It’s all right here.
That’s how most of us will feel on awaking to “the life beyond” – which is really the life inside us now. We’ll feel still ourselves, among similar people and surroundings. Indeed we may think we’ve come into a heaven that is just like earth. We’ll want food, rest, human contact, and so on, and assume we need to seek them in the usual ways. (Emanuel Swedenborg calls this the first state after death, experienced in the world of spirits.) But quite soon we’ll get a big surprise:
Help, they know what I’m thinking!
We’ll wake up to the fact that in this inner dimension of life we can’t hide behind the masks which we have assumed on earth. People will know the thoughts and motives that govern our outward behaviour. Hypocrisy will be impossible, and so will any shyness about kind feelings and good ideas.
No longer will life be about putting on appearances. (This is the second state after death.) Now we really have to face up to the big questions:
What kind of life do I really want?
Am I after an easy time? Plentiful possessions? Control over people? Unlimited sexual contacts? (Do I expect these as my “reward in heaven”?) Or do I want true friendship? Adventure and discovery? Higher knowledge? Useful achievements? To show appreciation? We may feel confused as to which of these matters most to us, but we will come to realise that one motive lies at the centre, organising all the others. (Swedenborg sometimes calls this the ruling love.) Basically it’s a question of putting self or others first, but for either of these many variations are possible.
This opening up of our character is described in the Bible by scenes of judgment. It may be hurtful and frightening. But God is not judging us and will not punish us but we are judged by the light of Divine Truth. He lets us sort ourselves out in the light of the spiritual world, and in the end it’s liberating. At last we can be ourselves without pretence or half-heartedness, and find fulfilment in truly expressing ourselves, in showing people how much we love them – or maybe don’t. We will have embarked on a journey of self discovery in which our true spirituality will be fully disclosed.
Where do I belong?
Other people around us will be likewise discovering themselves. As a result, our relationships are likely to change, perhaps painfully. Some friends we have felt close to will move away from us, while we recognise new depth and beauty in former strangers, and feel drawn to them. We may feel that we have moved to a new place and yet we will have truly come home – the home where our heart really is!