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.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    • Great question, Robert! From what Swedenborg wrote, it seems that before we were born, we did not have an individual consciousness yet, and we were a particular “desire of God,” a desire in the mind and heart of God. Curtis talks about that at about 6 minutes into this video called “Does My Life Matter?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33FfPQsf_zU

  • Thank you so much Karin for your heartfelt response. I find comfort in your words that they will be taken care of. My daughter is more open than my wife.
    I am not done fighting. The statistics are against me for esophageal cancer matastized but being a big guy I sm getting double strength chemo and soon I hope radiation… then? If all goes well, surgery.
    I love all you guys and OTLE has changed my life, my views and my beliefs. I have found a path to the Lord through your teachings. Was not very religious. Now, I am proud to say out loud, I love Jesus.
    You guys have shown me. My life is changed. Forever and my daughter is evolving too. We all are. Donating to swedenborg.com is the same as off the left eye? You guys are my church 🙂 Your son, who is great and Dr. Rose… I want to be sure my donation goes to the right place. OTLE
    Thank you again, very kind. Comforting

    • Yes, Off The Left Eye is a part of the Swedenborg Foundation, so donating to the SF is the right way to go. Thank you so much for that generosity, even as you have such a lot on your plate. You can request that it is especially earmarked for the OTLE efforts, if you would like, but it is all one big body of effort. Andy, I am sending prayers for strength and healing as you continue to fight this battle. It deeply touches my heart to know that your life has been changed and supported by the concepts we share. May the Lord bless you and keep you as you walk this journey! ❤️

  • I hear of NDE and meeting beings of light. Coming home and not being afraid of dying anymore, that is good for us but what about the people we leave behind. Our daughter, our wife. Those who will feel the impact of my life being gone. For this reason, I want to stay as long as I can. I may not fear death myself, having stage four esophageal cancer but I sure feel it for my daughter! My heart is bleeding. This is what I need help understanding. If you could be so kind.

    • Hello, Andy, this is Karin. Yes, I can understand how heartbreaking it must be to think of leaving your dear wife and daughter behind! I sometimes worry about that for my kids even though I do not even have a terminal illness. But I will share with you my experiences of being someone left behind when my father died and when my daughter died. The bottom line is, yes, it will be painful for your loved ones at first, but they will be okay. God and others will take care of them. When my dad was in the hospital for 3 weeks after a heart attack, before passing away, he expressed that he felt so torn, because he was looking forward to leaving his damaged body and going into the afterlife, but also it broke his heart to leave his wife and children behind (there were 5 of us teenagers at the time.) And yes, it was very hard on us and our mom at first, but out of that experience my mom became an incredible force for reaching out to others who were grieving, and she came to love and fully engage in life as she waited for that eventual reunion with dad. We all had lots of loving support from friends and family, and we gradually healed and have had good lives. In the case of my young daughter suddenly dying in a car accident, a relative of mine saw her in a spiritual experience, worrying about the family she was leaving behind. She was told that we would be okay, and would be taken care of, and she was shown a vision of us in the future, surrounded by friends, doing fine. Yes, it was very painful for us at the time of the loss, but we did indeed gradually heal, and I feel that I have tremendously grown and expanded spiritually from that experience. I am able to engage in and love life in a deeper way than I had been able to before. Do your wife and daughter believe in an afterlife? I wonder if it could help to talk with them about your feelings of not wanting to leave them, but also about how you will all be together again someday. My heart goes out to you, Andy, and I pray that you find a way to find some peace around this very difficult situation. ❤️

  • The doctrine of Reincarnation is so pervasive in the minds of Westerners, and I must admit is supremely logical in the Buddhist concept that one keeps returning until all Karma is burned up and ‘then’ one can progress upward and onward. I understand and subscribe to the Swedenborgian concept and hope against hope it is true.

    • I hear you, Richard. The idea of coming back to this physical world over and over does not sound appealing or hopeful. Have you seen our video “Do We Reincarnate?”? It presents the Swedenborgian view that we do not have to come back to the physical world in order to keep gradually progressing in our spiritual growth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVYKEfpnxj0&t

  • Thank you for the wonderful video, What Happens Immediately After We Die? I did a life review while watching this video with a smile as I realized how the events of my life unfolded.
    1996 my husband took his life, he had committed that is deemed unforgivable. I had forgiven him but many condemned him. I felt his mental battle before all went silent. I felt a jolt then silence. As we were separated, I could not check on him until the next day.
    I found a dead man, gun shot to the head.
    In the following week I wanted to join him because everyone was blaming me for his death, I had pressed charges against him for my daughter’s wellbeing. My daughter just happened to be sleeping with me that night I had wished to join him. (Not really understanding the death process.) I was flown through darkness and came to a stop in utter blackness and cold. I could hear moaning and a voice I knew was counting backwards. I could feel chains heavy upon on the voices. I clawed my way back to life! My daughter said I was thrashing and crying out. I shared my experience with her. We discussed that he did not deserve eternal hell for his acts.
    Family members are not of Christian faith and myself of Christian faith prayed for him to seek the Light of Truth.
    After his cremation, my daughter and 2 friends hiked to the top of a mountain to spread his ashes, no family members present. Family had their own funeral service excluding daughter and self.
    As we neared the top of the mountain I was overcome with a sad heaviness and sat down to rest. A voice said, “This is our last hike together!” I cried but was elated at the same time, he was not in the darkness anymore! When we reached our destination the place was alive with Monarch Butterflies everywhere with Love surrounding us.
    We did prayers leaving him in Creator’s hands and spread his ashes. I felt 100 lbs. lighter. Each of us experienced joy as we walked down the peak.
    The next morning while driving my bus at dawn, I felt a great Love and looked towards the great mountain that stood above the city I worked in, there was a man I knew, waving and saying goodbye from above the mountain! Tears of joy flowed down my face, it was my husband.
    Long story short, that joy did not remain, for he rejoined his real world that he had to work through. I had agreed to Creator and to self to walk the healing journey for US. Little did I understand the journey but learned volumes as we went along. At one point I asked God, “Sir, if this is what heaven is all about, I’m not sure I can be a Christian.” Creator replied, this hell you are feeling is his journey not yours!” As a part of my husband still in the flesh I was subject to his peeling away of layers as well as my own in the healing process. The journey isn’t over but we have reached a new level. This video helps us both with courage to keep moving forward in renewed strength. Thus far your videos have confirmed our journey and it gives me strength to NEVER give up on those I love and care for. May we all have compassion for our fellow human being, for we know not their internal battle. Blessings of love and peace to you all!

    • Oh Toni, what an amazingly powerful story. Thank you SO much for sharing it here! You have experienced that God is taking care of your husband, leading him through an important process of purging all that has been holding him back from pursuing heavenly love. Bless you for being willing to stay part of his story and journey. And I have no doubt that the process is strengthening and healing your own spirit, too! May the Lord bless and keep you both, and your daughter, too. ❤️ — Karin

  • The information you provide has been so helpful to me after losing my youngest child in 2017. I had never heard of Swedenborg and wish I had sooner. It is comforting to hear that dying is a peaceful and loving process. I miss my child so much it hurts. I wonder if he knows how much we miss him and think of him and if he misses us too. I want him to know how much we love him and hope that although he is happier there and at peace, that some part of him thinks of us and misses us too. Is there anything Swedenborg said about this?

    • Hello, Kim, this is Karin. I’m so deeply sorry for your loss! As a bereaved parent myself (my oldest daughter died at age 8 back in 1991) I know how excruciating that pain is, and that it takes a very long time to recover and adjust. I’m very glad that you feel comforted by the knowledge that your son is fine and happy. Yes, Swedenborg did report that people in the afterlife think of their loved ones on earth, and want them to be happy. Those in the afterlife do not feel the separation as painfully as we do here on earth, because in the spiritual world they can be more aware of their connection with us through thoughts and feelings. I believe your son can feel you with him through the bonds of love that you had forged. It so hard on this side of the veil, because we can’t feel that as clearly. But you can try to develop a better abililty to notice those subtle connections. When you notice a thought, feeling, memory, or coincidence that relates to your son, consider that that is him with you right then. Maybe talk to him. Or any time, talk to him in your mind, or in a journal, and let yourself believe that he is receiving your thoughts. Think of things that you used to enjoy doing with him, or things that you both care about. For instance, I remember a time when our family was enjoying a day of over the Christmas holidays, and I felt warm gratitude about that, and I realized that my daughter in heaven was right there in that feeling with me! Also, there was a day in which I kept noticing a small photo of her on the refridgerator that I usually would just pass by, and I realized it was kind of “calling to me,” drawing my attention. I decided that must be Annica just saying hi! There are many examples of small things that can happen in a day which you could realize are communing with your son. Then you can think of your relationship with him not just as in the past, but in the present! ❤️

      • Karin, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am thankful that it was you who responded to my question. Who else could really understand what it is I’m feeling but you who’ve had a similar experience? I’m so sorry for your loss. There are a lot of ‘hard’ things we can go through in this life but losing a child will bring you to your knees quicker than anything else I can think of. Your answer is exactly what I needed to hear. I appreciate your response and will continue to read and study more of what Swedenborg learned and shared. Thanks for all you do!

        • Yes, loss of a child sure does “bring you to your knees.” It took me a good decade to recover and to feel like life was okay again. Be patient with yourself! ❤️ I’m deeply glad if any of those thoughts or experiences I shared can be of any help or comfort. Sending much love to you!

  • Not all near-death experiences or death experiences are filled with joy, as stated in the video. As a former nurse I witnessed the horror as a person was dying; screaming, begging, fighting and the person looked absolutely horrified. I have also witnessed those who have died peacefully, calm, smiling, calling out to their “person”, telling those of us in the room “can’t you see” whoever it is that has come for them. Their faces are soft, filled with joy, peaceful. I personally experienced a near-death experience and all I saw was darkness. I heard a strong voice yelling at me as to what I had to do, to get out of the MVA alive which I struggled to do until there was a reminder of who I’d leave behind and the effect it would have on one specific person. It was like suddenly a burst of energy came through and I was able to dig my way out. There are many stories untold and it seems, near-death is one of those stories where only the joyful, going towards a light story seems to be heard. Yet it’s not always that way.

    • Thank you for bringing this up, Beverly! We do address the phenomenon of negative NDEs in our episode “How Angels Take Care of Us When We Die – Swedenborg and Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rnk72vH7Ws at about 7 minutes 10 seconds in. Curtis refers to a book about a study done about such experiences (“Blessing in Disguise” by Barbara Rommer) and the good that seemed to come out of them. And in that same video at about 51 minutes 45 seconds, Curtis talks about cases in which the person seemed to be in agony on the physical level, and yet their consciousness was actually focused in their spirit, and they were not experiencing the reactions that were happening on the level of their physical bodies. Swedenborg once wrote a letter in a response to someone who asked about people heading for their execution, and he reported that by the time they were laying their head on the chopping block, they had already left their body. It wouldn’t have looked like that to people around them! It seems strange, but think of the phenomenon of a chicken running around after its head has been cut off. The body can keep on reacting, and acting like there is consciousness there, even if in spirit they are moving on! Our spiritual level and our earthly level are very distinct parts of us. Regarding your own NDE, I wonder if you experienced what you did because it was not your time to die, and it was very important that you do what was necessary to survive, rather than have an experience that would make it hard to leave that spiritual environment. What do you think? Again, thank you for bringing this to the conversation!

      • I appreciate your thoughtful feedback. I will listen to the episode which you shared. What is interesting about the soul has already left and the body is still reacting here on earth. All I know is the one who was the worst for fighting was a very angry and violent person in his life. I felt that way about the MVA, that it wasn’t my time to die. I remember telling my mother that I surprised myself, as I was giving up which isn’t like me as I’m a scrapper, then the voice came over very loud, and the next thing I’m consciously back digging myself out. I’m thankful for the voice. I also realize the giving up was connected with the lack of oxygen (as I was buried in heavy snow), however, the voice wasn’t my subconscious – it was outside, not inside. As my mother said, angels. 🙂

  • 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!

  • Make a Difference Today By Joining Our Monthly Giving Program!

    Consider becoming a monthly donor to support Off The Left Eye! It’s an easy and very helpful way to ensure that the costs to support our programming can continue into the future. The setup is simple and can be found by clicking the link right here!

    Give Now

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *