Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I'm still superstitious enough to include two "God" pictures with this post.
DISCLAIMER: I respect everyone's opinions about Hell and the Devil, including all those that do not align with my own. I'm not saying here that I'm right or that this is definitive. There's room for everyone to have her/his own sense of this. OK? Hope so.
Do you believe in Hell? I do, definitely. Though unclear about what happens after death, I've definitely encountered Hell in life. Haven't you?
The great Rabbi Manewith said it perfectly; that Hell is a condition in which you forget or can not locate your connection to the Divine. Cut off from the bright, pure, unformed source of everything feels a whole lot like slogging through pits of fire, weighed down by heavy iron chains. Oh yeah.
Some forms of Hell are self-inflicted: staying in hurtful, destructive relationships past the point at which you continue to learn, staying in hideous jobs that make no sense to you, feeling trapped in the need to be somebody you aren't. All of these forms of Hell "look" - to me - exactly like the Devil card in the Tarot. The people in that card could easily escape, if only they had the presence of mind to remove the chains and carry on. There is a strong quality of stuckness, rigidity and lack of imagination in this kind of Hell.
Other forms of Hell have nothing to do with the games we play in our own minds. When people are diagnosed with cancer and other horrible diseases, or are placed in the middle of the desert in Iraq with 80 pounds of body armor and a big gun, they go straight to a Hell that was not of their own making and over which they have absolutely no power. Losing a loved one, no matter how it happens, is a ticket to Hell. Victims of violent crimes, those who suffer from severe depression ... I could go on about this, but you get the picture, right?
All the above said, I'm actually not one of those people who believes Hell "shouldn't" exist (whatever that means). I don't even think of Hell as bad, though of course it's uncomfortable. Sometimes the only way to really learn, to become wiser, involves a visit to Hell. There is a cleansing energy around visits to Hell, though that kind of harsh purification always leaves its mark on those involved; scars, baldness, missing body parts, or a deeply careworn, sad look on the face.
The point of a visit to Hell is to purify - or whatever - then GET OUT. The getting out when the time is right seems to be the tricky part, as far as I can tell, since visits to Hell create stuckness and rigidity. At least that's today's working theory.
Is it true that a part of life in this form involves visits to Hell? Though not at all sure about it, I don't know anyone who has never been there. Do you? Similarly, encountering the Devil is inevitable. You know you're talking to the Devil when you begin to believe that maybe you'll win the lottery, or something will solve all your problems for you. Fantasies of fame, beauty, allure? That's the prince of darkness whispering in your ear, definitely. Dark fantasies like paranoia and all the phobias are also the work of old Shatan.
Mastery of encounters with the Devil involves recognizing what's going on, then saying NO. No thanks, I can figure out my own problems with the help of some friends. No thanks, I'm fine as I am. NO. I love that phrase, "Satan, get behind me." That makes so much sense to me. A friend gave me a pin way back when that says, "What part of I BANISH THEE don't you understand?" Loved that pin. I wonder what happened to it?
Now maybe I have no business trying to figure out the hellish and the devilish. Indeed I was once so superstitious I wouldn't have dared to write about it publicly. Those kinds of superstitions give power to the hellish and devilish. I'm so glad to have risen from that level of interaction with the dark side. Whew!
Today in DC is going to be a little taste-o-Hell: 95 degrees, thick humidity, and toxic air, a.k.a. "unhealthy for sensitives," a phrase that always makes me wonder - I mean surely it must be unhealthy for everyone, right? Including the insensitives, yes? I say yes. I'm going to lay low, mostly. I'll run an errand or two just because I'm stubborn, but I've visited Hell plenty of times in my life. There is no need to breathe toxic air just to be recalcitrant. I think I'll sit this one out, if you don't mind. Oh yeah.