The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!

Throughout the ages, the afterlife has been pictured in many different ways—more ways than we can possibly list here. Christians alone have pictured heaven as:

  • The endless pleasure of intelligent and witty conversation with other angels
  • Perpetual feasting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve Apostles
  • Relaxing in the everlasting springtime of garden paradises while breathing in the fragrant odors of beautiful flowers and enjoying the delicate taste of delectable fruits
  • Ruling over the masses as fabulously wealthy and powerful kings and queens
  • Praising and glorifying God to all eternity in vast, ornate cathedrals, complete with powerful organ music and inspiring hymns sung with thousands of fellow worshipers

In more recent years, under the influence of near-death experiences together with the mystical strains of various eastern religions, conceptions of the afterlife have grown even more fantastic. One account has us flying on the wings of giant psychedelic butterflies through vast Technicolor panoramas. Or, as inhabitants of the astral realms, we may be seen as diaphanous beings of light wafting around and through one another as we engage in mysterious dances that manifest the harmony of the spheres.

Now, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities. For the most part, they’re harmless enough—though I’m not so sure about all those kings and queens! And I have it on good authority that whatever our idea of the afterlife may be, we’re given the opportunity to try it out after we die, and see how we like it.

Even for people who have a less fantastical idea of what the afterlife might be like, I suspect that it’s common to think that death will bring about huge changes in our life.

Perhaps it will.

But I’m here to tell you that the afterlife will not be as different as you think. In fact, in the ways that count the most, the afterlife will be a seamless continuation of whatever your life has been here.

That should get us to thinking about just what we’re doing with our life here on earth.

Let’s look at the afterlife based on:

  1. the Bible,
  2. rational thought, and
  3. human experience.

Angels in the Bible

The Bible doesn’t offer much in the way of descriptions of the afterlife—and the descriptions that it does give seem more symbolic and allegorical than literal in their message.

What the Bible does offer is quite a few stories of people on earth encountering angels from heaven. And though those angels may be presented as powerful and even radiant beings, the general sense is that they are just as human as we are, and that they engage in the same sorts of activities as we do.

Consider one of the first angel encounters in the Bible. In Genesis 18, Abraham (whose name was then Abram) encountered three angels, who are variously identified as “men,” “angels,” and “the Lord.” The sense that we get from the story is that these were three angel emissaries through whom the Lord spoke to Abraham.

What did Abraham do when he saw these three men standing near him? He treated them just as he would any earthly travelers who came his way. He offered them water to wash their feet, and food and drink to satisfy their hunger and thirst. He then stood by and waited on them as they ate.

In fact, there’s nothing about the story to indicate that Abraham saw these three guests as anything other than men—human beings—who were visiting him at his tents. No wings, no shining garments, no lightning bolts zapping trees.

Yes, they bore a message from God. But what’s most striking about these three men is how similar they were to any other honored guests Abraham might have encountered in his various encampments. They ate and drank with him, then rose up to engage in conversation with him on important subjects that would change the course of Abraham’s life, and the life of his wife Sarah.

If we turn from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, to Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we find a scene in which an angel is showing the Apostle John visions of future events in the spiritual world.

Not once, but twice (in Revelation 19:9–10 and Revelation 22:8–9) John was so overwhelmed by the experience that he fell at the angel’s feet to worship him. In each case, the angel stopped him. “You must not do that!” he said. “I am a fellow servant with you and your companions, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” (John 22:9). The angel places himself the same level as John—a mere human being—and on the level of all of his fellow believers and prophets.

Yes, angels in the Bible are presented as powerful beings. But they are also presented as very human beings, who are simply inhabiting the next world rather than this one.

In fact, the angel speaking to John went on to say something fascinating about this:

Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. (Revelation 22:10–11)

You would think the angel would say that evildoers should repent, and that those who are filthy should clean up their act. But in the eternal world where he was living, that’s not how it works. There, people continue to live to eternity according to whatever character they have developed here on earth, whether evil or righteous, whether filthy or holy.

It just makes sense

Now let’s look at the afterlife from a rational perspective.

Consider the thought that this temporal world is a training ground and a place of preparation for our life in the eternal world. And consider the thought that God is probably pretty good at designing this world to prepare us for the spiritual world.

Now ask yourself this question: If God wanted this world to train and prepare us effectively for the spiritual world, would God make this world very different from the spiritual world, or very similar to the spiritual world? Which would prepare us better?

To use a human analogy, think of the time-honored practice of apprenticeship—or as it is often called these days, internship. In any practical career that involves skills and experience, the most effective way to prepare neophytes for the job is to immerse them in the job under the supervision of those who are actively engaged in it as a career.

  • Physicians don’t go directly from the classroom to their own medical practice, but spend a year or more as interns (or residents) learning the ropes while practicing under regular doctors.
  • Students who graduate college with an MBA commonly take entry-level jobs at various financial firms or other business in which they are trained on the job, preparing them to rise up to higher business management positions.
  • Airline pilots must put in a certain number of hours flying with experienced pilots before they are licensed to fly airplanes on their own.

If we humans are smart enough to train people for responsible positions by giving them on-the-job training and internships, don’t you think God is at least as smart as we are?

God has, in fact, designed this world to give us practice in all of the same things that we will be doing in heaven.

If you want to get some idea of what heaven will be like, look around you. Once you die, you’ll be doing many of the same things you do here. That’s especially true of activities that involve serving your fellow human beings. Heaven is all about loving and serving one another in useful, practical, and spiritual ways.

What those who have been there say

Now let’s look at heaven and the afterlife based on the experience of those who have been there.

The most plentiful source of such experiences is the increasingly common phenomenon of near-death experiences. And at first glance, the reports of people who have died, visited the spiritual world, and come back to tell us about it may make the spiritual world look very different from this world. Often these brief glimpses into the afterlife leave those who experience them amazed and spellbound by the powerful experience of love and light that they have had in their brief encounters with eternity.

And don’t get me wrong: the spiritual world is a beautiful place, full of powerful experiences.

However, near-death experiencers are something like tourists in the spiritual world. What do tourists flock to see? The magnificent structures and beautiful vistas that the countries they are visiting have to offer.

And yet, while the tourists are oohing and aahing at the country’s greatest wonders, its ordinary citizens are working away at their jobs, taking care of their children, going grocery shopping, and playing a game of tennis or going to a rock concert.

To get a more realistic picture of what the afterlife is like after the initial wonder wears off, we need the experience of someone who has spent a long enough time there to see what life is like once things settle down.

That’s where Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) comes in.

Unlike those who have had a brief glimpse into the spiritual world in the course of a near-death experience or a vision, Swedenborg, according to his own account, spent nearly three decades—from his mid-fifties until his death at age 84—visiting and exploring the spiritual world.

It took him a while to get acclimated. In his earliest writings about the spiritual world, he was still figuring out the lay of the land, how it all worked, and what to call the various regions, spiritual beings, and phenomena that he saw there.

Swedenborg’s most famous book, Heaven and Hell, was published over a decade after his spiritual eyes were opened. By that time, he could write confidently, from extensive experience, about heaven and the daily lives of angels in the various regions of heaven.

And he does describe some wonderful things. For example, in the spiritual world, all you have to do is think about someone that you really want to see, and you will be present with them instantly.

It is also possible to see and hear things over vast distances.

Wait a minute . . . . That’s not very different from what we can do now, is it?

In many ways, our fancy modern telecommunications gadgetry is just our technological way of doing what angels and spirits have been able to do in the spiritual world for thousands of years.

But back to the point, despite the fact that heaven has many wonders, and gives us many capabilities that we don’t have here on earth, perhaps the most striking thing about Swedenborg’s descriptions of everyday life in heaven is how ordinary it all sounds.

Angels get up in the morning, eat, go to work, come back home and enjoy an afternoon or evening of recreation, eat dinner, and go to bed. They have their Sabbath days in which they attend services where they listen to preachers. They have other events and celebrations that they enjoy. And yes, they even play tennis and go to concerts.

If you read through Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell, even with all of the wonders described there, the overwhelming sense is that angels and spirits really aren’t all that different from people here on earth. They engage in all of the same activities—though perhaps with a bit more clarity and single-mindedness than many of us do here on earth.

Our life in heaven is a continuation of our life on earth

If there’s anything Swedenborg wants to impress upon us about what our life will be like in the afterlife, it is this: In the afterlife, we will continue to be exactly the same person that we have become through our life here on earth.

I don’t know about you, but I often have thoughts like this: “Yes, life is a pain here, but it’s only temporary. Once my time comes to move on to the next life, all of my struggles will be over, and life will be wonderful.”

Maybe so. At least, I certainly hope that at least some of our struggles will be over. Doesn’t the Bible say that we will have rest from our labors? (Revelation 14:13).

It is really talking there about our inner labors—our mental and emotional struggles over who we will be as a person. By the time we move on to the spiritual world, our general character and course will have been set by our life and choices here on earth.

That character is what we carry with us into the spiritual world. Consider what Swedenborg says in Heaven and Hell #461:

As spirit-people, we enjoy every outer and inner sense we enjoyed in the world. We see the way we used to, we hear and talk the way we used to; we smell and taste and feel things when we touch them the way we used to; we want, wish, crave, think, ponder, are moved, love, and intend the way we used to. Studious types still read and write as before. In a word, when we move from the one life into the other, or from the one world into the other, it is like moving from one place to another; and we take with us everything we owned as persons to the point that it would be inaccurate to say that we have lost anything of our own after death, which is only a death of the earthly body.

In other words, in every way that really counts, we are exactly the same person after we die as we were before. And we will pursue exactly the same sort of life that we pursued in our heart and mind—and through our hands—while we were here on earth.

My final words for you today, then, are short and sweet:

Do you want to have a good, happy, and loving life with your fellow angels in heaven to all eternity?

If so, then start building that life within and around you here on earth. Because whatever life you build here on earth, that’s the life you will carry with you into the spiritual world . . . and that’s the kind of life you will continue living to eternity.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in The Afterlife
116 comments on “The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!
  1. Richard Neer says:

    Hello, Lee.

    I have a question regarding your posted perception of afterlife:

    If life continues on the same, as it were before but in a different state and medium, what is the point, specifically, for those who may have tragically lost their significant life partner, their ‘soul mate’, their very joy and perceived purpose in life, to trudge onward through the pain, agony, despair and utter desolate existence of their lives, hoping to find order, re-balance, and a reason to move forward and onward?

    If life was joyous and complete (albeit never perfect – we are human, after all), why would the remaining partner not only wish and anticipate reconnection with their loved one, but also strive to make it so? I realize this touches on a dark and quite controversial subject, but I was just wondering why, if one can continue the life they had up until such tragedy struck, they would want to have any other? Their sudden feeling of complete separation and loneliness has an easy solution, no? Not necessarily one accepted or condoned by the general public (excluding various religious stances), but if your presentation is accurate, still a fitting and prompt solution to one who is in pain, experiencing angst, and torment, and looking to go back to, and continue, the joy and contentment they might have had shortly before.

    How does one cope with the anticipation of rejoining a most-loved one if they continue life’s mortal journey here which may lead them down paths to interact with and develop similar feelings for another? That would seem to create much inner conflict and, perhaps, be cruel in nature, specially for those whose lives were spent, to a greater extent, dedicated to the love of, and commitment to, a single other.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment and questions, which I know come from very painful events in your life. Losing a beloved wife (or husband) is one of the most painful experiences any of us can ever go through.

      And, not to sugar coat it or beat around the bush, the reality is that some people do take their own lives in the aftermath of losing their spouse. It’s really no one else’s place to judge. But it does create a double tragedy for those left behind.

      To take the last issue and question as a way of getting at the rest, there is no way to guarantee that a husband or wife will still be there after potentially years of separation. These are matters of the heart and of the inner character, which can be very difficult even for the most perceptive of us to see with any clarity. Only you know the level of connection you had with your wife, and only you, or perhaps a few close family members or friends, can judge the quality and cohesiveness of the bond that the two of you had with one another. And only God knows it fully, and knows what the future will hold.

      Having said that, there are a few things to consider in relation to this question.

      One is that the partner who died will continue in the same direction she or he had set here on earth. There will be no major changes of character. Only a revealing of the true inner character if that was not already expressed in the person’s outward actions here on earth. You do not have to worry about your wife changing, becoming a different person, and thus growing away from you.

      If anyone were to grow away, it would be you. You are still here on earth. Your character has not completed its formation, and still has some malleability to it. So your wife would have more to worry about you growing away from her than the other way around.

      On the other side of the question, if your relationship with your wife was a deep one, and was based on a real inner oneness of loves and values, it’s very unlikely that the bond will be broken by death. Real marriage is based on core values and on core elements of the character of the marital partners.

      These core elements do not change easily. You would have to go through a profound change and upheaval in your life, and change your fundamental beliefs, motives, and character, in order to break that bond. If, in the years you have been on earth so far, you have developed a fairly strong rootedness in who you are as a person, the change that remains while you are here on earth is probably not a fundamental change in your character, but rather a deepening and development of it, and perhaps growth in some particular areas that remain undeveloped or underdeveloped.

      That brings us to one more thing to consider.

      Only God truly knows where each one of us is in our spiritual development. Only God knows what we have accomplished, and what we still need to accomplish spiritually during our life here on earth.

      The biggest concern about committing suicide in despair over the loss of a partner is that this might actually make it harder, rather than easier, for you to be with your partner spiritually and eternally.

      I don’t know the mind of God. But I have to assume that if God has kept you here, God sees that you still have work to do here on earth to become the person and the angel that God envisions you being. Perhaps there are still undeveloped elements of your character that need to be developed here on earth so that you can be truly and fully one with your wife in the afterlife.

      I think of one elderly couple I once knew who were very close, and the wife died first. Everyone thought that they both had a strong and abiding faith. But when the wife died, the husband fell apart. It took him several years to regain his footing and begin to stand on his own faith rather than what had evidently been happening before: he had been leaning on his wife’s faith. I believe that God kept him here longer because he needed that time to develop his own faith apart from his wife so that his faith could be a true match for hers in the afterlife. By the time he died, he had regained his footing and his faith, and, I believe, was ready to join his wife in heaven.

  2. Richard Neer says:

    Hi Lee. Thanks for the response.

    As you can imagine, the sea I am swimming in is quite large and daunting and I’m not about to dismiss, nor deny, the multitude of thoughts I have had. Many days, treading water is most difficult and seemingly counter-productive, yet I am still here trying to make sense of it all and find my footing, whether faith has anything to do with it, or not.

    But, my questions come from a point of view that is founded in trying to rationalize the continuance of this mortal existence for anyone who has suffered the severance from a loved one or life partner.

    I can certainly appreciate the husband’s position referenced above. However, it seems more like cruel and unusual punishment that ‘God kept him here longer because he needed that time to develop his own faith apart from his wife so that his faith could be a true match for hers in the afterlife.’ That’s a lot of torment, pain, suffering and emotional distress to go through, and all of it takes a toll on one’s health, both mentally and physically. Some say that God only puts upon one that which they can bear, but I wholeheartedly challenge that in the face of witnessing quite the opposite results many times during my life.

    The bond that existed between the husband and wife was bound by love, the need for each other, their dependency upon each other, and their utter joy to exist with each other. Given that, and your proposed concept that life pretty much continues on the same after death, why would the remaining partner want to consciously do anything to jeopardize that bond, intentionally or unintentionally, due to prevailing circumstances yet to be experienced in their mortal life to come? Why would they subject themselves to the possibility they may grow apart from their partner such that, when they die, they will not experience the joy of being with each other through eternity? They would not commit such actions, nor put themselves into circumstances that would lead to such, when both were alive, so why would it not be in both parties best interests to rejoin each other as soon as possible to continue the life they had been experiencing? (excluding the double trauma to those, if any, left behind).

    If each of their faith levels were more than sufficient to bond them deeply in this mortal plane together, why would they not be good enough for God to allow the same wondrous life together in the next plane? That seems a bit judgmental, doesn’t it? And, I don’t think that when tragedy strikes, either mate would be further along than the other in such a way that it would, or should, hinder the acceptance by God of the remaining mate to join the first and continue their lives together, regardless of time frame.

    And, isn’t the sudden death of a spouse considered to be a profound change and upheaval in one’s life? Many don’t ever recover from such trauma, while others pause, mourn, and move on to the next. I, personally, don’t grasp the concept of ever being able to earnestly give one’s heart to another the same way without forgoing the bond one once had with a previous mate, therefore eliminating the possibility of rejoining them. To be able to give one’s heart earnestly to another, one must truly replace the original, which is not a desired solution. To not do so would be a false expression of one’s genuine feelings, which is also not a desired situation.

    What would happen if the remaining mate ultimately found another ‘true’ love, and either of them then died? How does that impact the first mate who died? Would that not be unfair and cruel to not be able to then continue the life they originally had together? How does this get reconciled in the afterlife? I don’t think polygamy is an accepted course of action in the afterlife!!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      About your final set of questions, please see this article:

      If You’ve been Married More than Once, Which One will you be With in the Afterlife?

      This will also provide more extensive background on the question of eternal marriage in the light of possibly multiple partners here on earth than I can give in these briefer comments.

      • Richard Neer says:


        Do you ever sleep? How and when do you find the time to compose all the writings you have thus far to, so often, be directing questions toward articles you have already written?

        Are you a real person, or just a machine cranking out prose? Or maybe you have a room full of captive cherubs with typewriters ultimately putting forth works equivalent to the likes of Shakespeare for you to draw upon? LOL!!

        Either way, I do enjoy your perspective and insights, and the format with which you present them so, Thank You!

        • Lee says:


          I wish I had a room full of cherubs with typewriters!

          I think what I got instead is a brain full of monkeys all randomly banging away at typewriters. How I manage to come up with a few Shakespeare sonnets in the midst of all that gibberish I really don’t know! 😀

          Let’s just say that these articles are a labor of love. I’ve only got so many years left on this earth, and this is what I’m here to do.

      • Richard Neer says:


        I had already read that one before along with a few of the other linked articles, but I did just reread it anyway. Unfortunately, it currently does little to quell my uncertainty and angst over not only my wife’s eternal future, if she indeed has one, but my own as well.

        It does seem, in the simplest of terms, to be quite like a game of eternal musical chairs in matching up eternal mates (one person, one chair). But, as we all know, ultimately there is always one who does not get a chair. If your intended chair goes to someone else, you must find a new chair, and thus create a cascading effect that ends with one person without a chair. Unless you also take into account all the single, mate-less ones and propose that new eternal mate bonds can be developed among them in the afterlife much like here on earth, I would conclude that someone, somewhere, sometime will end up on the short end of the stick. We all know there are countless sad and unfulfilled mate-less people in life so by your account, there would also be in the afterlife.

        Regardless of how it turns out in Heaven, I still would perceive it unfair to at least one party involved, one who believed in their eternal match found here on earth, but who is ultimately disappointed come the afterlife.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Richard,

          I suspect that satisfying answers will come for you only through a process of time and reflection.

          But to the specific issue here:

          This, from my perspective, is where God comes in.

          If it were the job of us humans to coordinate the eternal, spiritual lives of all of humanity, it would be like a game of musical chairs in which half the chairs are removed each round, and 99% of people ended out on the short end of the stick by the time the game is over. We humans with our limited minds aren’t capable even of comprehending the full complexities involved, let alone harmonizing them into something that works not only overall, but for every individual involved.

          God has no such limitations of mind. Nor does God have any limitations of heart, such that God would not provide for us everything for our eternal happiness–if only we are ready and willing to accept it.

          But to cut to the chase:

          According to Swedenborg, God, who sees all from eternity, provides eternal marital partners for those who long for love and are willing to do the personal work of spiritual rebirth and growth that renders them capable of accepting and experiencing true marriage. Swedenborg says that God prepares couples for one another from birth, each of them being entirely unaware of it.

          How exactly God does this, I do not know. But I have seen it happen among friends and family. My own parents, for example, were truly bound together in spirit. Before he died, my father’s memory had gotten so bad that he couldn’t remember what had happened five or ten minutes ago. But right up to the end, he happily recounted in vivid detail how he fell in love with my mother over sixty years earlier, and how he knew she was “his girl” right from the start. It was an entertaining story that involved a motorcycle!

          If God is able to do it for some people (which I know from experience), I see no limitation that would prevent God from doing it for all people.

          Except, that is, the limitation that some people reject real, spiritual marriage through the choices they make in their lives. But I don’t think you have much to worry about on that score.

          There are single people in heaven. However, they are single because they have chosen celibacy and confirmed it within themselves to the extent that it has become a settled and deep part of their character.

          The usual state of angels in heaven is to be married to someone who they remain with to eternity. And Swedenborg’s experience was that those who longed for happy eternal marriage received it in the afterlife even if they had not received it here.

          Swedenborg himself, despite his great desire to be married, and at least two unsuccessful attempts at courtship in his young adulthood, remained a lifelong bachelor. But there are suggestions in some of his diary entries that he believed his marital partner was waiting for him in the spiritual world once he finished his work here on earth. She was a highly educated and intelligent woman who was not available here on earth because she was married to someone else.

          As for whether you will be with your wife in the afterlife, that’s not a question I can answer for you. I can only say that if the two of you are truly bound together in spirit, then when it comes your time to die, she will be there waiting for you–and the two of you will reunite with great joy!

          Perhaps I have been recommending the wrong Swedenborg book for you. Perhaps the book you really want is Marriage Love. Though it contains much that is controversial in this day and age, and speaks in terms of many gender roles that are now generally considered old-fashioned and even sexist, that book is where Swedenborg lays out the divine, spiritual, social, and practical principles of marriage as it exists both here on earth and in the spiritual world.

          Unfortunately, the New Century Edition translation of Marriage Love has not yet been published. I hope it will be in print within the next few years. Meanwhile, the most readable version available is the one titled Love in Marriage, translated by David F. Gladish. It’s not currently in print, but you can find it on Amazon at this link:
          Love in Marriage, by Emanuel Swedenborg

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Your more general question about the rationale of continuing here on earth when your beloved spouse has moved on to the spiritual world has echoes in my own family history and lore.

      My maternal grandmother, who was an ardent and intelligent Swedenborgian, and married to a Swedenborgian minister, outlived her husband by quite a few years. Her biggest question for God during that whole time was, “Why am I still here? Why can I not be with my husband?”

      Now if she, who knew Swedenborg’s teachings as thoroughly as anyone alive, had to struggle with that question, I can confidently state that it is a very personal and difficult question–one that does not have a simple, doctrinal, one-size-fits-all answer. Every person and every relationship is unique. We can only find answers about our own situations within the context of our own lives as they unfold.

      The reality is that none of us really knows at any given time the full reasons for why we are here on earth, and what we are meant to accomplish during our remaining years here. Only God knows that. And only God is able to direct our lives to achieve the best eternal outcome.

      About the cruelty of suffering and torment here on earth, though I do not want to diminish the reality of the pain and suffering, please weigh in the balance, if you will, even many years of pain and suffering here on earth against an eternity of joy and fulfillment in the spiritual world. There really is no comparison.

      If you, looking at your life from a position above the fray, could see clearly that by enduring ten, twenty, thirty, or more years of pain and suffering here on earth, you would become capable of experiencing thousands and millions of years of joy, fulfillment, and a deep sense of peace, wouldn’t you choose to endure the temporary pain in order to achieve the permanent joy? We humans commonly endure pain and suffering in order to accomplish greater goals to which we have set our minds and hearts.

      It’s not that God is cruel and wants us to suffer. It’s that God sees that our resistance to truly joyful and heavenly life cannot be broken down without our experiencing pain and suffering even to the point where it crushes our spirit. For more on this, see this article:

      If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?

      It would take a book even to begin to give a full answer to these questions. But this article will at least provide an outline.

      About my grandmother, as my mother told the story before she, too, passed on, after my grandfather died my grandmother would write my mother letters in which she would always express impatience that she (my grandmother) was still on earth, while her husband was in the spiritual world.

      Then one year our annual church convention was going to be held in the city where my grandmother lived with her other daughter way out in Western Canada. This would be an opportunity for my grandmother to see many family members and friends that she had not seen in years. She wrote a letter to my mother saying how happy she was in the anticipation of seeing her and my father and others she loved.

      And you know what? She died not long before the convention was held.

      Though that could be seen as a cruel irony, my mother had a very different interpretation. In her view, God was saying to my grandmother, “Okay, Anita, now that you have finally dropped your impatience, and are willing to look at the joys of what you do have instead of continually focusing on the sorrows of what you don’t have, your work here on earth is complete.”

      My grandfather was a person of great heart and great joy in life. I believe my grandmother needed time on her own to drop her intellectual efforts to control what she thought God was supposed to be doing in her life, and to accept that there are still blessings of family and friends to be enjoyed, all of which are gifts of God.

      Of course, everyone’s story is different. I’m not saying your situation is the same as my grandmothers or as that of the elderly gentleman that I mentioned earlier.

      However, these are two examples of people who lost beloved spouses, grew impatient and even angry at God for the terrible pain, suffering, and injustice of it, and then, as the years passed, gradually came to accept God’s providence over their lives. Once they came to a place of acceptance and even joy in life, they were finally ready to leave this earth and rejoin their wife or husband who had passed on before them.

  3. Richard Neer says:


    The story of your grandmother is a very touching one, with significant correlation to many in life.

    Thank you for sharing.


  4. Richard Neer says:

    Hi Lee,

    I am puzzled about something. In this article, you state:

    “Angels get up in the morning, eat, go to work, come back home and enjoy an afternoon or evening of recreation, eat dinner, and go to bed. They have their Sabbath days in which they attend services where they listen to preachers. They have other events and celebrations that they enjoy. And yes, they even play tennis and go to concerts.”

    Does this statement not imply the afterlife is comprised of corporeal, physical matter attributes, having properties of a physical existence? And if so, how is it possible, where, on what plane of existence? After all, you can’t play tennis and hit a ball which does not exist with a racquet that does not physically exist either. These statements empirically define a physical world.

    To continue with my inquiry, I am going to correlate our ‘soul’ with our energy, or spark of life as some may call it, or our ‘life force’, since this energy does exist within us in the physical sense until our death. Its origin is still unproven, and its departure from us still holds many mysteries. However, our physical existence is comprised of chemical reactions to, and creating, electrical impulses which further our existence, or life, as we call it. Therefore, in this context, I liken it to our ‘soul’, for definition.

    If, when we die here on earth, our (energy) soul continues on with its existence and ‘life’ persists pretty much the same, then where is the new physical matter world that the soul must become part of to experience such continuation? To the best of any scientific position I know of, our energy would still exist in this plane, just as our lifeless physical body does. How could it not? Energy is a measurable attribute (though our ‘soul’ technically is not – a conundrum in itself here), and laws of physics do apply, specifically The Law of Conservation of Energy, in that, energy simply cannot just disappear (leave our plane of existence). So, where does it go to to become part of this afterlife you describe?

    This descriptive ‘life’ above would require physical matter to exist, physical food sources (and the need for them, or many would be jobless!), engineering, mechanics, bio-energy sources and the utilization and consumption thereof, etc, and the whole gambit of material presence we refer to as life here on earth.

    Yet no physical world or destination is ever presented as the afterlife, or that of which we are taught, or what we are given as any definition to Heaven, Hell, or Eternity for that matter. In fact, it appears to be just the opposite. If one is to believe in the dogmatic teachings of faith and religion, that is.

    Another point or two that has been pestering me is what I ran across in others’ reviews regarding Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell. His interpretation of Heaven, or presentation thereof, did not include animals (or pets) having the same attributes they have here on earth (animals do not have souls). Or that beautiful gardens may, in fact, be only mirages and not actually made up of all the flora that exists in creation, complete with its different textures, aromas and other attributes. How would this be possible in your scenario? Does this not conflict with your presentation? What is your interpretation of these points? How does this coincide with what you stated above?


    • Lee says:

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for all the great questions! It’s much more than I can respond to in the comments section, so I’ve written and posted a (fairly long) article. It still doesn’t deal with everything you’ve inquired about here. But I hope it covers your biggest questions. You’ll find the article at this link:
      Is Heaven Physical? Can Angels Play Tennis?

  5. Richard Neer says:

    Rolled your sleeves up for that one, did you?

    I do hope you rewarded those monkeys with a magnificent, well-deserved feast, and that your medical plan covers carpal tunnel syndrome! ;-p

  6. alixstar11 says:

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve been scared of change for all my current 15 years of life, but I just find it hard to imagine I’ll be able to settle into an eternal life in an entirely different world. Just thinking that far ahead is making me panic somewhat, and yet I physically can’t stop thinking about it.

    At the same time, I’m afraid of not existing, yet surely at some point even those in the spiritual world will cease to exist?
    I’m probably just overthinking things again 😛

    I do have some questions to ask though:
    1. Do you absolutely HAVE to live in the community you are sent to? Say your parents or good friends live somewhere else in the spiritual world and you want to go and live with them, would that be possible?
    2. Does technology exist in the spiritual world such as computers, gaming consoles, iPads? Can you play video games on them or are they too violent or something?
    3. I assume that any permanent injuries gained in this world such as blindness or deafness are cured once we move to the spiritual world, but what about mental disabilities/disorders such as Aspergers? How are they accommodated into the spiritual world? And what about people who were for whatever reason born deaf/blind?
    4. What are things we can do here on Earth that we can’t do in the spiritual world?

    Sorry if my post was rather lengthy, but some clarification would be appreciated!

    • Lee says:

      Hi alixstar11,

      Good questions! In my reply to your earlier comment, I linked some articles (and videos) that may be helpful to you about the afterlife. And no, people in the spiritual world don’t ever cease to exist. God has given us souls that will live forever no matter what choices we make here on earth. Of course, if we choose a life of love and kindness, we’ll have a much better time of it than if we choose a life of selfishness and greed.

      In answer to your questions:

      1. We aren’t sent to a community in the spiritual world. Rather, we go their by our own choice, because that’s where we most want to live and feel most at home. If you don’t happen to end out in the same community as your parents, you could still visit them. People in heaven can travel, too!
      2. Everything that exists here on earth also exists in the spiritual world—and at a much higher level than what we’ve got here. So yes, there are spiritual equivalents of our computer and gaming technology. Maybe even the next version of your favorite game! 😉 If you’re into video gaming, you might like this article and two others linked from it: What Does the Bible Say about Video Games?
      3. Yes, physical injuries here on earth will go away in the spiritual world, perhaps with a period of transition to make it a little easier on us. And mental disabilities will also be taken away. For those who were limited to a certain mental age, they will continue growing up from that mental age in heaven. Other types of mental disabilities will be healed as well. There may still be some effect on the person’s character, but they will become fully capable adults mentally and emotionally. You may be interested to know that Helen Keller loved Swedenborg’s teachings, and wrote a book about them: Light In My Darkness, by Helen Keller. She looked forward to seeing and hearing again when she reached the spiritual world!
      4. Anything we can do on earth, we can also do in the spiritual world. Except die. 😛 Of course, if you’re in heaven, you won’t do any mean or greedy or hurtful things anymore.

      I hope these answers are helpful to you! Keep on searching for answers! And if you have any more questions for me in response to any of the articles here, or just from your own thoughts, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      • alixstar11 says:

        Hi again! Thanks for the answers, they were very helpful.

        Unfortunately, I am still absolutely terrified of an eternity anywhere, and it’s not really the best thing to be afraid of in this case. It’s very conflicting because eternity is scary, yet not existing is also scary… 😦

        I think it’s something to do with the idea that I may eventually get bored and not find anything to do anymore – even though I’ve been happy with the same few things for all my now 16 years of life. I’ve even researched fear of eternity and I think it may be something to do with my analytical mind not being able to comprehend a neverending existence…

        I’m not really sure what to do and I was wondering if you have any advice.

        • Lee says:

          Hi alixstar11,

          It’s good to hear from you again. Happy 16th birthday! (Whenever it happened.)

          In response to your fears, let me try something out on you, and see if it strikes a chord.

          Two of the major transitions in human life are birth and death.

          When we are born, we leave behind the safe, warm, comfortable womb of our mother, where we are fed and cared for by our mother organically through the umbilical cord. All of a sudden we are outside, the cord is cut, and we have to live in the big wide world. Yes, our parents (if they’re good parents) still care for us. But the fact that so many of us come into this world crying says something about how rough that transition is!

          At the other end of our life on earth, death is, for must of us, a transition from everything we have known and experienced here on earth into the great unknown. Even for those of us who have some knowledge of the afterlife from reading about people’s near-death experiences or from Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell, which provides a guided tour of the spiritual world, hearing about it is not the same thing as experiencing it for ourselves.

          So both of these, birth and death, mark a huge transition and change in our lives as human beings.

          However, you, at the age of sixteen, are getting very close to another major transition—one that is almost as big as birth and death. That change is the transition from your childhood years into adulthood.

          In our childhood years, our parents (again, if they are good parents) take care of us, love us, and provide for our physical and emotional needs. We are mostly free to live our lives in a relatively carefree way, learning and growing while not having to be responsible for such pesky things as food, clothing, shelter, and so on.

          All of that changes when we make the transition into adulthood.

          That transition may be gradual (if we spend a few years in college) or sudden (if we move right out into the working world). But once that transition is complete, our life is completely different from what it was before. Now we have to get up every day and go out to a job that we may or may not like to put food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our head. And the people we work for, and with, probably aren’t anywhere near as unconditionally loving as our parents were. Yet they’re commonly the people with whom we spend the most time in our adult years.

          In your previous comments you’ve mentioned how close you are to your parents, and how much you fear losing them.

          And yet now, at the age of sixteen, you’re only a few years away from the time when, if you follow the usual course, you will move out of your childhood home and away from your parents, and begin your own life as an adult.

          That’s a huge change! And I suspect it’s one that causes much anxiety in your mind and heart.

          And to come to the point, I suspect that’s the real fear your facing now, and that your fear of the afterlife is actually a stand-in and substitute for this fear that is much closer to home and heart for you: the fear of separation from your parents and having to live on your own for the first time ever.

          If I’m right about this (and feel free to tell me if I’m wrong!), then my suggestion for you is that you look that very present and immediate fear in the face, and begin to deal with it in your own mind and heart.

          Talk it over with your parents. They’ve been raising you all these years. They obviously love you and care very much about you and your life, or you wouldn’t feel so close to them and so fearful of losing them. Keep in mind that they’ve raised you to become an adult who can make your own way in the world, and to do great things with your life! They may have some thoughts that will be helpful to you as you move closer and closer to that huge, scary change of entering adulthood.

          Also, if you don’t yet have any goals for your life, start thinking about what you want to accomplish when your years of schooling are over and it’s time to move out into the world. It doesn’t always work out the way we plan it. But simply having goals gives us something to work toward and look forward to.

          What kinds of things do you love to do? How would you like to use your particular character, talents, and experiences to contribute to society and the world? What is the meaning and purpose of your life here in the practical terms of what you will do and accomplish with your adult life?

          It won’t be long now before you’ll be making that big transition. The more you can prepare yourself for it mentally and emotionally, the less scary it will be when it arrives.

          I do believe you’ll make that transition successfully, even if you’ll experience some bumps and bruises along the way. You’re a thoughtful person, and contemplative about your life. And you’ve had sixteen years now to learn and grow as a person. There’s no reason this won’t continue and carry you into your adult years.

          And I believe that once you’ve made that transition successfully, and have begun to find your place in the adult world, your fears of the afterlife, and even your fears of losing your parents, will begin to subside. Your life will take on its own meaning and purpose. And that will give you a reason to keep living each day, and to look forward to a future in which you continue to learn and grow as a person, and to achieve more and greater things with your life.

          For another article that might be helpful along these lines, please see: Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth

          And another one that will give you some perspective on the big picture of your life here on earth: Seasons of Life

          I hope this helps! And if I’m completely off-base with my hunch about the real and immediate fears you are facing at this time in your life, feel free to try again.

          Meanwhile, Annette and I wish you all the best as you move forward with your life.

  7. silverpen123 says:

    First, let me say that I enjoy your answers tremendously. Thank you so much for making this available and putting your knowledge out into the world. I apologize if this is long. (I’ve been attacked for that too!)

    I came upon this article in search of finding out if my husband is with me in any form since he recently passed. It seems the answers I’m finding sound vague and unassuring. In fact, it seems it’s only making it worse for me by not being fully addressed. The lack of knowledge and flippant attitudes I read in many places/books answering to this loss is seen/addressed as equal to other relationships – they are not – which don’t come near answering the burning questions to move forward here on earth during this separation. I was relieved to see Lee asking the same type of questions I asked. Thank you, Lee!

    The answers come from one side of this death equation, blaringly letting me know that grief is totally misunderstood on planet earth. Letting me know that he, the deceased, is fine and happy and loved. I know he’s fine. I’m the one fighting my way through the muck on earth, not fine by any stretch. I don’t ever hear the messages of spirits through people saying, “I know it’s hard, honey, I’m here with you. I miss you so much.” No. I hear, hey, we are so happy here, don’t worry about us. WHAT??? Sounds like the spirits are almost the equivalent of children who got their lollypops, skipping along while we have to put together shards of pieces that never quite fit back even with gorilla glue. That we are more alone than ever since their death, in a world of complete ignorance for the true union of this type of love. Makes me want to give up, since he took my soul and world with him. He definitely has it better than me. I’m willing to seek and learn on that side, than fumble with the muck, lack of info, lack of love, and mostly a lack of him in my life. No one knows my situation to see what I see and know already. I’m grieving, not stupid.

    Fortunately, I did find a blip of solace on my own, purely by accident from Swedenborg’s Love in Marriage (321):

    (g) 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.

    I have to wonder why this isn’t addressed from the few other Swedenborg sources around the internet? Or by famous mediums? Why this type of union is passed over in answers – that they stay with us, or even HOW they stay with us – and no one recognizes the depth of questions grieving soulmates have regarding this separation? It gets brushed off, danced around, and we can’t move along in our grief until the questions are answered for both peace and understanding from knowledge, confidently. It’s so misleading when truth can be known, and should be sought out. How does anyone grow or move onto right action and choices if the knowledge isn’t addressed or answered, yes, specifically? It presupposes that fumbling and falling is a given, across the board no matter what. There are no authorities who can tell me that I have to do it the hard way, but it is only them that make it hard by averting to look deeper in compassion to guide or point.

    What I do know is this: my emotions are merely a gauge to my thinking. If I’m in so much pain, it’s only because I have uninvestigated thoughts and beliefs. So I dig deep to find those things, and only real knowledge can put my mind and heart at ease. Nothing, of course, can change the facts and reality that his body is no longer here to enjoy with me in this form, sensory deprived in every way, so I miss him terribly. Nothing can change the fact that I am struggling to survive without him, being that our lifestyle was his craftsman travel for work, and I by his side to help him live on this earth well while he worked for us. And my answer is that I cannot survive even remotely well enough to live beyond a few years here. There are no little rays of hope of wanting to continue without him. Our love fed us both in every way. We were the port in the storm on earth for each other. Our love was God’s gift to us. That understanding pretty much goes unaddressed, unacknowledged, unknown by others not suffering the magnitude of the loss and all that goes with it. Only my husband and God would know what it’s doing to me, but of course, I should be at peace because “he’s fine”. He most definitely got the better end of this deal.

    “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”. (Lilo & Stitch) He’s not forgotten. I am left behind. For years I fought for the truth of family and what it means to all people for our base of love and survival. Now, in a world that has forgotten the true meaning and backbone of family, a God given gift that humans need for Love, survival and growth, I am left feeling so utterly alone and unsupported without him in every way. The core of the family – him and me together, man and woman – is gone here on earth. The rest of the world around me seems to forget this important detail – I had to explain this to him a few times so he understood the magnitude of it because he didn’t see it by the way he was raised and lived. But like most of us, he knew he was missing something important – real love.

    Anyway, my life will never be the same without him because of my deep love for him. I can only hope the beauty, love, and all his passed on peeps in the afterlife don’t distract him, like a shiney object, from the love we shared here (tongue in cheek), or that he doesn’t hook up with his passed on first girlfriend. How am I to know what he felt about her vs me? I love him, no doubt in me, but it wouldn’t be the first time I was used as a fill-in for human needs on this earth because I see and give my heart, while standing by truth/love. How am I to know what he’s experiencing and feeling now, sees honestly, or testing out, or maybe even betraying me with his love? (According to what I’ve read, people on the other side test to see who’s the better match for them, and he did say he was in love with this other woman at one time for the year they dated, planned life, 30+ yrs ago) I can’t know, or be sure, especially with that stated info. I get more questions and confusion than answers, crippling and complicating my grief. I may be over thinking that part because of the horrendous attacks I’ve endured from the day he passed – and continue to this very day. People are coming out of the woodwork with crazy actions against me that distract me from grieving and seeing him in my heart. I’ve put up walls to protect myself from them, logistically, technologically, and emotionally.

    I do know the evil forces and intentions that come against me (and both of us when we were here together) through others, must know very well the impact and magnitude of a man/woman union, or they wouldn’t find it so attractive to attack in ways that would blow away the average, unobservant person.

    Any input would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Lee says:

      Hi silverpen123,

      Thank you for stopping by, and for your long, thoughtful, and heartfelt comment. I am very sorry to hear about the death of your husband. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you face your grief in his absence from your physical and day-by-day life here on earth.

      I am glad that the articles here have given you at least some specific, concrete answers to your deep questions. These are very difficult issues, and quite frankly, there are very few people out there, including priests, pastors, and theologians, who can give solid answers, because they simply don’t have the information on which such answers would be based. Beyond that, many of our deepest and most searching questions can be answered only over time, through experience and pondering and discovering how events unfold in the long term.

      I would say that your situation is a mixture of both immediately answerable questions (if one has the required information) and questions that can be answered only with the passage of time and experience.

      About the immediately answerable questions, I have not yet written and posted here an article specifically about the loss of a spouse and what it means for our life, as I have for the loss of our parents and the loss of our children. That lack is something I will have to rectify at some point.

      Meanwhile, I do take up the issue of marriage in the afterlife briefly in the article, “How does Marriage Fit In with a Spiritual Life? Is There Marriage in Heaven?” Though that article doesn’t specifically deal with partners separated by death, you might want to read this comment on that article, and my reply.

      You say, “What I do know is this: my emotions are merely a gauge to my thinking.” And one thing that strikes me in your comment is that a real part of your grief is doubt as to whether you and your husband will be together in the afterlife, expressed as a fear that your husband might reconnect with his old girlfriend from 30+ years ago. This, unfortunately, is one of those questions that can be answered only with the passage of time.

      You already alluded to the answerable part of that question when you said, “According to what I’ve read, people on the other side test to see who’s the better match for them.” On that subject I do have an article here, which I invite you to read if you haven’t already: “If You’ve been Married More than Once, Which One will you be With in the Afterlife?” What that article can’t answer, of course, is the very personal question of whether you and your beloved husband will be together in the afterlife. That can only be answered with unfolding events over time.

      Not too put too fine a point on it, but I’m sure you are already well aware that it is common in marriages for one partner to feel more in love than the other does. And while there certainly are marriages in which the husband is more in love with the wife than vice versa, it is probably more common for the wife to feel that her husband is the only one she loves or could ever love, while the husband, even though he does love his wife, feels that he could love another if his wife were to leave or die.

      I don’t say this to make you feel worse. Based on your expressed thoughts and feelings, these thoughts are already running through your mind. I say this to acknowledge that your fears and doubts are not frivolous, but are real, searching issues for which there are no quick and easy answers for those who face them. These are fears and doubts that you must face and deal with in your own mind and heart as the days, weeks, months, and years go by. Since I’m not in your shoes, nor do I know your late husband or the circle of people in which you move, these are not the sorts of questions that I, or anyone else, really, can give you definite answers to. You will have to seek and discover those answers for yourself over time.

      What I can offer you is some framework of information about the nature of the afterlife and the nature of marriage love that can help you to see things in a clearer light as you seek those deeper answers that come only with time. And of course, if you have already delved into Swedenborg’s books, you have already found the “horse’s mouth,” so to speak, for much of the information I present here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life.

      I could go on, but first I’ll give you a chance to read the linked articles and comments if you wish. Then, if you have further specific questions that might be answerable, I invite and encourage you to leave further comments here.

      Meanwhile, I will offer you these thoughts:

      The events and experiences of our life here on earth are not a mere game. They are very real, and they do commonly try and test us to the limits of our ability to endure, and sometimes even beyond those limits. This life has its pleasures and joys, to be sure. But it also has its pain and anguish that sifts our souls right to the core. It is in facing this pain and anguish that the core of our humanity is unearthed. And in those times of deep spiritual trial and grief, the person we will become is forged in the molten crucible of inner trials and spiritual temptations, and our responses to those terrible trials.

      It is never pleasant for us to experience this deep melting and testing of the soul. And yet, it is out of these sometimes horrifically painful and shattering experiences and passages of life that we emerge as people capable of deeper empathy, faith, and compassion for our fellow human beings, and also gain a real awareness and appreciation of God’s tender loving kindness carrying us through it all even when it feels to us as if God is completely absent.

  8. Richard Neer says:

    Well said, Lee.

    I speak from my own experience when I say it truly is a process by which we are tested. The results of our labored efforts certainly do shape, and reshape, us through the trials along our the arduous journey of self-discovery, re-evaluation and redefinition as we are remolded and tempered by the fiery kiln of Life.

    And I consider myself to yet still be a “work in progress”.

    My dearest sympathies to you, silverpen123. I, unfortunately, know all too well the grief you experience and the cloudiness you find in seeking answers and truths to satisfy the burning questions which haunt your days and nights. Try to find solace in that you truly are not alone in your journey and that others, though uniquely apart from you, share the same road.

    Existence is defined as a state of being, qualified by adaptation, perseverance and continuance.

    Living, however, requires ambition, tenacity and fortitude to fuel achievement, desire and longing to stoke the heart into openness and vulnerability, and love to wrap it all neatly in an embraceable package.

    Never stop living.


    • silverpen123 says:

      Thank you, Richard. Kind, encouraging words. I assume you have lost your loved one too, by what I read. I’m sorry. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’ve been trying to reach out to other women in the same position as me – to relate, get support. Only those who have experience the passing of a dearly loved spouse seem to be the ones who I can share freely with. But I’m also gathering that this path is a lot lonelier than I ever foresaw.

      It is a hard road. Many times I wish to be with my guy. I feel left out, and as others would probably say, cheated on a life with him. I don’t understand a life without sharing with him. I’d like to ask why, but it feels pretty futile. The answer wouldn’t make much of a difference. Just walk the path that is presented before me. One foot in front of the other, one moment at a time.

      My only solace is through Swedenborg’s writings to guide me, prayer, and listening to the Lord. I fear all the changes ahead of me. Every aspect of my life has changed, and the thought of tackling even the smallest of them overwhelms me. Gosh, I never felt so retarded in all my life!

      Lee, thank you for your words, translations of Swedenborg and your support. I’m so glad I came upon your website.


      • Lee says:

        Hi Laurie,

        You are most welcome. I’m glad to be of some help, even if I cannot walk your currently very painful walk for you. Feel free to continue the conversation if you have any particular questions, or simply want to express more of what you are facing, thinking, and feeling, and have others with a sympathetic ear hear you. If you were able to find some local circle of people who have lost dearly beloved spouses, that could also be a great source of solace. Still, every person’s walk is different.

      • Richard Neer says:

        Hi Laurie,

        You are certainly welcome. Stay the course and stay strong,


  9. silverpen123 says:

    Lee, I meant to say in my last post that I thanked Richard for his questions, instead I referred to him as Lee. I saw so many Lee said, Richard said’s that I got confused.

    I have read those links you mentioned, in the past month. Thank you for addressing my questions. I am forced to remind myself of the deeper, more unique aspects of our love, as you reminded me to do. I’m going to get a bit personal here.

    I think my fear and doubt stems from the problems we endured early on, as well, his family staked a claim against me as his wife upon his death, asking for legal documents and all his material items saying I didn’t know him as long as they did, even though they had little to do with him except when they needed something. And he kept his distance, politely. But the attacks upon me became so horrific, while they made it public stating I was something of a passing girlfriend who was holding his ashes and material items hostage to hurt them. Of course that’s a complete lie to intimidate me. But I’ve been on the other end of unjust hate before, knowing how far people can take things to destroy others. It’s not something I have the strength to endure right now nor resources to fight back. I stay quiet on the attacks from them.

    My husband picked me 13 years ago, and we started out as pen pals. A friend posed as me on a military board to get me to help others and get some social interaction, as I was knee deep in homeschooling my children. I didn’t know until he contacted me. We became friends over the course of a year. He pursued me with respect for my feelings and situation (in a bad marriage, still raising children). At one point, 3 years into the friendship, we touched (being long distance, we rarely saw each other in person) and both felt a warm electricity for the other that startled us both, neither of us ever having this feeling before with anyone. Within a short time we both “knew” that we loved each other. We loved being together, but not without some rocky personal issues we each had to work out individually to grow. During our 1st year together, year #4 of knowing each other (long distance, but traveling to see the other, eventually moving in together by year #5), he told me I was going to be his next wife, causing me a bit of a startle, feeling it was too soon to say things like that. During the later part of that year, I had a vision dream, as I do get those from time to time. I was being shown things about my life by a spirit messenger. I was directed to see a picture of me and my boyfriend (now deceased husband) in a photo dressed in all white wedding clothing. I refused to look at it, saying that’s the last thing on my mind, but was adamantly urged to look closely and remember the photo whether I wanted to accept it or not. I never understood why because we didn’t get married until just a few months ago. Our love, no matter what happened in this world, stayed true to the other, even when things looked confusing and very questionable. I believe it was God’s love between us, inseparable by others. (So why do I doubt?)

    I recalled this dream only a week after he passed in the midst of all his family’s attacks. Then I went down a private road inside remembering the things he’s said and did for me, how he felt (love) but couldn’t find words for because of it’s strength. The word “love” did not encompass what he felt so he would say that he knows what he feels right here, pointing to his heart – even when I was preparing myself mentally for an ending between us during some rough moments. I loved him so much that I could only see to act upon my heart to see him happy, at peace, and helping him get healthy – mentally/physically. I wonder if that isn’t why I was strongly urged to remember that photo in the dream? To assure me. Even having a recent dream where my husband was showing me how easy it was to cross the chasm, that he would show me how, and then a written sign saying: Soul Assurance. Human nature and situations can bring doubts, as I can attest to even though I am ever looking for solutions and remaining strong through evidence, reason, sanity and love.

    I was reading Swedenborg, only new to his writings since my husband’s passing although heard of him many years ago, regarding evil spirits. When he spoke of how evil spirits like to come against a man/woman union, I remembered how my husband and I used to talk about how often outsiders came against us, trying to wreck havoc at us and between us, and being totally baffled by why us, why so much, why not other couplings before us in such an overt obvious manner? Since the day of his passing, the attacks from others are nearly daily. I often say to my husband in my mind, are you seeing this? If I told anyone the extent of the attacks, they’d think I was making up stories. These things have shook me to my core, adding to my anxiety, and forcing me to remember lots of things between us to keep my head on straight. Despite what people assume about grieving people, I have been trying to keep to myself, keep my head, acknowledge my feelings, and keeping love and kindness as my focus towards others. It’s so hard to deal with uninvited attacks. He’s not here to talk to about this stuff. I don’t know how he is dealing with anything on his end. I do know that I have had some pretty amazing “signs” from him, things only he and I knew between us. But again, I’m still shook to my core with attacks against me, and doubts do pop up. But isn’t that what happens to separate us? I think that’s where I’m going with all this.

    I want to thank you for reminding me that this is a unique situation to us, and specific answers can’t be given by outsiders. I have to dig inside for evidence and allow God to reveal the answers to me in time, as has been the case so far. It’s the Faith in God that I’ve gained by reading Swedenborg through understanding God’s love for all of us, the nature of how things operate, and the deeper meanings of the Word which has guided me since my husband’s passing.

    Maybe by sharing openly, I can help others who may be going through their own issues and doubts, to look deeper and remember things. To hold onto what you feel and know because if you keep Love and Truth as your focus, you won’t be disappointed, left behind, alone, forgotten. It’s easy to think that on a planet that has been lost due to our situation of choices between heaven and hell, where hell seems to be running rampant.

    • Lee says:

      Hi silverpen123,

      Sounds like a very complicated situation. And it also sounds like you’re doing fairly well dealing with it, as messy and painful as it is.

      Thanks for clearing up the “Richard” vs. “Lee” thing. Now I know why I was having a little trouble wrapping my head around that! 😉

    • Lee says:

      Oh, and I hope you noticed Richard’s comment just above your last one. You two were probably typing at the same time!

  10. Mike Rouleau says:

    Again and again, thank you Lee. My new favorite site. Amen, and amen.

  11. Chad says:

    Hi Lee, this quandary has been on my mind for a bit, and I wanted your thoughts.

    Are there those that may choose to remain in the World of Spirits in the hereafter, so as not to lose any part of their being or identity? You mentioned in a previous article that, before a person goes to heaven, the evil parts of them are “sidelined” and basically made non-existent (please correct me if I’m mis-interpreting what you said). Presumably, the opposite would happen for those going to hell, losing that spark of good in all of us, their redeeming qualities and the last of their humanity being stripped away on their way down. But since the spirit is already heaven or hell-bound, this strikes me as a person losing part of what makes them human, even if that part is selfish and focused on self-preservation, or a silver lining to a bad person. It strikes me as almost deterministic, as if the spiritual world itself is taking away our free will, in heaven to occasionally be selfish people (which is not always a bad thing), and in hell to occasionally be peaceful and good people (even if they are vile 9 times out of 10). So, what I’m essentially asking is: How do we mesh God’s steadfast protection and appreciation of our free will with this “sidelining our evil or good qualities” process in the afterlife, and could some “middle-of-the-road” souls choose to permanently reside in the World of Spirits, because they are neither saintly enough for heaven or devilish enough for hell?


    • Lee says:

      Hi Chad,

      These are all good questions. Here are several points in response:

      First, more basic than sidelining the evil or good parts of the personalities of people who are going to heaven or to hell, respectively, is the harmonization of the person’s outward, expressed nature with that person’s actual inner nature. And what determines our inner nature is our “ruling love,” meaning what we have chosen to put first in our life. In general, people who go to heaven have chosen to put God and/or the neighbor first in their life. People who go to hell have chosen to put their own power, pleasure, and accumulation of worldly possessions first in their life.

      The process of harmonizing our outward life with our inner life in the spiritual world after death is not deterministic. It is based on people’s freely made choices about what they are going to put first in their priorities and in their life. What happens in the world of spirits after death is that everything about a person is made subservient to and put in accord with what they have chosen to be in their heart.

      Second, sidelining parts of ourselves is not at all the same as making them nonexistent. Everything we have ever thought, felt, said, done, or experienced, either outwardly or inwardly or both, remains a part of us to eternity.

      Some of the old translations of Swedenborg’s works have obscured this by translating the Latin word removeo as “remove,” as in “when we repent, our evils are removed from us.” But what that word really means is not “removed,” but “moved away.” As Swedenborg says in multiple places, our sins are not washed away from us like dirt off our body, so that they are gone and no longer exist. Rather, they are pushed farther and farther away from the center of our being, so that they become remote parts of us rather than central parts of us. But they are still part of us.

      As an example, think of a married man or woman who goes through a divorce. The wedding photos that used to be on the mantel piece in the living room will be taken down from there. They may be packed away, they may be thrown away or burned. They will no longer occupy a central place in that person’s house or apartment. But even if the physical pictures are no longer there, they will still be imprinted on the person’s mind. Yes, they will gradually fade away over time. But they will never be gone entirely. Forty years later, when that person is living an entirely different life, those photos may still be called to mind under certain circumstances. That phase of the person’s life will never be entirely erased. It will always be a part of who that person is, even if it has now faded into the background, or into the person’s peripheral vision.

      That is how it is in the spiritual world with the parts of our life and character that are not in accordance with our ruling love. They will be pushed to the side, but they will not be snuffed out of existence. They will still be a part of who we are, even if most of the time in our day-to-day life they are “out of sight, out of mind.”

      According to Swedenborg, angels do sometimes fall into self-centered states of mind, when they think they are the cat’s meow (not Swedenborg’s words!), and forget that they would be nothing without God. When this happens, they fall out of their heavenly state and community, and spend some rather sad and contemplative time lower down before coming back to their senses and returning to their heavenly home.

      And evil spirits do sometimes have a rational thought, rise up out of hell, and engage in reasonable conversation with people in heaven or in the world of spirits. But soon they feel their old desires coming back, and they return to hell where they can engage in their favorite pleasures, while of course getting hit by the inevitable blowback.

      In other words, even in heaven or in hell, we are still human beings, and we are still works in progress. Angels are not perfect. And their imperfect side does assert itself from time to time, so that they have to wrestle with it, just as we do here on earth. The main difference is that because they have already made the basic choice for good, and that choice became permanent at death, there is no longer the possibility that they will yield to the evil and choose evil over good in any permanent way. But they are still very much human beings, and the particular choices they make and actions they take still do affect their ongoing life. Heaven is not a mechanistic grinding out of forces beyond the angels’ control. It is the living out of the choices they themselves have made, and of the choices they continue to make.

      Even the evil spirits in hell seem to make some “progress,” in that their worst impulses are gradually moderated, and they cease to be quite as malevolent as they once were. This is not because they have changed their ruling love, but because they realize the limits of what they can actually accomplish in attempting to fulfill their evil desires. For example, those into personal power cannot, in fact, become the Emperor of All Realms. No matter how hard they try, the Lord just keeps right on having all power in heaven and on earth. After a while, these power-hungry spirits begin to realize this, and as a practical matter, they limit their efforts to ruling over the other evil spirits in their particular corner of hell. Even this is not entirely successful, because their fellow evil spirits are all attempting to be the big boss as well. So they fight each other for power, having left behind their grandiose dream of becoming the God of the Universe, even if they may still sometimes fantasize about it.

      Finally, as for staying permanently in the world of spirits, that is not possible. According to Swedenborg, before the Last Judgment that took place in the spiritual world during his lifetime, there actually were many “false heavens” in the world of spirits, made up of people who lived in the first Christian era who clung to their life in the world of spirits because it allowed them to be religious potentates over ordinary Joes and Janes who didn’t know any better. But these false heavens were broken up as part of that Last Judgment, and everyone in them was moved on to his or her final home in heaven or in hell. Since then, people have been limited to the equivalent of a few decades of “time” in the world of spirits before moving on to their final home.

      No one is spiritually neutral. Everyone makes a choice during his or her life here on earth. It might not be an amazing or profound choice. But even your average Joe or Jane who doesn’t do a lot of thinking about the meaning of life makes day-to-day choices about whether to be a decent person or a jerk. Do they make racist and sexist remarks about people behind their backs, or do they not? Do they snarl at the teenaged McDonald’s employee who gives them the wrong order in the drive-through line, or do they say, “No big deal, thanks for fixing it”? These little everyday choices about how we will treat our fellow human beings all go together to make us the person we are. And we face these choices every day. Nobody is spiritually neutral. We all make our choice, and go on to become the person we have chosen to be.

      People who are not, by the old fallacious “Christian” standards, “saintly enough for heaven,” but are still decent folks in their day-to-day life with the people around them, will not remain in the world of spirits, but will live in one of the lower heavens, where they will greatly enjoy their life—so much so that they can’t imagine being any happier.

      People who are not, by the old fallacious “Christian” standards, “devilish enough for hell,” but who are still rather jerky in their day-to-day life with the people around them, will also not remain in the world of spirits, but will live in one of the higher (milder) hells, where they will continue to make racist remarks about people right to their faces, snarl at the fast food worker in the drive-through line, and get into fist fights with anyone who doesn’t give them enough “respect.” And they’ll still think they’re hot stuff—way better than all those angel weenies up there who treat everyone all nice.

      • Chad says:

        Thank you so much for clearing those things up, Lee. I really appreciate the clarity you bring to these spiritual issues! You mentioned that, sometimes, angels do, in a sense, “have a falling out” with heaven and eventually come back to their senses. Could helping these angels return to their heavenly state of mind be related to the “spiritual health-care” workers you mentioned? Also, I hope you don’t mind me asking these kinds of tough questions, I’d like to think that engaging with them is helping me and everyone who ponders them to grow spiritually!

        God bless,


        • Lee says:

          Hi Chad,

          It wouldn’t surprise me if there are angel “spiritual health care workers” involved in helping other angels who have fallen off the wagon to get back on. Fortunately, in this case there is always a happy ending.

          As for the tough questions, bring ’em on! It helps to keep the ol’ grey matter exercised and in shape. 🙂

      • Ray says:

        Hi Lee. That’s a figure of speech right? There are no fast food restaurants in Heaven and Hell.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ray,

          Why wouldn’t there be?

        • Ray says:

          Cause in Heaven, there is much tastier food, and in Hell, everything pleasurable (that doesn’t involve hurting others) is just a phantasy.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ray,

          There is tastier and not so tasty fast food here on earth, too. Last week a friend and I ordered sandwiches from a local mom and pop fast food place. Those sandwiches were good! Even in hell, people still enjoy eating—and it’s not just a fantasy. The food is real, and the pleasure in eating it is real.

      • Ray says:

        I thought anything pleasurable in Hell that didn’t involve hurting others wasn’t real. Also, I know evil spirits need to eat to sustain their fantasies. In the afterlife, Food nourishes our spiritual bodies, and in Hell, it gives them the power to produce their fantasies. But, I thought the food was more of a necessity for evil spirits and they wouldn’t enjoy eating it unless in one of their phantasies.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ray,

          Contrary to traditional “Christian” dogma, God loves the people in hell, wants them to be happy, and gives them whatever pleasure is possible for them, considering that they’ve chosen evil over good. Also, the people in hell are still people, including all the usual human desires and pleasures. Put these two together, and it only makes sense that ordinary people in hell do enjoy the usual human pleasures—especially the physical ones such as eating and drinking.

          Here on earth, people of all kinds, good and bad, angelic and demonic, all engage in the basics of eating, drinking, breathing, and going about the basic daily tasks and routines that come with being human. And they all take pleasure in at least some of these things. It is the same in the spiritual world.

          Of course, physical-minded and evil people tend to corrupt even basic pleasures such as eating. For example, by continually overeating, or by eating very unhealthful foods. But they do this because they take pleasure in it, not because it’s just a fantasy.

          Evil spirits do engage in the usual fantasizing in their minds about doing things they desire and think of as pleasurable. But the primary meaning of their “fantasies” is that they do not see things as they really are.

          To continue with the food example, thinking of food from a greasy spoon restaurant as the finest and best and tastiest of foods would be a fantasy. Really, it’s very poor quality and unhealthful food. But for those who have a taste for it, it’s the best! (In their minds, of course.)

          The fantasies of evil spirits are mostly not of the kind that causes them to be totally divorced from any reality at all. Rather, they are of the kind that consists of a distorted view of reality. The reality of eating is still there. It’s just that they don’t perceive it accurately. The food they are eating is really of rather poor quality, and not very good for them. But they consider it to be excellent and delicious food—much like people on earth who have developed a taste for very unhealtful food.

  12. K says:

    This may sound like an odd question, but do spirits have to go to the bathroom in the afterlife? I hope not, because it’s such a disgusting process here on Earth.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      Swedenborg doesn’t get very specific about the process of elimination in the spiritual world, though he does speak of its correspondences, which are to eliminating evil and falsity (spiritual “waste products”) from our spirit. Solid waste generally corresponds to evil, and liquid waste to falsity. A more positive and contemporary view would be that solid waste corresponds to good things that we don’t personally need or have a use for at this particular point in our lives, whereas liquid waste corresponds to true ideas that we don’t have a use for right now. Keep in mind that in the ecological system, both solid and liquid waste become fertilizer that feeds the soil and the plants. Even so, the body does also need to eliminate its ordinary waste products. Otherwise they build up and become toxic to our cells and general physiology. Anything we can’t use, or that we’ve outgrown (psychologically), does become toxic if we hold onto it and don’t let it go.

      My presumption has always been that angels do have the usual bodily functions, including the process of elimination. Swedenborg says that angels eat and drink (which corresponds to taking in new good and truth). And he says that angels have the full human physiology just as we do on earth, only it is a spiritual body, made of spiritual substance, rather than a physical body made of physical substance. And he mentions that some types of evil spirits love to hang around outhouses. So we know that bathrooms do exist in the spiritual world.

      On the other side of the question, though angels have have their full male and female reproductive systems, and do make love, Swedenborg says that angel women do not get pregnant and bear children in heaven, but that instead angel couples bear “spiritual offspring,” which are new births of love and understanding, goodness and truth. So it is possible that even though angels have the full digestive apparatus, no “literal” process of elimination is necessary. I find that hard to believe, though. Angels are growing and perfecting in love and wisdom just as we are on earth, and are still “eliminating” faulty thoughts and feelings in the process, to eternity. At minimum, when they eat and drink spiritual food, they would “assimilate” only the parts that are of immediate use to them, while “eliminating” the rest. Even in heaven, life is an ongoing, and organic, process.

      But honestly, I think this is something we’ll probably have to find out exactly how it works after we enter the spiritual world.

      As for elimination being a disgusting process here on earth, I would say that for a healthy body, it’s a rather natural and ordinary process, nor are the products as smelly and gross as they are for an unhealthy body—even if they are still not necessarily sweet-smelling and pleasant. (Though as for that, for farmers, cow dung can become an ordinary and even appreciated odor as it fertilizes the fields.) Angels, according to Swedenborg, are physiologically youthful and in excellent health. This implies that all of the digestive dysfunctions that we commonly suffer from here on earth will not affect us if we make our home in heaven. If angels do engage in the process of elimination, it will be a quick and easy process, nor will there be any messiness or discomfort associated with it. Animals in good health don’t think anything of it, and they don’t need toilet paper. They just do their business and move on. I see no reason why the same wouldn’t be true of angels, not to mention of fully healthy people here on earth. Unfortunately, we humans have wandered far from our natural and healthful diet and lifestyle, not to mention far from a spiritually healthy life. That unhealthiness of physical and spiritual lifestyle is the primary (though not the only) source of the many sicknesses and diseases that afflict us, and our digestive tract along with the rest of our physiological system. (See: “What is the Source of Human Fragility, Sickness, and Disease?”)

      Beyond all that, the process of elimination keeps us humble. And that’s not a bad thing.

      • K says:

        Thanks for the reply. I suppose — despite very human-like bodies — that spirits have “super powers” in the spirit world, since it is an “externalized inner reality” as David Staume put it. Which means stuff like flying, teleportation, and of course invulnerability from at least permanent injury?*

        *(so angels can’t become permanently blinded or paraplegic, for example)

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Haha! Yes, by earthly standards, angels—especially the higher angels—do have “superpowers.” Maybe that’s what all our superhero stories are really all about: angels among us. (I do think that popular literature, movies, and games commonly portray spiritual realities even without intending to. They are, after all, products of the human mind, which is a spiritual entity existing in the spiritual realm. I see shades of Swedenborg all over popular culture. See, for example, “Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Spiritual Reality.”)

          Certainly angels in the Bible are portrayed as having superhuman powers, such as the ability to strike mobs of people with blindness (Genesis 19:1, 10-11) and the ability to wipe out whole armies (2 Kings 19:35).

          And no, I don’t think angels can sustain permanent incapacitating injuries. Angels’ bodies do not exist semi-independently on their own level of reality as our physical bodies do here on earth. They are expressions of the angels’ character, as organized around their ruling love. And though we do grow and develop in character in heaven, our ruling love never changes, and our growth and development is always in an upward direction. So although I do believe angels could sustain injuries, I don’t think it would be possible for them to sustain injuries that aren’t fully healed in a relatively short period of time.

  13. niusha says:

    Hi, my lovely mom has passed away 1 month ago because of cancer at 68.
    we are so sad and me and my sister can not back to the ordinary life.
    she was all our life.
    I want to know what is she doing in day s and nights in the spiritual world? I want to make sure that she is happy.
    I donate for her to people who need.
    thank you so much.

    • Lee says:

      Hi nuisha,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. We’re so sorry to hear about your mother’s death.

      In the spiritual world, your mother will at first continue her life much as she lived it here on earth, only she will be made well from any illnesses or infirmities she may have had. Over time, she will become more and more her true inner self, and will move on to her eternal home in heaven when she is prepared and ready. For more on this, please see:

      What Happens To Us When We Die?

      You may also find this article helpful:

      What Does it Mean When My Parents Die? Will I See Them Again?

      Meanwhile, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  14. Chad says:

    Hi again, Lee. You mentioned once that new arrivals to the hereafter might be allowed to experience the afterlife they personally believed in or were taught while on Earth. What happens, then, if these people end up genuinely happy and content in that “other” afterlife, possibly distinct from what Swedenborg reported? Would they be allowed to stay there, if it was what made them happiest? You mentioned that the “false heavens” in the World of Spirits were broken up at the Last Judgement, but is it possible that some communities or “heavens” could be completely unique, even relative to the Swedenborgian view of the afterlife? For example, if a believing Jew, Muslim, or Mormon, were expecting their faith’s version of “paradise” to await, and were then confronted with the afterlife being drastically different than what their own faith taught, that could be quite a theological shock. Does God take such things into consideration? Do some spirits have the option of not only choosing heaven or hell itself, but even choosing their own “idea” of heaven in accordance with their personal or communal faiths and beliefs, or does everyone eventually sort into the Swedenborgian heaven and hell?

    God Bless,


    • Lee says:

      Hi Chad,

      The general rule is that people will settle into the heavenly community and culture where they are happiest based on their own character, beliefs, and background. Swedenborg states that there are different areas of heavens for various types of Christians, for Jews, for Muslims, and so on. Commonly they continue in their own faith and practices, although according to Swedenborg, those who are not heavily ingrained in the particular teachings of their religion will willingly accept the (Christian) Lord as God, once they are taught who the Lord actually is (compared to who present-day “Christians” commonly say that the Lord is).

      Of course, Swedenborg could not possibly have visited all of the areas and communities of heaven even in the nearly three decades he spent having open access to the spiritual world. The spiritual world is vast. The “Swedenborgian heaven and hell” were mostly the ones composed of people who came from the 18th century (and earlier) northern European nations and cultures with which Swedenborg was most familiar during his earthly life—though he did visit some heavens beyond that grouping as well. So no, everyone isn’t sorted out into the type of heavenly community that Swedenborg was most familiar with.

      Of course, there are some basic ground rules universal to all of the heavens. If a person’s “heaven” is being supreme ruler and having everyone grovel at his or her feet, then I’m sorry, but that person will be in hell, not in heaven. And if a person’s god is money, that person will also be in hell. At minimum, people must have the good of others at heart, and ideally put God first in their life. And it is necessary to follow the basics of the Ten Commandments or a similar code of ethics that forbids violating the life, property, and well-being of other people, and requires good behavior toward others.

      The false heavens that were dispersed at the Last Judgment were ones built up by church leaders who were in it for their own power, glory, and pleasure, similar to the situation in the medieval “Christian” church, in which clergy ruled the roost and lived in luxury while the people suffered in grinding poverty. These “heavens” had to be broken up so that the poor people living under the thumb of those false and hypocritical church leaders could be free to move on to real heavens.

      Finally, as you say, after people die they are allowed to try out the “heaven” that they believed in while they were living on earth. But most of these “heavens” are superficial and silly ideas that they’ve gotten from their church or religion, such as spending all of their time engaging in ritual worship of God, or continually feasting with the Apostles and the Patriarchs, or sitting on thrones ruling over one of the tribes of Israel. You can read about the results of people trying out these superficial and unworkable ideas of heaven in the opening chapter of stories in Swedenborg’s book on marriage love.

      People are allowed to try out their superficial ideas of heaven after they die because that’s the only way they’ll learn that continual pleasures and glories do not make a person happy, but that instead, what makes people truly happy is engaging in loving and thoughtful acts of service to their fellow human beings. If a person is unwilling to engage in such service, once again, that person will find his or her eternal home in hell, not in heaven.

      To boil it all down, as long as people put God and their fellow human beings first in their priorities and in their actions, they can live in whatever kind of heaven they enjoy most. The basis of heaven is love for God and love for the neighbor. That is broad enough to encompass all different kinds of good-hearted people, communities, and lifestyles.

  15. Rod says:

    Hi Lee. In Heaven and Hell, in the chapter called The Four Quarters of Heaven, I read something that caught my attention. In paragraph #144 Swedenborg says:

    “A further extraordinary fact is that in heaven, no one is allowed to stand behind anyone else and look at the back of his or her head. This disturbs the inflow of what is good and true from the Lord.”

    The way time and space work in heaven is complex and I’m not sure if I understand what Swedenborg meant in that part. For example, If I’m in Heaven talking to an angel, he is looking at me, right? But what if for some random reason he turns his back and looks at the opposite direction? If I’m not allowed to see the back of his head, then what am I gonna see?
    Maybe it’s a silly question but I think that the answer might help me to understand better how space and time work in the afterlife.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      In the spiritual, there is no time and space as we know it here on earth. Rather, the appearance of space there is based on distance or nearness in love, whereas the appearance of time is based on continually gaining new experiences and therefore having new knowledge, understanding, and memories, all of which is experienced as a passage of events.

      Directions also work differently in the spiritual world, in a way that we can’t quite grasp with our material minds here on earth. Here is another part of that same section in Heaven and Hell (#144):

      This kind of turning toward the Lord is one of heaven’s wonders, for many individuals can be together in one place, turning faces and bodies toward each other, and yet all of them will have the Lord in front of them, and each will have the south on the right, the north on the left, and the west behind.

      In short, no matter which way angels turn, east is always in front of them.

      In hell, it is just the opposite: west is in front, and east is behind. That’s because evil spirits in hell have turned their backs on God, and keep God continually behind them. See Secrets of Heaven #10189.

      So . . . directions in the spiritual world work in an entirely different way than they do here.

      About never seeing anyone else’s back, I don’t think we can take that too literally. It seems to be true when people are engaged in conversation and interaction with one another. But consider Swedenborg’s description of a temple in heaven:

      That temple was big! It could hold about three thousand people. It was semicircular, with benches or seats running all the way around, following the shape of the temple, and the rear seats were higher than the ones in front. The pulpit in front of the seats was a little beyond the center. (Marriage Love #23)

      Here people are seated in front of and behind each other. It hardly seems possible that they would not see the backs of the people in front of them—though perhaps in some way we can’t understand here on earth, they don’t. However, I suspect that they do see the backs of the angels seated in the rows in front of them, but since their focus is on the preacher, their view of the angels in front of them is likely to be somewhat obscure.

      I also suspect that we earthlings won’t be able to fully grasp how directions work in the spiritual world until we get there.

  16. Rod says:

    Yeah, I agree. Since the only concept of time and space that we have is the physical one, it’s hard for us to understand these basic concepts in such a totally different way. Thanks for the answer!

  17. Rod says:

    Hi Lee. I have another question that is related to time and space in the afterlife. Swedenborg says that when he talked to angels about the material concept of time and space they didn’t really understand what he was talking about. But weren’t all angels once people living in the material universe? How can they not know what space and time mean? Is it because after they went to heaven they became so used to how things work there that they can barely remember what time and space are like here in the material world?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      When we enter the spiritual world at the time of our death, we leave behind the physical world of time and space, and our physical body and brain as well. We then commence life in our spiritual mind and body, in the spiritual world. There, everything about our life in the world is changed into spiritual realities that correspond to our former physical realities.

      Time and space are properties of the material universe. They do not exist in the spiritual universe. Therefore when we are no longer living in our physical body, in the physical universe, but are living in our spiritual body in the spiritual universe, we lose the ability to think materially, including any conception of time and space as they exist in the material world. It’s not so much that we “forget” it as that we leave it behind along with our body because it has nothing to do with the world in which we are now living.

      To use an imperfect example, set’s say we’ve spent our whole life getting from point A to point B by walking. But now we have learned to fly, and we get everywhere by flying instead, and never walk anymore. If we tried to fly by walking, it wouldn’t work. Walking is simply not a part of our current mode of transportation.

      Yes, it’s an imperfect example. But perhaps it gives some sense of how it works that we no longer have any concept of time and space in the spiritual world. We have no use for such a concept there, and nothing that it would apply to.

  18. Rod says:

    Thank you very much.

  19. Rod says:

    Hello. I have two questions. 1) When a person goes to the lowest heaven, can that person eventually move on to a higher one or will that person be always in the lower one based on the life that this person lived on Earth? 2) Swedenborg says that people in the higher heavens can’t talk to people in the lower heavens, or at least that is how I understand it. If that is the case, what happens if someone that I love goes to a different heaven? Does that mean that I will never see that person again?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      In answer to your questions:

      1) When people go to heaven, they move into the perfect home for them, whether it is in the lowest, middle, or highest heaven. Once there, they have no desire to go anywhere else. They are as happy as they can be. And that is very happy, even for residents of the lowest heavens.

      More technically speaking, we go to the part of heaven where are “ruling love,” or dominant motivation, takes us. Once we die, this cannot change (that’s what our life on earth is for), so we remain forever at the heavenly home where our ruling love places us.

      Though some people might think of this as a limitation on our freedom, in fact it is the expression of our freedom, because we ourselves freely chose what our ruling love will be. In the spiritual world, we are freed from the conflict and struggle of having to decide, by hard labor, who and what we want to be. We can now relax and live the kind of life we have chosen, with no fear that it will ever be taken away from us.

      Whereas on earth we were in the freedom of choice, in heaven we are in the freedom to live as we have chosen.

      2) Without actually seeing the passages you are referring to, I would say that Swedenborg’s meaning is probably that people from lower and higher heavens don’t normally talk to and interact with one another on a daily basis. That’s because they are in entirely different states of mind, and therefore in different parts of heaven. It’s analogous to how we interact with the people who are around us in physical or virtual space, and not with people who are far away from us.

      However, it is quite possible to visit people from different parts of heaven. Swedenborg describes this happening on many occasions in the spiritual world, including Swedenborg himself traveling to various parts of heaven accompanied by angel guides. For this to happen, the one doing the “traveling” is actually traveling from one state of mind to another, until he or she is in a state of mind similar to the people he or she is visiting elsewhere in heaven. The Lord makes this possible for anyone who wishes to visit people in other parts of the spiritual world for good and sufficient reasons.

      Alternatively, people at a distance can communicate with one another immediately. This happens by their thinking of one another, which puts them into direct communication with each other without their having to leave their own part of heaven. You can think of it as analogous to communication by full holographic body projection as depicted in futuristic science fiction movies.

      In short, in heaven we are free to visit and communicate with anyone we want to, within certain limits. (Some famous historical figures would be mobbed if everyone were allowed unfettered access to them.) However, most of the time we are content to live among and interact with “our own people,” in our own community of heaven. These are the people we are closest to and feel most comfortable with, and whose company we enjoy the most.

  20. Rod says:

    Hi Lee. Thank you for answering. As to my second question, I forgot to quote the passage that I was referring to. It’s in Heaven and Hell, on the chapter called Heaven’s Form, Which Determines How People Associate and Communicate There, paragraph #209:

    “There is no inflow from lower heavens into higher ones because this goes against the design. Rather, inflow is from the higher ones into the lower. The wisdom of angels of a higher heaven surpasses the wisdom of angels of a lower one by a ratio of thousands to one. This is also why angels of a lower heaven cannot talk with angels of a higher one. In fact, when they look in their direction they do not see them; their heaven looks like something cloudy overhead. However, angels of a higher heaven can see people who are in a lower heaven, though they are not allowed to carry on conversations with them, to prevent them from losing their wisdom, as already mentioned.”

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      Thanks for quoting the passage. Yes, everything I said in response to your previous comment applies. Including that mostly angels remain within their own heavens, interacting with the people in their own community. But angels are free to travel elsewhere in the spiritual world if they have a reason to, or if it’s part of their job. For example, some angels regularly travel to the world of spirits (the intermediate region between heaven and hell where people first arrive and live after death) in order to teach, guide, and help the newly arrived spirits there.

      About inflow going only from higher to lower heavens, not from lower to higher, that is a universal rule of inflow: it goes from higher levels to lower levels, or from inner regions to outer regions, and never the reverse.

      For example, inflow always goes from God to us, and never from us to God. Nevertheless, God has constant knowledge and perception of everything happening with us and within us because God can perceive whether and precisely how the inflow from God to us is received or resisted.

      An earthly analogy is the relationship between the electric utility and the electricity user. The electricity always flows from the utility to the user, and not the reverse. (For this example, I’m talking about how things worked before the newer distributed systems in which people with solar panels can feed surplus electricity into the grid.) Nevertheless, the utility can tell how much electricity the user is consuming because it can measure the flow of electricity to the user.

      God’s perception of the outward flow of God’s love, wisdom, and power is, of course, much more precise and detailed.

  21. Rod says:

    Thanks a lot!

  22. AJ749 says:

    Hi Lee,

    Have you ever heard about Dr Michael Newton and his works desting of the soul and life between lives?

    He places his patients in deep hypnosis and they tell him what life is like in the spirit world between incarnations. Some of it is similar to sweedenborg but most of it is quite different (sounds really similar to New age ideas of the afterlife).

    Like NDE the accounts given are very similar and theres alot of accounts which is why michael newton belived what they said to be true.

    Main questions are –

    Did swedenboeg ever talk about hypnosis and issues with it ?

    Do you think that these accounts like Reincarnation are actually symbols of truth rather than actual truth ?

    • Lee says:

      Hi AJ749,

      I don’t think hypnosis as we know it now had been developed yet during Swedenborg’s lifetime. But it became all the rage in Europe not long after, when it was popularized by Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), in connection with his theory of “animal magnetism,” and became known as “mesmerism.” A lot of early Swedenborg readers became fascinated by mesmerism, so much so that it became a thorn in the side of the organized New Church, similar to spiritism later.

      As for Dr. Michael Newton, the name doesn’t ring any bells. But of course, placing a person in hypnosis is not the same as an NDE. Deep NDEs involve direct experience of the spiritual world, whereas any contact with the spiritual world under hypnosis is second-hand. This makes it subject to all the limitations and possibilities for misdirection and misunderstanding that apply to spiritism. On that, see this article:

      What about Spiritualism? Is it a Good Idea to Contact Spirits?

      Short version, any “memories of past lives” are most likely the memories of the earthly lives of spirits who are with the person, and make contact under hypnosis conditions. It is therefore not a confirmation of the actuality of reincarnation, but rather a misconception based on a lack of understanding of how the spiritual world works, and lack of knowledge of how easy it is for spirits to “dump” memories from one mind to another. The people under hypnosis therefore mistakenly believe they are experiencing their own memories of past earthly lives, when they are actually experiencing someone else’s memories.

      Further, spirits do not necessarily have any better understanding of how the universe works than people on earth. We carry with us to the spiritual world our particular religious and spiritual beliefs, and we tend to find confirmations of them wherever we go, including in the spiritual world, even if they’re not true. I suspect there are many people in the spiritual world who believed in reincarnation on earth, and now believe they are experiencing the time “between lives” in the spiritual world. But they are deceiving themselves, and are being deceived by other deceptive spirits, and are simply confirming the false ideas that they already held on earth. Of course, they are happy to pass on their “secret knowledge” of “the in between state” to anyone who will listen, including earthlings who are under hypnosis. This, too, is a way of confirming themselves in their false beliefs.

      Eventually if they are good-hearted, they will let go of these false beliefs on their way to heaven. But this may not happen for the equivalent of several decades of earth time. Meanwhile, they continue to believe their former mistaken ideas about reincarnation.

      Still, if the person going under hypnosis on earth doesn’t actually think it was an experience of his or her own past lives, or of the “in between state,” then there may be some spiritually relevant material in it. The spirits associated with us do have a connection with our own spiritual state. Not that I would recommend seeking out such experiences and semi-conscious connections with spirits. There are dangers associated with it, as outlined in the above-linked article. But it’s not necessarily all bad, if people gain a sense of the reality of spirit in this way, and it prompts them to pay more attention to their spiritual life and developent.

      And yes, there can and will be symbols or correspondences in such experiences, similar to dreams, since the spiritual world is a realm of correspondences. If the person treats it as being like a dream experience, interpreting it symbolically could yield some spiritually useful insights.

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi lee

        Ill be honest , this is giving me slight anxiety as with every other psychic phenomenon there are answers from swedenborg regarding the mechanics of it.

        I suppose whats giving me the anxiety is the fact the research used something like 7000 people and they all said something similar which makes me think its has credit even though the description of the afterlife is more in line with new age spirituality. And contrasts with swedenborg , spiritualism and NDEs

        • Lee says:

          Hi AJ749,

          I really don’t know why you keep consuming all of this paranormal and New Age stuff. It just seems to get your anxiety up every time.

          As for Newton’s study, since I haven’t seen it, I can’t say anything too definite about it. But it seems very strange that 7,000 people in one study would all say the same thing, and that it would contradict what people who have NDEs say about the afterlife. I suspect that there’s something skewing the results. Possibly Newton’s own preconceived notions that he is hoping to prove through his study. Possibly spirits on the other side “ganging up” on the study to skew the results. Spirits do commonly operate in groups—sometimes very large groups. And they can quite easily detect when there is some sort of organized group on earth gathered together under a common umbrella.

          I suspect that it’s a combination of both, plus the likelihood of a self-selecting group of people who are willing to go under hypnosis for such a study.

          At any rate, I would trust Swedenborg and NDEers, who have actually been there, any day over a bunch of people in a hypnotic state who are in contact with unknown beings on the other side.

  23. AJ749 says:

    Hi Lee 2 responses here to make so if it seems long i do apologise.

    1. A massive source for my anxiety is from the website Near (im sure you will know it) its one of the biggest sources of near death accounts. My anxiety come from the fact the author of the website clearly is alligned with new age spirituality and alot of the categories and articles use testimony from NDEs to give it credit. Such as Reincarnation, Pre-Birth planning , Karma, lives between incarnations etc. And then use non NDEs as well to give credit to the ideas such as Edgar Cayce (famous american Psychic), Michael newton (places patients in Deep hypnosis and they tell of past lives as well as life between incarnation(soul contracts,Pre-Birth planning etc)). When i first became worried about death and the afterlife i found this website and as someone who never knew anything about it thought that all of this was true and after researching the individual sources that added to my anxiety. So if i ever get anxious my mind races back and thinks all of this could be true.

    The website does include swedenborg references and has a feature article on him however even in the article the author uses his New age allignment to analyse swedenborg.

    2. I remember the very first time i found swedenborg (which was this website). It was your article about The second coming being spiritual not literal and the immense feeling i had when reading it . Once i read more of swedenborg the pain in my stomach from the anxiety caused by Near and my research in to all this faded.

    My only question is , if what swedenborg says is true about everything he wrote why then have we got people such as those in a hypnotic state or psychics (like edgar cayce) who say opposite things to swedenborg such as they remember planning their life and being told opposite things to swedenborg such as the reason for reincarnation and karma. in fairness sometimes they do seem to oppose each other as well. Alot mention the akashic Records as being their source for their information. But why do we have so many different sources of apparent True information regarding life, spiritual world, reincarnation and such if swedenborgs account is the actual truth ?

    • Lee says:

      Hi AJ749,

      It’s really the same question as why there are so many different religions and beliefs in the world. Clearly, they can’t all be right about everything, because on some points they contradict each other. For example, either reincarnation does happen, or it doesn’t. Christians, Muslims, and most Jews say it doesn’t. Hindus and Buddhists say it does. One or the other is wrong.

      So why are there different beliefs at all? Why doesn’t everyone believe the same thing, which would presumably be the actual truth?

      The basic answer is that there are all different kinds of people, from all different cultures, and at all different stages of spiritual development. What works for one group of people doesn’t work for another. Plus, humanity has obviously gotten off track in some fairly major ways, given all of the wars, poverty, crime, fraud, and so on in the world. And when people act from selfishness and greed, they introduce all sorts of wrong and false ideas into the world, which often get accepted as truth by innocent people who don’t know any better.

      So because of our human differences, and even more because of our human failings due to our commonly acting from selfishness and greed rather than from love for God and the neighbor, we have a wide variety of religions and beliefs, some of which have a fair amount of truth to them, and some of which are very far from the truth.

      So, how do we know which one is right?

      There is no surefire method.

      But I would suggest to you that if a particular belief or set of beliefs causes your anxiety to rise and your blood pressure to go up and makes you generally miserable, that’s probably a fairly good indication that it has some serious problems. Yes, the truth gives us a kick in the butt to get us off of any dead-end paths we may be traveling on in life, and onto a path that will lead us somewhere good. But it doesn’t cause inner pain and anguish of a negative variety. The truth gives us freedom, and it gives us inner peace, even if it also means that we have to work hard to follow it where it leads us.

      Another test, for Christians, at least, is whether it in accord with the basic teachings of the Bible. I know that the Bible is a complex book. But the basics are pretty clear: believe in God, stop doing evil and destructive things, and start doing good and constructive things instead. Or in Jesus’ pithy version, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. To do this, we must “repent from our sins,” as Jesus and his disciples taught, and live a good life instead.

      In other words, truth and spiritual life isn’t about secret knowledge or some sort of fuzzy “enlightenment.” It’s about becoming a good, thoughtful, loving, and caring person. And on the subject of reincarnation, the Bible just doesn’t support it. See the relevant section in this article (which I know you’ve already read before):

      The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation

      Another test is whether it makes sense to your thinking mind. And I would submit to you that the teachings of Swedenborg are far more coherent and believable than the teachings of New Age spirituality.

      Another test is whether it does lead you to become a better person. Here again, I believe that nothing surpasses Swedenborg’s practical teachings about “regeneration,” or spiritual rebirth, and that it’s all about becoming a better, more thoughtful, more loving, and more helpful person in this world. If everyone took these teachings to heart, this world would be a vastly better place than it is now.

      In the end, you’ll have to make up your own mind what you will believe. Please do consider all of these points, and make an informed decision for yourself. And once you’ve made that decision, follow the path that it leads you on, and see if it doesn’t take your life in a good direction. If it does—even if that path may involve struggles along the way to overcome resistance and to achieve your personal and spiritual goals—then you can be confident that you have selected something good to believe in and live by.

  24. Rod says:

    Hi Lee. I was wondering, does the art that is created here on Earth continue to exist in heaven? Books, music and everything else? I know that Swedenborg talks about libraries and concert halls in heaven but I’m talking specifically about the art that mas made here on Earth. Would it be possible for example to listen to Chopin’s Nocturnes or to read The Lord of the Rings in the afterlife? There are so many works of art that are so beautiful and in a unique way are an important part of our lives and of who we are, specially for those of us who have strong artistic inclinations. It would be a shame if we could not have access to all the art made here on Earth because then those things would be lost forever.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      The short answer is “Yes.” Every literary and artistic creation that exists here on earth also exists in the spiritual world. That’s because every artistic and literary creation is in the minds of the person or people who created it, and in the minds of people who have read or seen it.

      For example, Swedenborg describes scenes in the spiritual world in which someone is denying that he did such and such on earth, but then his own description of it is read out of his own private journal, word-for-word. In other instances it is shown to the person out of the person’s own memory, in full detail, exactly as it happened.

      In short, nothing we have ever done or experienced is ever obliterated, even if it may be pushed to the edge of our conscious awareness, and often out of our conscious awareness altogether. It is always there in some form, to eternity.

      The tricky part is that in the spiritual world, earthly things are turned into their corresponding spiritual forms. And without being there, it’s hard to know and grasp exactly what that means. But that’s another discussion entirely, and not one I care to get tangled up in right now!

  25. Rod says:

    Great, thank you!

  26. Rod says:

    Hi! I have a question about time. Suppose that someone that I know dies and then I die ten years later or something. For me here on Earth of course it will feel like ten years. But for the other person, will they feel like they had to wait ten years to see me again or will they feel like they have seen me yesterday next time we meet? Since in the afterlife there is no time but an appearence of time, I was curious about that.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      I would say that it’s a little of each. Though there is not time as we know it in the spiritual world, there is a passage of events and experiences, so that there is a future and a past, and a progression forward in life. At the same time, just as here on earth after a decade has passed it seems like just yesterday, people in the spiritual world can have that timeless sense of time as well. All of the events of an earth decade will have happened, but looking back on it is like looking back at yesterday.

      However, it’s hard for us here on earth to get a real sense of what it’s like to live without time as w know it, since it’s so much a part of our life and experience here.

  27. Rod says:

    Well, since life in heaven is vastly better than life here on Earth and having in mind that time seems to pass more quickly when we are doing things that we enjoy, I think it makes sense to say that they would feel that way. Thanks!

  28. Chad says:

    Hi Lee. I was curious on one aspect of language in Heaven. Will the “Heavenly Language” supersede all other human languages, such that angels and spiritual beings only communicate in and listen to it exclusively, or will it function more as an auxiliary language to facilitate universal communication, similar to Esperanto? Language can be a very important part of people’s cultural identity, not to mention the millennia of song, poetry, literature, and oration that sounds best in its original language. Will we still be able to speak and write in our Earthly tongues among members of our communities that also understand us, and enjoy the great music and speeches throughout history in their original languages? While I have no doubt that the Heavenly Language is beautiful, I would find it more than a bit unusual to not read the works of Cicero and Marcus Aurelius in their original Latin, or especially to hear the poetry of Walt Whitman or various pieces of folk music in their original languages, where they fully utilize the rhythm and word-play inherent to the tongues they were composed in.


    • Lee says:

      Hi Chad,

      It’s an interesting question. My understanding is that the heavenly language does supersede all earthly languages, and that all people, whatever earthly languages they spoke, will automatically speak it once they enter the spiritual world.

      However, my understanding is also that the heavenly language is a “natural language” in the sense that it naturally expresses everything in a person’s mind and heart perfectly, because it perfectly corresponds to what’s in people’s mind and heart. This suggests to me that cultural and language differences on earth do express themselves in the heavenly language, but not in a way that creates language barriers between people who came from different cultures and spoke different languages on earth. This would mean that Spanish people would still have a Spanish flair to their language, French people a French flair, African people an African flair, Asian people an Asian flair, and so on.

      About literature and song written in various earthly languages, that’s a bit of a puzzle. Swedenborg does say that everything ever written on earth still exists in heaven, including works that have been lost. He mentions, for example, letters of the Apostle Paul that no longer exist on earth, but that still do exist in heaven. And he speaks of people’s private diaries being read to them word-for-word—this when they tried to deny having done bad things they did on earth, which they had not only done, but had described in their private diaries (not smart!).

      All of this would suggest that the original languages do exist in heaven. However, it seems that earthly languages just plain don’t work in the spiritual world, precisely because they are earthly languages, and not spiritual languages. In the spiritual world, apparently everything gets seamlessly translated into the language of heaven. And yet, that language is apparently rich enough to be able to capture everything that was expressed in the various earthly languages, including all of the specific cultural and linguistic nuances we have here on earth. This suggests to me that the heavenly language is the most complex and nuanced language that could possibly exist, since it is able to express everything that everyone of every culture and language ever expressed through any earthly language.

      However, we probably won’t know all of this for sure until we get there.

      • Chad says:

        Thank you for your response, Lee. It comforts me to know that, while the language itself will be universal, it will be in such a way that facilitates communication while still retaining unique cultural nuances and flairs, and thus a people’s linguistic cultural ties.

        On an unrelated note, what is the fate of warrior societies, such as the Spartans and Vikings, in the afterlife? You’ve mentioned that there are “prison guards” to keep devils and evil spirits from hurting each other “too much” and breaking out of hell and wreaking havoc on the angels in heaven. Could this be where such warlike people, assuming they were noble in heart and followed their own religion and conscience faithfully, find their place and occupation in heaven, not as the conquerors they were on earth, but as brave and valiant defenders of heaven and the angels from demonic forces? It is so often assumed that the Greeks, Norse pagans and the like just go to hell by fundamentalist Christians, but while such warrior societies were indeed brutal in many ways, they still had morals, faith, loyalty to their families and nation, and a conscience to follow. And I have little doubt that many of them were following their consciences or what they believed to be “destiny” or their Gods’ orders, the same as the Israelites were as they conquered the surrounding tribes.

        This is probably a rather challenging question, but as someone who has always admired the ancient Spartans, not for their brutality but their valor and stance on women’s rights (which were far better in Sparta than other ancient Greek states), I am curious as to what Swedenborgianism believes the eternal fate of such people are. I think this may tie in to your discussion on whether gang members go to heaven, since in both cases, these people were abiding by a moral code of some kind, even if it is of highly dubious or unusual ethicality.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Chad,

          In general, people from any culture, including warrior cultures, will go to heaven if they live a good and virtuous life according to the values of their culture. This, of course, is assuming that the culture itself isn’t irreparably corrupt. However, once a culture reaches that point, it generally comes to an end in one way or another, and is replaced by a new culture. In practice, most cultures do have some sort of reasonable moral code that its members are expected and urged to abide by. Those who do so to the best of their ability go to heaven, not hell, after death.

          However, in the spiritual world, earthly pleasures and activities are changed into corresponding spiritual pleasures and activities. In some cases they may be indistinguishable from the earthly activities, even if they have spiritual rather than material content. For example, people can still play tennis in heaven, but there will be a direct link between the game and the mind and heart of the people who are playing the game, and their relationship with one another.

          When it comes to war and combat, the spiritual correspondence is with spiritual combat of good and truth against evil and falsity. This may indeed come out as warriors from warrior cultures becoming the line of defense of heaven against hell. Perhaps they even engage in combat with evil spirits—although when Swedenborg does describe angels suppressing the uprisings of evil spirits in hell, there’s really no contest. The evil spirits are no match for the angels.

          Another way it could come out is engaging in spiritual warfare against the remaining evil and falsity within one’s own character and among the people in one’s own community and region of heaven.

          Warrior cultures are generally not highly spiritual cultures, despite the romanticizing of them that often takes place in movies and novels. People and cultures who make war a way of life are generally focused on external and physical concerns such as money, power, territory, and so on. The very fact that people come from warrior cultures likely means that they have not progressed very far on the path of “regeneration,” or spiritual rebirth. This means that even after they die, they will have plenty of spiritual battles to fight against the remaining evil and falsity within their spirit, both individually and collectively. And given that they are angels, they will never lose those battles, but will always, in the end, be victorious.

          Just a few thoughts that you might find interesting and helpful.

        • Chad says:

          I do indeed find your thoughts very helpful, Lee. As always, I really appreciate it, and hope you and Annette are doing well in South Africa! God bless.

  29. K says:

    Do New Church beliefs have a concept like the “Akashic Records” of “New Age”?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      The equivalent concept in new church thought is a person’s inner or spiritual memory. In that memory, Swedenborg says, everything the person has felt, thought, said, done, and experienced is permanently recorded in minute detail. This is how Swedenborg interprets a person’s “book of life” spoken of in the Bible. The concept is therefore not of some separate celestial library recording all thoughts, deeds, and events, but rather a spiritually “organic” record of all thoughts, deeds, and events in our spiritual brain, and in our spiritual body as well.

      Here are a few key passages in Swedenborg’s writings about our “book of life” or inner memory:

      Heaven and Hell #463 also provides a long list of further references on this subject.

  30. K says:

    In dreams – at least in mine – the scene is constantly shifting and changing. One moment it could be day, and then it’s night. The scene could be a house with white walls, then a different house with yellow walls. Things are about as permanent as smoke in dreams. Or smoke is more permanent, as even smoke has the same particles drifting about for awhile.

    I hope the afterlife is more “concrete” than dreams, even if it responds to thought. I don’t think I could get used to a realm as impermanent as dreams.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      Yes, the afterlife is much more stable than dreams. That’s because especially in heaven, people’s minds are stable, and their surroundings correspond to the state of their mind.

      Dreams are more like spiritual movies. They are showing us various events and evocative imagery that reflect things in our conscious and unconscious mind. They are part of our inner process of dealing with various hopes, fears, and so on that are present in our mind and heart. But they are not anything like day-to-day life in the spiritual world.

      It is true that plants, animals, birds, fish, clouds, weather, and so on come and go in the spiritual world according to the changing states of people’s minds. But we experience these sorts of changes even here on earth, though they are not so responsive to our mental states as they are in the spiritual world.

      However, for example, angels have homes that remain constant, only changing a bit here and there in a way similar to our occasional rearranging of the decor of our houses here on earth, or doing a renovation project on our home. But the doors and windows aren’t always switching around, nor does the house move around to different locations. That’s because the house and it location and layout reflects the settled character of the inhabitants.

      So . . . don’t worry about heaven being as confusing and impermanent as dreams! It is a stable existence in which things change only as our thoughts and feelings change. And our most basic “feeling,” which is our ruling love, never changes to eternity. This provides a backbone of fundamental stability that we can depend upon forever.

  31. Chad says:

    Hi Lee. A question that recently started bouncing around in my head is related to churches and congregations in Heaven. We know that false churches in the afterlife were broken up at the Last Judgement from Swedenborg, but of these “true churches” that remain standing in Heaven, how similar or different are they to each other? You mentioned that angels in Heaven attend church services and have their Sabbath days as we on earth have ours, but what does this look like in practice? Do different churches and congregations in Heaven have unique approaches to worship, liturgies, they do on earth? Will Orthodox, Catholics, Pentecostals, and so on, retain the things that make their congregations unique in the afterlife? I recalled Swedenborg mentioning he heard several women singing praises to the Lord, and while each voice was unique, they seamlessly flowed into a harmonious, beautiful whole. Also, is it possible that communities in Heaven could form around churches and congregations, or expressions of worship, similarly to how some diaspora communities (Greek and Russian Orthodox, for example) come together and maintain their connections to each other and their homeland through the churches they found and attend? Hope you and Annette are doing well!

    God Bless,


    • Lee says:

      Hi Chad,

      Though Swedenborg does mention people being arranged in the world of spirits (midway between heaven and hell) according to their prior nationality and religious affiliation, this does not seem to be as true of heaven itself as it is of the world of spirits. Still, he does speak of a Muslim heaven distinct from the Christian heaven, which suggests that our religious beliefs do have some persistence even in heaven. This seems mostly to be true of the lower heavens, however. In the highest heaven people from all different areas, and even from different planets, live together with one another. Also, the general rule is that people are gathered together in heaven based on their ruling love, which is not necessarily determined by a person’s religion.

      Another thing to know is that the third stage after death for people who are going to heaven is a stage of instruction. People cannot remain in their old false religious ideas while they are in heaven, because those false ideas would conflict with the atmosphere of heaven, and prevent people from enjoying their life there. This means that the false beliefs that are prevalent in today’s Christianity cannot make it into heaven. In effect, this means that today’s “Christian” churches will be wiped out doctrinally, because all of their key, fundamental beliefs are unbiblical and false (see: The Christian Church is Not Christian).

      Swedenborg doesn’t provide any significant commentary that I know of about different religious rituals and practices in heaven. Only once does he even describe a worship service in heaven, in Marriage Love #23–24. The service he does describe there is exceedingly simple: It consists of a sermon followed by a prayer, and nothing else. Apparently the angels of that heaven, at least, have no need for all of the rituals that fill our services here on earth. If worship services are similar elsewhere in heaven, there’s really not much room for all the variations in rituals that distinguish the different Christian churches from one another.

      All of this leaves me with the impression that our earthly churches and denominations are largely irrelevant in heaven. There is no need for them, because angels already have a direct relationship with God. Why, then, would they need clergy to stand between them and God? Even the people who preach in the churches there are not called priests, Swedenborg says, but preachers.

      In short, I don’t see what the function would be of all of our earthly church organizations. Perhaps people of different religions and churches will retain some of their distinct cultural characteristics, which may continue to distinguish them in heaven to some extent. Beyond that, I don’t see what the function would be of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and so on.

  32. K says:

    Can someone’s lack of experience limit their experiences in the afterlife? For example, if someone has lived their entire life in the desert, can they never see a forest in Heaven?

    I guess that’s not the case, as those who died not knowing love can get married in Heaven, which is an experience beyond lack of experience.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      It’s an interesting question.

      Our life experiences and choices here on earth do seem to put some limits on what we can see and do in heaven. For example, Swedenborg said that during his visits to the spiritual world, he was only able to speak to people he had known, or at least known about, on earth. He could speak with friends and compatriots, with people from the countries he knew, and even with figures from history that he knew about, such as Luther, Calvin, and Aristotle. But he could not have spoken to people from a nation or culture that he didn’t know existed.

      Having said that, Swedenborg does recount meetings with people from planets in other solar systems. So this doesn’t seem to be a hard-and-fast rule. But even the aliens he spoke with were human in appearance, with only slight variations. Perhaps he was only able to experience the ones that are similar to us, or perhaps through his eyes they looked similar to us, because he couldn’t conceive of intelligent life of an entirely different form.

      As for people who have lived in the desert all their lives, I doubt this would limit their ability to see other types of scenery in the spiritual world. That is based, not on earthly experience, but on correspondences. So if people have mental “forests of thought,” they would be able to see forests and trees in the spiritual world regardless of their accustomed surroundings in the material world. And of course, in this day and age people have access to all kinds of written and visual materials about all the different regions and ecosystems of earth.

      • K says:

        Maybe Swedenborg’s experiences were limited by him still being alive in the physical? Now that he’s free from the physical, he could be experiencing beyond the scope of what he experienced in life maybe?

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Possibly. But Swedenborg himself never said anything like this, and offhand I can’t think of any particular reason he would have greater scope after he died than in the nearly three decades he had access to the spiritual world before he died. Mostly, he would no longer have to carry around a material body in the physical world.

        • K says:

          I figured that once Swedenborg was free from his material body and natural mind, he would be less “tethered” to his limited Earth understanding, at least after he passed beyond the World of Spirits.

          Anyway I hope it’s possible that, unlike dreams, the afterlife isn’t as limited by one’s mind and beliefs. And I think it’s possible, otherwise babies in Heaven couldn’t grow up and experience adulthood, and singles couldn’t experience marriage and married love.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          I used to think that our lifetime on earth was like shooting an arrow. Our afterlife would be a straight-line continuation of whatever trajectory we set for ourselves on earth.

          I no longer think that.

          I now think of our earth life as the setting the initial vector of a cone of probability (or cone of uncertainty). Whatever course we set for ourselves on earth, we’re going to go generally in that direction in the afterlife. However, our course can move one way or another within certain general limits set by our our experience and especially our choice of ruling love here on earth.

          In other words, I believe that in heaven we still make choices, and those choices still determine what unfolds next in our life, but those choices will all revolve around pursuing our ruling love, and won’t veer into an entirely different direction that’s not compatible with it.

          An example of this would be someone who chooses nursing as a career. There are many possible paths that a nurse’s career can take. Critical care, hospice care, oncology, heart patients, and so on. During the course of her or his career, a nurse might shift from one specialty to another. But she or he will still remain a nurse, and will not become a computer programmer or an astronaut.

          This is relevant to the question of Swedenborg becoming untethered from his limited Earth understanding because although that is probably true, it doesn’t mean he’s going to go in an entirely different direction intellectually and spiritually than he set for himself on earth.

          It has been fairly common for spirit mediums to claim that they talked to Swedenborg in the spiritual world, and that he has now repudiated everything he taught on earth and (surprise! surprise!) adopted the particular views of that spirit medium. This is unrealistic and highly unlikely. Swedenborg had nearly three decades to explore the spiritual world and form his thinking about God and spirit. Why would his views change entirely just because he is now in the spiritual world permanently?

          I do think that over time he may modify some of his views that were based on the “known science” and common cultural views of his day, some of which we now know to be incorrect or outdated. Swedenborg was not infallible. Today we have to modify or jettison some of the things he said because they don’t accord with what we now know to be true. Sometimes we must do this in order to preserve the rest of what he taught, because something that was “common knowledge” in his day actually conflicts with his spiritual teachings.

          I think it is quite possible that Swedenborg will realize over time that some of the scientific, cultural, and historical things he said in his writings were not correct. But I don’t think he will ever repudiate the core of his teachings about God, Christ, regeneration, heaven and hell, and so on. These are central to his thinking and to his life and teachings. They’re not going to change just because he is no longer tethered to his physical body in the material world.

          Swedenborg himself said that he met various known figures from history, including some of the ancient Greek philosophers and some of the key figures of the Protestant Reformation. For the most part, he said, they still believed the same things they had taught hundreds or thousands of years ago when they had lived in the world. Some of them who had good hearts did modify their thinking based on new knowledge gained in the spiritual world. But in general, they still continued along the same avenues of thought that they had set for themselves in the world.

          About singles experiencing marriage love, it’s not as though singles here on earth have no concept of marriage. Many of them would dearly love to be married, but for one reason or another it just isn’t happening for them here on earth. But they still have married friends, they can read books and articles about marriage, watch rom-coms, and so on. They can gain a fairly clear picture of what marriage is all about, both good and bad, even if they have not experienced it for themselves. So they would not be shut out of marriage in heaven just because they haven’t been married on earth.

          My sense about babies who die and are raised in heaven is that they are somewhat limited in their scope of life. They are very innocent, and they live in the highest heavens, where they have very joyful and blissful lives. But I suspect that they are not able to take on some of the tougher jobs that people who have lived a full life here on earth, engaged in the struggle, and attained what Swedenborg calls “the innocence of wisdom” can do. This is just my theory, however. I’m not aware that Swedenborg ever actually said anything like this.

          Moving back to the broader picture, I believe that certain things are within us in potential from birth, and we can develop them regardless of whether we grow up on earth or in heaven. We all have the potential and capability of being motivated by some sort of ruling love, good or bad. We all have the potential and capability of engaging in relationships with other human beings, including a marriage relationship. We all have the potential and capability of having a relationship with God. This is true even if at birth we have not formed any ruling love, do not have any genuine mutual relationships with other people, and don’t even know there is such a thing as God.

          The basics that make us human are within us in potential at birth, and even from conception. It is then only a matter of what particular course they take in their development, based on our spiritual “genetics” and on our earthly or heavenly environment.

        • K says:

          Thanks for the reply. I think the “cone” is better than the “arrow”. Although I guess that one’s home in Heaven – and in any case, definitely one’s spouse in heaven – don’t change in eternity.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Swedenborg does mention angels in heaven moving closer to the center of their communities as they grow in understanding and wisdom. However, he is pretty clear that they remain in the same community of heaven to eternity.

          And yes, married partners remain married forever. The two of them together are seen as one angel.

  33. K says:

    Can spirits suffer serious or permanent injury like on Earth? Hopefully not, or at least they can completely heal from any injury, and if injury is possible, hopefully it’s harder to come by, at least in Heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      In heaven and in hell, a person’s body is a completely faithful representation of the person’s soul, and especially of the person’s ruling love.

      In heaven, our ruling love cannot become “permanently injured,” so neither can our body. There are not separate sets of rules for our body and our mind as there are here on earth. Here, the body can be disabled even if the mind is fully able. There, if the mind is able, body is able. And all minds in heaven are able.

      In hell, everyone is disfigured if seen in the light of heaven. But to themselves and to each other, they look completely normal. Once again, their bodies will reflect their souls. There will not be some separate physical injury that diverges from the state of their mind. Though injury is possible, it will heal over time as their mind returns to its state of equilibrium after, say, a pitched battle with other evil spirits in which they inflict bodily injury upon one another.

      In heaven, especially in the lower heavens, it’s also possible that there could be temporary injury. I’m not certain about that, but it seems that even in heaven, people could do stupid things. We don’t become perfect just because we’re in heaven. However the injury would not be permanent. It would be, perhaps, a “learning lesson,” and would fade as the lesson sinks in.

      But as for permanent injury, this would not be possible in heaven, because angels are always learning and growing better, not regressing, and their bodies perfectly reflect their souls. In hell, people are permanently disfigured from a heavenly perspective due to their evil ruling loves, but to themselves they seem completely normal, just as narcissists, for example, think of themselves not only as normal, but as superlative human beings.

  34. K says:

    Is there no scarcity in the afterlife, or at least in Heaven?

    I imagine there’s not, so a city of gold is no big deal there.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      There is no scarcity in heaven. Everyone in heaven loves to serve other people through doing useful work that suits their character. They provide each other with everything they need, and ultimately, God gives them everything they need gratis.

      In hell it’s a different story. Everyone in hell hates to do anything for anyone else. But if they don’t do any useful work, they are not given any food, clothing, or other necessities. Eventually hunger, discomfort, privation, and shame drives them to do enough work to obtain what they need. Hell is not a pleasant, happy-go-lucky place.

      In the world of spirits, where people first come after they die, things work similarly to the way they do on earth. However, God will not let anyone there starve, as often happens on earth. There are plenty of angels and good spirits there to see that people’s needs are met.

      • K says:

        So angels may have access to “superpowers”, like being able to have real stuff conjured up out of thin air? And meanwhile, devils have limited abilities compared to that of the angels – perhaps reflecting how evil cannot ultimately prevail over good – and they normally can’t do stuff like conjure real stuff up?

        Reminds me of how Swedenborg described adulterous spirits as being impotent because they lack love of marriage.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Strictly speaking, angels don’t have any power at all. Only God has power. Any angel that is able to do “superpower” things can do so only because s/he recognizes that all of the power to do it is from God, not from him- or herself. Angels who get the idea in their head that they have power of their own instantly become as weak as babies.

          Having said that, yes, angels who recognize that all power is God’s and not their own, do have access to “superpowers” if and when God grants it to them for some good and useful purpose. For example, angels can rout whole armies of evil spirits with a mere gesture of their hand—which they do when some hellish crew starts getting out of hand and going beyond established boundaries.

          Also, it is not angels, but God who “conjures things out of thin air.” God creates angels’ surroundings, their houses, and the furniture and other objects in their houses to correspond to the ruling love and character of the angels. Still, angels can also make things just as we do on earth. So God’s creation of things in heaven and angels making of things in heaven are not mutually exclusive. When angels do make things as if by themselves, they ultimately recognize that the power to do so comes from God, not from themselves.

        • K says:

          Speaking of “superpowers”, from what I read, all spirits – angels, newly arrived spirits, and devils – can fly whenever they wish.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Yes, flying seems to be quite common in the spiritual world. But most of the time, people walk around on the ground like normal human beings.

  35. Ray says:

    Hi Lee. Something. i have been wondering lately is what if your way of life drastically changes against your will. Like what if your country is free and then overthrown by a dictatorship and you are forced to live a certain way. What type of afterlife do you have then?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ray,

      The general rule is that nothing imposed upon us from the outside in a state of coercion becomes part of our permanent spiritual character. Only what we inwardly choose to adopt as our own in a state of freedom becomes part of us.

      The worst a repressive regime can do is make it very difficult for us to grow spiritually. But even in a repressive regime, we can choose to do our best to love and care for the people around us rather than hating them and trying to harm them. I do realize that some regimes make this very difficult by encouraging people to spy on one another, including close family members. There is no doubt that despotic and repressive governments can do great damage to people’s psyche.

      What they can’t do is cause people to go to hell rather than to heaven. That happens only when, as self-responsible adults, we choose evil over good because we love evil more than we love good. People from extremely repressive regimes may have to “grow up” psychologically and spiritually in the spiritual world after they die. But the horrific conditions in their countries will not cause them to live a horrific life in hell after they die. Really, they’ve already experienced hell right here on earth, and most of them don’t like it.

  36. K says:

    Could stuff that’s hazardous here cease to be hazardous there? Like could spirits walk around in sunlight from the Divine Sun all they want and never get sunburned?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      In general, in the spiritual world hazardous things are in hell, whereas non-hazardous things are in heaven. As for sunlight from the Divine Sun, for people in heaven, it will be moderated such that indeed it will not burn even if you walk around in it all day. But for evil spirits, any rays from that divine sun that reached them directly would be instantly burning and painful.

      • Ray says:

        So what kind of Sun do they have in Hell? Or, is it just dark gloomy and cold?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ray,

          To outsiders, hell is indeed dark, gloomy, and cold. But to the evil spirits who live there, that darkness looks like light. They can see everything as if it were in normal daylight. My sense, however, is that the never see the sun in the sky. Exactly how this works, I am not sure. Spiritual reality works differently than material reality. I suspect that it won’t be fully understandable to us until we have left the material universe behind and are living in the spiritual world.

  37. K says:

    An atheist argument I’ve heard against the afterlife is that finite time makes life worthwhile, while immortality makes it meaningless. Or in other words, the argument claims that an unlimited supply of something makes it worthless.

    I figure that such an argument is based on materialistic spacetime-based thinking, and joy never runs out in Heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. Even in the physical universe, there seems to be no end to new worlds, knowledge, and understanding to explore. And if Swedenborg is right, this physical world pales in comparison to the size and complexity of the spiritual world. Then there’s God, who is infinite.

      In short, we humans will never run out of new horizons for learning, love, growth, and adventure.

      Speaking for myself, I’m in my sixties, and I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface even on the things I know most about: the Bible and Swedenborg. Teasing out the meaning and nuances of a single Bible verse in response to a question or challenge about it can easily take me several hours to half a day. And when I’ve spent that much time at it, it becomes clear that I’ve hardly even begun to understand its connections and significance. And that’s just one verse.

      If I were ever to think that there will be an end to this sort of searching and learning, that’s when life would really seem meaningless and worthless to me.

      Fortunately, I don’t believe our life does come to an end. And that keeps me going.

  38. K says:

    This may sound like an odd question, but if a spirit were to get into a situation that manifested in the spiritual as their body being destroyed, would they be able to reform their spirit body like Dr. Manhattan in that “Watchmen” story?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      The spirit itself is indestructible. However, it is possible for people to feel as if their body is being torn apart and destroyed. This would be in hell, of course, not in heaven. In hell, all sorts of very realistic hallucinations can be induced upon people, which will feel completely real to them at the time. But in fact, their spiritual body is not being ripped up and torn apart since, as I said, it is indestructible, and can never die.

  39. K says:

    Swedenborg describes the “sun” in Heaven always appearing ahead, and at a 45 degree angle. I don’t like the sound of that as it sounds to wintry. Could there be parts of the afterlife where the “sun” is directly overhead, like at “lahaina noon” in Hawaii?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      Despite the sun being at a constant 45 degree angle in the sky in heaven, Swedenborg says that there is a perpetual springtime there.

      However, it’s probably best not to get too literal about Swedenborg’s descriptions of the sun of heaven. The spiritual world doesn’t work the way the material world does. Swedenborg also says that the sun is seven times brighter in heaven than it is on earth. On earth, this would kill us. But in heaven, it is felt as a genial warmth. On the other hand, Swedenborg says that the sun of heaven is seen only by the angels in the heavenly kingdom. In the spiritual kingdom, he says, the moon of heaven is visible instead. Yet they also have full daylight there.

      I suspect this is something we won’t fully understand until we’re in the spiritual world and experience it for ourselves. As long as we’re living in the material world, it’s hard to get a real handle on what the spiritual world is like. I tend to think that there will be more variation there than we might expect from Swedenborg’s statement about the sun’s constant place in the sky of heaven. For example, he says there is no night in heaven, but there is a twilight. How could there be a twilight when the sun is halfway up the sky?

      These are questions I look forward to getting answers for once it comes my time to enter the spiritual world. Meanwhile, these are really just details, and aren’t all that important in the bigger scheme of things, so I don’t worry about them too much.

      • K says:

        “For example, he says there is no night in heaven, but there is a twilight. How could there be a twilight when the sun is halfway up the sky?”

        I imagine the “sun” or “moon” turns more ruddy while appearing more elevated, kinda like a light bulb with a dimmer switch.

        Hopefully the afterlife Swedenborg describes is not _too_ weird, like not being able to see people from behind _all_ the time, nor light _always_ being from in front at a low angle.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          I expect that it will feel completely natural to us when we’re living there. They probably think it’s strange that here on earth, everyone’s feet face toward the center of the earth, and everyone’s head faces away from it, so that people on opposite sides of the globe are upside-down to each other.

        • K says:

          I also like summer best (when it’s not too hot), so to me an endless spring with 45 degree sunlight sounds like what someone from Sweden would consider to be paradise. I like the sound of an endless nice summer with 90 degree sunlight.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Without any particular evidence to back it up, my opinion is that people in heaven will be able to enjoy whatever seasons and conditions they love, because God loves to give us what makes us happy.

          Speaking for myself, I grew up ice skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing in the northern winters. I especially loved skating on a big open pond. For me, that was a bit of heaven. Even though perpetual spring sounds appealing these days, I hope that occasionally I’ll be able to bundle up, strap on my trusty ice skates, and glide swiftly across the clear ice with a chill breeze in my face.

        • K says:

          Another thing: the idea of being stuck in a biological humanoid form for all eternity sounds kinda gross or limiting to me. Hopefully in any afterlife I could “take a break” from being flesh and be more incorporeal now and then, like those light orbs the “Mercury” spirits are said to be able to do (IIRC).

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Personally, I think I’ll enjoy being fully human, without any of the weaknesses or infirmities of our physical biology here in the material world. But even if our underlying bodily form in the spiritual world is that of a human body made of spiritual substance (and thus not “biological” in the material sense), the example of the Mercurians does suggest that in the spiritual world we can experience other forms if that is our wish.

          Once again, my belief is that in heaven, God gives us anything and everything that will make us happy. This is why I don’t read Swedenborg’s descriptions of how things are in the spiritual world as limiting factors and boundaries beyond which we cannot go, but as generalized descriptions of how the spiritual world is, and appears, for the people among whom he spend the most time, which were clearly angels who came from the European region of this world up to Swedenborg’s time.

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          I should add that our spiritual body feels lighter and more free than our physical body. It can also do things in the spiritual world that our physical body can’t do in the material world, such as flying (without the need for wings) and traveling great distances very rapidly under certain circumstances. It will not feel heavy and meaty, but light and alive. It will also, of course, be young and healthy, regardless of how old we were when we died.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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