make sense of something like this?
I think you’ve summed things up pretty well here.
One thing I would say, though, is that if many people aren’t willing to mess up other people’s lives in order to achieve their goals, this does mean that concern for others overrides concern for themselves. This in itself suggests that their dominant love is not self-love, but love for the neighbor.
About your final query, I’m not sure we humans can fully sort these things out even about ourselves, let alone about other people. It’s common for us not to know, while we’re living here on earth, what our dominant love is. It’s expressed less intellectually in our mind than it is kinesthetically in our actions.
It is common for people who think they’re no good to find out in the spiritual world that they really are ruled by love of the neighbor, even while generally beating themselves up during their life on earth for being lowlife scum.
On the other hand, many people who think of themselves as good, moral, upstanding citizens have a rude awakening waiting for them on the other side. Their self-image may be a mere facade. They may use their affectations of politeness and morality in order to achieve their own goals, without inwardly having any real concern about the people they are so nice to. In many careers, especially political ones, it is necessary to put on a front of honesty and morality no matter what one’s real character is.
In other words, once again, we humans are immensely complex beings. Sorting out and clarifying our true inner character rarely happens here on earth. That’s why we require a significant period of (spiritual) time in the world of spirits after we die in order to sort out and clarify exactly who we are, and begin to live authentically according to our true inner character.
Based on all this, I wouldn’t attempt to say which way the adulterous soup kitchen volunteer or the charitable media pirate is headed spiritually. That’s simply not enough information to make any kind of judgment.
About your second question, yes, in the spiritual world it is possible to meet people we haven’t known here on earth. Otherwise, if we hadn’t yet met our marriage partner here on earth, we would never be able to meet that person.
It is true that at first we tend to see and live around people with whom we were familiar on earth, such as family, friends, and members of our community on earth. However, as the process of our true inner self coming out continues in the world of spirits, we are more and more sorted, not by any earthly or biological connections, but by similarities in what we love, think, and do. So regardless of which people we associated with on earth, ultimately in the spiritual world we will associate with people who have similar goals and outlooks in life, regardless of whether we knew them on earth or where they came from on earth.
And about your last question, yes, we will have plenty of time to get to know our marriage partner in the world of spirits before we move on together with that person to our eternal home in heaven.
Though a few people who are either very good or very bad do go immediately to heaven or to hell right after death, most people spend an extended time in the world of spirits—the area midway between heaven and hell where everyone first goes after death. Swedenborg indicates in various places that this can last anywhere from the equivalent of a decade to two, three, or more decades, depending on the person and how long it takes them to drop any social masks and live according to their true inner character. Some people cling very tightly to their illusions and projections about themselves, and take an extended time to lose the masks.
Back to your question, here on earth, people commonly take at least a year to get to know their boyfriend or girlfriend before getting married. Often it is several years or more. So the time span we have in the world of spirits is quite sufficient for us to go through that get-to-know-you period before moving on to heaven.
Having said that, once we are well into the second stage after death, when our true inner character comes out, it is much easier and quicker to get to know other people than it commonly is here—especially if they are sympatico with us. Usually we can tell at first sight whether or not someone is compatible with us because their whole character shines out in their face, body, words, and actions. So for people in the spiritual world who have passed beyond the first stage, getting to know what their prospective partner is truly like inside happens much more rapidly than it does here on earth. And that second stage is, I think, the one in which most people who aren’t already happily married find and marry their spiritual partner.
The third stage, of learning, is really about learning what we need to know in order to live in heaven. It is necessary because so many people have been taught so many false beliefs by their churches and religions. Before moving on to heaven, any serious religious and spiritual falsehoods must be unlearned and replaced with a true understanding of God, spirit, and what life in heaven is all about. For example, traditional Christians who have been taught that heaven involves eternal, endless praise and worship of God, sometimes called the “beatific vision,” must learn that in heaven, though angels do periodically take time to worship God, most of angelic life involves engaging in active lives of service to others, just as a good life here on earth does.
However, of course, if we have found our soulmate by the time we enter the third stage after death, we’ll also be getting to know him or her more and more deeply during this time. And as you might suspect, we continue to learn about our partner and grow to love our partner more deeply to all eternity. There are greater depths in the human soul than we can possibly fathom here on earth.
I hope these answers are helpful to you. Feel free to follow up with any further questions you may have. It is my pleasure and joy to help our guests here come to a better understanding of many things, both spiritual and practical.
Did Swedenborg think In the next age that there’s time
I alway thought that the age to come was timeless, is there time and space?
It sounds like Swedenborg is say we spend a certain amount of time to work through issues we may not have solved fully in live before entering heaven or hell
That’s a tricky question.
In the spiritual world, as Swedenborg describes it, there is no time as we know it here on earth. There are not the sort of regularly repeating events such as sunrise and sunset, or seasons, or orbits of electrons around cesium atoms as we have here on earth, by which we measure time. You can’t measure time (or space) there. And those who have been there report that time does not exist there.
However, there is an analog of time, which involves changes and passages of events happening one after another. So people there do have something like days, years, decades, and so on. They just can’t be measured, because they happen according to a person’s inner states of mind and the changes they go through.
That’s why Swedenborg commonly talks about days and years and that sort of thing in the spiritual world even though they don’t actually exist there in the way that we experience them here.
If someone has a lifelong illness or physical disability on earth, will they also have that disability in the afterlife?
On that question, please see:
Will Sick or Disabled People Return to Good Health in the Spiritual World?
When we die, our hearts, minds, everything has gone, how do you explain (like you have) how busy the dead person is by moving onto different areas of death, is it so busy that death isn’t sleeping it’s just carrying on another, so called, phase…it seems like hard work
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.
Yes, when we die we simply pass from one world (the physical world) to another world (the spiritual world) and continue with our life there.
The “rest from labor” that the Bible talks about (Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 4:11; Revelation 14:13) does not mean that we will have no more work to do in the sense of no job or career or activities. Perpetual idleness would be deadly boring.
Rather, it means we will no longer have to struggle inwardly between right and wrong, up and down, good and evil. We will have a clear mind and heart, with no inner conflict, and we can simply live the life that we love to live. For people who are on a mission, the tasks they do don’t feel like work, because their heart is in it and they are doing what they love to do.
I hope this helps.
nickilove my husband he might have died but my love will always I pray to the lord to let me stay with him and show him how much I love him
Hi terry and nick,
I am very sorry to hear about your husband’s death. And yet, he is indeed still with you, and you will see him again when your time on this earth is finished. For more on this, please see:
Will Happily Married Couples be Together in Heaven?
Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
In the bible it states “until heaven and earth disappear”. Do you think heaven ever will disappear or get too full. what do you think?
No, I don’t think heaven will ever disappear or get too full. God’s power is not limited, so that God would create a heaven too small to fit all of God’s people. Jesus himself said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). Swedenborg also reported that there are vast uninhabited areas of heaven, so that the parts that are inhabited are tiny by comparison. Think of how tiny this planet of ours is, where all of the people we know to exist live, compared even to the size even of our own solar system, let alone compared to the entire vast universe, in which, so far, we are the only life known to science.
About Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:18, though there are, of course, deeper meanings to his words, the simplest way to read it is that he was saying, “It’s never going to happen,” as if he had said, “When hell freezes over” or “When pigs fly.”
Also, be aware that Greek uses the same word to mean both “sky” and “heaven.” Plus, it was not common knowledge then, as it is today, that we are living on a spherical planet called “Earth.” The word “earth” in the original Greek as it was then understood meant “the inhabited lands,” not “planet Earth.” Even if we did take his words literally, what he was really saying was, “until the sky and the land pass away.” We now know from science that this will eventually happen. The sky and land of this earth will be destroyed when our sun runs out of hydrogen fuel and becomes a red giant. But that event is billions of years into the future, and it was no part of the thinking of the people living in Palestine in the time of Jesus. The main point is that literally speaking, Jesus was not talking about “heaven” as in “the region of the spiritual world where angels live,” but “heaven” as in “the sky.”
In other words, no matter which way you slice it, Jesus was not saying that the heaven where angels live will ever pass away, or run out of space for new people to join it.
Hi Lee, ive read a lot about the different realms we can work our way towards when we enter the spirit world. A good one is Life in the World Unseen. The highest being the most beautiful obviously, but why do some people think, once you get the the highest you’re with the source and you’re basically deleted or stored like a hard drive..? Doesnt make sense to me. Life is eternal and the idea of just basically being stored like a hard drive doesnt sound fun….your thoughts?
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. Yes, there are higher and lower realms of heaven and of hell. Different people go to different levels based on what they love most and what they have chosen to do with their character and their life.
However, the highest levels are the most alive, not the least. There would be no sense in developing to a high spiritual level only to put one’s consciousness to sleep. Rather, the highest angels have the greatest sense of their own individuality as well as their connection to God and to their fellow human beings, and they live in the joy of those relationships forever.
Ok thanks, that’s a good explanation versus saying we get all the way up to the highest realms just to be deleted. From my understanding, it is free will. If you want to stay at a certain level you can, or if you want to grow and go higher, it’s up to you. Correct?
In general, the level of heaven (or hell) we reach is determined by the choices we make and the life we live here on earth. For example, if we develop a life and character suited to the middle, “spiritual” level of heaven (for people who are more thought-oriented than heart-centered or action-oriented), then we will continue to live on that level of heaven to eternity, and even in the same community of angels to eternity.
However, within the level that we have chosen by our life here on earth, we can and do continue to grow and develop to eternity. To use an analogy, if we study to become a nurse, we can become a better and better nurse, but we won’t ever become a doctor. And so on.
Where do people get that idea from? “Merging with the source and losing individuality”? I dont even think there is any proof of that, as you said it doesnt make sense.
Most likely it derives from some forms of reincarnation theory in which the ultimate goal is to re-merge with the Divinity, losing one’s individual identity and consciousness in the process.
You’re probably right. I don’t see how anyone would want to do that. What’s your opinion on that view?
What would be the point of God creating all these thinking, feeling, human individuals, only to reabsorb them in the end? Some theories say that God was becoming conscious in creating humanity; but in my view, God was already perfectly, infinitely conscious, and that’s where our more limited consciousness comes from. Some theories say that God wanted to experience new things in a created realm; but if God’s knowledge is infinite, why would God need to experience new things? All such theories assume a less than fully infinite and developed God.
My view, in accord with Swedenborg and the Bible, is that God created us so that God would have other conscious and free beings to love, who could love (or not) God freely in return. Creating the universe is all about relationship, not about God adding to God’s self and consciousness something that was lacking.
Further, for any such relationship to be fully real, it must be eternal. What married couple truly in love with one another wants their marriage to end? Just so, God does not want the relationship with us to end. That’s why we remain eternally ourselves in the afterlife, and are never reabsorbed into God.
Very good explanation as always from you. Thank you.
Commenting on our comments from before, what does Swedenborg say about maintaining individuality throughout eternity?
Swedenborg says that we do indeed retain our individuality to all eternity, even while having a living sense of our close connection with other people and with God.
As an example, in the human body each individual part, organ, and part of each organ retains its individuality throughout the person’s lifetime. And yet, each is closely related to all of the other parts and organs that form the body. The individual difference and uniqueness of each part is a good and necessary part of the composition and functioning of the whole body.
That’s exactly how it is for all the different people and communities of people in heaven.
Ok, thanks. The idea just doesnt make sense why anyone would “merge” or lose who they are, it scares me thinking about it because my plan is to he with not wife for eternity . But people seem to say these things with proof of that ever happening.
Have you heard of “Foundation Church of New Birth”? They’re called New Birth Christians who’s whole church is based off of apparent channeling from Jesus to James Padgett. https://new-birth.net/messages-jesus-nazareth/recent-messages-jesus-through-other-mediums/
Just not so sure on the legitimacy of everything, they seem to use the term “divine love” a lot. And believe that there’s another Kingdom being built which will eventually not allow anyone in and basically be a “2nd death” to those who dont get in and those who do, have guaranteed immortality. Have you heard if anything like this?
James Padgett was a spirit medium. His writings were channeled messages from spirits, making them subject to all of the problems outlined in the article, “What about Spiritualism? Is it a Good Idea to Contact Spirits?” which I encourage you to read.
Of course, not everything he and his followers believe and teach is wrong. And if they live according to the divine love that they believe in, they will find their way to heaven.
However, they are not Christian in any biblical sense of the word. They believe that Jesus was the son of Joseph, not the Son of God, so that he was fully human, not divine or the human expression of the divine. They believe that he became divine, or had a divine soul infused into him, through prayer. Though they believe that Jesus has an especially exalted position in the spiritual world, being “Master of the Celestial Heavens,” they believe that other people can also be infused with a divine soul as Jesus was. In other words, they see Jesus, not as God or as God’s Son, but as an exalted human being made divine—something other human beings can aspire to as well. You can read more about their beliefs on this page at the same website you linked to: “What do New Birth (or Divine Love) Christians believe?”
Padgett and ensuing spirit mediums in his movement also claimed to receive messages from and about Swedenborg in which Swedenborg repudiated his own teachings and supported Padgett’s teachings instead. This, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Swedenborg spent much of his time for nearly three decades being fully conscious in the spiritual world, and traveling extensively there. Padgett and other mediums only heard voices and received messages by automatic writing. The idea that Padgett and other spirit mediums would know better than Swedenborg what the spiritual world is like, who Jesus is, and so on, is about like someone who has had many phone calls with people in another country thinking he or she knows that country better than someone who has lived there for several decades. For more on this, please see Part 2, “Swedenborg’s experience in the spiritual world was unique in known history,” in the article, “Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?”
As covered in the article about spiritualism linked above, I do not believe that any of the people Padgett and his successor mediums received messages from were actually those people. The messages from “Swedenborg” don’t even sound like Swedenborg. And they were certainly not talking to Jesus Christ. Jesus would not contradict what he taught in the Gospels, and what is taught about him there, any more than Swedenborg would contradict his own teachings given in his published writings.
It is the height of hubris for spirit mediums to presume to speak for the great spiritual teachers of history as if they were “correcting themselves” on what they themselves taught! If you want to know who Jesus was and what he taught, read the Gospels. If you want to know what Swedenborg believed and taught, read his writings. Don’t read what someone else who has an ax to grind says these people really meant.
What was actually happening, I believe, is that Padgett and the other mediums in his movement were talking to deceptive spirits impersonating the people they claimed to speak for, and impersonating Jesus, and using their names and personas as authority to deliver many false ideas to the receptive and credulous minds of these mediums. Padgett believed that he was correcting the errors of the Bible and of other spiritual literature and spiritual teachers, and delivering genuine truth to the world. In my view, however, he was merely repeating errors from deceptive spirits who gained access to his mind and used him to perpetuate falsehoods and deceptions. That is what deceptive spirits enjoy doing.
As I suggested above, this does not mean that Padgett and his followers are evil people headed for hell. Only that they are deceived about the true nature of God, spirit, and human life. And yet, as in all of these movements, there is some good as well. People of good heart who follow the parts about loving God and the neighbor will find their way to heaven, where they will willingly accept the truth that they did not know here on earth.
But once again, all of this is a testimony to the dangers of adopting beliefs based on messages channeled through spirit mediums.
Technological cultural trends like smartphone and social media culture have been demonstrated to be — despite their benefits — detrimental on society.
Is it true that the natural abilities spirits have in the hereafter will render such cultural-technological trends merely “prosthetic” in the afterlife, like how an ability to walk renders crutches unnecessary?
I’m aware that some social scientists believe and argue that smartphones, social media, and so on, are overall detrimental to society. But this is a hotly debated issue. I don’t think there is any consensus that the overall social effects of such technology is negative.
I would say, rather, that technology of all types is merely a tool in the hands of people, who will use it for good or for ill according to their own character and proclivities. Blaming the technology for damaging society is like blaming the knife for causing a murder. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, the same knife could save a life rather than taking a life.
However, for a related article, please see: Facebook vs. Reality
In response to your question, Swedenborg’s descriptions of the afterlife—written, of course, several centuries before computers, smartphones, and the Internet even existed—paint a picture in which much of the functionality of today’s communications technology is a seamless part of ordinary life in the spiritual world, and in many respects has capabilities more advanced than our current technology.
In the spiritual world, Swedenborg says, all people speak a common language, so there are no language barriers separating people. Communication itself is much more rapid and complete, including the ability for one angel or spirit to search another’s memory, if permitted to do so, and directly gain the other person’s knowledge. It is also possible to instantly communicate with people over great distances, not just with audible sound and a video feed, but as if the two widely separated people were present with one another and talking face to face.
I could keep listing more ways in which the “technology” of the spiritual world was already more advanced than our current communications technology several centuries ago when Swedenborg spent time there. But you get the idea.
As for whether people of today’s culture who go on to the spiritual world will still have their computers and smartphones, or will just have such things “built in,” I tend to think that because the people of this particular culture are used to using such technology in physical, mechanical form, they will probably continue to do so in the spiritual world. After all, Swedenborg says that when we move on to the spiritual world, it will seem so similar to our life here on earth that we may not even realize we have died. If some computer geek died and went to a spiritual world where there were no computers, tablets, or smartphones, it would be awfully hard not to notice!
However, even today there is an effort toward embedding computer technology right into our bodies, so that we don’t have to carry pieces of technology around in our hands in order to get their functionality. Perhaps our current state of rather crude external technological devices is just a temporary phase before all of these capabilities become integrated into our bodies. If that is the case, then in the future, when people die and they are able to do the same things in the spiritual world without integrated circuits implanted into their brains, they once again may not even notice the difference.
Thanks for the reply.
I personally think that spirits who have recently crossed over may try to use tech from Earth at first, but once they realize how much better spiritual communication is, they’d quickly toss cybernetic tech aside — much like someone confined to a wheelchair realizing they can miraculously walk again.
You may well be right. I’ve had similar thoughts. Or perhaps for some, tech has become so much a part of their psyche that they continue to use it even though it’s not strictly necessary in the spiritual world. After all, today some people still use fax machines even though that technology has been superseded by better tech for some time now.
Speaking of outdated stuff, is it true there’s no need for money in heaven, since people work for the good of society rather than the acquisition of wealth — kind of like in Star Trek or what communism has failed to achieve?
Yes, the general sense of Swedenborg’s descriptions of heavenly society is that there is no need for money because everyone serves one another’s needs out of love for the neighbor.
This isn’t really communism or socialism as we know them here on earth, because those systems involve state ownership of the means of production. There is no need for that in heaven either. In heaven there is no sense of ownership at all. Everything is viewed as a gift from God. But yes, it is rather like the Star Trek economy in which everyone just does their job because they enjoy doing it, and there is therefore no need for currency. I am skeptical that such an economy will ever work here on earth, where there is always a mixture of selfless and selfish people, and mixes of selflessness and selfishness within each individual as well. But in the afterlife, the selfish people are in hell, not heaven, and the remaining selfishness of the people in heaven has been largely sidelined. This means that in heaven, such an economy can work.
It is different in the world of spirits and in hell. In the world of spirits, where there is also a mix of selfless and selfish people, it seems most likely that the economy will continue similarly to the earthly economy that its recently deceased residents were used to, complete with money. At least, at first.
In hell there seems to be a barter economy. For example, if evil spirits want food and clothes, they have to work for it. However, it’s quite possible that there is a money economy there too. Swedenborg does speak of certain evil spirits seeking out precious jewels to use in trade.
I have taken great interest in this article and would like to ask you for clarifications on few things.
You said when we die and move on to the next life, we will continue our lives in such a way similar to our earthly lives. You went on to say not only will we have work to do there, but that work there won’t feel like a burden as we will love and enjoy our participation and roles in the workplace there.
This sounds amazingly exciting to me.
Now, you also said we will be given glorified, touchable, huggable bodies in the afterlife. And we will also find our soulmates there if we didn’t find any here on earth. You also agreed that man was appointed to die just once and death will be no more in the afterlife.
There are two things that I am curious about:
a) Will we work for money in heaven in an effort to buy items of our likings, such as a car and a house? And if it is possible to purchase cars and SUVs and other automobiles, will it be possible to be involved in an auto accident there? Can our glorified bodies be injured since it is touchable? Or can the vehicles be destroyed as a result of an impact?
b) Since we will have touchable and huggable bodies, and the opportunity to be reunited with our spouse, or to find our soulmates in the afterlife, does this mean sexual intercourse will still be available to us? Will we have new children there?
If you already answered these questions in another articles, please feel free to direct me to them. However, I would appreciate a direct response from you in regards to the first question about automobile in hopes to get a simplified and clarified answer to it.
Glad you’re finding this article enlightening and reassuring.
In answer to your questions:
a) There is no need to work for money in heaven. God and our fellow angels provide us with everything we need, out of love. In heaven, people (now angels) work, not because they have to in order to support themselves, but because they love to serve God and their fellow angels, spirits, and humans on earth. Since everyone serves one another’s needs freely out of love for God and the neighbor, as Jesus commanded, there is no need for money or bartering or anything like that.
As for houses and cars, this will likely be much like what we are used to here on earth—except I think we’ll all have non-polluting Teslas! 😉
Accidents would be unlikely. People in heaven aren’t careless of their own and others’ well-being. Plus, their senses are much sharper than here. It would not be impossible to be in an accident. However, it is not possible to sustain permanent injury in heaven. Our spiritual bodies reflect our spirit, and our spirit is kept whole and healthy by God. Any injury would be temporary. And probably quite rare.
For some related articles, please see:
b) Yes, angels have sexual intercourse just as we do here on earth. Otherwise their relationship and their oneness with one another would not be complete.
However, angel women do not get pregnant and bear children. New human beings must start with a physical body and a life here on earth. What married couples have instead are spiritual “children,” which are new births of love and understanding that come from their relationship with each other.
For more on sex and marriage in heaven, please see:
I’m aware Swedenborg said Heaven is beyond space and time, but are events there “synchronized” with Earth at all? Like if it’s springtime in the north hemisphere of Earth, is it spring-like conditions in communities that came from the north hemisphere there? Would the equivalent of 30 years pass there for 30 years here? Or is Heaven a realm where you can freely “time travel,” and time truly has no real meaning there?
That is quite a tricky question. It deals with the interface between the material universe, which is characterized by space and time, and the spiritual universe, which has no space and time as we know it.
No, we can’t “time-travel” back and forth in the spiritual world. There is still a one-way “arrow of time” for human beings in the spiritual world. But it is experienced as a passage of events, and at a deeper level, is determined by growing in experience and knowledge, which goes forwards, not backwards: we don’t un-learn and un-experience things. The analog of time in the spiritual world is therefore not arbitrary, but proceeds according to definite, but spiritual, laws.
About whether communities in heaven are correlated in their seasons and days with the communities from which they came, I think, but am not 100% certain, that they would not be so correlated. There are cycles of days in the spiritual world, and there may be seasonal variations, though that is less certain. However, these cycles go according to people’s mental and emotional states, not according to cycles of planetary rotations and orbits (which are part and parcel of earthly time) as here in the material world. And it would be very unlikely that angels’ and spirits’ psychological states would just happen to be correlated with time-determined cycles here on earth.
On the other hand, given that angels’ states are not bound by time and space, it’s possible that whatever variations they do have based on their changes of mental and emotional state naturally gravitate toward corresponding states on earth, so that when they are in their twilight, or in hell, in the darkness of night, they tend to connect with people on earth who are in nighttime in their part of the earth. This would be possible without pegging heaven’s “time” to earth’s time, since at any given time, there are people on earth experiencing both night and day, not to mention people on earth experiencing both summer and winter. However, this idea is just a speculation on my part. It’s more likely that their daily and seasonal states would be correlated with the spiritual states of people on earth.
What makes this whole issue of the interface between material-world time and spiritual-world changes of state (which is the analog of time there) especially thorny is that people from this world are regularly interacting with people from the spiritual world. For example, people are dying at specific times on earth, and entering the spiritual world at their time of death, thus pegging to one another an ongoing series of events (deaths) taking place in time with an ongoing series of events (arrivals in the spiritual world) not taking place in time. Our material minds will therefore have a hard time not thinking that there must be time in the spiritual world just as there is here.
To compound this, Swedenborg commonly talks about something in the spiritual world taking “about four hours” or “about twenty years,” and other such time-bound expressions. However, he also insists that angels and spirits are so much not in time and space that they don’t even have a concept of time and space. Time and space are changed into their corresponding spiritual realities, which are changes of mental and emotional states. I suspect that Swedenborg’s time-derived expressions are in the nature of “that’s how long it feels compared to the lengths of time we experience here on earth.” Even here on earth we talk about minutes seeming like hours when we’re bored or waiting anxiously for someone or something, and hours seeming like minutes when we’re engaged in something we love to do.
My conclusion is that this interface of time and non-time is something we can hardly understand as long as we’re living here on earth, embedded in space and time. Even when we move to the other world, it will probably still be hard to conceptualize, because there we have no concept of time and space, so how things work on earth won’t be a “thing” to us. We are then engaged in the mental and emotional states of people on earth, not in their outward time-bound lives. Perhaps only God can fully grasp how it all works. Meanwhile, we have not only Swedenborg’s testimony, but the testimony of many near-death experiencers that time and space as we know it here on earth do not exist in the spiritual world.
Thanks for the reply.
Speaking of communities, I believe Swedenborg mentions that communities always increase in number, yet he also mentions that the largest ones have no more than thousands of angels, like a small city. Does this mean that communities are always growing until the limit is reached, or do communities eventually split off into other communities, like a colony of bees that gets too big?
He actually says that the largest cities have hundreds of thousands of angels. See Heaven and Hell #213, Last Judgment #27. Given that the largest city in Europe in his day, London, had not yet reached a million in population (see the chart on Wikipedia here), he was saying, in essence, “The cities in heaven are just as big as the cities on earth.”
I don’t think there is any limit to the size of the largest cities in heaven. I presume that there are now metropolitan areas in heaven with tens of millions of people, given the large increase in the world’s population and the size of the largest cities on earth since Swedenborg’s time.
I should also mention that not all communities of heaven are still growing. For example, the heavens of ancient times are closed now, since the people of today are so different from the people who lived in ancient times that they are not compatible with one another, and there are therefore no new people coming from earth who could live in those communities of angels.
Thanks again for the replies.
Speaking of growth and progress, is it possible that those with a mental disability might find themselves younger than their mental age was in life, once they’re cured of their condition — since less genuine spiritual growth was possible in life because of said disability? If so, it could be a good thing — one could get a chance to grow up again, but sans disability.
Wherever a disabled person is mentally, they’ll grow whole and adult from there. Also, even people with full mental capacities do sometimes revert back to earlier states, such as childhood or teenage years, in their mind and heart. There would be nothing stopping people who had been mentally disabled on earth from doing the same in the spiritual world.
So in other words, such a phenomenon is possible, like a mentally disabled peerson who is a 30 year old man physically finds himself with the spiritual mind and body of a child, from which he grows in the spiritual to an adult?
In LDS (Mormonism) they believe that spirits can experience stuff they “missed out on” in life, and I imagine such a belief also exists in the New Church.
They may or may not be in a child’s body. That would depend upon their image of themselves. Most mentally disabled people view themselves as adults rather than as children. In that case, they would not revert back to a child’s body. They would simply grow up mentally. Even here on earth, in many ways we grow up from a childish state to an adult state after we reach adulthood, while we are in our adult body.
As for experiencing things we missed here, everything we experience in the spiritual world will be new, because we are in a different world. There will be no need to go back and experience earlier phases or experiences of life that we missed. However, if there’s anything we always wanted to do, but never could here on earth, then assuming it’s something good and healthy, we will be able to do it there.
Even evil people will be able to do things they never did here on earth out of lack of ability or fear of the consequences. However, there will be certain limits to what they can do even in the spiritual world. And of course, there will inevitably be unpleasant repercussions.
But in general, in the spiritual world we can live whatever life we most want to live: fully if we are good, and with certain restrictions and consequences if we are evil. And if we are good, we won’t be looking back with longing on things we missed here on earth. That’s because our life in heaven will be whole orders of magnitude better than anything we are even capable of experiencing here on earth.
Hey Lee, thanks for the work you do on this website. It’s all really interesting. A part of me really doesn’t know what to believe though, mostly because it goes against everything I’ve been taught. Do you really believe Swedenborg was allowed access to all of this? Why just him? If its true, I imagine its because he was so intelligent yet humble enough to accept the truth. I don’t know if you’ve read “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis but in it he makes it clear that the Lord says not to make a vision any more than that, a vision. I’m not really sure what I’m asking. Just kind of at a crossroads at what I believe. There’s a quote from Swedenborg that almost convinces me that what he experienced is true. “Love consists in desiring to give what is our own and feeling his delight as our own.” Surely, that is exactly what Jesus taught and what he did by dying for us.
Thanks for stopping by, and for expressing your thoughts and your questioning. It is good to mull these things over in your mind, and not come to too hasty a conclusion. Let the doubts have their say, consider them, respond to them, and in time, it will become clear in your mind and heart.
Meanwhile, here is an article that responds your questions on my view of Swedenborg:
Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?
C.S. Lewis read Swedenborg, and was heavily influenced by him, but could never accept that his spiritual experiences were real. Right now I’m reading a biography of Swedenborg whose author also couldn’t accept that Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences were really experiences of the spiritual world. It is amusing to see the fancy mental gyrations the author goes through to avoid saying, “Yeah, Swedenborg actually visited the spiritual world.” That would be the simple explanation compared to all the “psychons” and “projections” the author invokes to avoid it.
I love your thought that God allowed Swedenborg access to all of this because Swedenborg was so intelligent, yet humble enough to accept the truth. Earlier in life, Swedenborg was quite full of himself. We can see in his personal dream diary from the time of his transition from scientist to seer that he was battling his ego. I think this is why God chose Swedenborg, not Newton. Or perhaps, why Swedenborg heard God’s call, not Newton. Newton certainly had the brains. And unbeknownst to most people, Newton did write heavily on religious subjects. But he was a proud and jealous man, who delighted in attacking and ruining his intellectual competitors. His fight with Leibniz over who should get credit for discovering calculus is legendary. He was therefore not a suitable vehicle for God to use in revealing new spiritual truth to the world.
Ironically, I went to seminary at the Swedenborg School of Religion in Newton, Massachusetts. My joke for my fellow seminarians was that if Newton had been a nice man, and Swedenborg a jerk, instead of the other way around, we would have been attending the Newtonian School of Religion in Swedenborg, Massachusetts. (Sort of an in-joke, I know! 😀 )
And yes, for all his intellectualism, Swedenborg’s views on love mark him as a true follower of Jesus Christ, I believe.
And about Lewis, I think he was concerned more that people would take Swedenborg and set him up as a cult leader or something, instead of just relaying information that everyone in their heart already knows to be the truth.
Possibly. But my sense is that Lewis believed that any claim of contact with the spiritual world was either spurious or deceptive.
If this is the case, why are there instances of NDEs where people are dragged into an abyss and being ripped apart by demons?
And also how do we know that all these books and facts are real, and not just made up stories?
Lastly, how do we know reincarnation does not exist? Of course, coming from the Bible’s perspective it doesn’t exist, but how do we know the Bible is right.
Of course I want to believe that there is an eternal afterlife, because if there is an eternal afterlife, it would mean living eternally happy with your family and friends. I am scared to death that reincarnation exists because if it does, it would mean I would forget about my loving parents and friends, which terrifies me. But how do we know the Bible is right and the idea of reincarnation, in other religions and belief systems, are wrong?
Well . . . life is complicated. There aren’t any easy answers to these questions.
I do not know why a few people have hellish NDEs when most NDEs are heavenly. Perhaps there was something in their life that prompted it. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. But sometimes good people end out going down a blind alley and getting mugged. It can’t always be prevented. However, if they are people of good heart, God will protect them from any permanent harm from the evil spirits they encounter.
As for how you can know what is true and what is false, whether reincarnation is real or not, and so on, these are questions you will have to decide for yourself, in your own heart and mind, based on your own experience.
For me, it starts with believing that there is a God, and that God is a God of love. Based on this, I believe that God gives us the best possible chance of reaching heaven even if we grow up in very bad circumstances. I believe that a person would go to hell only if they stubbornly refuse to accept God’s love, and to think of other people and not just of themselves, when they would be perfectly capable of doing so.
As for reincarnation, I believe I already linked for you my article on that subject. Though some people think it is about fairness and giving people second chances, I believe it is based on a very mechanical view of “karma” in which people must be punished for all of their evil deeds and rewarded for all of their good deeds. But as you say, it would rip apart lovers, families, and friends. I believe it is a very cruel doctrine. And I don’t believe God is that cruel.
Here is one other article you might find helpful, about how I believe a God of love would act toward us, and why I believe that Jesus is indeed God with us:
The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus
I am terrified of the concept of reincarnation and I actually get anxiety because of it. Is there any evidence that reincarnation does not exist because although it wouldn’t be logical for a loving god to rip families and friends apart, I can’t help but think it may be possible. If there is any evidence, please let me know.
Hi Luna i know swedenborg says not to trust spirts and theres enough evidence through spiritualsm and channeling to show why, alot of spiritualists who do agree on fair few things swedenborg says oppose reincarnation and in fact there are books on the fallacy of reincarnation. A good website is Reincarnation Refuted online. Its a brilliant website run by a paranormal investigator it really helps me if i become anxious about reincarnation.
Hope it helps
Would you please post the URL for that website? Then I can add it to your comment. Thanks.
There are many problems and inconsistencies with the theory of reincarnation. For example, there are cases in which multiple people who are living at the same time have claimed to be the reincarnation of the same famous person from history. Unless that famous person had more than one soul, this would be impossible.
Also, given the ratio of famous people to ordinary unknown people throughout history, the likelihood that anyone today would be the reincarnation of some famous person known known to history is minimal. Statistically, Almost all people alive today would be the reincarnation of some unknown serf or peasant who toiled away in obscurity. And yet, it is very common for people to believe that they are the reincarnation of someone famous, such as Hypatia or Thomas Jefferson. This is highly unlikely.
And one more for now: The population of the earth has been steadily increasing for thousands of years. Where are all the extra souls coming from?
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already read it, here is my main article on reincarnation:
The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation
This article should help you to calm some of your fears.
If this is so, why do so many religions and belief systems in Asia surround the existence of reincarnation?
I found this link ” https://reincarnationafterdeath.com/facts-science/”. I don’t know if it’s real or not but is there anyway we can dispel the so called proof they have of reincarnation. I really want to believe there is an eternal afterlife but I am worried that reincarnation exists. I also want to thank you for all the help you’ve done to help me try to let go of my fear, but I just don’t know if it’s possible if I don’t have conclusive evidence proving reincarnation is fake.
“Conclusive evidence” is going to be tough, since it’s a spiritual phenomena, and therefore not subject to the usual laws of science and of scientific investigation. I hope AJ749 provides a link for the website he mentioned, which probably has some good material on it.
As for why reincarnation is so common in Eastern religions, my view is that this is a literalistic and physical-minded understanding of teachings in the Eastern sacred literature that are really about spiritual rebirth, not about physical rebirth.
When Jesus said in John 3:1–8 that we must be born again, he was clearly talking about spiritual rebirth, not physical rebirth. I believe that the Eastern sacred books mean the same thing when they talk about being “born many times,” and so on. They are talking about becoming a new person spiritually, just as Jesus was talking about becoming a new person spiritually. This is something that can happen repeatedly during our lifetime on earth as we take more and more steps upward on the spiritual path.
Unfortunately, just as Christianity became physical-minded over the centuries, and began reading the Bible literally instead of spiritually, so many of the Eastern religions became physical-minded over the centuries, and began to read their scriptures literally instead of spiritually. They therefore lost the original metaphorical meaning of rebirth as spiritual rebirth, and began to think that we are literally born multiple times on this earth.
For more on this, please see this classic New Church (Swedenborgian article), edited by yours truly some years ago:
Rebirth and Reincarnation, by Charles A. Hall
Why do so many spiritual mediums support the idea of reincarnation?
Spirit mediums are not a good source of sound information about the spiritual world and about spiritual things. See:
What about Spiritualism? Is it a Good Idea to Contact Spirits?
I think my main concern with reincarnation is that its cruel and practically torture if you rip families and friends apart over and over again for who knows how long. I think the reason why I am scared about reincarnation is that I am scared that maybe, God isn’t just, and that is why he would enforce reincarnation as part of the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
What are your thoughts on this perspective of reincarnation?
Hi Luna and Lee here is the website link , https://www.reincarnationrefuted.uk/q-and-a.html.
As well if you search is reincarnation an illusion theres A book that you can read online.
Luna i fully understand where your coming from i hate the thought of reincarnation and ill be honest swedenborg didnt really help on that front as he yes ge explained past life memorys but that didnt suffice for myself as i am a scientific kinda person i like there to be evidence for something.
If you do additional searches on the people mentioned in the website they come to the same agreement and have their own take on it.
Regarding mediums and reincarnation , swedenborg helped explain this one well. If as swedenborg says that spirit communications are only from the world of spirits( the mid zone between heaven and hell) or from hell. Then we are left with two options .
1. Spirits from the world of spirits would not know what heaven or universal truth really is so would have to rely on their own knowledge or knowledge they picked up on from the mediums memory
2. Devils hate the human race and hate divine truth and take thrills in doing everythingg they can to pervert them. Dosent it make sense that they would lie to said medium by telling them falsities that the medium takes as divine truth thus going back to the devil for more info ?
I hope thats helped . Swedenborg is brilliant as his writing explain things no other paranormal source i have so far found has but some things he dosent go to in depth on
Thanks for the link.
About Swedenborg’s rather light treatment of reincarnation, you have to understand that today’s heavy penetration of Eastern religions into the West had not yet happened in the eighteenth century. Belief in reincarnation was rare among Europeans of Swedenborg’s time. It was mostly known from ancient writers such as Plato, so it mas more of a theoretical and academic thing than a heavy part of the culture as it is today. That’s why Swedenborg didn’t spend much time talking about it.
Still, I think the few statements he does make give the key to explaining the “past life regressions” that are the mainstay of reincarnationist belief. And his explanation of the spiritual meaning of being born again deals handily with the mentions of being “born many times,” and other similar expressions, in Eastern sacred books. These statements were originally referring to spiritual rebirths, not to souls being born again in a new physical body.
Hi lee thats understandable, a weird thing with swedenborg i find is that he will explain one subject even though he isnt talking about that subject if that makes sense.
For instance im really intrigued by swedenborgs descriptions of all kinds of evil spirit and how you can see the exact kind of evil sctivitys they like in modern paranormal aspects e.g channeling, poltergeists and so forth.
However when reading this he mentioned how for hellish spheres of influence to work they need man to be the medium, he goes on to describe things such as how spirits can affect your body when they are linked and thus there is a potential explanation for some of the physical phonemena that is touted at being evidence for reincarnation.
Hope that makes sense
Yes, one of the reasons I trust Swedenborg is that I commonly have the experience of reading things that he says that don’t necessarily mean anything to me at the time, and even sound quite weird, but that later I realize perfectly explain things that I encounter either in my own spiritual life or in the life of other people who come to me with questions and issues. Sometimes it’s not until someone asks me a particular question about some issue they’re facing that I suddenly realize that this is what Swedenborg was talking about in that strange passage.
In this article you state that
“ During our second stage after death we lose this ability to pretend to be one kind of person when we are different inside. Step by step, any outer masks that we had worn on earth, any false external personas, melt away from us, and our true self is exposed. By the time we have gone through this second stage after death, we will always say exactly what we think, and we will always express our real feelings about the people and things around us. We may still be able to stop ourselves from saying or doing anything at all. But we can no longer lie, and we can no longer pretend we love what we hate and vice versa.This is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops” (Luke 12:2–3).”
Does that mean that if I have bad desires and am evil at heart, even though I do not act on those desires and try to leave a good life by being polite and kind even if I don’t fully mean it, during the second stage, I will be sentenced to eternal damnation in Hell? I am worried that even though I try to be kind on the outside, I am not being kind for the sake of being kind, but being kind for the sake of trying to get into heaven. If all your false personas are stripped away in Stage 2, does that mean I am ultimately sentenced to hell and that even though I do not act on this evil desires, I am evil at heart at therefor in Stage 2 after death will go to Hell?
No, it doesn’t mean that. It means that you have to start where you are, and progress from there. And there we start out is mostly self-centered on the inside. We have to train ourselves, with God’s help, to be good on the outside anyway. And if we make that effort, then the Lord will begin to change our heart as well, so that we are no longer selfish on the inside either.
Here is an article that might be helpful to you on this issue:
Spiritual Growth 101 with Mike Tyson: “The Virtue of Selfishness”
How exactly does the physical brain relate to the spirit?
I guess that in life, the spirit (where consciousness really is) is naturally only aware of what’s going on in the physical brain, and the physical brain can change (via correspondences) to decisions made by the spirit with such a limited awareness.
The classic radio analogy offers an understandable way to think of how the physical brain relates to the spirit. The brain is like an incredibly complex radio receiver tuned to signals from the spirit. The brain receives those signals and translates them into physical signals that the body can receive and respond to.
It’s not a perfect analogy, however. For example, if a radio is damaged, it has no effect upon the radio station transmitting the signal. But if the brain is damaged, it does affect the spirit. That’s because as long as we are living in this world, our spirit needs our physical body as a way of expressing its will. Without an adequately functioning body, it cannot reach its full development.
As you suggest, Swedenborg would say that the spirit and the brain interact via correspondences. And like the radio analogy, he says that the flow is always from the spirit to the mind, and never the other direction. However, unlike the radio analogy, the spirit can sense whether or not the body is receiving its signals, and can express more, or less, or different things in the body based on how receptive the body is to its inflow.
In this way it is similar to the relationship between God and the created universe. The flow is always from God to the created universe, and never the reverse. However, God feels and knows when something flowing from God is or isn’t accepted by the recipient in the created universe. Based on this, God continually tunes the flow from God to every part of the universe, especially including human beings, based on the receptivity of the receiver.
Another analogy that better captures this ability of the source to sense what is going on in the receiver is a city’s water or electrical system, in which the source provides water or electricity based upon the demand, and can sense the demand in order to provide adequate water or electricity to its customers.
What about the counterargument to the “brain as a receiver” view?
“A more accurate analogy would be this – can you alter the wiring of a TV in order to change the plot of a TV program? Can you change a sitcom into a drama? Can you change the dialogue of the characters? Can you stimulate one of the wires in the TV in order to make one of the on-screen characters twitch?”
“The brain-as-receiver hypothesis is nothing more than a convenient way for dualists to dismiss evidence for the correlation between brain function and mental function.”
(I hope the materialist view of brain vs. mind is wrong.)
That’s why I said that the radio analogy is an imperfect analogy.
The power plant analogy is a better one, though still imperfect. In the case of the power plant, you can indeed “stimulate one of the wires” in someone’s home wiring and make the power plant twitch. If it’s a big enough twitch–say, all of a sudden everyone in an entire city turns on every power-hungry appliance in their house all at once—it could cause a big twitch in the power plant, or even a power outage as demand overpowers supply.
No one is claiming that the brain functions exactly like a radio receiver. Only that it’s a useful analogy to understand how the brain relates to the mind. Physicalists’ “debunking” of the radio analogy only shows that they don’t understand that this is simply an illustrative analogy, not a complete model of the relationship between the mind and the body.
The relationship between the spirit and the body is a much closer and more complex one than the relationship between a broadcast tower and a radio receiver. As long as the spirit is in the body, it expresses itself through the body, and its ability to do so does affect the spirit even if all of the flow is in one direction, from spirit to body.
What would happen to a power plant if most or all of its customers disconnected, and it no longer had anyone to provide power for? Sure, it could keep cranking out electricity anyway. But in the real world, its operators would shut it down. Or perhaps just keep one generator of many going in order supply the much-reduced demand. (Yes, yes, today they’d sell the power to California. But you get what I mean!)
In the very same way, if the body becomes unable to respond to all or part of the spirit’s thoughts and desires while the spirit is still connected to the body (i.e., while the person is still alive), the spirit, having no way of expressing itself, goes into a partial or complete state of hibernation, as it were. It doesn’t actually shut down. But it stops growing and developing. That’s because we were created to do our initial period of spiritual formation and growth in conjunction with a physical body.
If the physical body were useless, and had no effect whatsoever on the spirit, why would God put us in a physical body in the first place? Why wouldn’t God just directly create us as spiritual beings in a spiritual body?
Of course materialists are going to shoot down everything people who believe in God and spirit say about the relationship between the mind and the body. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be materialists anymore. But few if any of them have a good understanding of how God and spirit work in relation to the physical world and the physical body. And their arguments show it.
After responding, I figured I might as well read the article you linked. 😀
There are three basic problems with the author’s argument:
To take the first point first (how unbiblical!), there is no need to invoke spiritual causes to explain physical cause-and-effect relationships. With such arguments, materialists are still objecting to old, outmoded superstitious forms of religion in which God is believed to cast lightning bolts when God is angry. It is characteristic of materialists’ arguments that instead of searching out the best and most advanced forms of religious thinking, they make straw men out of the old superstitious and simplistic forms of religion, which still survive today among the fundamentalists in all the world’s religions.
To add in the second point, mental phenomena are not like the flow of electricity causing the filament in a light bulb to light up do to the electrical resistance in the filament. These are all physical, measurable phenomena that, as the author says, are perfectly well explained by physical cause-and-effect relationships. No fairies needed. However, to this day no one has been able to measure a thought or a feeling. Yes, they can be correlated with brain activity. But the thoughts themselves are not experienced as physical phenomena located in time and space and measurable with scientific instruments. They are of an entirely different, non-temporal and non-spatial character. And materialistic scientists still have no idea how brain circuitry could cause us to think thoughts and feel feelings.
Finally, materialists think that the more complex their models, the less room there is for anything spiritual. What they don’t understand is that the spiritual realm is every bit as complex as the material realm, and in fact, whole orders of magnitude more complex. The complexity of the physical brain and its associated body is required for it to express a person’s spirit in the physical world because less complexity would render it unable to properly express the incredible complexity of a person’s thoughts and feelings.
In discovering just how staggeringly complex the human brain and body are, scientists are not showing that a spirit is unnecessary. They are showing that a stupendously complex physical body is required to express the even more complex human mind, or spirit. Being able to localize the experience of particular thoughts and feelings in the brain shows only that those thoughts and feelings use particular parts of the brain that are adapted to them in order to express themselves.
Materialists love the Russel’s Teapot argument, and its more fanciful brothers and sisters. Flying pink unicorns seem to be particularly popular among the materialistic “debunkers.” And if religious types are trying to invoke God to explain lightning or light bulbs, it’s not a bad refutation.
But there is a whole class of phenomena that materialists have no really good explanation for: conscious experience, and especially conscious spiritual experience. Materialists still can’t say how the brain could produce a non-physical thing such as consciousness. And when materialists attempt to debunk all of the religious experience of humankind over thousands of years, and in particular, today’s widespread phenomenon of near-death experiences, their “brain hypoxia” theories utterly fail to explain the complex, vivid experiences that millions of people have reported.
These explanations may give materialists a convenient way to reject all human spiritual experience. But they are guilty of the very same thing they accuse their spiritually-minded brothers and sisters of doing: grasping at straws to explain phenomena that their theories are utterly inadequate to explain.
Thanks for taking the time to write the informative replies.
It’s reassuring that there’s at least the possibility of more to existence than this limited material world of decay.
You’re welcome. You might also be interested in this multi-part article, which responds to many common atheist arguments against the existence of God:
God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 1
Hope you doing good?
Lee I have been reading so many articles about the appreance of deceased loved ones in the spirit world. I have read your article where it is mentioned that the spiritual body is very much alike to our physical body. But from other articles that I have came across in some it is mentioned that the spirit are only energy. They are ball of energy having no brain, heart , lungs etc. I am really confused and little disappointed. Will I ever be able to see my deceased fiance exactly the same appearance while he was here with me in this physical world when I cross over.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I’m glad the articles here are helping you to have some hope that you will indeed see your fiance just as he was with you here on earth.
There is no basis in the Bible for the idea that our spirits are mere balls of energy with no brain, heart, and lungs. When angels appear in the Bible, they always appear as human beings who are messengers from God. Even God is described in the Bible as having a head, hands, arms, legs, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, heart, and so on. We are human because we are created in God’s image and likeness. So why would we become some unorganized ball of energy when we pass into the world that is closer to God?
People who think of the spirit as a ball of energy usually are thinking in a materialistic and fleshly way. They cannot conceive of the spiritual world and our own spirits as being just as real, touchable, and huggable as this world and our physical body. But the reality is that our spiritual body is much more real, touchable, and huggable than our physical body.
Yes, you will see your deceased fiance again, and he will look just as human as he did here on earth, with all of his organs and body parts intact and in place. Don’t let anyone tell you anything else. In fact, because he is now living in his spiritual body, he will look even better than he did here on earth, because his spiritual body will perfectly express the thoughts and feelings of his soul.
Here is an article that covers these things in more detail:
Will My Body be the Right Weight and Appearance in the Afterlife?
My experience with the spiritual world is that the form changes on what you believe but we all have a basic form which some call energy balls. But my experience with a near death experience I asked God if I could see the true form and I saw what looked like a pillar of what looked like light but was energy. Like the center was a ball but extended every direction. Like rays of sunlight. I think that is why the Bible says none but Adam and eve have seen the face of God. But that is just my nde experience. Everyone’s is different from what he told me. And he said what you see is based on where you think you will go. if that makes sense. I didn’t understand it at first.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.
I suspect that people sometimes experience spirits, and God, as balls of energy because the level of light and radiant heat in the higher angels, and especially in God, is beyond the ability of our mind to comprehend and grasp. So instead of seeing the actual form, we see a brilliant light that seems formless.
Consider how we would see a human body that was radiating light seven times as bright as the light of the sun. Our eyes would be so dazzled and overwhelmed by that much light that we would only see the light. We would not be able to resolve the human body that is emitting the light. But if our eyes could adjust to that level of brightness, we would see that what’s emitting the light is a human body with head, torso, arms, legs, hands, feet, and so on.
Hello Lee, im not really sure how to start this, so ill just go ahead and ask.
On many articles about the spiritual world you write (Or should I say Swedenborg writes) that we are exactly the same person we are on Earth, actually we even more ourselves because all sociatly pressure doesnt exist, and we are free to be ourselves without fear of judgment.
But my question is…how do we think in the spiritual world? Do we think diffrently? Do we still have internal monolauge? (for those who have it)
I’ve noticed I have a very.. peculiar way of thinking, it seems odd to some (Maybe even to you but I ask you please to answer with an open mind because im genuinly currious) but not to me, to me its just my regular way of thinking.
Sometimes, Its like two people are talking in my head, but both those people are me, if that makes sense.. (wow this is harder to explain then I thought)
Sometimes I even use “you” instead of “I”, sometimes I just explain things to myself or reassure myself (Like: “Why are you so nervous? You did everthing right, calm down it’s fine.” Or “Hey come on, get it togather! Focus!”) Its like another person is talking to me… except that person is me. Like my two halves having a conversation, or two friends going on a walk and talking. It sounds alot wierder then it is, but thats mostly because it ahrd to put into words.
Many people would assume it’s like.. another spirit in me, or God forbid a demon, but thats not what it feels like at all, sometimes it feels like another person, but in the end I know its just me. (Ive also had.. about 2 experiances where I swear I heard what I can only describe as a guardian angel talking to me..but thats a diffrent story)
Other times It’s like im talking to an audiance in my head, (like reviewing a book I read or a theory about a movie I watched) but its just me, sometimes I talk to myself and other times I just sort of.. think normally with “I” statements. (Like for example: “What is that lady doing, no wait why are you doing that do you not see me standing right here?)”
I know it sounds strange and well.. maybe it is a bit starnge, but thinking like this helps me organize my thought better and honestly, it’s just the way ive been for as long as I can remember.
So my question is, will I still think like this in the afterlife? What actually changes about us when we die? And isthere anything spiritualy bad about being or worrying about things like this?
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.
Really, it’s quite common for people to talk to themselves within their own minds. Some people even do it out loud as they go about their work or their recreation. I talk to myself all the time.
A very common reason we talk to ourselves is that we have a higher self and a lower self, and one talks to the other. Sometimes they are in conflict, and we have internal arguments between them. Sometimes they are in harmony, or the lower self is seeking wisdom from the higher self so that it can act more wisely.
According to Swedenborg, the Bible has a spiritual meaning that relates to our own inner process of spiritual rebirth, or “regeneration,” to use his term. There are many people and groups in the Bible, and they talk to each other and debate with each other all the time. That is symbolic of our internal dialog as well.
Also according to Swedenborg, we have both good and evil spirits around us all the time, and they are debating and confronting one another all the time. This is also reflected in our internal dialog.
Far from being weird or abnormal, this is a common aspect of the inner life of pretty much everyone. It’s just that not everyone is self-reflective, so not everyone notices that internal dialog.
In the spiritual world, there is no reason this sort of internal dialog wouldn’t continue. After all, we’re the same person, and we have the same mind, as before. Perhaps the internal dialog will become less conflicted and more harmonious for many people, since they will no longer be engaged in the ultimate struggle between good and evil that we must engage in here on earth. But even in heaven, we are still not perfect. We are still learning and growing. I believe that means we can still make mistakes, and learn from them, and have the internal dialog along the way that helps us to sort things out. We also still face new situations, and we will still need to work out within ourselves what the best course of action will be. And so on.
So . . . not to worry. Your internal dialog is entirely normal, and you’ll probably continue to think that way in the spiritual world as well.
I hope this helps.
One argument I’ve heard against the afterlife is that after a long while immortality could become a torment. I assume that Heaven (and even hell) has a way to keep things fresh so people do not go into utterly insane torment from the equivalent of a googol years of life, or a googolplex, or even a Graham’s number?
We are finite. God is infinite. That means we will never run out of new things to learn and new ways to grow, no matter how long our life goes on.
Personally, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface even on subjects I’ve spent my whole life studying. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of books to read and new ideas and insights to integrate into my thinking. And that’s not even touching the emotional depths of the human soul and human relationships.
I therefore tend to think Swedenborg is right when he says that angels are always perfecting themselves to eternity. It will never get boring.
On Earth, it seems people are usually bland and conformist because modern society seems to have excessive rules and standards.
In Heaven, I assume people can have more “color” or individuality, because they no longer fear getting labelled a “weirdo” or “nerd” or “cringe” by society, as there is no more single society there?
In heaven people’s inner and outer lives are seamless. There, what we think and feel is what we say and do. This means to me that yes, we will have more expressed color and individuality there, because we will no longer hide the person we are.
At the same time, we will be living in community with people who share our basic loves and values. This doesn’t mean they’ll all be the same as us. Rather, they’ll be compatible with us. Meaning they won’t see us as “weird.” In heaven, one person loves another for the person they are, not for the person they’re “supposed to be.”
Also, before we get to heaven, we go through a process of shedding parts of ourselves that don’t fit with our ruling love. And by “don’t fit” I mean things that conflict with our ruling love. This may involve some difficult passages in which we have to let go of negative parts of our outward character that we’ve clung to for external reasons even though they don’t really express who we are inside. But nothing that’s a settled part of our inner character will go away. We won’t necessarily lose all of our rough edges. Some grit may be necessary even there, because some angels have tough jobs.
Basically, we will fully be who we really are inside, we’ll be comfortable in our skin, and we won’t get hassled about it by the people around us. Which isn’t to say we won’t have some less than beatific experiences when we head out of our own community in heaven on a job or assignment in the hinterlands. But when the job is done done we can go back home and be with “our people” again.
By “the hinterlands”, you mean hell right? I’m aware that Swedenborg says angels visit the hells now and then. I assume angels get along with angels from other communities because of the Golden Rule.
Not just hell, but the world of spirits also. Many angels have the job of greeting new arrivals to the spiritual world. Not all of those arrivals are good people. The world of spirits itself is also a mix of good and bad people. Some angels have jobs to do there also, such as guiding and teaching people. Some of those people are headed to hell, and are not nice people.
In general, yes, angels get along with one another. But keep in mind that heaven has levels, and on the lowest level there are people who “just barely made it in,” so to speak. These people are not particularly enlightened, and still have some less-than-enlightened thoughts and ideas, even if their heart is basically good. Therefore even in heaven, especially in the lower levels, there can still be some friction between people. Everyone there is still learning and growing. In the highest heaven, however, there will be no friction or conflict between angels.
In general, when angels leave their own communities, they feel less at home, as you would expect. And the farther away they get, the more they have to adjust to different and even conflicting loves and ideas. Hence my use of “hinterlands.”
Have your views on Swedenborg changed in any way since starting this website? Also, I have a question. Obviously, not all communities here on earth are the same. How would communities in the spirit world reflect these differences between cultures of various backgrounds? Or would they be uniquely heavenly-like?
I once had a very vivid dream (?) in which I believe I was in a part of Heaven. I was walking with a large group of people down this medium-sized boulevard-like street. On either side were buildings two or so stories high like nothing I’ve seen on earth. They seemed to be made of this stone-like material made of orange, white and various shades of blue all swirled together. They seemed to be carved rather than built. There were balconies with people looking down at us, The weather was perfect, like a warm caress. I was not really aware of the faces or appearances of the others in the group that I was with but very aware of their presence around me and we just kept moving along. The atmosphere was so peaceful yet joyful at the same time. We were all carrying palm leaves in our hands. We kept walking along to where we reached a sort of river but it was actually more like a fountain as well with 2 or 3 steps placed at intervals and the water was sparkling with rainbow colors. The whole experience was incredible! It was all so beautiful beyond description really.
I’ve also had an OBE and which definitely was not a dream but the above experience was not like that either although it was very vivid and real as well.
Anyway, I wonder if you have a little more information on what our environment will look like in Heaven given that we all come from different backgrounds. Thank you for your time..
What a beautiful experience! It does sound very much like some of the descriptions of heaven that Swedenborg offers, not to mention many people who have had near-death experiences. It is a real blessing that you were able to experience a taste of that beautiful heavenly realm while you are still living here on earth.
In answer to your question, when we enter the spiritual world, we carry with us everything that makes us who we are as a distinct person. This includes our cultural differences. Though he doesn’t give much in the way of detailed description, Swedenborg does mention different regions of heaven inhabited by people of different cultures and religions. This isn’t because there is some policy of segregation in heaven, but because many people enjoy the company of people of their own culture and outlook. That is their heaven.
I say many people because especially in the highest heaven, people of all different cultures and backgrounds seem to gather together and live in community with one another. I like to think that the cultural interchange and blending that is now happening in our world more than it ever has in the past can give us some sense of the broad-mindedness of those highest angelic communities.
This doesn’t mean people’s cultural differences must be erased, but rather that people whose character is based on love and acceptance of others in all their uniqueness enjoy the variety that people of different cultures and backgrounds bring with them.
Meanwhile, those who prefer to live with “their own people” have plenty of communities in heaven where they can do so. If wearing wooden shoes is their thing, they can get together with a whole troupe of other people who enjoy wearing wooden shoes, and have a big cultural dance! 🙂
What’s missing in heaven is the idea that our culture is better than other people’s culture. Enjoying one’s own culture and background does not require us to denigrate others’ culture and background. We can celebrate the uniqueness of our own culture while appreciating the uniqueness of other people’s cultures as well. People in heaven know this both in their head and in their heart.
And of course, in heaven people’s surroundings—the buildings, the landscape, the flora and fauna—will perfectly reflect their character and culture as well. The “happy hunting grounds” that some indigenous cultures have looked forward to are, I believe, not just a dream, but a reality for them on the other side.
In short, there is just as great a variety of surroundings in heaven as there is a variety of people and cultures. If anything, the differences will be more distinct and beautiful, because there will be nothing holding people back from expressing the full range of their particular culture and character.
I have no doubt that what you experienced is just one example of the very beautiful and incredibly varied scenery in which the people of heaven live.
Have my views on Swedenborg changed in any way since starting this website? Only to grow and deepen my understanding and appreciation of his teachings.
You have to understand that the Bible and Swedenborg have been a constant presence in my life since the day I was born. And Swedenborg’s understanding of Christianity has been my conscious guide and companion since my teenage years . . . and that was a few decades ago! The fundamentals have remained constant in my mind all my life.
What’s changed has been a broadening and deepening of my understanding of true Christianity as found in the Bible and illuminated by Swedenborg. And the conviction that this truth, if accepted and lived out, has the power to heal the conflict and the heartbreak of the people. Spreading this truth to all who have ears to hear is what this website is all about.
I wanted to come on here and make a kind of remark not a bad one or a good one but something that I discovered during a near death experience. I never saw a light or angels but I later found out that everyone sees something different. I saw God as my grandmother who I have missed and longed to see again since finding her dead. But I walked up to her and thought hi and was asked to help hang clothes on a clothes line to dry and as I was doing this a towel started showing scenes of my life. I felt all the good and all the bad. And it wasn’t just to the person who it was done to it was to everyone affected and around them. Then God as my grandmother went on to say I love you absolute and am very proud in you. Then went on to told me that I had been lied to my whole life that alot of stuff I thought was truth wasn’t absolute correct. God went on to say that all things are connected and share a consciousness. I thought this was strange and he then said that we dont get punished for anything we have done. Also i should add that during the “life review” he didn’t show any anger or disappointment it was nothing but love and it was unending love. But after he said that we don’t get punished he then went on to say the concept of hell and sin was made by man. And I thought why would man make that. And he then explained before I could even finish the thought it’s because fear of death/the unknown is what stops us from being one with him. He then went on to tell me that we should look at this world as a dream and we are here to learn a lesson like school. But that we have to be here to purify our spirts or souls. And that until we become purified that we have to keep living life over and over again. It was a shocking experience and I had always known deep down that something didn’t seem right like something was off. But he said that all souls ask to be here and sign a covent or contract as some call it with him and that until it is up we have to keep coming back. I didn’t truly understand what he meant at the time but since it has happened I understand what he meant now. Like I was confused at first. And also when I first woke up to the truth I didn’t believe it because I thought it was Satan trying to trick me so I ask God for the truth and the knowledge of what he spoke. Which I received and was told that I looked with all my soul and wanted with all my soul to know the truth. Now that I know the truth I understand what he was saying. On how vision were taken wrong and that people don’t understand that we never truly die because we as beings as souls are immortal beings. I know understand what he meant as one conisnous. I can feel what others are feeling. Like I don’t even have to be next to someone to feel it. My mother in law was telling about a lady she saw on the street in her phone and I asked what she looked like and closed my eyes and could feel the weight of sadness and hurt on her soul. I could tell she was going through a break up. It’s crazy how I can connect with someone I don’t even know. I also Connected with a guy from a Facebook comment who didn’t feel like he was doing a good job at his faith or being a father. Well I was able to feel his worry and his longing for acceptance and I could tell his kids loved him so much and looked up to him and I let him know that he is doing an amazing job in his faith and his kids and when he read it tears of joy came down his face and even though I wasn’t crying I could feel it. God told me there is three things that we have to do to be as one that is love all creation, help without hesitation, and compassion for all things. Which I do every day of my life. But he said my fear of death and the unknown kept me from seeing the truth of him and existence. Has anyone else had an experience like this. Cause I have been watching videos on YouTube where so many people have experienced it. And when I talk to people about it they say I just want to live in sin and I get brushed off like I’m crazy or on drugs. Like I know can see meanings behind strange dreams or visions like and I don’t even think about it the interpretation just comes out of my mouth. Sometimes I don’t even remember word for word what is said. It’s almost like something takes over but I’m not afraid when it does cause all I feel is love and peace coming from it.
Thanks for telling your story here. It is quite beautiful! I have no doubt that your brief experience in the spiritual realm left you with an awareness of spiritual auras around people that makes it possible for you to sense their mind and heart, which is their spirit.
About near-death experiences in general, if you haven’t already come across them, you might enjoy watching the (sadly unfinished) series that I mention in this post:
A Short(ish) Video Course on Near-Death Experiences
These are some of the best I’ve come across on YouTube.
Toward the beginning of your comment you say:
I believe this is true. Different people experience the spiritual world differently, and hear different things said, because we bring our own mind to the spiritual world. What we see and hear adapts itself to what we are open to receive. Our mind also interprets what we see and hear according to what it already believes and has experienced. So, for example, some people are told that reincarnation happens, whereas others are told that it doesn’t happen.
What is happening here is that angels, and God, use our own beliefs, and tendencies toward particular beliefs, to move us forward on our spiritual journey regardless of whether those beliefs are objectively true or false. If a Protestant who had a fervent belief in justification by faith alone were to have a near-death experience, the angels might affirm that belief not because it is true (which it isn’t), but because it plays a central role in that particular person’s spiritual life. To deny that belief would be to damage that person’s spiritual life and path. So the angel will affirm it because the angel is not thinking about what is true as much as about what is good for the spiritual life of that person.
This, in a nutshell, is why particular beliefs that people are “taught” during near-death experiences are not a reliable source of genuine spiritual truth. And it is why different near-death experiencers can be told opposite things. Both can’t be true. But really, it’s not about the truth, but about the spiritual life of those particular people, and what they need to hear in order to continue moving forward on their spiritual path.
What commonly shines through in nearly all near-death experiences, though, is what you summed up when you said:
Love for all beings, and service (“help”) to all beings is the central message of God and heaven. Another one that is commonly conveyed is the importance of continuing to learn new things, especially spiritual things. Yet what we learn is important not in its own right, but in its ability to guide us to better love and serve God, other people, and Creation in general.
There were several other things you said that I found particularly poignant. But I’ll leave it at this for now, waiting to see whether you wish to continue this conversation.
Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey.
“This, in a nutshell, is why particular beliefs that people are “taught” during near-death experiences are not a reliable source of genuine spiritual truth. And it is why different near-death experiencers can be told opposite things. Both can’t be true. But really, it’s not about the truth, but about the spiritual life of those particular people, and what they need to hear in order to continue moving forward on their spiritual path”
This is where your wrong, Jesus Christ himself said I am the way the truth and the life. God will not lie to people.
It’s not lying. It’s using people’s existing religious beliefs to move them forward on their spiritual path.
It’s still tilling someone something that isn’t true. How is that not lying?
There’s a difference between saying something that isn’t true and lying. Lying involves bad intent. Lying is intentionally saying something that isn’t true, with bad intentions, such as gaining undeserved power or illicit gain for oneself.
That’s not what God and the angels do. What they do is use people’s existing religious or spiritual beliefs to lead them toward heaven. They do so even if those existing beliefs are wrong. There is no evil intent. Instead, there is good intent, which is to lead people to heaven.
“Why don’t they just correct people’s beliefs,” you ask, “and tell them what’s really true?”
Because people cling very closely to their beliefs, and vest much of their identity in them. For example, you can argue with a Protestant till you’re blue in the face that the Bible rejects justification by faith alone, but the Protestant is still going to believe in faith alone, because Protestants get taught and inculcated with faith alone from the time they are little, or from the time they join a Protestant church. It’s too deeply ingrained in their mind for them to give it up.
God and the angels don’t bother with that fruitless argument. They know it would be a waste of time. Instead, they use that deeply ingrained false belief in the minds of people who cherish it to lead them toward living a good life.
This is the meaning of the prophecy about Jesus:
Do you think its possible in the age to come to change our personality?
What I mean is if someone is extremely intorveted to the point where they don’t have many friends in life, but really want to open up but don’t really know how without coming off as awkward that the atmosphere in heaven of unconditional love will make it easier to make friend’s and even form a loving marriage relationship if possible. I long for both friends and eternal Intimacy with a spouse.
This all depends upon the person, and what she or he wants. Some people are very introverted, and are perfectly happy to live by themselves, ideally only with their husband or wife, and not see other people very much. Others wish they could be more sociable and have a circle of friends.
For those who prefer to live alone just with their husband or wife, this is perfectly possible. Some people in heaven do live this way, like homesteaders off in the remote woods, and only see other people occasionally.
For those who would like to have a circle of friends, this is also perfectly possible, for two specific reasons:
In other words, in heaven you won’t be worried or awkward about yourself. You’ll be happy being the person you are. And in heaven, your neighbors will be people who are similar to you, and who therefore understand you, accept you, and love you as you are.
As for getting married, any person who has a good heart, and who wants to be married, will find their partner in the spiritual world if they haven’t found him or her here, and will live happily with that person forever. This is so whether they live off in the remote woods somewhere or in the middle of a big city. See:
Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?
People who were too shy and awkward to approach anyone here on earth will be able to find and meet each other in the spiritual world, and they will have a very happy life together from then on. The Lord makes sure of this.
wouldn’t the The Rich Man and Lazarus parable contradict Swedenborgs views on hell?
The rich man is in torment, whereas Swedenborg posits that the souls in hell love it there.
Keep in mind that it is a parable. Parables are not meant to be taken literally, but metaphorically. Did Lazarus literally recline in Abraham’s bosom? That could get very uncomfortable after a while—especially if every other good Jew is crowding in as well! Clearly Jesus did not intend us to take this as a literal description of heaven and hell. That, once again, is why it is a parable.
In his parables, Jesus used ideas and experiences that were common among the people of that day to teach and illustrate deeper, spiritual subjects. The idea of hell as a place of eternal torment was common among first-century Jews, who had been heavily influenced by Greek and Roman ideas of the afterlife. (The Hebrew Bible itself says almost nothing about any afterlife. Hence the Sadducees, a Jewish sect, did not believe in an afterlife, and many Jews today still do not believe in an afterlife.)
The fact that Jesus used a popular conception of hell as a place of torment in his parables does not mean he endorsed that idea, any more than the fact that he spoke of a king slaughtering his enemies in one of his parables means that he endorsed such slaughter. He simply used these common human ideas to illustrate deeper spiritual truths.
Just to be clear, there is torment in hell, but it is not continuous and unending as is popularly believed. Rather, it comes as a result of the people there engaging in their favorite evil actions, which inevitably results in their being attacked and tortured, not by God or the angels, but by their fellow evil spirits whom they have wronged, and who love to mete out punishment and torture to anyone they can get their hands on.
It’s not so much that evil spirits love it in hell, as that they love engaging in their favorite evils, whether that is killing, committing adultery, stealing, lying, or anything else. But every evil action brings its own punishment with it. They love doing the evil. They do not love the punishment that follows. Their lives are an alternating sequence of evil pleasures and the pain that inevitably follows.
For more on what hell is actually like, please see:
Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?
Did Swedenborg say anything about the state of Addicts after death? I’ve heard addictions cause changes to how the brain is wired. Do addicts heal in the afterlive, or do they go to hell?
We now understand addiction as substance abuse disorder which rightly categorises it as an illness. I, like many, had once thought it a wicked choice. But not everyone who drinks alcohol or uses a drug becomes an addict. Therefore we can see that for some, it becomes a terrible affliction. Not a choice. When you consider the lifestyle of addiction,it would be safe to say that few would choose that. God knows us and our inner lives and any God that would punish illness and affliction is not a God I would care to spend an afterlife with. I feel confident that these people are not condemned to any hell state, but are healed and loved when they ascend to the afterlife. That’s just my understanding of these painful situations.
Today’s fairly detailed knowledge of the phenomenon of addiction had not yet been developed in Swedenborg’s day. There was the idea of being ensnared by evil, or enslaved to sin. But addiction as a form of illness, or even mental illness, as it is considered by many today to be, was not something Swedenborg could draw on. As such, he didn’t say much about it.
However, we can draw some conclusions based on what he did say.
First, any purely physical or material-world causes are taken away in the spiritual world. For example, people who have lost hope and have descended into addiction because they are living in abject poverty will have that poverty removed in the spiritual world. Also people who have physical or brain dysfunctions that cause them to be unable to function fully and rationally will have those physical defects removed in the spiritual world, so that they can think clearly. If these have been primary causes of their addiction, then the addiction will fade away because its causes will have faded away.
In general, anything that was caused mostly or entirely by external events and causes will fade away in the spiritual world because those external causes no longer exist there. What’s left will be the inner character of the people who were caught in addiction. If this is good, then the addiction will become a thing of the past as their true inner self comes out and expresses itself in their outward life as well. If their character is bad based on their own freely made choices in this world, then it’s possible that their addiction could continue, because it reflects their inner “slavery to sin.”
However, it’s important to understand that decisions made and actions taken under the influence of a severe addiction are, almost by definition, not freely made choices. For a person who has a hard addiction that has taken control of his or her entire life, the same thing will happen to that person’s spirit as happens to people who are in the grip of a severe mental illness. That is, their spiritual growth will stop at the point where they became unable to make free and rational choices. In the afterlife, the addiction, just like the mental illness, will be taken away, and they will resume their life from the point before it started. Whatever type of person they were at that point, that’s what will determine their ongoing life in the spiritual world.
Another thing to understand is that anyone who has not reached adult rationality and free will always goes to heaven in the afterlife. Only as free, rational adults can we choose eternal hell. This means that people who became hard addicts in their pre-adult years before they reached the age of reason—addictions severe enough so that they never achieve adult-level rationality—will have the addiction removed. They may have to go through some hard experiences to get their lives straightened out, but they will ultimately make their way to heaven.
For people who became hard addicts during their adult years, the earlier principle applies: whatever their character was going into an addiction that took away their freedom and rationality, that’s where their life will continue from in the afterlife.
For people who are addicts, but their addiction is not severe enough to take away all of their rationality and free will, the choices they make will still affect their character. For example, a person who has become psychologically dependent upon marijuana can generally still live a reasonably aware and thoughtful life, and can still make good or bad choices. In these cases, the choices they make will still form a lasting character in them, whether good or bad, which will follow them into the spiritual world.
Addiction is complicated. Some people become addicts because they are unwilling to make the hard choices and do the hard work that would lead them to a physically and mentally healthy life. Others—probably most—become addicts because they have been overwhelmed by forces beyond their control, starting with a childhood wrecked by a toxic social and physical environment, and going on from there. If the addiction was the result of bad choices when the person could have made better choices, then it may not be possible to overcome it in the spiritual world. But if it was the result of forces beyond the person’s control that just overwhelmed him or her, then when those forces are no longer in effect because the person is now in the spiritual world, the addict will find healing, and will move on to a good life.
For some related articles, please see:
I hope this helps.
This may be a dumb question, but do people still sweet and Thous bath in that realm?
“Sweat” not sweet
It’s a good question. In general, our spiritual body has all the parts, organs, and functions that our physical body has, albeit our entire body is lighter and healthier there than the usual physical bodies here on earth.
As for sweating and taking baths, there are many athletic types who love to work out and work up a sweat. If they couldn’t do that in heaven, they would not be happy! I believe that when we are living in heaven, God provides everything that will give us happiness and joy. So why not work up a sweat and take a nice bath afterwards? Personally, I’m a shower guy, and when I’ve been on a good hard bike ride on some rural dirt roads, it feels great to shower off all the sweat and grime! For a related article, please see:
Is Heaven Physical? Can Angels Play Tennis?
Why haven’t any NDE story’s backed up this idea of a world of spirits, why do none of them to my knowledge talk about the film being pulled off the left eye?
Most NDEers are in the spiritual world only briefly. They don’t have enough time to figure out where exactly they are in comparison to other parts of the spiritual world.
About the film being pulled off the left eye, that is a bit strange, and to my knowledge has not been reported by anyone else. Then again, Swedenborg’s experience of death was unusual, and perhaps unique, in that unlike the vast bulk of people who experience death he knew exactly what was happening, and had his thinking, rational mind active the whole time, so that he could observe details that others might not be paying attention to.
In general, I don’t get too literalistic and hard-core about the details of what Swedenborg reported in the spiritual world. Different people have different experiences because the spiritual world adapts itself to the minds of the people who enter it. Overall, what NDEers report fits very well with what Swedenborg reported, even if there are differences as well. The spiritual world is a big place. We shouldn’t expect everyone’s experience of it to be the same as everyone else’s, any more than we would expect one person’s experience of a large country like the United States or Australia to be the same as everyone else’s.
“Sooner or later, our true inner self comes out, and is visible for all to see. We can no longer pretend to be someone we aren’t. It is now clear whether we’re headed for heaven or for hell.”
How does our true inner self come out? What’s to stop people from still putting on a front to other people?
How long in earth time does it take to move from one stage to the other?
The process of the inner self coming out takes place during our stay in the world of spirits, before we move on to either heaven or hell. For people whose outer self already closely matches their inner self, the stay there can be very brief. For others, it could take as long as the equivalent of two or three decades of earth time. But not longer than that.
It seems to happen naturally. Over time, people just stop putting on pretenses, and start expressing what they really think and feel. This is an effect of being under the influence of the spiritual sun, whose light is truth. Over time, under the influence of that constant stream of truth, the truth about our self literally comes out.
If you’re reading Heaven and Hell, this is all covered in Part 2, about the world of spirits and our state after death.