The other day I made a joke that one of Dante’s circles of hell should be where a person repeatedly experiences minor annoyances like an ant invasion that doesn’t respond to anything. The ants keep invading regardless of traps and deterrents. Maybe that circle would be for the “sin” of not returning a library book on time.
Shortly thereafter, completely unrelated, a facebook friend posted a quote from my spiritual guide who said, “There exists no such thing as heaven or hell. When a person does a virtuous act or enjoys the fruits thereof, the environment around him or her is then called heaven; and when he or she does an evil act and endures the consequences thereof, then the environment around that person becomes a hell for him or her.”
That quote struck me because I am experiencing a kind of hell. Not because I performed an evil act, but rather California is in a drought and the ants are thirsty so I really am experiencing an invasion that doesn’t respond to anything. I finally relented and sprayed some Raid so the ants are not nearly as numerous as they were, but for a time, those ants made my life hell. When I think about that quote from my spiritual teacher some more, hell becomes whenever I experience something unpleasant, whenever life doesn’t go my way. When I’m not having fun, when I’m not enjoying myself, life is hellish.
Conversely, when I experience something pleasant, when life goes along swimmingly and I’m having tons of fun, life is heaven. So really, what that means is heaven and hell are both of my own making. They are not a place to get to by dying – they are states of being.
I’m not sure I can convey why that excites me so much, but there’s something about knowing heaven and hell are not only results of my actions, but they are within my perception, and within my current life, that I find thrilling. As I’ve been writing about before regarding my spiritual path, it’s about the now. Experiencing bliss now. Experiencing enlightenment now, and also experiencing heaven now. It’s a place we get to now, and not by forcing the world to conform to our whims, but rather changing our perception. Simple, but not easy.
Another point my spiritual teacher makes about hell is, “If one does noble deeds or sings spiritual songs in hell, it is the bounden duty of the Lord of hell to be there, too, and thus it automatically ceases to be a hell.”
I think his point is if we constantly remember God, any place becomes heaven because God is with us there too. And the more that I contemplate my Creator, the more blissed out I feel, the more heaven I experience.
I dream of a world where we don’t wait to live in heaven. A world where we bring heaven to us in the here and now by remembering the source of infinite bliss. A world where we seek to transform even the most fiery hell into a sparkling heaven because we realize we live in both and it’s up to us to decide which one we’d rather experience.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
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