“By an extraordinary series of circumstances a confirmation appears to have been found for one of Emanuel Swedenborg’s more unusual doctrines–that man’s life depends on his relationship to a hierarchy of spirits.” So begins an article published in the TAT Journal in 1984 by Wilson Van Dusen, chief Psychologist at Mendocino State Hospital in California. Van Dusen’s phenomenological documentation and insights into the human condition are fascinating on their own, but they are really an extension of a story that began 235 years earlier.
In London, 1749, on Paternoster Row by St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the leading scientific minds in the world published the first volume in a set of twenty-five that encompassed, among many other things, a full explanation of the operating mechanisms that create all human psychological phenomena. This work explains where thoughts and feelings come from, why they affect us like they do, and how we can more effectively interface with them. The publisher, Emanuel Swedenborg, had rocketed to prominence in Europe with the publishing of his Principia fifteen years earlier and was known as a brilliant polymath. If you search the history of anatomy, you’ll find his contributions to the localization of mental processes. If you explore crystallography, you’ll find some crediting him with originating the field. But if you search the history of psychology, even though a prominent name contributed such a large body of work related to the field 140 years before Freud came on the scene, you won’t find anything. That’s because in between the publishing of his previous scientific works and this new set something remarkable happened which drastically affected the trajectory and ultimate reception of his career: Swedenborg started talking to spirits.
In his conversations, experiences, and experiments, conducted in another plane of existence, Swedenborg discovered and recorded not just a spiritual influence on the things in our minds, but a new model of consciousness. Could societies of spirits in the other world affect how we think and feel? Are we part of a much larger collective psyche than we’d ever suspected? Do our daily choices affect our spiritual location? And if all this is true, why are things structured in this way? In this program, we’ll look into these claims and how it could alter our perspective on how to better navigate this wonderful, confusing, mysterious experience we call being human.
Curtis Childs is the host and producer of the weekly program Swedenborg and Life, which has accumulated more than 7.5 million views and nearly 50,000 subscribers on YouTube. Curtis has appeared on numerous spirituality-themed talk shows and has had his content featured on the Dr. Oz show. He works with his team at the non-profit Swedenborg Foundation to create simple, effective inquiries into life’s biggest questions.
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