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Emanuel Swedenborg

Scientist And Spiritual Explorer

Who Is Swedenborg?


Illustrious scientist, Swedish statesman, keen inventor and spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for the significant contribution he made in many fields of human endeavour, and for the enlightenment to be found in his esoteric writings which provides a blueprint for individual spiritual development and growth. These writings are known to have influenced the earliest anti-slavery movements, as well as many great thinkers and religious leaders who have helped shape western culture during the past 200 years. These same writings largely inspired the establishment of infant education in Germany and England in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The impact of his work has spread far and wide. Today, there is a growing thirst for understanding the purpose of life and the working of the human psyche, which has stimulated new interest in the valuable insights in Swedenborg’s works.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1688, in an era when scientists were few, Swedenborg investigated the physical world in all directions. He designed a number of useful inventions, made some remarkable discoveries and anticipated theories now accepted by modern science. He wrote some 33 scientific works embracing such widely differing subjects as metallurgy, mineralogy, physiology, mathematics, cosmology, and the structure and function of the brain. During this period of outstanding mental activity he worked in an important government position as a Royal Assessor of Mines contributing significantly to the revitalisation of his country’s mines industry. He travelled extensively throughout Europe, taking notes everywhere on the latest scientific marvels, meeting the leading scholars of the day, always searching, wondering, probing the mysteries of life.

His stated purpose in pursuing a scientific career was to locate and understand the working of the human soul. After exhausting the scientific knowledge of his day including extensive anatomical efforts, he realised that he was not going to achieve his objective. Rational deductions proposing the existence of the soul could not be proved. At 55, Swedenborg resigned his government work and his scientific and anatomical research. Whilst continuing a normal, active life for a gentleman in his position, being a member of the Upper House of the Swedish Parliament, after a series of mystical experience he began a detailed study of the Bible. It sounds extraordinary, yet Swedenborg wrote shortly before his death in London in 1772 that his spiritual faculties had been opened for 27 years enabling him to become a citizen of two worlds at the same time – this natural world as well as the spiritual dimension of consciousness into which we fully enter when the physical body ceases to function. After years of science and philosophy trying to demonstrate the existence of the things of the spirit, Swedenborg now saw the answers to what he had tried to discover, and he realised that these things could be known by revelation –consciousness from above received by the mind within. He became a spiritual explorer. Although he did not seek psychic powers, he demonstrated their presence via a number of well-documented extraordinary incidents involving some well-known people of the day.

Questions about the existence of God, the creation of the world, our spiritual dimension, and the Divine government of the natural and spiritual worlds, are all discussed in many of his thirty volumes which comprise Swedenborg’s spiritual writings. He saw these things written by himself as a God-given response capable of satisfying the questioning and the probing of men and women in full possession of their rational and critical faculties. Two excellent websites have a great overview on Swedenborg’s Life and Teachings are the Swedenborg Foundation and Wikipedia.

Scientific Achievements

Swedenborg has been rightly called “the last of the universal scholars.” It was possible in the eighteenth century for a highly gifted individual to cover all the fields of the then known science. This is what Emanuel proceeded to do. He mastered one area after another making outstanding contributions in all of them. He also laid the foundation of several new sciences, including that of crystallography. In working his way through the sciences he studied mathematics, chemistry, engineering, physics, mineralogy, geology, palaeontology, anatomy, astronomy, metallurgy, cosmology, cosmogony, and psychology. By the age of sixty-one he had written a hundred papers - some book length, some brief - in these various disciplines

Modern experimentation, particularly in the field of atomic energy, has confirmed many of Emanuel’s cosmological speculations. Svante Arrhenius, Nobel Prize chemist and founder of the 20th Century science of physical chemistry, concluded that Buffon, Kant, La Place, Wright and Lambert all set forth systems of creation which had been earlier suggested by Swedenborg in his Principia, so that rightfully the credit for first formulating a nebular hypothesis belongs to him.

M. Dumas distinctly ascribes the origin of the modern science of crystallography to Swedenborg. “It is then to him that we are indebted for the first idea of making cubes, tetrahedrons, pyramids, and the different crystalline forms by grouping the spheres”. Magnetism absorbed much of Emanuel’s attention at different periods of his life, and he is credited with anticipating many modern discoveries. Fifty years after the publication of Swedenborg’s Opera Philosophica, speaking to a report of a commission to Louis XV that there did not yet exist any theory of the magnet, the Marquis de Thome responded indignantly and at length, declaring that the Opera Philosophica of Swedenborg was held in high esteem in all Europe and that the most celebrated men had “not disdained to draw materials from it to assist them in their work”; that “the theory of the Swedish author is a true theory of the magnet and all magnetism”.

In his address as President of the International Congress of Anatomists in May 1903, Professor Gustaf Retzius drew attention to some of Swedenborg’s extraordinary anticipations of modern science. The more than a hundred of the leading anatomists of Europe present were astonished at the facts placed before them. They were unaware that Swedenborg had localized several functions of the brain. Sensation was created when it was stated that in his work on the brain Swedenborg was more than a century ahead of modern anatomists. Of one of these discoveries it was said “He leaped a whole century ahead of his age by the announcement of another discovery, for he was the first to show that the cortical substance of the brain is the exclusive seat of higher physical activity, the point of attack of the soul.”

“It is both curious and satisfying to observe that medical authorities have been for ages approximating to some of the principles put forth by Swedenborg. I cite one of these cases, the influence of the respiratory movements on and their propagation to the viscera and to the whole body. The law that the body in general and in particular respires with the lungs - that the perpetuation of all the functions and, in a word, corporeal life, depends on the universality of this action, as a law - is peculiar to Swedenborg. Another principle discovered by Swedenborg is the permeability of membranes, and the circulation of fluids through them in determinate channels. Some of the details of this are now grouped under the names of “Endosmosis” and “Exomosis” - two phenomena that are thought to be discoveries of the present day.

Emanuel was not only ahead of his age in science but in the use he made of his knowledge, for his physiological studies were only undertaken as a basis for his profound psychological speculations. Coventry Patmore truly observes, “We have had only one psychologist and human physiologist, at least only one who had published his knowledge, for at least a thousand years, namely, Swedenborg.”

Emanuel may not have been aware that he was taking a giant step forward when he began in 1744 to describe mental experiences directly. This study is now called phenomenology. [It gathers raw data of experience and attempts to observe, understand and describe human experience itself.] He began writing down and interpreting his own dreams. His understanding of the structure of dream language two centuries ago is still ahead of what ours is today. Sigmund Freud is credited with a psychology based upon the interpreting of dreams, yet Swedenborg’s treatment of the same phenomena more than anticipates his, as witness the Journal of Dreams and the Spiritual Diary.

Since childhood Emanuel had practiced a way of suspending breathing, and of drawing his attention inward, in what the East calls Pranayama and Pratjahara, limbs of Raja Yoga practice. He followed this way of intensifying inner processes. He did the most detailed and revealing study of the hypnogogic state ever done before or since. He explored the inward realm perhaps more than anyone else in the western world.

If there are any doubts about Emanuel’s perceptive mind and his extraordinary contributions to civilization, we only need look at his inventions and discoveries. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, the impressive thing is the diversity:

  • Drawings for an Underwater Ship [forerunner of the submarine]
  • Drawings for a heavier - than - air Flying Machine [a model of which is in the Smithsonian Institute]. You can see drawings of it below or view a Chart which includes Swedenborg’s proposal in the History of Flight.
  • Construction of Sluices to raise ships to any height
  • Produced an Airtight, Hot Air Stove once in common use
  • Constructed the first Mercurial Air Pump
  • Simple Jack
  • Hoisting and Shift Machine (see graphic below)
  • Crane
  • New construction of an Air Gun
  • Traction Machine
  • Drawbridge which opens and closes from within the gates and walls
  • A Tank for testing ships
  • Ear Trumpet for the deaf

Two sketches of Swedenborg's Aircraft

Machine for raising ore, invented circa 1715.

His principle scientific attainments: First to propound a “Nebular Hypothesis”, discoveries founded the science of Crystallography, anticipated the Doctrine of Energy, discovered functions of corpora striata and motor areas of cerebral lobes, Suggested particle construction of the magnet, discovered that the brain animates synchronously with the lungs, discovered function of the ductless glands, wrote and published first Swedish Algebra, first with hypothesis of numerous galaxies, researches founded science of Geology in Sweden, first exhaustive works on Metallurgy, discovered circulation and uses of the cerebrospinal fluid.

We are at a disadvantage to form a just estimate of Swedenborg’s contributions in these areas as many of his hypotheses, discoveries, research, and leading edge probings, have until recently been credited to others.

Psychic Abilities

At the end of June 1759, Swedenborg left England to return to Sweden. Though he had done this frequently, this time it would demonstrate his unique psychic powers. Up until now he had published his extraordinary theological works anonymously. Though widely distributed, few people knew that he was the author and for fifteen years had been living a double life as a citizen of two worlds. Now a series of incidents, which demonstrated his remarkable powers, focused public attention on him. The first occurrence was at the port of Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden, 300 miles from Stockholm, on July 19th when Swedenborg and fifteen others were dinner guests of William Castel, a leading merchant of that city. The following account of that dinner is that of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who thoroughly researched the incident, as contained in a letter to Charlotte von Knobloch written in 1763:

“The following occurrence appears to me to have the greatest weight of proof, and to place the assertion respecting Swedenborg’s extraordinary gift beyond all possible doubt. In the year 1759 toward the end of July, on Saturday, at 4 o’clock pm. Swedenborg arrived at Gothenburg from England, when Mr. William Castel invited him to his house to gather with a party of 15 persons. About 6 o’clock Swedenborg went out, and returned to the company quite pale and alarmed. He said that a dangerous fire had just broken out in Stockholm, at the Sodermalm (Gothenburg is 300 miles from Stockholm), and that it was spreading very fast. He was restless and went out often. He said that the house of one of his friends, whom he named, was already in ashes, and that his own was in danger. At 8 o’clock, after he had been out again, he joyfully exclaimed, “Thank God! The fire is extinguished, the third door from my house.” The news occasioned great commotion throughout the whole city, but particularly among the company in which he was. It was announced to the governor the same evening. On Sunday morning Swedenborg was summoned to the Governor who questioned him about the disaster.

Swedenborg described the fire precisely, how it had begun, in what manner it had stopped and how long it had continued. On the same day the news spread through the city, and the Governor had thought it worthy of attention, the consternation was considerably increased because many were troubled on account of their friends and property, which might have been involved in the disaster.

On Monday evening a messenger dispatched by the Board of Trade during the time of the fire arrived at Gothenburg. In the letters brought by him the fire was described precisely in the manner stated by Swedenborg.

On Tuesday morning the royal courier arrived at the Governor’s with the melancholy intelligence of the fire, of the loss which it had occasioned, and of the houses it had damaged and ruined, not in the least differing from what Swedenborg had given at the very time it happened, for the fire was extinguished at eight o’clock.”

News of Swedenborg’s vision of the fire soon reached the capital arousing public curiosity. People were astonished to learn that the famous Swedenborg, of all people, the noted scientist, member of the Board of Mines, respected statesman of the House of Lords, possessed the strange power of knowing what was happening so far away! Soon the whole town was talking about him; everyone was amazed. At the same time a single copy of his work Heaven and Hell had turned up in Stockholm during the winter and come into the hands of Count Gustaf Bonde. He seems to have been the first person to guess, or find out, that Swedenborg was the author of these amazing books. After writing to several of his friends, the secret was out. Much sensation was caused in the capital that spring when the news of Swedenborg’s communication with spirits spread. But public knowledge finally came through a further series of incidents. Immanuel Kant’s well-researched investigations of these follows:

“Madame Marteville, the widow of the Dutch ambassador, sometime after the death of her husband was called upon by Croon, a goldsmith, to pay for a silver service which her husband had purchased from him. The widow was convinced that her late husband had been much too precise and orderly not to have paid this debt, yet she was unable to find the receipt. In her sorrow and because the amount was considerable, she requested Mr. Swedenborg to call at her house. After apologizing to him for troubling him, she said that if, as all people say, he possessed the extraordinary gift of conversing with the souls of the departed, he would perhaps have the kindness to ask her husband how it was about the silver service. Swedenborg did not at all object to comply with her request. Three days afterwards the said lady had company at her house for coffee. Swedenborg called, and in his cool way informed her that he had talked with her husband, the debt had been paid seven months before his decease, and the receipt was in a bureau in the room upstairs. The lady replied that the bureau had been quite cleared out, and that the receipt was not found among the papers. Swedenborg said that her husband had described to him, how after pulling out the left hand draw a board would appear which could be drawn out, whereupon a secret compartment would be disclosed containing his private Dutch correspondence as well as the receipt.

Upon hearing this description the whole company rose and accompanied the lady into the room upstairs. The bureau was opened. They did as they were directed and the compartment was found, of which no one had ever known before. To the great astonishment of all the receipt was discovered there in accordance with Swedenborg’s description.”

Count Anders J. von Hopken records perhaps the strongest story about Swedenborg’s psychic power - “The Queen’s Secret,”, although its accuracy is attested to by other reliable, people including Jung-Stilling and Immanuel Kant.

“Swedenborg was one day at a court reception. Her majesty asked him about different things in the other life, and lastly whether he had seen or talked with her brother, the prince royal of Prussia. He answered that he had not. Her majesty then requested him to ask after him, and to give him her greeting, which Swedenborg promised to do. It is doubtful whether the Queen meant anything serious by this.

At the next reception, Swedenborg again appeared at court. The queen was in the white room, surrounded by her ladies of honour. He came boldly in and approached her majesty, who no longer remembered the commission she had given him a week ago. Swedenborg not only greeted her from her brother, but also gave her brother’s apologies for not having answered her last letter, which he wished to do so now through Swedenborg, who proceeded to do so. The queen was greatly overcome, and said, “no one, except God, knows this secret.”

The reason why she had never alluded to this before was that she did not wish anyone in Sweden to believe that during the war with Prussia she had carried on a correspondence with the enemy.”

Another account says that the queen nearly fainted, and Count von Schwerin, seeing distress, bitterly reproached Swedenborg for his conduct, at the same time trying to elicit the nature of the secret. The incident became known and many were anxious to know the truth of the matter. “The wife of Swedenborg’s gardener,” C.F. Nordenskold says, “related to us that for days following the occurrence carriages stopped before her master’s door from which the first gentlemen in the kingdom alighted, desiring to know the secret of which the queen was so greatly alarmed, but that her master, faithful to his promise, refused to tell.”

Jung-Stilling records the following story in his memorandum book for 1809 on the testimony of a certain beloved friend:

“In the year 1762, on the very day when the emperor Peter the third of Russia died, Swedenborg was present with me at a party in Amsterdam. In the middle of the conversation his countenance changed, and it was obvious that his soul was no longer present in him. As soon as he recovered he was asked what had happened. At first he would not speak out, but after repeatedly urged, he said, “Now, at this very hour the Emperor Peter the third has died in prison,” explaining the nature of his death. “Gentlemen, will you please make note of this day, in order that you may compare with the announcement of his death which will appear in the newspapers?” The papers soon after announced the death of the emperor which had taken place on that very same day. Such is the account of my friend. If anyone doubts this statement is proof that he has no sense of what is called historical faith and its grounds, and that he believes only what he himself sees and hears.”

Many others have testified to the truth of the messages Swedenborg brought them from their deceased friends. If Swedenborg had been a charlatan, he might have achieved wealth and fame by exploiting his extraordinary powers. Far from making a public show of these, he seldom referred to them unless the occasion called for it; most certainly he refused to confirm his mission by means of them. Remarkable as the revelations were, Swedenborg did not regard them as in any way miraculous. To him they were simply proofs of the reality of his communication with the spiritual world:

“These must by no means be regarded as miracles. They are simply testimonies that I have been introduced by the Lord into the spiritual world, and have communication and converse with angels and spirits, in order that the church, which hitherto has remained in ignorance about that world, may know that heaven and hell really exists, and that thus every man lives after death as a person as before, and that thus no more doubts may flow into his mind in regard to his immortality.”

Influences, tributes, testimonials

“The wide range of Swedenborg’s mind over the known branches of science is comparable only with that of Leonardo da Vinci”.

Everyman’s Encyclopaedia (Volume 11 p. 522)

On an index for Intelligence Quotients, 150 represents “genius” level. Four people have been accredited with figures over 200:

  • Kim Ung-Yong (1963 - ), South Korea;
  • John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873), U.K.,
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), Germany; and;
  • Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772), Sweden

Guinness Book of Records (1973 Edition)

Emanuel Swedenborg is arguably the greatest Spiritual explorer of the Eighteenth Century. He enables us to understand why we were created, why we are alive and what happens to us when we die.

Many distinguished men and women from throughout the world have acknowledged the contribution made by Emanuel Swedenborg to further mankind’s understanding of life in all its dimensions. Recently, it was found that even the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was familiar with Swedenborg ideas and incorporated them into some of his music. Chicago lawyer Charles C. Bonney was inspired by Swedenborg’s ideas and staged the First World Parliament of Religions. Architects John Wellborn Root (father of the skyscraper), Daniel Burnham (designed the Great White City and the Chicago city plan), and Louis Sullivan were all familiar with Swedenborg and used his spiritual ideas in their work. The tributes presented here demonstrate his impact on every phase of modern life and thought - in the arts, science, philosophy, religion and government. You can read below quotations from the following well-known personalities:

(mostly in alphabetical order)

Dr Eben Alexander; William Blake; General William Booth; Jorge Luis Borges; Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks; Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Thomas Carlyle; Andrew Carnegie; John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed); Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Alfred Deakin; Arthur Conan Doyle; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Amelita Galli-Curci; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Henry James, Sr.; Carl Jung; Helen Keller; James Tyler Kent; Czeslaw Milosz; Victor Nilsson; Dr. Norman Vincent Peale; Kenneth Ring; George Ripley; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki; Johann August Strindberg; John Greenleaf Whittier; Colin Wilson; Bill Wilson.

In addition to these famous people, many others are known to have been influenced by him and a fuller list may be obtained from the Swedenborg Association of Australia.

“Swedenborg was one of the world’s great geniuses. With his rare intellect and deep spiritual insight he has much to contribute to our modern life”.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Author of The Power of Positive Thinking

“People who have had near-death experiences peek through the door of the afterlife, but Swedenborg explored the whole house.”

Kenneth Ring, Author and Founder of the International Association for Near Death Studies

“I acknowledge my profound indebtedness to Emanuel Swedenborg for a richer interpretation of the Bible, and a deeper understanding of Christianity, and a precious sense of the divine presence in the world.”

“Swedenborg’s message has given colour and reality and unity to my thought of the life to come; it has exalted my ideas of love, truth, and usefulness; it has been my strongest incitement to overcome my limitations”.

Helen Keller, Blind, deaf American Author and Lecturer

“Swedenborg was the first modern scientist to treat heaven as a real place, and the first to try to map it.”

Dr Eben Alexander, author of Map of Heaven and Proof of Heaven.

“Swedenborg’s visions . . . are the foundation for grand things.”

William Blake, English Poet, Painter, and Engraver

“Continue to love me. Aye, let us love, as God would have us love one another, and let us realise, on earth, in spirit, what Swedenborg said when he saw in his vision in heaven, that man and wife there were melted into one angel.”

General William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army (in a published letter to his wife)

“Swedenborg . . . No one accepted life more fully, no one investigated it with a passion so great, with the same intellectual love, or with such impatience to learn about it”.

Jorge Luis Borges, South American Poet and Novelist (d. 1986)

“I have the profoundest honour for the character and work of Emanuel Swedenborg. I have from time to time gained much from his writings”.

Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks, Episcopalian Minister (writer of O Little Town of Bethlehem)

“To my mind the only light that has been cast on the other life is found in Swedenborg’s philosophy”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English Poet

“Swedenborg was a man of great and indisputable cultivation, strong mathematical intellect, and the most pious, seraphic turn of mind; a man beautiful, lovable and tragical to me. More truths are confessed in Swedenborg’s writings than that of any other man. One of the loftiest minds in the realm of mind. One of the spiritual suns that will shine brighter as the years go on”.

Thomas Carlyle, Scottish essayist, historian, and moralist

“I may speak here of another matter which belongs to this same period. A few persons in Allegheny— probably not above a hundred in all— had formed themselves into a Swedenborgian Society, in which our American relatives were prominent. My father attended that church after leaving the Presbyterian, and, of course, I was taken there. My mother, however, took no interest in Swedenborg. Although always inculcating respect for all forms of religion, and discouraging theological disputes, she maintained for herself a marked reserve. Her position might best be defined by the celebrated maxim of Confucius: ‘To perform the duties of this life well, troubling not about another, is the prime wisdom.’… I became deeply interested in the mysterious doctrines of Swedenborg, and received the congratulations of my devout Aunt Aitken upon my ability to expound ‘spiritual sense.’ That dear old woman fondly looked forward to a time when I should become a shining light in the New Jerusalem, and I know it was sometimes not beyond the bounds of her imagination that I might blossom into what she called a ‘preacher of the Word.’”.

Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, 1920

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was an American captain of industry whose philanthropy adapted the Swedenborg’s ‘doctrine of uses’ to the Industrial Age. The son of a poor Scottish immigrant, Andrew Carnegie started out working at humble jobs but through his hard work and acute business insight he eventually formed the giant Carnegie Steel Company in 1892. In 1902 banker J.P. Morgan arranged to buy out Carnegie, making him the world’s wealthiest man. In his ‘Gospel of Wealth,’ Carnegie set forth the idea that the wealthy should spend the latter part of their lives giving away their wealth. Carnegie established a pattern of modern philanthropy followed by later industrialists, and his Carnegie Corporation in New York continues to carry out his philanthropic work today. Carnegie’s social conscience was shaped in part by his mentors Matthew Arnold and Herbert Spencer, but he was also influenced by Swedenborg’s Doctrine of Uses. As a young man, he attended the Sunday school of the Swedenborgian Church in Pittsburgh and was librarian of that church. Carnegie did not merely give away his wealth - he devoted considerable effort to make certain that his gifts would be put to proper use, an approach that fitted Swedenborg’s doctrine to early twentieth century America in a remarkable way.

Swedenborg’s books: “Good news right fresh from heaven”.

John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed

“As a moralist Swedenborg is above all praise”.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poet, philosopher, literary, social and theological critic

“My salvation and inspiration come from philosophy a little and religion a great deal, especially from the mystics ancient or modern theosophical. With them my load is lifted and I regain peace, courage, faith. Praise be to the God of Jesus, … of Swedenborg, of St. Paul.”

Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second Prime Minister

For more Deakin quotes on Swedenborg, see here.

“The great Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg has some claim to be the father of our new knowledge of supernal matters. When the first rays of the rising sun of spiritual knowledge fell upon the earth, they illuminated the greatest and highest human mind before they shed their light on lesser men. That great mountain peak of mentality was this great religious reformer.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, British writer and creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes

“The most remarkable step in the religious history of recent ages is that made by the genius of Swedenborg. These truths passing out of his system into general circulation, are now met with every day, qualifying the views and creeds of all churches, and of men of no church.”

Swedenborg is one of the missoriums and mastodons of literature, not to be measured by whole colleges of ordinary scholars. . . Swedenborg is systematic and respective of the world in every sentence; a colossal soul who lies vast upon our times.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Philosopher

“To me, Swedenborg’s literature is an explanation of life - its meaning and purpose - which satisfies that something within us which we already know is only appealed to by the truth.”

Amelita Galli-Curci, Italian Soprano

“I am as much inclined as anyone to believe in a world beyond the visible, and I have enough poetic and vital drive that even my own constricted self expands to feel a Swedenborgian spirit world”.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet and dramatist (Author of Faust)

“Emanuel Swedenborg had the sanest and most far-reaching intellect this age has known . . . He grasped with clear and intellectual vision the seminal principles of things”

Henry James, Sr., American Philosopher

“I admire Swedenborg as a great scientist and a great mystic at the same time. His life and work has always been of great interest to me and I read about seven fat volumes of his writings when I was a medical student”.

Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist and Psychoanalyst

“All my teaching is founded on that of Hahnemann and of Swedenborg; their teachings correspond perfectly”.

James Tyler Kent, nineteenth-century physician, writer and proponent of modern day Homeopathy theory and practice.

“In the history of the rebellion of man against God and the order of nature, Swedenborg stands out as a healer who wanted to break the seals on the sacred books and thus make the rebellion unnecessary”.

Czeslaw Milosz, Polish Poet and Novelist; 1980 Nobel Prize winner for literature.

“Emanuel Swedenborg was the most remarkable man whom Sweden has ever brought forth . . . if the theological works of Swedenborg at first were apt to discredit the results of his manifold scientific research in the eyes of those who did not share his theological views, the renown of the greatest religious thinker in later times has outshone the fame of which, as the versatile scholar and philosopher, he was so eminently worthy.”

Victor Nilsson, Swedish Historian

“Emanuel Swedenborg: No single individual in the world’s history ever encompassed in himself so great a variety of useful knowledge”.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

“In a world in which the voice of conscience too often seems still and small there is need of that spiritual leadership of which Swedenborg was a particular example.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President

“Theological revolutionary, traveler of heaven and hell, . . . great king of the mystical realm, seer unique throughout history, . . . clear-minded scientist, . . . all these make Swedenborg”.

Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Japanese philosopher and Buddhist scholar

“Swedenborg has become my Virgil. Swedenborg’s work is one of enormous compass and he has answered all my questions, however presumptuous they may have been. Disquiet soul, suffering heart “Take up and read”.

Johann August Strindberg, Novelist, dramatist, poet - Sweden’s greatest literary figure.

“His (Swedenborg’s) revelations look through all external and outward manifestations to inward realities; which regard all objects in the world of sense only as the types and symbols of the world of spirit; literally unmasking the universe and laying bare the profoundest mysteries of life”.

John Greenleaf Whittier, American Poet

“It must be acknowledged that there is something very beautiful and healthy about the Swedenborgian Religion. The feeling of breezy health is the basic reason for its enduring popularity”.

Colin Wilson, English Philosopher and Writer

“In January of 1918 Bill and Lois were married in the Swedenborgian church in Brooklyn, New York”. “Bill learned that Lois’ family were all Swedenborgians, and the mystic aspect of the faith so fascinated them they vowed to explore it more deeply…”. “This is not to say that Bill Wilson became a Swedenborgian per se, yet his obsession with spiritualism and view of Christ and the Bible must be at least partially attributed to exposure to Swedenborgian teachings”.

references to co-founder of A.A., Bill Wilson, and his connection to Swedenborg (for more click here)

Spiritual Philosophy

“The Lord regards nothing else in a person but the person’s aim or purpose. Whatever the thoughts and deeds may be, varying in countless ways, they are all good provided the purpose is good. But if the end in view is bad, they are all bad. . . . . A person’s aim is his very life.”

Emanuel Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia, from paragraph 1317

“Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil. Man does not know this while he is living in the world, but nevertheless as to his spirit he is in some society; otherwise he cannot live… If he is in an infernal society he can only be led out of it by the Lord according to the laws of His Divine Providence, one of which is that he must see that he is there, must desire to go out and must himself endeavour to do this of himself. This he can do while he is in the world, but not after death, for then he remains to eternity in the society in which he has placed himself while in the world. This is the reason why man is to examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins and repent, and afterwards persevere right on to the end of his life.”

Emanuel Swedenborg: Divine Providence 278:6


It is well recognised and accepted today by people everywhere that life is multifaceted and very complex. There are no easy answers for coming to terms with who we really are, or with the purpose of our life, or with our various relationships, let alone the bigger questions concerning a Divine Being and the spiritual domain. What we can sense is that all these issues are interconnected and any degree of understanding will only come as the larger picture emerges.

The spiritual philosophy in Swedenborg’s writings draws together the many and varied dimensions to life in a universal and wholistic way at both the micro and macro levels; universal in the sense that it has application for every individual in whatever circumstances they find themselves, wholistic through the drawing together of the many aspects in a way that each supports the other. The atom exists through a complex interrelationship of energy forces and the same pattern applies at the level of the human mind.

This summary is simply an outline of some of the basic concepts analysed by Swedenborg, each of which relate to the whole.

Divine Nature

Divine Love and Wisdom continuously creating and maintaining what is created

The Divine Itself is the unity of love and wisdom. Whilst in reality one does not exist without the other, our intellectual mind sees them as distinct. Divine Love, being the very substance of creation, is invisible; Divine Wisdom, which gives form and direction to Divine Love, is visible in what is created. United Love and Wisdom is not static but a source of power which continually creates and sustains what it has created. The closest example that we have in this world is through the heat and light of the sun acting together and providing the power for sustaining natural life. The Divine is outside the constraints of space and time, which exist only in this natural realm, and our own reflecting on the Divine nature must recognise that this is so.

Our Nature

We are each a unique soul receiving and responding to the Divine Life which animates us.

We are finite spiritual beings born with a material body in order to function in this natural world. As a unique soul formed at the time of conception, we each continuously receive the Divine Life of Love and Wisdom enabling us to live as feeling and thinking beings. As the highest form in creation, we have the ability to reason and make choices about spiritual matters as if we had our own life. The true person - the spirit - is immortal and on discarding the material body we become fully conscious of the spiritual realm. The qualities of love and related intelligence - our ruling love - that we have made our own in this world remain with us and become the basis for our spiritual development to eternity.

Spiritual Inflowing

We are constantly under positive and negative influences from the spiritual realm

As spiritual beings living in the worldly plane of existence, our internal minds are open to both positive and negative influences from spirits in the same way that our conscious minds are directly affected by our external circumstances. These influences - positive from spirits in heavenly states and negative from those in hellish states - are kept in equilibrium by the Lord to preserve our freedom. As part of the total mind processes, the spiritual influences filter into our consciousness and impinge on our choice processes. But we need to become aware of them, especially the subtle and persuasive hellish influences, and only take on board those influences for good in our decision making if we want to be in tune with the Divine to achieve lasting spiritual growth.


The Divine constantly works in every detail of life according to spiritual laws that look to our eternal welfare

Just as this world operates in accordance with natural, scientific, laws which apply consistently and coherently, so there are corresponding laws which govern all aspects of our spiritual life. These laws are the Divine Providence in action, which has for its end the eternal happiness of every person. The purpose of our existence here is to become sensitive to the Divine Will and act in ways that are harmonious with the laws of Providence. When we do live in accord with the Divine plan, as we understand it to be, our lives will be blessed ultimately, if not at once. Yet, even if we do act contrary to them, the Lord works untiringly giving us countless opportunities to return to the stream of Providence. In this world we always remain open to the possibility of misfortune but that will not be detrimental to our eternal welfare if we respond positively to these apparently adverse circumstances.

Free Will

We cannot always choose what happens to us; we can choose how we respond to it

We are all creatures of our heredity and environment. The worldly life of most people is determined by circumstances outside of their own immediate control - the law, governments and social expectations all impinge. Nevertheless, our internal response to such circumstances is something over which we have total control.

The God-given gift of freedom to choose rationally how we will act and react in any given situation remains available to us at all times unless our mental capacity becomes impaired, at which time we are no longer responsible spiritually and our eternal welfare is protected by God.

All of these internal choices placed before us are character building and we gradually build up the type of person we want to become.

Spiritual Growth

A purifying process which through an inner struggle to overcome selfish motives we can enjoy the peace

and joy of the Divine within

The whole purpose of our life in this realm of existence is to grow spiritually and achieve a transformation of our inner self - a lifetime of choices and change! We are born with inclinations towards selfishness - clearly displayed in early childhood behaviour - which if left to develop unchecked will eventually dominate our whole being and motivation. We can do something about it.

Temptations - the inner struggle of choosing between higher and lower motives - are very much part of the process even being something we should expect and welcome. Nature is full of examples of beauty and perfection coming through struggle; it is the same spiritually. We may only just begin the process here, but in doing so we will engage in dynamic and expanding awareness and growth patterns to eternity.

Spiritual Health

Through loving what is good and true and applying in life our understanding of it for the eternal welfare of others (Karmic principle)

All health and disease have spiritual origins. Bodily ill health often appears to result solely from external reasons but nothing in this material world exists which does not have a spiritual cause and connection. The spiritual plane is the plane of causes, the physical one is the plane of effects. Thus, all types of disease are caused by states of evil and falsity either coming from specific spiritual states within us or from the general causes of evil inflowing into the world.

Irrespective of our bodily condition, we are in a state of spiritual health when our mind or spirit is in the love of what is good and truth - those things which bring us lasting delight and thoughts we love to dwell on. If we are caught up in fear, worry, hatred, greed, lust for power, revenge, and so on we are in spiritual ill health.

Spiritual health automatically involves our own personal growth and a genuine concern for the welfare of others which, in turn, brings inner peace, humility and joy - spiritual riches beyond measure.

Divine Manifestations

The Divine reveals Itself through the imagery of sacred scriptures and in the functioning of created forms

“God” has always provided communication with men and women both by divine revelation and through nature.

Without direct revelation we cannot know of, or acknowledge, the existence of a Divine Creator. Sacred scriptures, especially the Word, give us this knowledge even if rather obscurely at times until we accept them in a psychospiritual framework concerned with our inner world - spiritual truths contained symbolically within natural images and stories.

This relationship between the outer and inner worlds also applies to nature, being the result of the continuous divine creative process. The functioning and usefulness of each individual part reflects the love and wisdom of the Divine so that through an understanding of how the material world operates we can gain insights into the nature of the Divine.

Eternal Questions

Who am I?

Swedenborg’s description of the mystery of identity, existence and destination is the most complete, profound and coherent, in its internal consistency and integrity, that has ever been presented to our Age.

So much so that it deserves attention on its own merits and the same according as Swedenborg’s own estimation and the considered opinion of other great minds, as the new revelation; the Second Coming of the Son of Man in the clouds and glory described in the word.

The picture he presents to be understood needs five basic principles to be assimilated which finally explains all. These are in the order given:

  1. All things derive from the Lord or the one God

  2. The Lord permits all

  3. (But) Yet all evil derives from devilish spirits

  4. But after that: the Truth that the Lord provides and arranges for evils to be converted into goods

  5. Finally that nothing but good comes from the Lord

The picture is triple structured : first the highest or inner most Golden Celestial Heaven of Good, a second Silver Spiritual Heaven of Truth, and third, lowest the Natural Heaven, that supports the phenomenal existence of everyday experience. God or the Lord is the Sun in the innermost Celestial Heaven who’s heat is Love and Light is Truth, to whom angels who once had a natural or human birth and life face to receive new life as influx Eternally from the Lord’s infinite source. In the second Heaven the Lord is its moon. The image or structure Heaven presents is of a grand man, a person and human which is the source and image of our humanity. In the natural world we were made as finite Souls, an internal man that mirrors our physical, a receptacle for the influx of the Lord’s divine spirit and life. His light as Truth descends into our Soul and then mind as the spirit of understanding and his heat as love and goodness into our hearts as will. The Soul with its spiritual influx of Love and Truth as the one life into our hearts and mind make us what and who we are.

In Arcana Caelestia it says: Everyone has an internal man and an external man, the internal being called the spiritual man, and the external the natural man. Both must be regenerated, if a person is to become regenerate.

In the case of the person who has not been regenerated the external or natural man is the master and the internal or spiritual is the servant. But in the case of the person who has been regenerated the internal or spiritual man is the master and the external or natural is the servant. This inversion of roles cannot come about at all except through regeneration by the Lord.

When the external man has not been regenerated he considers that everything good consists in pleasure, gain and eminence; and he flares up into hatred and vengeance against those who oppose him. At this time the internal man does not merely go along with all this; he also supplies reasons which support and further it. The internal man is accordingly the servant and the external the master.

But when the external man has been regenerated the internal considers all good to consist in thinking well of the neighbour and wishing him well, while the external considers it to consist in speaking well of him and behaving well towards him. Both at length have loving the neighbour and loving the Lord as their end in view, and not loving self and loving the world, as they did at first. Now the external or natural is the servant, and the internal or spiritual is the master.

The internal man is regenerated first by the Lord, and the external after that, the external being regenerated by means of the internal. The internal man is regenerated through thinking about matters of faith and intending them, but the external through a life in keeping with them. The life of faith is charity.

A person who has been regenerated is in heaven, as to his internal man; and he is an angel there with angels, among whom he also comes after death. He is then able to lead the heavenly life, love the Lord, love his neighbour, understand truth, taste good, and feel blessed in doing so. These things compose the happiness of eternal life.

As well Since the subject in what follows below is the joining together of Divine Good and Divine Truth, to the end that the arranging of truths into order may as a result take place with the member of the Church, it should be recognized that there is a difference between Divine Good and Divine Truth, in that Divine Good exists within the Lord, but that Divine Truth emanates from the Lord. They are like the fire of the sun and the light radiating from it. Fire exists within the sun but the light radiates from the sun; light holds no fire, only heat. Furthermore in the next life the Lord is the Sun, and He is the Light too. The Sun there, that is, He Himself, is Divine fire, which is the Divine Good of Divine Love. That Sun is the source of Divine Light, which is Divine Truth emanating from Divine Good. This Divine Truth also holds within it Divine Good, though not such as it is in the Sun; it is modified for its reception in heaven. Unless it had been modified for reception, heaven could not have come into existence; for no angel can bear the flame coming from Divine Love. An angel would be consumed by it instantly, just as anyone would be the instant that the flame of the sun in the world breathed on him.

But the way in which the Divine Good of the Lord’s Divine Love is modified for reception cannot be known by anyone, not even by angels in heaven, because it is a modification of the infinite for the finite. The infinite is such that it lies far beyond all the power of understanding which the finite possesses, so far beyond that when that power of understanding tries to fix its attention on the Infinite it falls away like someone sinking into the depths of the sea and perishes.

What am I?

The world believes that “I” or “thought” is the person. But there are two powers that constitute a persons life - understanding and will - and thought belongs to the understanding, the affection inherent in love being what belongs to the will. Thought without the affection inherent in love does not in any way at all constitute a person’s life; but thought springing from such affection, that is, the understanding springing from the will, does constitute it. These two powers are distinct from each other, which is evident to anyone who stops to reflect on the matter from the consideration that with his understanding a person can perceive that that thing is bad which his will desires, and that that thing is good which his will either does or does not desire. From all this it is plain that the will is the real person, not his thought, except so far as anything passes into it from the will. So it is that things which enter a person’s thought but do not pass on through it into his will do not render him unclean; only those which pass through thought on into the will do so. The reason why the latter renders a person unclean is that he takes them to himself then and makes them his; for the will, as has been stated, is the real person. The things which become part of his will are said to go into his heart and to go out from there, whereas those which are merely part of his thought are said to go into the mouth and to go out by way of the bowels into the sewer, according to the Lord’s words in Matthew.

What Am I Doing Here?

As Francis Bacon nee Shakespeare states ‘The world’s a stage and every man its player’ a school for souls where the Lord provides peoples requirements every day and that for this reason they ought not be anxious to acquire them of themselves. The same thing is meant by daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer and also by the Lord’s words in Matthew.

Do not be anxious for your soul, and what you are going to eat or what you are going to drink, nor for your body, what you are going to put on. Why be anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin. Do not therefore be anxious, so that you say, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or what shall we wear? For all these things the gentiles seek. Does not your heavenly Father know that you have need of all these things? Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, then all these things will be added to you. Do not therefore be anxious about the morrow; for the morrow will take care of the things that belong to it. Matt.6:25 to the end.

Similar words occur in Luke 12:11, 12,22-31

This refers in the internal sense to concern for the morrow, a concern which was not only forbidden but also condemned. Anyone who does not view the matter from anywhere beyond the sense of the letter may think that all concern for the morrow is to be avoided, which being so, people should then await their requirements every day from heaven. But a person who views it from a position deeper then the literal meaning, that is who views it from the internal sense, may recognise what concern for the morrow is used to mean - not concern to obtain food and clothing for oneself, and also resources for the future; for it is not contrary to order to make provisions for oneself and ones dependents. But people are concerned about the morrow when they are not content with their lot, do not trust in God but in themselves, and have solely worldly and earthly things in view, not heavenly ones. These people are ruled completely by anxiety over the future, and by the desire to possess all things and exercise control over all other people. That desire is kindled and grows greater and greater, till at length it is beyond all measure. They grieve if they do not realise the objects of their desires, and they are distressed at the loss of them. Nor can they find consolation, for in times of loss they are angry with the Divine. They reject Him together with all belief, and curse themselves. This is what those concerned for the morrow are like.

Where Am I Going?

While living in the world a person calls those things a blessing which makes him blessed and happy temporally, that is, wealth and important positions. Temporal blessings however are not what are meant in the internal sense of the Word but eternal ones, in comparison with which the temporal are nothing at all. For there is no ratio between what is temporal and what is eternal; there is no ratio even between several thousands and or several millions of years and what is eternal, since those years have an end whereas what is eternal has no end. Therefore what is eternal Is; for that which exists without end Is, since it has its Being from God, who is infinite - the infinite in relation to time being He who is Eternal. But the temporal by comparison Is not, because when it has reached its end it exists no longer. From this it is also evident that ‘a blessing’ in the spiritual sense is that which has Being from God within it, thus is those things which constitute eternal life, consequently things which are aspects of charity and faith.

The truth that worldly blessing is nothing in comparison with heavenly blessing, which is eternal, is taught in the following way by the Lord in Matthew,

What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul.

Matt. 16:26

But the person immersed in worldly and earthly interests does not understand this saying; for worldly and earthly interests have a stifling effect, and cause him not to believe even in the existence of eternal life. But I can positively declare that as soon as a person dies he is in the next life, living as a spirit among spirits, and that then he seems to himself and to all others there to be altogether like a person in the world, endowed with all the senses, internal and external, I can say too that therefore death of the body is merely a laying aside of such things as had enabled the person to serve and function in the world, and in addition that death itself is a continuation of life, though in another world which is not visible to the eyes of the earthly body but is visible there in light a thousand times brighter than midday light in the world. Since all this is known to me from actual experience which I have had over so many years and continue to have, I declare it positively. I have spoken to almost all those with whom I was acquainted in the world and who have died, to some two or three days after their decease; and I speak to them still. The majority of them have been extremely displeased that they had had no belief at all in the continuation of life after death. I have talked to those people not just for a day but over months and years. I have also been allowed to witness their succeeding or progressive states of life taking them either to hell or to heaven. Consequently let anyone who wishes to be happy for evermore know and believe that he is going to be alive after death; let him think about it and remember it, for it is the truth. Let him also know and believe that the Word is the one and only teacher of how a person should live in the world in order to be happy for evermore.

What Happens When I Die, In Short, What is the Meaning and Purpose of Life?

A person after death continues to eternity such as his will or ruling love is….. The angels declare that the life of the ruling love is never changed in anyone even to eternity, since every one is his love; consequently to change that love in a spirit is to take away or extinguish his life. [Swedenborg: Heaven and Hell 480]

No one becomes an angel, that is comes into heaven, unless he carries with him from the world something of the angelic character; and in this there is present a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and a walking in the way from a knowledge of it. Moreover in the spiritual world there are actually ways which lead to every society of heaven and to every society of hell, and each one, as if from himself, sees his own way. He sees it because there are ways there, one for every love; and love opens the way, and leads him to his fellows; nor does anyone see other ways than the way of his own love. From this it is clear that angels are nothing but heavenly loves, for otherwise they would not have seen the ways leading to heaven. [Swedenborg: Divine Providence 60]

[Heavenly] states produced by [conjugial] love are innocence, peace, tranquillity, inmost friendship, complete trust, a mutual desire of the mind and heart to do the other every good; also, as a result of all these, bliss, felicity, delight, pleasure, and, owing to an eternal enjoyment of states like this, the happiness of heaven. All of these states are inherent in conjugial love and consequently spring from it, and the reason is that conjugial love originates from the marriage between goodness and truth, and this marriage comes from the Lord. Moreover, it is the nature of love to will to share with another, indeed to confer joys upon another whom it loves from the heart, and to seek its own joys in return from doing so; and this being the case, infinitely more, therefore, does the divine love in the Lord will to confer joys upon mankind, whom He created to be recipients of both the love and the wisdom emanating from him. [Swedenborg: Conjugial Love 180]]

……For one who is in love truly conjugial loves what the other thinks and what the other wills; thus he also loves to think as the other does, and he loves to will as the other does; consequently to be united to the other, and to become one person. [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 10169]

Those who are in true conjugial love, after death, when they become angels, return to their early manhood and to youth, the males however spent with age, becoming young men, and the wives, however spent with age, becoming young women. Each partner returns to the flower and joys of the age when conjugial love begins to exalt the life with new delights….I have been told from heaven that such then have the life of love, which cannot otherwise be described than as the life of joy itself……. Marriages on the earth correspond to marriages in the heavens; and after death people come into the correspondence, that is, comes from the natural bodily marriage into spiritual heavenly marriage, which is heaven itself and the joy of heaven. [Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained 1000:4-4]

……Love truly conjugial is in its origin pure delight itself of the mind, and that love is the fundamental of all loves. From love is all the beauty of the angels in heaven, for love or the affection of love forms everyone, wherefore every angel is as to his face the image of his love or affection. Hence it is that all the beauty of the angels in heaven is from their conjugial love; for the inmost of their life which shines through is from that love. [Swedenborg: De Conjugio 2]

The delight of a soul comes from love and wisdom from the Lord………Love is the motive force, and it acts through wisdom; so you find both love and wisdom in what love and wisdom do, and what they do is something of use. This delight flows from the Lord into your soul and works down through the higher and lower levels of your mind into all your bodily senses, and there it is fulfilled. This is what makes joy really joy, and makes it eternal — from the Eternal, from whom it comes. You’ve seen something of a paradise, and I assure you that not one thing is there, not even a leaf, that is not from a marriage of love and wisdom in usefulness. So if a person has this marriage in him, he is in the paradise of heaven — in other words, in heaven. [Swedenborg: Conjugial Love 8]

……The joy the angels have is from love to the Lord and from charity toward the neighbour—that is, when they are in the use of performing the things of love and charity — and in these there is so great a joy and happiness as to be quite inexpressible. This will be hard to those who are in joy only from the love of self and the world, and in no joy from the love of the neighbour except for the sake of self; when yet heaven and the joy of heaven first begin in a person when his regard to self, in the uses which he performs, dies out. [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 11:2]

The condition however of one who serves the Lord by doing according to his commandments, and by being obedient in that kind of way, is not that of a slave; rather, it is that of one who is free. For perfect freedom consists for a person in being led by the Lord, The Lord breathes the good into the persons will from which his actions spring; and although that good comes from the Lord, the person nevertheless has the feeling that his actions are from himself, that is, he does them in freedom. This freedom exists with all who abide in the lord; and coupled with it there is indescribable happiness.

The reason why God is Divine order is that in the Word the name ‘God’ is used where truth is referred to, and ‘Jehovah’ where good is referred to. Therefore ‘God’, and ‘Jehovah’ mean Divine Truth emanating from the Lord’s Divine Good in the highest sense means His Divine Good from which Divine Truth emanates. The reason for this is that Divine Good is Essential Being [Esse], and Divine Truth is the Coming–into–Being [Existere] from it, since what emanates from something comes into being from it. The situation with good and truth in heaven or among angels is similar, and that in the church among men is similar. Good there is the essential being, and truth is the coming–into–being from it. All this makes plain why it is that ‘God’ can also mean Divine order; for Divine truth emanating from the Lord is what constitutes order in heaven, so completely that it is order itself.

Therefore when man or angel receives Divine Truth from the Lord within good, there resides with him that order which exists in the heavens. As a consequence he is a heaven or kingdom of the Lord in particular; he is such in the measure that he is imbued with good from truths, and after this in the measure that he is endowed with truths from good. And – what is an arcanum – angels themselves appear in heaven in a human form that accords exactly with the truths present with them within good, together with beauty and brilliance which accord with the character of the good from truths. The souls of members of the Church present a similar appearance in heaven. The divine Truth itself emanating from the Lord brings this about. This arcanum is what the following words are used to mean in John, in the Book of Revelation,

He measured the wall of the holy Jerusalem, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man [homo], that is, of an angel. Rev.21:17 [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 8988 2,3]

…….it should be recognised that there is a difference between Divine Good and Divine Truth, in that Divine Good exists within the Lord, But that Divine Truth emanates from the Lord. They are like the fire of the sun and the light radiating from it. Fire exists within the sun but the light radiates from the sun; light holds no fire, only heat. Furthermore in the next life the Lord is the Sun, and he is the Light too. The sun there, that is, He Himself, is Divine Fire, which is the Divine Good of Divine Love. That Sun is the source of Divine Light, which is Divine Truth emanating from Divine Good. This Divine Truth also holds within it Divine Good, though not such as it is in the Sun ; it is modified for its reception in heaven, Unless it had been modified for reception, heaven could not have come into existence; for no angel can bear the flame coming from Divine Love. An angel would be consumed by it instantly, just as anyone would be the instant that the flame of the sun in the world breathed on him.

But the way in which the Divine Good of the Lord’s Divine Love is modified for reception cannot be known by anyone, not even by angels in heaven, because it is a modification of the infinite for the finite. The infinite is such that it lies far beyond all the power of understanding which the finite possesses, so far beyond that when that power of understanding tries to fix its attention on the Infinite it falls away like someone sinking into the depths of the sea and perishes. [Swedenborg: Arcana Caelestia 8644 2,3]

Reader treasure this up within you, and after death, when you are living as a spirit, inquire whether this is true, and you will see. [Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained 984:3]


Chance? Coincidence? Providence?

On the surface, life can appear to be a bewildering array of random events, leading us to believe that chance operates in the situations of our lives.

Is there more to life than meets the eye?

We can be brought up with a jolt when something major happens in our life or that of a relative or close friend.

Was it by chance that Aunt Mary was shopping in the High Street when a car ran out of control seriously injuring her and several others?

Was it chance that held me up in a traffic snarl that I missed a 3.30pm flight which crashed on take off killing everyone on board?

Equally, was it chance that each one of the passengers killed decided to catch that particular flight?

These are difficult questions to answer.

Yet we also know that life presents many strange, intriguing connections and striking coincidence where unconnected events, or people who are complete strangers to each other, show a connection or relationship which normally just should not happen. It is something which takes place far more often than statistically it should; so much so that more and more people are taking them more seriously than purely chance events, and subjecting them to careful scientific study.

What are we to make of these events? Do we just dismiss their strangeness out of hand and say that it is all just random chance with nothing more to it? Do they leave us wondering, with the thought that there are more things going on in life than we realise? Or do they indicate the evidence of a universal mind, causing and directing a chain of events to take place for some purpose which cannot be really understood? Whatever, it is undeniable that these things happen and that everyone has his or her own strange episodes to relate.

James Redfield’s book The Celestine Prophecy has created considerable interest in the whole area of coincidence in life. The first Insight deals with the need to become consciously aware of the coincidences in our lives in order to sense and then discover that there is some other process operating behind the scenes. Yet, the concept that chance encounters having a deeper meaning is not new and many mystics and philosophers have addressed it. The “buzz” word for it in more modern times is synchronicity, a term coined by Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, to explain the many mysterious phenomena which the scientific laws of causality can only ignore - a link between physical and psychic states which have the same or similar origin.

Causality is a valid law to describe the connection between a physical cause and a physical effect, but synchronicity describes the connection between a psychic and physical state or event. This is no criticism of the principle of causality, it merely goes beyond its boundaries into the more subtle but no less real world of mental energies . . . . . Whether we are prepared to recognise this is another matter!

It is very easy to pour cold water on synchronistic coincidences and to explain them away. The commonest type of coincidence is the “it’s a small world” where two people who know each other happen to meet in a remote situation, perhaps when away on a holiday, or two strangers discover they both know a third person. A cynic could justifiably maintain that meetings between friends who share similar interests and lifestyle is highly probable and that if you put any two people together, the chances are that they will quickly find areas in common. So what?

But a good number of this type contain a further ingredient which is not so easily explained. .Many people have experienced a presentiment that they will shortly meet a certain person, or read a certain word, and it takes place. A common variety of this is the instance of picking up the phone on sudden impulse and ringing, only to be met with the startled reception, “Goodness, I was just on the point of ringing you!”

Normally when these types of coincidence occur we just accept them for what they seem to be; interesting and odd instances to tell one’s friends.. Many of them arguably are quite trivial. Perhaps though, we can nip them too quickly in the bud, for there are many recorded examples of so-called coincidence which led to people being given help, assistance, and solutions they badly needed. We do not normally go looking for such events in our lives, and we could ask how many others we miss out on noticing?

Is it legitimate to seek something underlying these coincidental events, or is it simply reading into things something which in fact is not there?

Swedenborg’s spiritual teachings do provide a very helpful basis for trying to cultivate the habit of seeing links in the way life unfolds and presents things to us. This includes events such as those apparently chance happenings mentioned at the beginning of this leaflet as well as synchronistic events. Swedenborg makes it clear that what is often called fate, fortune or coincidence is actually under the influence of Divine Providence. Most religious people recognise that God does exercise an overall care and guiding role over creation. Yet Swedenborg goes very much further showing that the beneficent care of the Divine operates in absolutely every detail, even the most seemingly insignificant and trifling, of an individual’s life. The focus of this divine activity is primarily related to our eternal welfare, not our material comforts. All the time we are being presented with opportunities geared to assisting our spiritual growth, although we are unaware of this happening. Of course it is very difficult for us to know fully what is significant and what isn’t. We can never be quite sure what is of importance for our spiritual welfare and what isn’t. But we should not assume that something isn’t working on a spiritual level so it is useful to cultivate the habit of seeking links in the way life unfolds and presents things. An approach to life in the belief that nothing happens merely by chance and that all events in our lives, while not necessarily arranged by God, are completely and securely under the infinite love and wisdom of the Divine Providence can only bring peace of mind. We remain free to make our own interpretations of all the various events and happenings; and usually it is sometime afterwards that we can begin to make some sense of it all.

Life can be like continually looking at the reverse side of a tapestry - many loose ends, knots and unconnected threads. We need to have glimpses of the beautiful picture on the right side!

“All things, indeed, the least of all things, down to the minutest are directed by the Divine Providence, even as to the very steps . . . . there is nothing such as chance, and apparent accident or fortune is providence in the ultimate of order.” Swedenborg

There are more things in heaven and earth than you and I ever dreamed of . . . .

Life After Death & Angels

The Inescapable Fact

Our birth and living will give way to dying and death at some future time. For most of us, to some degree at least, this is quite confronting due to apparently unanswerable issues such as -

  • the physical pain factor
  • the mental anguish of separation from loved ones
  • simply ceasing to exist
  • the possibility of living in an unknown world or realm to eternity which might be pleasant or equally unpleasant

All the world’s major religions and spiritual movements have beliefs about ongoing life in a spirit world or spiritual dimension. Death rituals of many different kinds - Rites of Passage - can be traced right back to the earliest times of mankind. So why does the thought of death and an afterlife so often bring about a sense of fear and the “head in the sand” approach? Information offered by religious and spiritual movements on the non-physical dying process and following experience, is mostly quite general. Much of it is a symbolic expression of what awaits us rather than the underlying reality. The modern mind tends to need to work with “facts” although, thankfully, some people are able to hold to a simple trust that doing the right thing now will inevitably bring its own rewards - why worry!

Proving Life After Death?

There is no current scientific proof. Research into the near-death experience has provided a body of collective information about the spirit leaving the body and reaching a transcendental realm. This might be considered evidence but science does offer other explanations. It is probable that there never will be scientific proof. Clearly, any existence after bodily death must be non-physical and beyond the reach of science.

What details do we have?

Near-death experiences do give some useful insights but they are very limited to the initial stage. Researchers into these experiences have looked for parallels in earlier philosophical writings and found a number which closely correlate, such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the spiritual writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Others have recorded their experiences in another realm of being, incorporating astral travel and meetings with spirits there. Still, considerable differences arise between these accounts. The Bible, too, gives some helpful insights.

Swedenborg’s Uniqueness

Until his mid 50’s, Swedenborg was essentially a scientist taking a very methodical and analytical approach to all his studies and work. His otherworldly visions came to him “out of the blue”. He did not seek them and somewhat reluctantly accepted the role as a Christian mystic. His scientific training stayed with him. What Swedenborg records over a 27 year period of dual mind consciousness ~ being able to experience the spiritual realm while carrying on everyday life here ~ is not simply a factual travel diary. He was able to integrate his physical and spiritual senses into a much greater Divine-centred Cosmology where every individual aspect is part of a greater, purposeful whole. Swedenborg’s accounts of life in the spiritual realm are fascinating. Yet their real purpose is to provide us with a framework for understanding -

  • the Divine creative process
  • the inter-connectedness between the material and the spiritual
  • the spiritual evolution of mankind
  • the laws governing our spiritual life
  • the reason for our existence
  • how to achieve our highest, eternal potential ~ a process which must commence in this life

Armed with such knowledge, we can set about properly getting our aims and motives more clearly established before leaving this world when our physical bodies cease functioning.

Outstanding Insights Offered by Swedenborg

We are spiritual people although for the most part we are unaware of our active spiritual nature

  • existence in a fixed environment gives us free choice over our aims and motives
  • the basic choices we make here determine the direction of our life to eternity in the spiritual dimension
  • the spiritual realm is a real, substantial environment directly reflecting the state of being of those there
  • as a result, there is no fixed time and space as we know it
  • the Law of Affinity applies - like minded people live together
  • everyone in the spiritual realm has previously existed in this material world but now lives there in a spiritual body
  • we each choose the type of life we wish to live
  • death-bed repentance is of no avail

Whilst some of these principles are not very different to those given in other teachings, taken as a whole, they provide new concepts of the transition process, of Heaven and of Hell.

New Concept of Transition

The timing and nature of our death generally cannot be predicted. Whenever, and whatever the circumstances, there is -

  • no sense of pain or discomfort
  • in the normal course of events, we go through a gentle waking process quite soon after physical death and are greeted by specially appointed angels
  • surroundings initially reflect our last worldly ones screening the change from our senses, the time-frame for this depending on our spiritual outlook
  • an earth life review ensues allowing us to sort out the mixture of motives behind our actions and determine our actual life’s delight ~ either others-centred (“heavenly”) or self-centred (“hellish”)
  • we can then choose how we want to live to eternity; no other judgment occurs
  • for those desiring to be with those who are others-centred, a period of instruction and experience of truth takes place as preparation

New Concept of Heaven

  • a real world with communities, streets, homes, trees, rivers, oceans, governments, etc. ~ similar in so many ways, yet not the same
  • we all have a unique role - or use - to perform in the spiritual cosmos. Eternal happiness is achieved in and through the employment of that use, plus times of recreation and relaxation
  • living in communities with others having similar uses enhances the total happiness
  • it is the communities acting collectively which makes heaven perfect just as the well-being of the body is dependent on the myriad of healthy cells and organs
  • progress in heaven is not through upward promotion but in developing our use to its fullest potential - a never-ending possibility
  • partners, friends, etc. meet if they wish to; staying together depends on inner loves
  • there are only genuine marriages in heaven; in fact every angel is a married pair. Earthly marriages will continue where couples are growing together. Otherwise spouses will amicably part to seek their eternal partner
  • children who die go directly there; specially appointed angels look after their welfare and development

New Concept of Hell

  • hell is a reality for those who prefer to live from self-centred desires in communities with like-minded people - doing what comes naturally and self-gratifyingly.
  • such desires are all-consuming and can never be satisfied as all are seeking the same result (the “fire and brimstone” symbolism)
  • it is a state allowed from Divine mercy and is not Divine retribution or punishment; yet those there are compelled to serve a use for others
  • for those in hell, this is their heaven, freely chosen after constantly giving in to selfishness

Michael Stanley talks on Life after Death, Evidence of life after death, Laws of the Spiritual World, and The effect of the Spiritual World on this World. These are a comprehensive and wholistic view of life after death.

What happens when we die?

A Person’s awakening from the dead and entrance into eternal life

Quotations from Emanuel Swedenborg

When the body can no longer fulfil its functions in the natural world corresponding to the thoughts and affections of its spirit (which the person receives from the spiritual world), then we say that the person dies. This happens when the lung’s respiratory motion and the heart’s systolic motion cease. The person, however, does not die. He is simply separated from the physical component which was serviceable to him in the world. The actual person is still alive.

We say that the actual person lives because the person is not a person because of his body, but because of his spirit. For the spirit does the thinking in a person, and thought together with affection constitutes the person. We can see from this that when someone dies, he simply crosses from one world into another. This is why death in the Word, in its inner meaning, refers to resurrection and to continuity of life. [Heaven and Hell 445]

If a person gives the matter due consideration, he can recognise that the body does not think, since it is material. Rather, the soul thinks, since it is spiritual. Mans soul, whose immortality has been the topic of many writers, is his spirit. It is in fact immortal in all respects. It is what thinks in the body, too, since it is spiritual; and the spiritual receives the spiritual and lives spiritually, which is thinking and intending.

So all rational life that is discernible in the body belongs to the soul; none of it belongs to the body. The body, as mentioned above, is in fact material; and the material stuff which is the hallmark of the body is an addendum, almost a kind of accessory, to the spirit, so that a persons spirit can carry on a life and do useful things in a natural world whose constituents are all material and intrinsically devoid of life.

Since the material does not live, only the spiritual, we can determine that the part of man that lives is his spirit, with the body only serving it, just the way something used as a means serves a living impelling force. People do say of a tool that it acts, impels, or impinges; but it is a fallacy to believe that this is a property of the tool and not of the person who acts, impels, or impinges through it.[Heaven and Hell 432]

Since everything that is alive in the body belongs strictly to the spirit [also everything that acts and senses as a result of life], none of it belongs to the body, it follows that the spirit is the actual person. This is much the same as saying that, seen in his own right, a person is a spirit, and is in a comparable form as well. For the part of man that lives and senses is his spirit, and everything in man, from his head to the souls of his feet, lives and senses. This is why, when a persons body is separated from his spirit, which is called dying, he is still a person, still alive.

I have heard from heaven that some people who have died are thinking even while they are lying on the mortuary tables, before their awakening, still within their own cold bodies. As far as they know, they are still alive, except that they are unable to move the smallest bit of matter that belongs to their bodies.[Heaven and Hell 433]

Man cannot think and intend unless there is a subject, a definable entity, which is a substance from which things proceed and in which things occur. There is no reality to anything which is thought to occur apart from a substantial subject. We can determine this from the fact that a person cannot see without an organ which is the subject of his sight, or hear without an organ which is the subject of his hearing. There is no reality or existence to sight or hearing apart from these organs.

The same holds true for thought — which is inner sight — and attentiveness —which is inner hearing. Unless these occurred in and from substances which are organic forms which are subjects, they could not happen at all.

We can tell from these considerations that a person’s spirit is just as much “in a form” as his body is, that it is in a human form, and that it enjoys abilities of sense and senses just as much when separated from the body as when it was within it. We can tell that every bit of the eye’s life, every bit of the ear’s life —in a word, every bit of sense life which a person has — is a property not of his body, but of his spirit within these phenomena even to their most minute details.

This is why spirits, just like men, see, hear, and feel — after release from the body not in a natural world, to be sure, but in a spiritual one. The spirits capacity for natural sensation during its existence in a body came from the material element added to it; but even then, it sensed spiritually in thinking and intending.[Heaven and Hell 434]

These matters have been mentioned in order to convince reasonable people that man, seen in his own right, is a spirit, that the bodily aspect, added for the sake of accomplishing things in the natural, material world, is not the person, but simply a tool for his spirit.

People who have convinced themselves of the opposite proposition tend to think that the lower animals live and perceive the way man does, and therefore have a spiritual component like man’s. But in fact this dies along with the body. However the spiritual component of animals is not like man’s. For man, unlike animals, has an inmost area into which something Divine flows. The Divine lifts man toward Itself and thereby bonds him to Itself, which is why man, unlike animals, is able to think about God and about the Divine elements proper to heaven and the church, to love God because of those elements and in involvement with them, and so be bonded to Him Whatever can be bonded to God cannot be destroyed; but anything that cannot be bonded to God is destroyed.

This inmost which belongs to man rather than to animals is here described. For it is important for the dismissal of deceptive views held by many people who lack the capacity to draw rational conclusions on these matters because they lack information and their understanding is not open. The relevant section reads as follows:

I should like to cite a particular arcanum about the angels of the three heavens. This is something that has not occurred to man before, because he has not understood levels [cf. n.38 Heaven and Hell]. Every single angel and every single person has an inmost and highest level, or something inmost and highest, where the Lord’s Divine flows in first or most directly. From this centre the Lord assigns places to other relatively inward elements that according to the sequential levels, lie below in the person. We may call this inmost or highest element the Lord’s entryway to angel and man. His very home within them.

It is by this “something inmost or highest” that man is man and is differentiated from non-rational animals, since they do not possess it. As a result, man, unlike animals, can be raised by the Lord toward Himself as concerns his more inward reaches, or what belongs to his inner and outer mind. Man can believe in Him, be moved by love for Him, and so can see Him. As a result also, man can accept intelligence and wisdom, and can talk from rational processes. This also is the source of man’s living to eternity.

But it does not come openly to the attention of any angel just what the Lord arranges and takes care of at this centre, since this is above hid thought and beyond his wisdom. [Heaven and Hell 435]

Man’s being a spirit as concerns his more inward elements is demonstrated by the fact that after the spirit has been separated from the body [which happens when a person dies] he is still alive, a person the way he was before. To assure me of this, I have been allowed to walk with practically everyone I have ever known during his physical life — with some for hours, with some for weeks or months, with some for years — all for the overriding purpose that I might be assured of this fact, and might bear witness to it. [Heaven and Hell 437]

When celestial angels are with someone who has been awakened, they do not leave him; for they love each and every one. But when the spirit is the kind who cannot be in fellowship with celestial angels any longer, then he wants to get away from them. When this happens, angels from the Lord’s spiritual kingdom come, through whom the spirit is granted the benefit of light. For up to this point he had not seen anything; he had only thought. The angels take the greatest possible care to prevent the emergence of any concept from the awakened person unless it savours of love.

Then they tell him he is a spirit.

After the benefit of life has been given, the spiritual angels offer the new spirit every service he could ever wish in that condition, and teach him about the things that exist in the other life, but only as he can comprehend them. If he is not the kind who is willing to be taught, the person who has been awakened craves release from the fellowship of these angels. Still it is not the angels who leave him; it is he who estranges himself from them. The angels actually love each individual, and want above all to be of service to him, to teach him, and to lead him into heaven. They find their highest delight in this.

When a spirit has thus estranged himself, he is taken away by good spirits, who offer him all kinds of help as long as he is in fellowship with them. But if his life in the world was of a kind to make fellowship with good spirits impossible, then he craves release from them as well. This happens as long and as often as necessary, until he joins the kind of spirits who wholly fit in with his life in the world, among whom he finds his kind of life. Then, remarkably, he leads the same kind of life he led in the world. [Heaven and Hell 450]

This introductory phase of a person’s life after death, however lasts only a few days, eventually he is guided from one state to another, and finally into heaven and hell.[Heaven and Hell 451]

I am well aware that many will say that no one can possibly speak with spirits and angels as long as he lives in the body; and many will say that it is all imagination, others that I relate such things in order to gain credence, and others will make other objections. But by all this I am not deterred, for I have seen, I have heard, I have felt. [Arcana Caelestia 68]

This vast system which is called the universe is a work coherent as a vast unit from things first to things last, because in creating it God had a single end in view, which was an angelic heaven from the human race; and all things of which the world consists are means to that end.

In the Christian world it is wholly unknown that heaven and hell are from the human race, for it was believed that in the beginning angels were created and heaven was thus formed; also that the devil or Satan was an angel of light, but having rebelled he was cast down with his crew, and thus hell was formed. The angels never cease to wonder at such a belief in the Christian world, and still more that nothing is really known about heaven…

They wish for this reason that I should declare from their lips that in the entire heaven there is not a single angel who was created such from the beginning, nor in hell any devil who was created an angel of light and cast down; but that all, both in heaven and in hell, are from the human race; in heaven those who lived in the world in heavenly love and belief, in hell those who lived in infernal love and belief.[Heaven and Hell 311]

“All who have acquired intelligence and wisdom in the world,are received in heaven, and become Angels, everyone according to the quality and degree of his intelligence and wisdom.”[Heaven and Hell 349]

The last quarter of the 20th century has witnessed a remarkable change in people’s willingness to more openly talk about paranormal experiences. The extensive publicity surrounding the Near Death Experience phenomena, to which modern scientific research has given some credence, seems to have “broken the shackles” of society taboos on talking about incidences such as meetings with supernatural beings, communications from spirit guides, clairvoyance, clairsentience, E.S.P. The mostly positive experiences involving rescue in life-threatening situations, causing unexpected physical healings, creating changes to outlook and direction, etc. have caught the imagination and interest of many others, bringing encouragement to those with a belief in the spiritual dimension.

Cultures throughout history have recorded stories of supernatural beings “Messengers from the Divine Realm” within the sacred texts of all ages and all peoples. Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Devas, and Orishas are some of the names given to these beings or “shining ones” that guide, help and inspire. Yet, explanations of who and what angels are vary within and between the religious and spiritual traditions.

The term Angel comes from Hebrew and Greek words meaning “a messenger” or “one who is sent”. Over the centuries, angels in varying forms have taken a prominent place in religious art and literature. No other author has dealt with angels (and devils, too) at so great a length or in such precise detail than Emanuel Swedenborg, the 18th Century scientist, Christian mystic and visionary. In a massive output of 30 large volumes resulting from experience in the spiritual realm continuously over 27 years, there are more than 7,000 references to angels and angelic life. He addresses what he believed to be many misconceptions about angels that had developed within orthodox Christianity. The information below broadly introduces what Swedenborg recorded concerning the origin, nature, life and purpose of angels.

Angels - Their Origin

The most widely held belief about angels is that they are a divinely created separate race of beings. Not so according to Swedenborg; all angels and spirits are people who began their life in this world and now live in the spiritual dimension after physical death. In essence, the order of creation is to first allow us the opportunity to freely choose our own responses to situations, others and life generally, which this gross material world permits. Once a general pattern is established, we continue to develop this chosen pathway in the spiritual plane as angels in “Heaven” or selfish spirits in “Hell” (Heaven/Hell are states of being rather than places). Swedenborg teaches that all people are born to become angels. Anyone, of whatever religion, can become an angel if only he or she believes in a Divine creator and tries to live in loving harmony with other people in accordance with what is genuinely believed to be true.

What do Angels look like?

Every angel continues to be fully human to eternity and has a body - head, eyes, ears, trunk, arms, hands and feet - of spiritual substances more real and responsive than material substances. Most accounts and pictures of angels express them in the human form, usually more perfect, beautiful and peaceful than mere mortals, supporting Swedenborg’s assertion that angels in heaven “constantly advance to the springtime of their youth.” Angels wear clothes that are a perfect representation of their inner qualities, and as their states of love change, so do their clothes.

Angelic Environment and Work

Angels live in communities with homes, gardens, countryside, places of work, etc. much like we do here except that all aspects of their environment are more beautiful and perfect, nor are they fixed, being an outer reflection of individual and collective inner states. A person’s sex remains after death and angels live as married couples either with the partner they truly loved in this world or with one having a deeply complimentary nature. They communicate using a universal language (perceptive, verbal and written) which conveys their inmost thoughts and affections. Angels, says Swedenborg, can express in one word what we cannot do in a thousand!

Angels are involved in innumerable activities and tasks, all related to ensuring the greatest perfection and happiness for the whole of heaven - no unemployment there! Each angelic community is distinguished by the activity carried out such as divine or civil government, productive occupations or domestic responsibilities. Special functions include caring for young children (all children who die grow up in heaven) and educating newly arrived persons from this world.

Guardian Angels

Another special use is their ministry with each individual in this world protecting us (so far as we allow them) against selfish thoughts and desires coming from the activity of evil spirits by bringing counterbalancing influences leading us to make spiritually healthy choices. We are generally unconscious of this process except when our conscience is troubled by difficult choices - the tip of the spiritual temptation “iceberg”. At least two guardian angels are constantly with us and it is this presence, bringing teaching, healing and comfort, of which we can become directly aware, but only if that is what is best for our eternal, spiritual welfare.

“Harps and Wings”

The language of sacred scriptures, dreams and visions expresses spiritual realities in a way which is understandable to human experience in this world. The feelings of inner peace and bliss from unselfish service and being useful was best represented to those living in drudgery in earlier times by the creating of sweet and uplifting tones glorifying the Divine. Similarly, wings (which only began to be added to paintings of angels after 4th century A.D.) convey a spiritual truth to mortals, held in the constraints of time and space, of an angel’s ability to apparently move swiftly from one place to another as a result of a change in their thoughts and feelings.

Angelic Life Now

We do not have to wait until after we die to experience heavenly joy, for Swedenborg writes: “Heavenly love is loving what is good, honest, and fair because it is good, honest and fair, and doing it because of that love. So they have a life of goodness, honesty, and fairness, which is a heavenly life. The person who loves these things for their own sake and who does and lives them, also loves the Lord supremely, because these things come from Him.” Heaven and Hell (para 481)

We recommend Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell for an in-depth presentation of what Swedenborg experienced concerning Angels and heaven, and to appreciate the necessity of beginning the path to angelhood here and now.