We’re born, we live, we die, and . . . then what? What happens after you die? First-hand experiences reported by eighteenth-century scientist and spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg reveal the answer.

An unconditionally loving welcome

In many stories of death experiences, people witness joyful welcomes and powerful feelings of love

But it’s more than bright lights at the end of a tunnel. Heavenly angels will surround you with pure love.

In addition to the heavenly angels occupying the region of my heart, there were two angels sitting at my head. I perceived that this is so for everyone. . . . 

All the while I remained at one with the heavenly angels, held in a fairly close embrace in the area around my heart, as I perceived and also felt in my pulse. . . . 

They completely discounted all my misconceptions and falsities. It was not that they ridiculed them; they appeared not to care about them at all.

Secrets of Heaven §§172, 176, 180

These angels are purely positive, no matter what you bring to them. They scare demons away, protecting you from everything that isn’t love.

Some people simply stay with the heavenly angels. However, not everyone is ready to be in the presence of that kind of love; for those people, a second set of angels come to help the person process what has happened. 

These spiritual angels gradually unveil our spiritual senses. When Swedenborg experienced this, he said it was as if a covering was being taken off of his left eye, and after that he could truly see. 

Once you’re ready, you’re reunited with friends, family members, and other loved ones who have already crossed over. For examples of how that works, check out the Swedenborg and Life episode “5 Reunions in the Afterlife.”

For more details on the first step after crossing over, watch the episode How Angels Take Care of Us When We Die.

You will still be you, but the deeper you

When our bodies die, we’ll still have a body made of spiritual substance.

Almost all the people who arrive from this world are as astonished as they can be to find that they are alive and that they are just as human as ever, that they are seeing and hearing and talking, that their bodies are still endowed with the sense of touch, and that nothing at all has changed.

Heaven and Hell §456

How can you still have a body after your heart stopped? Since we need bodies to exist as individuals, we’ll have spiritual bodies in the spiritual world.

At first, our spiritual body will look and feel like our earthly body. Everything looks and feels exactly the same as it did when we were living on earth, including ourselves. Even your thoughts and memories come with you when your heart stops beating.

You still want the same things and love the same way. You’ll still be you. 

For more on that, check out this episode exploring Your Spiritual Body.

As time goes on, your deeper beliefs and feelings will start to emerge, and you’ll start to become more like your true self. Your spiritual face and body will reflect who you are in your heart.

People who were engaged in good affections had lovely faces, while people who were engaged in evil affections had ugly ones. Seen in its own right, our spirit is nothing but our affections, whose outward form is our face. . . . 

The reason our faces change is that in the other life no one is allowed to pretend to affections they do not really have, so we cannot put on a face that is contrary to the love we are engaged in. We are all refined down to a state in which we say what we think and manifest in expression and act what we intend. This is why our faces all become forms and images of our affections.

Heaven and Hell §457

You will be free to go wherever you want

God wants to bring us into heaven after we die, but he won’t sacrifice our freedom. Once we’re introduced to the spiritual world, we’ll move into communities that make sense for us based on what we care about.

For more on this idea of spiritual resonance, check out the episodes on The Spiritual Force Behind Music and Spirals of the Spirit.

As we find the communities that are closest to us, we may even find ourselves wanting to move from the loving angels who surrounded us when we first arrived.

When we are eager to part with the angels, they do not leave us but we disconnect from them. Angels love everyone and want nothing more than to be helpful to us, teach us, and take us up into heaven.

Secrets of Heaven §315

If we choose to leave those angels, we’ll find ourselves in the company of other good spirits—that is, people who lived good lives, but also aren’t quite ready for heaven. We rotate through various communities until we find one that reflects and supports who we truly are. That’s our new beginning.

So if we don’t fit into heaven, are we bad people? No – we just need more time to learn and prepare before we’re ready to experience that kind of intense love. People who really want to go to heaven will be allowed to visit, but the white light and the heat may be so intense that they have to withdraw. 

Some people will have the opportunity to test out different ideas of what heaven is like. But true heavenly joy can turn out to be different than expected. (And for even more on people’s different ideas of heaven, check out this episode: “How to Create Heaven on Earth.”)

A life review

Many near-death experiences include a “life review,” which shows you how you affected others without any judgment. The goal is just to help you understand what is and isn’t loving behavior. In the process, they also show you a path to forgiving yourself.

This can help us identify the parts of ourselves that don’t match up with the person we want to become. We need to know where we are to take steps to get where we want to be. 

It’s not about adding up good deeds and bad deeds when a person dies. Rather, it’s a question of what your deeper goals and priorities were, and what that means for your path toward heaven. 

Opportunities to learn and progress

God and heaven are inviting you to your highest potential and to a better beginning. But what if a person doesn’t want to go to heaven? 

That may seem like a strange question. Who wouldn’t want to go to heaven? That question is tackled in this episode, “What is Hell Really Like?”

But for people who want them, there will always be opportunities to learn and grow – and the end result is pure joy. 

And everything we do today is a step on a path we’ll be following for eternity.


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  • Just listened to your latest podcast of “Inside Off the Left Eye”. Very interesting about Swedenborg meeting Bible individuals in the afterlife as well as those that he had known during his life on earth. A question that came to mind was when he met Moses, Cicero, Aristotle, and others, were they angels when he met them?


    • Hi, Fred, this is Karin! When Swedenborg is mentioning characters like these in his diary of spiritual experiences, he often doesn’t specify specifying whether they have become angels, or if they are still spirits in the world of spirits, working through their preparation processes, so we can only guess. Here is an entry about Moses:

      Spiritual Experiences “6107. [numbered by Tr.] About Moses, who was seen
      The Jews begged the Lord that Moses might be shown to them. He was therefore seen. He was at that time below in his own place where the ancients were, in a quiet state. He came also to me, and I spoke with him. He was a serious man. He said he seemed himself to be a man of 50, although in the world he had been 120 years old, and he said that he had with him his 5 books and also the ancient Word. I asked him about the book of Jasher. He said he had seen it and said that this Word is still with the Ancients of his time and is read. And he also said that he knows about the Following Word that exists today, but he does not read it. I related some things from those things that he had written about in the 5 Books, and he was familiar with all as if it were present with him.”

      “A quiet place where the ancients were” sounds like he is an angel, though “below” could possibly refer to the lower earth where good spirits are kept safe until they are ready to enter heaven. But either way, it seems clear that Swedenborg saw Moses in a good and angelic place.

      Aristotle and Cicero also come across as being angels, or at least in the process of becoming angels (which Swedenborg calls “angelic spirits”. For info about Aristole, see our episode “What Happens to Celebrities in the Afterlife?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQzuZZuEsxQ&t=1072s

      And here’s a quote about Cicero:
      Spiritual Experiences 4415: “4415. About the gentiles, about Cicero
      Present with me for about one day was Cicero, I think, and I spoke with him on various subjects. He was amazed about the printing of our time. Then we spoke of various matters, also about wisdom, about which we conversed, and he said that wisdom is of life, and wisdom cannot be predicated of anything else; then about intelligence, that it is from that source, which was also confirmed; then also about order, that there is order in all and the very least things, and that order is from the supreme God, and thus that to live in that order according to the Divine order – that this is to be wise.

      Moreover, he also knows many things about the Lord, and I spoke with him, saying that He was born a human being, but conceived from God, and that He put off the human quality and put on the Divine one. This he grasped very well, and acknowledged that it could not be otherwise. And meanwhile evil Christians round about were pouring in various scandals, but he paid no attention to them, but said that it could not be otherwise, and this with inward confirmation. Those from among the Christians were surprised, but he said to them in a loud voice that it was not surprising, because they had imbued principles in the life of their body on these subjects that were indecent, so that until those principles were dispelled, they were unable to give access to affirmative ones, as those could who lived in ignorance, like those who had known nothing about the Lord.”

  • Where are the earlier videos like Adam and Eve, Nosh and the Ark. O need the earlier videos, please..

  • Thanks for all the great videos.
    I am wondering about the second death. Some say it refers to death of an eternally unrepentant remorseless soul where there is no hope of progress. Or is it death of the astral body as one rises to higher, celestial spheres. Do we still keep our astral selves in the higher realms?

    • Hi Edward! Great question. I had to look into that – Swedenborg believed that “the second death” is symbolic of spiritual death, or the rejection of the life of heaven. Spiritual death is a rejection of God’s love, more or less. In Swedenborg’s book Apocalypse Revealed, §106, he writes the following as an explanation for “the second death” from Revelation 2:11;

      “‘Shall not be hurt by the second death.'” This symbolically means that they will not later succumb to evils and falsities from hell.

      The first death refers to the death of the body, and the second death to the death of the soul, which is damnation….So, because the exhortation, ‘Be faithful until death,’ means, symbolically, that they will acknowledge truths until the truths remove their falsities….it follows that saying ‘they shall not be hurt by the second death’ means, symbolically, that they will not later succumb to evils and falsities from hell, since as a consequence of that removal they are exempt from damnation.”

      You might also like this short clip, where Curtis talks a bit more about this concept: “Signs of Spiritual Death” https://youtu.be/dsoZTPIj9xI from the full length episode, “What Gives You Eternal Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbHyphewtUM

      Thanks for your question, I hope that’s helpful! Let us know what you think.

  • I’ve been studying Swedenborginism about two months. I first discovered his work a few years ago. This was such a JOY to watch! I am making sure to balance myself & not get overloaded, because it’s like I want to watch & read so much at once. It’s like going to this lovely buffet with all you can eat & you just want a little bit of everything. I am so looking forward to becoming a member. I’m on disability due to illness, but I would be honored to give as much as I can. I think it’s so gracious of you all to have so much material free, the best learning is free! That way we are able to browse the free material and then we can buy what we want to continue on the lovely journey! Peace, Love and Blessings to all.

    • It’s such a delight to hear from you! I can really relate to trying to pace my consumption of this wonderful spiritual food from Swedenborg’s books because it is so delicious. 😊 Thank you for the kind words about this video! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. We totally understand about having a tight budget right now, and I’m touched by your desire to support our efforts. We’re grateful to have you in the audience, and hope our videos can continue to support you in your spiritual journey. God bless! — Karin

      • Bless you Sister and thank you so much for connecting with me! Today is my birthday, I’m going to watch another couple of videos before I go on with my day. This new knowledge to me the greatest gift . I’m looking forward to supporting you all and getting me a couple of books. I’m also interested in becoming a swedenborg member. The past few years have been so tough due to physical illness and childhood trauma I’m just now dealing with. I didn’t want to go on with life somedays. Ever since I’ve come across Swedenborgs works, I’ve just been so much lighter and almost weightless instead of being weighted down. I also follow the channel on YouTube and it was so gracious of them there to give me links to where I found so many of the books that are available for free. So I have a lot of work to do and I am looking forward to doing it, and helping my family members as well. Again blessings to you all and thank you so much for connecting.

        • Happy birthday to you! As you begin this new year of life, I hope you will continue to feel nourished by this new information that God has led you to. I am wishing you healing and hope and new life! God bless! — Karin

        • Happy Birthday Haylo! I feel the lift you are experiencing from discovering ES. Like me, it seems that the majority of converted Swedenborgians joyously “Happen Upon” his writings and history and it always makes me smile! It’s no secret that ES is not an easy read, so it’s great to have a community like Off The Left Eye to keep that spiritual rock rolling!

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