Death and Rebirth: Conclusion

For Chapter 4, click here.

As the rock group The Police say in their song of the same title, “We are spirits in the material world.” While the hope of an afterlife certainly fuels our fascination with near-death experiences, we miss much of their significance if we take them only as interesting information about what will happen to us when we die.

Most of us have a number of years left in our lives here on earth before the afterlife will become a present reality for us. For us, the greatest significance of NDEs, as well as Swedenborg’s and others’ descriptions of the afterlife, is in what they mean for us here and now. If we think of the material world as an expression of the spiritual world, all these descriptions of the afterlife can take on this kind of here-and-now meaning for us.

If we read accounts of NDEs simply out of fascination for the descriptions of the spiritual world, it will not necessarily touch our hearts and lives. But if we think of them as patterns for our life here we are presented with a deep and lasting chal­lenge. The Book of Revelation speaks of a city descending to earth out of heaven from God. Our knowledge of the spiritual world provides a blueprint: a plan that we can use to build communities based on mutual love and understanding right here on earth.

This community-building must start in the soul of each one of us. By starting on a spiritual path and taking the steps described one way in this book, and other ways in others, we lay the foundations for the heav­enly city in ourselves. As each of us finds our own spiritual path, we will also be reaching out to those around us and form­ing a spiritually-based community, built on mutual love and understanding. This, I believe, is the direction we are being shown by those who have experienced the spiritual world and come back to tell us about it.

Further Reading

(Note: Links are not necessarily to the edition listed)

(Note: This is the Conclusion and bibliography to my book Death and Rebirth, first published in 2005 and currently out of print. This text and associated artwork are copyright 2005 by Lee Woofenden.)

About

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 Spiritual Growth, The Afterlife
4 comments on “Death and Rebirth: Conclusion
  1. Shelly Evans says:

    Thank you so much. It is all finally beginning to make sense for me. I look forward with hope and inspiration for more articles.
    Shelly Evans

    • Lee says:

      Hi Shelly,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m glad you’re finding our blog enlightening.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  2. Thanks, Lee, for this articles. I have been looking for some NDE researchs in the last few months… Reading your texts is truly illuminating. I assume you are familiarized with the investigations of Kevin Williams in http://www.near-death.com (although there are some NDE’s that confirm the possibility of reincarnation, which you rejected in a previous article, but that’s another subject). Anyway, we are on The Way.

    I understand and share all the things you pointed out here, but unfortunately there’s still “a conflict between Rational and Irrational, between Good and Evil”, like it’s said in Apocalypse Now, and it’s that some “religions” aspire to have the absolute truth in their doctrines. They reject universalism and ecumenism. For me that’s ‘spooky’, and it’s the reason why so many people now reject God (well, not God, but THAT vision of God). You know, I’m spanish, and here in Europe only old folks and priests talk about Jesus. I think it’s normal… catholics, evangelical/protestants, JW’s and some others have discredited the christian faith by trying to control the minds of the believers and imposing their faith showing unbiblical teachings that have nothing to do with Jesus.

    We need to act following our conscience, like Pope Francis said. “Sin” appears when we love badly. We need to think, ponder, study, learn, fall, raise, wake up and have dreams. We need to taste life in order to find what’s good and bad. Unfortunately, not all christians, or muslims, or buddhists, or whatever-you-want-to-call-them are open minded to a deeper, wiser and mature spiritual path like this. And in modern civilizations that is a dreadful thing because people is scared to believe in ‘something deeper’. There are two reasons for that:

    1) The “modern” church is still anachronic, with their sex-restrictions, “pre-historical” language and their patriarchal system. To believe in God, in our modern society, and specifically in Spain, where church is associated with Franco’s dictatorship, is like being an anachronical fascist. That’s an impediment. What can we do, then?

    2) Materialistic and scientific teachings have irrupted in our lifes and they prevent us from seeing beyond reality. It’s not so easy to belive in God in our modern times. And if we do so, we need, like Michael Morwood said, to “have a deeper spiritual faith” (I recommend you his book “Is Jesus God?”), like you propose in SIEL.

    By the way… I’ve read all your articles related to sex (masturbation, pornography, premarital sex, etc.). Congratulations! I think we shall live our sex life with freedom and love. I reject that an “eunuch” dressed in black points at me and says: “you, immoral boy, are impure because you have sex with your non-married girlfriend. You are going to hell”. What The Heck! That’s the problem with religions. They need to adapt to modern times (and I’m not saying to adapt God… but to be coherent with reality and modern societies). That’s the only way to grow spiritually. Having those anachronic doctrines only makes us be restricted, complexed and square-headed human beings. Are you with me?

    Another question… about Hell. You said in all your articles that we freely choose hell. But if someone hates hell and wants to reach God but he is “chained” to his passions and materialistic desires… isn’t there a contradiction? What happens to that person that wants to avoid hell but he/she can’t help to do bad things? If someone freely chooses heaven being a terrible person… Is he/she allowed to enter heaven? If not… then, his/her choice is not being respected. What happens there?

    Regards from Madrid!

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your extensive thoughts and references. There’s a lot here, and I won’t be able to respond to all of it. But here are a few thoughts and responses:

      On your last point and question, I see that you posted another comment (here) about that in response to a different article. I’ll respond to that shortly. Meanwhile:

      Our choice for heaven or hell is not a mere intellectual one. It is a “kinesthetic” one, meaning it is expressed in the way we live our life. Many people have theoretical idea in their head about who they think they are and what sort of person they imagine themselves being. But the way we live shows the actual choices we have made. As Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”

      People who live self-indulgent, greedy, and power-hungry lives hate heaven, with its atmosphere of thinking of others first and serving others’ needs first. People who live thoughtful, loving lives of useful service to others find hell distressing, with its atmosphere of always putting oneself first. Each sorts him- or herself out to the area of the spiritual world that matches his or her own character.

      Even if a good person isn’t perfect, it’s what’s in the heart that counts, and what the person does his or he best to express in life, even if we humans may never fully achieve our best ideals. We all have our vices, and we all stumble at times. But the overall pattern of our intentions and our life will guide us either toward heaven or toward hell, according to where we put our primary focus and energy. And in our second stage after death, covered in this series, we’ll leave behind our worst remaining vices and contradictions as we make our way toward our final home in heaven.

      About the unfashionableness Christianity (and other religions) in Europe and various other parts of the world:

      I believe this is the inevitable result of the long, slow corruption of Christianity into something that Jesus and his disciples would never have recognized as the religion of Jesus Christ. And I have come to believe that institutional Christianity as it has existed for most of the past 2,000 years will have to die out before any genuine Christianity can take root and grow in our world. Here are a few articles along these lines:

      What’s dying in contemporary culture today is not the Christianity that Jesus Christ founded and taught, but an interloper that has claimed the name “Christian” for itself while teaching doctrines that neither Jesus Christ nor anyone else in the Bible ever taught. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t die off fast enough.

      As far as sexual mores and practices, not only non-Christians, but even many Christians, and especially Catholics, are simply ignoring what the church teaches on the subject of sex and marriage. As I say in the articles, I am all in favor of loving, faithful, monogamous marriage, and I continue to believe that is the ideal. But the idea that anything that is not that is evil, evil, evil simply isn’t realistic. And it’s not what’s portrayed in the Bible either, despite a few hard-and-fast sounding statements in the Bible taken out of context.

      We are all on a pathway and a journey. You don’t get to the top of a mountain in a single step. You climb your way there through many experiences some good, and some not so good, and all of them learning experiences if we’re paying attention.

      More plainly, I believe that many people today who are engaging in sex and various sexual practices outside of marriage are still headed toward good, loving eternal marriages, even if the pathway to get there may go through many twists and turns.

      Besides, some sexual practices, such as masturbation, simply are not forbidden, condemned, or even mentioned in the Bible. The strictures against them were made up by human beings over the centuries, and have little or nothing to do with what the sourcebook of Christianity actually says.

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