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You Haven't Lived Until You've Died: Emanuel Swedenborg and "the Afterlife"

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We call it "the afterlife". But from everything we know about it, we really should be calling it "the life", and calling what we are experiencing now "the before life". There has been so much documented and recorded about what happens after we die, that its mere existence is indisputable. If you are a die-hard westerner in your thought process, there are the books by Dr. Brian Weiss like Many Masters, Many Lives, and Michael Newton Ph.D.'s Life Between Lives. For those who are more adventuresome of Spirit there is Ordered to Return: My Life After Dying by George G. Ritchie, Jr. M.D., and Dannion Brinkley's Saved By The Light. But the greatest wisdom, the glittering diamond of transcendent knowledge, has to be the writings of the 18th Century Swedish scientist/mystic Emanuel Swedenborg.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is the quintessential one-stop shopping for "afterlife" wisdom. Swedenborg wrote over thirty volumes of Spiritually relevant work, and over a million words on the nature of the Spiritual and physical Realms of existence. Swedenborg mastered every known science in his lifetime, in his search for where the Soul resided in the human experience. He was voted by Stanford University to be one of the three most brilliant people to ever draw breath on the planet. As if that was not enough to fill any resume, there's more. Swedenborg was able to control his breath and enter into a trance-like state since he was a small child. When he was fifty-six years old, after a lifetime of practicing this highly concentrated focus technique, he broke into the Spiritual World and was able to discourse with beings on the "other side". Everyday after that "break through" until his death some twenty-six years later, Swedenborg communicated with all types of Spiritual beings - from Angels to deceased loved ones.

If you are looking for an expert on the "afterlife", Swedenborg is a pretty tough act to follow. So enough of this post-human foreplay... just what does Swedenborg have to say about the other side of the veil? A few things, depending on your background, might surprise you. Swedenborg says that when we cross over we still have our senses; we still appear to have a body not unlike our Earthly counterpart, except the Spiritual version is minus any pain, illness, old age or cellulite. Actually, I just made up that last part. He never mentioned cellulite. But a girl can dream, can't she? Swedenborg says we still see, hear, feel and look much the way we did in physical life, so that our transition from protoplasm to ethereal is a kinder, gentler experience. The next thing that may surprise you is that Swedenborg says there is no judgment day - like that one you were most likely terrorized with in Sunday school. As a matter of fact, according to Swedenborg, God is incapable of judging us or getting mad at us. God is only capable of unconditional love, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness. That is the good news. Now for the bad news: we judge ourselves. That's right. The only judgment going on in the afterlife is the judgment we bring upon ourselves. This is the primary reason Swedenborg suggests we practice letting go of judgment here while we can. When we take it with us to the other side, it becomes a much more difficult attachment to break.

Not only are we the only ones that judge us, but Swedenborg also says we all go directly the highest level of Heaven, regardless of how we may have lived our lives on Earth. But as Shakespeare might have said it, "Here is the rub." We do not all stay in the most liberated level of Heaven. Why, you might ask? Good question, and the answer is equally as compelling: not because someone kicks us out or tells us we have to leave, but because we are not comfortable staying there! That's right. We evict our own ethereal butts!

If you have spent your entire life telling yourself that you are not deserving and worthy of love and happiness, you will slide right out of Celestial Heaven like a slinky working its way down Jacob's ladder, until you find your most comfortable level. If your whole life centered around "looking out for number one," well guess what numero uno? You might exit the highest level of Heaven running and screaming like a little girl, because the citizens of Heaven all take care of each other and look out for each other equally. Remember, he who dies with the most toys is still dead. There is no #1 in Heaven.... other than everyone!

Maybe you have spent your whole life looking over your shoulder, just waiting for someone to hurt, scam or otherwise abuse you. You are not going to be spending much time in upper-level paradise either, because no one there is comfortable living that way. The citizens of Heaven have all given up that habit for embracing, supporting and trusting one another. I wonder just how many of us will be comfortable living in a world we all say we want, but do not practice creating or living in while here on Earth?

What I found most interesting about Swedenborg's descriptions of the afterlife is that once on the other side, everyone knows the truth. Oh, don't get me wrong; it is not like everyone in the next realm always tells the truth. Prevarication apparently happens everywhere. But on the other side, when someone speaks a "terminological inexactitude", their voice becomes harsh and grating. It is like a large beacon going off over their head saying, "I'm lying, I'm lying." I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned, that is worth dying for.