Nearly three centuries ago, in the heart of the Scandinavian north, lived a scientist who dedicated his life to exploring the laws of nature. One day in late midlife, he experienced an awakening that opened his spiritual eyes to the invisible world—heaven and hell and the spaces in between—and it lasted not just for a moment but for the rest of his life. It was as if he had a near-death experience that went on for decades.
During his journey, he wrote down many extraordinary observations, including this one: Heaven is actually a human being.
But what did he mean? How can a place be a person?
First, he said, being human doesn’t mean what we think it does. It has nothing to do with our physical body or how we appear to other people. “The humanity of every individual,” he wrote, “depends on the quality of his or her understanding and intentions.” In other words, it’s what we think, and what we decide to do as a result, that forms our personality and shapes our actions in this world. Once we shed our body and enter the afterlife, our consciousness becomes our entire being—our essential person.
Now imagine an afterlife full of humans who are pure being, where people who share the same purpose are drawn together into communities, and communities into whole cities, just as cells in our body combine into tissues and tissues into organs and organs into systems. Just as our body’s trillions of component parts function as a harmonious whole, so, he observed, do beings function together in afterlife. When people who love goodness and want good things to happen for others join together with one purpose, that is heaven. One will—one human being.
He found that this unity of goodness works in reverse, too. The pure goodness and love of heaven is reflected in each of its communities, and the goodness of each community is reflected in every person who lives there—every angel. Thus, he wrote, whenever we feel love for others, we’re experiencing the same love that angels have. We manifest a spark of heaven here on earth.
So in a way, you might say that heaven—that pure essence of love that is truly divine—is inside all of us.
We’re all taught to be a little skeptical, so you may be thinking this was just a crazy dream this guy had one night. But imagine, just for a moment, that there really is a connection to heaven inside every person in the world. If that were true, how would that change the way you think about others? How would it change the way you think about yourself?
Swedenborg Says . . .
An excerpt from Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg, sections #29-77
Explore the Concept
In his writings, Swedenborg often repeats the idea that heaven has a human form, a concept that he calls the Maximus Homo. This is a Latin term that can be translated “Universal Human,” or, in older translations, “Grand Man.”
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