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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.