Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Religious Balance

Questions about religion enter my mind almost on a daily basis. Growing up Catholic there are certain things I was brought up to believe in: An almighty God, a miraculous virgin birth, an arc to save the world, a single man and woman who produced human life, a heaven and a hell. As I’ve grown up, I’ve struggled with my faith as I developed a more in depth understanding of mythology and its origins, as well as science and research. As a result, I’ve sort of left behind my Catholic roots, and embarked on a different path of spirituality.

Coinciding with my upbringing and struggle with religion, I’ve always been a firm believer in the balance of the universe…in the Yin and Yang of the world if you will. For every bad there is good, for every negatively charged situation is a positive one waiting right around the corner, and for every dying life form is a new life developing somewhere else.

Utilizing these two concepts I found myself thinking today, on my drive to work, about the existence of what religion and mythology will deem as a heaven and a hell…the ultimate universal balance. The optimist in me wants to believe that only a heaven exists and there is no such thing as a devil or a hell. The agnostic in me wants to believe that neither heaven nor hell exist in the manner in which I was taught to believe, and it is more so a metaphor for our spirits…of how they will continue to be remembered through generations to come. And then there’s the Catholic in me that wants to believe that there is in fact both a heaven and a hell, and it is up to us to live our lives fully so that on judgment day we are accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven and not deemed to an eternity of flames and torture.

In thinking about the balance of the world, it seems only necessary that if a good place exists, a bad must exist as well. But I have a hard time believing that there is truly an inherently evil place, and that some humans are destined to spend eternity there.

Thus, without starting a religious debate, I was just curious how the rest of the world feels about this Heaven and Hell concept. If you believe in a Heaven, do you believe in a hell? If not, why not?


Miss Cow is a Cow said...

Here via MIchele's again.

Erin said...

Yeah? Good answer, Miss Cow.

I don't know if I believe in Hell, but I think I do. Mostly because I do believe in Heaven, and I can't imagine really horrible, evil people going there. But they have to go somewhere, right?

Christi said...

Yes they do. So to the devil it must be right =)


Anonymous said...

With all the war, violence, poverty, disease, perverts, murder, etc. on this Earth in present day, I can't imagine there'd ever be a more horrible place to "live" than where we are now. At the same time, this Earth is full of beautiful places and amazing things, that it's too hard to imagine it'd ever be considered anything equal to a hell.

Perhaps "heaven" and "hell" are just places that are unique to our eternal happiness with common similarites; or for the evil, a place where they can reap the consequences for their actions forever.

Tia said...

Hmmmm.... What seems to resonate with me is the concept that Heaven and Hell are in fact within us. Our path, our actions, our thoughts, our beliefs can either make our lives seem like we're in hell (jealousy, hatered, violence, anger, chaos, addictions, etc.) or we can, by doing our part, help contribute to the healing and enlightenment of the world as a whole. If we can extend compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness FIRST onto ourselves and therefore also onto others, we just might be able to get a glimpse of what heaven can be like.

Also, allowing others to struggle without a desperate codependent need to "fix things" and just accepting that this may be their path in this lfe time (and perhaps their gift to us is to help us learn compassion, forgiveness and the like) seems to be a part of the balance of things you talk about. To me, the Buddhist concept of meditating in order to quiet the "monkey mind" is to gradually let go of our illusions and to learn to accept things as they truly are - without needing to interpret or explain it away.

I believe in karma and in us choosing our life circumstances for very specific reasons. To me, it is all intended to move us farther away from hell and toward heaven - but not without the necessary lessons along the way.

Thanks for asking such a complex and serious question. Always nice to be back here.

Heather said...

This has always been my stand point. We were raised to believe that God is all forgiving and would never turn away from you no matter what. Right? Well, if that is true then God could never really "damn you to hell" because that would not be the act of an all forgiving God that wants you in his kingdom forever. Even with free choice, God created you and the way you are for a reason ... but then I don't know where all those horrible people go. It is a question you cannot think to much about for you will never know the answer until it's too late to share it with anybody. I just believe that my loved ones (aka.. my mom) is watching over me and protecting me in a way she couldn't on Earth. You believe what you need to.