It’s been awhile since I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. There are so many things in this memoir that I found interesting, but one stuck out and has been on my mind for a few days. Toward the end of the book, when Liz is ending her time in Bali, she visits Ketut Liyer, the old medicine man. The topic of heaven and hell comes up as Liz asks Ketut about his beliefs.
The idea that heaven and hell are the same, an ending point is so intriguing to me. Really, it means that the journey you choose to reach the end is the actual heaven or hell. Do you take the path with love and kindness and adventure or do you take the road with pain and anguish and hate? When you really pull each of these apart and relate them to teachings in many religions, you are always being pointed towards the light side, the heaven. You are asked to love your neighbor, offer forgiveness, be a good person. Dangers are warned about in hell; the seven sins all point you to perdition.
Ketut says that people often have a hard time grasping this concept because we have been shown that heaven and hell are different ends. Imagine though if you are living in those places rather than ending up there eventually. Kind of a painful realization in my opinion. No matter your belief, of the same end or separate, doesn’t it just make an even more convincing argument for living a good life? A life being good to yourself and showing your love to others? Doesn’t it show that how you love your life will culminate at the end where you determine if you’ve been living in hell or are going to it?
Truthfully I know why this has been on my mind. Someone I love is very near to death’s door and it’s brought about a lot of navel gazing for me.There’s a song I’ve been playing a lot recently, The Nights by Avicii. There are two lines in there that choke me up every single time. “He said, ‘One day you’ll leave this world behind. So live a life you will remember.'” This song is about words spoken from father to son. I guess it gets me because one of my ultimate fears isn’t dying, it’s not being able to live a life I can look back on and be grateful for. “Don’t forsake this life of yours” is the other phrase that has held onto my thoughts for some time. I’ve seen so many articles posted about interviews with dying people and what their regrets are. Some wish they had spent more time with their family or not worked so hard. Others wish they had given forgiveness and not let anger or hate eat away for so long. Doesn’t that sound like a hell?
Every moment you spend of your life in negativity is a moment in hell. It’s a moment you will never get back, and ultimately a moment you may regret having wasted. We all will die, that is the truth of it. But will we be grateful for the life we led or will we still die in regret of the life that could have been. “Don’t forsake this life of yours.” It sounds simple, but everyone struggles to maintain love and light and balance. Perhaps that’s a part of it though, that we all struggle on our own, but our friends and our families provide the stability that can keep us in that living heaven, if we’d only let them.
Imagine this: living a good and just life won’t take you to heaven when you die, because in reality you will have always been in heaven all along. Conversely, spending your life in anger and negativity won’t land you a spot in hell, you’ll rather have been forced to live out your only life there.
Deep thoughts, people. Deep thoughts.