Many believe that we go to a heaven or hell after we die. Heaven is viewed by many as a place of effortless repose. Hell is viewed as a place of effort and torment. What if our situation right now is that we have already died, that this reality right here, right now is heaven and hell? Swedenborg indicates such. In his visits to the afterlife, he found that many folk did not know they had died and kept themselves in their old familiar state of semi-darkness or gloom though they had the opportunity to expand into the Light.
What if this is the afterlife? We are being called to the Light all the time but prefer our gloom. We cling to the tortures of our private hells. We do not wish to give up our hell (the hell we give ourselves) because it is so familiar, so comfortable in its way. We have made our home in it. We cling to our fears, our anxieties, our narrowmindedness because we have made these our identity, our home away from Home. We can get quite crabby if anyone suggests that we can come out of our shell.
This shell of protection we have built is our enemy. When we stand naked and open in the Cosmos, we have no hell. The samurai put it this way: The best defense is total vulnerability. Take a moment and reflect on this. The warriors who passed on this information are the ones who survived.
In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says something similar. His disciples (those who were disciplining themselves in the Way, who were in training) asked “When will you become revealed to us? When will we see you?” He was standing right in front of them so what were they talking about? Jesus knew. He said, in essence, when you come out of your shells. “When you strip naked without being ashamed and trample your clothes under your feet like little children do, then will you see the Son of the Living One without being afraid.”
What if we have already died and we are keeping ourselves in our shells?
George Breed is the author of several books published by Anamchara Books including The Inner Work of the Warrior: A Manual for Embodying Spirit, Jesus and Lao Tzu: Adventures with the Tao Te Ching, and The Hidden Words of the Living Jesus: A Commentary on the Gospel of Thomas.