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Life is full of change, and our own viewpoints and mindsets are no exception. So where does this change come from? Eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg learned that everyone on earth has connections to spirits in the afterlife, and those connections make all the difference.
Basically, all spirits in heaven and hell were once human. Those in heavenly communities are called angels, and those in hellish communities are called demons. In between, there is the world of spirits, which is occupied by those who haven’t yet decided where they fit. You can learn more about these spirits in our episode called “The Angels and Evil Spirits With Us.”
In today’s episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose show us how to watch—and change—the company we keep. So how does this work? Well, first, Chelsea Odhner joins us to explain how we’re in two worlds at once.
To clarify this, I shall tell something unknown. Heaven is divided into countless communities. So is hell, opposite it. And the mind of every person is actually living in a community that suits his or her desire and therefore his or her intellect. What the person wants to do and think about is like what the people there do. If our mind is in some community in heaven, we will and think like the angels there. If it is in some community in hell, we will and think like the spirits there. (Marriage Love §530)
To illustrate this, we join “Earthly Jane” as she waits in line at a coffee shop. Even in this small moment in her day, she travels through three different spiritual communities—and that’s simplifying things! We travel with many different spiritual companions as we move through life.
We see people change their minds in earthly life when others introduce them to new ideas in a kind yet persistent manner. This still takes work, and most of that work has to come from the person who’s doing the changing. Change is never easy.
This process continues into the afterlife when we die. There are angels there who are dedicated to smoothing the transition, and they get you started on your journey to your true community.
This is discussed in greater detail in our episode called “How Angels Take Care of Us When We Die.”
Souls recently arrived from the world eventually leave the company of spiritual angels to mix with spirits and finally reach the community they inhabited while alive in their bodies. When the time comes for this, angels take them around to a number of residential areas, which are separate communities (though interconnected). In some places the newcomers are welcomed; in others they are sent on. This continues for some time until they reach the community they resided in while they lived in their bodies, and there they stay. From that moment, their lives start afresh. (Secrets of Heaven §1273:1)
As Jane arrives in her spiritual community, she begins a process of self-discovery, which we covered in our episode on “Spiritual Detoxing.” Her journey is a process of revealing the true self she’s had all along.
Heaven consists of countless communities distinct and separate from each other. Each community has an overall goodness that is distinct from the good quality of other communities, and each member of a community has a specific kind of goodness distinct from the good quality of fellow members. Out of the good qualities of a community’s members—qualities that are distinct and therefore different but still compatible—arises a form that is called a heavenly form. Once in a community, everyone shares what he or she has with all the other members. Then the collective goodness is shared with other communities, which becomes the “more common good”. Love is the linking force. (Secrets of Heaven §8469)
Each member of a heavenly community shares with each other in order to reach an “overall goodness” that makes up just one part of a larger network of heavenly communities. It’s not unlike what the internet can enable (on a good day).
This all sounds kind of great, but why does this journey have to wait until after death to end?
A last judgment can take place only in the spiritual world, both because in that world we are all an embodiment of the life that is within us, and because we are surrounded there by people who have a similar life within them—everyone is among kindred spirits. It is different in this earthly world where good and evil people can be together, neither really knowing what the other is like; here we are not spontaneously sorted out according to our life’s love. In fact, none of us can bring our earthly bodies with us into heaven or into hell, so in order for us to arrive at either destination, we need to shed our earthly bodies and after that, be judged in our spiritual bodies. That is why . . . it is our spiritual self that is judged, and not our earthly self. (Last Judgment §32:3)
Judgment here isn’t a moral judgment—it’s an evaluation of what matters most to us so that we can be placed according to everyone’s best interests. This whole path and all the change within it are part of something bigger and better.
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About Swedenborg & Life
In a lighthearted and interactive webcast format, 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.
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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 look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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