Heaven and Hell - what are they like?
I began to ponder this question some years ago after receiving a piece of devastating news - the kind that almost physically pushes you to the floor, as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
I felt cold, literally, and very alone and realized why a 'heavy heart' is called that.
It was the very worst day of my life til then.
Not long after, I happened to watch an online video of an Islamist terrorist claiming that everyone who didn't conform exactly to what he had decided was the correct way of life was 'doomed to eternal hellfire'.
He waxed nonsensical about the pain of being in hell but all I could think was
'No physical pain could be worse than how I felt that day'.
It set me thinking - had religious leaders in the past simply equated fire with Hell because it was a physical pain they knew everyone could identify with?
The maniac in the video seemed to be contradicting himself - he believed that people would leave their human bodies behind and their souls would be punished....but in a very non-soul, actually-physical kind of way.
Wouldn't a soul, bereft of its physical confinement in a human body, be impervious to the physical pain of being burnt?
Heaven and Hell, Reincarnation and Moksha - how does it all fit?
There is no science to this. You can disagree and offer rebuttals in the Comments, but for the sake of this Hub, I will make these assumptions:
1. All humans have souls.
2. Souls are eternal.
I believe a 'soul' is a collection of memories and energy, irreversibly bound together. If you throw reincarnation in the mix, it would mean memories are repressed (not completely, by some accounts) when a soul leaves one body and enters another.
Reincarnation, as believed in in Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, gives every soul a number of chances to get things right/as right as possible. Continued existence in the physical plane is seen as prolonged punishment (Hell, in a sense), whereas release (moksha) from the cycle of life-and-death (samsara) is the ultimate achievement and reward - the return of the soul to, and fusion with, the Supreme Consciousness.
Existence after Moksha is thought to be a perpetual state of blissful rapture that does not ebb or die. It is the closest thing to the 'Heaven' described in the Abrahamic faiths (in terms of eternal happiness), with the main difference being that the Earthly-type pleasures are regarded as a 'lower level' of enjoyment that the soul is beyond.
It is worth noting that moksha is also associated with knowledge, perhaps suggesting 'all will be revealed' to the soul that attains it.