Todd Beiswenger hits us with a second article in his weird series. Weird II explores ideas of astral travel and beings from other planets. Todd puts Swedenborg's unusual ideas in the the context of similar ideas from the New Age movement. You can catch up on his first weird article here and the final piece in the series here. -Editor
For those of us who regard the Writings as an absolute authority on any topic contained therein, there is no more vexing a book than Earths in the Universe (more recently translated as Worlds in Space). This wasn’t a problem over 100 years ago when the General Church deemed the revelation from God, not Swedenborg, but it is now. How do we reconcile the existence of the book with what space exploration is telling us? My solution: think weird. Not governmental conspiracy theory/cover up of aliens kind of weird. That just doesn’t solve the problem of beings on a gaseous planet like Jupiter and no water for the must-be-thirsty people of Mercury. I’m thinking a different kind of weird, a socially acceptable kind of weird.
Way back in 1971 a man named Robert Monroe wrote a book titled, Journeys Out of the Body. It’s a classic if you are into psychic world kind of stuff. In it he tells his own personal tale of a man with an ability that he did not ask for. He worked in the radio business, and was experimenting with, “data learning during sleep” and using himself as the number one test subject. Shortly after this he started noticing that his body would start vibrating. This started happening to him at random times, and one night he lay in bed as the vibrations began. But he noticed this time that during these vibrations he could put his hand through the floor of his bedroom.
From there he learned how to leave his physical body behind, and explore the world in a whole new way. He learned quickly that thought brings presence. If he was thinking about a person, he would immediately be there. Now when he visited people alive in this world, they could not see him. Eventually though he found that there were people who could see him. Some of them had already passed on from a life on Earth. Others were intelligent species from – you guessed it – other worlds.
In fairness, Monroe does not say “I met people from Jupiter” or name any other planet in the solar system - at least not in the two books of his I’ve read anyway. But he does say he’s traveled the galaxy and beyond, and has talked at great length with many beings that he labels as “intelligent species.” He comes to the conclusion that there are “billions” of different species throughout the universe. That’s right: billions. They just live on a higher frequency than we do. Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Most people give you the “you must be crazy” look if you mention other beings that we can’t see. But really, why not? After all, we have associate spirits with us all the time that cannot see us “because nothing that is in our solar world falls into their sight” (Heaven and Hell 292). Why not beings that we can’t see? I also tend to think that the Lord, the creator of the entire universe, probably has the creative juices enough to figure out how to make humans in more than just one way. If love and wisdom are the only true substances, why must we confine our thoughts of beings to those that are carbon based? Surely love and wisdom can terminate in some other, finer substance to create life as well.
Beyond just reconciling the whole Earths in the Universe problem for us, seeing things through Monroe’s view also serves to further unite science with the New Church. New Age science in particular is constantly finding that acknowledging a greater reality beyond our physical senses is key to a greater understanding of our role in the universe. Monroe would like to prove this to each and every person, and as such he set up the Monroe Institute in Virginia where you too can learn to leave your body, and maybe even visit the people in our solar system.
Todd is a second year Theological School student who is happily married with one child. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Auburn University and an MBA from Temple. Interests include Phillies baseball, fast cars, and stock trading.