Heaven and Hell

Heaven and hell are not spaces after death but spaces in the human heart. They are spaces constructed by our feelings and the responses we give to them. In the purest oppositional form, heaven is the feeling of love and hell is the inability to feel love. Heaven is connection and hell is loneliness. Both of them make us feel eternity: the first one an eternity of bliss and the second one an eternity of suffering. We have all felt these glimpses of eternity throughout our temporary lives. In between love and hatred, connection and loneliness there are all these gradations of feelings that make us be in heaven or in hell: joy, connection, peace, acceptance, hope, kindness, empathy, passion, they all create for us a garden of Eden from which it is easy to go out into the world. Anger, fear, guilt, shame, despair, sadness, loss, isolation, grief, they all lock us into a hellish prison that makes it so hard for us to go out into the world.

The world exists as it is, coloured by the heaven or hell that the minds and hearts of people bring to it. Religions tell us that if we perform the right actions we will go to heaven and if not we will go to hell after we die. And they are right up to one point. They speak about these spaces where we will live after death but we already live in them and most likely we will live in them after death if the course of our lives will not change them. Obviously we all want to be in heaven but how many of us are? We blame the world for it and it is true that the world helps us build either a space of heaven or one of hell. However, no matter how much we would like to change the world, we can only do it through our inner change. The only thing we can change is ourselves and from there the ripple will start into the world. When we are in hell we bring hell into the world, when we are in heaven, we bring heaven around us. So what can we do to be in that desired space? Now a cruel irony is that the more we fight to get out of hell, the more we fight our painful feelings, the stronger they get. When you are in hell words of love and peace are empty preaching: blah blah, blah, love everybody, have peace in your heart… Yes sir, I will! Go to hell!

The first step of moving out of hell is to understand where it comes from, what shape it has, what kind of power it has and why. The second step is loosening its power over you, understanding that it is simply one possible space in your heart created by your experience and your reaction to them, not the truth of who you are. Both steps can be achieved with meditation and increased awareness. The third step and the hardest is to witness it without fear and accept it. All heroes in our stories get something precious from their encounter with demons.

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