There are many who have clinically died and were revived by doctors in the last 50 years, and there is now a wealth of testimony of a common "Near Death Experience" that everyone follows after they die. Many report seeing a Being of light at the end of a tunnel, and in the 18th century Emanuel Swedenborg had waking visions of the spiritual world of heaven and saw a "central sun" in which God dwelled in heaven. This is confirmation that Swedenborg did indeed receive a heavenly revelation, for this was long before doctors had the medical expertise to revive people after they had died (see The Christianity of the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience).
In the previous blog post, I concentrated on Being of Light or the central Sun of heaven. Here I want to focus on the life review that people have, in which they see every moment of their life flash before their eyes, in which they see how their actions have effected other people. We can learn a lot from reports of this life review: one is, the Biblical doctrine of judgment after death is not a myth, it is real. The other is, we can learn how to review our lives NOW, in fact review it every day, and think how our actions effect others. We can learn that it is love which is most important in life, that we should rise above our own selfish desires and love others. This is what is important to the Being of Light: love is the answer.
First I will give a summary of the life review of the Near Death Experience, and then I will quote passages where Swedenborg was able to describe the exact same phenomenon in his waking visions of heaven. The comparison is interesting, for it describes how the life review takes place in more detail. While most NDEs only last several minutes, imagine having an experience lasting 27 years. So we can learn a lot from the writings of Swedenborg on this matter.
THE LIFE REVIEW OF THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
There are many testimonies to choose from for Near Death Experiences. It was once a taboo subject. It also was once a foreign and unknown topic to traditional churches whose ministers and priests did not understand it, but even that is beginning to change. Now there is a flood of information on the subject. There is a good summary at The Life Review and the Near-Death Experience and I will be quoting portions here.
The purpose of the life review is to learn, gain insights, and grow as a spiritual being. We essentially see how we effect others. The Golden Rule is the essence of it all.
Here is a list of the mechanics of the life review:
|a.||Viewing a movie of your entire life.|
|b.||Viewing a movie of important segments of your life.|
|c.||Viewing a video of knowledge concerning your entire life.|
|d.||Viewing a panoramic view of your entire life.|
|e.||Viewing a vivid, three-dimensional color display of your entire life.|
|f.||Viewing hundreds of television screens with each screen showing a home movie of one event in your life.|
|g.||Viewing a three-dimensional hologram of your life in full color, sound, and scent.|
|h.||Viewing scenes of your life in little bursts.|
|i.||Viewing scenes of your life flitting from scene to scene.|
|j.||Viewing scenes of your life at a tremendous speed.|
|k.||Viewing scenes of your life in fast-forward.|
|l.||Viewing scenes of your life in a way that can be slowed down or paused in order to focus on a particular detail of your life.|
|m.||Reliving your entire life with scenes of your life projected around you.|
|n.||Having a feeling like a dam has burst in your mind and every memory has flowed out.|
|o.||Having a religious figure or higher being initiating the life review.|
|p.||Having the life review occur when getting in close proximity to the Being of Light.|
|q.||Having a higher being reading from a Book of Life (for Christian experiencers).|
|r.||Having a higher being reading from the Akashic Records (for Hindu experiencers).|
|s.||Having a life review before a Council of Elders who are seated at a table.|
|t.||Having a life review take place in a domed room with square screens up and down the walls and on the ceiling.|
|u.||Having a life review take place in a amphitheater the size of a sports stadium filled with light beings who will observe your review.|
Here is a list of the characteristics of the life review:
|a.||Instantly becoming everyone you came in contact with in your entire life (feeling their emotions, thinking their thoughts, living their experiences, learning their motives behind their actions).|
|b.||Reliving every detail of every second of your life, every emotion, and every thought simultaneously.|
|c.||Re-living the way you dealt with others and how others dealt with you.|
|d.||Viewing a few special deeds in your life.|
|e.||Replaying a part of your life review to focus on a particular event for instruction.|
|f.||Viewing past lives and/or your future.|
|g.||Feeling a strong sense of responsibility.|
|h.||Feeling a sense of judgment or self-judgment (often these feelings transform from judgment to self-judgment).|
|i.||The review is a fact-finding process rather than a fault-finding process.|
|j.||Your motives for everything will be as visible as your actions.|
|k.||The negative events you expected to see did not show up because you had a change of heart.|
What is important here to note: all of our memories are recorded. And not just the external actions, but also our motives and intentions for each of our actions. This is important to note, because many of these same features were described in the visions of Swedenborg in the 18th century. This again is evidence that Swedenborg was indeed given an accurate account of heaven and hell, and that the spiritual teachings concerning the Bible and Christianity are indeed correct.
Here are some insights gained from the life review:
|a.||Deeds which we might consider to be unimportant may turn out to be more important than we can possibly imagine on the Other Side.|
|b.||Deeds which we might consider to be important may turn out to be insignificant on the Other Side.|
|c.||Deeds which we might consider to be "very good" may not be considered as such on the Other Side if the deeds were done solely for self.|
|d.||Deeds which we may have given "no second thought about" might amaze us when we learn how much they meant to God and the Other Side.|
|e.||Deeds which are considered most valuable on the Other Side are those which express love in a greater, purer and unconditional manner.|
|f.||Deeds which are considered to be "greatest" on the Other Side are usually those which are not done with great fanfare, but are small acts of kindness toward others.|
|g.||Deeds which are considered "greatest" on the Other Side are often the little things we do out of kindness and love because they are more spontaneous and reveal our true motive behind the deeds. Such deeds demonstrate in a better way who we really are.|
What this shows is God cares about what you do with your life, what are your deeds and works - and the intentions behind them. Deeds that are self-aggrandizing, to promote one's selfish interest, are not important. Small acts of kindness are what are important. It is one's life, not one's belief system, is what influences one's life review. And we see there is no man is an island, we all effect others in one way or another. We are all part of the butterfly effect.
THE INTERNAL MEMORY OF THE SOUL
So we have all these reports of a life review after death, how does it happen? Swedenborg was given an interesting explanation: in addition to an external memory, the physical one, we have an internal spiritual memory. Everything is recorded in this spiritual memory, what we do is written in our very nature. Despite all the research on the Near Death Experience, scientists cannot go as far as Swedenborg in providing an explanation. I thought it was interesting enough to quote Swedenborg in full on this matter:
"It is to be known that all the good a man has thought and done from infancy even to the last of his life, remains; in like manner all the evil; so that not the least of it altogether perishes. Both are inscribed on his book of life, that is, on each of his memories, and on his nature, that is, his disposition and genius. From them he has formed for himself a life, and so to say, a soul, which is such after death. But good is never so mixed up with evil, and evil with good, that they cannot be separated; for if they should be so mixed, the man would perish for ever. The Lord provides for this. When a man comes into the other life, if he has lived in the good of love and charity, the Lord then separates his evils, and by what is good with him elevates him into heaven. But if he has lived in evils, that is, in things contrary to love and charity, the Lord then separates from him what is good, and his evils bring him into hell." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2256.2)The life review actually comes from the internal memory of the soul. And note that, there are two results from the life review: a life in heaven, or a life in hell, depending on what course of action the person chose of his or her own free will.
"Whatever things a man hears and sees, and by which he is affected, are without the man's knowledge inserted as to ideas and ends in his interior memory, and remain in it, so that not anything perishes; though the same things be obliterated in the exterior memory. Such, therefore, is the interior memory that particulars are inscribed on it; and indeed the very least particulars which the man has ever thought, spoken, and done, even what has appeared to him as but a shadow, with the minutest particulars, from earliest infancy to the last of old age. The memory of all these things the man has with him when he comes into the other life, and he is led successively into full recollection of them. This is his Book of Life, which is opened in the other life, and according to which he is judged. Man can scarcely believe this, but still it is most true. All the ends, which have been in obscurity to him, and all the things thought; also all that were spoken and done therefrom, to the smallest point, are in that Book, that is, in the interior memory, and whenever the Lord grants, are made manifest before the angels as in clear day. This has several times been shown to me, and has been attested by so much experience that not the least doubt remains." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2474)The internal memory of the soul is the "Book of Life" which is mentioned in scripture, but more on that later. Note that Swedenborg reported all of this, even though he knew at the time few people would believe it. Thus no one should think that their own thoughts are hidden from view in the other life:
"Before I had been instructed by living experience, I imagined with others that no spirit could in any way know the things in my memory and in my thought; but that they were solely in my possession, and were hidden. But I can attest that the spirits with man know and observe the smallest things of his memory and his thoughts, and this much more clearly than the man himself; and that the angels observe the ends themselves, how they bend themselves from good to evil, and from evil to good, and many more things than the man knows; as those which he has merged in his enjoyments, and thus as it were in his nature and disposition; for when this is done, they no longer appear, because he no longer reflects upon them. Let man, therefore, no longer believe that his thoughts are hidden, and that he is not to render an account of his thoughts, and of his deeds according to the thoughts that were in them; for deeds have their quality from the thoughts, and the thoughts from the ends." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2488)
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BOOK OF LIFE
In the other life, one's internal memory, and what is written on it, is represented by books, or the "book of life" or the Akashic Records, depending on one's background. Swedenborg confirms this in the visions he received. For example, one's name that is written is not literally one's name, but rather one's spiritual quality as to good and truth:
"Names written in heaven do not mean their names, but the quality of their faith and charity. So is it with names written in the book of life, in the Apocalypse: Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments. . . . He who overcometh shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (iii. 4, 5)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6674.6)One's internal memory is represented in heaven by books:
"Concerning the book of life it is thus written in Daniel: The Ancient of days did sit . . . the judgment was set, and the books were opened (vii. 9, 10). Again: At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (xii. 1). And in David: Add iniquity unto their iniquity; and let them not come into Thy justice. Let them be blotted out of the book of lives, and not be written with the just (Ps. lxix. 27, 28). In John: He who overcometh shall be clothed in white garments; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life (Apoc. iii. 5). Again: There shall not enter into the New Jerusalem any but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life (Apoc. xxi. 27). Again: I saw . . . and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. . . . They were judged all according to their works. . . . And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (Apoc. xx. 12, 13, 15; and also, xiii. 8; xvii. 8).
"He who does not know from the internal sense what the book of life is, also what the books are out of which the dead are to be judged, cannot form any other idea than that in heaven there are such books, and that in them are written the acts of all, whereof the memory is thus preserved. When yet by books in the above passages are not meant books, but the remembrance of all things which have been done; for every one carries with him into the other life the memory of all his acts, thus the book of his life (n. 2474). But no one save the Lord alone can judge any one according to his acts; for all acts proceed from final causes, which lie deeply concealed within. According to these causes man is judged, and no one knows them but the Lord." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8620.1-2)And one other quote:
"That the book which Jehovah wrote, which in the following verse is called My book, or the book of Jehovah, and in other places the book of life, is the internal, is because the internal of man is in heaven, thus where the Lord is, and therefore those things which are in his internal are from heaven of the Lord, all which things are Divine celestial and spiritual things. These can be received by the internal of man, but not by his external separate from the internal, since the external is in the world and is formed to receive the natural things which are in the world and which without influx through internal things have no heavenly life and thus are called dead.
"From these things it may be evident what is meant in the Word by the book of life, and who they are who are said to be written in that book, namely, they who are in the life of truth and of good, thus who do the Divine commandments from love and faith. For a life according to those commandments opens the internal man and forms him, and what is therein inscribed is inscribed by the Lord and remains to eternity. These are meant by those who are written in the book of life" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10505.2-3)
DID SWEDENBORG SEE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THE LIFE REVIEW?
The answer is yes. And like the life review, it was presented visually for all to see. Nothing was kept secret. One man had secretly poisoned another and was condemned to hell. A woman maintained her innocence, and then all her adulteries and whoredoms were presented in full view to others. Even minor things, such as one withholding and stealing property, and even what one had written in their own private diary. Only when one was in denial and did not confess were these memories brought out in full view. Accounts of this are described in detail in Swedenborg's work Heaven and Hell and others in Heavenly Arcana. As in some Near Death Experience reports, Swedenborg also reports some of these review are done by angels:
"When man's acts are disclosed to him after death, the angels to whom is given the office of searching, look into his face and the search is extended through the whole body, beginning from the fingers of each hand, and thus proceeding through the whole. Because I wondered as to the reason of this, it was made known to me, namely, that as all things of the thought and will are inscribed on the brain, for their beginnings are there, so also they are inscribed on the whole body; since all the things of thought and will extend thither from their beginnings, and there terminate, as in their ultimates. Hence it is that the things which are inscribed on the memory, from the will and its thought, are not only inscribed on the brain, but also on the whole man, and there exist in order, according to the order of the parts of the body. Thus it was made plain that man in the whole is such as he is in his will and its thought, so that an evil man is his own evil, and a good man his own good. 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. 463)There you go - the panoramic life review was seen by Swedenborg in his visions. Again, this is very strong testimony that Swedenborg indeed receive heavenly revelations. It was this kind of material that made me reassess what I had been taught to believe.
So what to take from all of this? Do your life review now, every day. Don't wait until it is too late. Self examination is actually a spiritual exercise of self repentance. Don't just examine your actions, examine your intentions - do you do things for your self, or for others? Ask yourself the question, What have you done with your life? How can you improve it? What can you change? At first it may be hard, but if done repeatedly, it can become a matter of habit, and one small change will have a ripple effect that would not have been foreseen.