You Don’t Have to Die to See Heaven or Hell: The Wooden Spoon Allegory Revisited

Heaven and Hell

 

As I was walking in the beaches of Peru, I started looking at the footprints behind me being washed away. This beach called Punta Hermosa, mainly abandoned due to the cold weather, gave me plenty of time to reflect that day. I started thinking about two locations: Heaven and Hell. One thing I knew at that time was that I felt like I was in heaven on this beach! However, is heaven really a location?  Have you ever wondered what happens to us in the afterlife? We have seen in cartoons how hell would have the appearance of people in red suits with horns and fire surrounding the victims of Satan ( these images were inspired by a famous book called Dante’s inferno). On the other hand, heaven seemed to be this monotonous life where we would be playing harps and sitting on a cloud praising God forever. We would also have wings so we can fly right? Even though nowhere in the Bible does it mention an angel having wings, I figured that God was all-powerful so that we wouldn’t need wings to actually fly. I started thinking of what type of personalities would mesh well in these two environments. I am guessing the workaholic would not be content in Heaven because it would be very much out of his comfort zone if he went to such a mellow location as heaven. He/She would very used to working and serving and I believe sitting in a cloud would not be rewarding for the person who was constantly on the move serving people.

 

Would we see our family? I believe so. What would heaven be like without seeing the wife I love and the children I enjoyed raising. If my loved ones had no residence in heaven, I would be aware that this would be the beginning of my personal hell. Who qualifies for Hell? Who qualifies for Heaven? Is it a state of mind or an actual location? With my Mormon beliefs, we have received  revelation from our scriptures that describe those locations to us. However, I don’t want to go there today. I want to go somewhere more tangible and something more attainable for everyone.  Of all the people who have made statements about the topic of Heaven and Hell; I personally like these two. It talks about how we can be vessels or conduits of Heaven or Hell.

 I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out-of-doors and make a heaven of it.           – -Joseph Smith Jr ;Founder of Mormonism

The keywords in this famous saying of Joseph revolves around that part where he talks about “making a heaven”. How could you “make a heaven”? Are humans capable of being environment creators ?I believe the answer is a resounding YES! He believed the members of the church had a methodology of doing it based on living a life similar to Christ.  If you are an atheist; just being a good person and adding value to someone can create a moment of heaven. If you’re a Buddhist or Taoist; just spreading love so good karma would be involved in the life of others would be a way to channel heaven. Joseph’s comment is similar to the concept of a male teacher who goes to jail would probably have the tendency to be teaching the inmates while they are there . You can imprison a teacher, but you can’t prevent the teacher from the core of who they are. He would most likely teach; it’s just his habitual nature. This is where Joseph was going with this quote; that our natures are transferable to the next life. It actually matters what our state of being is here in this life. If your happy here, than you will be happy there. If you are miserable here, you will be miserable in the afterlife. Lets go reverse with this same idea. If we have happiness in heaven, it would be the same happiness we could potentially  enjoy on earth. If we are miserable in the afterlife, then that same misery could be created on earth. It’s a choice.

Another great quote that describes this concept of creating an environment is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi; a Franciscan from the Catholic Church who really knew that heaven could be an earthly mindset and a way of life.

Lord, make a channel of Thy peace that, where there is hatred, I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that, where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that, where there is error, I may bring truth; that, where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that, where there is despair, I may bring hope; that, where there are shadows, I may bring light; that, where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood; to love than to be loved; for it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is forgiving that one is forgiven; it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

– St. Francis of Assisi

This reminds me that my mother gave me the middle name Francis to remind me to have this type of attitude throughout life. The fourth word from the beginning of this prayer says it all.

CHANNEL. Is it possible to be a channel of heaven? The interesting part of his prayer is that it contains large amounts of action which include: seeking; forgetting, forgiving, and the word “bringing” a few dozen times. Heaven looks like a place of action in the eyes of St. Francis. We can personally bring heaven or hell to our friends, family, and neighbors and we can experience heaven now instead of only when we pass away.

These are just my thoughts. If it rings true, then feel free to share it.  If it doesn’t, then discard these ideas. I wanted to share these thoughts before I shared you this famous allegory that for many  years has made an impact on me. Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, monks,  and other faiths have their own version of it .The true origin came from Rabbi Haim of Romshisok; however I like the adaptation made by Elise Pearmain from a Japanese and Chinese folk tale.


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

To tell the story dramatically, tape a spoon to a ruler so that the entire length is longer than your own arm to demonstrate how people ate in hell. When you get to the next paragraph about heaven, tape another spoon to another ruler. Give spoons to two participants. Invite them to pretend to feed each other to illustrate the way the people ate in heaven.

Long ago there lived an old woman who had a wish. She wished more than anything to see for herself the difference between heaven and hell. The monks in the temple agreed to grant her request. They put a blindfold around her eyes, and said, “First you shall see hell.”

When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was standing at the entrance to a great dining hall. The hall was full of round tables, each piled high with the most delicious foods — meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, and desserts of all kinds! The smells that reached her nose were wonderful.

The old woman noticed that, in hell, there were people seated around those round tables. She saw that their bodies were thin, and their faces were gaunt, and creased with frustration. Each person held a spoon. The spoons must have been three feet long! They were so long that the people in hell could reach the food on those platters, but they could not get the food back to their mouths. As the old woman watched, she heard their hungry desperate cries. “I’ve seen enough,” she cried. “Please let me see heaven.”

And so again the blindfold was put around her eyes, and the old woman heard, “Now you shall see heaven.” When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was confused. For there she stood again, at the entrance to a great dining hall, filled with round tables piled high with the same lavish feast. And again, she saw that there were people sitting just out of arm’s reach of the food with those three-foot long spoons.

But as the old woman looked closer, she noticed that the people in heaven were plump and had rosy, happy faces. As she watched, a joyous sound of laughter filled the air.

And soon the old woman was laughing too, for now she understood the difference between heaven and hell for herself. The people in heaven were using those long spoons to feed each other.

Final Thoughts: I believe we can be conduits of Heaven or Hell. Which do you choose to channel? CHOICE IS YOURS! Why not choose being a conduit of heaven? Why not start today?

Discussion Ideas: What do you do to give people a taste of heaven? I would love for you to share it. What acts of kindness have been done to you where you felt like you participated in a heavenly act? Ill be sharing mine w comment section below which I will post later tonight. Please share your experiences!

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One thought on “You Don’t Have to Die to See Heaven or Hell: The Wooden Spoon Allegory Revisited

  1. I had a teacher from Church named Peter Gardiner who saw me eagerly learning in his class. He asked for my number after class and told me that he wanted to take me out to downtown. He knew I loved reading because I told him what books I have recently devoured. I only knew him for two weeks when he brought me to a bookstore and he bought me over 200 dollars of books. He told me to never hold on to the information you learn; he said to POUR whatever gets POURED into you. I was touched that someone would do that only knowing me two weeks. I felt like that was a Heavenly moment where an angel touched my life. Ever since then I have read dozens of book, but he started my reading journey and forever grateful for him paying it forward. I have given over a dozen books to acquaintances because of him sharing heaven with me.

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