Where is heaven? Is it up in the sky somewhere? From the beginning of recorded history, humans have expressed in various ways their desire to attain heaven – as a paradise on earth and after death. But history shows how searching for a heaven on earth is like searching for an illusion. Religions have been created to help people find heaven after death. The overall consensus of the major religions is that heaven as a society cannot be found on earth; but rather, heaven is a state of mind and condition of the heart. Skeptics unknowingly agree with this when they claim heaven to be merely a figment of the human mind and imagination. By focusing within ourselves through meditation, dreams, prayer, and even quiet reflection, we connect with the heaven we seek within us. When we are in love, we say were are “in heaven.” When we are separated from love, it may feel like “hell.” Religious figures such as Jesus and Buddha have helped humanity understand how loving others is the way to heaven (Luke 10:25-28) and that this heaven can be found within us (Luke 17:20-21). Near-death experiences (NDEs) describe a hierarchy of afterlife realms of which the physical realm is just one of them. This article presents revelations about heaven from the perspective of NDE testimony and research.
1. Heaven from the perspective of the NDE
The following is a summary of the insights gleaned from the NDErs profiled in this article concerning heaven:
(1) Introduction to the Heavenly Realms:
The consensus among the mystical traditions of the major religions is a cosmology consisting of a hierarchy of ten afterlife realms plus one top-level divine realm. This agrees with a leading interpretation of quantum mechanics called String theory which calculates the universe is comprised of ten dimensions plus a top-level “brane” dimension. Scientists say these dimensions exist in the same space as the physical universe much like boxes within a box. Near-death experiences confirm the existence of a multi-dimensional afterlife of which our physical universe is but one of them. NDEs also reveal how humans are “working their way up the ladder of success” with the goal of attaining the highest heaven.
(2) The Kingdom of Heaven is Within:
Near-death experiencers have a lot to say about heaven. Concerning the relationship between life on earth and life in heaven, our life on earth is but a preparation for our life in heaven. We come to earth from heaven for the purpose of obtain spiritual development and to bring the heaven we came from to earth. It is also here on earth that God and ourselves can really know what level of spiritual development we desire and have earned. After death, the level of our spiritual development determines the spiritual realm we inhabit after death. Free will is a divine gift from God to humanity and God does not force anyone to heaven. The level of heaven we develop within us on earth is the level of heaven we enter after death. When the physical body is removed, we step into the spiritual condition we have been building within us throughout our entire life. Because God is love, the greater spiritual love we build within us, the closer we are to God. This holds true for the spirit world as well. It is a life of love that leads to heaven. Love is God’s paradise for humanity and we can create this paradise from heaven on earth and within us if we learn to love one another.
(3) Heaven is about Good Vibrations:
Heaven is a matter of vibration and the various realms after death is based on the various levels of spiritual energy that exists. As quantum physicists state, the ten dimensions of reality exist within the same space as our universe and are based on the varying energy levels that exist. The reason we cannot see these multi-dimensional energy levels is the same reason we cannot see radio or television waves because they exist beyond the frequency on the light spectrum that we can see. For this reason, the realms of spiritual energy that exists after death, which is the same energy levels described by quantum physicists, is based on different frequencies of vibration. Love can be compared to heat that has vibrations that are finer that colder temperatures. The greater the love – the finer the vibration – and the closer we are to heaven. Heavier vibrations represent coldness and the heavier the vibrations the nearer we are to hell. When we manifest unconditional love, our soul vibration are so high that the only place we can fit into is heaven. People don’t go to heaven because of their good deeds, but because their soul vibration of spiritual love fits in and belongs there. After death, people gravitate into groups according to the rate of their soul’s vibration. Birds of a feather flock together. This connection between the level of soul vibration we have in determining the level of heavenly vibration we realize after death is the same principle as putting a coin into the slot of a coin counter. The coin just naturally fits to its proper location. So it is with the soul. After death, our soul naturally fits in the level of heaven we have developed within us. In fact, while we live on earth our soul actually dwells, not only within us, but also in the soul realms we will find ourselves in after death.
(4) Removing the Mask of Personality at Death:
We all have some level of discord or negative vibes within us after death because of our earth experience. In heaven, all these unwanted soul vibrations are removed by God – who can be thought of as the Master Vibration. The first stage after death is a condition of still being involved with and acting according to our outward personality which we had on earth. From this initial stage after death, we begin to slowly lose this outward personality and begin to become more of the inner person we actually are. My own personal opinion is that this removal of our outward elements occurs in the Void where there is nothing else to focus on but our true inner nature.
(5) Into the Realm where Thoughts are Deeds:
As our outward earthly personality is removed, our thought process begins to change. Our thought process becomes more and more based on our true intentions – our impulses. In the realm of mind and imagination, impulses are the same as actions. In other words, thoughts and impulses become united. Thoughts are impulses and impulses are actions. The farther into the afterlife experience we get, the more we are acting on the basis of who we really are. The final stage of adjusting to the spirit world is a stage of instruction. As it is with children in the earth realm, we must be instructed once again in the ways of the realm we have just entered – with the exception that our instruction on the Other Side is not based on time. Higher spirit beings educate us and bring us into heaven. More information on this will be described later.
(6) Heaven is Forever Our True Home:
As mentioned earlier, negative vibes cannot be expressed in heaven. As we enter into heaven, these negative vibes are removed by God. This creates a level of happiness that cannot be imagined on earth. Heaven truly becomes a spiritual state of living as who we really are. In heaven, we remember our real identity. In heaven, only the best in each person survives. It is a joyous condition and a state of expanded awareness. There is a perfect freedom of spirit and no one gets tired. It is a new lease on life. It is a lively hilarious place and our true home. We then begin to realize how we were merely visitors on earth and heaven is our real home. We begin to realize that we have been in heaven before. Knowledge beyond our deepest dreams exists all around us like the heavenly all-pervading music that can be heard. God’s presence is so obvious here that it cannot be denied. The love of God in heaven is like the air we breathe. The Golden Rule is the only law in heaven. The beauty of the environment in heaven is beyond words and they reflect the spiritual nature of those who dwell there. Multi-colored cities of crystal light created by God can be seen. There exists exquisite heavenly structures such as spires, domes, amphitheaters, Grecian looking buildings, libraries of wisdom, halls of spiritual learning, temples, and communities. Waterfalls, mountains, valleys, lakes and other realms of recreation exists in a way that makes their earthly equivalents merely a empty shadow.
(7) Heaven is Where Your Heart Is:
Because there is no time in the spirit world, we enjoy eternities in heaven. A soul can choose to remain in heaven for as long as desired and can choose to operate on that level of spiritual development forever. Generally, however, we stay in heaven for as long as it serves our spiritual development. This is because one of our main goals for existence is to attain a level of spiritual growth that will bring us back to a complete merger with God in the highest heaven. However, spiritual development is much more difficult in the spirit world compared to developing spiritually in the physical realm. The full range of love (child’s love, martial love, and parental love) is ideally available on earth for which we can become more spiritually developed.
(8) At a Deeper Level, We are All Connected Together:
Although our goal is to remain forever in heaven, our greatest goal is to bring heaven to earth. If we don’t help those in the lower realms to develop a higher level of spiritual development, we cannot truly enjoy heaven. This is because our family and friends may exist at these lower levels. As Mellen-Thomas Benedict so eloquently described it, “We are going to link up, hold hands, and walk out of hell together.” For this reason, we leave paradise not just for the sake of our own spiritual development, but for those we love. By doing so, we are also doing this for God’s sake. We are assured by God that when we leave paradise for another incarnation on earth — a lower spiritual level — we will be brought home safely again. Ultimately, everyone will merge with God at the highest level as it was in the beginning. Ultimate paradise lost will truly become ultimate paradise found again.
2. Earth life from heaven’s perspective
The following information concerns the relationship between our lives on earth with our lives in heaven.
“God doesn’t force anyone to heaven, hell, or anywhere. We are free to choose and build our destiny. Nevertheless, all destinies eventually lead back to God.” (Edgar Cayce)
“If I lived a billion years more, in my body or yours, there’s not a single experience on earth that could ever be as good as being dead. Nothing.” (Dr. Dianne Morrissey)
“Life on earth is a preparation for a fuller, freer and richer eternal existence in heaven; much like a baby in a womb preparing to be born.” (Nora Spurgin)
“The earth is the only place where God can determine if you want to go to heaven or hell.” (Mihbond)
“We mustn’t wait to find our heaven in the clouds. We must find it here because it exists here and will be whatever we make it and whatever we are willing to accept of it.” (Tina)
“Love is a sign from the heavens that you are here for a reason.” (J. Ghetto)
“There may be a good reason why relatively few people have NDEs. Perhaps too many glimpses of heaven might destroy our freedom. Forcing people into heaven would be like turning them into robots. And nobody loves a robot because they are incapable of love.” (Kevin Williams)
3. Religion from heaven’s perspective
Sandra Rogers asked the light, whom she identified as Jesus, how people from other religions get to heaven. She was shown that the group, or organization, that people profess alliance to is inconsequential. What is important is how we show our love for God by the way we treat each other. (Sandra Rogers)
“Doctrine, creed and race mean nothing in heaven. No matter what we believed we were all God’s children. The only rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (May Eulitt)
“Heaven is about deeds, not creeds. Therefore, persons of many cultures and religions form the societies of heaven.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“Heaven is not sitting down and casting down your golden crowns and singing Hallelujah. However, there is a tendency among certain religious people in heaven to congregate in their little groups and have their little sessions of what they feel are “heaven.” Eventually, they become very bored with this narrowness, and then their own helpers and teachers will try to give them another thought and another idea and help them to break away from this narrow approach.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“I saw the Christian heaven. We expect it to be a beautiful place, and you stand in front of the throne, worshiping forever. I tried it. It is boring! This is all we are going to do? It is childlike. I do not mean to offend anyone. Some heavens are very interesting, and some are very boring. I found the ancient ones to be more interesting, like the Native American ones, the Happy Hunting Grounds. The Egyptians have fantastic ones. It goes on and on. There are so many of them.” (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)
“The most difficult thing for a person who has been deeply steeped in a particular religious tradition is to realize that the form alone is not what elevates a person; it is the heart. Still, those who cling to an external form of religion will be most comfortable with others who practice the same rituals, whatever they may be. In this sense, congregations may continue centered around the particular religious traditions they practiced while on earth.” (Nora Spurgin)
“In heaven, Buddhists can experience their own path and Christians can experience their own pate. Same with Hindus, Muslims, and any religious group. All have their own paradise, goals, aims, and objectives until they suddenly have a tremendous experience of knowing that all is one under God and that there is no division in purpose. There is one God of us all.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“It is said that the Golden Rule is the governing principle in the spirit world: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. People who truly practice the religion of love will find themselves in a universal sphere where everyone understands that true religion is to love others as ourselves.” (Nora Spurgin)
“Genesis is the symbolic account of the soul’s journey from heaven. Revelation is the symbolic story of the soul’s return to heaven. It is the story of paradise lost and paradise found.” (Edgar Cayce)
“The purpose of religion is not so much to get us into heaven, or to keep us out of hell, but to put a little bit of heaven into us, and take the hell out of us.” (E. Stanley Jones)
4. How does a person get to heaven?
“God’s paradise for us is love. We can create paradise again if we learn to love one another as ourselves.” (Sandra Rogers)
“When we love unselfishly, our vibrations are so high that the only place we’ll fit into is heaven. There is no other place we can go if we want to. This is divine justice because it gives everyone an equal chance to eventually attain the harmony to fit into some kind of heaven – regardless of their intelligence, education, indoctrination, ignorance, wealth or poverty.” (Arthur Yensen)
“A heavenly existence is created by how we live on earth, including the truths we have lived, taught, and believed in life; and the love, peace, and compassion we have known for ourselves and those we have touched. Everything else is associated with a hellish existence.” (Tina)
“It is a life of love, a life of behaving honestly and fairly in every task, that leads to a heavenly life. This life is not hard.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“The heavenly realm we enter into after death is determined by how we have lived our lives on earth. We must earn our citizenship into the various heavenly realms and we do so at our own pace.” (Betty Bethards)
“Everyone is born with a spiritual void within them. Throughout our lives, we fill our void with a multitude of things. Then when we die, we step into the spiritual void we have filled. This is why having love within us is so important when we die. Giving and receiving love from the heart, creates a heavenly paradise within us which is manifested in the spirit world and becomes realized at death.” (Kevin Williams)
“The general rule of thumb is this: hellish life, hellish afterlife – heavenly life, heavenly afterlife. Death will not change a hellish life into a heavenly afterlife, nor does it change a heavenly life into a hellish afterlife.” (Dr. Melvin Morse)
“We do not go to heaven. We grow to heaven here on earth.” (Edgar Cayce)
“The spiritual state of being we have on earth is the spiritual state we take with us to heaven. There is no sudden metamorphosis from an idle person into an active person, from a nonreligious person into a religious person, from a money-centered person into a God-centered person.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“Day by day we are building for eternity … Every gentle word, every generous thought, every unselfish deed will become a pillar of eternal beauty in the life to come.” (Rebecca Springer)
“When we die, we take this heaven of love with us to the level of heaven that corresponds to the love within us.” (Kevin Williams)
“All you may know of heaven or hell is within your own self.” (Edgar Cayce)
“If we are willing to suppress our self-centered nature so that our higher spiritual nature can gain control, it will bring about a resurrection and ascension of the transformed self, which can create heaven on earth.” (Dr. George Ritchie)
“No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.” (Fra Giovanni)
“The best way to get to heaven is to take it with you.” (Henry Drummond)
“People don’t go to heaven because of their good deeds, or because they believe this or that, but because they fit in and belong. It’s what you are that counts.” (Arthur Yensen)
“To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.” (Karen Sunde)
“Jesus taught people that the way to heaven is through love (Luke 10:25-28) and that this heaven of love is within us (Luke 17:20-21). And because love is God (1 John 4:16), we manifest this heaven on earth when we love others. But when we refuse to love, we create a hell within us which also becomes manifested on earth. Being without love is absolute hell. But if we give love, we are already in heaven.” (Kevin Williams)
“As much of heaven is visible as we have eyes to see.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“You’ll not be in heaven if you’re not leaning on the arm of someone you have helped.” (Edgar Cayce)
5. A general description of a journey to heaven
Near-death accounts can provide a general overview of the cosmology of the afterlife. The following is the journey to heaven as I see it from the near-death experiences I have read:
(3) Once the person is in the beautiful light of God, they are overwhelmed by the love, beauty, happiness, and the wonder of it all.
(4) Memories of forgotten knowledge returns; supernatural powers are again realized such as 360 degree vision, bi-location, instantaneous travel, mental telepathy, timelessness, heavenly music, creating realities with your mind, remembering past lives, omnipresence, time travel, seeing the future, meeting future children, seeing orbs – angels – spirit guides – a Council of Elders.
(5) At some point, the new arrival is shown their life in review for the purpose of instruction and for an evaluation to see they have earned the right to enter a higher heavenly realm.
(6) The person is reunited with family and friends in a homecoming.
(7) Heavenly structures may be seen such as: a City of light, libraries of knowledge, crystal cathedrals of light, a receiving station where destinies become known, a hospital where damaged souls are healed, a dome structure, or an amphitheater.
(8) Heavenly vistas may be experienced such as exquisite valleys, gardens, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and dwellings.
(9) A barrier might be reached where it is impossible to return to earth and a choice may have to be made whether to remain or return to earth. If the choice is to remain, the new arrival will be able to choose their habitation. It may be at a higher realm that they have earned, or they can operate at the same level or a lower level where loved ones may need help.
(10) Eternities may go by before the desire for further soul growth is realized and it is decided to reenter a World-School. In heaven, an earth life seems to last for only a brief moment. After the moment in the World-School is over, they will go through the process again to see if they have earned the right for a higher level of heavenly life.
(11) There are many World-Schools in the world of universes. We are working our way up toward a permanent residence at the highest level of life – complete at-onement and merger with divinity. This requires sojourning through the vast system of World-Schools and dimensions with the goal of reaching the top. This is the goal for everyone and eventually everyone will achieve it. (Kevin Williams)
“Children who have NDEs sometimes report having to visit an animal heaven before they can go to the adult heaven. (P.M.H. Atwater)
“From the light we have come and to the light we all shall return.” (Josiane Antonette)
“Paths are visible in the spirit realm. Some paths lead to heaven and some to hell. Good people travel only along paths that lead to heaven according to their own desire. They do not see paths leading in other directions. Evil people follow only paths that lead to hell according to their own desire. They do not see paths leading in other directions; and even if they do, they do not want to follow them.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“In heaven you feel much more alive than you will ever feel here. Our lives on earth are for just a short time, like a vacation. You visit, try to find your way around, and just when you think you’ve got it down, it’s time to go home. When you go home to heaven, you know exactly where you are, what you’re doing. It’s just a wonderful place. There’s no hatred, just love, kindness, and mercy. It’s one huge family there.” (Roy Mills)
“To appreciate heaven well it is good for a man to have some fifteen minutes of hell.” (Will Carleton)
“From an endless dream we have come. In an endless dream we are living. To an endless dream we shall return.” (Michio Kushi)
6. The experience of entering heaven
“As the two beings approached us, I could also feel the love flowing from them toward us. The complete joy they showed at seeing the Christ was unmistakable. Seeing these beings and feeling the joy, peace and happiness which swelled up from them made me feel that here was the place of all places, the top realm of all realms. The beings who inhabited it were full of love. This, I was and am convinced, is heaven.” (Dr. George Ritchie)
Herr Pettersson was also permitted to visit the spirit world and discovered, much to his surprise, that even the worst in heaven exceeded the best on earth. To Herr Pettersson the world of spirits resembled the material world. There were many countries, or “Kingdoms.” There were cities and villages, temples and palaces, flowers and animals of great beauty and variety. The people were very busy. Some were preaching on street corners and in assembly halls, and all had great congregations.
“Who are they?” Herr Pettersson asked (referring to the preachers)?
“They,” his guide answered, “belong to the church of the First born, and they have been sent here to be ministering spirits to those who shall yet becoming heirs of salvation.”
“I am afraid,” stammered Herr Pettersson, “that I do not comprehend you. Are we not in heaven? How can the world of salvation be preached here?”
Jan Price states: “Turning back to the interior of the temple, I saw that creative activities were taking place in different areas. There were a number of individuals sitting at easels painting, and I saw one man playing a flutelike instrument that emitted the sweetest of sounds. Farther on, dancers moved with ethereal grace, performing with a lightness impossible to the physical human form. As I watched in utter delight, I became aware that the musical background for this visual feast came from what I would call a celestial choir – an orchestra of voices creating heavenly music for the dance. This Music of the Spheres was indeed singing the praises of the Creator.” (Jan Price)
“Instead of allowing me to enter, the angel stationed me before the gates, slightly to one side. He instructed me to stay there and watch as the saints were permitted to enter into heaven. As the saints were allowed into heaven, I noticed a strange thing. They were permitted to enter only one at a time. No two were permitted to enter those gates at the same time. I wondered about this but it was never explained to me.” (Rev. Howard Pittman)
“The experience of merging with the light of God is like having your body explode in a pleasant way and becoming a million different atoms. Each atom can think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. You feel all at once what it feels like to be everything and everybody.” (Nora Spurgin)
Randy Gehling wrote: “Jesus said that I would never quite be the same as I was before I visited heaven. He said that some of the power of the light would remain within me. And he told me to let the love that I would feel in my heart express itself to all people. He said that I should never worry if people doubted my story or could not understand what I was telling them. ‘One day,’ Jesus said, ‘everyone will come to see for themselves what you have seen.'” (Randy Gehling)
“A little girl who died in a swimming pool said to Dr. Melvin Morse, ‘Don’t worry, Dr. Morse, heaven is fun!'” (Dr. Melvin Morse)
“It seemed like the dawn of a new day; day was just breaking! It was a beautiful experience. I heard little birds singing, tiny birds, and they got louder and louder. People have said there are no birds in heaven, but I heard them.” (Lorraine Tutmarc)
“Then, as if I had eyes all around my head, I saw saints, souls that were in heaven – multitudes. There was no way to count them. Whether there were millions or billions, I have no idea. As far as I could see in every direction were people of all sizes dressed in white robes. The people were transparent; I could see through them. They were behind me, across from me, all around me. They were floating on what appeared to be a crystal mirror or cloud or smoke. It is hard to describe these things in earthly terms, but I am trying to show you what my spirit saw. Each person was holding a crown in his or her hand. The saints were saying, ‘We were waiting for you.'” (Dr. Gerard Landry)
“The angels told me that all who enter the third heaven must remain there until brought back to this physical world by Christ himself.” (Rev. Howard Pittman)
Biblical Experiences of Entering Heaven
(1) Apostle Paul’s experience of heaven:
Bible: “I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this person – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that humans are not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4)
(2) Stephen’s experience of heaven:
Bible: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'” (Acts 7:54-56).
(3) Jacob’s experience of heaven:
Bible: “He [Jacob] had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham’ … When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.'” (Genesis 28:10-12)
(4) Apostle John’s view of heaven:
Bible: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.” (Revelation 4:1-6)
7. The experience of heaven
“Because in heaven only the best in each person survives and good is all anyone wants to do there, this allows a freedom and happiness that people on earth can not imagine. On earth we need thousands of laws to keep order, but in heaven restrictions are not needed.” (Arthur Yensen)
“Negative thoughts cannot be expressed in the heavenly realms – only positive ones.” (Ned Dougherty)
“Humans are educated at a higher level by spirit beings who bring us into heaven. We grow and increase, and grow and increase, and shed the concerns, desires, and base animal stuff that we have been fighting much of our life. Earthly appetites melt away. It is no longer a struggle to fight them. We become who we truly are, which is part of the divine.” (Howard Storm)
“In heaven, we can remember our real identity and know what possibilities exist for soul growth. We do not move forward until we choose to do so.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
“Heaven is a joyous condition and a state of expanded awareness, of perceiving more and more of the grand plan of creation.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“Knowledge beyond our deepest dreams exists in heaven and in the hearts of those who dwell there.” (Betty Eadie)
“What people call heaven is really our true home and destination. It is where we go for recess or to be rewarded by assessing our progress as a soul, evaluating our lives, and to remember all truths, including our real identity. We stay there for however long best serves our development.” (Nora Spurgin)
“Everyone in the realms of light knows that there is a Creator. It is said that this presence is so obvious it cannot be denied.” (Nora Spurgin)
“Once in heaven, a person may feel as if they had been there before. They may remember that heaven is their real home. They may remember that on earth, people are visitors and homesick strangers.” (Arthur Yensen)
“We tend to feel that when we die, heaven is as we thought it — and it certainly is. We can be received exactly the same way we always thought we would be received. People can remain in narrowness if they want -they don’t need to change unless they wish. There is perfect freedom of spirit in heaven.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“Some people have high hopes that everything is going to be different for them in heaven. However, nothing can be different for them because they have brought with them what they are. There is so much harmony in heaven that if anyone brings a disharmonious personality with them, they will find it very difficult to link in with the harmonious existence that exists.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“On earth, we must work to get what we want. In heaven, you don’t have to work to get anything. You create whatever you want with the powers of your mind. This is because the afterlife realms are realms of the mind.” (Kevin Williams)
“In heaven there is no way to get ahead of others. This is because there is no place in heaven for discontent or personal ambition.” (Arthur Yensen)
“Heaven is a world much like our own except there is no time nor space as we think of them here. Heaven exists in a higher dimension of energy. The higher realms are a world of inexpressible beauty. They are realms where it is possible to be fully alive, where, for example, the whole body perceives. They are realms of endless possibilities for creativity and full realization of self; and they are where the love of God is like the air we breathe. As air is the atmosphere on earth, God’s love is the atmosphere in the spirit world.” (Nora Spurgin)
Arthur Yensen states: “Heaven is very hard to describe because words are inadequate to describe it. Heaven is a place of imagination. Heaven is exactly what our imagination needs it to be. It is a lively hilarious place that’s unbelievably sweet, serene and melodious. It is characterized by its vivid greenness, its crystalline cleanliness, its newness, its all-pervading music and its overall beauty – all of which are maintained by God. It’s a vigorous, lively place with an outflowing happiness that’s uncontainable. It’s not a place of rest because no one there gets tired. It’s more like a new lease on life. Everything in heaven is pure. The elements don’t mix or break down as they do on earth. Everything is kept in place by God’s all pervading Master-Vibration which prevents aging. That’s why things don’t get dirty, or wear out, and why everything looks so bright and new.” (Arthur Yensen)
“Heaven and hell are spiritual states of being. They are not static states but are states in which there can be growth and progress toward ultimate wholeness of being.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“Think of stepping on the shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God’s, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home.” (Don Wyrtzen)
“To me, the valley appeared to be Heaven, but at the same time I knew that James and Rashad were seeing it differently. James saw it as the Gulf of Souls. Rashad saw it as Nirvana, and somehow we knew all this without speaking.” (May Eulitt)
8. The hierarchy of the heavenly realms
A person’s dreams, visions, and meditations are reflections of the soul’s experience in the spirit world. The conscious mind is the product of the evolution of the stars and planets. The soul mind (subconsciousness) is conditioned by its previous incarnations within the physical world and the spirit world. The conscious mind becomes dimmed or brightened by its recent experiences in these worlds. (Edgar Cayce)
“All of heaven is divided into communities based on the different levels of goodness that comes from the desires of those in them. Everyone who enters into heaven is taken to the community where their desires are expressed and where they belong. They enter the community as though they were at home and where they were born. People sense which community they belong to and then develop close relationship with others like themselves.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“If one is in the highest realms, love reigns. And where there is love, there is happiness. Where there is happiness, there is no awareness of time. Therefore, there is no time as we know it here. However, in the lower realms, because one is very unhappy, time seem interminable. There is space, but the whole spirit world is a reflection of the qualities of the people who live there. Where love reigns, there is no distance between people. The spirit world is thus not like our three-dimensional world, but is more like a symbolic reflection of the inner quality of the people.” (Nora Spurgin)
“As there are degrees of heaven and hell on earth, so there are degrees of heaven and hell in the spiritual world.” (Margaret Tweddell)
An experience from a subject of Dr. Lundahl and Dr. Widdison’s research: “There were spheres above, whose occupants could and did visit us, and we could always recognize these higher natures by the virtues which possessed them, and were apparent to us as they passed beside us. But we could not visit their spheres until we had perfectly qualified for it. And there were of course spheres below us, where those who had not repented of their evil ways still had to work out their redemption. Those in the lower spheres could not have been happy in this higher kingdom until they qualified themselves by a change of heart and mind. This individual went on to observe that although individuals in each sphere are aware of the others’ existence, they cannot see, let alone visit, without significant preparation. Those living on the higher realms of the city radiate the brightest light, being so resplendent that their glory must be cloaked so others of lower degree can look upon them (Note: This phenomenon can be found in Howard Storm’s NDE). Visiting the higher levels is possible, but the spirits of lower realms must be prepared or covered so they can stand in the presence of greater glory. In addition to the placement of individuals at judgment, the next world is efficiently organized to help individuals adapt to their new home. Infants are taken to a place where they are nurtured and taught and where they mature. Some new arrivals are taken to a place of orientation where they rest, adjust to their new condition, and prepare to take their place in the City of Light. (Lundahl and Widdison)
“But no matter what level or city a person qualifies for, each city is so superior to any on earth that it is indescribable, and each succeeding realm is indescribably better than that immediately below it.” (Lundahl and Widdison)
“All of the various heavenly realms of consciousness have different frequencies of vibration. Matter on earth is composed of atoms and these atoms are composed of energy which vibrates. Earth matter is denser than the matter of the higher realms. We can see earth matter because of light waves which vibrate at a visual observing rate. But the same reason that we cannot see radio or television waves, which vibrate at too fast a rate to be seen, is the same reason we cannot see the matter of higher realms, unless you happen to be clairvoyant.” (Margaret Tweddell)
One near-death experiencer saw everybody in the spirit realm organized into several different grades. Another individual discovered that: “The reports of many individuals who have been permitted to see or visit the next world tell us that it is located right here on our physical earth. If our spirit eyes were to open, we would discover we are surrounded by those who have preceded us in death. But not everyone goes to the same location in the next world. We will be acutely aware of everything we have done or failed to do in our lives. We will also know the lives of those around us and they will know ours. Therefore we will seek out those who think the same way we do, who value the same things we do. We will gravitate toward those we feel at ease with, who are like us. Judgment is more a process of self-evaluation than the product of a heavenly tribunal. The next world is segmented into spheres organized around qualities of love, service, and personal preparedness.” (Lundahl and Widdison)
“There are many realms that take up the same space as the physical realm much like boxes within boxes. The physical realm is but one of the boxes in the hierarchy of boxes. This means we are actually already in the so-called afterlife right now because the physical realm is a part of the afterlife realms. Each realm corresponds to a particular level of spiritual development and proximity to God — the ultimate level of spirituality. For example, when we are deeply in love and very happy, we are in heaven. When we are without love and miserable, we are in hell. This becomes fully apparent after death when there is no physical body to restrict it.” (Kevin Williams)
Nora Spurgin wrote: “On earth we are all aware of the various kinds of lifestyles of various individuals. Some seem to have a very desirable lifestyle, others less so. The same may be said about life in the spirit world. In terms of externals, some persons there live in more attractive and comfortable environments, others in less appealing conditions. At the extremes there are beautiful and uplifting settings which are truly heavenly and, on the other hand, there are very unattractive, even repugnant, environments which are without a doubt hellish. One’s outward environment in the spirit world depends upon one’s internal nature. If, during our lifetime on earth, we matured in a spiritually rich and beautiful way, we will come to dwell in an environment that corresponds with these qualities. Indeed, such environments are said by those who have experienced them to possess a beauty that is beyond anything seen on earth.” (Nora Spurgin)
“Heaven is a matter of vibration. The finer the vibration we have, the nearer we are to heaven. Heaven is a state of being joyous, light, loving, harmonious, vibrant, God-centered and others-centered. The heavier the vibration, the nearer we are to hell. Hell is a state of being heavy, dull, dismal, gray, and glum-as when you are heavily depressed and self-centered.” (Margaret Tweddell)
“We are likely to seek out our relatives, loved ones and ancestors with whom we have a bond. However, if there is a vast difference in spiritual development, a person of lesser development will be unable to enter the higher realm to which those of greater development have advanced. In this case, the more highly developed loved one may choose to visit the realm of lower spiritual development to help the person in need of spiritual development.” (Nora Spurgin)
“If you loved someone who is on a lower vibration than you are, you are allowed to visit anytime you choose by simply lowering your rate of vibration. This may help the entity greatly by encouraging self-love and growth. However, the entity will need to incarnate again on the earth plane to test out these new lessons, because it is the earth experience that determines your stage of evolution.” (Betty Bethards)
9. Choose your heavenly realm wisely
Nora Spurgin wrote: “In the spirit world, God’s truth is represented by light and God’s love by warmth. Those people in the spirit world who live in harmony with God live in light and warmth. Conversely, if a person living on earth has stunted their spiritual growth through an undeveloped or misdirected lifestyle, or has led a totally self-centered life, or has hurt other people, that person’s spiritual environment will reflect these realities. A self-centered life places a person in an area of the spiritual world with like-minded people who have yet to learn how unselfishness advances the soul. Locations that are distant from God are said to be dark, cold and inhospitable. They reflect the spirits of those dwelling therein. In between these two extremes are many levels representing different stages of spiritual growth. The central factor determining our particular level is the degree to which we have lived for the sake of others, and the extent to which we have helped others on the path of love. In this respect, the actions of loving, serving and teaching others carry the highest spiritual value.” (Nora Spurgin)
“After death people gravitate into homogeneous groups according to the rate of their soul’s vibrations. If the percent of discord and negativity in a person is small, it can be eliminated by God; then the remaining good can live on here. But if the percentage of discord and negativity were too high, this couldn’t be done, and the person would have to gravitate to a lower level and live with others who have the same kind of thoughts.” (Arthur Yensen)
“All of heaven is divided into communities which are based on different spiritual desires. Everyone is taken to the community where their desires fit in.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“After death each person lives in the kind of a heaven or hell that they have prepared for themselves while on earth. It is the same principle as putting a coin into the slot of a coin counter. The coin goes into the slot and ends up in the right container, not because it was good or bad, but because it is the proper size for where it belongs. No one sends us anywhere after death. We are sorted by the vibration of your soul. Everyone goes where they fit in! High vibrations indicate love and spiritual development. Low vibrations indicate debasement and evil.” (Arthur Yensen)
“Taken all together, our desires and love make up a kind of kingdom within us while on earth. This kingdom is made known to us after death when our thoughts and feelings reach out into a particular heavenly or hellish community. Heavenly communities are reached if our strongest love matches the love of a particular heavenly community. Hellish communities are reached if our strongest love matches the love of hell.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“While in heaven, Pettersson discovered that heaven also has multiple levels, and inhabitation of each level is contingent on one’s diligence on earth and in heaven. It seems that the assignment to a specific city is contingent on the actions and attitudes of the individual while on earth. The key that opens the gate to a specific city of light is the ability to dwell in the light of that city, and this evidently depends on behaviors during earth life.” (Lundahl and Widdison)
After death, each soul has to rise as best it can through a hierarchy of heavens and face the increasingly difficult challenges posed by the guardian angels of each level of heaven. (Apocalypse of Paul)
“People who are thinking about divine matters while they are active on earth are in touch with the angels of heaven … People who are motivated mostly by physical desires cannot breathe in heaven. If such a person is taken there, they would draw each breath like someone hard pressed in a struggle. But people who are involved in heavenly desires breathe more freely and live more fully the farther into heaven they are.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
Margaret Tweddell wrote: “People on the Other Side who have an orientation of hate will find themselves unable to appreciate a realm of love and harmony. Therefore, they continue in their state of bitterness and are closed to the glory which exists around them. Such people will have to wait until they gradually appreciate the fact that it is very destructive to hate like that. When they have had real hates and have been emotionally upset like that, or have had a real bitterness toward someone, then it takes them quite a period of time to get the light and the power around them again, to be able to appreciate this place or that, or go to the Valley of Praise, or go and hear beautiful music. They just hear discords, and eventually they come to the realization that “this isn’t much of a life, is it?” And the moment that happens, those who are dedicated to work with this sort of person come and they have their methods of easing them away from the state they are in. It is like taking a skin off an onion. They will gently peel off this layer that is formed by hate.” (Margaret Tweddell)
10. The nature of our heavenly bodies
Betty Bethards wrote: “Married couples will be reunited after death, and may choose to stay together if they want to, provided they are on the same level of vibration. You will be with those you love, and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything you can know on the earth plane. This total merger is like stepping inside one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. What you know on earth as a sexual relationship takes the form of a higher merger of souls. There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. For this merger of energies is far superior to the physical mechanics of the sexual experience. This merger is not limited to husbands and wives, but may be experienced by any two souls who are loving and caring.” (Betty Bethards)
“Our outward appearance in heaven is determined by the quality of our heart and life. One’s inner quality is perceived as light. Our features are visible but the light that comes from our very essence is the identifying feature. For example, because they lived totally for other people, Jesus and other religious leaders emanate brilliant light.” (Nora Spurgin)
“A physical body is of no use in the spiritual world. People in heaven get along very well with translucent spiritual bodies. This is why a resurrection of physical bodies is useless.” (Arthur Yensen)
Nora Spurgin wrote: “In the spirit world, where we don’t have a physical body, spiritual growth is more difficult. The opportunity for the full range of love (child’s love, marital love, and parental love) is ideally available on earth. Love which has been misused or misdirected, is also best corrected in the physical world because there is a full range of physical and spiritual senses with which to act and communicate. Since the spiritual world is a world of mind and imagination, food is not necessary. A person in the spirit world may still have physical desires they had on earth. In the spirit world, there is fruit to be eaten or even have a banquet. All that is good in life, whether it is food, drink, human affection, or sex can be experienced in spirit world. Because our current senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching are only poor reflections of our more greater spiritual senses. The spirit body can travel by thought. If one thinks of a person and place, one can immediately be transported there. Communication is also by thought. In the spirit world, we are free from the restrictions of a physical body. (Nora Spurgin)
11. What is there to do in heaven?
“The people in heaven are like uninhibited, carefree children. Heaven is where all people really love each other. There are no inhibitions, or need for them. Everyone does exactly as they please; which works out well because only the best in each person survives, and good is all anyone ever wants to do. This allows a freedom and happiness that people on earth can’t imagine.” (Arthur Yensen)
According to P.M.H. Atwater: “Heaven is a realm where we recognize and enjoy our worth, talents, abilities, joys, courage, generosity, caring, empathy, giving-ness, virtue, cheer, diligence, thoughtfulness, patience, loving kindness, or whatever else reveals the power of our own light. We stay in heaven (and there are many divisions to this vibratory level) for however long best serves our development. There is a sense of benefit here, as if one has found their true home. In heaven, we have the opportunity to assess our progress as a soul, to evaluate pros and cons and outcomes, to remember all truths including our real identity. We experience the glory of love and the power of forgiveness.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
“What we do in the spiritual world depends on where we are in the spirit world. The higher realms of the spirit world is truly heaven; a world of enjoyment and recreation. People do things they enjoy, and keep company with people they enjoy. It is a world of joyful activity. The skills, interests, and abilities developed on earth may be reflected in the roles chosen in eternity. Each of us will contribute uniquely toward the goodness and beauty in our realm.” (Nora Spurgin)
“Plans, paths, and truths await us in heaven, some of which are eternities old, and some of which we have yet to make.” (Betty Eadie)
“Everyone in heaven is enjoying themselves and they do not have to work in order to be happy. Everyone in heaven has work they can do – a position to fill in the greater scheme of things and all souls evolve.” (Arthur Yensen)
“In heaven there is an overall awareness of what is going to happen on earth six weeks, six months, or perhaps two years ahead. At times it is rather like being in an airplane looking down, and we get an overview or prevision of what is going to happen, due to our being able to see things in broader perspective.” (Margaret Tweddell)
12. Our relationships with others in heaven
“A truly loving marriage is one of God’s greatest gift. A marriage that expresses the love of God is for eternity. In such a marriage, couples are united together to continue growing closer to God and to each other. Where children are born from such a union, the depth of love shared on earth keeps the family together in the spiritual world.” (Nora Spurgin)
“People who were married on earth meet in heaven and recognize one another. They may want to live together as they lived on earth. As the outward superficialities dissolve once they are in heaven, the couple will discover what they are really like inwardly. They will discover what their love and attraction really were and whether they are able to continue to live as one. A marriage without God’s love and blessing may soon disintegrate. Where love is underdeveloped, growth is necessary before such blessed oneness can be experienced and enjoyed. The misuse of love and sex during a person’s earthly life leaves a deep scar on the spirit which can only be mended by true love.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
“Our friends on earth are the same friends we had in heaven. Our best friends here were quite often with us there. And it’s the same with our families. We made plans together about things we would do and events we would share on earth. We really got into the planning part. A lot of the people who are important in our lives on earth are people we met in heaven, even if it was just for a short while to discuss a few things that would effect our lives in a small way.” (Roy Mills)
“The quality of life in the spirit world is directly affected by one’s heart and one’s activities on earth. Since love is supreme, opportunities for the practice of love will continue. Spiritual growth is attained through the dynamic of love.” (Nora Spurgin)
“When people leave and travel to another community, there is a certain constant resistance. This is the effect of their longing to return to those who are like themselves and where their strongest desire can be expressed. This is how close relationships are formed in heaven. The same holds true in hell, where people also form relationships based on their desires but which are opposed to heavenly ones.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
13. Heavenly cities, temples, libraries, and structures
Near-death experiencers have described seeing a heavenly city or cities of light during their NDEs. Some examples of these descriptions include:
Golden cities with towers and domes – cities of crystal cathedrals – beautiful unearthly cities – beautiful fairy tale cities – a city that represents an entire world – multi-colored crystal cities – an endless, brilliant, city of light and love – a heavenly city in the clouds where souls leave to come to earth and where souls go for after death for rejuvenation – a multi-dimensional city of increasing glory – heavenly cities of increasing glory – traveling through a tunnel of cities of increasing glory – cities of light with beautiful music – cities of colorful light – cities built of light – cities built by God – the eternal city – galaxy-like cities of lights – galaxies of light beings – New Jerusalem – the city of God – a crystal city of light – a city where the light is God. (Kevin Williams)
“Many experiencers visit a heavenly structure that resembles a temple or a library. This structure has several names, such as: the Temple of Knowledge, the Temple of Wisdom, or the Hall of Records. It is a vast, old, pure white, somewhat Grecian, structure of supernal beauty that contains all of the wisdom of the ages, everything ever said or written. Everyone’s metaphysical Book of Life is there. It is a library of the mind and a repository of all knowledge. By simply reflecting on a topic, all the knowledge concerning that topic will come to you. Inside, people can be observed painting, playing music, dancing, and doing many other activities.” (Kevin Williams)
Kevin Williams writes: “An experiencer in Dr. Allen Kellehear‘s research described seeing a heavenly computer in heaven that is very complex and very beautiful and designed to guide the path of a person’s destiny. It works by waving a hand in a pattern over its large keyboard as if playing a piano without touching the keys. When this is done, something of great benefit happens to someone on earth. Dr. George Ritchie saw a similar heavenly computer while on a guided tour with Jesus through enormous rooms filled with complex equipment and people bent over intricate charts and diagrams, and people sitting at the controls of elaborate consoles flickering with lights. Years later, Ritchie was reading a magazine and saw a photo of the instruments in a nuclear submarine and realized that it was like the computer he saw in heaven. Betty Eadie described seeing a similar heavenly computer and realized that all important things on earth first originate in heaven. Other experiencers have described watching their life review on computer-like screens.” (Kevin Williams)
“Some heaven-bound people first enter a heavenly receiving station where family and friends can be met and where life reviews can occur. From there people travel on to other locations in heaven. Other structures seen in heaven include heavenly temples, a heavenly library containing great wisdom, cities of light, crystal cathedrals and cities.” (Kevin Williams)
“There are heavenly hospitals full of injured and crippled souls – the result of their hard faring on earth – who are nursed back to health so that they can begin their work in heaven.” (Dr. Craig Lundahl)
14. The experience of leaving heaven
“Although our goal is to go to heaven, our greatest goal is to bring heaven to earth.” (Anne Horne)
“We leave paradise not just for the sake of our own spiritual potential but for God as well, and assuring us, his children, that his perfect, unconditional, eternal life will light our way through all our days on earth and right back through the tunnel that will someday bring us safely home again.” (Sylvia Browne)
“The reason we cannot remember our life in heaven before we were born is because these memories would alter our earthly experience and our opportunity to learn.” (Roy Mills)
A process in heaven determines the number of destinies a soul can choose from and follow when the soul leaves one heavenly realm for residence in another. Destinies are based on a soul’s karma and are astrologically connected to corresponding heavenly and hellish afterlife realms. (Edgar Cayce)
15. Heaven as revealed by Dr. Michael Newton’s research
Dr. Michael Newton wrote: “Once the decision has been made to come to earth, we are directed to the place of life selection. We then consider when and where we want to go on earth before making a decision on who they will be in life. We then enter a heavenly building which resembles a movie theater to allow us to see ourselves in the future, playing different roles in various settings. In this place of life selection, our souls preview the life span of more than one human being within the same time cycle. When we leave this area, most souls are inclined toward one leading candidate presented to us for soul occupation. However, our spiritual advisors give us ample opportunity to reflect upon all we have seen in the future before making a final decision. After we complete our consultations with guides and peers about the many physical and psychological ramifications of entering the physical realm, the decision to come is made. Afterward, we undergo a significant amount of preparation in a place called the recognition class. This heavenly class is where we prepare ourselves for entry into the physical realm in a manner that is similar to cramming for a final exam. One of the last requirements before being born is that we go before the Council of Elders. The Elders reinforce the significance of our goals for life. Once we are ready for entering the physical realm, we are like battle-hardened veterans girding ourselves for combat. This is our last chance for us to enjoy the omniscience of knowing just who we are before we adapt to a physical body.” (Dr. Michael Newton)
16. Heaven as revealed by Sylvia Browne
The late Sylvia Browne was a well known psychic and NDEr whose insights into the afterlife have made her books best-sellers. Her insights are the result of a psychic gift that she was born with and a near-death experience she had at the age of forty-two. The following is an excerpt from her article which is a summary of her afterlife insights.
Sylvia Browne wrote: “After death, people return home to the place they came from on the other side. There is a reunion with family and friends who have departed before them. After the reunion, most of people are lead by their spirit guide to a building on the other side called the Hall of Wisdom. In a sacred room, they see their lives flash before them on a scanning machine. This device is a domed screen where life reviews are played out in three-dimensional holographic form. Once a person’s life has been fully evaluated, they are debriefed in an orientation process. This is when a person’s life is discussed and reviewed in the scanning machine. People then meet with guides who are trained orientators who discuss ways of amending previous mistakes. People then receive help if they were unprepared for crossing over into the spirit world. For those whose transition is especially difficult, the orientation process is preceded by another process called cocooning. This is when the person is put into a restful, healing sleep for as long as it takes for them to feel healthy. In extreme cases, people are taken to a structure called the Towers where extremely confused people undergo a deprogramming process. Once a person has adjusted to the transition, they can visit a place called the Hall of Records where historical data is stored such as the records of everyone’s past lives. Another beautiful structure is the Hall of Justice where people go before a Council of Elders who are highly advanced spokespersons of God who help us decide how we are to progress further into the spirit realm. At some point, people recognize the need for even further advancement and therefore choose to return to earth to gain this spiritual advancement. With the help of a spirit guide, they decide on an incarnation which will meet their goals. They then proceed to the Hall of Justice where they meet once again with the Council of Elders. The Council prepares them for their next incarnation. When they are ready to incarnate, their family and friends are gathered together to bid farewell. Once they have said their goodbyes, they can meet with a spiritual teacher, such as Buddha or Jesus, to embrace them in their divine light. People are then taken to the Towers and are eased into a deep sleep. The descent into the womb begins and a new life is born on earth. (Sylvia Browne)
17. Heaven as revealed by Emanuel Swedenborg
The parallels between the afterlife experiences of Emanuel Swedenborg and near-death experiences are quite remarkable. So remarkable in fact that in Dr. Raymond Moody‘s ground-breaking book on near-death experiences entitled Life After Life, he has a section where those parallels are specifically discussed. You can read them on the Swedenborg web page on this website. The following are some of Swedenborg’s descriptions of life after death.
Emanuel Swedenborg described three stages that people pass through after death before arriving in heaven or hell. The first stage involves a person’s more outward nature according to Swedenborg. His descriptions of this stage are a good description of the earthbound realm, in my opinion. The second stage involves a person’s more inward nature according to Swedenborg. His description of this stage is a good description of the Void, in my opinion. The third stage is a stage of preparation according to Swedenborg. His description of this stage is a good description of transcending the Void and arriving at the so-called third heaven. According to Swedenborg, all souls arrive in the type of community where their spirits dwelt in the physical world. In fact every person is bonded to a particular heavenly or hellish community — an evil person to a hellish one, and a good person to a heavenly one. A person is guided there step-by-step and eventually gains entrance. The following is Swedenborg’s description of these three stages after death:
The first stage after death: Thoughts are how people communicate in heaven and there are no distances between people. Whenever a person thinks about someone else in the spirit world, their face appears before them in their thought along with many other things that characterized the person’s life. When this happens, the other person becomes present as though they have been summoned. This is why everyone arriving in heaven is recognized by family and friends. When people arrive in heaven, they are taught by their friends about the state of eternal life, and are taken around to different places, into different communities. Some are taken to cities, some to gardens and parks; but most are taken to splendid places because these kind of places delights the outward earthly nature they are still involved in and are beginning to lose. Eventually, they are then led into thoughts they had in life about the soul’s state after death, heaven, and hell. At this point, people begin to resent their former ignorance of these things, and resent the Church’s ignorance of these things as well.
[Webmaster’s note: In the earthbound realm, people can travel anywhere on earth and see places they have never seen before. Also, the powers of the spirit mind can be first realized in the earthbound realm. Others can also arrive to guide the person. Swedenborg’s description of the first stage is also similar to accounts of near-death experiences in the earthbound realm.]
The second stage after death: At this stage, a person’s thought process is based on their impulses. Thoughts and impulses become united. With such a unity, a person hardly seems to be thinking at all – simply intending. It is almost the same when communicating with others; except that people at this stage communicate with a certain fear that their secret impulses will be made known to everyone. This fear originates as a part of a person’s impulses in the physical world due to the demands of normal life. Absolutely everyone enters the second stage because it is the actual condition of the spirit. During the first stage, the condition of our spirit depends on our association with others in that stage, which is not our proper condition. But once we enter the second stage, the stage of our more inward concerns, it becomes very obvious what kind of person we were in the physical world. At this point, we are acting on the basis of who we really are. If we were inwardly involved with good things while in the physical world, they we will behave rationally and wisely — more wisely, in fact, than we did in the physical world because we are released from our bodily ties and therefore from the things that darken the spirit. On the other hand, if a person was involved with evilness while in the physical world, then they will behave senselessly and crazily after death — more crazily, in fact, than they did in the physical world, because they are now in perfect freedom and are not repressed. When they lived in the world, they were sane in outward matters because they were using them to fabricate a rational person. So once these outward matters are taken away from them, their madness is unveiled. Once the second stage is completed, they hurl themselves into the hell where there are people like themselves.
[Webmaster’s note: This is a very good description of the Void experience. In the void, there is nothing there but our own true inward nature. The purpose for this is to reflect and understand who we have become from the physical life just lived. Seeing ourselves as we really are can be a paradise if love is there. Then the love within you draws you out of the Void and toward the light. But if there exists within us mostly unspirituality, then may remain in the Void temporarily or return to the earthbound realm which is hell for those who are bound there until they eventually have a change of heart.]
The third stage after death: This stage is a state of instruction for people who are entering heaven and in the process of becoming like an angel. This stage is not for people who are entering hell, since they cannot be taught. As a result, the second stage is also the third stage for those entering hell, concluding with their complete turning toward their strongest desire, and therefore toward a hellish community others are involved in similar desires. The only way people can be prepared for heaven is by being instructed in the insights concerning what is spiritually true and good. This is because people cannot know what is spiritually good and true unless they are taught. In the physical world, it is possible to know what is good and true on a civil and moral level, and what is called fair and honest because there are civil laws which teach what is false. There are also social norms in which a person learns to live by moral laws, all of which deal with what is honest and right. But what is spiritually good and true is not learned in the physical world, but in heaven. However, people who have been taught what is spiritually good and true in the physical world have already been prepared for heaven and are brought into heaven by another route. Some are brought in immediately after death.
[Webmaster’s note: I believe Swedenborg is referring to those death experiences that involve the person to bypass the earthbound (First Stage) and the Void realm (Second Stage) and go straight into the light.]
Once people in the spirit world have been prepared for heaven through instruction, they are dressed in angelic clothes, most of which are white, as though made of linen. So dressed, they are brought to a path that heads up toward heaven and are committed to angel guardians there. Then they are accepted by some other angels and introduced into communities, and there into many forms of happiness. (Emanuel Swedenborg)
[Webmaster’s note: This description of the third stage agrees with those who leave the tunnel and enter the light where they may be met by Jesus, loved ones, the Council of Elders, temples, libraries, etc.]
18. Heaven as revealed by the Buddha
“The wise man makes his own heaven while the foolish man creates his own hell here and hereafter” (Buddha)
The concept of heaven and hell in Buddhism is different from traditional Christianity. The Buddha taught that a person’s citizenship in the many heavens and hell realms is not permanent. The Buddha taught that there are heavens and hells not only in the spirit world, but in physical world also. The fire of hell in the physical world is hotter than that of the hell in the spirit world. There is no fire equal to anger, lust or greed and ignorance. Buddha taught that people burn from various kinds of physical and mental pain: lust, hatred, illusion sickness, decay, death, worry, lamentation, pain, depression and grief. Buddha taught that wherever there is more suffering, in life or after life, it is a hell for those who suffer. And wherever there is more pleasure and happiness, in life or after life, it is a heaven to those who enjoy it. The physical world is a combination of both pleasure and pain, and people experience both in order to learn the real nature of life. But in other realms after death, people have less of a chance to learn this reality. In some worlds there is more suffering than pleasure while in some other worlds there is more pleasure than suffering. (Buddhism)
a. The Buddha’s noble path of liberation
The Buddha taught that people can be liberated from the cycle of birth and rebirth by freeing ourselves from the attachments that leads to suffering. This is accomplished by following the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the ultimate happiness of Nirvana – the highest Buddhist heaven where a person joins all the other Buddhas. This Noble Path consists of the following Four Noble Truths. Note that this is a very general summary of these truths.
The Four Noble Truths
(1) Understand the true nature of life. Life is about suffering.
(2) Suffering originates from clinging to transient things such as desires, objects, ideas, and even our perceptions.
(3) The way to end this suffering is to free ourselves from clinging to these attachments.
(4) Liberation is attained by following the path of self-improvement called the “middle way” (living between the extremes of self-indulgence and excessive restriction) and this leads to liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth – and Nirvana. (Siddhartha Buddha)
19. Heaven as revealed by Jesus
Bible: “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
Bible: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
Bible: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
Bible: “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.'” (Luke 17:20-21)
Bible: “And he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.'” (Matthew 18:3-5)
Bible: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted … Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Bible: “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21)
Bible: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)
Bible: “But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Bible: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)
“Eternal life means no more death or dying. Attaining unconditional love is the way to overcome the cycle of death and rebirth.” (Kevin Williams)