Swedenborg discovered that the lowest level of Heaven is the “Universal Church” or all those human beings who freely and willingly love God and their neighbor as themselves. All these faithful and loving human beings, whatever their religion, represent the “Universal Church.” God has raised several legitimate religions throughout time and space to suit the needs of different types of people and circumstances. Although spiritual doctrines may differ, all legitimate or true religions adhere to these two spiritual principles. And, in order to be spiritually connected to Heaven and God, we must adhere to these two essential principles. We must freely reciprocate Love by loving God who is Love or Reality itself and love our neighbor as our self. Otherwise, we will not be connected to the higher-dimensional states of Heaven and receive God’s Love, blessings, protection and healing.

The Lord has provided that there should be some religion almost everywhere and that everyone who believes in God and does not do evil because it is against God should have a place in heaven. Heaven, seen in its entirety, looks like a single individual, whose life or soul is the Lord. In that heavenly person there are all the components that there are in a physical person, differing the way heavenly things differ from earthly ones.

We know that there are within us not only the parts formed as organs from blood vessels and nerve fibers–the forms we call our viscera. There are also skin, membranes, tendons, cartilage, bones, nails, and teeth. They are less intensely alive than the organic forms, which they serve as ligaments, coverings, and supports. If there are to be all these elements in that heavenly person who is heaven, it cannot be made up of the people of one religion only. It needs people from many religions; so all the people who make these two universal principles of the church central to their own lives have a place in that heavenly person, that is, in heaven. They enjoy the happiness that suits their own nature. Emanuel Swedenborg [DP 326]

ONE of the grand distinctions between a true religion and a false one is that the true seeks light, and diffuses it, the other shrouds itself in mystery; the one opens the mind, the other closes it. The characteristic of opening the mind, and making it free by enlightening it, which is the virtue of true religion, is presented to us both in the world and in the Word by many symbols. The world rejoices in the light, trees grow in light, flowers derive their varied hues and loveliness from the light, and disclose them to the light. The sun, moon, stars, are things of light, and things of beauty. So with Israel in Egypt; while their oppressors were in thick darkness, they had light in their dwellings. During the forty years of the sojourn in the wilderness the pillar of fire by night gave light to the camp. The Lord Himself is light (Ps. XXVII. 1). His Word is light (Ps. CXIX. 105). “Light is sown for the righteous,” -Ps. XCVII. 11. “The path of the just is as the shining light.”—Prov. IV. 18. The disciples of the Lord are to walk in the light (John VIII. 12) ; and to believe in the light (John XII. 36). The light of the wicked will be put out, and they shall never see light (Ps. XLIX. 19). But to the good, ” the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” -Isa. LX. 20. When true religion comes, it is light opposed to blindness. “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”-Isa. LX. 1. Jonathan Bayley

Today, many people are dismayed by organized religion. And who can blame them? Most religions have been distorted and mystified through the passage of time and the selfishness of men. All that is left of these religious relics is spiritual darkness and confusion. But we should not blame God for the sins and weaknesses of men. God is real indeed or reality itself; He is the Light of our mind and the Love of our heart. Man needs God and religion because his soul was designed to believe and understand Truth and to freely reciprocate Love. To reject God is foolishness because God is the necessary source of our reality, life, intelligence, love and power.

However, true religion should be grounded in the spiritual Light of rationality and the freedom of Love. In fact, God gave us the freedom to reject his Truth and Love. We can freely choose to remain in our fantasies, opinions, lies, lusts and selfishness if we so choose. It is a fact that man is free to believe anything he desires. And malicious individuals regularly use this argument to poke fun at religion. They say that those who practice religion and believe in God believe in fairy tales. They say, “Who has seen God? I will believe in God and Heaven when I see and touch them! I believe in myself and the world because I can see and touch them.”

Well, Swedenborg says that such persons do not believe because their mind is in intellectual and spiritual darkness and their heart is in love of self and the world. It is in fact these persons who live in fairy tales, fantasies, lies and insanity because they have lost touch with the Light of reality (God). Why is it that most of us, when we were infants, had no trouble believing in God, angels and Heaven? It was because we were then in childhood innocence. And when our heart is in innocence, our mind is in Heavenly Light. As we mature and develop our own unique individuality, we tend to lose this innocence and begin to doubt.

There is no doubt that we cannot see Heaven with our natural or physical senses. This is why we must first develop a rational mind and an unselfish heart before we can experience the reality of Heaven. Swedenborg says that our loves and beliefs must always correspond. This means that if we are in self-love, we will have to lie to ourselves to justify our selfish behavior. If someone is committing all kinds of sins, it is easier for them to live with themselves if they are an atheist and do not believe in an afterlife. If they were to believe the Truth, they would be continually tormented by remorse and shame.

Many people also doubt the sacredness of the Bible. They believe it is a collection of human fairy tales. But even fairy tales usually contain higher meanings that refer to spiritual realities. The Bible is sealed with seven seals and only those who have a loving heart and enlightened mind can understand it. When they read the literal sense, they can understand the spiritual and celestial senses.

We worship what we love. If we love drugs, food or sex, we will worship what we abuse. If we love material wealth, success and glory, we will worship the world. If we love our self above all, we will worship our own self. But, if we love Truth and Good above all, we will worship the one true God of the universe.


Most people who read Swedenborg’s works believe that his books are about spirituality and religion. Hence, they assume that these works are not scientific. However, when we study his works in their totality, we discover that they are consistent, coherent, rational and scientific. The only difference is that Swedenborg is not just writing about physical reality; he is equally describing spiritual reality.

Like the physical world consists of material substances, the spiritual world consists of spiritual substances. And, like the physical world is comprised of physical forms, the spiritual world is comprised of spiritual forms. In fact, Swedenborg discovered that physical substances and forms were derived from spiritual substances and forms by correspondence and influx. The spiritual world is omnipresent and eternal while the material world is finite and actual. And like the material world is governed by Universal scientific physical Laws, the spiritual world is sustained and maintained by Universal scientific spiritual Laws.

Let us summarize what Swedenborg discovered through scientific observation:

Like our own physical world is enlightened and enlivened by natural Light, Swedenborg discovered that the whole spiritual world is enlightened and enlivened by Spiritual Light (or Divine Love/Wisdom). And this Spiritual Light is the substance and form of God. God is Infinite or Absolute Reality because His substance (Divine Love) and form (Divine Wisdom) are the only SELF-EXISTENT substance and form in the universe. God is the source of all Love, Intelligence and Life in the universe.

Now, in order to be fully real, Love must be put into effect. Hence, in order to realize Divine Love, God must generate the finite and unbounded universe from His substance and form as a reflected image of Himself by correspondence and influx. Through the universe, Love becomes useful and real. God realizes Himself (or His Divine and unselfish Love) by generating, loving, sustaining and healing all created beings. This is His power and action in the universe.

God’s Reality consists of LOVE (substance), WISDOM (form) and POWER (process). The universe with its countless worlds and beings realizes God’s process. All the material substances and forms of the material universe were generated from the spiritual substances and forms of Heaven which is the Divine-Human body of God. The substance or flesh of this body is Divine Love and its form or blood is Divine Truth. The scientific laws of the material universe such as laws of electromagnetism and gravitation are in correspondence with the scientific laws of spiritual involution and evolution of Love of the spiritual world. These scientific laws are derived from Divine Truth or Divine Order.

And, in order that Love be fully realized, it must be FREELY and HARMONICALLY reflected or reciprocated by all created beings. This can only be accomplished because all created beings are self-similar images of God. Every created being has substance, form and use. And Love is realized or returned through usefulness. It is through usefulness that all created beings share the delight of Love with God.

Hence, man’s life on Earth is not an end in itself; it is only a means to an end. The end or purpose of the universe is to generate a Heaven of angels from the human race. Man is a complete image of God because his will is a finite image of Divine Love, his mind is a finite image of Divine Wisdom and his action is a finite image of Divine Power. And he has the capacity to generate the required spiritual substances and forms to enter the holy fields of Heaven where he can share the joy of love with God and other loving and reasonable beings (angels) in the Kingdom of Love, Wisdom and Use (or Heaven). In fact, the foundation or lowest level of Heaven is the Universal Church or all those human beings on all the earths in the universe who love God and obey the Laws of Heaven.

Thus, God gave human beings the freedom to Love and the ability to discern what is True. And human beings must evolve from the Earth because this is the only way they can acquire a self that is other than God and be free to reciprocate Love through usefulness. Hence, on earth, human beings are equally free to reject God (Divine Love and Wisdom) and love their own self and the world instead. However, when they make this FREE choice, they lose touch with Reality and generate their own hellish world of fantasies, lies, insanity and selfishness.

The Lord is actually love itself, and his love is an intent to save everyone. So he provides that everyone shall have some religion, an acknowledgment of the Divine Being through that religion, and an inner life. That is, living according to one’s religious principles is an inner life, for then we focus on the Divine; and to the extent that we do focus on the Divine, we do not focus on the world but move away from the world and therefore from a worldly life, which is an outward life.

People can realize that non-Christians as well as Christians are saved if they know what constitutes heaven in us; for heaven is within us, and people who have heaven within them come into heaven. The heaven within us is our acknowledgment of the Divine and our being led by the Divine. The beginning and foundation of every religion is its acknowledgment of the Divine Being; a religion that does not acknowledge the Divine Being is not a religion at all. The precepts of every religion focus on worship, that is, on how the Divine is to be honored so that we will be acceptable in its sight; and when this fully occupies the mind (or, to the extent that we intend this or love this) we are being led by the Lord.

It is recognized that non-Christians live lives that are just as moral as the lives of Christians-many of them, in fact, live more moral lives. A moral life may be lived either to satisfy the Divine or to satisfy people in this world. A moral life that is lived to satisfy the Divine is a spiritual life. The two look alike in outward form, but inwardly they are totally different. One saves us, the other does not. This is because if we live a moral life to satisfy the Divine we are being led by the Divine; while if we live a moral life to satisfy people in this world, we are being led by ourselves.

This may be illustrated by an example. If we do not do harm to our neighbor because that is against our religion and therefore against the Divine, our refraining from evil stems from a spiritual source. But if we refrain from doing harm to others simply because we are afraid of the law or of losing our reputation or respect or profit-for the sake of self and the world, that is-then this stems from a natural source and we are being led by ourselves. This latter life is natural, while the former is spiritual. If our moral life is spiritual, we have heaven within ourselves; but if our moral life is merely natural, we do not have heaven within ourselves. This is because heaven flows in from above, opens our deeper natures, and flows through those deeper natures into our more outward natures; while the world flows in from below and opens our more outward natures but not our deeper natures. No inflow occurs from the natural world into the spiritual, only from the spiritual world into the natural; so if heaven is not accepted at the same time, the deeper levels are closed. We can see from this who accept heaven into themselves and who do not. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH318-319]

SWEDENBORG’S GARDEN OF THEOLOGY by Jonathan S. Rose, courtesy of the Swedenborg Foundation