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When people get ready for some deep sea diving, they have to be sure that they have enough supplies—not just for the journey down into the sea, but for the journey back up. Divers cannot swim straight to the top; they take time to pause to allow their bodies to adjust slowly to the changes in pressure. They protect themselves by allowing time for breaks, giving their bodies a chance to change from one state to another. This idea of a slow transition, with time to adjust to a new state, provides a great comparison to eighteenth-century philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg’s ideas about the journey after death to the spiritual world. In this episode of Swedenborg and Life, host Curtis Childs goes over the path that Swedenborg maps out in his theology, taking us through this detailed transition from the physical world to a spiritual one.
What the World of Spirits Is
The death of the physical body is only the beginning of the journey in this episode—in physical death, the body separates from the spirit, which leaves the spirit free to ascend and move inward into the spiritual world.
“All the spirits who are in the world of spirits are together with us because we are similarly between heaven and hell as to the deepest levels of our minds. Through these spirits we are in touch with either heaven or hell, depending on the way we are living.” Divine Love and Wisdom #140
Curtis discusses the influences we get from both heaven and hell, which means our main dominant love seeks out either heavenly or hellish ideas to support that love. Our job in the world of spirits is to join ideas with the things we love, uniting our minds in one direction:
“No one in heaven or hell is allowed to have a divided mind, to understand one thing and intend something else.” Heaven and Hell #425.
Curtis digs more deeply into the difference between good and evil dominant loves at 6:42.
Why Do We Need to Spend Time There?
Anytime we go to a new place, we need to learn more about that place, either by experience or by research. Swedenborg says that we need both training and cleansing to be happy in the next level, moving toward heaven. Curtis discusses the idea that love and wisdom in our lives must be refined and focused, eliminating the distractions just as a diver gets ride of any distractions before moving toward the next state.
To refine our lives, Curtis notes that we have to understand the mix of good and bad things in us—we’re a mixture of good, truth, evil and falsity. To ascend into good, we have to make the evil inactive, cleansing ourselves of evil. This begins with the World of Spirits, where there is a three step process: welcoming, recognizing bad things, and learning.
Stage One: Welcome!
“Our first state after death is like our state in this world, since we are then similarly involved in outward concerns. We have similar faces, voices, and character; we lead similar moral and civil lives. This is why it still seems to us as though we were in this world unless we notice things that are out of the ordinary and remember that the angels told us we were spirits when we were awakened. So the one life carries on into the other, and death is only a passage.” Heaven and Hell #493
Swedenborg says that in order to move on to a new stage, we must first return to a familiar version of ourselves—we recognize ourselves and understand our own process. We can recognize others, see our loved ones, and feel all sorts of joy and happiness at reunions. We stay with other people as long as we want to. Swedenborg writes that this depends on the happiness we made with our loved ones in the physical world.
Curtis takes us through a description of paradise, where people see beautiful things filled with happiness, which helps people realize the extent of the possible joy of heaven. This joy is actually internal, but this first realization takes place in an external way: through vision and experience.
Bonus: Curtis tells us about Swedenborg’s description of a life review, or a book of life, full of memories, thoughts, and feelings. Here we begin the process of focusing our love—we can’t fake feelings or thoughts any longer.
Stage Two: Wake Up Call
Now, Curtis moves into the heavy lifting in the spiritual world. We have been welcomed, and now we have to get into the changes. Pretense disappears and we gain access into the more inward parts of our life. In this stage, Swedenborg says that looks become more important—because peoples’ outward appearance reflects their inner state, the way they look reveals more about who they really are. Look at 34:05 to see how the spiritual world becomes a mirror for the inner reality of people, all the way down the small choices people make or the way the look. Curtis gives a list of good signs and bad signs in this stage of the world of spirits, giving people a funny glimpse into this different kind of world. Hint: Stay with sunny, light places and watch out for whispers.
Swedenborg notes that one of the essential ideas in this stage is sorting through the good and bad tendencies we have. We have to throw out the things that don’t mix well. People must live entirely in what makes them happy, even if it’s bad.
Stage Three: Instruction and Preparation
Walking up the heavenly path involves some basic knowledge. People are never forced to learn anything, but there are things that Swedenborg says people have to know before they can be happy in heaven. Swedenborg says that people are taught by others with a similar background, so that they are always relatable and understanding, and people are able to connect their experiences in the world with new ideas. Curtis discusses the foundation of learning—love, truth and use—at 47:54.
Throughout this process, Curtis leads his audience to the idea that people have to adjust their loves and lives into a new spiritual state, getting rid of loves that don’t fit or were fake, and preparing for life in the spiritual world.
“Heavenly love is loving what is good, honest, and fair because it is good, honest, and fair, and doing it because of that love.” Heaven and Hell #481
Questions from Viewers
In the last segment, Curtis answers these questions from our viewers:
- Can spirits have babies like humans do?
- Since children and adults go to different places for re-education in the afterlife, what happens if a mother and child die at the same time? Are they separated?
- Can spirits remain earth bound?
- Are aliens demons?
- What happens to those who aren’t entirely good or bad… but somewhere in between?
- If you want a spiritual experience why is it so hard to have one?
- What do I do if I’m being haunted by a demon from in my mind living inside me?
- Can spirits hear what I think or say here or are they busy?
- I know someone who genuinely thinks he is Jesus. Is he not just mentally ill? Is it spiritual?
- Speaking of the mentally ill… do they heal on the other side?
- Does anybody just skip the World of Spirits and go straight to their heaven or hell?
- When we strive to do something good for others, such as curing cancer, and our intentions are not for worldly gain; yet, God decides it is not time yet, is that just to grow our spirit?
- Do we all have guardian angels?
- How can one value rationality and value faith and belief without proof?
Free E-Book Downloads
Our Life After Death (an excerpt from Heaven and Hell that focuses specifically on the world of spirits)
About Swedenborg and Life
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 in a lighthearted and interactive live webcast format.
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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 help others look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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