What’s the difference between heaven and hell? That’s another thing I was teaching my kids, because the common understanding is that hell is a place of eternal suffering in darkness, some kind of a maximum security prison for evil souls, and heaven is a place of eternal happiness and light.
What I told them is that heaven and hell started off as identical places, sort of like a monastery and a prison being almost identical in most ways – in both you have people who are removed from the rest of the world and have their individual cells. Also, there are no doors on hell, that prevent exit. So, what is it that keeps the demons and evil souls inside?
An illustration: take two identical rooms. In one you put 10 evil people, who enjoy humiliating others and causing suffering, who hate God, despise spirituality, and feel most at home in the most materialistic existence possible, where God seemingly cannot disturb them in their evil. In the second room you put 10 good people, who enjoy spreading truth and knowledge, who enjoy making others feel good and empowered, who spend their free time meditating and praying for God’s guidance in everything they do, who aspire to always be better, and who see everyone who is better than themselves as a positive challenge, as an example of something they can achieve if they work harder.
Now guess what is going to happen in each room. In the one with evil people, you will get hell, and in the one with good people, you will get heaven. The thing is, the inhabitants of each room will think they are in heaven, and hell is in the other room. To each group, the way of life of the other group is painful and intolerable. Since the doorway between the groups works in such a way that it only lets you through if you truly change your consciousness in such a way as to become a member of the other group, everyone could theoretically leave, but the inhabitants of heaven have no wish to leave, and the inhabitants of hell could leave, but they would have to repent, exhibit sincere remorse, ask God for forgiveness and adopt true goodness. And if you live in hell, it’s difficult to see heaven as a good place. The others tell you that heaven is inhabited by stupid boring sheep who blindly worship God, who is a tyrant that doesn’t allow anyone to have any fun. To them, heaven is a place of restrictions, fear, slavery and weakness, because they wish to be able to ridicule God, tell lies and laugh cruelly at the stupid victims who believe them and are ruined, they wish to be able to humiliate, beat up, torture and murder others. In heaven, you can’t do any of those things, because it’s so restrictive, and only those who are pathetic enough to be subservient to God can live there. So, basically, if you live in hell, you first need to face the hard truth: that you are in hell, that hell is not the other place, but the place where you are. You need to accept the fact that you are evil, that you are vicious slanderous scum, that all the evil that is happening to you is the result of your choices, and that everything you considered to be good is the result of your evil choices, and of the evil company that you kept because you, essentially, are a worthless piece of trash. You also need to accept the fact that your enemies are neither pathetic nor stupid nor evil, that they are and always were right, and that you slandered them because you were evil. You need to accept all those things only to be able to even conceive leaving hell. Hell doesn’t need doors. The fact that the inhabitants can see heaven and are so disgusted by what they see that they feel the need to crawl to the darkest corner of hell in response and re-affirm their choice for evil, is the true reason why hell isn’t empty. The dark souls see the light of heaven as a destructive force, a deadly evil that wants to destroy everything that they are, and they are in fact right – the light of God is destructive to all evil. In order to leave hell and enter the light of God, an evil being needs to basically die, by ceasing to be everything that it is. Accepting that you are evil and that all your former choices were wrong is hard, and the evil ones are weaklings, because all their choices were in fact those of weakness, because it is always easier to destroy than to create, it’s easier to lie than to tell the truth and accept the consequences, it’s easier to use sarcasm and cynicism to ridicule, than to use valid arguments and to explain your position clearly. Essentially, hell is not only full of evil ones, it is also full of weaklings and idiots, and all of them believe they are strong, good and smart. The problem is, when you are a weak evil fool who believes he’s a righteous intellectual powerhouse, you stay where you are because you think it’s the bright center of the Universe. Hell is where the others are. Your prison is that of your nature. There need not be steel bars on doors and windows if you think you inhabit the best of all possible places.
So, that’s how hell works. You can find ample evidence for this on Earth. Most people live in a hell of their own making, imprisoned within the boundary of their own choices and nature. After a while, they become not only unwilling, but unable to leave. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you understand the reason why people stay in heaven. In fact, if an evil being were to experience even a glimpse of heaven, he would run away screaming. Heaven is not some hedonistic paradise where fanatics get to fuck their virgins and where you get to listen to angels playing lyre on cloud nine. Heaven can be painful. You see, when you experience the light of God, the light is so strong that it makes almost every difference from its nature feel dark. Every imperfection within your soul looks like a dark stain, a source of shame and remorse, something you feel the need to deal with immediately, because it’s intolerable to see the difference between your spiritual structure and God’s light. That’s the reason why there is stratification in the spiritual world – in fact, the real, actual world. Not all beings can take it all, and certainly not at once. So, how to explain the motivating factor?
In the physical world, you have people you admire. When you admire someone, you feel the need to live up to certain standards, in order not to disappoint the one you admire and respect. You are not forced to live up to the standards, but you still do it, because failure to do so would be intolerable – you would feel ashamed and terrible if you made those people feel disappointed in you. However, if you made them feel proud of you, if they react to you with pleasure that you did so well, that is the greatest reward. You earn being in the company of great people by living up to the standards of being a great person yourself. That is the motivation and the ethics of heaven – you don’t want to disappoint God, who is the light in all that is true, brilliant, beautiful and great. You don’t want to disappoint your friends, who worship the same light. You want God’s light to shine brightly in you, and you want your friends to smile at you and feel great joy at your wonderful accomplishment and purity. That’s why you are ready and willing to suffer through all hardships, why you are willing to endure any kind of pain, why saints are willing to endure everything to the point of death and not betray God – because God is all that matters. For the same reason, they are able to resist temptation of lesser pleasures that wish to lead them astray; because God is all that matters. If a great dinner awaits you at home, you will easily resist the temptation of a McDonald’s drive-in on the way. If one is tempted by lesser things, one doesn’t really know God. If one is afraid to do evil because he’s afraid of God’s punishment, he’s a fucking idiot. God is not the one who punishes evil, evil is a choice that leaves you without God.
And that is the tragedy of this place – it’s a trap, that attempts to lure you into accepting the lesser things by blocking your access to God. It’s not an instrument of spiritual evolution, but its opposite – it’s something that wants to lure you into accepting the lesser choices and binding yourself to things other than God. It’s vicious, evil and dangerous almost beyond measure, because it projects mirages upon sand in order to lure you into the desert where you are to die and be consumed by the vultures who control the mirage projector. It offers pleasure and fulfillment from things that are inherently empty. It threatens with dire consequences if you don’t obey, and you don’t know whether its threats are empty. All you have that could offer you any kind of immunity to its lures is memory of God, and your memory was blocked upon entry, so you cannot rely on it. All that remains is your nature, the very structure of your being that guides your choices, and it needs to have great strength in order to offer even mild and moderate guidance. In heaven, it’s relatively easy to choose God, because He is obvious. You will choose against Him if you are outright evil. Here, it’s much harder, because it’s a place designed by God’s enemy, in order to prove some evil, twisted, perverse idea, to destroy as many good souls as possible and to produce as many evil demons as possible, by turning God’s ideas about evolution upside down. The irony is that some of the greatest spiritual teachers are those with the strongest intuitive memory of the actual spiritual world, and their teachings reflect that. On the other hand, the teachings that reflect the nature of this world most correctly, and give the best guidance for success here, are the most spiritually corruptive forms of godless satanism and evil. For instance, if you follow the instructions of Jesus in this world, you’re fucked, but you will fare great after death. On the other hand, if you practice some form of Machiavellian satanism, you’ll do much better here, but you’ll have to make spiritually corruptive choices and your long-term prospects are not good.
But if it comforts you, you can be an angel here. You can be a saint here. You can be a presence of God’s light here. You just have to endure the ridicule of demons, and your flesh is exposed to their weapons. They can do to you everything they wish they could do to God. The choice for goodness here will expose you to much suffering. The real question is, how much is God’s smile worth to you? How much is the pride of other angels in your success and purity worth to you? That’s the crux of the matter.