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Angels are closer than they seem. In fact, they may actually be a part of how you already think and feel. How do we tap into their presence?
In this episode, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore what eighteenth-century scientist and spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg learned about angels during his mystical explorations of the afterlife. Join in as they delve into his detailed writings to see what they reveal about our daily connection with angels—and how we can grow even closer to them!
Closer Than You Think
How close are we to angels? They are in our thoughts and feelings—closer even than the glasses on our face or the clothes on our back. Swedenborg writes that both heaven and hell influence us constantly through the presence of angels and evil spirits.
It’s not just a matter of presence—our entire spiritual life depends on our connection to both heaven and hell. Without heaven’s influence, we wouldn’t receive life from God, and we’d simply cease to exist. Without hell, our spiritual freedom would be gone, and we could never truly choose between good and evil. The flow of positive thoughts and feelings from heaven and negative thoughts and feelings from hell is so constant that we don’t even notice it.
Thoughts and desires move from community to community in a pattern without people realizing that they are not thinking autonomously. (Divine Providence §289)
We are each connected to different parts of the spiritual world, and it can change over our lifetime. The question is, how do we connect more closely to heaven than to hell?
What flows in from spirits from hell is evil and falsity, but what flows in from angels from heaven is goodness and truth. The opposing influences keep us in the middle and therefore in freedom. Because more of the angels’ influence comes by a deeper way, it is not as perceptible outwardly as the evil spirits’ influence. (Secrets of Heaven §6193:1–2)
We know that hell is “louder” than heaven from personal experience—negative thoughts always seem to come more easily and more often than good ones do. Curtis suggests that heaven’s signal is just as powerful, but sometimes it’s harder for us to hear because our senses are oriented in a different direction.
Psychologist Wilson Van Dusen, who was a Swedenborgian, studied schizophrenic patients and found that their thoughts and hallucinations could be divided into “higher-order” and “lower-order,” with the higher order equating to our good thoughts and feelings and the lower order equating to the negative ones. He found that higher-order experiences were much rarer and quieter; but when they happened, they were comforting and helpful—in direct contrast to the frightening lower-order experiences.
This leads to an important distinction:
[Angels never tell people] what to believe or what to do; otherwise their human rationality and freedom would be destroyed. That is, things are managed so that they act freely and rationally, and to all appearances, autonomously. If some inflow tells us what to believe or what to do, it is not the Lord or any angel of heaven who is telling us but some fanatical spirit . . . and we are being led astray. (Divine Providence §321:3)
Curtis sums it all up with a chart of phrases that distinguish heavenly influence from hellish influence:
Turning up the Volume
Now that we know how heaven and hell influence our thoughts, the next step is figuring out how to turn up the volume on heaven. The steps are simple:
- Live into love. If we lived the way animals do, completely in tune with their place in nature, then we would experience the love of God flowing directly into us at all times. Often, love is our natural state and the path of least resistance.
- Pay attention to purpose. If we aim for good goals, our thoughts and feelings will attract angels. Selfish and materialistic goals attract evil spirits instead.
- Give them something to work with. The way we think affects our relationship with the spiritual world. The more good and true things we think about—or read about, or watch, or listen to—the more angels can connect with us.
Following these steps might not lead to an overt angelic experience, but they might just bring you closer to a heavenly state of mind.
Before Curtis digs deeper into how to connect with angels, a fan video explores the idea that an animal trying to blend into its environment can teach us something about the way that destructive emotions hide in our thoughts.
Heart to Heart
Once you’ve started the conversation with angels, you can grow closer to them.
The deepest communication of our spirit is with our breathing and our heartbeat; thought connects with our breathing, and affection, an attribute of love, with our heart. (Heaven and Hell §446)
The spiritual world is full of variations, but the many communities of heaven—and the many ways in which people love each other and understand truth—are linked by a single heartbeat. Because of this “love connection,” the love that we feel in our heart helps us connect more deeply with communities of angels. Swedenborg felt this in person in his spiritual experiences.
I remained at one with the heavenly angels, held in a fairly close embrace in the area around my heart, as I perceived and also felt in my pulse. (Secrets of Heaven §176)
Chelsea Odhner had a similar experience that gave her some insight into these ideas—in seeking a closer connection to God, she received the message “There is love in your heart.”
The secret to becoming closer to angels might just be to focus on what’s happening in our heart. We can strengthen angelic connections by focusing on the good and push hell away by identifying and rejecting bad thoughts and feelings.
- I would like to ask if Swedenborg ever commented on why there are four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and what they could mean?
- Are we assigned specific angels at the time of our birth that stay with us until we die, or is it all randomly happening?
- How do we discern the angels from the hells?
- Other sources have said that angels actually want us to ask them for help. Did Swedenborg say anything similar?
- So how do I know if the angel that’s with me is good? I’ve never met mine if I have one. I do communicate with spirits but none has ever identified itself as an angel, but quite the opposite.
- How do we recognize our loved ones if their appearances change?
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About Swedenborg and Life
In a lighthearted and interactive live 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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