Two Eternities? I Don’t Think So!

Featured


Those who know me will be aware that I accept that organised religion can help people find a purpose in life and a blueprint for “right” living. However, I also know that ultimately, organised religion can only ever be a stepping stone to absolute truth. I hold this view mainly because the whole purpose of the spirit is to be free and to evolve within that freedom. This of course, includes the freedom to make mistakes. With organised religions you are required to believe things; things that quite often have no substance or credibility. Whilst it is true that our beliefs create our reality, it is also true that our beliefs are nothing more than thoughts and opinions, which are not necessarily representative of truth.

A classic example of this, is the concept of going to either Heaven or Hell. As a Westerner, I am of course, talking about Christianity; it would be unfair of me to use another religion as the example because I don’t have enough experience of other religions. Let me first just clarify a few things. In Christian mythology, it is stated that the world, the universe and beyond was created by a personal god. Presumably, the god created everything, not just a bit of this and a bit of that. So surely, that must include the mechanism via which everything functions. A religious person would probably refer to this as “God’s Law.” But, depending on what your leanings are, this could also be referred to as Natural Law, The Laws of the Universe, Spiritual Law or The Laws of Physics. I think we can agree that it is all pretty much the same thing. Either way, these laws are very precise and cannot be interfered with or altered.

We are told, that when we die we have to stand before God to be judged. If we are deemed to have been good we ascend to eternal life in Heaven. Alternatively, if we are deemed to have been bad, then we descend to eternal damnation in Hell. Now, it has occurred to me that having already established that the god’s own laws are very precise, and also that whether we go to Heaven or Hell, it is still an eternal life; be it one of bliss or damnation. Regardless of the name of the place, eternal life must surely take place in eternity, which in accordance with the god’s laws “does exactly what it says on the tin.” What I mean is that eternity is just that; it is eternal, boundless, unlimited, infinite.

So, forgive me for questioning religious dogma, but how can you have two different eternities? This would imply that there is a cut-off point or boundary between Heaven and Hell. Or even, a boundary between Heaven and a kind of no-man’s-land and another boundary between that and Hell. If there is a cut-off point or boundary, then either Heaven and Hell are not eternal, or they are one and the same place. I would even take this a step further and say that if we “GO” to Heaven, Hell or eternity, whatever name you want to use in the example, then there is no such thing. How can you go somewhere that is boundless? Where is the cut-off point that distinguishes between where we are now and the place of eternal life? How can infinity have a cut-off point?

The truth is, that Heaven and Hell are mind-made concepts that we create for ourselves here on earth. We already have eternal life, we are just experiencing an aspect of it here in the physical body, and when we eventually shed our bodies, we will go on to experience another aspect of it.

Heaven And Hell


A soldier went to a Zen master and asked, “tell me, is there really a Heaven and Hell?”  The master looked at him and exclaimed, “who are you?”  “I’m a Samurai warrior”, came the reply.  “A warrior!”  Mocked the master, “what kind of king would have you for a guard?”  Look at you, you look like a beggar!”  The warrior became very angry and made to draw his sword.  “So, you have a sword do you”?  The master continued to mock.  “That sword is probably so blunt it wouldn’t even be able to sever my head. ”  The warrior flew into a rage, drew his sword and raised it above his head.  “Behold!  The gates of Hell”, said the master.  The warrior, realising what was happening returned his sword to its scabbard and bowed his head in humble apology.  “Behold!  The gates of Heaven”, said the master.

This informs us that Heaven and Hell are not places that we go to; they are states of mind that we create for ourselves.  It also illustrates how Zen is about direct experience and not the expounding of philosophy.  The soldier came to the master with a very relevant question, but rather than become the orator, the master allowed him to experience directly how he could create his own Heaven or Hell.  When the soldier understood what was going on he dropped his ego, thus closing the “gates of Hell”, which were opening up before him; in doing so he unlocked the “gates of Heaven”.