HELL AND HEAVEN In ego (man) experiences heaven or hell. (sggs 466). Wherever the godly Beings reside, such a place reverberates with the ambience of heaven. (sggs 1142). <><><><> From the very childhood we are bombarded with the notion that somewhere "up there" exist futuristic and otherworldly hell and heaven; and that if we are good we go to heaven, otherwise we end up in hell. Where are these futuristic and otherworldly hell and heaven located? Are they located on some lofty island (Taapoo or Anda) or on some mystical planets somewhere "up there"? Are they located below the earth or above the earth? Is God vengeful that He wants to send some of His children to hell, and rewards others by sending them to heaven? Can heaven and hell encompass God, or anything else for that matter? ਨਾ ਜਾਨਾ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਕਹਾ ਹੀ ॥ ਜਾਨੁ ਜਾਨੁ ਸਭਿ ਕਹਹਿ ਤਹਾ ਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: I do not know where the heaven is. (Without knowing where heaven is) everyone claims that he plans to go there ||1|| Pause || (sggs 325)! ਗਲੀ ਭਿਸਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਈਐ ਛੁਟੈ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Gallee bhisti na jaaeeai shutai sach kamaai: (Discerning with a Muslim person, Baabaa Nanak asserted) By mere talk, (you) cannot get to heaven; salvation comes only from the Practice of Truth (sggs 141). In Indian Spiritual thought, we will always find an exoteric and an esoteric meaning of the scriptures. Almost all scriptures of the world talk about hell and heaven. The question is: what do they really mean by these terms? Do we understand their esoteric meaning and mystic suggestions, or are we merely satisfied with their exoteric, literal or superficial meaning? One thing seems to be pretty sure: the meaning of hell and heaven people often hear from their respective priests (Bhais, Pundits, Maulvis, Paadrees, Rabbis, and so on) is not what the scriptures really mean by these names! ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਚਲਨ ਕਹਤ ਹੈ ਊਹਾਂ ॥ ਨਾ ਜਾਨਉ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਾਂ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਆਪ ਆਪ ਕਾ ਮਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਬਾਤਨ ਹੀ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਬਖਾਨਾਂ ॥੧॥: Everyone speaks of going there, but does not even know where heaven is ||1|| Pause ||. One who does not even know the mystery of his own Self, speaks of heaven, but it is only talk ||1|| (sggs 1161). Conditioned mind (Haume) is Maya, and Maya is mind. Because of our exoteric or outgoing mind, we can only relate to the exoteric or superficial suggestions of the scriptural statements. All genuine scriptures are true. The problem is with us, the untrue ones who either do not understand their inner meaning, or do not care to understand them! Whatever the case may be, it is our mental delusion which makes us imagine a hell or a heaven to which people may go after death. It is God who encompasses everything including the so called hell and heaven, not other way around. And the same One God who encompasses everything resides within our bosom as well. Also, we are told by the scriptures that God has created man in His True Image (Joti-Svaroopa). Therefore, any hell and heaven that reside in God must also reside "here within" ourselves! Thus, imagining or believing the notion that hell or heaven are mere futuristic and otherworldly existence is a creation of man's inconsistent understanding of these terms. Whatever is "there yonder" is also "here within"! Therefore, whatever is "up there" must be demonstrated here on this earth; otherwise it has no meaning! ਹੈ ਹਜੂਰਿ ਕਤ ਦੂਰਿ ਬਤਾਵਹੁ ॥ਦੁੰਦਰ ਬਾਧਹੁ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਪਾਵਹੁ ॥: God is present, right here at hand; why do you say He is far away? Tie up your disturbing passions, and find the Beauteous God within (sggs 1160). In exoteric thinking, hell is often viewed as place of extreme suffering, blazing fire, poisonous gas, boiling water, and so on, where people are sent by God to receive their punishment. On the contrary, heaven is generally viewed as a place full of pleasures and happiness! God is not vengeful. Therefore, he will not throw any one of us into blazing fire or boiling water, nor He will hand us over to someone with frightening face, long teeth, popping red eyes, and ugly head with horn. At the same time, He will not escort any one of us to enjoy damsels at some heavenly planets either! Man has made his life so complicated that he wants more complexity, because he is not contented with simplicity. As a result, so many religions have come into existence with their own complex adherents and antagonists! Although most of these religions often start good but later turn bad, and fork up in many sects when they fall in the hands of those who want name and gain. Unfortunately, in some sects of these religions, though not all, God is portrayed as vengeful. Accordingly, the distinction between hell and heaven (Doojaa Bhaav or duality) is so predominant that it causes fears and mental conflicts; resulting in unmeaning rites, rituals, ceremonies, paths, and beliefs; creating fake fear of hell and death, and expectation of some far-off heavens, and so on. This sort of psychological set-up based on scare tactics that God is some vengeful entity is unconducive to Spiritual practice. Why? Because it arbitrates against the very idea of oneness of man and God which the seeker of Truth seeks! Because of such subconscious barriers placed by a dualistic philosophy, a person who have been so indoctrinated may try to meditate, but he necessarily does not succeed in deepest Spiritual attainments. ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਮਨ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਕੀ ਆਸ ॥ ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਚਰਨ ਨਿਵਾਸ ॥੨॥ ਖਾਈ ਕੋਟੁ ਨ ਪਰਲ ਪਗਾਰਾ ॥ ਨਾ ਜਾਨਉ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥੩॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਮੀਰ ਅਬ ਕਹੀਐ ਕਾਹਿ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੈ ਆਹਿ ॥੪॥੮॥੧੬॥: As long as the mortal hopes for heaven, he will not dwell at God's Feet.||2|| Heaven is not a fort with moats and ramparts, and walls plastered with mud; I do not know what heaven’s gate is like.||3|| Says Kabeer, now what more can I say? The company of the true and the wise ones heaven itself ||4||8||16|| (sggs 1161). To assume God entertaining dualistic principle of hell and heaven is to imply that He Himself is subject to duality (Doojaa-Bhaav). But, as indicated in the Gurbani, there is no duality in God, for he is Absolute Truth. How there can be snow on sun? It is our depraved mind that entertains plurality where there is none, for all notions or concepts exist in the dualistic principle of Maya. Beyond our conceptual mind there is no duality. ਕਿਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਦੂਐ ਤੀਐ ॥: Kiou sukh paavai dooai teeai: How can one find Peace (ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ), through duality and the three qualities (of Maya)? (sggs 1023). The reason scriptures have mentioned hell, heaven, Yama, etc., is to keep the man in the scale of morality, and thereby produce a reformed character. That's all. However, our notions and ideas about various such terms of religious dogmas and beliefs are hypothetic, imaginary, inconsistent, different, strange, speculative, hearsay, and some time even laughable; thus far from the Reality. To put it in simple language, heaven is higher Spiritual state of consciousness, and hell is a lower state of consciousness. To put it in simple terms, the enlightened mind is its own heaven whereas the unenlightened mind its own hell. Therefore, hell and heaven are "here" and "now". They are not at some "other time" or "other place". Neither they are after death phenomena; for they are not post-mortem states! In other words, there is no futuristic and otherworldly hell or heaven "up there" which is not in the man "here and now". If we can understand the hidden symbolism in these terms, only then we can appreciate their inner meanings. However, unfortunately, majority of us get stuck to symbols only! It's like remembering "gifts", but not the "giver"! ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਖੋਜੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਭ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ॥: One who becomes Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) searches within his body; all others just wander around in confusion (sggs 754). ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਟੋਲੈ ਸੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਹੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥: Sabh kishu ghar mahi baahari naahee. Baahari tolai so bharami bhulaahee. Gur Parasaadee jinee antari paaiaa so antari baahari suhelaa jeeou ||1||: Everything is within the Home (of the self, Heart, Antahakaran, ਅੰਤਹ ਕਰਨ ਰੂਪੀ ਘਰ ਅੰਦਰ, ਹਿਰਦੇ ਘਰ ਵਿਚ...); there is nothing outside of It. Who searches outside is deluded by doubts. By "Gur Parasaadee" (i.e., by the Gur-Grace: Grace of the Gur-Giaan...), who has Realized (Truth...) within is Happy inwardly and outwardly (i.e., totally Happy, Easy, Comfortable, Peaceful, Blissful, Joyful, ਸੌਖਾ, ਸੁਖੀ, ਆਤਮਕ ਸੁਖ...) ||1|| (sggs 102). First, let's look at "hell". Man's false ego or depraved mind gives him doubt (Bharam), fear and worry and keeps him unaware of that Truth beyond it. The role of egoistic mind in the play, therefore, is to keep the person in the dark (ignorance or Avidiya) and in the past (Vaasnaas, tendencies, or dispositions rooted in the sub-consciousness). As revealed in the scriptures, man's this egoity is responsible for his repeated birth and death. Owing to our lower or animal consciousness, the suffering resulting from this vicious cycle of repeated pain and delusion has been termed as "hell". ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਰਕਿ ਸੁਰਗਿ ਅਵਤਾਰੁ ॥: Hau vich narak surag avataar: In ego (man) experineces heaven or hell (sggs 466). ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ ਨਰਕ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਭੋਗਾਈਐ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਕੀਚੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ : The faithless cynic suffers the ignominy of having to undergo the "hell" of 8.4 million reincarnations — the viscious cycle of death and rebirth. As he acts, so does he suffer (sggs 1028). This ego is hell, and hell is a dragon not diminished by oceans of water. It drinks down the seven seas, yet the heat of that manburner does not become less. It makes a morsel out of a world and gulps it down. Its belly keeps shouting: Is there any more? (Sufi Rumi). Thus, our unripe ego (Haume) begets hell for us, not God. Since we are the product of our own false ego, the hell or heaven is nothing but a state of our conditioned mind. To put it in other way, on the astral plane, we relive many experiences by reactivating our Vaasnaas, creating for ourselves hells or heavens. This process continues as long as we keep accumulating Kaarmic actions in our polarized awareness. After we evolve to the point that our life has become one of selfless service, intuitive understanding, unadulterated contemplation and love. Then we revert back to our True Nature, where there is no duality — hells or heavens, pain or pleasure, likes or dislikes, etc. What is it that leads us to enter hellish life? It is our lower or animal nature (Dushat Sabhaava). The scriptures tell us that our false ego-sense begets lust. If this lust becomes fulfilled, it breeds greed. On the other hand, if this lust remains unfulfilled, it manifests into anger. These perverted off springs of ego-sense are said to be the doorways through which man enters hellish life or Spiritual oblivion, "hear" and "now". Simply put: hellish life is nothing but degradation of our Soul-qualities. Quran calls it the state of "animal Soul". The Spiritual Being (Gurmukh) turn away from these portals of darkness both within and without. ਹੇ ਕਾਮੰ ਨਰਕ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮੰ ਬਹੁ ਜੋਨੀ ਭ੍ਰਮਾਵਣਹ ॥ ਚਿਤ ਹਰਣੰ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਲੋਕ ਗੰਮ੍ਹੰ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੀਲ ਬਿਦਾਰਣਹ ॥ ਅਲਪ ਸੁਖ ਅਵਿਤ ਚੰਚਲ ਊਚ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਵਣਹ ॥ ਤਵ ਭੈ ਬਿਮੁੰਚਿਤ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਗਮ ਓਟ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਰਾਇਣਹ ॥: O lust, you lead the mortals to hellish existence; you make them wander in reincarnation through countless species. You cheat the consciousness, and pervade the three worlds. You destroy meditation, penance and virtue. But you give only shallow pleasure, while you make the mortals weak and unsteady; you pervade the high and the low. Your fear is dispelled in the Saadh Sangat, O Nanak, through the Protection and Support of the Lord (sggs 1358). Lust, anger, and greed — these constitute the threefold gate leading to hellish existence. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul (Geetaa 16.21). God then answers, 'As I have said, your animal soul is an enemy to you and to me: take not my enemy and your enemy for your friends.' (Quraan 60:1). Tibetan Budhism has divided Sansaara (this material world, the place of repeated birth and death) in six realms; each dominated by a particular mental poison or filth. One of these realms dominated by the mental poison of anger is termed "hell' by them. The deeply deluded egocentric individual, addicted to his false thinking, conceptions and selfishness, does not hesitate to act in evil ways. Also, he does not refrain from dealing in lust for power, possession, and sensual gratification. Thus perplexed by material nature and bound by illusions, he strongly becomes attached to sense enjoyment, creating hellish life for himself, and for others to suffer and struggle in it. Therefore, the term such as "being consigned to hell" simply means reworking one's Kaarmic actions, "here" and "now". ਮਾਇਆ ਮਗਨੁ ਨਰਕਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਈ ॥: The intoxication of Maya leads man to hellish existence (sggs 196). Harboring bewildering thoughts, caught in the net of delusion, craving only sensual delights, they sink into a faul hell (Geetaa 16.16). Your sense and thoughts are all fire, but the senses and thoughts of the shayhk are sweet light. When the water of his light drips upon your fire, it sizzles and jumps up. As it sizzles and splatters, call it "death" and "pain" -- until this hell of your ego becomes cold. (Sufi Rumi) As hell is nothing but our Inner pollution or impurities, in the same way, heaven is none other then liberation (Mukti) from this Inner pollution. The duration and intensity of one's heavenly experience (or higher state of consciousness) depends upon the degree of his Inner Purity. Heaven is a mental state of "no pain" or "no anxiety". Like hell, this state is also not positive or permanent; because once the experience is over, the experiencer falls down to earthly or material consciousness (Mayaic Mandal).