A lot of religious or spiritual paths talk at some length about the hereafter. For some there’s the idea of going to heaven where you enjoy Forever in some paradise built for humans or their soul equivalents but for others you just “rest” in darkness and stillness until some far-off Judgement Day when all souls are brought into God’s presence to be assessed. For some, only a Great Nothingness awaits. And for some even calling what comes next as a Great Nothingness is still almost too certain of a description for what might await. Sometimes these afterlife schemes involve the idea of certain or potential punishment, too. I’ve read descriptions of these punishments described variously as eternal, temporary, fiery, cold, including severe torment, and as nothing more than full exclusion from the presence of God.
For me, it is certainly a lie any idea that suggests a real and concrete distinction between what I know to be life and others and myself and any idea of God. In fact, I think it’s the greatest lie ever – regardless of how you define or refuse to define “God.” With that in mind, I find it hard to believe in any conceptual afterlife that too closely resembles the life I have now. There can be no streets of gold in heaven. No refreshing streams. No harps played by angels. No crowns to toss as offerings of praise to Jesus’ feet. That’s too much like life now, and anything like like now cannot be “Heaven.” For the most part, I feel the same applies to to ideas of Hell or a tormented afterlife. I’ll be surprised, and frankly quite pissed, if I get to a Hell to find actual flames and gnarled angels ripping my flesh off. I seriously doubt I’ve anything to be concerned about. One space I’ll allow some wiggle room, however, is a concept of Hell defined as total absence from your idea of God – that truly sounds like Hell. But it’s also impossible, so… Whatever.
Something people in my life might have heard me say, and which relates directly to this topic, is what I plan to do after I’m done with my current body. The answer? Weather. I haven’t quite yet worked out the details, but once I’m done being “Joshua” I’ll be weather. I don’t plan to be a hurricane or a tornado or a breeze, precisely. Just a part of the planet’s bigger energetic body. Plus weather is beautiful. All weather is. It’s also impartial and ego-free, etc… Everywhere and nowhere. So… yeah. Weather, though, is a pretty concrete idea. You can picture weather and touch it. You can see it. Kinda like dumb Heaven or Hell, weather is awfully sensory. But I’m cool with it. Nothing about the idea of becoming weather implies I’ll be weather forever. Nothing about it portrays some kind of blissful version of life of Earth.
In Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg, we’re working our way to the Center or Central Region. It’s where we all came from and to where we all are due to return. Humanity has called it by a bajillion names – some of which are more specific and others, which I’m more inclined toward, are less so… Names like The One, and Source, and The Truth. And I think people who think about god are fine even with more abstract titles like The One as a way to identify That. But to continue deeper into this, what does it mean to return to our original and shared Source? A lot of people might say that it means your soul get’s back to where it came from but with the understanding that “you” remain “you” once you have arrived at That. And this is where my understanding diverges.
It makes sense to me that when we actually return to the Source, we become That. You don’t go there and then find that you have arrived. You make your way there and … ARE that There-ness. It feels weird to think that eventually, with enough effort, I’ll become a region. The Region. The Central Region. The Centre. The Source. I’ll be the Thing that everyone issues from which is as much a place as it is a thing. How fantastic is this?
I’m including below some quotes – most of which are from the Complete Works of Ram Chandra – and which I think help to illustrate this idea. These came to me as Daily Reflections emails with various themes.
“With all the innumerable forms, from the finest to the grossest, man is in existence in the material world as a true copy of the universe or the entire manifestation of God, represented by a complete circle from the outermost circumference to the innermost centre or zero. Now, the innermost centre, or zero, of a man’s existence and that of God’s manifestation is really the same. Realisation of God means the same as the realisation of Self, and vice versa.” –Taken from the book “Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol. 1 (1st Indian edn., 1989)”, Chapter “Realisation”, pg. 95, by Babuji Maharaj
“In fact spirituality begins where religion ends. Religion is only a preliminary stage for preparing a man for his march on the path of freedom. When he has set his foot on the path, he is then beyond the limits of religion. The end of religion is the beginning of spirituality; the end of spirituality is the beginning of Reality, and the end of Reality is the real Bliss. When that too is gone, we have reached the destination.” –Taken from the book “Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol. 1 (1st Indian edn., 1989)”, Chapter “Religion”, pg. 13, by Babuji Maharaj
“There are three stages recognized in Sahaj Marg. Liberation is the lowest – actually, Babuji has called it a toy in the hands of a saint. Then comes the stage of Realization, and the final stage is mergence with the Infinite – what we call “Layavastha.” –Taken from the book “The Fruit of the Tree”, Chapter “Question and Answers VIII”, pg. 2008, by Revered Charij
“Vairagya (Renunciation) can be attained only when one is wholly diverted towards the Divine. When it is so, one naturally becomes disinterested in his own self including everything connected with it. Thus he loses not only the body-consciousness but subsequently the soul-consciousness as well.” –Taken from the book “Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol. 1 (1st Indian edn., 1989)”, Chapter “Way to Realisation (Role of the Abhyasi)”, pg. 339, by Babuji Maharaj
“Now I come to the point [of] what the real goal of life should be. It is generally admitted that the goal must be the highest; otherwise, progress up to the final limit is doubtful. The final point of approach is where every kind of force, power, activity or even stimulus disappears and a man enters a state of complete negation, Nothingness, or Zero. That is the highest point of approach, or the final goal of life.” –Taken from the book “Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol. 1 (1st Indian edn., 1989)”, Chapter “The Goal of Life”, pg. 24, by Babuji Maharaj
Thank you for reading!
Aum Shanti | Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha