Good Question! Recap: Soul Contracts, Dream Interpretation, and How to Pray? — 11/11/19

Watch full episode here!

Our expert panel has gathered to answer viewer questions with the help of the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg.

The panel members are:

  • Curtis Childs, host of Swedenborg & Life
  • Chara Daum, Latin consultant, New Century Edition
  • Chris Dunn, community manager for Swedenborg & Life
  • Chelsea Odhner, writer for Swedenborg & Life

Questions and answers are summarized below; please follow the links for the full discussion.

1. Do you have any insights on how to pray unselfishly, if we have concerns of any kind?

It all starts with “Thy will be done”—prayer is more about aligning ourselves with God’s will than it is about turning God to ours. It’s also worth keeping in mind that even the concerns we have that feel selfish are things that God does care about. Treat yourself like you’d treat someone you’re responsible for. 

2. Where does mental illness come from?

During Swedenborg’s time, there wasn’t an incredibly advanced understanding of mental illness, but he did believe that there was often a biophysical component to it. He asserted that people aren’t held spiritually responsible for the things they do because of illness. He also believed that our thoughts and experiences are often influenced by the spirits around us.

3. In December 2004, a tsunami in Indonesia killed 225,000 people. How did the spirit world handle all those souls coming over at once? How is something like that organized?

Time and space don’t work the same in the spiritual world, but even if everyone did enter all at once, there’d be plenty of angels ready to greet them. The spiritual world is a vast ocean compared to the drop of water that is our life on earth, and it’s nice to know that heaven delights in more and more people to make a better and more perfect whole.

4. Will we experience emotions such as love or fear or disappointment in heaven?

We probably will. Emotions aren’t necessarily good or bad; they just are. So in heaven, we’ll still have these emotions, but we’ll understand where they’re coming from and have better tools to deal with them.

5. Please define poor in spirit according to Swedenborg.

Being poor in spirit means acknowledging that you and your ego aren’t what make you special. Swedenborg would often tell the evil spirits around him that he was nothing, and this humility baffled them. We don’t generate goodness and truth, but by being poor in spirit, we can be conduits for it.

6. What are your thoughts about “Prebirth Planning”? Where we plan our lives ahead of time, even how or when we cross over?

Swedenborg didn’t talk about this at all. He did challenge ideas like predestination, since he emphasized free will instead. Life is a series of choices and it feels more meaningful that way, especially if it is understood as being a collaboration with God.

7. Since dreams are messages/topics from the spiritual realms, should we start taking them more seriously and taking note of what they mean? Are they messages that are tailored to us?

The more you note your dreams, the more dreams you’ll remember. According to Swedenborg, there are three types of dreams:

The first type comes from the Lord mediately by way of heaven; such were the prophetical dreams spoken of in the Word. The second type comes by way of angelic spirits, especially those who are situated in front and above, over towards the right where the paradise gardens are. This was the source of the dreams that members of the Most Ancient Church had, dreams that were instructive. The third type comes by way of the spirits who are close to a person when [she or] he is asleep. These too carry spiritual meanings. Delusory dreams however come from a different source. (Secrets of Heaven §1976)

8. If it’s God’s will then why ask for anything?

When we pray, we’re humbling ourselves and opening ourselves to God’s will. When you ask for something, you’re willing yourself into an alignment with God. It’s an act of participating in divine providence.

Lightning Round

In this new feature, the panelists challenge themselves to quickly answer remaining viewer questions.

  • Do you believe we come here to learn? Yes. If we do are our higher selves unintelligent? Yes, they are initially, and then they grow to become better vessels for the Lord’s love and wisdom.
  • When I dream of people I have known who have passed over, is it really them in my dream? Yes. If it feels like them, it’s them.
  • What does Swedenborg say about schizophrenia? The term hadn’t been invented in his time, but he said that hearing voices often comes from nearby spirits.
  • I’ve had a couple of out-of-body experiences. What does Swedenborg say about those? Since our spirit is in a physical body, it can exist outside of that body. Swedenborg had them many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many times a day.
  • Can we come to harm in the spiritual world? No. While you can experience distress and pain there, you cannot come to spiritual harm. Instead, as you are guided in discovering who you truly are, that guidance will not lead you wrong.
  • Does heaven have an emergency squad? Yes. The archangel Michael is an image of a community of angels who defend divine truth.
  • I’ve been told when you speak your worries and negative thoughts out loud, you are allowing negative entities to hear them and to take advantage of your fears. Is this true? No. Talking out loud can help negative thoughts be released.
  • If the next world is better than earth, why do people want longer earthly lives? We fear the unknown and don’t want to leave the ones we love.
  • Are dreams predictive of future events or do they contain messages from the other side? If so, how do you interpret them? How about astrology? Sometimes they can be, but not always. We don’t know how to interpret them.
  • Did God deliberately make Swedenborg look “hufflepuff” in order to ordain a later rise of the New Church, e.g., by commanding mention of angels? The team has no idea.

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Related Swedenborg & Life Videos

Divine Providence

How to Free Your Mind From Hell

The Purpose of Spiritual Struggles

6 Spiritual Powers of the Lord’s Prayer

What Does Prayer Do?

Where Dreams Come From

“Who Was Swedenborg?”

Free E-Book Downloads

Apocalypse Explained

Apocalypse Revealed

Divine Love and Wisdom

Divine Providence

Heaven and Hell

Last Judgment / Supplements

Life / Faith

Marriage Love

The Lord

New Jerusalem

Other Planets

Sacred Scripture / White Horse

Secrets of Heaven

True Christianity

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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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About offTheLeftEye

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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