I was disciplined and moulded in my childhood with the stories of heaven and eternal hell. I guess many of us have been indoctrinated by the same philosophy and stories. It was by some sheer chance, call it luck, and twist of what I shall also call fate, destiny, kismet etc that I managed to break those shackles and constrictions that entangled me within till my mid teens. Interesting readings from the British Council and the Public Libraries in Thiruvananthapuram were to a good extent instrumental in that. Then, if not more of the same proportion was the influence of life since those times.
The result, I have lived the past three and one half decades or so without the fear of eternal damnation and consignment to everlasting inferno of the hell in the afterlife. And also of no fantasy of the promised and probable land of milk honey, damsels and charming gods- heaven!
Life was so long lived without tethering to the good and bad that would provide a passport to either heaven or the nether world. Deeds that can invite damnation and transgressions may have been committed. But at the same while, deeds with the sole aim of a passport to heaven have not been done for its own sake. Because I have not found a reason that can be explained to believe or think that there are worlds beyond that fit the descriptions of heaven and hell. And that the essence and spirit of those worlds are all lived through here on this fragile “Blue Planet”.
I happened to read today an article from an old magazine. The article carried some observations and comments by the late Rajaneesh. He said “Whenever you surrendered to existence, whenever you live in trust and love, joy, celebration you are in heaven………. because at the same time the person who lives in heaven can fall into hell any moment. They are not afar, they are very close, separated by a tattered fence. And for centuries God and Devil have been arguing over who should repair it. The Devil is not ready, why should he worry over it? Nobody wants to enter hell.And if it is God’s worry that people in hell may enter heaven he should fix the fence. But God is a miser and the quarrel and argument goes on. One day God was very irritated that he said 'the fence has been destroyed and is under repair because of your nuisance and of the people living on your side. If you don’t repair it I’ m going to court'.
The Devil said, 'ha go to court but where will you find advocates. They are all on my side of the fence'. The Devil continued, 'hell is a state of mind, when you live in plenty yet you live in poverty, when life is such a blessing you live in sadness, when the flowers bloom you don’t see, you don’t bloom, when the stars shine you don’t shine. When the clouds are in the sky floating in freedom you don’t enjoy the freedom. When the Cuckoo calls from the distant wood you are deaf, when the peacock dances you don’t dance. This is hell and you are its creator' ”.
This reminds me of an incident and comment of the late Kerry Francis Packer the Australian media tycoon. Mr. Packer had had more than six heart attacks that he survived before eventually succumbing to renal complications. Once, after a very massive heart attack he was clinically dead for more than six minutes. He, luckily was revived, and while he was convalescing a media reporter asked him how it was up there in heaven. Mr. Packer retorted nonchalantly, “well the sad thing is that I did not see heaven but at the same time there was no hell either”.