Discovering Swedenborg

Here’s the latest of my Thinking Allowed Interviews with Jeffrey Mishlove. This time we look at one of the most fascinating and influential figures in the western esoteric tradition, the Eighteenth Century scientist and spiritual explorer, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg influenced practically every important intellectual, cultural, and spiritual figure in the Nineteenth Century, from William Blake to Charles Baudelaire, Ralph Waldo Emerson to Honore Balzac – and that’s just for starters. In the interview, I try to do what I aim at in my book, Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas: to show that if you don’t know who Swedenborg is, you really should make an effort to get some idea of his importance, both in the history of ideas, and in our own attempts to make sense of life. He helped August Strindberg get through a bad patch and Helen Keller found joy and meaning in his work. That sounds like a pretty good endorsement.

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3 thoughts on “Discovering Swedenborg

  1. Gary, this episode was fascinating. I love Jeffrey’s productions, thanks to both his depth and his guests’. This was no exception. I discovered Swedenborg just over three years ago through the OffTheLeftEye Youtube channel produced by the Swedenborg Foundation and hosted by Curtis Childs with Jonathan Rose. I’ve digested a great deal of material since then, and your interview added a layer that helped me see the man more clearly through his personal evolution. I was particularly struck by your highlight of his profound shift from seeking fame to leaving that behind altogether with his life-altering revelation. I’ve become personally acquainted with the crew in Bryn Athyn, PA who produce this YouTube series and can attest to the fact that they live what they espouse. It’s clear they’ve adopted a way of moving through the world that is both very transparent and very kind. In other words, very Swedenborgian! Thanks for this work. While he influenced some of his contemporaries and many who followed, it seems that both science and some thought leaders have finally caught up to Swedenborg. He was far ahead of his time, but I believe his time has finally come.

  2. I just dropped by, to let you know, that like your article on Rudolf Steiner, I enjoyed your article on Swedenborg too. (New Dawn Edition 173)

    It makes me wonder, how come there are not great polymaths like Steiner and
    Swedenborg amongst us today.

    Maybe there are, but we’re not aware of them, because in this late 20th century / early 21st century, we are mired in materialism, and worship of celebrity.

    And in the last decade, having our attention diverted further, through those contradictory things called “Smartphones.”

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