Hell, From A Buddhist Point of View: Regardless, Fire Is the Central Common Theme of Most Religious Infernos
From time to time, I receive unsolicited advice, both online and offline, with regards to the condition of my "spiritual life", whatever that means. The Christian elements will tend to invoke the blood debt: The cleansing of the "Original Sin", an indelible mark that has to be washed with the blood of Christ, i.e The Crucification. Their Muslim counterparts, while still sheepish about the eventual 72 virgins in heaven, do note that hell awaits for the kafirs, while leaving us wondering about the impending fates of women in the Muslim heaven (Do they still wear burkas???).
The souls of non-believers, according to theists, will suffer horribly in the deepest bowels of a burning inferno. Hell, it seems, is not exactly reserved for villains: Anyone who lacks faith in the deity in question, or simply refuses to believe in the existence of hell's Creator, will suffer the horrible fate of being standard BBQ fare for the rest of eternity. Such an ignominious fate, indeed, for the insufferable infidel!
Indeed, hell is a place where all sane people should do well to avoid. According to the all-loving, gay-loving Jebus, you will do well to lose an eye, rather than suffer the irreversible fate of burning for infinity and beyond:
"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
The subject of hell is a burning issue, both paradoxically and realistically: Whether Hell exists or not is beside the point. The reality of the situation is that Hell is merely part of the "Carrot and Stick" mentality that creates a mental delusion in the minds of religious folks who may somehow have smelled a rat emanating from the bullshit pandered about by religious institutions & scumbags alike. It also serves as a selling point for proselytizers who may encounter infidels who are somewhat inclined to the "Guns & Roses" culture, rockers and rocker wannabes who may actually have second thoughts(understandably so!) about singing boring Christian hymns for the rest of eternity.
The "Hell" Doctrine: God Loves You To Bits, But He Still Kills You Eventually
While polytheism exhibits religious piety, it seldom has the "love" element in it: The Chinese for example, worship the Gods of Longevity and Prosperity just as fervently as the pious Christian, but both deities are not mutually exclusive (the Chinese are quite comfortable with praying to a vast pantheon of Gods, just like the ancient Greeks), & if anything else, Gods of the pantheistic variety do not practice absolute insistence on belief, and hell is more exclusive for doers of evil deeds than non-believers.
Monotheism, however, invokes Hell for a solely different purpose. God, being the sole cosmic superpower of the Universe, is somehow enthralled by the going-ons in this puny planet of ours. Every thing we do, from stealing cookies from the cookie jar to breaking someone's arm, becomes a paramount concern to the deity. According to Christians and other deities, this Cosmic Superman loves us to itsy-bitsy pieces, and such a love is manifested in his "Creation". Of course, sometimes he screws up (intentionally or carelessly, you take the pick), regurgitating volcanic larvae, wrecking coasts with tsunamis and all, drowning, immolating, decapitating and.....oh well, God still loves us to itsy-bitsy pieces, and that is the whole point, isn't it? Gawd loves us, & he demonstrates his love for us with mass murder!
The Jealous God
The Gods of monotheism tend to to guard their jealous exclusivity to the point of absurdity: The Christian God, for example, does not condone the presence of other Gods. "Thy Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me" is an absolute maxim, supposedly cast in stone in the form of the Ten Commandments. The Koran is replete with verses on how to deal with and skewer kafirs (infidels).
With little or no room for negotiation, God becomes a incorrigibly unreasonable despot: In order to keep the religious flock within the sanctity of a religious institution, the deity must impose both love and hate in extreme polemics, and while this may sound ironic and stupid to rational thinkers, God, the omnipotent, omniscient and omni benevolent deity, invokes both the flurry clouds of heaven and the burning inferno of hell to herd his ignorant flock.
Hence the favorite Christian adage: "God loves you, believe in him and he will reward you with an eternity of God wanking in the fluffy clouds of heaven. However, because of your Sin, hell awaits you, if you do not believe in God and repent of your sins".
The idea of bridging the dichotomy between love and hate aside, the "heaven and hell" concept is simply religious drivel meant to restraint doubt and put a lid on the forces of apostasy and other non-desirable elements in the theist's book.
Whose Hell Do I Go?
While the concept of hell seems erroneous when love is concerned, the more mundane and down-to-earth question would be: Whose hell is the real hell?
As always, almost every religion that exists on this planet has incorporated some form of eternal torment for evil-doers and, in the case of monotheistic religions, non-believers. If the deity-in-question happens to be Allah, for example, then those Christians who engage in the simpleminded worship of Jebus may find themselves in a totally unexpected eternity with the burning infidels. Reverse the roles, and one could imagine the chagrin on the Muslim terrorist's face, when, after eviscerating himself with the sole aim of fucking 72 virgins in heaven, a cauldron of hot, boiling inferno awaits him.
Hell In A Cell: An Irrational Concept Based On Fear
The concept of Hell is based on nothing more than pure, unadulterated fear.
Because death puts a dramatic full stop to life, it is quite inconceivable to the human psyche that life ceases to exist after death, and despite the dearth of evidence, we want to believe that our lives can go on after our impending ends. This "extended" life manifests itself in the form of the "Soul": a spiritual entity that supposedly survives our bodily deaths. It is the soul that is supposed to survive either an eternity in heavenly bliss, or eternal suffering in the bowels of hell.
Hence, religion seizes upon this persistent fear of death and the belief of an afterlife to invoke it's fear-based beliefs. Follow my religion and you go to heaven, failure to do so and you go to hell.
In sum, the religious concept of hell is a two prong psychological weapon: To scare backsliders from probing and questioning their religious beliefs and faith system, as well as a mental blackmail to scare infidels into joining their insidious cults based on fear, exclusivity and bigotry.
The next time someone tells you about the horrible tales of an afterlife in Hell, just tell him or her that you are in good company: With Elvis crooning away and Marilyn Monroe swaying and sauntering in the heat of the blasting furnace, you can bet your last dollar that hell is going to be the next party place for party-loving swingers!
The Vengeful, Evil God?
"Who needs Satan when you have a God like this?"