I do not believe in “heaven versus hell.” I think that the after-life as a “reward” system is something completely human and whatever higher power there is (for this post I’ll just refer to this being as God and refer to God as She) exists on a much higher level than that. I don’t think that “heaven” is a place, as it is commonly interpreted. This question is going to take a lot of explaining that will take you through a lot of my beliefs on God, so bare with me.
I believe that we were all made in God’s love and that, by giving us Life, She promised us Her Unconditional Love. The Love She has for every person far exceeds anything we have ever—or can ever—experience. She would not “damn” someone for any reason, whatsoever.
Aristotle believed in a “Final Cause,” in which we would be united with what he referred to as the Unmoveable Mover. Here, we would experience pure and complete Happiness. Aristotle defined Happiness as something completely different than what society expresses. His concept of happiness is not subjective (so, pleasure is not happiness), but rather objective in that we are only truly happy when we experience eudemonia, or “soul-flourishing,” which occurs when one acts virtuously and engages in actions that bring one in the right relationship with others and the Unmoveable Mover. Eudemonia also brings us closer to the Unmoveable Mover, while its antonym sets us back. To determine whether or not an action is virtuous, Aristotle employed the “Doctrine of the Mean,” which invites us to stray from extremes. For example, one must neither lack confidence nor be overconfident, but rather one must find a centered place in between. (Fun fact, St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Aristotle, however he viewed the Unmoveable Mover as the Christian God.)
I also agree. I believe that we are all set in motion to eventually be reunited with God, and we are to use our time on Earth to find ways to bring us closer to Her. However, I think we do this by putting ourselves in the right relationship with ourselves and this is our only way to truly connect with God, because we are connecting with the one thing She gave us to have for our entire Lives and therefore we should value it the most, never taking it for granted. This includes Our Body, Our Mind and Our Soul. Going along with Aristotle’s teaching, I think that the only way to be in a right relationship with ourselves is to be in right relationship with other people and following something like the Doctrine of the Mean. The theory I use, however is much simpler than Aristotle’s Doctrine.
I use my own Theory of Love. I believe that, if we are acting through pure Love, we have found the Mean and this action will put us in a right relationship with ourselves and those around us. Similarly, I think that God is this theory. I believe that God is synonymous with Love. And, as a result, God cannot act in any way but Love. Therefore, God would never damn us or desire not to have a relationship with us. She wants to bring us back to Her at the end of our Lives, healing every wound Life gave us, and Forgiving every Earthly mistake we’ve made—Embracing us and filling us up entirely with Her Love. She knows we are more than these Earthly things because She is more and created us as more. But this world is hard and it has many undertones of hate that are easy to get swept up in. She knows this, She understands this and, as a result, I don’t think She punishes us for this. She knows we are more, however, and She Loves us so She wants us to be the best person we can possibly be.
This said, a lot of people view the lack of a belief in “hell” as a reason to do whatever you want. However, I completely disagree. It’s all about intentions. I don’t think someone should decide to do something because “this will prevent me from hell and send me to heaven!” That is so selfish, so solely about personal gain. God doesn’t operate on such a human level. We should do the “right” thing, because that’s who we are, that’s what we want to do—for no ulterior motives. This is what brings us closer to our True Selves and, as a result, closer to God.
I would like to clarify something in regards to my view on God. I don’t see God as a person. Or a force. Or a feeling. Or anything we have a word for. I think God is above language in that She cannot be described in Language. She is not something the human Mind can ever truly and fully comprehend. I think that every Religion grasps an incredibly small segment of who or what God is. All Religions hold up different images, teachers, social teachings… but despite all this differences, there is one unifying concept- Love. This is the only word that has come close to grasping God so far. I don’t assign myself to one group of organized Religion. Rather, I’ve grasped onto this one word and am slowly but surely building my personal beliefs around it. I incorporate the concepts and ideas of different philosophers and religious leaders, but I feel that the Soul God gave me should stay the center of my Spirituality. As I’ve been learning more and more about what this Spirituality is, I have come into such closer contact with my True Self— who I am and am meant to Be. It is a struggle, but I am trying to live my life in a way that every action matches up with these aforementioned beliefs that make up Who I Am. Bringing Actions together with Beliefs is unifying My Mind, Soul and Body so that every part of myself, everything I do, is one-hundred percent me. I make mistakes, but I think I am well on my way.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13: 34-35. Jesus says this is the greatest commandment. So I don’t understand how people who claim to be “Christian” can be hateful toward others, homophobic, or anything along those lines—that’s just hypocritical. To be Christian as Jesus intended, one must love all people, regardless of circumstance or differences or anything. Love because you share humanity.
open your eyes and observe everything. open your ears and listen to everyone. at night, listen to the silence. open your heart and leave it open. open your mind and think. then open your mouth and say what you will. - EJM.