Heaven and Hell

I've been told I'm going to burn in hell by a number of people, one a vegetarian who claims I'm 'murdering' life to feed my greed, others are of a certain religious belief that I don't align with, and there have been more. The question is, does hell even exist? For that matter, does heaven exist? To answer these questions we must start with what exactly heaven and hell are.

Many cultures believe that their life on earth will be rewarded, as long as they are good people or follow certain rules or religious beliefs. Some call the destination heaven or Valhalla or other titles. Some believe it has pearly gates and streets of gold, while others believe it is a group of heavens, where Jesus lives in 4th heaven and Allah lives in 7th heaven. Some religions even believe there is limited space there, while most say all can find room. The same teachings follow the beliefs about hell, that some will go there, while others believe in a 'partial hell' called purgatory. Others feel hell is on earth. Many feel this hell is simply death, while some feel it is in the ground beneath our feet. While heaven is ruled by God or Allah or Krishna, Hell is ruled by Lucifer or simply a burning torture chamber where he is being punished. Most religions say we will spend an eternity either in heaven or in hell, either experiencing eternal joy or eternal torture. It all depends on what we choose in our lives.

There have been cultures where a human sacrifice must be made in order to save people from hell, or from death. Some sacrificed virgins to appease the gods from sending severe weather or natural disasters that would wipe them out. The Christian faith believes God himself sent a virgin son to be sacrificed so those who believe it and repent of their sins are spared from an eternity in hell. The underlying belief is that we humans need to be saved by a sacrifice, because even if we live good lives, we are not good enough to be taken into heaven and must repent.

A growing number of people see all of this as superstition, as church attendance drops more and more. Gone are the days when the average person trembles in fear at the words of the local priest or minister, and as a result does more, gives more or tries harder to please God, to the benefit of the people running the church.

There is a growing school of thought that says we are all of a divine nature, eternal spirits in temporary bodies, spending our lifetime here on earth, so that we can make choices and then see what those choices resulted in. It's not so much about the consequences of choosing right or wrong, but about seeing how our feeding of the wrong things within us leads to less joy and love than when we feed the right things. But in the end, it is not about being judged or feeling guilty, or being punished or rewarded, but only of knowing that our choices may have been better. Many believe that we are then given an opporunity to return to live a human life again. And because eternal perfection can become a little predictable, we create specific desires for ourselves before we get here. That's why many people feel called to do something specific or to have a certain fear or weakness to overcome. We generally refer to it as destiny, when we feel a strong calling to something, but it isn't a pre-determined life set out for us to obediently and blindly follow with no free will, but our own choosing of the type of life we want to live.

For example, let's suppose someone wishes to spend their human life learning the depths of true love, or overcoming a fear, or a health challenge. They always sense that it is somehow their purpose, but it is because they actually chose it before their human birth. They still have a free will, but seem pulled in certain directions due to the choices made in advance. When their life ends, they go back to spirit, able to experience another human adventure again. All of these advancing spirits are what many call 'The Universe' and is actually the cumulation of all spiritual life. The divinity in you and I might provide the answer to someone else's prayer. At the end, we return filled with joy and love and being welcomed back to where we came from. It is not heaven or hell the way we have been taught them, but an awareness and conciousness that makes us each gods. Even Jesus asked the question, 'Know ye not that ye are gods?'