Since the beginning of time, human beings have dreamed of heaven, thirsted for it and even killed to have a place in heaven. This is what the society cherishes and values the most, but the question that arises from this is whether heaven is a place or just a figment of human imagination (Eck, 2012). Assumptions are being raised that heaven motivates people to be good on earth or follow religious teachings to be awarded a place in heaven after death. To be able to know what the society cherishes and values are to see what its image of heaven is. Christians, Hindus, Buddhist, Jewish, and Islam all embrace the belief of life after death (Eck, 2012). They all believe that life left well on earth according to the teachings is always rewarded. Even though they have similar beliefs, there view on heaven differs.
In Christianity, there is many denomination who differ in the explanation on Christian heaven. In the bible the book of Luke 17:12 it indicates that the kingdom of heaven is within the people. Christian's belief that if one dies, he/she goes to heaven and then becomes a spirit and an angel. Heaven is viewed in Christianity has a reward and proximity to God (Eck, 2012). It is the heaven that the law originates. It is the guide of the bible that one follows to have the kingdom of God. Heaven is where we realize the things we aspire. According to Eck (2012), it only by accepting Jesus as the savior that one will get into heaven. To theologists, heaven is the exclusive domain of Christians and life everlasting is a reward for good work on earth (Coppes, 2013).
Buddhist belief that heave is not a final destination but rather an option. Buddhist philosophers have indicated that many heavens totalize to thirty-three. To the Buddhist religion, Eck (2012) reviews that part of what makes them suffer and keeps them in bondage is their lesser self is the longing for immortality. There unconditional state of being that awakens them not to have the aspect of life and death. This is not something to be desired but rather a reality to be awakened to (Coppes, 2013). Buddha was born into Hindu family, and most of their relations and beliefs are similar to Hinduism (Eck, 2012). Since heaven for them is an option, awareness becomes the only path of immortality, thoughtlessness becomes the path of death, and those who are aware of this do not die.
Islam religion has always suffered public image since the 9/11 attack in the United States. Many have linked the Islamic religion with violence and terrorism. Terrorist groups that shelter in the religion of Islam have always related to heaven as a heavenly reward of their fight for religion. This is not the right teachings of Islam according to Sufi the Islamic sect in turkey meaning the love of God.' The Islam belief that, if they live a righteous life on earth they will cross a bridge and leave with God in heaven. They believe that they have to live by the teaching of the Quran in righteousness and humility because they will be subjected to judgment at their death (Eck, 2012). They live in rectitude on earth to be faithful witnesses of Allah. According to the Quran chapter 11 verse 23, "those that have faith and do good works and humble themselves before their Lord, they are the heirs of Paradise." Islam sees heaven in themselves for purification.
The Jewish beliefs in heaven are influenced by their historical attachment to their ancestors. To them, they always bow to their ancestors because they brought them to heaven (Eck, 2012). They believe that heaven is within them indicating that they have to live by justice and be kind to themselves and others (Coppes, 2013). They believe in one God who laid a foundation of heaven where heaven signifies God by leaving righteous. In death, they believe that they will return to dust and the spirit will go to God who gave it.
The Ganjis River is called the gateway to heaven. It sustains the physical and spiritual life of 300 millions of people. To the Hindus in India, the river is known to be the mother goddess, give of happiness and provider of salvation. To Varanasi, people come to the city to die. To the Hindu religion, when they die they are cremated. For one to be cremated in Varanasi, it means that one will attain liberation from the cycle of death and birth (Eck, 2012). Having one cremated body ashes scattered into the Ganji's River indicates that the person goes directly to heaven. The river is the core of life in Varanasi. Hindus believe that the river has the power to heal and by one bathing in the river, he or she is cleansed of all the sins. The Hindu religion one does not have one heaven which each will aspire to go but rather for instance if one is a devotee of Krishna or Shiva then prayed to that god for protection throughout once life and hope to unite o that god one day in death then that will be a person heaven. Their understanding is not much to reach heaven but to have an understanding of who we are.
In conclusion, the question that arises from this is whether heaven is a place or just a figment of human imagination. In a world where science and religion want to prevail there are still questions on the view of heaven. As for Christians, Hindus, Buddhist, Jewish, and Islam heaven has been created as a metaphor. Above all the reward of heaven has been seen in all the religion of living a good life. Heaven is in peoples heart by living a spiritual life, it is in our action, leading a righteous life and we have to be compassionate because heaven is within. The aspect of heaven in religion isn't about fact but faith.
Coppes, C. (2013). The Essence of Religions: A Glimpse of Heaven in the Near-Death
Experience. Cork: BookBaby.
Eck, D. L. (2012). Heaven: How five religions see it. New York, N.Y.: Films for the Humanities
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