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Heaven - A Concept or a Place?


Is Heaven a place or a concept?  Both probably.  A commonly asked question is “what is your idea of Heaven?” and the answer will invariably be something to do with food, drink, leisure, or all three.  Heaven is most people’s idea of perfect peace and happiness.  For some people, their idea of Heaven would be finding the perfect marriage partner.  For others it would be the perfect holiday destination.  I once had a friend who stated that for her, Heaven was going to bed early on a Friday evening, the start of the weekend, with a cup of coffee, a piece of buttered toast and a good book.  That’s nearly the same as mine.  Except that in my case it would be a (large) glass of wine and a bar of chocolate.  And of course, a good book.  And maybe the laptop as well!

The most common assumption of Heaven is that it is only available after you die.  What nonsense.  A song tells us ‘Heaven is a place on earth’.  Well, no doubt life is full of problems, but we don’t have to wait until we die to get relief from them.  Little joys light  up our lives here and there.  Happiness is available every day to those of us who are open to it.

Well, if Heaven is a concept, you can have it right here and now.   And if it is a place, what sort of place?  Well, according to the teachings of the Church in which I was brought up, Heaven is a place where God lives.  And where He is present in a special way, to be seen by those who value Him. I loved that film “Ghost” which starred the late Patrick Swayze.  Have you seen it?  The plot centres around a man named Sam Wheat, played by Swayze, who is murdered by a colleague.  Swayze is hit by the killer, knocked down and gives chase. Unable to catch his assailant, he returns to his girlfriend (played by Demi Moore) and is shocked to see her  sobbing over his dead body.  Realising that he is now a ghost, he comes to know that the murderer plans to kill his girlfriend as well.  The gates of  Heaven, the final destination, open up for him, as far as I remember, but he pleads for time to solve the mystery and get his girlfriend out of danger.  So for a few days, he plays detective. But his soul is unable to make much impression on the material world.  The only person who can see him is a lady named Oda Mae (played by Whoopi Goldberg), and ironically, she is a conwoman who makes money from gullible people by pretending she can speak to the dead!  This provides a lot of  laughs in what would otherwise be an overly sentimental story. It is only with the greatest of difficulty he can communicate with his friends in the material world, solve the mystery, apprehend the killer and move on into Heaven with no regrets about his lost life.  He bids an emotional farewell to his beloved, confident that they will meet again one day!  Wonderful!  Incidentally, the bad guy in the story gets killed and his spirit is immediately borne away by demons for his final destination.

What I loved about this movie was the way Sam Wheat,  now a ghost, could walk down the streets where he had walked every day of his life, and this time, he was seeing the spirit inhabitants.  He could see ghosts everywhere, lost souls, stuck in a negative groove from which they were seemingly unable to emerge.   In the subway for example, there were ghosts of people who had been killed in subway accidents.  It really made me think.  It is probably no accident that many of the world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism teach detachment.  If we are too attached to the things of this world, we may find it difficult to move on when our time comes.  Hinduism teaches that the soul lives on after death.  It even teaches that the soul can be reborn in another body.  While I would not necessarily subscribe to that particular belief, I very much agree that the work we have done in our time in this life determines where we will end up in the afterlife.  The Hindus call this ‘karma’, and it is a very real concept.  Did not St. Paul, in the book of Galatians in the Bible, tell us “Be not deceived.  God is not mocked.  As a man sows so shall he reap!”

This means that supposing you are really down and want to end it all?  Ending it all will bring no relief.  Your body is gone but your spirit is in agony.  Worse still, there’s no chance to move on!  That’s not cool at all!  I always remember that as Catholics, we were always taught to pray for a ‘happy death’ which I thought was a bit of a contradiction.  However, I do realize the importance of it now.  If you want to have peace in your afterlife, you must keep a clean slate and tidy up all unfinished business before moving on into eternity.   It’s true!

There’s no description of ‘Heaven’ as such in the Bible.  But in the much under-read and under-rated Book of Revelations, there is a description of the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’.  According to Revelations, it is never night there, only day, because the light of God is always shining there.  Now according to the Bible, nothing bad or sinful can ever come near God.  So if there is someone who has a lot of attachment with things that are not good (and that could include more people than we think!), it might be difficult for them to move on into eternal life.  Something like the Purgatory concept, a place of purification.  According to Catholic teaching, it is a very good thing indeed to pray for the souls of our loved ones who have passed away.  Seemily every prayer we say for them goes to help them at the point of death (where time has a different meaning!) and makes their crossing into eternity a little easier.

Well, whether you believe in all these things or not, there is no doubt that it is a very good thing to keep ourselves always happy, be good to others, do whatever good we can.and avoid getting into debt to others, worldly or spiritually.  So that when the time comes we can move on into eternity and enjoy a wonderful future. 
As the saying goes:  I wish you health, I wish you wealth, I wish you joy in store!
                               I wish you Heaven when you die,
                               What could I wish you more?

This is my weekly post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) which posts every Friday at the same time on a given topic.  We are ten bloggers from quite diverse places like the UK, USA, India and Canada.  The group consists of (in alphabetical order Ashok, Conrad, me gaelikaa, Grannymar, Helen, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria, Marianna and Ramanaji.  If you have time please visit the other posts on the same topic.

Comments

  1. heaven is a great invention of man. so is god. but I agree with you, heaven is here.

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  2. You could wish me heaven on earth. Like my post, day in day out. Total bliss. A lovely post Gaelikaa. I suspected that you had an ace up your sleeve when you suggested this topic. This has proved to be Ace and in trumps.

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  3. I think heaven is here in this life and we attain it by respecting each other.

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  4. lovely and such a well put post ..its always a pleaure u read ur point of view

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  5. One of my favorite parts of Ghost is after he finishes his business with his partner, he walks toward the light and goes up. Then of course, you have to laugh when he discovers that Whoopi can hear him. Good post!

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  6. Beautiful and very thought provoking. I agree, the term heaven can mean so many different things, depending on the person.
    The movie "Ghost" is a classic and wonderful take on what lies next.
    Hope you are having a lovely Friday,
    xo
    Zuzana

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  7. Wonderfully written and I respect your strong convictions. You are a wonderful writer and your heart, your persuasion, your beautful way with words is so evident in this post.

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  8. Now why didn't I think about heaven in the Films? There have been some classics.

    This is one of those posts I'm going to have to go back and read again.

    Heaven here on Earth? Like happiness: not something to go seeking, rather, accept it when it comes along. My is a special secret.

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  9. Hmmm. I just read about the sudden passing of a friend's friend. How serendipitous to come her and read your deep and reassuring thoughts.

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  10. Very nice post.
    We make our own heaven or hell here on earth.

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  11. bikehikebabe,

    I think we can decide to be happy or unhappy in this world. I am not certain I could go so far as to say we make our own heaven or hell on earth. When bad things happen to good people and they suffer much, I can't think that they have chosen the hell they are living through.

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  12. gaelikaa, I have noted the sincerity of your belief in several of your writings already. But, it doesn't end with sincerity - you always seem to express an inner grace!

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  13. I enjoyed this post very much.

    I like what you said about a "happy death" - I've been thinking a lot about some of my issues and how I wish to resolve them, so I won't have to deal with them in my next life. Or as you'v put it, so my soul can rest easy.

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  14. "Is heaven a place or a concept?", you ask. An excellent question.

    Children take everything literally (ie for them heaven is a place); and one of the biggest disappointments in any child's life is to be told that a beloved relative, friend, pet "has gone to heaven". As euphemisms go it's an awful one: There is your eight year old self wondering why whoever has gone to heaven prefers it up there instead of with you down here.

    I was lucky that my mother never subscribed to that line of parental cop out and just said it as it is.

    Your "Friday evening" friend appears to be easily pleased. Good for her. And yes, Gaelikaa, I will bring a bottle (or two) of heavenly wine, you may have ALL the divine chocolate truffles bar one - I don't have a sweet tooth; and we could read to each other from that book of yours.

    I like the authentic voice of your post; there is no false note; you are not trying to be clever or funny for effect. The content shines and gives a little glimpse of Gaelikaa.

    On a parting shot, though there'd be so much more to say on the points you have raised: I am not a Catholic - possibly the reason I am fascinated by how Catholicism permeates the lives of those who were brought up in that faith; and how difficult it appears to be - even for the most sceptical - to cut the apron strings.

    U

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  15. Probably I am too abstract, but my sense is that the reason heaven isn't described in the Bible is that it isn't describable in human terms. On the one hand I have a lot of joy over my situation, with some weeping over the situation of others. This later part I expect to grow as my loved ones age and other relatives and friends fall into troubles. I still hope for something much better.

    Thanks very much for the post.

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  16. Your post reflects you and as I'm liking your posts, I'm really liking you.

    I won't say my favorite part of the movie because the entire movie is my favorite part, but what really stucked in me is when Sam said - the love in your heart, you take it with you.

    There won't be heaven on earth until we are grateful for what we have. To some, things are just there, no one give it to them, to those I guess they'll be grateful to themselves, but for those who have their sustainer, they'll have the chance to be grateful to someone.

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  17. It is lovely to read what you have to say. You write so thoughtfully... x

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  18. Lovely post! It's hard to let go of assumptions of what heaven might or might not be like; far past our comprehensions to even pose anything possible. So our attentions turn to heaven here, if we are to live as Christ asks, in a state of love...

    But to answer that I think I need a cup of tea... Maybe two! :)))

    I love the new look, btw...

    ReplyDelete

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