Lately, I've been very much enjoying Lucifer on Netflix. I remember Tom Ellis, the actor who plays Lucifer, from the British comedy, Miranda. By the way, I highly recommend Miranda if you haven't seen it. It is hilarious.
I'm up to near the end of the third season of Lucifer. The first four or five episodes were a little ... marginally entertaining. But I really became hooked when the plot began to expand across episodes, and the show began to illustrate and to propound serious religious topics--like judgment, forgiveness, redemption, and acceptance. It's not that these issues are discussed in great depth in the show, rather that I appreciate that Hollywood has made any effort at all to talk about serious religious ideas in what would otherwise be just another "cop show". But more than that, I'm especially pleased by the development of the main characters' enlightened understanding of the concept of judgment. The view expressed on the show is that God does not judge individuals. We each judge ourselves.
I have held this view for well over a decade, but lately I've come to the realization, or perhaps just the perception, that this notion, as enlightened as it is, is incomplete. I view judgment as something bigger now. While the idea that our suffering from our self-judgment is what "puts us in hell" does explain a great deal of where a person's individual suffering must come from--regardless of whether heaven and hell are physical places--it misses some important aspects of our pychological lives. For one, it misses the idea that we suffer even without any self-judgment, merely by our own attitudes. For example, when I get mad "because" I stub my toe, I am not only suffering because of the pain, I am also suffering because of my angry emotional response to it. So, when I get angry, I actually increase my suffering.
Here is a Zen Buddhist story that illustrates this.
Hakuin, the fiery and intensely dynamic Zen master, was once visited by a samurai warrior.
"I want to know about heaven and hell," said the samurai. "Do they really exist?" he asked Hakuin.
Hakuin looked at the soldier and asked, "Who are you?"
"I am a samurai," announced the proud warrior.
"Ha!" exclaimed Hakuin. "What makes you think you can understand such insightful things? You are merely a callous, brutish soldier! Go away and do not waste my time with your foolish questions," Hakuin said, waving his hand to drive away the samurai.
The enraged samurai couldn't take Hakuin's insults. He drew his sword, readied for the kill, when Hakuin calmly retorted, "This is hell."
The soldier was taken aback. His face softened. Humbled by the wisdom of Hakuin, he put away his sword and bowed before the Zen Master.
"And this is heaven," Hakuin stated, just as calmly.
The warrior is in hell solely due to his anger. He hasn't done anything to feel guilty about. Therefore, "hell" is about more than simple self-judgment. It's about other negative emotions too.
I propose (or, as Rod Serling used to say, "submitted for your approval") that hell is about nothing more complicated than unhappiness, and heaven is about nothing more complicated than happiness. When we are happy we are in heaven, and when we are unhappy we are in hell. If this is an accurate perception, then "salivation" is only the state of being happy, and "damnation" is only the state of being unhappy. I realize that if heaven and hell are real physical places, which I came to doubt a long time ago, then my ideas could well be partially or even completely wrong. But, if we view our earth lives as being part of the Telestial kingdom, as most Mormons do, then these simple definitions explain a lot. This would explain that we are not here because of the fall of Adam, i.e. not because of some judgment from God. We are here simply because this is life. And in life, we determine whether we are in heaven or hell. Or, rather, we allow our immature, untrained minds to put us in heaven or hell.
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