Every moment is alive.
And there is a rebirthing constantly occurring, layered in complexity. You are impermanent in more ways than one. Not just you as a human, but you as the kind of human you are, your size, your age, your health, your chemical constitution, your experiences, your faculties, etc. You are not the same you that you were when that you opened up this blog post (thank you for visiting by the way), and that’s not because I’m so profound and wise that I have made you such, it’s because whatever you do, you can’t escape your impermanent nature.
What’s this got to do with Hell?
When you understand that rebirth is not a once in a lifetime event, if you do come to perceive that, then Hell (in all it’s degrees) is a possibility at any time. Not just somewhere you may fear of being after death. Because all though death as we know it is a big occasion, it’s only such in the egosphere. It is a rebirth moment, for sure, but rebirth is not only a matter for death, or the dead, but of life, and the living too. In Truth, rebirth doesn’t discriminate between these two states.
But Hell is still a threat, right?
The way Hell may be talked about by some people to other people, may sometimes be conceived as a threat or punishment. Maybe a way to get a group of vulnerable people to conform to a certain way of living. This can be done away with and still Hell is a possibility. I don’t want you to experience a state of Hell, but I am aware that you may, and the Cosmos is sometimes too complex in its unfolding of karma to ever pinpoint why that happened. I certainly would not wish to get someone to conform, it would be far too forceful. But advice from others, guidelines that have been tried and tested, is what the Buddhist way provides when it comes to living to avoid Hell, and as a Sangha, our role is wish all beings well without discrimination (that means wherever they may reside). So, in my experience Buddhist Hell (as some people say, though it’s not just for Buddhists!) is not a threat and a way of controlling people to conform, and I sincerely wish others don’t try to make this so.
You could argue it’s a warning, but one that comes from a place of authentic concern for the wellbeing of everyone. Maybe something analogous to saying: “If you swim over there, you may be at risk of a shark attack, because last week there was a shark attack over there.” and the threat, “If you swim over there, sharks will be released and will attack you, because you shouldn’t be swimming over there.”
So as I open up, in these next few days, and continue to explore and delve into Hell, I wanted to share with you my stance; Hell is not just for the dead, and Hell is not a threat.
If you have any thoughts on areas of rebirth, impermanence, Hell and how different traditions, people and societies approach the concept, then please feel free to comment.