Have you noticed that many of your colleagues, family and friends are moving through life with a weary acceptance? I have been guilty of this myself.
There are questions implied by this observation. The most immediate one is why are we so accepting that life must be dealt with in this way?
I have heard many people in their exasperation say “Oh I wish I was dead”. Or, the current much abused word, ‘suck’, is used in this manner; “My life sucks”. We all have a sense of what that expression means, but it is remarkably unglamorous as far as expressions go.
I recently saw “My Life Sucks” as a blog title! No, not much glamour in that title, not to mention creativity or positive attitude.
If I were to suggest to you that this idea of ‘just making it’ through life is promulgated in part by mainstream religion, I would likely draw a collective gasp from many readers.
Please bear in mind that I said ‘in part’. That is very similar to saying, ‘not in whole’.
Maybe the association is made through the unique prism of my life experience.
The religions that I am familiar with take the position that we live our time here on earth and then ascend to heaven. That’s the grander of the two notions of where we may end up.
Some religions, as in my strict Baptist rearing, teach that there are very grave consequences for choosing poorly here on earth.
I heard both versions of this destiny system while occupying hard wooden Baptist pews in my childhood and adolescence.
Be good and you go to heaven and you are happy for eternity.
Bad? Go to hell and burn for eternity.
The mainstream version goes something like this. If you can choose wisely here on earth, suffering through all the tests that are required, you get to go to heaven. I am told that in heaven there are no more tests to be taken. Streets of Gold. Rainbows at every corner. Mighty rivers of never ending happiness.
Choose poorly here on earth and…..I think you know the rest of the story.
When I was a child the thought of eternity created a mental fainting on my part. In fact it scared me. It still scares me a little.
If we are bound for an eternity of unabated happiness and goodness, or if God chooses for us, one of unspeakable horror, the idea of eternity becomes quite a concept with which to wrestle.
Have you really thought about the idea of eternity? Forever is not really imaginable to me. This concept twists me into mental knots.
So what is my challenge with mainstream religion?
These belief systems teach that we go to heaven. Heaven is our destination, the place we wish to go. This by default means that heaven cannot exist on earth.
Let me put a twist on this for you. What if we believed that the reverse is true?
What if we believed that heaven comes to us?
Accepting the notion that heaven comes to those that seek it allows the construct that heaven can exist now; right here on earth.
This is not a unique idea on my part. The prolific Christian teacher Ernest Holmes, the ancient Toltec beliefs of
This idea gives me something useful to do with the concept of eternity. It is the forever search for perfection; as useful a function of time as I can think of. Forever I can work on a continually evolving state of perfection and peace of mind. Eternity makes intellectual sense to me in this framework.
The same applies for hell. Why wait. We can have hell on earth if we want it. Many of us manage this nicely. We slog through a life of hell hoping for it to be finally over so we can go to heaven.
We involve ourselves in the constant search for diversions; anything to fill the steadily diminishing period between this existence and our cherished eternity.
What if you accepted that heaven and hell are all around you right now? What if you imagined that you get to choose between the two, right now and tomorrow once again?
What if the heaven you are waiting for after earth is just the same as it is right here and you have wasted your time waiting rather than seeking?
You may be thinking; what if you are wrong?
It's OK to be wrong here. I find no down side in being wrong, my objective has remained the seeking of heaven all along.
Is watching the Cardinals and Astros on TV with someone I love, eating ice cream and having my feet on the ottoman a piece of heaven?
I think it is. I did that tonight.
Heaven comes to me when I expect it and seek it. I’m not waiting.
Hell will be dismissed with the same confidence.
Working at getting it…….maybe