It is said that the path of heaven can only go through hell. If this experience is known, and the way to heaven is hell, then perhaps it must be reasoned that the path to hell is everywhere heaven is not. If one can see that there is no true duality in our existence unless we have created it, then one can see that there is, in fact, no place that heaven is not. Yet, perhaps the hell that we experience in heaven’s absence (or the veil that separates us from experiencing the heaven that we are in), is nothing more than our creation. It would be like a guppy in a large bowl who can only see the water saying “there is nothing but this water, no bowl, no air; nothing but this water”. The things beyond his grasp are not absent, they are simply not seen and therefore not known. If he has not seen it he cannot know it, and therefore cannot experience it. Yet it is there.
The path to heaven does not appear to me to be something we “get to”. We do not walk aimlessly through this life until we finally die and then see heaven. The guppy will eventually get to the bowl or the air if he just stays still. Encountering the bowl or air is not incumbent on any action on his part. Eventually the veil will be lifted. It is no different in our quest for that which we were told exists, but that which we can’t remember experiencing. We were there before we were “born” and will be there after we die because, in essence, we have never left it. Rather, we have created water to separate us from the bowl and the air. We wonder aimlessly through the water. We fight the currents and wonder why we haven’t moved or have fallen backwards. We dive to the depths and wonder where all the air is and, in fact, question whether the air exists at all. We create the veil of doubt because of our own actions if they don’t work out to the purpose we have also created. Yet, nothing changes but in your mind.
I believe Jesus was an enlightened man dealing with guppies swimming about. When he said to follow him, that he was the path to heaven, what exactly did he mean? Did he mean that being Christian got you to heaven? No, Christianity did not exist when Jesus did. Did he mean that preaching and teaching would get you there? No. So what did Jesus mean when he said to follow him to heaven?
Look at the stages that are known about Jesus. He lived as a man, learned his religion’s traditions and virtues, and then discovered an enlightened path along the way. He saw the bowl and the air and although he couldn’t tell you much about them, he knew not only how he got there but that they existed. So, he tried to tell us how to get there so that we could know, and thereby experience, heaven.
Heaven is all around us, but we can’t see it. It isn’t because it is some mystical place to which we are not privileged, but rather because of the veils of distraction we have created that block us from viewing it. Perhaps Jesus wished to offer us an extreme example of what is necessary to lift the veils and move beyond the distractions. Perhaps, as I believe, this is what he meant by “follow me”.
Jesus lived as a man. He fasted (ascetic), prayed (meditated), and practiced compassion and love. Those things alone are not enough to know heaven. In order to know something, you must first know its opposite. You know day because of night, light because of darkness, yin because of yang. Therefore, in order to know the paradise that is heaven, you must first know that suffering that is hell. I don’t believe that many of us could relate to Jesus’ life as “suffering”. We aren’t given that information (although fasting for 40 days and nights would seem to suggest some ascetic form of suffering). So we are given the extreme in order to understand that suffering must be part of any experience of heaven. Without it, we simply would not know what heaven was.
So Jesus suffered and died, which in my experience is an analogy for the suffering and death we face before knowing heaven. That can happen in this existence we call life without the death of the body. Death is nothing more than the lifting of the veils we have created in order to understand a much deeper reality; a reality that is, at its most quantum level, our Source. What we call “heaven”. I have died many times in this existence, and as each layer is removed I get closer to the core. As each veil is lifted I begin to see.
So, in effect, every path to heaven must go through hell. It doesn’t matter if you believe that Jesus existed as a man or see him as God. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe that God exists or have a wonderful relationship with God. It remains the same for each of us.
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