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Have you ever wondered if you’re living your truth and fulfilling your purpose? So many of us do, and that’s why advertisers, corporations, and politicians are always trying to sell you the next best thing that will improve your life. But what if the next best thing is already inside of you just waiting to come out? In this episode of Swedenborg and Life, host Curtis Childs guides us through 18th-century philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg’s spiritual explorations to see what they reveal about how to discover your true identity.
Like most things in life, discovering your true self is easier to do when you start at step one in the process and go from there. Take a seed, for example. Seeds don’t need external dressing or expressions to grow and become a fully bloomed flower. Seeds only need internal elements that already exist in nature like soil and water to flourish and grow. In this segment, Curtis likens a seedling’s growth process to human nature. Humans don’t need clothing, tattoos, or material objects to help them grow and realize their full potential. Everything a human needs to become the best person they can be already exists in and around them here and in the spiritual world.
The Inner and Outer Self
“We have been created to be in the spiritual world and the physical world at the same time. The spiritual world is where angels are. The physical world is where people are. Because we have been created that way, we have been given an inner and an outer level: an inner level so we can be in the spiritual world and an outer level so we can be in the physical world. The inner level is called our inner self, and the outer level is called our outer self.”—True Christianity 401
Swedenborg says there’s an inner self that belongs to us and it’s like a universe of content.
During Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences in the afterlife, he claims to have met spirits who helped him understand the purpose of the universe within us. By observing how spirits recognize each other based on their ruling or dominant love, Swedenborg came to believe that love is the key to finding our true selves.
“The Lord has provided and arranged that the more our thinking and willing come from heaven, the more our spiritual self opens and adapts.” –True Christianity 401(4-8)
In other words, the more you focus on love and good in the outer world, the more you’ll feed and grow your inner, spiritual self.
Purpose Is Identity
Curtis kicks off this segment by calling out a unique Swedenborgian perspective about what’s at the center of your true self: Dominant love.
“There is a dominant love that remains with each of us after death…we all have many loves, but they all go back to our dominant love and form a single whole with it, or compose it in the aggregate.”—Heaven and Hell 477
What Swedenborg is saying is that there’s one thing that we love above all else and that’s what reveals our true inner selves, and it can be love of good or love of evil. Curtis expands on this concept by reading a quote from Howard Storm’s book about his near-death experience.
From Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences and those who’ve had more modern near-death experiences, we can gather that external attributes do not define who we are. It’s what we love that makes us who we are, and it is this love that creates our purpose. Curtis further examines how our purpose is tied to our dominant love by reviewing an excerpt from Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell.
“In much the same way, all pleasures overall go back to one love that is universally dominant—in heaven, a love for the Lord, and in hell, a love for oneself.”—Heaven and Hell 486
Related Swedenborg and Life video: Is the Devil Real?
The Celestial Ecosystem
If you’re trying to find and understand your true self on your own, you’re probably going to have a difficult time. As part of a community of spirits, we need to look to each other for answers. To help viewers see the connection between finding one’s true self through connection with others, Curtis employed the help of professor of biology Dr. Sherri Cooper who explained how the first basic cells on earth worked together to form more complex cells.
It’s all about partnership and team work. Curtis likens it to a music band. A solo instrument sounds good when played, but when the instrument is played in unison with others, it creates a more powerful and enhanced sound. Even plants evolve by interacting with different things in their environment. Swedenborg himself elaborated on this point best when he described the evolution of heaven. Similarly, your true identity is constantly evolving with the help of God and others to lead you to your final destination—heaven. How do you get to this eternally blissful destination? Swedenborg says it’s as easy as being born and letting the natural and eternal source of God’s love flow through you and your connection to others.
“We are born with inner levels of mind that are spiritual. We are born for heaven.”—True Christianity 612
So if you are what you eat, then you are what and who you love too! Your inner self is love flowing through you from heaven to be expressed and shared externally in the physical world. Perhaps the question to ask when searching for your true identity is not “Who do I want to be?” but rather “How do I want to contribute to the whole?”
You Make Me Me
Swedenborg asserts that the closer you are to God, the closer you are to your true self, which is inherently good and loving. The farther away you are from God, the closer you are to hellish ideas and influences, which is not your true self.
Compulsions, cravings, obsessions, fears.
Ever feel like these things are running your life? Perhaps it’s time to get closer to what makes you, you! The Divine provides the proper elements and soil conditions for the seed that is your ever-evolving soul.
Questions from Viewers
In the last segment, Curtis answers these questions from our viewers:
- Secrets of Heaven says that all good deeds come from God. Does that mean that there is no free will?
- Why do I go long periods of time without committing a particular sin and then slip into it? Is this profanation or is this just a failure that we are still allowed to walk from?
- A little off topic, but what do you think might be the correspondence for the “blood moon” we just had? Was wondering about that when I was watching last night.
- Since God made all things, why is there evil?
- I want to be a really good person because I love the feeling of making other people happy. Is it ok to want to be a celestial angel?
- If we’re supposed to find out our loves on earth, why do we have natural needs (food, etc) that keep us doing jobs that don’t have anything to do with our loves, just to get money so we don’t die?
- Yes, what do you think of Islam and is believing in Allah the same to you as believing in God for a Christian?
- I thought Swedenborg said there is no “Devil” per say? Does, to follow the Devil mean to follow our own dark impulses, or to actually follow the lead of dark entities?
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About Swedenborg and Life
Host Curtis Childs from the Swedenborg Foundation and featured guests explore topics from Swedenborg’s eighteenth-century writings about his spiritual experiences and afterlife explorations and discuss how they relate to modern-day life and death in a lighthearted and interactive live webcast format.
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When we wake up in heaven, Swedenborg tells us, angels roll a covering from off of our left eye so that we can see everything in a spiritual light. The offTheLeftEye YouTube channel uses an array of educational and entertaining video formats to help others look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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