Emanuel Swedenborg Explains What Happens When You Die

This information is based on the writings of the Swedenborg Foundation (swedenborg.com).

What Happens When We Die According to Swedenborg?

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was motivated by his desire to comprehend the workings of the universe. During his youth, he studied a wide range of subjects, including astronomy, mechanical engineering, and anatomy. His strong religious convictions ultimately led him to establish a direct connection with the spiritual realm. As he matured, Swedenborg dedicated himself to sharing his profound insights into life, the Lord, and the Bible through writing. He hoped that his message of spiritual hope and comfort would resonate with people and positively impact the world.

He wrote about what he had learned Heaven or Summerland is like. It has five predominant characteristics:

1. An unconditionally loving welcome

2. Getting to know the deeper you

3. Freedom to explore Heaven

4. A complete life review

5. Opportunities to learn and progress

Swedenborg Describes our Nature and the Afterlife

While most religious traditions share the belief that our consciousness will persist beyond physical death, there is much disagreement regarding its precise nature. Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth-century scientist and mystic, gained insight into the afterlife through his spiritual experiences. He discovered that the mind has three distinct levels: heavenly, spiritual, and earthly.

Swedenborg suggested that the earthly mind is composed of spiritual substances and earthly substances. Our thinking arises from the spiritual substances, not the earthly ones. While the earthly substances fade away after death, the spiritual substances survive bodily death. As a result, when we transition to the afterlife, our mind keeps its personality, memories, attitudes, skills, and emotions.

Since these levels are intermingled, we cannot fully comprehend the higher levels until after death. Nonetheless, while on earth, we can observe some reflections of the higher minds. Our earthly mind can be elevated to some degree, allowing us to experience what angels sense on a spiritual level, although not as intensely. However, our human wisdom, which remains earthly as long as we reside in the physical world, cannot be elevated to the same level as angelic wisdom. Rather, it can only experience some reflection of it. Nevertheless, we may become aware of this wisdom after death or through the stillness of our physical senses, followed by an inflow from above into our spiritual minds. To some extent, the human body serves as the physical manifestation of our mind since it anchors our mind to the earth. 

While the three levels are sometimes envisioned as being stacked, Swedenborg portrays the earthly level as the outermost layer, encompassing the other two. The heavenly level, on the other hand, is located at the center.

Swedenborg eloquently states that following death, the human form becomes the vessel for a person’s mind in the form of a spirit. This illustrates the profound and exquisite connection between our body and mind. Moreover, our earthly mind operates as a container that prevents our spiritual substance from escaping us.

It is essential that our spiritual substance is restrained within our earthly mind, as a portion of it continues with us into the afterlife. The earthly substances of our minds, which form a skinlike covering, stabilize the spiritual bodies we make use of as spirits. This outermost vessel is taken from the earthly world, which is why every angel or spirit was once human. This vessel, known as the limbus or border, is made up of the purest substances in nature, providing a stable vessel for our spiritual selves to carry on and continue our lives after death.

The development of this vessel during our earthly lives is critical to our spiritual growth. Our earthly mind derives its form partly from substances in the physical world, while our spiritual mind derives its substance solely from substances in the spiritual world. From birth, our spiritual mind is only potentially open, with our earthly mind shaping both minds until we reach spiritual maturity.

If we strive towards spiritual growth and self-improvement, we can eliminate blockages and open ourselves to higher levels of our minds. Even while living on earth, we coexist with spiritual societies that we are not aware of. After death, we carry with us our natural memory, which includes everything we have heard, seen, read, learned, or thought from infancy until the end of our lives. Although the natural objects in our memory cannot be replicated in the spiritual world, they can be reproduced when the Lord deems it appropriate.

Passing over into the afterlife represents a positive transformation of our minds and souls, as we lose nothing but our barriers and confusion. The boundary between this world and the spiritual world is thinner than we might realize, and we will carry with us our spiritual vessel, shaped by our earthly mind, into the next life.