Emanuel Swedenborg was born in 1688 in Stockholm, Sweden, at the dawn of the "Age of Enlightenment" when Europeans were stressing the importance of scientific reason and rationality.
Young Emanuel was educated at the University of Uppsala where he demonstrated his rare gift in science and mathematics. Extensive publication established him by 1734 as one of Europe’s leading scientists in such diverse areas as mathematics, geology, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, astronomy, and anatomy. According to numerous authorities, many of Swedenborg’s insights in these fields anticipated revolutionary scientific discoveries and theories of our own time.
In addition, Swedenborg served as a member of the Swedish House of Nobles where he authored advanced monetary and fiscal policies.
Swedenborg learned such crafts as bookbinding, watchmaking, lens grinding, carpentry, engraving, and drafting by taking up residence in the homes where the crafts had been perfected. His breadth of interests and prolific studies made him an uncommon man. His later work revealed him, however, as even more exceptional.
Swedenborg’s all-consuming desire for scientific knowledge began to find a companion: a desire for religious understanding. He examined the relationship between the body and the soul, attempting to discover the nature of the spiritual being residing within human personality. After a profound spiritual experience in his mid-fifties, he devoted the rest of his life to religion.
In preparation for his subsequent work, Swedenborg studied the Bible in its original languages with his well-trained scientist’s care for precision and detail. He wrote volumes on numerous portions of the Bible and on other subjects of Christian theology. The latter part of his religious search, writing, and publishing was done in London where he died in 1772.
Emanuel Swedenborg achieved success in three distinct careers–scientist, statesman, and theologian. Emerson called him "a colossal soul" and counted him as one of the "representative men" of the world such as Plato, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Goethe.
The height, breadth, and depth of Swedenborg’s life and thought sweep the widest possible range of human life from our inner, mystical experiences to everyday lives of usefulness. In him, for example, we find an inspiration to search for a greater fulfillment of our God-given potential through the cultivation of heightened awareness, holistic living, and right-brained, intuitive knowledge.
At the same time, we hear Swedenborg reminding us of our duty to lead a useful life, doing practical things to meet our neighbors’ needs and striving to bring God’s kingdom on earth.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772):
• viewed God as infinitely loving and at the very center of our being,
• viewed human life as a continuous re-birthing as we participate in our own creation,
• viewed the Bible as a story of inner-life stages as we learn and grow,
• and had conviction that life continues following the transition we call death to eternity of growing fulfillment.
He said; “All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good”