An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
"Heaven, Hell and Purgatory"
Heaven and Hell, Purgatory and Paradise,
places up there, down there, or in between. Reincarnation, Karma, Free
Will, and Predestination. Oh what tangled webs we mortals weave when
first we practice to deceive.
Some theologians say that before we can
enter heaven we spend time in an intermediary place where we have a
chance to cleanse away the last of our sins before being admitted to
heavenly paradise. There is some disagreement as to whether purgatory
will be individualized to best meet the needs of the person or whether
it will be a more communal burning in painful fires. Since no one has
actually been there and come back (that we know of) we can’t say for
sure whether there is or there isn’t, or even what it will be like when
we get there, if we get there, everything the Bible says and the
Theologians say is pure speculation.
I have two questions
for those Theologians. How will we know if we are in Purgatory? AND how
do we know this life we are now living, this earth we now inhabit isn’t
When I go to sleep at night, I don’t KNOW
when I fall asleep, or that I am asleep, until I wake up. I am amazed at
my dreams, such a magnificent imagination, such wonderful creativity. I
am also fully aware that what I see isn’t necessarily what is out there,
my brain along with the collaboration of my senses plays tricks on me. I
am also fully aware of my fears and worries and how they are the driving
forces behind many of my actions, voluntary and involuntary.
I have loved the arguments by the Great
Philosophers about whether this world is real or just an illusion and us
with it. I think Descartes got it backwards it isn’t “I think therefore
I am”, it is “I am therefore I think.” Unlike Descartes I know that I
exist and that this world I inhabit exists because of what I call the
“Ouch factor”. The “ouch factor” is that if something can cause me to
say ouch, voluntary or involuntary, it and I exist. But where am I?
I love the arguments about FREE WILL, and
Karma, and Predestination, and when you add those to the arguments above
it makes me wonder.
What IF this world we now find ourselves in
IS Purgatory? It looks a lot like the “real” world, the world we came
from, fact I can’t tell the difference, although there does seem to be
an awful lot of hate, and war, and ill will, and hunger, and disease,
and people acting and talking as though they have lost all hope. Turn on
the TV talk shows, read the abundance of self-help books, read your
daily newspaper, watch the nightly news and primetime shows. The world
and the people here are in trouble.
So if this IS Purgatory how do we get
ourselves out of it? Do we honestly think that just sitting around
praising God, telling him he/she is the greatest, begging for
forgiveness, telling him we are sorry over and over and over again will
cut it? Why on earth, would God believe us? If you believe that God is
ALL KNOWING, don’t you think he can SEE through our lies? Just how dumb
do you think that God, if there is a God, is?
Don’t you think that THIS time, God will
demand some proof of our repentance, some proof that we have REALLY
changed our sinful ways, some proof that we really MEAN it this time?
What form might that proof take? I KNOW, because I
have figured it out by reading the Bible AND the Upanishads, the Tao teh
Ching, the Buddhist Sutras, Black Elk Speaks, Walden, Siddhartha, the
writings of many of our greatest Thinkers, the great books of our time
AND because I have studied Science, and History, Psychology and
Religion, AND because I THINK, I observe and I ask questions.
What have I come up with, “It isn’t what
religion you follow or whether you follow any, ALL that matters are your
every day actions, how you treat your fellow man, ALL of them especially
those that are different from you. If you REALLY want to get out of this
Purgatory we call planet earth and find your way to God or Nirvana or
follow the Tao or ….whatever it is you seek, start by treating all
others as you would want them to treat you and you will find that what
you are looking for (the key to release from Purgatory) has been within
you all along, your attitudes and the actions they spawn.
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-02
Latest update and review: 2009-JAN-02
Author: Susan Humphreys