the Spirit World: Part Two
Heaven and Hell: Places or States of Mind?
Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis
it surprise you to hear that there are many people who would prefer
NOT to believe in an afterlife? For many, the prospect of what
they may face after death can be quite horrifying.
you're dead, you're dead" is a way of looking at life, grounded
totally in the physical world and its body; but, for many, this
concept of life offers great comfort. Why? Because believing this
way allows the individual to do whatever he or she wishes to whomever
he or she wishes, without having to worry about "paying the price"
at some later time, in some other realm of life.
But, alas, this profoundly sad way of looking at life is not based
on fact, and eventually, the reality of life after death stands
before us all, face-to-face.
The issue of life's consequences is fundamental to religious thought
and persuasion. Most religions of the earth accept this basic
concept of life: we all have to face our mistakes, at some point
or another. For aeons of time, people have been "whipped into
shape" by church leaders and their threats of eternal damnation
and fire. Satan plays a very important role in religion, especially
Christianity; unfortunately, to the point where it often seems
as if Satan is given more credence and power than God, Himself.
So many people believe: Live a good life, and you go to Heaven.
Sin, and you go to Hell. Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,
and you will find that special seat next to the throne of God.
Do not accept Jesus as Savior, and you will never sit at the right
hand of the Father, no matter how good, how loving, or how charitable
a life you may have lived on earth.
How can this be? Would God discriminate for some and against others?
Would God open His arms to die-hard Christians, while turning
His back to those of other faiths, or those Christians who may
not utter that special formula of salvation? I remember, several
years ago, hearing, with utter horror, Jerry Falwell, founder
of the Moral Majority, state that Mother Teresa would never go
to Heaven, because she was not born again, according to the Christian
Fundamentalist's view of rebirth. What a horrid and ignorant statement!
So, what is the truth regarding Heaven and Hell? How do we deal
with life's injustices; those perpetrated by ourselves and those
perpetrated against us by others?
Ancient teaching states that we must all deal with life's errors,
first by facing those mistakes, then by learning from those mistakes,
then by forgiving ourselves and others, and, finally, by not repeating
those mistakes. The Lord's Prayer asks God to "forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Obviously, it would be far better to begin this process of forgiveness,
healing, and transformation sooner than later; that is, while
on the Earth plane. But, so often we pass into the Spirit world
without even having begun this process.
of the Spirit World
Life is life is life is life. And Spirit is Spirit is Spirit is
Spirit. There is no beginning and no end to life's journey. It
is a continuous experience, sometimes here and sometimes there;
sometimes within a physical body, but most often without a physical
body. We are not alive at certain times and dead at others. We
are always alive. Therefore, there is always the opportunity to
grow and expand in our awareness. Likewise, there is always the
opportunity to be healed and transformed of our transgressions.
In the Spirit world, we are given greater opportunity to correct
the errors of the past because, in the Spirit world, we tend to
see things from a greater perspective. We are able to perceive
a greater part of the whole. We are not quite so blinded by the
earthly personality and its multitude of passions. But, even in
Spirit, we will change ONLY to the degree that we are willing
and able to do so. Nothing in life is ever forced upon the Spirit,
except the consequence of his or her actions, according to the
Great Law of Karma, or Cause and Effect.
Grace and salvation are not handed to us on a silver platter.
Jesus Christ did not come to earth, suffer as he did, experience
the horror of crucifixion, and reveal the wonder and mystery of
resurrection, so that we would be given an excuse to sin our lives
away and, upon reciting a few words, be let off the hook, so to
speak. That type of belief cheapens and denigrates everything
that Jesus stood for. Furthermore, it minimizes God's Grace.
Without going into too much detail, the Spirit world can be divided
into two basic areas or levels of experience: the Astral plane
and the Mental plane. Actually, there are more, but for our intents
and purposes, let us leave it at these two.
The Astral plane is where we all go, immediately upon departing
this earthly life, through physical death. Everyone goes there
and spends a certain amount of time within this area of the Spirit
world. It is within the Astral plane that we deal, to a great
degree, with those areas of healing, transformation, and forgiveness
mentioned above. It is here where we gather with those loved ones
with whom we shared the recent earth life and determine, amongst
ourselves, what we all need to deal with and how we shall go about
correcting the mistakes of the past. In this, there are special
Spirit emissaries or angels who help us in this process of assessment.
We look at the successes and the failures of our recent earth
life and its many relationships, and we determine what needs to
be changed, what needs to be forgiven, what needs to be healed,
and what needs to be transformed.
Because the Astral plane is where we deal with some of the more
negative elements of ourselves, many refer to it as a place of
evil and negativity. This could not be further from the truth.
It is a world of confrontation, assessment, evaluation, and looking
at ourselves face-to-face. Indeed, for some these processes may
be difficult, but the results can be summed up in two words: HEALING
Some spirits may consider this aspect of life -- looking at one's
self honestly and face-to-face -- as a kind of Hell. But, then
again, there are those who consider any aspect of life which is
challenging and confronting as Hell. Thus, for some, "Hell on
Earth" is a very real state of mind and consciousness.
Now, this brings us to the question of Hell. Is there a specific
place, known as Hell, where all the sinners are doomed to eternal
fire and damnation? Absolutely not!
Hell is more a state of mind rather than a place of condemnation.
God condemns no person to a life of pain and suffering. God gives
us all freedom of choice, but demands that we be accountable to
Him, to ourselves, and to each other for the choices which we
Eventually, after many earthly incarnations, little by little,
we begin to see the Light, so to speak. We recognize that, as
Spirit, we are all created in God's image as Spirit. We recognize
that we were born out of love and should live life in this love.
For some, these lessons come painfully slow, while others learn
a bit more quickly. Does this make one spirit better than another?
No. It simply means that one spirit may be further along the pathway
to Heaven than another. God is a Respecter of no person, in that
He favors no one of His children above another. One of the hymns
in our hymnal states: "In His eyes there is no great nor small."
Now, what about Heaven? Unlike Hell, Heaven IS a place to which
we will all eventually travel. Once we deal with as many of the
negative aspects of the self as we can, while in the Astral plane,
we experience what can be considered a second death. We enter
a very brief period of slumber and we step across yet another
doorway of life and enter the Mental plane.
It is within the higher levels of the Mental plane -- we will
not discuss the various levels of the great Mental plane -- that
we experience what can be termed a state of Heaven. In fact, Hindu
texts refer to this level of the Spirit world as Devachan,
Devachan is not the ultimate state of oneness, nor is it the final
"resting place" of the Spirit, but it is a place where we can
truly experience the wonder, majesty, beauty, and joy of the Human
experience, to the degree that each person is capable of so doing.
It is here where we finally reap the rewards of our efforts, to
the degree that we have worked at transformation and healing.
Therefore, within this level of the Spirit world, the individual
experiences the Light of God's Love and Creation to the degree
that he or she is able to do so. And how is that degree measured?
It is measured by the degree of honesty, love, charity, and kindness
which that individual is capable of manifesting outwardly in his
or her life.
Devachan, although a place of immense beauty, love, and joy, does
have its limitations. Therefore, Devachan is not the true Heaven
or the final resting place of the spirit. But, it is a place where
the human spirit can experience total joy and oneness, to the
degree that he or she can do so. And every spirit goes to this
place, within the Spirit world, no matter what kind of life he
or she may have conducted while on the Earth plane. In fact, it
is from here where the next earthly incarnation is planned and
set into motion.
It is as if God allows each and every one of us to touch the best
and the greatest that we are, in order to inspire us to become
even better and more great, as we prepare to move onto a new earthly
This is not ultimate Heaven, but it is as good as it gets, at
least for the time being. That Heaven will come to us when we
are finally capable of experiencing our oneness with God and with
each other. That Heaven is the ultimate home from which all emerged
and to which we shall all return at some timeless point in time.
That Heaven is truly cosmic in nature and beyond any human's comprehension.
The Heaven that we are talking about -- Devachan -- is about as
close to that state of ultimate joy that we can experience at
this point in our travels. To the individual in Devachan, there
is total joy and wholeness, even though on a grander scheme, it
Life is like traveling from A to Z, with Z as the destination.
If an individual has traveled only as far as K, then, to him,
K will seem like Z, because K is the limit to what he can consciously
experience. The beauty of life is that, as we learn and evolve,
we expand our current limitations - K - and recognize that there
is an L, looming at the distance. We, then, strive to move onto
to L; then onto M, etc.
Thus, life -- in and out of physical form -- becomes a process
of continuously extending beyond what we perceive as our limitations,
that we may experience wider and more expansive limitations. Eventually,
all limitation will be gone and we will all be one with God. The
one will become the One. Etched within the cornerstone of our
original Church building are the Alpha and Omega --
the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, representing
the beginning at the end -- superimposed, one over the other.
This indicates that the beginning is the end, and the end is the
beginning. Both have communed and become one.
Therefore, there is but one time that is of essence; that point
in time where past and future meet: the PRESENT. Thus, the importance
of living the moment -- the present -- to its fullest. Remember:
you are, today, the result of what you have been yesterday; and
you shall be, tomorrow, the result of what you are today.
Three of this series on Life in Spirit will deal with how
the spirit integrates the experiences of the recent earth life
with those experiences from previous earthly incarnation.
you would like further information on the journey of your Spirit
and Soul, through life and the Spirit life, we suggest you consider
purchasing our very informative and very complete Journey
of the Soul. You will be hard pressed to come up with a question
concerning your Spirit and its journey through creation that is
not addressed somewhere in this study course. It is an excellent
and truthful course of study and experience.