Tag Archive | "Heaven"

Everlasting Life

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Once again, I find myself sitting on my canopied deck, which I have nicknamed Shangri-La.  Here I am, conversing with a replica of Saint Francis (okay, so it’s a one-way conversation).  I was telling Saint Francis  about God’s infinite wisdom, vis a vis the promise that we mortals will achieve everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven, in return for following the Commandments handed down to Moses eons ago.


During this one-sided conversation, I think I may have stumbled upon the revelation to the mysterious wonders that our Creator has promised.  So, I’ve decided to share it with you, dear readers.


Although we were promised life everlasting, God has never revealed the exact location of his Kingdom (Heaven).  As taught to good Catholic boys and girls, and as preached in other sects and religions, Heaven is a place hidden high above the clouds.  Much like the ancient lamasery of Shangri-La, lying sheltered in the towering mountains of Tibet, Heaven is a final resting place where the inhabitants live worry free.


Gee it almost sounds like a PSE&G ad!  Anyway …


I was explaining the miracle of Creation to my silent companion, as told in the Bible via the analogy of the seven days needed to complete Project Planet Earth.  I regaled St. Francis with the various phases of creation: of how God parted darkness from light, constructed the flora and fauna, and placed the animals on land, the fowl in the air, and the fish in the sea.  “Mother Nature, St. Francis,” I clarified to the inscrutable statue of he who so loved the animals.  “It’s what we down here call Mother Nature.”


And then it hit me.  The Lord was telling us very clearly that … to quote an old Belinda Carlisle song … “Heaven is a place on Earth!”


Yes, friends!  Crown me, for I have found heaven!  It’s right beneath our very feet!  How do I know this?  Mother Nature works the same way that God works.  So, is God, in reality, Mother Nature?  Well, that’s fodder for another article.  Right now, let’s compare Mother Nature’s modus operandi with that of God the Almighty.


In Mother Nature’s world, the four-footed, eight-footed, aerial, and finned creatures inhabiting this planet do not work for their existence.  This is how God Himself fashioned these critters.  And yet, they are provided with food, shelter, and their own form of clothing (feathers, fur, or scales).  In other words, the basics of survival.  Man, however, is compelled to toil his butt off for his basic necessities, particularly in this post-Bush, current-Obama economy.   If I give this too much thought, I’d think that we were cheated because God, and Mother Nature, had played favorites!


Getting back to my revelation and powers of deduction (which, quite frankly, seem to be rivaling those of Sherlock Holmes today), we know that when something dies in the natural world, whether it is animal or vegetable, it returns to the earth either as food for the living inhabitants or as nutrients that nourish the soil from which grow the crops that sustain all forms of life, one way or another.  This is called the nitrogen cycle.  How is this not Heaven-on-Earth?   These are the keys to eternal (self-renewing) life!


These facts, coupled with careful deduction and consolations with the solver of The DaVinci Code (Tom Hanks, disguised as Doctor What’s His Name), I have concluded that we mere mortals can enjoy everlasting life by the way that we are returned to the Earth.  The ancient Chinese, you see, believed in a specific form of reincarnation.  It was a process whereby a person was transformed, after death of the body, into some living thing that he or she disliked while he/she was alive (i.e., animal, vegetable, or for all I know, mineral as well).  I guess that’s where the old saying, “Don’t kick horseshit; it may be your Uncle,” comes from.


Getting back to our central subject, now.  Think, please about the road along which a dead person must journey immediately following clinical death:


1.       Investigation and autopsy (for undocumented deaths)

2.       Funeral arrangements

3.       Burial/interment or cremation


Mandated by law, the above-mentioned rituals can become extremely expensive.  But, we can dispense with these costs, and the proceeds can be used to finance the deceased’s grandchildren’s college tuitions.


We can dispense with autopsies, embalming, caskets, and other deathly accoutrements; all we need is some inexpensive cotton gauze.  What was good for the wise ancient Egyptians ought to be good for us.  We can wrap the bodies in the gauze in preparation for interment, then dig a hole in the ground, and let Mother Earth accept what she is about to receive.  Thus, we will feed the nitrogen cycle.


Now here is where everlasting life truly begins.  By planting a tree above the gravesite of the deceased, instead of an expensive granite stone marker, the tree will flourish as a result of the added nitrogen (the deceased), and the tree shall bear fruit.  If the deceased loved apples, then plant an apple tree in his/her memory.  When it bears fruit, the loved ones left behind on this Earth can enjoy his/her memory by tasting of the fruits of these non-verboten trees.  If the deceased loved peaches, the family and friends will enjoy peaches, and so on.  This takes care of the cycle of reincarnation; there is no need to reincarnate as something you don’t like!  I would, however, steer clear of planting gorgeous white oleander trees, whose beautiful blooms are deadly if ingested, thus demanding the planting of yet additional trees!


Cemeteries as we now know them will become non-existent.  Instead, orchards will blanket the land in the way that Johnny Appleseed once envisioned but never quite caused to be, despite his best efforts.  No doubt, the fruits of those orchards will appear in our local supermarkets.  Hey, it’s cheaper to buy local than it is to import.  And as the Good Book says,  “… and by their fruits you shall know them.”


As in the Biblical Kingdom of Heaven, where God takes care of everyone and everything, so does Mother Nature, right here on Heaven on Earth.  Or rather, Heaven as Earth!  In their infinite wisdom, both God and Mother Nature complete the cycle of life without waste.  If we eat the natural fruits of the land, when we go to Heaven on Earth, others will eat us.  Remember … only God can make a tree.  Or is that Mother Nature? 


Master Your World

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Heaven and Hell on Earth

Children have a simplicity and clarity of thought that can be both amusing and illuminating for adults.  Cognizant of the duality implicit in the human condition, they both reflect and explain philosophical issues in unexpected and, often, thought-provoking ways.

 

Several years ago, I was conversing with my great-nephew Nicholas, at the time seven or eight years of age.  As often happens in these discussions, Nicholas surprised me with unique takes on age-old areas of speculation, in this instance – the nature of the Divine and the afterlife.

 

With an unabashed innocence typical of his age, he expounded to me his thoughts on eternity.  In so many words, he expressed his doubts about the nature of a Deity who personifies absolute goodness.  Reasoning from his own experience, he expressed the fact that his own behavior is “sometimes good” and “sometimes bad.”  In his judgment, therefore, God can be both “good” and “bad.”  Extending his analysis from the Divine, he concluded that any otherworldly location must reflect both God and its inhabitants.  Thus, he indicated that a Heaven of pure goodness and a Hell of profound evil are not likely.  Rather, he stated that we will all likely go to “Heavell,” encompassing the “good” of Heaven and “bad” of Hell, at the end of our earthly lives.

 

Nicholas’ analysis is both simple and profound.  The concepts of an afterlife and a destination for each of us – based upon our beliefs and behavior during our earthly lives – are manmade and reflect the duality of nature to which we are all witness.  Our innate senses of balance and justice dictate that the inequities that we experience, see, and/or perpetrate in this world must in some sense be rectified – if not in this life, then in another.

 

But, what if any afterlife that we may experience is not a correction, but rather a continuation of our lives on this plane of existence?  Then, we may find that the “Heavell” of Nicholas’ perception is as likely an explanation of an otherworldly universe as any posited. 

 

Strangely, the Western notion of “reward and punishment” is based more upon myth and tradition than upon any definitive inspiration from the Divine.  The Bible, representing the “Word of God” for the majority of the Western world, is singularly silent on the concept of “Heaven.”  Could it be that we have misunderstood or misinterpreted, intentionally or otherwise, the teachings of Jesus and others whom we credit as the architects of Western thinking on this subject?

 

Perhaps, the concept of “Heaven” as a distant, otherworldly reward is a fallacy or an incomplete truth.  Maybe, “Heaven” is a part of any and all existences that we may experience, if only we recognize it.  And, the same might, conceivably, be said of the concept of “Hell.”  Perhaps, “Heaven” and “Hell” perpetually permeate and intertwine with our lives and potential afterlives, with the state in which we find ourselves determined not by God, but by us individually.

 

In this regard, each of us can “reward” or “punish” himself, simply by his own perception of his life’s experiences.  Perhaps, this is the nature of the “dominion” that God conferred upon man in the Genesis narrative (Genesis 1:26 et seq.) and that Jesus spoke about in the beatitude “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Whether considered a source of earthly or Divine wisdom, these passages clearly evidence the insight that we each determine and orchestrate, to a surprisingly large degree, our own life experiences.

 

Consider how differently two people can interpret the meaning of the same event, say an illness.  One person, bemoaning his fate, may view it as a curse; another, reflecting on the opportunity provided by the illness for positive change, as a blessing.  More important, however, than outward optimism or pessimism is one’s inner expectation.  The “inheritance” of which Jesus spoke and “dominion” promised in the Genesis narrative come only to those who open themselves to all the opportunities availed them by a universe of infinite possibilities and approach life’s journey with faith that the right choices among these opportunities will illuminate the way enabling them to clearly discern the paradise that exists, albeit murkily for most, in all outward experience.

 

If you want to be the master of your life’s experience, then acknowledge and cultivate control over your contribution in the here and now.  Our external experiences mirror our internal state.  This is at the heart of the message for which Jesus lived and died and is representative of the “Holy Grail” for sincere seekers of the “Truth.”

 

From the Cross, Jesus responded to one of the thieves with whom he was executed “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Even as you approach death, you can control your world.  “Heaven,” “Hell,” or “Heavell,” you choose.

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