Excerpt About Hell

Theistic and Non-theistic Orientations Toward Suffering

This principle is formulated in different ways. There are two main ways of working with it. One is the theistic approach, and the other is the nontheistic approach. The theistic formulation has been the main approach in the West. The Judeo-Christian and Moslem traditions were formulated around the existence of a deity or God. These traditions say that if you look toward God, you’ll go to heaven, and if you look toward anything else, you’ll go to hell. what is needed is complete faith, complete surrender, complete openness, complete turning toward God. This is nothing but the movement toward Essence, for God is nothing but the nature of Essence, the essence of Essence, the source of Essence. So if you turn toward Essence, the source of Essence, the nature of Essence, you will get the realm of the heart which is heaven. If you turn toward anything else, you will get what we call the “false pearl,” the personality, and all the suffering and misery which is hell. The nontheistic traditions—the Buddhists and Taoists, for instance—do not postulate the existence of God. The Buddhists speak of the Four Noble Truths. The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is the nature of the personality. The second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering is desire. The third Noble Truth is that there is a way out of that. And the fourth Noble Truth is the path. So there is suffering; its cause is desire; it is possible to have a cessation of desire; and there is a path towards that cessation. Desire here is the looking outward: “I want this. I want that. Give me love. Give me pleasure.” It is seeking things from the external. The cessation of desire is the movement inward. The theistic approach comes from the perspective of the heart. The other approach, the Buddhist one, is the perspective of the mind. They are basically the same thing.

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