Heaven and Hell until the after

In this account there are two beings, and so that we can keep all this straight, we’ll call the first one the Entity. He’s no one in particular, but he’s been here for a very very long time, and for a good deal of that time he’s also been agonizing over what he wanted to do next when that other one showed up. I guess we’ll call that other one Bob. This is not his real name of course. No need to point fingers. He knows who he is and what he did.

Anyway, Bob has just died and his soul has been released from that corporeal shell that is his body. Out of curiosity, and probably a bit of mischief, the Entity decided to speak with him, to pick his brain as it were, and to find out what made him tick when he was alive. Actually, the Entity is a rather nice being, so it’s intent was somewhat altruistic, at least in small measure. The Entity wanted to try and make this new soul understand and maybe improve itself. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun along the way.

So why did you do it?

Bob was more than a little startled. He had been preoccupied looking at all those things floating around in the distance. He had clued in to the fact that he was dead, or at least he thought he was dead, but he did not know where he was and suddenly this thing shows up.

Do what?

Kill all those millions, the Entity said in that calm and unconcerned voice with which the Entity usually speaks.

Who? Me? What millions? I did no such thing, Bob replied, a little incredulous and a lot nervous.

What do you mean? Of course you did. Not directly by your own hand, but you directed it. It’s in the memory! The whole world came to hate you, and still does.

Oh all right, Bob replied, defeated. I guess I did do all that. I’m not sure what came over me. There was no use hiding it. The one across from him was probably one of those judge angels. When he was alive, Bob knew exactly what he was doing, and believed that it was right. Now he knew otherwise.

I’m not sure I understand that either. You started off not too badly, certainly no worse than many of the others, and then you went berserk and did all those terrible things.

Blame it on my upbringing, Bob replied.

Come now Bob! Countless souls have been born throughout eternity, and countless times have had to endure worse childhoods than you without later going on to commit the acts you did.

I said I don’t know, Bob replied impatiently, but then lowered his head in embarrassment. I’d apologize, but even if I did I already know that at this point it’s a little late. He slowly looked up and around and said, I must say though; if this is Hell it’s not quite what I expected.

The Entity smiled and gently shook his head. No, Bob. This isn’t Hell, and neither is it Heaven. Both of those places are back there where you came from.

Bob looked back at the Entity, rather quizzically. What do you mean?

Hell is what you made for all those people you so mercilessly tortured and killed, Bob. Hell is what all the souls such as yours create for the rest. In a way, the place where you were was also Heaven. Any little piece of peace you can eke out of that living hell could be considered heavenly. And you managed to insulate yourself quite well from all the wrongs that you wrought. The only place where either Heaven or Hell can exist is the place from which you came.

Bob thought for a moment and nodded. I see! Where exactly is it that I am then? If this is neither, then how is it that you and I can carry on this conversation? Why isn’t there just nothingness?

Well Bob, this is where all those souls come after their Hell or Heaven ends. This is where they chill for a bit, I guess.

That’s a bit simplistic.

Yes. Yes it is, Bob.

OK then, what happens after?

The Entity raised its hand and tapped its lip with its forefinger. Actually, the Entity has no real body, but it decided to appear in a familiar way for Bob to feel a little more at ease. Well, that is more difficult to answer, said the Entity.

Please try, pleaded Bob.

Well, you see, this indeed is where souls go to hang out and chill, but there is just a bit more to it than that. All of us are inside a kind of communal consciousness, it continued while raising its arms.

A hint of recognition came across Bob’s face. Oh, I think I’ve heard about that from some philosophers. Isn’t it why sometimes one person at one end of the world might do or invent something, the same thing that someone at the other end is thinking about? We’re all tuned in on a subconscious level?

That’s not bad! Not bad at all, Smiled the entity. It takes a while before some souls come to that conclusion. You must have been paying attention to that philosopher of yours.

Bob suddenly felt a little less stupid after finally having understood something of what the Entity was talking about. Thank you.

You’re very welcome, nodded the Entity, but no, that’s not it. Tell me Bob, what do you know about the theories of evolution?

Bob felt just a bit deflated again. Evolution? What does that have to do with this? Evolution is for the living.

And you’re telling me that you’re not alive, Bob?

Well yes! I’m dead. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Now listen to yourself, the Entity replied, allowing himself the tiniest of giggles. Doesn’t that sound just a little silly? I’m dead because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation! Oh! No wait — that’s actually rather funny. I’ll have to remember that one.

I’m glad you’re amused, Bob replied a bit angrily.

Evolution matters to everything. In the world you call the living, you are born, and if you are not killed or eaten you grow old and die. It kind of sucks when you look at it from that perspective, but that’s life, and in between, hopefully you are able to eat, drink and sleep well, and maybe reproduce once or twice.

Of what relevance is this to me, Demanded Bob!

Your impatience shines through even now! With every new offspring, each new life changes ever so slightly, imperceptibly, and each new version of that life improves on the old; at least it is hoped that it does.

OK, I’m bad seed. I get it, said Bob.

No — and yes. Because things are always changing, sometimes the change doesn’t work properly. In that living world of yours, people get sick, or are born with certain deformities or handicaps. On the other hand, many of those who have been born this way still fared much better than you did. Many became quite honourable members of…

People get sick, Bob interrupted, because they don’t take care of themselves, or because of diseases, not because of change.

Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong, replied the Entity. It’s not just people that change, but all the life around them. Even those lives that prey on people change, and that’s because people themselves change and that forces things around them to change.

Bob raised his arms and cupped his forehead in his hands. If I could, I’d have a headache right now.

The Entity allowed himself a faint smiled while Bob wasn’t looking. Anyway, if an environment changes too drastically or too abruptly you have extinction, but if the change is gradual then Life is afforded the chance to change and improve on itself.

I still don’t understand what you are saying. I was never very good at biology, but I know all this, even if only on a basic level. Where we are right now is not life. I’m dead!

Oh, but that’s where you are wrong. The Entity shook his head, raised his arms and motioned for Bob to look. Take a good look around you, at all those things that were moving around us a short time ago. Did you notice that some of them have come closer to us and have stopped?

Bob’s brows furled. Now that you mention it, it is rather strange. Are they angels?

Again, the Entity sighed, to remind you, this is neither Heaven nor Hell! But I suppose to your understanding they might be angels. They are actually the collective consciousnesses of countless souls in each one.

You keep speaking in riddles.

The Entity replied with its usual patience. Then please stop interrupting and I’ll get back to my explanation.

But you’re the one who pointed out those things that have stopped!

So I was — anyway, life tries to improve on certain designs through change. Sometimes a certain design is destroyed because of processes beyond its control, and sometimes life abandons a design that may take too much energy to improve.

Wait a minute! I think I’m beginning to understand.

Go on, Bob.

Life changes and evolves, right! Sometimes it hits a dead-end, and sometimes it improves on the old. And then … and then … Oh, I don’t know, he pleaded while again cupping his forehead in his hands.

I’ll continue then, or maybe take a little detour. You thought this was Hell at first, then Heaven. Actually, I’m a little surprised you thought this was Hell first because usually everyone thinks this is Heaven, but que sera sera! You thought the way you did because of what you were taught when you were supposedly alive. Heaven is for the righteous and Hell for the damned. The truth is actually far more interesting than that.

Life, as you have always known it, has always tried to improve on itself. Correction! I should add that life tries to improve on its corporeal self.

What does that mean?

When you were that awful thing back there in Heaven or Hell there were actually two of you, but still one, the Entity said while holding up its finger.

Oh god! This is getting ridiculous. I still don’t understand what you mean. Would you please get to the point!

We’re almost there. So anyway, there are two but one who move through this world changing, evolving, and maybe hopefully improving, but you naturally can’t see beyond your own shell. By the way, underline the word naturally, since that is what blinds you. It is the natural world that keeps you from seeing past your shell.

Why do things have to change? Why can’t they just stay the same? I’ll answer this for you.

Thank god, exhaled Bob.

It’s constantly looking to improve on itself, smiled the Entity.

For crying out loud, you’ve already said that, Bob pleaded.

It’s not just the corporeal being that is constantly looking to improve on the original. The soul is too.

Bob thought for a while. What’s that?

Those things you see around you are all our collective consciousnesses. And it’s nothing as simple as your concept of a soul. What happens when a corporeal dies?

Corporeal? You mean a body? I don’t know. It decomposes. Maybe it’s eaten.

Yes, replied the Entity. It is absorbed into the environment. The molecules are eaten by other animals and plants, or they scatter in the wind and are eventually inhaled or used as fertilizer, underline eaten, by a plant that ultimately will still be consumed by something else. Did you know that when your corporeal body was alive it contained bits and pieces of everyone and everything that has ever existed on the planet? If things decompose and are reabsorbed by other things, including plants, it only stands to reason, does it not?

I suppose, Bob cautiously answered, worried that he would be wrong yet again.

Then in some ways, all those before you were relatives, don’t you think Bob.

It’s a stretch, but I guess. In a way …

You admit that it may be so?

I guess I do, Bob agreed, with a bit of surprise. It’s kind of interesting. Attila the Hun could be my relative, he smiled, and then saw the Entity’s unimpressed expression. … Sorry, wrong example.

Yes, it’s a bad example, but you are right. On that same note though, you do realize that you were related to every one of those millions you had tortured and killed.

Oh. Bob felt like a pinpricked balloon.

Anyway, back to evolution and relations. Life is constantly changing to improve on itself, and in that process there is that cycle of birth, life, hopefully improvement, death, decay, and then it starts over again. What if the life after death is just the same as the life before?

I think I understand now, Bob nodded.

What if that God you believe you know is actually a piece of you? What if God is Me! And what if God is You! And what if God is just god. What if god is Life trying to make sense of itself, maybe trying to improve on itself. Then again, what if Life is our collective consciousness, constantly in flux, constantly evolving.

I see.

Every time that which you call a soul comes home, when the corporeal dies, it is reabsorbed and reborn. All those around you right now, are a part of that cycle. Because the consciousness seeks to improve on itself, it is reborn again into a corporeal state to learn just that little bit more.

Bob shook his head. This is all beginning to sound very Hindu. Die and be reborn into a higher life form, and if you do something bad, you’re reborn as a bug. Does this mean that I now have to be reborn and redeem myself?

Not quite. It’s not as simple as that. Most of the time, the cycle just continues until the consciousness is aware enough to choose.

What do you mean aware enough? I think, therefore I am. I’m aware enough!

Yet again, not quite, the Entity replied while tilting its head. It may be enough for a corporeal consciousness, but it’s not enough here. All those you see around you right now have achieved that level of consciousness. They can choose. Remember what I said about change and evolution. With change comes the occasional accident.

Meaning I’m the accident?

Kind of! You see, all of them have a choice that is different from all corporeal life. When you were in your Heaven or Hell, you had no choice but to be related to all those before you and after. You were in effect related to those you tortured. However, those around you right now have a choice, and for now … the Entity paused and sighed … they do not want you to be a part of them.

Oh. At this point, Bob was justifiably concerned. What does this mean for me then? What choice do I have?

The Entity gently shook its head. None, I’m afraid. You must return to your Heaven, or your Hell if it is to be that, and try again. They will not accept you yet. You’ll have to evolve and learn a bit more.

I see. Do I have a chance?

There is always a chance. It’s always up to you, replied the Entity with a smile. It’s up to you even if you don’t know it at the time.

I guess I have no choice then. Bob resigned himself to his fate, even if he did not know what that was to be.

No, you don’t.

Until later then?

Yes. Until later, Bob.

Hey Fred, shouted the worker. Pass me another blade. This one’s dull. I keep havin’ to cut back and forth a few times before I get’em off, and my arms gettin’ sore.

Fred handed his co-worker another blade. Shit, Al! You go through blades faster than anyone else in the factory. Cool it will you!

Al snickered as he reached for the next …

bgaaagh! What the cluck was that! Bob was frantic.

The Entity replied in his usual calm and collected manner, What do you mean, Bob?

I was a chicken, Bob cried hysterically. … in a factory. Some guy named Al just cut my head off. Slowly…!

Oh, that. Well, things can get a little complicated at times, especially in your situation, the Entity nodded rather knowingly and slowly, in the way the Entity usually does. You created a bit of a ripple in your consciousness. It is your own Heaven, and your own Hell, after all.

Bob pleaded. I’m done now, right!

The Entity sighed again, as best he could to try and put Bob at ease. This did not work, of course. I’m afraid not, Bob. You’ll learn eventually. Just enjoy the ride, Bob.

Bob's eyes widened in horror. But…

Now, Al, said Fred while waving his fingers in Al’s face. We’ve gone through this before. You’ve got to be more careful with this, or you’ll lose your job, Fred pleaded. There are rules in the way we treat the porkers.

Yeah, I know. But I kind of like the way they squeal. Al giggled and smiled with that mischievous grin of his.

Al, you really worry me sometimes, you know! Fred shook his head and continued to try and reason with his co-worker. Look, they’ll squeal however you do it. Just do it the way the bosses say you should.

OK! OK! Stop the naggin, Al said, and then continued with that grin of his, … you love the way I work don’t ya?

No, I don’t. We’ve just worked together long enough that I don’t feel like breakin’ in another. Too much work! Fred shook his head again and turned to leave.

Fine! OK! Bring in the next — Ooooh, that sound, Al grinned as the next one was dragged in.


Oh! Hello Bob. Back again? How did it go?

I was a fucking pig in a factory.

Yes, yes, nodded the Entity. It happens sometimes. At least you weren’t a bug. Oh well. Back you go.