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After almost a year apart, our expert panel has come back together to answer viewer questions about the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg.
The expert panel members are:
- Curtis Childs, host of Swedenborg & Life
- Chara Daum, Latin consultant for the New Century Edition
- Jonathan Rose, series editor for the New Century Edition
- Chelsea Odhner, writer for Swedenborg & Life
Throughout this episode, they work together to answer questions from viewers. Questions and answers are summarized below and you can follow the links for the full discussion.
It’s unlikely that we have just one purpose. Though God doesn’t force us onto any one path and gives us the free will to choose our own purpose, in his infinite wisdom, he does know what we want and what we will choose. And we should always remember that through divine providence, everything moves toward good.
Swedenborg actually answers this question head on in some of his writings. Basically, Jesus was a revelation of God’s love on earth, and it is this quality of love, no matter what name we use for it, that really matters. The nature of what it takes to get to heaven is the same for us all. Jesus is God and God is love and love is the only route to heaven.
We’re all connected to heaven and hell, and while the Lord is protecting us all from hell, some do seem more vulnerable to it than others. It’s important to recognize that the relationship between heaven and hell exists so that we have the opportunity to choose between them, so even the most vulnerable of us are open to heavenly influence. While our thoughts are always affected by both good and evil spirits and there is a host of factors that can influence our way in the world, the whole universe is moving toward love.
First of all, we should remember that our concepts of space and time on earth are not the same as they are above, so such issues may be moot. But even though it can be difficult to live with people who are in a different place than we are, it doesn’t need to be. We’re all fundamentally on the same path striving for the same things, and most of what divides us on our journey are the names we use to describe it. In the spiritual world, while there may be differences between us, we can be in community with those who share our loves.
One quick test is to just see what you think about when you’re by yourself and are not preoccupied with what other people are thinking about you. The thoughts that bubble up should give you some idea of what it is you really care about. If you notice that you’re looking for love and positivity and are making efforts to turn away from choices that align with evil, that’s a good sign. Merely trying to be a better person is a path to heaven.
Our capacity for self-reflection allows us to better understand not only ourselves but also the world around us, and according to Swedenborg, it’s the light of the Lord that lets us see things in a completely new way. Enlightenment is a way to determine what is good and what is true, and many of Swedenborg’s ideas are useful tools for doing just that.
We might be holding on to dark spirits more than we think we are. But since the dark spirits and guardian angels cannot really coexist, the spirits will flee when we get right with the angels, so there may not even be a “not quite there yet.”
If God doesn’t have a sense of humor, then where does it come from? God is the source of all good things, and laughter is a good thing. Swedenborg doesn’t write about God’s humor, though he does distinguish between angelic humor and cruel humor.
Even in hell, people are still themselves and can carry on rational conversations. Swedenborg spent a fair bit of time dialoging with evil spirits. So you can have those conversations—the only possible result is growth.
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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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