by Julian Wash, Contributor
Today I would like to return to your awareness an aspect of the Human condition that can manifest thoughts and ideas into reality. We are able to sculpt our world much in the way an artist is free to sweep a brush across a canvas, extolling the essence of creation. But there are those who will guide our hand into painting by the number. And so we surrender our creativity to an invisible force that seems to follow an edict of conformity. Before you know it, the artist is painted into a corner.
Despite our powers of imagination and creativity, we choose to yield a good deal of our Divine authority to a lifeless entity called social order. It’s within the walls of this construct that we are bound. We are told who and what we are and given permission to proceed, so long as we keep our “brush” within the lines and boundaries. It’s a troublesome child indeed who chooses to color outside the box. They are labeled, among other things, a rebel or non-conformist.
But in all the constructs society has to offer, none are as potent, polarizing or volatile as the notion of a heaven and hell. These concepts are as old as the earliest transgressions, yet when challenged, all hell seems to breaks loose. When the commotion finally fades, none can articulate a meaningful argument. Not the devoutly religious, nor the adamant atheist.
In the following paragraphs I invite you to saddle up and come along with me to a rather hostile place, forged in the furnace of imagination. It’s been called many things, but hell if I know what it is. If we have time we might even knock on heaven’s door too. Not your average ride, but I think your horse is up for it. Mine is. After all these magnificent creatures have no reason to fear a place outside their awareness. So rider take heed and allow the horse to lead.
From Where I Stand
I try to imagine what life would have been like had I grown up on a desert island and was raised by a troop of gorillas. I like bananas, so this isn’t such a stretch. I would probably see myself as a mutation— also not a stretch. But as the years were to unfold, I wonder if I would have the same inner-awareness I have now? What spiritual or religious concepts would I have developed?
My actual experience is rather traditional by comparison, a Roman Catholic mother and protestant father. My mother had seriously considered becoming a nun before meeting my father. She fell in love and so her path took a notable turn. My father would not convert to Catholicism and so the priest would not allow the wedding. This was a jarring wakeup call to my formerly devoted mother. My parents ultimately wed at a county courthouse. Had she obeyed the Catholic Church, she would not have married my father and I would not be here today to tell you about it. Suffice to say— yes, I’m a bit critical of this construct called religion. I made it to this side so that I can at least offer my point of view. I’m immune to the persuasions of church. I am indeed that man on the desert island who has found his own truth— and the truth was there for the asking.
Just like a baby doesn’t like to be spoon-fed broccoli— I don’t like being spoon-fed religious doctrine. It’s going to get all over the place if someone tries. But like so many of the readers drawn to this website, I am a deeply spiritual person. I have a reverence for all life. I don’t step on spiders – I catch them. I’m attuned to the rhythm of nature and take solace in a garden. And so I find myself on the outside looking in. And there is relative peace, balance and tranquility in this world. Then I turn on the inside looking out. Such a strange and curious world I see out there.
Hell Is Real
Hell is real, thanks to those who’ve been conditioned into believing it. It is real— right down to the sulfurous gas, fiery temperatures and trident forks. Eternal damnation, torture and suffering— it’s all there. Wicked howls and banshee screams are common fare in this godless, ghoulish pit of smoking brimstone and ash. It is real. It is real because we say it is. It is real because millions believe it to be so. It is real because it’s been manifested by a collective consciousness, spanning countless generations. It is real because the masses have accepted fear and torment into their lives. It is real because they have willed it to be so. So it is as real for me as it is real for you. But who would wish for such a thing?
Essentially every religion at least alludes to this wicked underworld. Some center on it. Others worship it. How is this so? It’s a tool. Society instills these fearful thoughts so that we might be a trifle bit easier to manage. Fear is among our greatest weaknesses and is easily exploited. For those who have not spent any time on that proverbial desert island, they are likely to accept what they’ve been handed. So they take the good with the bad and jump into religion.
No one wants to feel lost and alone, so we usually adopt our parent’s faith and go from there. We recruit into a system that feeds our fear but builds our loyalty. We give back in the form of cooperation and contributions. After all, it’s important to be a good, God-fearing sort and pay your dues when asked. But why must we “fear” God? That’s not the relationship I know. And that couple of extra bucks in my pocket might anonymously buy someone lunch in a busy restaurant. Such random acts bring me much happiness. Sorry church— but that’s my joy to experience, and I know exactly where the money is going.
The language of religion is filled with wisdom and truth, and yet there is something hollow about it all. The Bible is a beautiful read. Yes, I’ve read it. But I sense the allusions and metaphors are frequently taken out of context to sway people a certain direction. This is the power of religion as I see it. And then there are competing ideologies. Here I find considerable duplicity among faiths. There is tolerance on the surface, but dark waters churn below.
Let’s take for example someone who’s been raised as a Muslim and the Muslim faith is all they know. How arrogant is it for one to assume that they should find and embrace Christianity? Is the Muslim destined for that horrible place where Lucifer stokes the fires? That is what many Christians believe. Do you suppose this might be a source of tension between these religious factions? You can smile, shake their hand and wave— but if you think they’re going to hell then what’s the point? Is it just ideology or is it something else?
Can we not see the fallacy of these religious constructs? How could a loving Christian think that another must endure torment for an eternity just because they believe differently? What if our Muslim brother or sister lived a life of kindness and compassion? Would they still go to hell? What if they went so far as to heroically intervene to save the life of a Christian? Nope— sorry! -Still going to hell. I don’t make the rules- I just blindly repeat and follow them because I no longer think for myself. Well, that’s the way I see people who follow this belief. And it’s not just Christians I’m picking on. It’s all faiths.
So we got a little sniff of hell- but how about the other place. You know- the good place? What do you do there? I‘ve always heard it’s the place to go— but to do what? Sit on a cloud and talk with relatives. That would be nice for a while. Then what? Well we can listen to the harp. Surely the harp would be out of this world. And it’s so beautiful and happy up there. Jesus is there. So let us sing and rejoice even as Mohammad and Buddha burn in hell.
I’d like to entertain another scenario. Consider a son who dearly loved his departed father. Let’s say his father was Jewish. The son had converted to Christianity. Son makes it to heaven only to find his father is not there. Heaven is now hell for this soul. Do we not see this hypocrisy? How silly is all of this anyway? Why do we even engage in this nonsense? Why? -Because we surrendered our authority to a social order called religion. We no longer have to think at a higher level. Thank God we’ve got churches to do our higher level thinking for us. Can I get an “amen!”
But this is how I see it. I could be wrong. I do sense, however, that whoever brought us here must love us very much or they would not have gone through all the bother and fuss. They’re going to come back for us too. They’re going to come back and take us home. Leaving this world will be seamless. We will look back and see how we were in a type of slumber. We will see how restricted we were, not only in motion but in thought.
When we pass into the greater world we will feel more alive and conscious than we could ever feel here. There will be no judgment or condemnation, save for which we direct upon ourselves. And that could be brutal— so one must learn to forgive others and themselves. This is heaven as I see. You will be the unfolding blossom— the light of the stars. You will be free to go wherever you want. Even back to Earth if you so desire. But the love you will feel and know will be so overwhelming that you will want to spend eternity just basking in the glow.
These are whispers I hear in the stillness of the moment. So take it for what it’s worth. But the theologian does not know better than I. This I am certain of. I care not how many Bible quotes one has memorized nor what they proclaim to be true. I ’m bored by it all. I’m bored by all dogmas and constructs of this kind. If the religious world were to practice what they preach with the same veracity and resolve by which they recruit, then we would have seen an end to war a long, long time ago. War persists. Nice going, religious people. Guess you don’t have it all figured out just yet. And don’t say you need more time. That excuse might have worked a thousand years ago- but now has run mighty thin.
I see you’re still straight in the saddle. That wasn’t so bad. But I can’t help but wonder if hell is real because so many people envision it to be so. If millions believe with conviction and fervor, they just might jinn something up that’s extra dark and nasty. If so, then the ardent worshiper might be unknowingly complicit in sentencing innocent souls to eternal damnation. That’s the sort of irony I would halfway expect. But somehow I know this is not the case.
Perhaps one is more apt to believe hell is real and here on Earth. Yep. It most certainly can be. But maybe so is heaven. It may really come down on how we choose to experience our life. Do we need to go to a church and compare Sunday outfits to feel a Divine connection? If that is what one desires then so be it. For me, I prefer the humble route. I visit my own temple. Well, actually it’s that place between the “temples.” Here I’m able to enjoy a connection that is beautiful and centering. No. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but my mind is free to wonder. And for those I meet, I don’t see religion before the face. All I see are beautiful Human Beings that call themselves different things. —And so we gallop onward.
That mustang you’re on seems a natural fit for you. Loosening the reins will set this stallion in motion. Feel the wind in your hair and notice how the light and shadows dance as the mercurial sun steeps into twilight. And somewhere along the edge of creation and the wind swept plains of eternity you might capture a fleeting glimpse of something truly miraculous. What a sight to behold through the gossamer lens of the mind’s eye.
-Until next time
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