Heaven has been depicted in various ways by different cultures and religions. Conservative Christian interpretations describe people playing harps, walking on golden streets, and endlessly praising the Lord. At the other end of the spectrum, heaven is viewed as a state of consciousness that can be enjoyed now and always. The term heaven describes the peace, joy, and love that accompanies a greater awareness of oneness with All That Is.
Hell, accordingly to fundamentalist Christians, is a never-ending place of fire and brimstone for those who believe or act differently than they do. Less literal views of hell see it as separation from the Ground of All Being and ignorance of ones true nature. Hell is the predictable result of excessive lower energy thoughts, words, and deeds.
In Let There Be Light, Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico, D.D., said that the ancients considered heaven – which also meant sky, cosmos and universe – to be the habitation of the Divine. In addition, he stated, “The term heaven was also used metaphorically in the Bibleto express the idea of peace, order and harmony. Figuratively, heaven also means a greater consciousness, i.e., one in which thoughts of lack and fear disappear. Thus one can readily see that the term heaven also depicts a state of being and not just aspecified location.”
Matthew 3:2 and 4:17 recount Jesus as saying: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In Middle Eastern formulations, the term at handwas commonly used to depict something very near or inside. In Luke 17:21, Jesus is described saying of heaven, “Nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” When pressed for details, Jesus likened the kingdom to leaven or a mustard seed—both small things with vast growth potential. None of these parables sounds as if he were describing a place in the sky . . . someday, maybe, for a selectfew.
For many of us, perspectives about what happens after bodily death came from orthodox religious teachings about heaven and hell. Taking scriptures literally can be problematic because of extensive alterations via interpretations, deletions, additions and translations. Political and church power struggles and collusions entered into the equation. History also clearly shows that various councils voted on whether to include certain books or topics in the Bible. In addition, scribes added or modified texts over the centuries in an attempt to make the teachings more relevant andtimely.
As a result of all this, irresolvable conflicts– such as a Higher Power of love sending or allowing any of Her creation to an eternal place of torment – are taught that freethinkers cannot accept and children can’tfathom.
An elderly female caller shared the following story during one of my radio shows. At age ten, she attended a very fundamentalist church with her family. Upon hearing about Creator’s supreme love in one sentence and an eternal hell in the next, she was understandably confused and upset. After the service, the preacher asked how she liked the sermon. She said, “I don’tbelieve in the hell part. God wouldn’t do that!” The minister retorted, “Well, young lady,if you don’t believe that, maybe youshouldn’t be in this church.” Her parents took her by the hand and told him, “Maybe weshouldn’t.”
Over the years, many older people have confided in me that they could never believe in a fiery place of torture for anyone. Such a concept blasphemes a loving Presence and scares many people away from seriously considering soul issues. These elders have learned to let go of past fears, trust their inner voice, and nurture personal relationships with the Light. Doing so frees them from archaic and erroneous teachings. Then the potential for experiencing peace and joy now and always becomes more apparent.
Regarding the Thomas Gospels, documented early Christian teachings that were not included in the , Joseph Campbell stated, “The disciples ask, ‘When will the kingdom come?’ And Jesus answers, ‘The kingdom will not come by expectation. The kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it.’ In other words, bring it about in your hearts. And that is precisely the sense of Nirvanic realization. This is it. All you have to do is see it. And the function of meditation leading to that is to dissociate you from your commitment to this body, which is afraid to die, so that you realize the eternal dimension is right here, now, everywhere.”
A firsthand experience of utopia living can exist right now. Loving, serving and enjoying one day at a time is a key. Releasing fear and realizing how loved and assisted you arethroughout eternity is another. Taking quiet time to remember these truths and living accordingly keeps you in touch with the kingdom, moment by moment.
I and eleven great minds about consciousness topics – Raymond Moody, Caroline Myss, Anita Moorjani, Gary Schwartz, and others – discuss contemporary understandings about heaven and hell and other big questions about life in The Eleven Questions.
During our radio interview, Aramaic scholar Dr.Douglas-Klotz said that heaven is, “Not a place but a way Creation can operate.” The Aramaic word shmaya, he said, best reflects the concept of “heaven when one recognizes the Oneness that is the universe.” He continued:
Heaven is not a place in the Aramaic / Jewish conception. Heaven is a way of looking at life. So when Jesus or any of the Jewish prophets used the word ‘heaven,’ they were talking about a vibrational reality. We can read this that Elohim—the One / Many—created the universe in two modes: a vibrating, wavelike reality in which we are all connected (shemayim) and also an individual or particle reality in which we all have individual names, faces and purposes in life.
It is not as though heaven is somewhere else or a reward we get later but, rather, heaven and earth coexist side by side in this way of looking at life. The whole notion of heaven as a reward or something that is above us or some place we go after we die would be entirely unknown to Jesus and his listeners. It is not Hebrew thinking and only arises in a later interpretation of European Christianity.(16)
You may have noticed the similar descriptions of reality in this view and that of quantum physics. That such diverse—in subject, culture and time— schools of thought agree so thoroughly lends additional credibility to these models ofreality.
When I asked him about the concepts that heaven and hell are levels of consciousness, degrees of closeness to or separation from All That Is and knowledge of our real selves, Douglas-Klotz replied: “This is close to the original Aramaic. The Christian concept of hell is not found in the Hebrew or Aramaic language. The word usually translated from the Hebrew as hell—‘sheol’—means a chaotic passageway through which the soul passes after the body goes back to its various elements. The notion of hell as some sort of eternal punishment would not have been known or even understood by Jesus and his listeners. It was not in their native language.”
The term “chaotic passageway” reminded me of the dark tunnel described by NDErs after a suicide attempt. I asked, “Are heaven and hell, at least in part, what we experience when we have our life reviews after physical death?” To that question, Klotz answered: “It seems to me that they are, simply based on the language. The word for death in Hebrew, mawet, does not mean the end or the finish of something. It means a passageway into some other reality. This passageway involves, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, a period of confusion and a period of sorting out.”
Whether you are conscious of it or not, you experience life reviews every day. Your predominate thoughts, words, and deeds determine whether your life feels more magnificent or horrible. And the quality of your life can be upgraded whenever you areready.
Reports from NDEs, authentic mediums, Life Between Livessessions, and enlightened teachings agree that heaven and hell are:
- your degree of realizationthat you are an integral part of Source right now and always
- how you feel now as a result of your life being in alignment with higher principles, or not
- what you will experience after physical death during your life reviewas you feel the positive or negative ripples you created
All three factors are under your control. You create your own heaven or hell moment by moment and cumulatively. The best example I’ve ever seen of this was a patient I’ll call Hank. He thought his life was so bad that he wanted to die, but the shotgun under his chin slipped at the last second. His face was blown off so he couldn’t talk orsee, but he could hear.
Most of the hospital staff were freaked out by his plight and couldn’t spend much time with him. I was in theology school and reading books by Kubler-Ross, Ram Dass and others. I felt comfortable talking to him and tried to shed some light into his world of darkness. I told him that we would do everything possible to help him and that his situation could result in blessings to himself and others.
He made a motion that he wanted to write and, as best a newly blinded person can, scribbled: “God help me. I’m in hell.”
Indeed he was. But it was one of his own making and could be improved when he set that intention. He had put himself into a Helen Keller-type predicament; how she handled it is one of the most inspiring stories on record. I sometimes wonder if he ever found those blessings.
Much evidence rejects outright any notion of a fiery eternal hell or eternal separation from the Light for anyone. Upon hearing this statement, many people ask, “Even rapists, molesters, murderers and those whose bodies die by suicide?” Common sense about a loving and caring Higher Power argues that all people can eventually choose to join the Light.
This even includes those who are so grievously imbalanced as to hurt or kill others, or take their own lives. Christianity is the only major religion that teaches an unending place of torment and that is limited to the most fundamentalist denominations.
Iremember lying in bed around age eight and crying because I was worried about the possibility of going hell. I was old enough to understand how horrible that place would be. I feared that I would be in hell and my parents in heaven; the thought of never seeing them again was horrifying. I repeatedly prayed to Source that I wouldn’t end up inhell.
How many other children and adults have likewise been scared to death about this ancient and erroneous concept? Given the collective evidence, you can safely release all fears about such a place.
The best rebuttal to the ridiculous idea of an eternal hell came during one of my radio interviews. An elderly woman called in and shared these wise and loving words: “I have six children and I love them all. I don’t always approve of their actions, but no matter what they do, I will always love them. I think that’s the way God is, too.” That started a more heartfelt discussion of more accurate understandings about what hell really is.
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Thank you for sharing this article with others who can use it. I hope that this article – and taking the action steps discussed – help you feel more happy, healthy, peaceful, clear, and energetic. You deserve to feel that way and the world needs your greatest gifts.
Life and love are forever. Shall we live accordingly?
Mark Pitstick, MA, DC is an author, master’s clinical psychologist, holistic chiropractic physician, frequent media guest, and workshop facilitator. He is director of The Soul Phone Foundation, co–founder of Greater Reality Living Groups,and board member of Helping Parents Heal. Dr. Pitstick can help you know and show– no matter what is going on around you – that your earthly experience is a totally safe, meaningful, and magnificent adventure amidst forever. Visit About Dr. Mark Pitstickfor his full bio.
Note: Because of his many outreaches, Dr. Pitstick can no longer answer complex and multiple questions from individuals. However, he has created many resources to answer your biggest questions and provide holistic solutions to your toughest challenges.
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Disclaimer:This information is not designed to replace medical or psychological care. My remarks are based on over forty-five years of study, training, personal experience, and professional service. Extensive clinical, scientific, and empirical evidence supports much, but not all, of what I say. My current best understandings may change over time. I do not claim to have all the answers or the only answers. My hope is that this information assists you to consider what makes the most sense to you.