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If your mind was a battleground between heaven and hell, wouldn’t you know? Not if it’s such a regular part of your daily life that it seems almost like background noise.
Eighteenth-century scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg learned that heaven and hell fight over us and for us constantly. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose explore his writings to learn what that spiritual war means for us.
Our culture has an idea of the difference between heaven and hell as places, but we need to understand them as the spiritual worlds they truly are.
In the way that our posture shapes our bodies, heaven and hell shape the pieces of our souls they touch. But they can’t exist peacefully alongside each other because hell craves discussion too much.
There is an aura wafting from the hells that can be called an aura of energies, and it is a harmful aura. I have even been allowed to perceive it several times. The efforts it makes are unceasing, and at the least opportunity the efforts explode into action. This aura, though, is held in check by an aura of heavenly energies from the Lord, which is a beneficial aura. Because it comes from the Deity, it holds all power. (Secrets of Heaven §8209)
Hell is strong, but heaven is much more powerful. Nevertheless, they are in an equilibrium within us. Heaven won’t just charge in and destroy hell—heaven wants to protect everything, including the darkness.
The Personal Struggle
This battle takes place in the tension between our inner and outer selves. Heaven wants our inner self to control our outer self, while hell wants our outer self in control. But when the inner self is in control, it’s better for both selves.
During a state of attack and a state of trial . . . two forces or powers act on us. One is exerted by falsity the hells inject into our outer self, the other by truth the Lord instills into our inner self. These two forces combat one another. The falsity the hells inject takes its force and power from the love we have for ourselves and our worldly advantages, but the truth the Lord instills takes its force and power from love for our neighbor and for the Lord. (Secrets of Heaven §8168)
They fight this battle using ideas, memories, and other things within us.
When we enter this state, evil, hellish spirits surround us. When they notice that angels are guarding us from inside, they stir up the distorted thoughts we have had and the wrongs we have done, but the angels defend us from within. This fight is what we perceive as a trial, but so dimly that we can hardly tell it is not simple anxiety. We humans—especially those of us who disbelieve in spiritual influence—live in a totally obscure state. We sense scarcely a thousandth of the issues over which the evil spirits and angels are fighting, yet we and our eternal salvation are the whole point; and we also provide the resources. What is inside us supplies both the ammunition with which the combatants fight and the issues over which they fight. (Secrets of Heaven §5036:2)
This all sounds dramatic, but why can’t we see or feel these struggles? Many of the outward symptoms of spiritual warfare look like despair, anxiety, or hopelessness. Does that sound familiar?
Knowing the battle is real is a first step—the next is to charge into the fray. One way to do this is to find the truths that help you do good, acknowledge them, and work alongside them. Any good we consciously work alongside becomes a part of us.
These small trials help us build up spiritual strength to take on larger challenges in the future. As guest Dr. Edward Higgins describes, this works in a way that’s similar to our physical immune systems.
Every battle we win gives us more power against hell through increased wisdom and a stronger foundation in truth. In the wrap-up, Curtis reminds us that none of us are alone—though you and the rest of humanity are up against hell, heaven is on your side.
- Sometimes when I’m about to fall asleep I see the faces and bodies of people I do not know—is this a spiritual experience?
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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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