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House hunting can be fun, but it’s difficult to choose where to settle down. Just imagine how much more challenging it is to plan for eternity!
Eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg went for a visit to the other side and learned that our houses are already under construction—and we’ve been helping with the design without even knowing it. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose show us how heavenly homes get made.
People’s preparation for heaven occurs in the world of spirits, which is midway between heaven and hell. Once the time of their preparation has come to an end, they are all seized with an intense longing for heaven. Soon their eyes are opened and they see a pathway to a community in heaven. They take this pathway and make their ascent. At the top they come to a gated entrance with a guard. . . . If they find their home, they stay there and send a report back to that effect. If they do not find a home there, they go back and say that they did not see one. (True Christianity §622)
Homes in heaven make earth’s fanciest houses look like dorm rooms in comparison.
I have seen palaces in heaven that were so splendid as to be beyond description. Their upper stories shone as though they were made of pure gold, and their lower ones as though they were made of precious gems. Each palace seemed more splendid than the last. It was the same inside. The rooms were graced with such lovely adornments that neither words nor the arts and sciences are adequate to describe them. On the side that faced south there were parklands where everything sparkled in the same way, here and there the leaves like silver and the fruits like gold, while the flowers in their beds made virtual rainbows with their colors. On the horizon of sight there were other palaces that framed the scene. The architecture of heaven is like this, so that you might call it the very essence of the art—and small wonder, since the art itself does come to us from heaven. (Heaven and Hell §185)
In fact, the art and essence of architecture actually comes from heaven. People have seen these homes even in modern near-death experiences.
But what if you don’t want a big house? Maybe such a palace is not right for you. And what’s so angelic about the opulent mansions owned by billionaires and kingpins anyway? On earth, not much. But in heaven, your house and your mind are one and the same. This all works through correspondences—physical representations of spiritual truths.
On this matter of correspondences, I have also been told that not only the palaces and the homes but all the little things within and outside them correspond to the deeper qualities that they receive from the Lord. In general terms, their houses correspond to the good that occupies them and the items within their houses to the various things that constitute that good. The items that are outside the homes refer to true things that derive from the good, and also to experiences of perception and recognition. . . . This, they tell me, is the sort of thing angels perceive when they look at their houses; and this is why these sights delight and move their minds more than their eyes. (Heaven and Hell §186)
This means that your walls, windows, and interior design are reflections of who you really are.
These things even upgrade by themselves as you transform your mind. So to get a heavenly house, you have to develop a heavenly mind.
When you enter a house in heaven, it can actually change how you think.
The case with the apartments of buildings is that, depending on their location, the inhabitant and others in one apartment do not have the same temperament as those in another: their pleasures vary, so that in one apartment there is the pleasure of applying oneself and functioning in one’s position, in another the pleasure of travel, in another the pleasure of conversation, and in another the pleasure of being with one’s spouse, in another the pleasure of eating, and in another they have a close communication with those outside, in others a more remote communication. (Spiritual Experiences §6056)
Spirits know as if of themselves that when they go into a particular room, they have the possibility of doing this or that, and so on, with great variety, and depending on their likings. The cause of this comes particularly from the regions and from the temperaments of those dwelling in these regions. (Spiritual Experiences §6056)
Swedenborg explains that this works because in the spiritual world, even directions on the compass correspond to states of mind and different spiritual truths. For more on this, check out “The Different Kinds of Angels.”
Swedenborg’s not the only person to draw a connection between a person’s mind and their spiritual home. A lot of students of dream symbolism have noticed connections between homes and the self. Psychologist Carl Jung, for example, wrote about this at length:
It was plain to me that the house represented a kind of image of the psyche—that is to say, of my then state of consciousness, with hitherto unconscious additions. Consciousness was represented by the salon. It had an inhabited atmosphere, in spite of its antiquated style. The ground floor stood for the first level of the unconscious. The deeper I went, the more alien and the darker the scene became. In the cave, I discovered remains of a primitive culture, that is, the world of the primitive man within myself—a world which can scarcely be reached or illuminated by consciousness. (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
So if our heavenly home reflects our mind, what about the “house of the Lord” that we are being invited to in the Bible?
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)
Well, any house we have in heaven must be within the Lord’s house.
Outward religion is called the steward of a household when real, internal religion is the household itself and when the head of the house is the Lord. (Secrets of Heaven §1795)
So how do we get it right? Almost all of Swedenborg’s writings and all of what we talk about on this channel touch on this topic. But at the end of the day, everybody’s minds and heavens are different. There are really only two general guidelines to building a good mind house.
First, get your levels straight.
The human mind is like a three-story house with stairs that provide transitions between levels. There are angels from heaven living on the top floor, people of the world on the middle floor, and demons on the bottom floor. People for whom these three categories of love have been prioritized in the right way can go up or down whenever they want. (True Christianity §395)
For more on this, check out “The Four Kinds of Love.”
Second, fill it with the right kind of people. Kurt Frey joins to discuss the psychological angle on this.
A house in an inner sense means the earthly mind, which resembles a house, as the rational mind also does. The husband there is goodness; the wife is truth; the daughters and sons are desires for what is good and true, and also goodness and truth born from the kind represented by their parents. (Secrets of Heaven §5023)
Is your home full of truth and goodness, guided by love? Let your mind today be your heavenly home.
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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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