Heaven and Hell – where do we go?

By Yongkok

From time to time, I often find myself asking what is next after death? Being brought up in a traditional Chinese family, it is ingrained in us that if we perform good deeds, our karma will elevate us to heaven. On the contrary, if we are involved in atrocities, we will be weighed down to hell – the abyss of eternal suffering. However, is heaven and hell really that far-fetched that we will only experience it only upon death?

In fact, if we start to reflect internally, we live our lives cruising through heaven and enduring hell every day. Every arising thought is a remnant of our past. If left unobserved, these thoughts have the potential of evolving into action or speech based on our likes and dislikes. Especially if these words or actions are uttered or performed during a moment of impulse, it often results in regret and guilt. This emotional state of unease is in fact, or at least what I think it is, a taste of what hell will feel like. On the other hand, one may gleam with pride and satisfaction after being praised by our bosses for a job well done in front of our colleagues. For that moment, one may seem to be in heaven. 

I have come to realise that whatever is presented before us is an aggregation of conditions and it is non-permanent in nature. We begin our life with nothing and leave with nothing. In between, it is a roller coaster ride of heavenly peaks and tormenting troughs. If we are not aware of our thoughts and continuing to dwell on them without realising it, we are amplifying the highs and lows during this ride of life. Thus, strive for neither heaven nor hell. Be at ease as heaven and hell is all but an illusion generated by conditions.