Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Purgatory" and "Hell"


I believe that, in the history of religion, both "hell" and "purgatory" were symbolic terms concerning eternal life after death. Both concerned states or conditions experienced here on earth.

To simplify the complex literature, both "hell" and "purgatory" contain suffering. In fact, both conditions might contain the exact same suffering. But "purgatory" originates with a word that means "purification." So, in the condition of "purgatory," you are making real progress, both mental and spiritual. Purgatory improves people.

"Hell" does not necessarily improve a person. It is recognized as suffering due to negative karma. The person suffers, but does not know why. She knows why only after enlightenment. When a person knows why she is suffering, this transforms her state from one of "hell" to one of "purgatory."

For only when we understand why we suffer does suffering have a purifying effect on our Souls. So, hell and purgatory might be exactly the same conditions; the difference lies in the one suffering, in her awareness, knowledge, understanding, or wisdom.

An enlightened being is never so careless as to end up in hell. But purgatorial states are common on earth for both enlightened and some unenlightened people.

The very old tradition teaches that a Soul can be "prayed out" of purgatory. This superstition evolved from the awareness that total escape from purgatory was possible by discovering Union through communication with God (interior Love). For Love ultimately liberates us all from all suffering-- including all "hell" states and "purgatory" states.

We all suffer on earth. The wise are called upon to understand why suffering exists, to understand karma and universal justice, for Godmind is always just and never unjust. This realization alone, deeply felt, can liberate from hell and move a person into purgatory. With further study, work, Love, and yielding to the divine will, a person is moved, in time, from "purgatory" into "heaven" (bliss, joy, or ecstasy). This is, in the final analysis, an act of God (Love), and not anything that we "do." This is "salvation," and originates with only grace, although we can make our lives more beautiful by cooperating with the calling of Love.

This movement in Mind, from purgatory to heaven, is enlightenment. It is also called "liberation" and "salvation."

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