Thursday, January 14, 2016

How the "Hell" Could Eternal Punishment Actually Exist?

The idea of a physical place we can be sent to for an eternity of suffering or any other state of everlasting anguish, especially as a punishment of some kind, is one of the issues that bothered me most in my past struggles with religion.  For the life of me, I could not see how this was even believable.  I could not understand how a loving and just God would allow for (or create) such a reality, even if we were taught how to avoid it; plus, if I might add, the teachings on the latter were not without sources of further head scratching.

In my book Changing Lives with Spiritism, I wrote a little about some of the questions that ran through my mind as I grappled with this philosophical quandary.  I asked my readers to consider the following:

“What about those who don’t adhere to the prescribed requirements for eternal happiness before this life is over? Again, we are back to the God who has somehow a limited degree of forgiveness. Furthermore, let’s understand that people are born in different places around the globe where they might never receive these teachings that advise the right way to ensure one’s “ticket to salvation”. Why would they deserve anything less than, at minimum, the same chances given to anyone else? As if these questions were not enough, we should also stop and ask ourselves this: if we are so fortunate as to deserve everlasting peace and joy, how can we truly be happy in the afterlife knowing that others, from strangers to perhaps some particular loved ones, may not be so fortunate and could instead suffer eternally?”  

From my conversations with plenty of other individuals, I know I was not alone. For plenty of people, this dogma has been a deal-breaker; this is even mentioned in The Spirits’ Book, where question and answer #941 reads1:

Q. “The worry over death is highly vexing to many people. Why such worry if they have the whole future in front of them?”

A.  “It is wrong to have such apprehension, but what do you expect? Since early on, people have been persuaded that there is a hell and a heaven, and that they will most likely go to hell because they have been taught that whatever belongs to the realm of nature is a mortal sin for the soul. Thus, when they grow up, and if they have any reason at all, they can no longer accept such a belief and become atheists or materialists. It is thus that they are led to believe that nothing exists beyond the present life. As for those who persist in their childhood belief, they fear the eternal fire that must burn them without destroying them.”

If you have ever wrestled these or similar doubts, you will understand why I was so happy to find a new understanding, one that spoke to both my mind and my heart. Ironically, in the first United States Spiritist Council symposium that I was invited to speak at, I was given the topic of “Penal Code of the Life to Come”, where I was able to explore the question of eternal punishment and share the refreshing perspective with which Spiritism has brought soothing resolution to myself and so many others.  I was thrilled at the chance to share Spiritism’s powerful message. However, I can’t stop there! I want to continue spreading this awareness because I know there are still so many others who are seeking these answers.

Spiritism teaches us about divine justice, the educational journey of spiritual evolution, and the mechanism of reincarnation that makes them both possible.  It teaches that God is love, true love, without conditions, limits, or time-stamps. No matter how far we stray from the “stairway to heaven”, true happiness is the ultimate destiny for each of us, and there is no such thing as eternal damnation.

I would like to invite you to explore more about what Spiritism has to say, so I am sharing these three resources with you:

      1. The video of my presentation given at the above-mentioned symposium.

      2.  An enlightening excerpt from Allan Kardec’s book What is Spiritism, with his comments on the Spiritist view regarding the idea of Hell, or eternal punishment.

      3. A beautiful excerpt from the book Here and Hereafter * by Spiritist author Léon Denis, in which he describes life in the spirit realm, contrasting the experiences of lesser and more advanced spirits (according to Spiritist teachings).    (*Note: This book is now also translated and published with the title “After Death”)

Check them out to discover a refreshing perspective on the question of whether eternal punishment really exists.

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always

1See question and answer #941, from Part Four Chapter 1 in The Spirits’ Book by Allan Kardec [original title in French: Le Livre des Espirits, published in 1857 with 2nd edition in 1860], translation © 2006 by the International Spiritist Council, authorized edition printed in 2010 by Edicei of America.

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