Once upon a time the notion of hell was common in the western world. It’s seen a decline in popularity as well. Neal Donald Walsch’ s channelled material states categorically there is no such place. That there is an in-between place where one could go for a time to figure things out is possible, certainly, but not a permanent place of never-ending suffering, no.
A friend of mine who was brought up with and was seriously frightened by the idea of hell, dreamt that she was falling, falling, towards hell. But when she landed she found herself lying on just a bed of straw- unharmed, and no flames in sight. Evidently sent to quiet her mind on the topic.
Another woman I met at a music conference told the others in her dorm room that she’d recently divorced her husband – which in her religion was not allowed. As a result she was being shunned by her family and others in their group and told she’d be going to hell. This must have laid heavy on her conscience for she had the following dream:
I was flying above the earth and beside me was another person, like an angel, flying beside me and a little behind. Between us and the earth were flying several ancient flying dinosaur birds, pterodactyls. Curious, I asked my guide/ angel, pointing to one close by: what’s that? Oh that? That’s the United Church. And that one over there? Oh, that’s the Catholic Church…… (etc)
i.e. She herself was actually flying at a higher spiritual level, and had no reason to be in fear of what narrow minded people from (outdated) older religious thinking threatened her with.
This notion of hell can be a huge burden to carry around. Another huge stick with which to beat children who aren’t behaving as you want them to. A few years ago I was teaching in a grade 5 class in the elementary system in Toronto, and among the many other questions I fielded was one from a very serious looking boy who asked me if hell was real? The only thing I could think to answer was that the only hell he’ll ever see is the hell we create for each other here on this planet. He seemed visibly relieved – evidently he’d been threatened with this by someone he trusted. As if we didn’t have enough actual dangers and threats to look out for! Wielded by someone who wants to have not only his own power to wield but wants hell and damnation to be in his control as well – to sound like he’s got it from the highest authority.
Why don’t we better concentrate on creating the best life we can while we’re here. John Wooden, the famous coach was known to have firmly believed what his father had told him growing up: “Make every day magnificent!” For yourself and for as many others as you can. Now there’s something to look forward to, something to sleep on – without the fears or the worry!