Are We Already in Hell?
About a month ago my friend Amy told me she hopes in her next life she comes back as a stone. I gather there was some humor intended, but also some truth.
Amy introduced me to the concept that we are already in Hell, right here, right now, in this physical existence here on Earth. That concept did not sink in for a few days, but as the thought simmered, I began to understand, and started to agree.
Perhaps it is good that we are here, in Hell...Just a little background. I never believed in a traditional Christian Hell with a Devil and fire and brimstone, because to me that is inconsistent with the concept of a loving God. Punishment is a human concept devised to teach and incent proper behavior. Once the timespan expands to eternity, the experience cannot be considered teaching. It simply becomes torture and cruelty. Teaching only has value in a situation where it can make a difference, and the first requirement is that the lesson at some point must end.
My former concept of Hell was a place of unending torture inflicted upon us, but much more abstract than the above image. It was simply a place of agony without relief. For the same reasons mentioned above, I did not believe it existed.
Mine was also such an extreme vision of suffering and agony that my initial reaction to Amy's proposition was "things really aren't that bad here... this can't be Hell."
If there is a Hell, and if it has a purpose consistent with a loving God, perhaps the very reasons I rejected the notion of a traditional Christian Hell are the very reasons Amy's opinion should be given consideration.
We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I do believe this Earthly experience is one of teaching and learning. We all know that our time here is limited. Life in this "Earthbound Hell" is not an eternal sentence.
There are lessons to be taught and learned here. We do not tend to learn and grow when everything is going smoothly and we are "fat and happy." Only in conflict and suffering do we have the necessary motivation to push through to new understandings, epiphanies, and realities.
I also tend to believe there is more beyond our physical death, providing further opportunity to benefit from lessons learned here.
Life here is not cruel, unrelenting torture. There is love and joy intermixed.
In many cases it is nobody but ourselves inflicting the pain, not God, not the Devil. We are the keepers of our own suffering.
It seems that we cannot know love until we know suffering. Perhaps this is the only way we can experience suffering to truly come to know love.
Perhaps it is good that we are here, in Hell, but just for a little while... until we return to our true form, all the wiser for our experience here.