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To conclude our journey through the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg, our expert panel has come together to answer viewer questions.
The expert panel members are:
- Curtis Childs, host of Swedenborg & Life
- Chara Daum, Latin consultant for the New Century Edition
- Dr. Jonathan Rose, series editor for the New Century Edition
- Chelsea Odhner, writer and production manager for Swedenborg & Life
Questions and answers are summarized below; please follow the links for the full discussion.
When we die, we are assigned angels to usher us gently into the next life. These angels help us handle and understand our troubling emotions from the physical world, while teaching us skills for enjoying the spiritual world. They lift us up into a level of peace and love.
According to Swedenborg, people on earth are more superficial and outwardly focused than are those on other planets he visited. However, other planets aren’t perfect either—every community has its healthier and less healthy components. We actually talk about this in our episode “Serpent Symbolism, Sensory Experience, and Jesus’ Plan.”
The short answer is “yes,” though so much of the afterlife may not be recognizable to us now. For instance, a passion for coin collecting might have a correspondence with a certain kind of spiritual joy that’s hard for us to comprehend from a natural perspective. Even if there are no coins to collect in the afterlife, the same delight derived from that interest will continue.
Swedenborg points out that this passage says “the Holy City,” which refers not to Jerusalem but to a spiritual place. This means that the saints really did come out of their tombs, but it happened in the spiritual world. So people are not resurrected in the flesh. In fact, spirits who are invited to do so have no interest in returning to the physical world.
Swedenborg refers to time in some confusing ways. He does say that time moves at different speeds in the spiritual world, but he also points to specific terrestrial dates in his spiritual reality. That said, while it is likely that time has passed and progress has been made in the spiritual world, an understanding of time there is sure to be different.
Marilynn runs a website for understanding out-of-body experiences and has had some experiences of her own. She says that such experiences are quite profound because they help you navigate your life here on earth. Marilynn recommends Swedenborg’s Marriage Love and Heaven and Hell to all of her readers because they offer us a glimpse of the bigger picture concerning the truth of marriage and the spiritual world, and this gives us a sense of perspective necessary to living our lives in this world.
The climb to heaven is not a continuous climb—there are distinct levels of heaven, just as there are clear boundaries between different levels in our minds. One example is when you think about something and then think about thinking about it. According to Swedenborg, the higher levels are much more complex.
He’s referencing Christian ideas concerning the Apocalypse, but his understanding of it was different from the common end-of-the-world scenario. He thought it was a spiritual event in which one mindset comes to an end and another begins.
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