Tag Archives: Philosophy

Speaking of Heaven

I have not heard from the theologian who cast doubt on the possibility that those who commit serial sin (he was referring to homosexuals, I was thinking war mongers, money changers and churches that cast judgment) will see heaven. I think I know the answer to the question: yes, they will know heaven. They will also know hell. We all do.

My understanding of existential reality tells me that time is extremely fluid and relative to the immediate experience. A minute can be a moment or a millennium, depending on whether you have a limited time to be with someone you love or you’re sitting at the traffic light at the junction of IH-10, Fredericksburg and Woodlawn.

Feels like Heaven, Feels like Hell
There will be moments that pass immediately, only to be remembered forever – the first time ever you saw her face. Moments like that are pure heaven – complete focus on a blissful experience. Then comes the moment you last see her face – grown cold, hard, vengeful. May you never know such hell, but you are likely to come upon your own.

The virtues and cautions embedded in our holy writings and the best of our secular canons can indeed, carry you to heaven. No human experience contradicts the wisdom to know God, honor parentage and love your neighbor as yourself. Do as the good scriptures instruct, and you will know more bliss than blisters. You will have love in your soul and nothing to trouble your heart.

“Or Else”
Indeed, fail to live up to this standard, you know – be human, and you will experience negative consequences. “Treat the Earth and all that dwells thereon with respect,” the Native American 10 Commandments. To the Commandments of all faiths, I would add “or else.” Because if you steal, or kill, or use sacred language profanely, you will experience excruciating consequences. If the system discovers your crime and prosecutes with jail and other penalties, that hurts. But even in the event that no one else knows of your crime, it does not go unpunished. Your consciousness is damaged and no matter how desensitized your heart may be, the Shadow pays you back with Hell.

We do little heavens and hells all day long. The big ones mark us. We may be taught, and live to redeem whatever big sin, but we remember it. And we are certain to know the weight of a grandbaby in our arms, quiet evenings with close friends, spectacular sunrises and other spiritual oases that remain with us for the rest of our days.

The Flashback Dance
Before I died in May 2010, I would talk about “The Flashback Dance.” Knowing that time is relative, I imagined that a person’s last moment of consciousness must seem to be an eternity. If, as reported, one’s “life passes before my eyes,” that last moment will be filled with heavenly memories or hellish recall.

My experience in 2010 did not match the myth. Despite the “Real Story” I have no memory of the moment of death. But then, I am not dead – despite the indications that may have appeared on the instruments of the EMTs or emergency rooms that attended to me (again, I have no memory of this), I came back to life, the incredible medical team at North Central Baptist stabilized me and brought me back all the way to full capacity. So, my lack of a Flashback Dance is no proof that it doesn’t happen.

No Need to Wait – Heaven and Hell are at Hand
As I went through old journals yesterday looking for material for a new edition of SavajCards, I lived through some heavens and hells all over again. I recognize the value of Hell, how it does what it can to indicate how off-track we can get. I don’t want to live through another one, not as big as some of those, so I’ll watch my path and heed the lessons, whether inscribed in a bible or taken from experience.

Mindin’ My Own Morals
One thing I’m sure I won’t do – I won’t tell you where you’re headed, heaven or hell. It’s none of my business, and I am in no position to judge. I’ll warn you if I see you approaching a cliff – I’ll support you in acknowledging yourself and seeking your true bliss, but I’m not tellin’ you what to do or what it may bring. And I suggest that Dr. Gagnon and his students follow a similar policy – mind your own morals (just a suggestion).

Some Kind of Miracle

Once upon a time, we didn’t have a clue. Life was confusing – one woke and searched for food and interacted with other people and other species without context. We learned most things the hard way and had no means to classify or communicate the lessons for future reference, so catastrophes happened over and over again quite regularly. You never knew which species to be afraid of and which species were afraid of you. If you could find another human who wasn’t jealous of your gatherings or afraid of you, you might fall together for the night in mutual defense or inexplicable attraction.

We went on like this for a long unmarked span of time – generation after generation without any means of sharing information with one another.

Then, some kind of miracle, an idea occurred to someone who had no name for us to remember. That someone made a sound and held up an object, and she kept doing it. We all thought she was crazy. But then one of her children did it too and eventually they didn’t need to hold the object – they could just make the sound and they would know what the sound meant. If we knew any better, we probably would have considered it hereditary insanity.

Generations passed, and the craziness came down through the lineage. Eventually, there were all kinds of sounds and gestures, pictures and marks representing everything in the environment – light, day, night, heavens, earth, sea, sea creatures, birds, land animals, plants, trees, humans. We started using the sounds to classify – sun, cloud, stars, moon, fish, eagles, larks, tigers, rats, man, woman, Joe, Betty. We started figuring it out, and used the crazy sound thing to teach our children.

Generations passed, and some other crazy people started associating sounds to things that weren’t even things you could hold in your hands or point to. Somebody in one of those generations identified the miracle as “God,” the thing that created all the things because all of the things had always been there, they were here before anyone could remember humans being here and something must have created them and since we were naming everything, we should name the creation thing “God” and it was probably responsible for the first miracle that made the crazy person hold up an object and make a sound at the same time.

It was only a clue, but through those generations after generations of trying and evolving, we figured out that this ability to associate sounds and gestures and marks with ideas both concrete and abstract gave us a certain control over our own lives and some dominion over the environment around us. We figured out how to discuss and record math and engineering, science, religion and politics. As we keep using the system, we keep getting clues. And we have some hope that maybe, someday – it might take another miracle – we’ll learn how to love people who are different from us and resolve major conflicts without killing each other. Some kind of miracle, some kind of clue…

(Original Date: Feb. 12, 2009)