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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in spiritual reality (2)


Appearances of Reincarnation

Ian takes arguments for reincarnation and views them through a Swedenborgian lens. He changes the question from 'does reincarnation exist?' to 'how could one's experience appear like reincarnation?' -Editor

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, we only live once on earth. After death we live in a spiritual world and move eventually to a permanent place that depends on the spiritual nature we created by our actions on earth. We are not reborn or reincarnated again on earth, to have another attempt to do better next time.

Historically, however, there have been many stories about reincarnation, notably the "transmigration of souls" (metempsychosis) that Plato describes in the Republic. Reincarnation has been an essential part of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is interesting to see when it became popular in the west. We might assume it came with the great interest in spiritualism in Europe and America that started in the 1840s, which lead to a great many scientists becoming interested in it, with the formation of the learned societies of psychical research in the period 1850-1900. But it did not: there was no hint of reincarnation among those beliefs. Instead, it came through the books of theosophists like Annie Besant and was imported into western thought from the early 1900s. It has subsequently become rather widespread among spirit communicators, and it is especially dominant in the "channelled works" written under dictation from spirit sources that claim higher knowledge.

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Meditate | What Does It Mean To Be Alive?

Nothing that is a person’s very own has any life in it. When presented to view, it looks hard as bone, and black. Everything that comes from the Lord, on the other hand, has life. It has a spiritual and heavenly quality and looks like something living and human.

Incredibly, perhaps (although it is absolutely true), each word, each mental image, and each scintilla of thought in an angelic spirit is alive. Passion received from the Lord, who is life itself, permeates every single thing about such a spirit. Secrets of Heaven 41

The Lord is life itself. This amazes me. Life is something we receive from the Lord. It is so easy for me to get more focused on the concept of “having.” I have life. I have love. I have passion. But all these things we receive from the Lord. My concept of reception has been shifting. It is now a much more dynamic, moment-to-moment, real time experience of receiving things (like passion and life and good and true thoughts) from the Lord. Recognizing that, that it’s a constant flow is hard for my small, limited mind to handle sometimes, but it excites my spirit.

Also this passage changed my ideas about what is our “very own.” I often in the past have equated what is our “very own” with what is physical. The physical parts of me are inherently lifeless and it is only through the Lord’s influx that I get to be alive.

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