Swedenborg and Life Live Recap: Serpent Symbolism, Sensory Experience, and Jesus’ Plan 4/23/18

Watch full episode here!


Last week, we talked about the real purpose of death. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose speak with end of life doula Amy Jones to discuss what death looks and even feels like.

One thing Amy can say is that there is no physical pain during death, only the pain of loss. In fact, there’s a lot more pain in the birth of a baby than there is in the death of the body. One woman who Amy helped told her that she could literally feel her spiritual body separating from her natural body.

We’ll learn more as the show goes on—with a little help from the writings of eighteenth-century philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.


What helps you feel connected to other people?

Jonathan feels some spiritual atmosphere, but he can’t fully understand it. Other tools that have helped are honesty and compassion. The more of himself he puts out there, the more he feels like others can connect with him more.

Amy thinks the first level of connection comes from interests and passions people share. Sometimes that can even be as simple as a joke that you both laugh at! Her work can also create those kinds of connections, as she helps others work through really sensitive and difficult times.

Curtis definitely feels a connection with people who share his interests and want to talk more about them. Another tool is basically humility—understanding that he is no more or less than other people.


When something is disconnected from the Divine, Swedenborg would call it dead. But how can spiritual life leave our physical senses? This might refer to people who have abandoned spiritual life to live only in the world they can see.

Human beings make up the lowest plane, in which heaven finds its end point. This is because we have heaven in us and we correspond to heaven. The faculty of sense perception we have in the world is itself the lowest plane, and so it is the foundation on which the heavens come to rest, like a house on its foundation, because there is a connection of all things from first to last (or lowest), and our faculty of sensation is relatively unchanging and stable. . . . (Spiritual Experiences §5552)

Our senses are supposed to connect us to the world so we can understand how it corresponds to heaven, but it needed healing.

Through the Lord’s Divine Human, order was re-established down to the lowest level of life, which is the sensual, for the successive Divine order had ceased to exist in the lowest things. Thus the Divine [had ceased to be present] on the lowest level. This order was restored by the Lord so that the Divine could reach even there. (Spiritual Experiences §4847)

Jesus brought that reconnection when he came to Earth and died. Our physical senses can now help us manifest spiritual kinds of love.

  • Sight corresponds to a love of understanding.
  • Hearing corresponds to a love of listening, alignment, and harmony.
  • Smell corresponds to a love of perceiving the quality of something.
  • Taste corresponds to a love of nourishing one’s self with learning.
  • Touch corresponds to a love of protecting oneself, as well as to a love of united good and truth, which ultimately is a love of connecting with people in mutual love and friendship.

Serpent Symbolism

When God cursed the serpent in Genesis, it symbolized the dulling of our senses. Just as snakes can mean different things in different contexts, our senses can be harmful or helpful. Think about how touch can be gentle and calming or painful and sharp.

The Rod of Asclepius, which you might see on an ambulance or in other medical contexts, actually has a biblical root. When many were suffering from venomous snake bites, Moses was told to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Those who looked at it were saved.

Thousands of years later, Jesus compared himself to that bronze snake.

Things on the sensory level (the outermost level of a person’s life) are meant by the “fiery snakes” which were sent among the children of Israel. . . . But being healed of the bite of these snakes, by the Lord’s divine sensory level, is meant by the “bronze snake” placed up on a pole, at the sight of which the people revived. (Apocalypse Explained §581:12)

Chat Q&A

During this live show, viewers chatted in their questions. Just click a question to see the answer:

Guest Story

Curtis takes a moment to speak with one of our viewers, Christian Swenson, a graduate student at Brigham Young University. Christian learned about Swedenborg as an inspiration to the magical realist author Jorge Luis Borges. After looking into Swedenborg more, Christian fell in love with the philosophical approach to theology that seemed to resonate with his own Mormon faith.

One idea that really helped was Swedenborg’s observation that all separateness of space and time are illusions when our spiritual lives are all about connection. Christian was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was young, and he’s found that Swedenborg helps him understand and move past some separation he’s felt. It’s created a kind of home for him.


At the beginning, we asked viewers what makes them feel connected to other people. Here are some of the answers.

  • Communication helps me feel connected to others. True listening and true sharing.
  • Sharing an experience/occurrence.
  • When we agree.
  • Love.
  • A feeling of authenticity and love for me.
  • Having something in common—something we both can relate to.
  • Laughter!
  • I feel connected with others when I’ve helped them in some way.
  • Sharing our struggles as well as our joys, from the heart.
  • The eyes. Looking people directly in the eyes.
  • I focus on the good that people do when I am trying to mine for compassion for them.
  • Humor! Playfulness.
  • E​ye contact and saying hello.
  • I feel connected to others because I spend time with them a lot.
  • Picturing the ways that we are the same. Even if it’s just that we’re both breathing the same air.
  • Yes, common experience is a good connection.
  • Empathy, seeing people go through experiences I have gone through or seeing them have emotions that I have had. Humor definitely . . . shared interests. ​Also, I know my intentions towards others is good. If I feel someone else is positive and loving, I am drawn to them. I feel uncomfortable around judgmental or competitive people.
  • Doing things together, quiet time, do I feel connected without talking or am I nervous?
  • Humility is important.
  • I connect to people who listen, who get what I am saying. I connect to people on the Bible who can agree as well as different views.
  • Coming to understand someone is authentic.
  • I don’t feel connected to a lot of people, but knowing God loves them no less than me is a silent connection.
  • What makes me feel connected to others is trying to look at everyone as having another piece to life’s puzzle and getting them to talk about themselves.
  • Connecting through what’s mutual and what can be reciprocal.
  • I feel a connection with people who are sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, spiritually sensitive, and wise—like an old soul.
  • I see everyone as my brothers and sisters. That makes it easier for me to connect with them. I give them the benefit of the doubt. We tend to be more loving naturally to family members.

Thanks for joining us—we’ll see you next week!


Related Swedenborg and Life Videos

“The Purpose of Death”
Who Was Swedenborg?

Free E-Book Downloads

Apocalypse Explained
Imaginal Landscapes
Secrets of Heaven
Spiritual Experiences


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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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