Is Heaven for Real?
Posted on 05 May 2014, 20:14
The principal difficulty confronting the survival hypothesis is an intelligible Hereafter. – H. H. Price, Wykeham professor of logic, Oxford Univ.
Most journalists seem to feel that they have to treat anything relating to the afterlife or the spirit world with tongue in cheek, lest they be judged fools. It’s as if they are trying to say, “Dear Reader, you know I’m too intelligent to really believe any of this spook stuff, but I’ll give my two-cents worth anyway. Hee! Hee! Ha! Ha!” Then they proceed to show their ignorance by revealing that the only afterlife they have heard of is that of orthodox Christianity, one which they find totally unjust. After all, what kind of all-loving God would permit such a system – one in which one mistake, whether it be a serious transgression or not accepting the right savior, can result in unspeakable and unimaginable torment and anguish for eternity? No person in his or her right mind can accept such a God.
The recently-released movie, Heaven is for Real, has generated a number of columns and blogs by journalists and bloggers. As they all seem to see it, the afterlife is either the humdrum heaven or the horrific hell, as taught by most Christian religions. Of course, Catholicism teaches a middle ground, of sorts, in purgatory, but ask any Catholic what purgatory is all about and the odds are that the person has no clue. The Church once taught that it is just as bad as hell but not eternal, a place where sins are purged before one is allowed to enter heaven.
Today, however, as near as I can determine, purgatory isn’t really discussed.
None of these journalists or bloggers stops to define “heaven.” Kirsten Powers, a columnist for USA Today, points out that 74 percent of Americans believe heaven is real, while only 59 percent believe the same of hell. The poll she refers to apparently didn’t look at anything in between the two extremes, nor did Powers.
She finds it curious that some people cling to the idea of heaven while ignoring hell, wondering if it is all part of the “omnipresent self-esteem movement,” playing itself out as “I’m OK, you’re OK and I’ll see you in heaven.” Such an approach does seem to let that cruel and vindictate God of the Old Testament off the hook.
Why is it that so few seem to grasp the frequent teaching coming to us through credible mediumship that the afterlife is not just a boring heaven and a terrifyting hell? We have been frequently told that there are many spheres or planes, whatever name be given to them, and we begin at the level we have prepeared ourselves for. Hell is like a bad dream at the lowest level, but it is not eternal. If we define heaven as the very highest level, nearly everyone has a long way to go before reaching that Oneness – a Oneness, we are frequently told, in which we retain our individuality.
The predominant religious thinking seems to be that we end our earthly lives being labeled either “righteous” or “wicked” – no in-between – and our afterlife environment is either blissful or horrendous. In the blissful state, we should find, according to some religions, souls who led selfish and hateful lives but who repented on their deathbeds or “found” their Savior just before dying and suddenly became “righteous.” Among the tormented, we should expect to find souls who led righteous lives for most of their years but who possibly transgressed just before dying or never recognized their Savior. How can any thinking person reconcile such “justice” with an all-loving and forgiving God? Is it any wonder that so many “thinking” people turn to atheism and humanism?
In John 14:2, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you.” Greek scholars tell us the Greek word translated to “mansions” originally meant a stopping place or a temporary abode. However, the usual self-serving orthodox Christian interpretation of it is that Jesus was referring only to that part of the afterlife that is not hell.
Modern revelation coming to us since the 18th Century, beginning with Emanuel Swedenborg and continuing through various seers and mediums, clearly points to many spheres, planes, realms, dimensions, levels, or degrees of vibration in the afterlife and strongly suggests that when we leave this earthly realm, we go to the one we have prepared ourselves for. To put it another way, there are many degrees of righteousness and wickedness. It is not all black and white; there are many and various shades of gray in the afterlife.
Swedenborg, the brilliant scientist who learned to travel out of body into other realms, wrote that he discovered “infinite diversity” and “countless communities” during his clairvoyant explorations. Like Swedenborg, Edgar Cayce, the famous American “sleeping prophet” of the last century, also told of taking a tour of many realms during one of his travels out of body. He described how he encountered a stream of light he knew he must follow. In the lower or darker realms he saw “forms” that were floundering or lost and seeking the light. As the light grew stronger and stronger, he arrived at a place where individuals appeared much as they do today. Some seemed content, while others were striving for greater knowledge and light.
After his death in 1772, Swedenborg continued to teach, communicating through various mediums, including George T. Dexter, a New York physician (Below). On May 22, 1853, Swedenborg communicated that the moral condition of the spirits of the lower spheres does not appear to differ materially from the moral condition of the unprogressive man in our world. “They may, it is true, have moments when their spirits yearn for the brighter spheres beyond their dark plane, when conscious of its birthright, the soul awakens to a sense of its own degradation, and realizes its true situation,” he wrote through Dexter’s hand, “but they live and act as unprogressive man does, daily performing their accustomed round of malicious action, and carrying out the designs of their blunted perceptions; and it is not till some event, out of the ordinary occurrences of life, arouses them completely and opens their understanding to the reception of truth, that they begin to progress.
There is so little difference in the whole action of spirit-life from your life, except that one step forward has been made.”
Swedenborg went on to say that spirits in the lower spheres live as if they do not realize there is anything beyond their own misty dwelling places, and as if they are incapable of being impressed with good and true. (See prior blog entry on spirits who don’t realize they are dead.)
Francis Bacon, the late 16th and early 17th Century English scientist and philosopher, partnered with Swedenborg in communicating through Dr. Dexter. On September 25, 1853, one of the circle sitters, a Mr. Warren, asked Bacon what impelled spirits in the lower and darker spheres to choose to go there and remain there indefinitely. “The reason is obvious,” Bacon replied. “The great law of like attracting like obtains throughout the whole of the spheres. When a departed spirit enters into the spheres, he is at once attracted where he finds congeniality of place and persons. They could not be happy in the bright spheres. They could find no enjoyment where there is either virtue or goodness. Thus their first efforts are to locate themselves where the acquired attributes of mind in all its workings may be gratified. Their bodies are gross and their minds still grosser.”
Bacon added that there is in this condition of both body and mind a state which rejects magnetically all above and that they are compelled to take a place appropriate for their moral advancement or lack thereof. He said that the law of affinity is manifest as much in the higher spheres as in the lower, and that no spirit can become bad all at once or good instantly, going on to say that the law of progression and retrogression is in full force in all spheres.
Within two or three years of the communications coming through Dr. Dexter, Robert Hare, (below) a renowned inventor and professor emeritus of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania, received similar messages. As he came to understand the afterlife environment, there are many gradations between the lowest degrees of vice, ignorance, and folly and the highest degrees of virtue, learning, and wisdom. When we cross over to the other side after physical death, we take our place based on what Hare called a “moral specific gravity.”
Although Hare set out to debunk mediums, he soon came to realize that, while there were frauds, that there were genuine mediums between the living and the “dead.” He began asking communicating spirits about their abodes, their modes of existence, their theological doctrines, and diversities of their situations. He was told that there are seven spheres, the terrestrial sphere occupied by humans being the first, while the second sphere is where depraved spirits find themselves until they can begin the process of purification that allows them to ascend to higher spheres. When spirits reach the seventh sphere, they are entitled to enter the supernal heaven. He was also informed that there are no visible boundaries between spheres, but spirits have a peculiar sense which makes them understand when they are passing from one sphere to another.
Hare was informed that the spheres revolve with the earth on a common axis around the sun, but they are not dependent on the sun for either light or heat. Rather, the spirit receives light and heat from his internal or spiritual correspondence. Moreover, there is no division of time. “Although we, like you are constantly progressing toward perfection, our ideas of time and the seasons differ widely from yours; with you it is time – with us, eternity,” his deceased father informed him. “In the terrestrial sphere, a man’s thoughts, being bounded by time and space, are limited; but with us they are extended in proportion as we get rid of those restrictions and our perceptions of truth become more accurate.”
Like the skeptics of today, Hare initially couldn’t conceive of living in an eternity even under the most favorable conditions we encounter on earth. It would no doubt get pretty boring after a time, he reasoned. “The most favorable idea of heaven given in Scripture seems to be that which identifies it with Paradise,” Hare wrote. “In other words, a most beautiful garden. But who would conceive an eternal residence in one garden, however superlative its attractions, as desirable?
As Hare came to understand, however, it is human arrogance – the belief that we in the flesh can understand everything – that limits us, and we make a serious mistake in applying our limited terrestrial mentality and conditions to the celestial realms, i.e., that is, they are beyond human comprehension.
Hare accepted that, but now, 160 years later, we still get that tongue-in-cheek arrogant reaction from journalists and other skeptics, as if to say, “If I, as brilliant as I am, can’t see it or understand it, it can’t possibly be true.”
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014
“Heaven Is for Real” - the title of Michael Tymn’s current blog is accurate. Heaven is a spiritual reality that consists of a variety of levels of ascent. There is a lot of activity on each level with the higher realms possessing a glory and splendor beyond human comprehension.
The excerpts below that confirm my statements are taken from The Spiritual World journals published by Pro Beatrice, Zurich Switzerland. These divine teachings were transmitted through deep-trance medium Beatrice Brunner over a period of 34 years (1948 - 1982). The two spirit teachers were Joseph and Lene. And what is exciting to know is that in many cases, these teachings agree with the spiritual communications received from earlier spirit guides, such as Silver Birch, Frederick Myers and Imperator. Here are some heavenly glimpses.
Emanuel Swedenborg’s visits were right on the money! His report of “many spheres, planes…levels…and degrees of vibration” is confirmed by Angel-Sister Lene:
“We, therefore, will speak of spiritual planes…There may be mountains and hills there, or valleys, rivers, brooks and gardens. Some places there are very beautiful, whilst others are less attractive to live in because the houses, gardens and views are not quite beautiful.”
“Generally, when we speak of a spiritual plane, we mean a great, open space. However, as I said before, within those planes are different areas. If a spirit has incurred guilt during his incarnation, he still returns to the same level which he occupied before incarnating, but he will not be allowed to return to a beautiful place. Within the same plane, there are plenty of unattractive areas where he can be sent.”
(SW - 11/88, p. 85)
Her description agrees with Swedenborg’s observation: “We begin at the level we have prepared ourselves for.” Therefore, “Purgatory” is not one place; each level of ascent has its own “purgatory” for spirits undergoing purification. But once over, spirits will return to more beautiful areas within the same plane. Lene continues:
“When a spirit has reached the highest stage of a particular plane, he enjoys a splendid view and beauty all around. When such a spirit finally leaves that plane, he will, of course, enter upon an even more beautiful spiritual plane.”
“Every spirit must work his way up step by step. He can live on a beautiful plane where he is looked after by angels and where he can enjoy bliss. As you ascend in the spiritual world, as you come closer to the house of God, you will notice that the light grows steadily more radiant, art more splendid and everything more beautiful…The higher a spirit ascends, the more radiant his spiritual body becomes.”
“This, then, is the world of the higher spirits. It is the world of light which is celebrated in hymns and which we all yearn for…The glory of this world transcends human description. The closer a spirit comes to God, the more lustrous do the flowers become. The animals, too, are magnificent. I suppose the most splendid animals are the horses, but there are also other animals which the angels and the higher beings can enjoy”
“It is difficult for human beings to imagine this, but when we try to talk of the splendors of Heaven, it is factual. The diversity of its splendor is beyond human imagination.”
(SW - 11/88, pp. 85 - 86)
The picture continues to be filled in with more details. In Heaven there are also hospitals and sanitariums that help those souls who are in pain or are still suffering from their earthly addictions to alcohol or drugs. Here’s Lene again:
“In all the planes of ascent there are spiritual hospitals or sanatoria. They are generally unnecessary at the higher levels, but they are sometimes to be found there, too. In all the many other levels, including the very lowest, these places offer refuge to spirits who for the time being are sick and in pain. They stay there for as long as necessary. Some require a longer period of sleep than others, but each tormented soul needs sleep until it is clear that all the odic force has flowed into him, merging with his own spiritual odic force in such a way as to eliminate pain.” (SW - 1/80, p.7)
And we return to school as we ascend. Return to school? Yes, there are schools, libraries and halls of learning. Enter Joseph:
“As you know, in the spiritual world, too, one has to learn to read, to write, and to do arithmetic along with many other things, though this may seem strange to some people. Languages are studied, and there are also schools for music and the other arts. Indeed, one can take advantage of a wide variety of educational oppor-
tunities in order to attain higher and more extensive knowledge.” (SW - 5/83, p. 39)
Joseph tells us more on this subject: “Now I must tell you that the inhabitants of this town were more or less all newcomers to spirit. For all of them, it was a new Heaven, a new world. This town had a special purpose to fulfill, and, therefore, there were many great buildings among the houses, such as libraries and schools and special kinds of museums. It was a Center of Learning…These ‘students’ were eager to learn and study the books in the great library - yes, we have books. They visited the history museum where they were shown films depicting life from the beginning of Earth.” (SW - 2/77, p. 704)
Extraordinary, isn’t it? Well, that’s what awaits us. But what about inside the houses that you read about? Believe it or not, exquisite furniture also exists in a level’s more beautiful areas. Peter, an ascending spirit, was also allowed to communicate to us through Beatrice. Because Peter met an untimely death at the age of 21, he came under the loving care of a spirit mother, who lived in a beautiful home. Peter marvelled at what he saw:
“A door was opened for us, leading into a large room which was the living room. It was very beautiful, and once again, I found myself marvelling at all the various objects there. A very handsome table stood in this room, made out of what I took to be a quite rare kind of wood…The chairs I also thought very handsome, and they looked as though they would be most comfortable. A magnificent candalabrum, extendng far out on all sides, illuminated the entire room and gave it a very splendid feel.”
(SW - 5/91, p. 35)
Peter’s descriptions, which continue at length, can finally give us a glimpse into the interior of one of the “many mansions” Our Lord talked about.
One last glimpse. Did you ever wonder what happens to a Frenchman who passes on to spirit? Or a Japanese? Or a Latino? How will they communicate with the angels? English is not the only language spoken in Heaven! Joseph stated that he had to learn German (he was originally Scottish) in order to communicate with the Community in Zurich. Lene extends our knowledge of Heaven even further:
“In trying to visualize this scene [a social gathering in a city on one of the higher planes], do not imagine that all the guests will have white skins or that they will all be speaking your language. There are just as many languages and dialects in Heaven as there are on Earth. This is because when they leave their ‘island,’ human beings join with kindred spirits in a place set apart and which is perfectly suited to them. Spiritual beings are divided into nations as humans are, and these nations differ in appearance. There is as great a variety of skin color in spirits as in human beings. This may help you to imagine the diversity of spiritual beings in our world.” (SW - 9/82, p. 79)
In referring to Mr. Tymn’s blog title, Heaven is real and certainly not the “humdrum” place we were taught to believe. It is dynamic, vibrant
and ever self-renewing. Ah…if only these wonderful descriptions of Heaven could be included in sermons given by our clergy.
I sincerely hope all the above descriptions have helped you to visualize a realistic picture of what awaits us in our true home. To ascend is not a free ticket, however. We will have to work and apply ourselves. Our continued ascension is one reason why it is so important to gain as much spiritual knowledge as possible on Earth. If we do, then we don’t have to take beginning courses; we can move onto graduate school or better still, help those spirits who need introduction in the basics. For Heaven is also a place of service to others. And we have to be ready to serve.
Bob Landro, Wed 14 May, 23:18
I’m not sure I agree with you that Swedenborg, Kardec, et al tried to frame their messages in the framework of Christian belief. The primary message, as I see it, is that the afterlife is not some dichotomous environment, i.e., that there are many levels. This is clearly contrary to orthodox belief and is the main message of this blog post. I see very little of the Christian framework in their works. I don’t think we should assume that all of the Christian framework is necessarily bunk. Much of it came through credible mediums. The Church may well have distorted it, but I see no reason why much of it should not be consistent with later revelation.
Cyrus, I have wondered the same thing about the finite aspect of the spheres, but we don’t know to what extent the messages were colored or distorted as they came through the medium’s mind, which goes back to Leslie’s comment. It may very well be that the spheres aren’t tethered to the planets. Perhaps just the lower spheres are and the earth will not extinguish itself until all souls have cleared the lower spheres. As with so many other things relating to the afterlife, I think we make a mistake in trying to apply terrestrial standards to celestial matters.
Tim, it is not the words of the medium but those speaking through them. I am familiar with nearly all the NDE material and can recall very little that discusses the many planes, levels, etc. Very few of them go beyond the initial piercing of the veil or into the depth that the mediumistic reports do.
Amos, thanks for the link on the Hyslop book. As you know, Prof. Hyslop is one of my favorites.
Michael Tymn, Thu 8 May, 07:14
Leslie Harris, Thu 8 May, 02:43
I should have thought more before writing because what I wrote wasn’t fair to a number of very careful and lucid writers in this field.
That said, there aren’t many people who search for clarity and present material as unambiguously as possible. Arthur Findlay is one of those few. Many shrink from anomalies, probably because they see them as detracting from their case. This is unfortunate because making any case that contains anomalies simply renders the case speculative until such anomalies can be answered.
I react badly to attempts to explain the survival of the consciousness after death by using religious ideology, terminology and analogy. The end result is to seriously contaminate the afterlife evidence with proof-free preposterous religious claims.
I have found a copy of Hyslop and will start reading it; thanks for the reference.
From my deceased husband, Johnny, I have learned that we are created whole and complete! The physical world is a Stage where we take on a costume and play a role that collectively has a purpose to awakened Mankind to his Eternal Beingness.
Natalie Howard, Wed 7 May, 18:46
On Earth, the Stage, our role is defined by the level of mankind’s belief system. Because the Collective Belief system believes in Cancer, then many peoples will exemplify or manifest the effects of cancer in their bodies. You see we are co-creaters with God. With his Power our beliefs become manifested on the Physical Stage of Life.
This is because we do not believe that God made us complete and whole. When we believe in a limitation, like disease, we limit what God has created,we are ignorant of how He made us complete and whole. This is sinning—when we limit what God has created.
When we collectively realize these facts, then we have awaken to what has always been—in religious terms, Jesus has returned.
The ‘devil’ is limited thinking, not knowing that each and every one is made complete and whole. That is what Jesus meant when He said to get the devil behind you.
I also learned that God can never destroy what he has created. He is the Loving God, not the vengeful God that the Israelites set up because they based their beliefs on the physical world, not knowing the true nature of the Loving God. Seeing in the physical word all the hate and killings may be seen as a Stage Show, one that shows what we believe in. There is no death of the Real You—when what appears as death—is just that You finish the role you were meant to play and you walked off the Stage of Life.
Example, maybe you lost your legs in the military—when you leave the Stage of Life, and are in ‘Heaven’ your etherical body will be complete—you see your Real Being never lost your legs, you just wore a costume that covered your Real Body.
In heaven you can express your body to be any age you choose. You will comunicate with you thoughts; there is no Time or sequence of events. Everything is seen at once. You can view the Akashic Records, like looking at a VCR tape and relive your pleasurable memories. My sweetheart, Johnny, says that each time you experience reliving the memory it is always like the first time with all the emotions and love
Know that Life in Heaven is more beautiful and more Real that the Physical World. In Heaven you paint pictures with your thoughts, you can build buildings with your thoughts and you talk to other Spirit Entities with your thoughts. And it is for All Eternity. With Love to All, Natalie
Some interesting points
- If spheres axis the sun. That means, you can travel “upward” in an afterlife plane and enter outer space. I was always confused about that geography, imagining instead such ‘planes’ as kind of dreamlike mental configurations.
- Imagine having no limits based on time? Here we are kind of rushing to get things done because we’re all going to die (could be tomorrow or when we’re 90, but the book is gonna close).
- But there must be a finite aspect to the spheres. Why? If they are kind of tethered to the spirits of Earth—someday, in the very far future, the sun will explode and the earth will die.
Cyrus, Tue 6 May, 21:27
I have no doubt at all there is a continuation into another existence, although that kind of certainty is not popular with many, naturally. As regards what it’s going to be like, I prefer to take the consensus of the resuscitated rather than mediums.
Just my personal bias of course. And I’m not confident there is no hell but as to who goes there maybe we can use our imagination, or maybe not.
tim, Tue 6 May, 17:00
I would recommend James H. Hyslop’s book ‘Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature’.
Starting on about page 196 Dr. Hyslop discusses the process of communicating not only between the living but between the living and the dead. I found his discussion very enlightening in that he discusses language as symbols which need to be interpreted by the receiver, and that they are interpreted according to the extent that the receiver understands the symbols. There is too much to quote here and I have not done a very good job explaining Hyslop’s thoughts but I highly recommend this as an explanation of why Christian beliefs are reflected in reports from Christians. I don’t this it was done to improve the palatability of what they were writing and in the light of Hyslop’s explanation I don’t think it very seriously erodes their credibility. -AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 6 May, 15:04
Leslie Harris, Tue 6 May, 05:02
One of the great difficulties I have with some of the early writers – Swedenborg, Kardec and similar – is that they tried to frame and explain everything within the framework of Christian beliefs of their time. This was no doubt done to improve the palatability of what they were writing but it very seriously erodes their credibility now.
This erosion still applies today when people try to fit afterlife reports and experiences into the Christian belief system. Since it is a religion devoid of all ascertainable fact, afterlife reports get tarred with the same brush when people try to tie them to a specific religion. No-one should therefore be surprised at the subsequent argument and disbelief.
Since there can be no direct validation of what is communicated to us by various entities, we must use levels of credibility as a guide to veracity. And that is where difficulty arises.
As I read many reports, there is a considerable amount of interpretation involved. Matters that are of overwhelming importance to one entity don’t get a mention by anyone else. It might even be that entities are seeing what they expect to see or what they want to see, then report accordingly.
Not *all* bloggers are dense!
Waller Joel, Mon 5 May, 20:57
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