In the Introduction to his book The Presence Of Other Worlds: The Findings Of Emanuel Swedenborg, clinical psychologist Wilson Van Dusen asks the question:
“Is it possible for a man to discover too much, so much that others will be puzzled by his works, put them aside, and suspect he is mad? Yes, it is possible, though perhaps very rare. This is an account of a man who journeyed too far and found too much.”
I have been a first-hand witness to the fact that even some truth seekers feel that Swedenborg’s theological writings offer too many details about the spiritual realm. When I was in Seminary I took a course on Swedenborg’s most famous book Heaven & Hell. A fellow student who embraced Buddhist philosophy was interested in Swedenborg because the Swedish Seer’s ideas were very similar to those of Buddhism and attended the class. (The 20th Century Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki even wrote a book about these similarities entitled Swedenborg: Buddha of the North.)
One particular day we were discussing how heaven was divided up into different societies consisting of human souls who shared similar qualities of love and performed similar tasks (much like the various organs in the human body provide different but unified functions). The great detail provided by Swedenborg, who claimed to have been gifted by the Lord God to observe spiritual beings while still living in his own physical body, was too much for this particular student.
The student actually verbally expressed a feeling of uneasiness towards the amount of detail that Swedenborg covered concerning the afterlife. It became apparent to me that this student wanted to preserve the notion that ultimate reality should remain a mystery.
Another student at Seminary once asked me “Was Swedenborg on drugs?” Even on this blog, a very intelligent reader expressed a preference to preserve certain things as a great mystery. When I responded back to this reader as to why he felt that way, he answered, “Mystery is romantic.” My reply to him was that “I didn’t personally find obscurity to be romantic.”
While various people have different thresholds for resolving the mystery of life, no one will go beyond one’s comfort level. We are most comfortable when we can preserve some wiggle-room. The more we unravel mystery the more we become responsible for the additional information gained. In a sense, new revelations and insights can raise the stakes.
But fear not. I have studied Swedenborg’s vast works for over 35 years and I can assure you that I find even more mystery in God’s universe. The more one learns the more one realizes how little one knows. Swedenborg noted that such a personal insight—as grasping how little one knows—was the beginning of humility and wisdom.
This blog is dedicated to the discussion of solving the mysteries of reality in a way that would unify science and religion. Such knowledge would be a potent force for enacting real change on how we live our lives. If you wish to boldly probe beyond what this blog offers, my upcoming book Proving God may be of interest to you.