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We’ve gathered an expert panel to discuss the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg and answer questions from viewers.
The panel members are:
- Curtis Childs, host of Swedenborg & Life
- Chara Daum, Latin consultant, New Century Edition
- Chelsea Odhner, writer and production manager for Swedenborg & Life
- Karin Childs, writer for Swedenborg & Life
Questions and answers are summarized below; please follow the links for the full discussion.
God designed everything to symbolize spiritual ideas, and predators and prey are no exception. Most things have both positive and negative correspondences, and this can be useful in that they keep each other in check. However, Swedenborg doesn’t answer this question completely. While he describes a world that was tarnished by hell (e.g., predation), modern science seems to indicate that the predator/prey relationship may have been going on since the beginning.
2. Our spirit guides seem to have the ability to orchestrate events, arrange synchronicities, and manifest external signs/clues. Does Swedenborg discuss this apparent capacity for divine intervention?
Even though we are under God’s divine providence, he respects our free will in such a way that we may use it to determine the sorts of things that we either go toward or move away from. Swedenborg mentions that there used to be a more direct connection between the spiritual and physical worlds such that spirits could control us, but today these spirits are only able to possess us if we freely invite them in by virtue of our actions.
It’s an important piece of divine providence that we are able to find out who we are outside of being part of God. The separation helps us not only learn our identity, but it also lets us develop a sense of self so that we may grow in relationship with others and understand our need to reconnect with God.
Mary is a friend of the show who made her way through some medical issues with the help of Swedenborg’s ideas, and she created this piece to illustrate her experiences. The image shows how life has an energy that pushes us in an upward cycle.
Sin isn’t necessarily more accessible, but it is more visible. In order to make change and solve problems, we need to be able to see what’s going on. Technology today can make evil easier to find (e.g., the internet), but unfortunately it doesn’t always bring to the surface the good and gentle moments in life.
In a previous episode called “Your Spiritual Body,” we go over some of Swedenborg’s writings that go into great detail as to how souls are made. In a way, our soul has always existed in God, but it only takes on an identity when we are born.
There are thresholds between levels of hell—it’s a rule that Swedenborg called “discrete degrees.” There are concrete divisions that separate hellish communities, because that’s how space works in the spiritual world, and the nature of light is different in the different hells. All spirits, good and evil, are closest to others like them, and they struggle to exist on other levels that have different atmospheres.
Temptation might still exist in the other world, but the challenges will be different enough that they’re hard to predict from our current perspective. According to Swedenborg, though, the spiritual world is more progress-oriented, emphasizing transparency and self-discovery.