Asking the question of who gets to go to heaven alludes to the idea that Heaven is some sort of reward for being "good." That were it not for the promise of ending up in Heaven, people wouldn't be good because they'd have no reason to be. The question is arbitrary at best and there truly is no right or wrong answer. When I was young I wondered as I sat in church what would have happened to me had I been born in a place where Christianity wasn't the mainstream religion. What would have happened to me had I been raised Buddhist? I may have spent much of my time in meditation and might have been brought up to see the sacred in all things, feel the sacred in every action, from taking a walk to making tea. I could have spent every moment living spiritually, open to the sacred in all living things, every day, not just on Sunday. However, as I sat in the cold, hard church pew I also wondered at the fact that even if I had lived that spiritual life in the mountains of Tibet, would I burn in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity just because of geography? I asked myself these kinds of questions a lot growing up.
Many live in fear, fear of the opposite, fear of hell. They deprive themselves of anything enjoyable in life because they're afraid it might be construed by the heavenly host as a sin. Still others live a false life, committing heinous acts all week long presuming they'll be absolved on Sunday. Many of the first type, having made so many sacrifices in their lives, become judgmental. There's that word again; mental and once again, it's completely appropriate. The second type can be just as frightening though. To believe one can do anything they want all week and then show up on Sunday for all to be forgiven is just a shortcut to thinking. I understand that these examples aren't the standard. There are a lot of extremist religious types who aren't living in fear or feeling as though they are missing out on anything. They believe so strongly that their lives belong to their lord that living the way they do truly does bring them joy. As to the ones in the second group, they are living a lie as far as I'm concerned. If you talk the talk you should be prepared to walk the walk anything less is disingenuous and if those are the types who will be in heaven, I don't want to go.
And what of all the fine lines? All things in this world evolve and change. We live in a universe of constant flux. The only thing static, the only thing completely stagnant, are these old and outdated religious philosophies. I question whether even some of the simpler aspects of the Bible can still be taken so literally. For example, getting back to the question of fine lines, the sixth commandment, thou shall not kill, let's examine that. I can tell you unequivocally that if someone broke into my home with the intent to harm or kill my daughter I might kill them. Should I be condemned to hell for that? I think not, besides, isn't that a little hypocritical? How can a God who has condemned entire populations of people to death just to create a homeland for his people condemn me to eternal hell for killing someone to save the life of my child? The real question here is who defines what being "good" is?
It is said that every being in the universe knows the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. It's the basic concept behind statements like "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and philosophies such as karmic law. What is being "good" enough to get into heaven? What if I'm a soldier fighting in a religious war and I kill hundreds, perhaps thousands of people? Am I doing the "right" thing, fighting the "good" fight so I have a reservation in heaven? Or am I committing the heinous act of murder and thus must suffer an eternity in hellfire? The question of whether or not being good will get you into heaven really only raises more questions and there are no definitive answers to any of them. Still, these questions have been around as long as man has been around and they are the most fascinating questions we can ask ourselves.
To ask ourselves these questions means that we are living the examined life, we are examining potential outcomes to how we live our lives. Will we go to hell? Will we come back as a dung beetle or an eagle? In an idealistic world, how we live should determine that, and perhaps it does. No one knows for sure what happens when one dies, anyone who says they do is likely trying to sell you on some new philosophy or perhaps convert you. All one can do is the best they can with the tools they have. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."He said this while on trial for heresy, a trial that ultimately led to his being put to death. When Socrates was given the option to spend his life in prison rather than being put to death he chose death. To him, living exiled in prison would have been a wasted life. He wanted the examined life, to look deeply into heart of things, ask questions, gather opinions and try to make the world a better place, sounds pretty noble to me, I wonder where he went after he was murdered.
“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
― Charles Bukowski