Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In Which Excessive Ruminations Produce Ponderings About Hell

Hell is the single most destructive concept to ever poison a mind.

The ultimate scare tactic, the concept of Hell demands inextricable beliefs that twist and warp our ideas about ourselves and our creator. We are traumatized to the point where many of us dare not question it, many refusing to even think about its ramifications.

If Hell exists, we cannot say that our creator is loving. If an all-powerful entity would even conceive of punishing or tormenting limited entities with limited perspectives for any reason, that entity lacks compassion and understanding. There is no justice in damnation.

From the idea of the existence of hell, we have spun a world where we face judgment from God, and in turn, from our society, our parents, and ourselves. We find ourselves scrabbling to make ourselves worthy, and so, find ourselves seeking validation from something outside of us. If we are approved of, we will not be cast out. From this mindset, we are powerless, subject to the whims of an untrustworthy creator who made us as we are, thrusting us into an unkind world, demanding that we feel, think or do only what is acceptable.

This is madness.

Yet we live this. We are conditioned to accept hierarchy, allowing someone else to have control of our daily activities, allowing ourselves to be subject to a system which demands we obey or be cast aside, having no intrinsic value as an entity. Why do we subjugate ourselves to this slavery? Some part of us subconsciously believes in a system of balances and entitlements. We are trying to buy our way into Heaven.

As a society, we feel that someone is more deserving of reward if they have suffered. We believe our pain earns us a place of value. There are plenty of people who make themselves out to be victims so they can feel deserving of peace, paying for their admission to Heaven/acceptance. What sort of God would demand such a thing? What could we give to an omnipotent being that it does not already have? What need would God have for our sacrifice?

So many of us are so deeply terrified of punishment that we dare not ask ourselves these fundamental questions! If God is omnipotent, omniscient, the ultimate and absolute, why would God demand anything from us? If God created us as we are, then God would have already had anything that would have been instilled into us. If God demands anything from us, it must be out of want or need, a lack that God wishes to be fulfilled. There is no reasoning to support this.

God cannot be loving if Hell exists. It is one or the other.

The scriptures of the Abrahamic religions do not depict God as a loving entity in any shape or form. Christianity offers the teachings of Christ, which are very much about forgiveness and love, yet the story has been recast into a tale of long-suffering and sacrifice to appease a bloodthirsty God. Jesus is offered as a means to salvation, a shield against the rage of the Divine.

This is deeper madness yet.

Perhaps it is the case that people are quite content to believe in a petty tyrant dictator as a creator. What does this make an individual being? An isolated flame that may be snuffed out at any moment, without value, a temporary flicker across the screen of the movie of the world? An entity which, if it suffers and kowtows and abides by arbitrary rules, can be exalted to the reaches of eternal peace and joy?

Or perhaps, Hell is a symptom of a yet more foundational belief, one which fuels the search for something greater than ourselves, one that stirs the undercurrent driving religions and philosophies and life itself.

We believe ourselves to be separate from each other, from our planet, our universe and whatever else we have yet to conceive of. We feel separate from our source, whatever that may be. And that is hell, for all of us. Strangely enough, in that, we are united. When we feel connected to someone or something else, it overrides whatever perceived surface definition and distinctions. Stripping away color and gender, religion and perspective, a moment of connection shows us what we are and what others are—the same. It may only be a step, but it is a step worth taking, a step worthy of any entity, be it infinite, eternal or mayfly ephemeral.

What this means for us is ever deeper than anything fear could inflict precisely because it erases fear. Through moments of clarity, we can see that fear does not show us reality but instead colors and twists it into something it is not. Hell is not reality. Separation cannot be reality either, even though it is what fear tells us about ourselves.  Without fear, we are joyous beings.

Our idea of Hell may be the only thing keeping us from Heaven.