I know, I know! “What happened to Days 9, 10, & 11?” We don’t need no steenking days 9, 10, & 11! There’s a reason depression kills people. I heard someone once describe depression as being excessively self-indulgent and this rings true to me. I am depressed. I have made an utter mess of my brain chemistry by going on and off antidepressants, engaging in endless self-pitying and rumination, constantly fiddling with my phone, checking emails, etc., etc., etc., Lather, rinse, repeat. Blah! Too much time “online.”
The more I think (which is not what I should be doing) the less I believe in anything eternal. The idea of an infinitely long heaven or hell make no sense whatsoever to me. Yet so many people seem to accept such beliefs without question. Who am I to deny them such consolation? No one, that’s who. But still they strut around with such arrogance that I just want to scream at them to wake up! (This is not compassion, I definitely need to find my way back to my meditation practice. And to be fair some of them hold their beliefs more loosely and make no claims as to what heaven or hell are like.)
I offer these thoughts then I will leave the subject for an indefinite period of time.
Thinking about “hell” the other day and I remembered an atheist friend of mine just casually saying that it didn’t make sense – an infinite amount of suffering for a finite amount of sins. That planted a serious seed of doubt in my head – which is not to say that I believed in “hell” prior to hearing this thought, I was just surprised how it never occured to me to think such a thought before or how it seemingly never enters the minds of believers. Again for long time I thought if there were anything that survives the passing of my body that it does so outside of time. In other words “eternity” is not a long, long, long ass time; it is in fact outside of or orthogonal to time and beyond all dualities.
Here’s a scenario to consider when thinking about the popularized notions of hell. Imagine you’re 16 and living at home with your mom, dad and 14 year old sister, “Alyssa.” For weeks Alyssa has been violating her curfew. Your mom, who has never been anything less than completely devoted to both you and your sister, has repeatedly warned Alyssa that if she continues to violate her curfew she will be punished. She even tells her what form the punishment will take; she will lock Alyssa (who is terrified of the dark) in the pitch dark, rat-infested, dank, moldy basement. Alyssa is not deterred. Next day she comes home late and your loving mother escorts Alyssa to the basement door, pushes her in and locks the door. Imagine what kind of mother could do such a thing. Now such an example would make you certainly tow the line for all the rules she’s laid down for you but would you “love” her? I think you’d fear her but whatever reservoir of love you’d had for your mother would slowly dissolve. How could you ever feel loved in that house again knowing that your sister was suffering day after day in the horrible basement?
Back to Alyssa, you eye the basement door nervously waiting for the punishment to end. Fortunately for you the door is soundproofed so you can not hear the Alyssa’s torturous cries. But you know she is and you feel awful for her. Hours pass and your mother does nothing. She leaves Alyssa in the place she fears the most for four days! Now in a sense Alyssa DID bring this punishment on herself. She was forewarned. But still how could your loving mother be so callous to her daughter’s excessive suffering. I can think of NO loving, sane, healthy mother that would discipline her child in such a manner. Not one, can you? No imagine a mother that doesn’t just leave Alyssa in the basement for only four days, but for the rest of her life (which is but a nanosecond next to eternity). Is that a mother you could love?
The idea that a loving God could put anyone in a lake of fire for eternity is patently ridiculous. Such a God would not be love; such a god would be a monster. No one, not Hitler, not Stalin, no one deserves an infinite amount of punishment. I am surprised just how long I believed this nonsense.
Religion should help people suffer less, live better lives, reach their potential NOW! The idea of eternity is an idea that needs to die.
But hey man, what do I know? I’m just a guy who is painfully aware of his finitude and the absurdity of all of this. All of this is