Abrahamic Faiths, Attachment, Christianity, Consciousness, Islam, Judeo-Christian Tradition, Mysticism, Religion

The Metaphors of Heaven and Hell

I largely agree with those who say heaven and hell are mostly metaphors for how someone approaches living in this world.

On one level, at least, the metaphor seems to be speaking about attachment.  If you are emotionally and psychologically attached to things, and can’t step back from your attachments, then it’s going to be hell for you.  After all, everything is transitory, and you will suffer — sometimes greatly — when things change.

On the other hand, if you can let go of attachments as spontaneously as a child lets go of someone’s hand, then this world can be something of a heaven for you.  It’s transitory nature will often delight you, rather than constantly threaten you.  You will be psychologically and emotionally free to enjoy the moment, to take delight in things great and small, even though all things come to an end.

That’s one level of the metaphor.  On that level, heaven and hell are about psychological and emotional attachment.  The metaphor, like most symbols, might have more than one level, though.  For example, it could also symbolize the difference between normal awareness (hell) and mystical awareness (heaven).  But even in that case, the metaphor still speaks to us of how we approach this world — rather than speaks to us of some other worlds, some metaphysical realms beyond our ken, some final abodes for our souls.

4 thoughts on “The Metaphors of Heaven and Hell”

  1. hmmm…agree that they are metaphors..but what about the fact that your own hands have a tendency to kill you? i mean like you let go of others…but it is also important to recogonise this body as something separate until we do that,hell is something which will prevail…

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  2. Brilliant conversation… so which would you have it? Heaven or Hell? Do you then not believe in either…or is belief the largest illusion of all?

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  3. Hi Vishesh! Thank you for your comments! And welcome to the blog! 🙂

    Hi Enreal! Heaven and hell interest me as metaphors, but hold little or no interest for me as realms. Your question about whether “belief is the largest illusion of all” is very stimulating, even though I don’t have an answer to it.

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  4. I hear “hell” most often described these days as “separation from God” (and “Heaven” would be its complementary aspect). In that sense, “separation” from anything is psychological/”spiritual”, so you’re “mystical”/”normal” awareness dichotomy is consistent with what is being represented metaphorically as a place of separation.

    “Hell” is where I live in besieged alienation, dominated by my ego, fighting for its survival.

    “Heaven” is where the ego subsides and aesthetic awareness is expanded beyond the self, and feelings of compassion take precedence over egotistical desire and survival hysteria.

    National, race and religious identities can feel like “heaven,” when they are actually an acute form of “hell.”

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