The biggest blunder in personal philosophy and growth is to believe and invest in the afterlife, or in heaven and hell. This relegates life here on earth as a liminal space between birth and heaven or hell; depending on the magnitude of your sins. It also presumes that heaven or hell are polarised stations, where a choice for one destination can simply be afforded. This repudiates the complicated dualities and layered textures of humanity, and forgoes to squander the inextricable links between heaven and hell. That is, it collapses the complexity of living in this time and space, and celebrates a life of idealism over conscious and responsible living.
A life of ‘afterlife idealism’ celebrates, as its major thrust, the destination as opposed to the journey, whereas we know that the journey is precisely where the lessons lie. To assume that there are only two destinations for the human spirit is to undermine the multifaceted nature of humans. This has a tendency to manifest in viewing all humans with a monolithic lens: you are either going here or there, either good or bad. This leads to judgement. We condemn ourselves and kill the human spirit by prescribing predetermined paths, instead of celebrating the human spirit by perpetually and persistently pioneering our own journeys.
I will take as an example the absolutely uncreative popular destination that we celebrate in society today. One is celebrated when one is born, sits, crawls, walks, goes to school, finishes school, goes to university, graduates, works, buys a house, meets a partner, procreate, push for promotion, retires, and dies. If that one is forecasting a particular heavenly future in the afterlife, then that should keep one going strong. If one seeks heaven in one’s life, then one is being heretic. If one does not comply and commit to this predetermined journey to ‘heaven’, then one has evidently, according to society, picked hell.
This malignant pathology often results in unconscious living; a life that is always forecasting a particular future without focusing in the present, which is essentially all the time that is guaranteed to us to be responsible sentients conscious of the living relationships we have with other humans, the moon and the stars, the animals, the earth, water, wind, fire. This unconscious living is beside itself with megalomania, feeding the ego for the benefit of an imagined ‘just’ human destination. It is a spirit that has no regard for the inner self and its workings; no particular investment in being in the service of others; no empathy for the human condition: a spirit in perpetual slumber…
I am of the belief that heaven and hell are right here on earth, and that inasmuch as the spirit does not die when the physical body takes its last breath, we will certainly not possess this consciousness to trace its trajectory. Instead of investing time in figuring ourselves in relation to the afterlife, we can rather be fully awake to the responsibilities of this particular life we are currently afforded to journey in. One may live with the faith of a spirit that rests at peace, but one may be certain that while one is living here in the now, one may be able to get a taste of heaven (or hell, depending on their disposition).
All humans are born with a conscience, and that conscience is precisely the seat for heaven or hell. Your conscience can offer you peace or guilt. Guilt can be a force with the burning power of fire and brimstone. All religious texts, most of which I have been privileged enough to explore till now, preach the same thing: respect your mother and father; do not kill your neighbour; and strive to rise above all deadly sins. This is the thread that ties us together: an inherent humanity. It is perhaps the essence that makes us human, push us to act in a humane manner, and make us see the divine in others. No one is above their conscience.
If you kill another human, you will live in hell; if you do wrong unto your neighbour or parents you will live in hell. Your conscience will not let you find peace/heaven unless great measures are taken to absolve your sins. At any given time, when you do wrong against another human, you will feel it weigh heavily on your soul. When this happens, do not negotiate whether or not what you did was received in a negative manner by another; be steadfast to acknowledge that if it does not sit well with you, you are experiencing a gravitation towards hell.
To apologise to another human, no matter how (in)significant the crime, is to honour the divine being in you, firstly, but mostly, to explicate the clutter and the quagmire that threatens to contaminate your conscience and your soul. In the process, you honour the divine in another human. This process is sacred and divine, and has all the makings of heaven. To wake up with no heavy conscience; to live without regret; to depart daily from an uncluttered centre of who you are; to honour self as a temple; and to meditate day and night on the cleanliness of your temple: that is heaven. Allow your life to be testament that heaven is right here on earth. Light and darkness co-exist, but choose to be in the service of light.
The queendom of heaven is where light and divinity lies. Know thyself and you shall know heaven