Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Journey to Heaven by Richard Sigmund and Emanuel Swedenborg



This is one of the most detailed Near Death Experience journey of heaven I have seen - Richard Sigmund was dead for eight hours, and suddenly sat up as they were wheeling him down to the morgue. He yelled out, "I AINT DEAD YET!" One attendant screamed, and the other lost bladder control. He has a book on this called My Time in Heaven. In most Near Death Experiences, one has an out of the body experience, goes through a tunnel towards the light, has a life review, and that's it, comes back. Richard Sigmund gets beyond those stages, and gets to see what awaits all of us in the life beyond. I found an audio recording of the book, I listened to the whole thing and decided to summarize some findings below. It is long, I could have made multiple blog entries but thought it would be better to present this in one article.

For those of you who are familiar with Emanuel Swedenborg, in the 18th century he was allowed to fully explore heaven, hell, the world in between, and was given knowledge concerning many secrets of heaven. He did this in a waking state for about 27 years, and wrote a massive work entitled Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia), and summarized the afterlife and some dialogues with angels in a smaller work Heaven and Hell. Is what he is saying true? Did he just imagine it? We know he did not imagine everything, time and time again he privately demonstrated his clairvoyant abilities - see The Confirmed Clairvoyance of Emanuel Swedenborg. Even so, one should judge the truth of the message Swedenborg came back with apart from these incidents.

However detailed Swedenborg's waking visions were, he also came back with a hard message for the Protestant and Catholic churches. And no one likes to admit they are wrong. So in his day they just censored his writings, and nowadays they question the source of the visions. One can find similar ignorance concerning Richard Sigmund from Biblical literalists. Scripture states Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thes. 5:21). Also In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established (Matt. 18:16). In the 18th century, Swedenborg was a lone witness to the spiritual world. That is no longer true. We now have at least two independent witnesses, or a cloud of witnesses as Paul would say it when it comes to those who have had a Near Death Experience.

I was amazed by Richard Sigmund's account, for in many points he matches what Swedenborg described. Sometimes not, and I will point out where Swedenborg may have been in error. Both Richard Sigmund and Emanuel Swedenborg brought with them some preconceived notions and biases. On the other hand, Richard Sigmund had questions and he was not allowed to know, which he called "the mysteries of heaven." For Swedenborg there seemed to be no limit - he would ask, and the information was freely provided.

In his account Richard points out that everyone will have a different experience of heaven - we are all individuals, and God can deal with each of us in an individual way - he saw every one will follow their own path to the center of heaven. Emanuel Swedenborg saw that there were different heavens for different groups of people of different religions, for it is all based on how one lived one's life, how one loved others. Richard was not allowed to explore these other areas. While Swedenborg had a more universal Christian message, Richard Sigmund's experience had a more specific message for the Christian church, which is probably why he was not given all the answers to his questions as many are probably not prepared for it. We should learn not to be so judgmental with other people's views, for it is love that is primary, not the belief. We are all at different stages of spiritual progression. Jesus told Richard, "Don't ever forget how much I love you, and how much I have done for you. Never forget that I love those that you are going back to,  and the place that I have prepared for them, and how much I love them."

WE ALL HAVE A SPIRITUAL BODY WHEN WE DIE


Richard said, "When you die, you still have a spiritual body that has all the senses that your physical body had." This includes all the senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Throughout his account Richard describes things in such tiny detail - the colors of stones, buildings, the architecture - he experiences different aromas, and even touches different objects and puts his hand in a kind of liquid water. He would touch something in heaven and it would be humming, singing songs in praise towards the Lord. At one point he picks a fruit off a strange tree and eats it, describing the unique taste. All the senses were heightened, and he was struck with utter amazement. He sees many angels and talks directly to them. So how does this compare with Swedenborg? Compare with this passage:
"That angels are human forms, or men, has been seen by me a thousand times. I have spoken with them as man with man, sometimes with one, sometimes with many in company, and I have seen in them nothing different in form from that of man. I have sometimes wondered at their being so; and lest it should be said that it was a fallacy, or a vision of fancy, I have been permitted to see them when I was fully awake, in all my bodily senses, and in a state of clear perception. Very often, too, I have told them that men in the Christian world are in such blind ignorance as to angels and spirits, that they believe them to be minds without form, and pure thoughts, of which they have no other idea than as of something ethereal in which there is something of life; and because they thus ascribe to them nothing of man except a thinking faculty, they believe that they do not see, because they have no eyes, that they do not hear, because they have no ears, and that they do not speak, because they have no mouth nor tongue. To this the angels said that they know there is such a belief with many in the world, and that it prevails among the learned and also, to their wonder, among the priests. They told also the reason, namely, that the learned, who were the leaders and first broached such an idea of angels and spirits, thought of them from the sensual ideas of the external man. And they who think from these ideas, and not from interior light and the common idea implanted in every one, cannot do otherwise than invent such notions; and this for the reason that the sensual ideas of the external man reach nothing else than what is within nature, nothing that is above, thus nothing whatever of the spiritual world. From these leaders as guides this falsity of thought about angels has extended to others, who have thought not from themselves but from their guides; and they who think first from others, making this thought their belief, and afterwards look at it with their own understanding, cannot easily recede from it, and so for the most part acquiesce in confirming it. They said further that the simple in faith and heart are not in such an idea about angels, but in an idea of them as of men of heaven, because they have not by erudition extinguished what is implanted in them from heaven, and have no notion of anything without form. For this reason angels in churches, whether sculptured or painted, are represented in no other way than as men. As to what is implanted from heaven, they said that it is the Divine flowing in with those who are in the good of faith and life.
"From all my experience, which is now of many years, I can say and affirm that angels are in form entirely men, that they have faces, eyes, ears, body, arms, hands, and feet; that they see one another, hear one another, and talk together; in a word that there is nothing whatever wanting to them that belongs to men, except that they are not clothed over all with a material body. I have seen them in their light, which exceeds the noonday light of the world by many degrees, and in that light all their features were seen more distinctly and clearly than the faces of men are seen on earth." (Heaven and Hell, n. 74-75)
So where do Sigmund and Swedenborg disagree? Swedenborg was told that spirits do not have a sense of taste, but something analogous to it where taste and smell become one sense (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1516, 1880, 1973). But in this matter, I think Sigmund is correct. Why so? Swedenborg was warned that it was very dangerous for spirits of the spiritual world to flow in to the sense of man's taste while alive (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4793.3, 4794). Swedenborg had his experience while alive in a full waking state; Sigmund while he was dead. Sigmund states that eating of the fruit of the tree somehow helped prepare him to come before the throne of God later in his experience. This comparison reminds me how Adam and Eve were forbidden to taste of the tree of knowledge while in the garden - which passage describes the heavenly state people were in before the connection between heaven and mankind became broken. This was a very odd and unexpected find.

SOUL MATES OF HEAVEN


Since we are on the subject of a spiritual body, what about marital relationships?  Some conclude from a certain passage of Jesus that there is no marriage in heaven (see Matt. 22:30); Swedenborg states that Jesus was speaking of the spiritual marriage between a person and heaven, or the marriage supper of the lamb (see Matt. 22:2, Rev. 19). Moreover, in the literal sense of scripture the passage of Jesus does not disagree, as angelic forms are no longer in the physical realm and the Jews he was talking to were speaking of a resurrection in our physical material realm.

As in the afterlife we have a full spiritual body, a male is male and female is female. Many have seen angels who have appeared in this manner. Moreover, Swedenborg describes the spiritual origin of sex: males are physical forms of truth, females are physical forms of love. The love and desire for sex comes from the constant union that is occurring between the union of love with its truth, and truth with its love. No thought is complete with action; and action cannot be focused properly without thought. There are marriages in heaven, so it is true that there are soul mates. The marital relationship does not result in any children, but rather it is a spiritual union of love with is truth and vice versa - to the point where a male and female can become one angel. It grows as each angel grows in love and truth. There are different degrees of love of sex. At the basest level there is love of sex, which humans share with animals; but a higher spiritual level is love of one of the sex. Hidden within the love of sex is the love of one of the other sex. Spiritual love grows from there, and becomes more internal and less external. Swedenborg devoted a whole book to this - Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love.

So what does Sigmund say on this matter? Nothing, but he does confirm it indirectly. He does see his two grandparents living together in a house, who had returned to their youth. But in his tour of hell, he does see base forms of sex and rape among those in hell as forms of torment. And he said hell contains everything in opposite form to what is in heaven. So indirectly, he confirms what Swedenborg said on this matter.

MEETING LOST RELATIVES AND FRIENDS


Often in the Near Death Experience, one meets lost relatives and friends. The experience of Richard Sigmund was no different in this manner, except that it was much more clear. Instead of passing through a dark tunnel, he passes through a white cloud of light. On the other side he could hear people singing, with laughter and great joy. He came into a "receiving area", and encounters two women who were beautiful, and of great age. And yet they looked young, like they were in their twenties. They hugged him when he arrived, with great joy, worshiping and praising God. Beyond them another group of about fifty people were praising God. They were awaiting the coming of their pastor - he sees this old man who was their pastor emerging "through the veil" - and then he recognizes the different members of his congregation. Immediately the old lines disappear and he becomes a young man. All along the veil there were people coming who have died and angels were waiting to greet them. In scripture, the Old Testament occasionally briefly states that one was "gathered to his fathers" upon death.

Swedenborg said something similar:
"All are consociated in heaven according to spiritual affinities, which are those of good and truth in their order. It is so in the whole heaven, so in each society, and so in each house. For this reason angels who are in similar good and truth, recognize one another as do relatives and those akin on earth, just as if they had been acquainted from infancy. In like manner are consociated the goods and truths, which make wisdom and intelligence, with each angel; they recognize one another in like manner, and as they recognize one another, so likewise they join themselves together." (Heaven and Hell, n. 205)
What about relatives of opposite spiritual dispositions? They can meet, albeit briefly, in an intermediate area between heaven and hell called the "world of spirits," which may or may not be the same as Sigmund's "receiving area":
"Men after death as soon as they come into the world of spirits, are clearly distinguished by the Lord; the evil are at once attached to the infernal society in which they were in the world as to their ruling love; and the good are at once attached to the heavenly society in which they were in the world as to love, charity, and faith. But though they are thus divided, still they who have been friends and acquaintances in the life of the body, all meet and converse together, when they desire it, especially wives and husbands and brothers and sisters. I have seen a father speak with six sons and recognize them and I have seen many others with their relatives and friends, who, however, because they were of diverse dispositions, from their life in the world, were soon separated. But when they have come from the world of spirits into heaven, or into hell, they then see each other no more, nor know each other, unless they are of a similar disposition, from similar love. The reason that they see each other in the world of spirits, and not in heaven and hell, is that those who are in the world of spirits are brought into states similar to those which they had in the life of the body, one after another; but afterward all are brought into a constant state like that of their ruling love, in which one knows another only from similarity of love" (Heaven and Hell, n. 427).
RETURNING TO A YOUNGER AGE


Sigmund first encounters two angelic women who were ageless, yet appeared in their twenties. And this happens several times - even his grandparents looked like in the prime of their youth. Swedenborg says the same thing, except that it is a continual process of getting younger and more beautiful:
"Those who are in heaven are continually advancing to the spring of life, and the more thousands of years they live, to a spring so much the more joyful and happy, and this to eternity, with increase according to the progressions and degrees of their love, charity, and faith. Women who have died old and worn out with age, if they have lived in faith in the Lord, in charity to the neighbor, and in happy marriage love with a husband, with the succession of years come more and more into the flower of youth and early womanhood, and into beauty which exceeds all idea of beauty ever perceivable by our sight and amazes those who behold it. Goodness and charity is what forms and presents in them its own likeness, causing the joy and beauty of charity to shine forth from every, even the least line of the face, so that they are forms of charity itself." (Heaven and Hell, n. 414)
THE PATHWAYS TO HEAVEN


Richard Sigmund said that everyone who came through the veil had a path to follow towards heaven that was unique for them. He then heard a voice: "You have an appointment with God." He then walked along this golden pathway. The path wound through a garden on either side. He saw these huge flowers, which would turn to face him as he walked, and he could pick up the flower, smell it, and would just put it back where it would continue growing again. He looked up in the sky, which had varied colors, as well as clouds - and each of these clouds were thousands upon thousands of other people. In the garden there were huge trees - some he knew, others were of species that he did not know. One tree was crystal clear, and he was told it was a "diadem tree." He took a fruit off another tree and the second he picked it, another appeared in its place, and the fruit immediately dissolved into a honey like liquid that went down his throat.

Swedenborg also saw these different pathways to heaven:
"When, by instruction in the places above described, spirits have been prepared for heaven — which is effected in a short time, on account of their being in spiritual ideas, that comprehend many things at once—they are then clothed with angelic garments, mostly white, as of fine linen; and thus they are brought to the way which tends upward to heaven, and are delivered to angel guards there, and are then received by other angels and introduced into societies, and into many blessed things. Afterward every one is led by the Lord into his own society, which also is effected by various ways, sometimes by winding paths. The ways by which they are led are not known to any angel, but to the Lord alone. When they come to their own society, their interiors are opened, and since these are conformable to the interiors of the angels who are in that society, they are therefore immediately acknowledged and received with joy." (Heaven and Hell, n. 519)
One's ruling love determines the path one will take:
"From the quarters to which they turn and the paths in which they go, it is ascertained what the love is which leads them." (Heaven and Hell, n. 496)
THE GARDENS AND PLANTS OF HEAVEN


What about the plants and gardens that Richard Sigmund saw? Or the flower he picks up and puts back again? Swedenborg constantly saw this, and relates an interesting story concerning a botanist who recently entered heaven:
"A certain one who was renowned and celebrated in the learned world for his skill in the science of botany, heard in the other life after his decease, that flowers and trees are there also presented to view, at which he was astonished; and as that had been the enjoyment of his life, he was kindled with the desire of seeing whether it was so. Being taken up therefore into the paradisal regions, he saw most beautiful plantations of trees and most charming flower gardens of immense extent. And as he then came into the ardor of his enjoyment from affection, it was permitted him to wander over the field, and not only see them in detail, but also to gather them and bring them to close inspection, and to see thoroughly whether they were really so.
"Speaking with me from thence, he said that he had never believed this, and that if such things had been heard of in the world, they would have been classed as paradoxes. And he related further that flowers were seen growing there in immense abundance which were never seen in the world, and which would be scarce comprehensible there by any perception; and that they all glowed from an incomprehensible brightness, because they were from the light of heaven. That the glow was from a spiritual origin, he was not yet able to perceive, that is, that they glowed because there was in each one of them something of intelligence and wisdom, which were of truth and good. He said further that men on earth would by no means believe this, for the reason that few believe there is any heaven and hell, and they who believe only know that in heaven there is joy, and few among them believe that there are such things there as eye has never seen, and ear has never heard, and mind has never conceived; and this though they know from the Word that stupendous things were seen by the prophets, and more by John, as recorded in the Apocalypse. Yet these were nothing else than the representatives which are continually being presented in heaven, and which were seen by John when his internal sight was opened." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4529.1-2)
THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN


What about the clouds Richard saw, and the people who dwelled in them?  Swedenborg said that at a distance an angelic society could appear as a cloud, but for those who see more spiritually can see that each society tends toward the human form:
"That a whole angelic society, when the Lord manifests His presence, appears as one body in the human form, has also been given me to see. There appeared on high toward the east as it were a cloud descending, of shining whiteness with a rosy tinge, and with little stars round about. As it gradually descended it became brighter, and at last was seen in perfect human form. The little stars round about the cloud were angels, who were seen as stars from light given from the Lord." (Heaven and Hell, n. 69)
THE GATE OF HEAVEN


Off in the distance Richard saw a wall, and the angel walking with him said, "Behold, the wall." And then they were at the wall, which was filled with precious jewels. Travel seemed to be at the speed of thought. He was then told to proceed to the gate. There were three tongues of fire on the gate, and he was told that they represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The gate was made out of gold, which he was told represented the great mercy of God. He then sees multi-level houses and mansions, and a crystal clear lake. From the throne, there were four rivers, and the lake was fed by one of the rivers.

Gates were often seen by Swedenborg to both heaven and hell:
"The world of spirits, as it is the middle state between heaven and hell with man, is also the middle place; beneath are the hells, and above are the heavens. All the hells are closed to that world; they are open only through holes and clefts, as of rocks, and through wide openings which are guarded, to prevent any one from coming out except by permission. This permission is granted when there is any urgent necessity — of which hereafter. Heaven also is enclosed on all sides, nor is there a passage open to any heavenly society, except by a narrow way, the entrance of which is also guarded. Those outlets and these entrances are what are called in the Word the gates and doors of hell and of heaven.
"The world of spirits appears as a valley between mountains and rocks, with here and there windings and elevations. The gates and doors to the heavenly societies are not seen, except by those who are prepared for heaven, nor are they found by others; to every society there is one entrance from the world of spirits, and then one way, branching in the ascent into several. Neither are the gates and doors to the hells seen, except by those who are about to enter, to whom they are then opened; and when they are opened, there appear caverns dusky and as if sooty, tending obliquely downward to the deep, where again there are many doors." (Heaven and Hell, n. 428-9) 
In other passages where scripture mentions a gate, a gate is a symbolic representation of introductory truths. In the case of Richard Sigmund, his entry into heaven is made through his knowledge of God which is the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Although Richard did not realize it, he is in the end shown the true nature of the Trinity, but more on that later. It is significant that all three are shown not as three persons, but as different flames of the same fire.

THE BOOKS AND SECRETS OF HEAVEN


On several occasions Richard Sigmund encountered books in heaven. The first was before he passed through the gate. The angel which was with him said, "Behold the books." On the left there was a huge book supported on golden pillars. On the right there was another book, it was the Lamb's book of life. He was lifted up, and saw his name written in gold outlined in crimson red. It would seem that instead of going through a typical life review of a Near Death Experience, Richard was better spiritually prepared and so just saw a brief representation of this as a book.

Later he is taking into one building, and inside there are rows and rows of shelves of books. It was a sort of library, known as "the archives of heaven." These books contained the works of our lives of what we did while here on earth. All sins are recorded. However, it was given to him to know, that when we repent of our sin, the sin is erased. Every thought and action is recorded in heaven. When a book was opened, each page was like a video screen, except that the images were three-dimensional or holographic.

Swedenborg also saw that people's lives were recorded in books, which represented a person's memory:
"That man takes with him from the world all his memory, has been shown in many ways, and I have seen and heard many things in regard to it worthy to be mentioned, some of which I will relate in order. There were those who denied their crimes and villainies which they had perpetrated in the world; lest therefore they should be believed innocent, all their deeds were disclosed and recounted from their memory in order, from their earliest to their latest years: they were chiefly adulteries and whoredoms. There were some who had deceived others by wicked arts and had stolen, and whose deceits and thefts were also enumerated in series, many of which were known to scarcely any one in the world, except to themselves alone. They also acknowledged them, because they were made manifest as in the light, with every thought, intention, pleasure, and fear which at the time occupied their minds. There were some who had accepted bribes and had made gain of judgment, who were similarly explored from their memory, and from it were recounted all things, from the first period of their office to the last. All the particulars as to what and how much they had received, together with the time and their state of mind and intention, were at the same time brought to their recollection and shown to their sight, to the number of many hundreds. Sometimes, strange to say, even their memorandum-books, in which they had written such things, were opened and read before them, page by page. ...From these things also it may be evident what is meant by the book of man's life, spoken of in the Word, namely this, that all things, both what he has thought and what he has done, are inscribed on the whole man, and appear as if read in a book when they are called forth from the memory, and as if presented to sight when the spirit is viewed in the light of heaven." (Heaven and Hell, n. 462-463)
In addition to this, on many occasions Swedenborg was taken into buildings that had books, and at times was allowed to read them. Another building Richard Sigmund was taken to contained the records of God's knowledge. In these books were different symbols, with the interpretation of each symbol next to it explaining it. The mind is automatically stimulated when reading it. He saw a man there, and he said "Brother Richard, I have been here for a couple of millenia, and I have only gotten to page 2." Many angels come and go to this library, and are sent to those on earth who are seeking Divine knowledge and wisdom. There are great universities in heaven, taught by angels, and there is no end to learning - all subjects are taught. One can do anything in heaven that one desires to do, for the desire given will be for the things that are right for you. He was told that people were learning about the "secrets of heaven."

This account is extremely interesting. None of these secrets of heaven or symbols were revealed to Richard Sigmund, but they were revealed in detail to Emanuel Swedenborg. He went word by word through the Bible, and wrote a massive multi-volume work entitled Heavenly Arcana (or Arcana Coelestia). And the meaning of the title? "Heavenly Secrets."  It is full of the symbolism of scripture, and similar to the account of Sigmund when one reads it, its very hard to absorb it all. One can not absorb the information within a lifetime. One must wonder, the similarity of the account is remarkable, was Richard Sigmund seeing the spiritual version of the books that Swedenborg wrote? Swedenborg saw that there were many writings in heaven, but was not allowed to read them:
"As angels have speech and their speech is a speech of words, they have also writings, and by writings they express their sentiments as well as by speech. Several times papers have been sent to me, traced with writings, quite like manuscripts, and some like printed papers in the world. I was able also to read them in like manner, but it was not allowed to get from them more than a thought or two. The reason was, that it is not according to Divine order to be instructed by writings from heaven, but by the Word, since by this alone there is communication and conjunction of heaven with the world, thus of the Lord with man." (Heaven and Hell, n. 258)
THE CHILDREN OF HEAVEN


Richard Sigmund encountered a little girl of about eight years old, and he knew her. She had died of cancer as a child. She had beautiful golden hair, which she had lost before she died. She would go from group to group, singing for them. She was known as an ambassador for heaven, and sang one of the most beautiful songs for him in a soprano voice, and other angels joined in. It was a song that exceeded anything he heard on earth. Next another child played a song on a piano and harp, with great skill, again exceeding anything that he heard on earth. Other children he saw looked like they had died during childbirth, and yet could speak, and were completely sentient. Angels would carry them, and he saw nurseries where many, many children would be cared for in this manner. Children would grow rapidly, and they would play games with each other. Some would ride on horses which had the power of speech and thought. Later he saw horses with wings, and some would pull chariots. He saw the Lord often among the children, who would come to give them a hug.

This account is very similar to that of Emanuel Swedenborg, here is a small portion:
"Children who die are equally children in the other life, they have a like infantile mind, a like innocence in ignorance, and a like tenderness in all things; they are only in the rudiments of the capacity of becoming angels, for children are not angels, but become angels. Every one on leaving this world enters the other in a similar state of life, a little child in the state of a little child, a boy in the state of a boy, a youth, a man, an old man, in the state of a youth, a man, or an old man; but afterward the state of each one is changed. ...because they are spirits, they act at once according to their interiors. They walk without practice, and also speak, but at first from general affections, not yet so well distinguished into ideas of thoughts; in a short time, however, they are initiated also into these ideas, and this because their exteriors are homogeneous with their interiors. ...Little children as soon as they are raised up, which takes place immediately after death, are taken into heaven and delivered to angel women who in the life of the body tenderly loved children and at the same time loved God. ...Little children are instructed principally by representatives suited to their capacity. How beautiful these are and how full of wisdom from within, no one can believe. In this way intelligence is imparted to them, by degrees, which derives its soul from good."  (Heaven and Hell, n. 330, 331, 332, 335)
MINISTERS AND WORSHIP IN HEAVEN


Richard Sigmund saw different ministers, one of them William Branham (1909-65) talking with the Lord, others teaching and explaining the wonders of heaven to others. Some had been there a long time, but they were still learning.

Swedenborg saw that one would be given a task in heaven that closely matched what one did on earth - one would do what one loved most. The same is true for ministers. Moreover, there is variety of worship in heaven:
"Heaven is also where the Lord is acknowledged, believed, and loved. Variety in His worship, from variety of good in one society and another, does not bring harm, but benefit; for from this is the perfection of heaven. That it is so, cannot easily be explained to the apprehension without using the terms of philosophers, and setting forth by them how a perfect one is formed from various parts. Every one exists from various parts, since a one which is not from various parts, is not anything, has no form, and therefore has no quality. But when a one exists from various parts, and the various parts are in perfect form, in which everything joins itself to another in series, in friendly agreement, then it has a completeness. ...There are also many churches, each of which is called the church, and indeed is the church so far as the good of love and faith reigns in it. Here again the Lord makes a one out of various parts, thus one church out of many churches." (Heaven and Hell, n. 56, 57)
Richard Sigmund saw something similar: when he was at a lower level, he noticed each angel was singing an individual song. But when we went up to a higher level, he saw that each individual angelic song was part of one large chorus, and each individual song complemented each other. So likewise, each person will worship God in his or her own way. There are continual teachings, so that one may be more perfected:
"Divine worship in the heavens is not unlike Divine worship on earth as to externals, but as to internals it differs. In the heavens, as on earth, there are doctrines, there are preachings, and there are temples. The doctrines agree as to essentials, but are of more interior wisdom in the higher heavens than in the lower. The preachings are according to the doctrines; and as they have houses and palaces (n. 183-190), so likewise they have temples, in which there is preaching. That there are such things also in heaven, is because angels are continually being perfected in wisdom and love; for they have understanding and will equally as men, and the understanding is such that it may be continually perfected, and in like manner the will; the understanding by the truths of intelligence, and the will by the goods of love." (Heaven and Hell, n. 221)
One other point Swedenborg saw: preachers were in a lower heaven than priests, the offices were separate. The reason is the heaven where truths are taught as primary, where one lives by the truth, is lower than the heaven where love is primary, and one immediately perceives what is true from an internal perception from love (Heaven and Hell, n. 225-6)

CONTINUAL PERFECTION TO ETERNITY


Richard saw the universe as a great spiral - at the center was a light, which grew dimmer on each arm of the spiral. People were behind or ahead on different arms of the spiral, progressing towards God. Every one was at a different stage of development in their journey towards God. One should be happy with one's stage of spiritual development, and not be envious of the ones who are ahead, nor judgmental of the ones who are behind.

Swedenborg saw that eternal life was one of continual perfection and spiritual progression - it will never end, and is affected in many ways, including changes of state. Moreover, heaven is continually being perfected by the addition of new members:
"It is noteworthy that the more there are in a society of heaven making a one, the more perfect is its human form, since variety disposed in heavenly form makes perfection, as has been shown above (n. 56); and where there are many there is variety. Moreover every society of heaven is increasing in number from day to day, and as it increases, is becoming more perfect. So not only the society is being perfected, but also heaven as a whole; because it is composed of the societies." (Heaven and Hell, n. 71)
TIME IN HEAVEN


Richard said all of time is recorded, for time was created by God. God prepares the future for each individual, and our prayers can effect what God plans for each one of us. He was told, paradoxically, that all our tomorrows are God's yesterdays. Heaven was made before God created time. Later, he noticed there seemed to be no tomorrow, nor yesterday, only the present now. He asked one of the angels, "How do you measure time in heaven?" The angel had a puzzled look on his face and said, "You mean time as you know it?" He answered, "Time is not measured here in years, but in ages, where the glory of God goes on forever."

Swedenborg goes further on this subject, and explains why the angel got puzzled by the question: heaven is the higher dimension where space and time do not exist. Spaces are appearances according to one's love: the more you love someone, the closer you will come to that person. Time is merely a change of state:
"Although there is a succession and progression of all things in heaven as in the world, yet angels have no notion and idea of time and space, not even knowing what time and space are. We will speak now of time in heaven, and of space in its own chapter.
"That angels know nothing about time, though all things move onward with them as in the world, without any difference at all, is because in heaven there are not years and days, but changes of state; and where there are years and days there are times, but where there are changes of state there are states." (Heaven and Hell, n. 162-163)
HEAVEN IS IN A STATE OF CONSTANT ACTIVITY


Richard said that heaven was a place of constant activity. In heaven, one is a servant of all to the best of one's ability. One's ability will correspond to what one did on earth. The way to God is through serving others, where one forgets the self, and there is nothing of self interest left. God also highly prizes those that are truthful, and pray and think before making a decision. He highly prizes those who pray to seek Him, and who are obedient to His will. He was shown many things, some he could not remember, and at other times it was due to not having the proper words to verbalize what he heard - much of it was beyond what language could convey. Another lesson he learned is for whatever we do in service or in giving to others, is rewarded in heaven. There was an area that was a "rewards department," which recorded not only the rewards given, but also the rewards withheld due to lack of love or kindness in helping those in need.

Swedenborg was also shown that heaven was also a life of activity and usefulness:
"Some spirits, from an opinion conceived in the world, believed heavenly happiness to consist in an idle life, in which they would be served by others; but they were told that no happiness ever consists in abstaining from work and depending on this for happiness; in this way every one would wish to have the happiness of others for himself, and when every one would wish for it, no one would have it. Such a life would not be active but idle, in which the faculties would become torpid; when yet it may be known to all that without active life there can be no happiness of life, and that rest from this activity is only for the sake of recreation, that one may return more eager to the activity of his life. Afterward it was shown by many things that angelic life consists in performing the good works of charity, which are uses, and that all the happiness of angels is in use, from use, and according to use. Those who had the idea that heavenly joy consists in living a life of indolence, and of breathing eternal joy in idleness, were suffered to perceive, in order to make them ashamed, what such a life is; and it was perceived that it was very sad, and that all joy thus perishing, after a short time they would loathe and nauseate it." (Heaven and Hell, n. 403)
THE TWO GUARDIAN ANGELS


At one point Richard said that he always had two angels with him, one on his right, the other on his left. The one on the right would explain things. The one on the left would stay mostly silent, except to remind him that he had an "appointment with God."

So why two angels, and why is one angel always talking and the other mainly silent? Swedenborg explains:
"There are at least two evil spirits and two angels with every man. Through the evil spirits a man has communication with hell; and through the angels, with heaven." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 697)
It is possible that upon entering heaven the two evil spirits withdraw, and one's desire to do evil becomes latent. The purposes of the two angels are different:
"That there are two angels with every man, is because there are also two kinds of angels, of which one kind act into what is of man's will and the other into what is of his understanding. They who act into what is of man's will, act into his loves and ends of life, consequently into what is good in him. But they who act into what is of man's understanding act into his faith and principles, consequently into what is true in him. These two also are most distinct from each other." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5978)
RICHARD'S FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS


After a bit of a journey, Richard sees Jesus approach. The two angels bow down, and step back from him to stand at attention. He was so overcome that he fell on his face to the ground. He did not feel worthy to stand or look at his face. He reached out and lifted his chin and said, "Son, look at me. I love you. Even though you have been disobedient, and have not done what I told you to do, I still love you. And I desire for you to tell my people about this place called heaven. I desire you to tell my people of the glorious things that my Father has made for them, that they might desire to come here. I have chosen you, and ordained you, for this one work above all others, that I might speak to you on this day of these things." 

He took his hand, and began to walk with him as a father would with a little child. They walked further and Jesus said, "I have many things to tell you. I will come to you again in just a short time. I have something else to tell you, but right now there is more for you to see. More for you to witness and experience. Tell my people I am coming soon. I love them. " Then he gave him a big hug and kissed him on the cheek and said, "I love you too." He held his hands out in front of him, and he saw nail scars in his wrists and hands. The wounds were open, shining with a beautiful light. He saw his name written in his hand, which reminded him of a passage: See, I have engraven you in the palms of my hands (Isa. 49:16). Then he looked at him and said, "I have more to tell you later. Go with the angels, they are going to take you to see more people, and see more things. I have an appointment and I have to go, my Father wants me. I must go, I am always obedient to my Father." Suddenly he was gone.

There is no comparable detailed encounter with Jesus in the visions of Swedenborg - his encounters were brief, but in a similar manner Jesus addressed Emanuel Swedenborg concerning his sinful nature. Swedenborg makes clear that everything in heaven is representative, and Richard Sigmund mentions this when he says certain objects he saw were "significant and prophetic." So when Jesus addresses Richard concerning his disobedience, He is talking to all disobedient Christians. In other encounters with Jesus, when one is in a sinful state one will see the wounds of Jesus, and if the sin is worse, the wounds of Jesus will bleed. The primary objective in Christianity is to accept Jesus in one's heart, and He will help you cleanse your life from sin, which takes place through the process of repentance.

What is interesting is that during most of the journey he is looking forward to seeing Jesus, and yet when he encounters him he has an inexplicable fear and falls on his face. This is due to our sinful nature coming in close contact with the Divine. He falls down on his face. A similar reaction happened to the apostle John, and Swedenborg explains its significance:
"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead, signifies the failing of his own life from such presence of the Lord. A man's own life does not endure the Lord's presence, as the Lord is in Himself, yea, as He is in the inmosts of His Word: for His Divine love is altogether like the sun's heat, which, as it is in itself, no one can endure, for he would be consumed. This is meant by no one's being able to see God, and live (Exod. xxxiii. 20; Judg. xiii. 22). Since it is so, the Lord therefore appears to the angels in heaven as a sun, distant from them as the sun of the world is from men. The reason is, because the Lord in Himself is in that sun. But the Lord still so moderates and tempers His Divine, that man can endure His presence. This is done by veilings: it was thus done when He revealed Himself to many in the Word. Indeed, by veilings He is present with every one who worships Him, as He says in John: He who doeth My precepts, I will make My abode with him (xiv. 21, 23); that He will be in them, and they in Him (xv. 4, 5). It is manifest from these things why John, when he saw the Lord in such glory, fell at His feet as dead; as also, when the three disciples saw the Lord in glory, why they were weighed down with sleep, and a cloud covered them over (Luke ix. 32, 34)." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 54)
This manner of veiling becomes more apparent later when Richard comes in the throne room of God.

THE LEVELS OF HEAVEN


The angels next took Richard up high, to get a higher view of heaven, the city of God, and the throne off in the distance. As he ascends, one of the things he noticed is that there were atmospheres, and that heaven is layered in multiple levels. Wherever he went, there were angels in each layer of heaven. In each of these layers, they also had their own ground level, but he could not see this from a lower level, which confused him.

On this matter, Swedenborg talks in much detail concerning the different levels of heaven. There are three main levels, which he calls the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural. The celestial are those who are primarily in love towards the Lord, and thence in love towards others. The spiritual are those who are in love towards others, and thence are in the truths of faith. The highest level pertains to the will or heart, the second level to that of the thought and living by the truth. Below this is the natural, those who were not so spiritual and yet lived a good life. Those on a lower level of heaven generally are not aware of the higher levels, but there is intermediate communication between them and they influence each other indirectly. Swedenborg exposes this reality throughout his discussion of the hidden spiritual sense of scripture.

Swedenborg sees atmospheres as well. For those who wonder at this account, how there could be so many things in heaven similar to that on earth, Swedenborg explains that heaven is essentially the world of ideas, where everything we think immediately comes to pass. You want to be with someone, there are there.  Heaven was created before material creation, and all that exists is symbolic of something that pre-existed in heaven:
"The things above the earth, as the sun, moon, and stars, and also those in the atmosphere, as clouds, mists, rain, thunder, and lightning, are likewise correspondences. What proceed from the sun, his presence and absence, as light and shade, heat and cold, are also correspondences; and so, too, what follow therefrom, as the seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter; and the times of day, morning, noon, evening, and night.
"In a word, all things that exist in nature, from the least to the greatest, are correspondences.[a] That they are correspondences is because the natural world with all things in it, exists and subsists from the spiritual world, and both worlds from the Divine. It is said also "subsists" because everything subsists from that from which it exists, subsistence being perpetual existence, and because nothing can subsist from itself, but from what is prior to itself, thus from the First, from which, therefore, if it be separated, it perishes and vanishes altogether." (Heaven and Hell, n. 105-106)
The material world is essentially a lower level of heaven, a lower dimension, but is a base gross form of it. It is the middle point between heaven and hell.  This is the origin of our free will between good and evil. As for the symbolic representation of this material world, I have discussed some of this in this blog under the label of "Universal Order of Design." In short, everything a person can imagine or create already existed in heaven. So that's a lot to explore.

OTHER AREAS OF HEAVEN, AND EXTRATERRESTRIALS


In heaven Richard knew there were other continents, islands, and oceans. He was not allowed to know anything about them, but he knew they existed. He states that there is life on other planets, but that is all he says on the matter.

The impression I get from Richard is that he is a very traditional Christian, and many times in religion one creates an "artificial box" that limits one's thinking. These limits, biases and prejudices that we form in this life will have an effect on our eternal life, and can limit our understanding. Swedenborg saw that those who had not prepared themselves for eternal life, and had not addressed the way they lived before they died, often had to stay in a lower level longer than others.

So what is outside of Richard Sigmund's area, who is a Christian minister?  Swedenborg stated that there are large different societies of heavens. The "Christian heaven" is just one of them. There is a completely separate heaven for Muslims and other groups. And this is something people may not be prepared for, it is outside their thinking. All are arranged in relation to each other according to the way they lived, the way they thought, and according to one's knowledge of God. On several occasions, Swedenborg was allowed to visit the heavenly realms of extraterrestrials. One of the main differences between those from earth and extraterrestrials is that these other societies tended to be less materialistic, and much more obedient in life to God's will and have a more inner direct spiritual contact. They tend to be telepathic and use non-verbal communication.

GOVERNMENTS IN HEAVEN

Richard makes a brief statement, saying that there are governments in heaven, even though it is an "absolute theocracy." This is confirmed by Swedenborg:
"Because heaven is distinguished into societies, and the larger societies consist of some hundreds of thousands of angels (n. 50), and all within a society are indeed in similar good, but not in similar wisdom (n. 43), it necessarily follows that there are also governments; for order is to be observed, and all things of order are to be guarded. But governments in the heavens are various, of one sort in societies which constitute the Lord's celestial kingdom, and of another sort in societies which constitute the Lord's spiritual kingdom; they differ also according to the ministries of the different societies. But in the heavens there is no other government than the government of mutual love, and the government of mutual love is heavenly government. ...From these things it may be evident what sort of governors there are, namely, that they are in love and in wisdom more than others, and thus from love will good to all, and from wisdom know how to provide for its being done. Such governors do not rule and command, but minister and serve; for to do good to others from the love of good is to serve, and to provide for its being done is to minister." (Heaven and Hell, n. 213, 218) 
THE MYSTERY OF THE ORIGIN OF THE SOUL


This is one area where Sigmund may have been given slightly more information than Swedenborg. In heaven Richard noticed that there were people there "who had not died yet." He saw them and wondered about this mystery. He had many questions concerning the mysteries of God, which he was not allowed to know. However he kept asking, until the angel on his right sternly said, "The mysteries of God are none of your business."

So, we now know there is something here that has not been revealed yet, and on this matter I am somewhat an agnostic. On this point Swedenborg was in slight error, or mixed up the scientific knowledge of his day which was somewhat still based on Greek philosophy. In some passages he states that the soul originates from the seed of the father, and the external body from the mother. This idea originated from his own scientific knowledge, not from revelation. We now know from genetics that the external body is determined by both the father and mother. However in other passages Swedenborg gives a more correct view, and says that the seed is merely the vessel by which the soul enters the body. This happens at conception. Life begins at conception. On the subject of reincarnation, Swedenborg said that the origin of past life memories comes from shared memory of spirits who have entered our mind - and when the spirit enters one mind, he or she thinks he/she is that person. Swedenborg experienced this directly, so discounted reincarnation. Past life memories will tend to be of those who are of a similar nature/personality to us, for we all belong to a group of similar souls in the spiritual world, even while living.

A PROPHETIC AREA OF HEAVEN


There are prophetic areas of heaven - Richard saw the black tornado of judgment - he saw revival, and judgment. There was a white pine pulpit. Two fists came through the sky from the shekinah glory. The right hand was gold which represented God's blessing, the left hand was steel which represented God's judgment. He saw the falls of God's glory: a stream of water fell into vapor on earth. He was shown that on earth we could rise up to that level - through the mists to God's glory. He then sees the tidal wave, the last great move of God - it was seven tiers tall - he was told that it prophetically represents seven signs:
1. The last move of God will be in out of the way places, day and night.
2. Signs and wonders will increase, and be fought against.
3. Laws of physics will be suspended so the miraculous can flow.
4. Laws of time and space will be made known to man.
5. Knowledge of men shall increase, and never be based on fleshly things.
6. Seven-fold tidal wave, the last great move of God, breaking on the shores of eternity. The greatest part will be poured out in rural areas. "I seek my bride in humble places. I was born in a stable."
7. Awareness is given my people in days and weeks just before My return. Mass multitudes will be involved. The revival will be to people who give all praise to the Lord. It is coming to root out and destroy the phony. It will keep the faithful, and it will be the introduction to the coming of Christ.
Next he saw the amphitheatres of Abraham and David, where people could see how promises were fulfilled.

In this topic, Swedenborg somewhat put himself in a box of his own thinking. He warned against prophecy, as it will infringe against free will; and at least in his time he said miracles were not allowed as it was better to see the truth of a matter internally, not from external evidence. But one thing is clear: Swedenborg was shown that in the future there will be a New Church, which will supersede all the previous Christian churches before it. As for the revivals that Richard saw, this may be taking place now through the Pentecostal movement, as they are more open to miracles than the Swedenborgian church, and hold to a similar doctrine of the Trinity. However the church is somewhat plagued from within by "phonies" who will be rooted out as more discernment is provided. As for the Second Coming, that was revealed in its completeness to Swedenborg. And knowledge of the Second Coming will now be given to others. There is no "set time" for the Second Coming as I think that can take place at different times for different people, but that is another subject.

A VISION OF PRAYERS


Next Richard saw angels going in and out of a building, carrying incense censors, representing the prayers of people. The angels would carry these prayers before the presence of God.

On this matter, Swedenborg confirms that prayers are represented in heaven by incense, but emphasizes prayers should not be just words but accompanied with good intent, otherwise they are just words. On this matter he provides a Divine law of order: God will sometimes provide something only if one asks for it. It is a law of order for a person to ask first, then God will provide, if according to that which is good.

DIFFERENT CLASSES OF ANGELS


Richard saw at least seventy different classes of angels, but the warfaring angels were the most dramatic for which he gives a detailed description. Similar classes of angels would look like family members, and have similar clothing. Some angels were tall - "12-15 ft tall", and some had swords. He was told they were warfaring angels on their way to do battle. He stepped back a bit when he saw them but he was told, "You have nothing to fear, they are doing their Father's business." Some had flaming swords, shields and spears, and they would arrange themselves in formation before going out to do battle when needed. He said some had the power to speak a word and cause an entire nation to crumble and sink into the sea. All was derived from the power of God, and they each had specialized jobs. He looked and said, "Look at those mighty angels." The angel standing with him stood at attention and said, "Behold, the warfaring angels of God. They are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds of the evil one." The angels never act alone, but always under the auspices of the Lord Jesus. Many angels are put into action when people pray to Jesus. There were many different angels for different purposes. Some angels can take the form of people and appear that way to others on earth.

Swedenborg had much to say on the different classes of angels, too much to recount here. He did see some of the warfaring angels, and here is one passage where he describes their power:
"That angels have power those cannot understand who know nothing of the spiritual world, and of its influx into the natural world. They think that angels cannot have power because they are spiritual, and so pure and unsubstantial that they cannot even be seen with the eyes. But those who look more interiorly into the causes of things, take a different view. They know that all the power which man has, is from his understanding and will — for without these he cannot move a particle of his body — and the understanding and will are his spiritual man. ... in the spiritual world the power of angels is so great, that if I should bring forward all that I have seen in regard to it, it would exceed belief. If anything there resists, which is to be removed because contrary to Divine order, they cast it down and overturn it merely by an effort of the will and a look. Thus I have seen mountains, which were occupied by the evil, cast down and overthrown, and sometimes shaken from one end to the other, as in earthquakes; also rocks opened in the midst even to the deep, and the evil who were upon them swallowed up. I have seen also some hundreds of thousands of evil spirits dispersed by them and cast into hell. Numbers are of no avail against them, nor arts, cunning, and leagues, for they see all, and disperse them in a moment. " (Heaven and Hell, n. 228, 229) 
ANIMALS IN HEAVEN


Richard saw heaven had animals, some were animals that he had never seen before on earth. Some of them could speak. He saw winged horses. One had a body of a bull, the neck of a camel, and the head of a horse, and an angel was sitting upon it.

On this matter Swedenborg said that only humans live after death, animals do not. Animals do appear in the other life, but they represent the corresponding ideas and affections of the angels around them. I would say here that whereas humans each have an individual soul, each of the animal species perhaps belong to a "group animal soul," but that may or may not be true as Swedenborg was not shown that, and may have again been influenced by his own thinking. Thus animals are born into all the knowledge that they need to know, which is commonly called "instinct," whereas humans can learn whatever skill they want through free will. For humans, it is one's own free will which determines what group one belongs to in heaven. Swedenborg does confirms that there are winged horses - the Pegasus - in heaven, and the Greek myth was derived from that. And for the curious, he does mention unicorns but only in passing.

A CASTLE OF HOPES AND DREAMS


One building that Richard saw was a huge castle suspended in the air, totally crystal clear. The castle was full of people and books, and the people inside took care of business inside the castle. Later the Lord explained to him: this is the castle where the hopes and dreams of His people were fulfilled. The castle is where God keeps the hopes and dreams of what he wants to fulfill in our lives.

Swedenborg did not see anything like this, except he did see other building with crystal walls, and that at times angels communicate with people through their dreams, which he describes in detail.

THE THRONE OF GOD


Finally, Richard was brought before the throne of God. It was a huge domed room, with pillars, statues of fire, and thousands of steps going up to it. Each step was significant and prophetic. As he ascended, things became more magnificent and splendid. Angels would come and go, and he heard one leaving saying, "He is all I thought He would be, and so much more."  When he entered the throne room, he saw millions upon millions of people prostrate on their faces, worshiping God. The throne faces every direction at all times, and was huge. From any part of heaven one could see the throne of God. All who approached the throne were in much humility and awe. He could see a Being on the throne, but He was covered with a cloud of glory that radiated from Him. He felt the Being on the throne was looking at him, and he felt as small as a grain of sand on the seashore, and a reverential fear fell upon him. In the throne there looked like there was a bandshell, and Jesus was there. It seemed important for Jesus that Richard notice him there. Many more details of the throne room are described by Richard in his book, it is quite dramatic.

In front of the throne, he saw a laver from which flowed the blood of Jesus. It flowed from the throne. He described it as "liquid plasma" and "waves of glory." Out of the throne flowed God's love and answers to prayers. The presence was very strong, and although many people enter heaven, many of them have to wait before coming into the presence of God in order to withstand the glory of His presence. 

On this point, Swedenborg states that all of heaven exists and subsists on the Divine love and Divine truth that proceeds from God, who is as the Sun at the center of heaven. His form is for the most part hidden, and as explained before, God veils his presence so that humans can withstand it as described here.

One point I want to emphasize here, is something was revealed in symbolic form to Richard Sigmund whether he realized it or not. Note that Jesus wanted him to notice that it was he who was on the throne. For in the New Church, it is known that the theological concept of a trinity of three beings is a falsehood. There is one Being, Jehovah, who revealed Himself in human form as Jesus Christ. The trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one of the Divine itself, which no man or angel can see, the Divine Human, the bodily form of Jesus, and the Divine proceeding. Everything that Richard saw in his afterlife experience confirms this - he sees the outflowing of the Divine power or energy as the Holy Spirit. This outflowing Divine power is the blood of Jesus, it is that which cleanses people when they receive the truth of His Word. Swedenborg stated that at the center of heaven was a central Sun, in the middle of which was the Divine Human, which was Jesus himself.

RICHARD'S SECOND ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS

Gazebo of Prayer, by Thomas Kinkade

Richard was picked up and carried from the throne. A voice said, "You are destined for an appointment with the Master." He was brought to a field where there was a gazebo, and he saw Jesus on a platform, who had scars on his face and neck. They were open wounds that were not healed. His feet were scarred. He wore a seamless robe of light, engulfed in a glory cloud of light. Jesus turned, and when he did he fell on his face. Jesus touched him and Richard somehow stood up. Jesus said, "Sit, I have somewhat to say to you." He sat down in a golden chair. Jesus said: "When you were a child, I came to you." (Richard says here: "I was seven, he came down in a golden stairway. He came again in my youth.") Jesus continued: "I have called you as a prophet to the nations. In many ways you have succeeded. In many ways the evil one hindered and overcame you. But fear not, I have overcome him. I was there when you were born. I was there when you were four, and the evil one tried to destroy you." (Richard says he had measles and other sicknesses, and his mother witnessed a miraculous healing when he was four.) "Son I am going to take you to the other place. I want to do more through you. Richard, I need your help. You were never designed to be more than what you are. This is heaven, where I want my people to come." Thousands of people were listening what Jesus was saying to him. Jesus then told him some private things about his life. He said he was going to cause great revivals to take place in small places, and He talked to him about many other things. He held out his hands: "All is taken, and brought together."

A DESCENT INTO HELL


Jesus then said, "Come, my Father desires that you see the other place." Immediate Richard had dread and did not want to go. Jesus looked at Richard and said, "There is no disobedience in heaven." And then Richard was ready to go, as he knew he would be safe with Jesus. Jesus picked him up. Instantly, they descended into a nasty grey stench like a rotting carcass. He was taken to a flat area, to the gate of destruction, made of a black material. For everything in heaven, hell had its opposite. There were hideous beings, very grotesque, as tall as the angels that were guarding the gates of heaven. When they saw Jesus, they screamed in horror. There were flames of punishment, and Richard felt a doom and despair. He heard people cried out - demons would take them and torture them to the same level of pain they were in. People were naked - there was no one there who was not old enough to know what sin was. Jesus told him to tell people what he saw. "I want you to tell others of this place and warn them, that unless they are washed in my blood, unless they are born again, this is where they will spend eternity." There were demons all around screaming at the presence of Jesus. Some begged to be let out of there, but their judgment was fixed. Richard cannot describe everything he saw, because when he recalls it it makes him violently ill. He does not want to remember, but he can say there is nothing there but absolute horror. He would see skeletons walking about with flesh hanging from their bones. People were raped. Serpents would devour people. They would be restored, and the punishment would happen all over again. Demons would tear people apart. Demons put hot coals in a woman's mouth, and they mocked her saying, "You really thought you were getting by with something." People were put in cages and then dipped into a lake of fire. There was a man who had an arm which took 100 years to rot off, and at the end, it would be restored, to rot again. Another had part of his head blown off and he was forced to go looking around for the rest of his head. There was no end to the different kinds of torments. There are degrees of punishment in hell - those who knew the most were punished the most. After seeing this Jesus said, "Son, you have fulfilled what God wanted."

The above description sounds awful, and Swedenborg saw many of the same forms of punishment.  He makes it quite clear that no one goes to hell unless he deserves it, and actually, some in their evil actually prefer it. In reality, we go where our desire takes us, God judges no one. For there are people who will intentionally do evil to other people, we see that constantly in the news. That is where the evil get their enjoyment - seeing others suffer and fail. There is a law of order: every good contains within it its own reward, and every evil its own punishment. The punishments of hell are not designed to torment, but rather, from God's mercy they are designed to prevent the evil from rushing into a worse kind of evil. For in the afterlife, all external restraints are removed, and one automatically follows one's desire. In the end, the punishments of hell stop when the evil decide to do nothing, which for many takes time.

One thing I will discuss here - Swedenborg confirms that all children in their childhood go to heaven:
"Let them know, therefore, that every child, wheresoever he is born, whether within the Church or out of it, whether of pious parents or of impious, when he dies is received by the Lord and is educated in heaven, and according to Divine order is taught and imbued with affections for good, and through this with knowledge of truth; and afterward, as he is perfected in intelligence and wisdom, he is introduced into heaven and becomes an angel. Every one who thinks from reason may know that no one is born for hell, but all for heaven, and that man himself is in fault, that he comes into hell; but little children cannot as yet be in fault." (Heaven and Hell, n. 329)
And what does it mean to be "washed in blood" and to be "born again"? It means to cleanse oneself from sin through self examination and repentance, asking God for help, and to reform one's life and acknowledge the good that you do is God working within you. All who do good by the truth that they know will go to heaven, even if they do not know the true identity of Jesus (see Matt. 25).

THE END OF THE JOURNEY

They then ascended back to heaven. Richard asked, "Who am I going to tell?" Jesus said, "Tell others about a place called heaven, and the other place, the place of separation." He then held his face in his hands, and bent it upward so that he looked into his face. He said, ""Don't ever forget how much I love you, and how much I have done for you. Never forget that I love those that you are going back to,  and the place that I have prepared for them, and how much I love them."

Jesus said, "You are going back." Richard sighed. Jesus rebuked him, "The will of my Father is never grievous. Stand to your feet. You must go back. You will go back to heaven, you will have angelic visits." Then Jesus hugged him. And suddenly he was back in his body, which was full of pain. He felt himself being healed from within. He heard a voice, "He has been dead all these hours." He felt his bones and joints heal, and then someone said, "Its about time to embalm him." And that is when he sat up and said, "I AINT DEAD YET." Someone hollered, "That guy is alive." A doctor said, "I pronounced him dead, and he is dead." But he was sitting up. Other doctors and nurses came in, and he began to tell them of where he had been, and what had happened. A doctor said, "This must be a miracle of God."

EPILOGUE

Richard stated that he continued to have angelic visits after his Near Death Experience. He describes it as quite unique - "one out of a hundred" or "this type of revelation is more than any one man can have." Completely unbeknown to him, another did have a similar and even greater experience. Not eight hours, but twenty-seven years of experience. I think we can now say that the experience of Emanuel Swedenborg is no longer unique. The similarities are remarkable, yet different enough to give us a better understanding on certain spiritual matters.

So for those Christian ministers who have censored themselves and their congregations concerning Emanuel Swedenborg, perhaps they should take another look. We now have a traditional Christian minister who had the same experience as Swedenborg. He knew another popular minister, Jack Coe. And maybe those who read the revelation will understand the meaning of Jesus' last saying to Richard. Before he left Jesus told Richard to tell his people to prepare themselves for His coming. "Prepare yourselves, and get ready, because I am coming back soon, at a time when people don't think I am coming back. I am coming back."

AUDIO RECORDING OF THE BOOK "MY TIME IN HEAVEN"

For those of you who would like to share Richard Sigmund's story with others, here is an audio recording of his book. It is oriented to those who go to church, but that is because this is his version of heaven. What will be provided for each individual is what will give them the most enjoyment. A lot of it is repetitive and there is annoying church organ music between chapters. However I had skipped through some details, and it is good material for understanding what awaits us.


PART 2



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life is a Ripple Effect: The Near Death Experience of Erika



In our life, every act of kindness, every act of love, has a ripple effect.  I have been going through some Near Death Experiences, and they all show the same pattern: first one is withdrawn from the physical body, and in many cases they can see or hear things happening around them - even outside the room of the doctors. The second stage tends to be going through the tunnel, at the end of which is a light. The third stage is that in the presence of a Supreme Being, God, Jesus, or angelic beings, one will go through a life review. Every single moment is recorded, nothing that is ever thought or done is lost. And what is being looked at in the life review? Every single act or thought of kindness - what was done for others. This afterlife, including the life review, the light at the center of heaven, was described in the 18th century in the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg. Now, with our modern medical science, there is just a sudden explosion of these testimonies. And one thing that is emerging that is consistent: its not about what your belief system is, its about how you live your life.

If you ask a materialist scientist, or a skeptic, they will say these are all imaginations, hallucinations, or products of oxygen deprivation.  What these skeptics choose to ignore is that in the first stage of death, many have become clairvoyant and can see or hear things in a heightened state of awareness while their body lay dead. In this materialistic society, materialists ignore the evidence that shows that their life view is wrong because it does not fit with their view. This materialistic view, the way I see it, will gradually die out as science discovers the reality of higher and higher dimensions, realms that do not interact with physical light.

As I was going through some Near Death Experiences, I came across one by Erika which mentions how our life is like a ripple, a ripple that will effect others. I had already posted the picture above on my profile, and then found a Near Death Experience that confirms the truth of this analogy. Here is a video taken at 9th Annual Spiritual Retreat for Near Death Experiencers, St Louis, May 2014, of Erika talking about the day she died of a drug overdose from prescription diet pills:



THE LIFE REVIEW

After withdrawing from her body, and seeing herself in the third person, and going through the tunnel, she has a life review. In the first life review, she sees all the things in her life that she regarded as important, from a child to adult - such as losing a tooth, going through graduation and so on. Then she sees a pair of glasses and is told that these are God's glasses, and she is told to put them on so she could see how God sees things in our lives. She puts them on, and she sees a completely different story about her life - how she showed acts of kindness to others, some so small that she had forgotten about them. Some were just spontaneous that made people happy.

So what is life all about? Its not about personal success, nor about money or material things. It is all about love, compassion and kindness. Swedenborg shows from scripture that there are two levels of love: love towards others, but higher than that is love towards others as a result of love towards God. And this is why a belief in God is important: for without God, everything becomes a matter of the ego and self glorification. Without God there is no love, for God is love itself.

LIFE IS A RIPPLE EFFECT

Next, she turns to see God, who before was standing at her side. She sees God in human form, but not his face, but from the shoulder down. She then has a thought to look up as high as she can. God then lifts his arm and she is told to look up as high as she can - she looks as high as she can, where she could see the stars. Then in the palm of God's hand appeared a rock. God then lets loose the rock, and the rock begins to fall, and it falls for a long time. God then says, "I am the rockI am the light." And as he says this she sees that now the rock is glowing, and is becoming a powerful and brilliant light. As the rock falls, it begins to fall in front of her, and then appears in front of her the largest body of water, a large lake or ocean. The rock falls into the ocean, and the rock makes one single ripple. This single ripple begins to grow in size, and it kept growing and growing until she could no longer see the border of the ripple. God then says, "You are the rock. You are the light. You are the ripple, that effects mankind." She then realizes we can effect people even if we never meet them.

I found this to be an interesting object lesson, for in it, there is some universal symbolism that is being used, which is explained in detail by Swedenborg in Heavenly Arcana (Arcana Coelestia, or "Heavenly Secrets"). In heaven, it is common for these symbolic or representative object lessons to be used to teach other spirits and angels, for learning never ends. Both a "rock" and the "light" are symbols of truth. An outstretched arm is a symbol of power. The ocean she saw could be the "sea of glass" that John saw in the book of Revelation - and the sea represents the lowest most outer form of heaven. Likewise, a sea represents our most outer forms where the effects of our intent takes place in act. A complete act is composed of the intention or purpose, the thought of how to fulfill the intent, and the act itself. Philosophically stated, this is end, cause, and effect.  The object lesson is interesting, for the outstretched arm that drops the rock is the end, the glowing rock of light is the cause, and the ripple is the effect. It is a perfect, simple object lesson describing what Swedenborg goes into detail in many pages.

The other point that is interesting is that God first identifies himself as the rock or the light. Then he says that we are the rock and the light. What is the meaning of this? God is love or good itself, but when we do an act of love or good in our lives, it is God acting through us. This is how a relationship with God develops: it is in love, in the smallest of acts in our everyday lives.

LIFE IS A UNIQUE GIFT

Next she is told to look to her left and to her right.  She sees this outstretched wall of shelves, and there were various colours that were magnificent, that took on a life of their own, which she has trouble describing. On these shelves are gifts, and no one gift was the same. Every gift was different. This wall of shelves went on forever, she could not see the end of this wall of shelves of gifts. Then God said, "Erika, in life I give each and every one of you gifts. And they are all different, because that is part of My plan." Then God said to her, "When you were born, I gave you the gift of patience, and I gave you the gift of beauty." Then when God said that, she immediately thinks, no that cannot be right, you did not give me the gift of beauty. She says, no, I made some very bad choices in my life, and it resulted in me taking those diet pills, for I thought I was never good enough and was trying to be what other men wanted me to be. She then realized in so doing she stifled what God wanted her to be. God then stopped her and said, "Erika, I gave you the gift of patience, and I gave you the gift of beauty." At that moment, she then knew what God really meant. That beauty came from within her heart. It is the love that she carried within her heart.

She then looks again, at all the unique gifts on the shelves, and realizes how unique and significant each one of these gifts was that God gives to each one of us. Then God said, "In life, I have more gifts to give to each one of you. And all one has to do to get those gifts, is to ask. But one has to be quiet, and listen, in order to receive them." And this was repeated to her multiple times.

THE LAST LESSON OF HEAVEN

Erika feels she was in heaven for a lifetime, and learned so many things. She then shares the last lesson she learned, and it was called the last lesson. She looks to the left, and she sees the planet earth. She sees the planet earth, how it is engulfed in flames, the flames were over the entire planet. She then starts to panic, and begins to think about her family, because her family was down there on earth. She panics and looks to God on her right. She then knows to look in front of her, and in front of her appears God's glasses again. She then puts on God's glasses so she could see things how God sees events on earth. She again looks at the earth, and sees it engulfed in flames, but now between the flames she sees these silvery, white "things" lifting off. She then realizes, that those are souls, and these souls are unscathed by the flames. They were lifting off, ascending from the earth and coming up behind her and God, and going into the region ("planet") of heaven. When she saw they were fine, she was very happy and joyful. But at the same time, she then feels an incredible magnitude of sadness from God. But she then says no God look its ok, they are not hurt. God then looks at her and says, "Erika, it is free will."  Erika does not understand, but she could see that God was crying for those who chose separation from Him. In that moment she understood how much God loves each and every one of us, and wants that connection. God's love is so great that he lets us have that free choice to have that connection.

PARTING GIFTS

At the end Erika feels she is at home in heaven, and does not want to return, she feels her family will be fine. But God then said, "Child, you are not staying, you work for Me now, remember?" He then said, "Before you go, I want to give you two more gifts. I want you take the gift of patience, the gift of beauty, and now I am going to give you knowledge, and wisdom. And I want you to be quiet and listen to the people I put into your life. And when you speak, you will change millions of peoples lives."

And so, is it an accident that I came across this, and that you are reading this?  Erika emphasizes at the end that each one of us is unique, and that is what make us each so significant and valuable in God's eyes. It is important to identify the unique gifts God has given us, and to grow them. Each one of us is meant to use those unique gifts in our earthly journey. Each one of us has different gifts, and when we come together, that is part of God's plan. For that is how the world will change.

Here is a song by Reflekt with Deline Bass, Need to Feel Loved: