What do people in heaven eat?

Having talked about “heavenly” pizza in my previous blog post I felt it was now the right time to move onto the topic of sustenance for those who live in the spiritual world.

Under the current doctrines of most religions, the answer is not spelled out. Some theologians, I suppose, would even suggest that food is no longer a concern for angels and the inhabitants of the spiritual world, since all souls there would be divested and free of a physical body.

But living in the hereafter does involve a continuation of life. And we cannot continue life without taking our minds with us (otherwise there would be no means by which one’s personality and identity could endure and function in a spiritual kingdom).

If we ponder our mind and its cognitive function we can easily conclude that it has a real appetite and feeds itself. What is this rarefied food? The answer is information. (We even use expressions like “thirsting for knowledge” or having a “hunger for knowledge.”) We literally chew on, ruminate and digest information in the same way the physical body metabolizes terrestrial aliment. In fact, information that is too difficult to break down and be absorbed into our personal lives is similarly jettisoned from our mind and heart, just as unprocessed physical food is removed from the body.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, information builds up, fuels and maintains the well-being of the human spirit just as burgers, pizza, veggies and liquids build up, fuel and maintain the well-being of the “lower” corporeal body.

What is relevant to this discussion and spiritual sustenance is that we savor the information we value most. And the information that we value most is that which can best serve our dreams, ambitions and ends—that best suits our purpose. This evaluation is one’s spiritual “salt.” In the same way we put salt on physical food so that we can savor its taste even more, our values (the things we love most) act as the “seasoning” for the knowledge we hunger for.

Those who savor God’s teachings and tenets adapt their souls to feed on, hunger for and find nourishment from one type of food. Those who reject the Lord’s teachings and prefer knowledge that sustains a self-absorbed and egocentric lifestyle seek a totally different kind of food.

Angels dine on the former type.

So, what do you value most in life? What do you intend in life? When you make the answer to these questions clear to yourself, then you will understand what you are feeding your spirit!



About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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6 Responses to What do people in heaven eat?

  1. Roger says:

    We call the spiritual world ‘spiritual’ and this one ‘physical’ because of our lack of accurate terminology. We might as well use the terms ‘THIS’ world and ‘THAT’ world.

    I, for one, believe that the spiritual body (as distinct from the soul or spirit) is more and not less than the physical body. In other words, it is clear to me from Swedenborg that we will be eating real food in addition to ‘mental food’ of the type you mentioned. Ditto for sex with one’s spouses – the sex act will be operational at mental, emotional, spiritual AND physical/sensual levels.

    The spiritual body is the projection of ourselves into a specific frame of reality, just as the physical body is the projection of ourselves into THIS frame of reality. The spiritual body is not a phantom of thought and sensation, it is real, substantial and organic.

    Of course, reality – this one or that one – is not just an individual or collective hallucination (‘maya’). In addition to our individual and collective projections, there are several ‘forcing functions’ that are completely orthogonal to our projections. These forcing functions set boundary conditions on any frame of reality, including this one. An example of a forcing function is the law of gravity. The forcing functions are part of the framework that underlies and ontologically ‘precedes’ a given reality. So ‘physical’ reality (THIS reality) and ‘spiritual’ reality (THAT reality) have personal, interpersonal and transpersonal (objective) components. It is simplistic to postulate a matter/mind dualism to describe our pre-mortem and post-mortem experiences, and it does no justice to the greatness of Swedenborg’s insights, discoveries and revelations. So to talk of ‘elevated mental food’ vs. ‘lowly physical food’ and ‘clean, spiritual sex’ vs. ‘dirty, physical sex’ is an over-simplification of the Writings.

    The lower is not to be divested and discarded, it is to be elevated and transfigured and joined with something much higher.

    Food not for survival but as an appreciation and reception of nature, as communion with God and with our fellows. Sex not for reproduction but as a marital, conjugial sacrament.


  2. thegodguy says:

    My dear friend Roger,

    Huh? What the heck are you talking about?

    The spiritual body consists of spiritual substances and the physical body consists of physical substances. What terminology is lacking when Swedenborg himself states that there are two worlds consisting of two different essences.

    Swedenborg said that the mind was a person’s spirit (the soul proper is even beyond the consciousness of the angels in the highest heaven). But you seem not to have come across his statements that thoughts and ideas are real substances and forms (not whispy dreams or hallucinations). During our spiritual growth (salvation) the adoption of God’s tenets re-organizes the spiritual substances of our mind. This operation is not just an improvement of one’s level of understanding it also creates an equivalent organic structure called the spiritual body – all its organic parts are the projections and spiritual embodiment of the inner qualities of one’s heart and mind.

    At death we discard the “lower” physical body and are left with a spiritual body that clothes the soul for our continued life on the spiritual plane. You are confusing the “lower” corporeal mind with the physical body (apples and oranges). It is the lower mind which can be exalted – not the physical body. (Only the Lord left the tomb with his physical body!)

    Where have I spoken about dirty “physical” sex versus clean “spiritual sex? Sex between spiritual beings can be dirty or clean just like that between two terrestrial partners.

    And as for your point about my being too simplistic to do justice to the greatness of Swedenborg’s insights, discoveries and revelations, I am left wondering how someone like myself who has studied Swedenborg (his science and theology) for over 35 years and attended Swedenborgian seminary could have dropped the ball. Oh, I know, I simply tried to write a mere 500-word blog post on an issue not generally discussed by the average person or average theologian.

    This blog was meant to introduce Swedenborgian ideas to new people (most of my readers are non-Swedenborgian). Since Swedenborgians mostly talk to themselves and have become accustomed to a certain language they have great difficulty in figuring out just what I am up to.

    But I will certainly keep an open mind. The next time I try to communicate the differences between the physical and spiritual worlds to non-Swedenborgians I will not make the same dumb mistake of leaving out info about the “forcing functions.” Shame on me!

    I guess I was hoping that my readers would learn about “forcing functions” by ordering my new book “Proving God.” It not only tackles the law of gravity but quantum gravity, spiritual gravity and the different boundary conditions they set up PLUS the role gravity plays in creating a common equilibrium among all the various processes of an organized system.

    Meanwhile, I am sorry that I have disappointed you.

    Spiritually yours,

  3. Roger says:

    Dear Edward,

    You have not disappointed me. I have not read Swedenborg as much as you have. I have been reading it for the last 4 years, and I am 51 years old. And I probably have other philosophical baggage.

    That being said, my views are what I have come to understand from my limited reading. Of course, they can change. I hope you are not disappointed that I air my thoughts and current beliefs as they are.

    No, you did not talk about dirty “physical” sex versus clean “spiritual sex”. But that would be the logical conclusion of mind/body dualism. Yes, we leave our physical bodies behind. But I think (at this time) that the “other” world has a subordinate physical component to it, just as this world has a spiritual component, even though the physical element is dominant. I have read your blog post on sex in heaven and it sounds more like a passionate and intense union of minds such as my wife and I have over the phone when I am out on long business trips. Passionate and loving as those conversations are,they are not sex. Nor is my satisfying my intellectual curiosity the same as or better than or worse than eating a juicy, crisp apple. Both are good.

    This is where my understanding is. I value your teachings as thought-provokers, and I do accept some (if not all) of your insights. I am going to buy your book and it will add to my understanding as Christian and, shall I say, Swedenborgian.

    Here is something from Swedenborg that I have pasted in my electronic notebook. I do not have the source but I am sure you can identify it. It tells me that ‘spiritual’ is not the ‘absence of the physical’:

    “The angels grow cold with their whole body at unchaste love or love outside of marriage, and on the other hand, they grow warm with their whole body as a result of chaste or conjugial love. In the case of men there, all their sinews sink at the sight of a licentious woman, and grow taut at the sight of their wife.” [8] The three newcomers, hearing this, asked whether there is the same love-making between married partners in heaven as on earth. The two angelic spirits answered that it is entirely the same. And because they perceived that the newcomers were wanting to know whether they had the same end delights in heaven, they also said that these are entirely the same, but much more blissful, since the perception and sensation of angels is much more exquisite than the perception and sensation of people. “Moreover, what is the life accompanying that love,” the angelic spirits asked, “if it does not stem from an underlying condition of ability? If this ability fails, does that love not fail and cool? Is this power not a real measure, a real progression and real foundation of that love? Is it not its beginning, support and fulfillment? “It is a universal law that the primary elements in a series exist, subsist and persist on the basis of the final elements. So also with that love. Consequently, without the end delights, there would not be any delights in conjugial love.”

    Please do not take my comments personally. Consider me your student in the Talmudic sense – I have been to yeshivas where students and teachers argue and examine issues from every angle and viewpoint, without clinging to any specific ideas as dogmas. All the same, I hope my posts serve a purpose – if none other than to illustrate a fallacy. If they add more noise than signal, then please feel free to delete them.



  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Roger,

    Your usage of words like “orthogonal” and “forcing functions” indicates to me that you are comfortable with discussing theological themes in a scientific language. I commend you for that!

    But I would like you to play the role of the teacher for me. I believe that the passage you quote above is from Swedenborg’s theological writing entitled “Conjugial Love.” Please tell me how this passage supports your particular view. You would be helping me to be more helpful to you!

    Oh heck, let me take a wild guess.

    The underlying condition of sexual “ability” in a man comes from truths in his understanding. The spiritual endeavor to procreate descends (top-down) by turning truths into seed (sperm) and is delivered by a man’s physical penis – which is the “final element” wherein one experiences his “end delight.” But in spiritual beings and angels this “end delight” is exalted from mere physical pleasure to a “love of propagating the truths of one’s wisdom.” This is the real “foundation” of spiritual love in a man (which supports and provides fulfillment for the whole series of a truly “spiritual” sexual act .

    Such a “spiritual orgasm” is infinitely more delightful than ejaculation on earth. Spirits enjoy all the pleasures that humans on earth do because they are not lacking in any organic structures – including a SPIRITUAL penis (which, by the way, operates in a different kind of boundary condition).

    This is fundamental Swedenborgian doctrine.

    Spiritually yours,

  5. Roger says:

    I am not challenging you – I just have a few questions. Do spirits/angels have real hands and feet, or are they imaginal ones? In other words, are they just mental constructs, or are they subject to objective laws? Do they look, feel and move like the hands and feet we have here? Is there some form of matter/energy in the spiritual world, albeit highly refined — and modulated by thought? Or is it just thought, however concrete?


  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Roger,

    Great question! According to Swedenborg spirits and angels have real feet and hands and enjoy all the pleasures that terrestrial beings enjoy. Spiritual bodies look like physical bodies and they are under objective laws. These laws are spiritual. This means that process and action can take place beyond spacetime constraints! My new book explores this in some detail.

    Also, the laws of nature (forcing principles) have their origins in spiritual law (otherwise God’s influence and order could not flow into and terminate on the earthly plane). Swedenborg said that the human form consisted of FREE WILL and UNDERSTANDING. All the physical structures of a person’s body answer to some localization in the brain. Every localization of the brain correlates with some thought or affection of the mind. (This top-down linkage would not be possible unless the heart and mind were in a real and corresponding human form!)

    When you say “just a thought” you are overlooking Swedenborg’s disclosure that “thought” is a real boundary condition, parameter and form of some affection (all information is form).

    Swedenborg also claimed that the spiritual body was more real and substantial than the physical body. What we view as our real “self” is our affections and thoughts -not our material bodies or genetic material.

    That is why I have titled this blog site “Love is the ultimate science.” Love is the primal creative and causal SUBSTANCE of the universe and generates all objective law (physical and spiritual). These are the kinds of things I cover in my book “Proving God.”

    Spiritually yours,

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