|Versions of Heaven and Hell|
Here is one of the 15 responses at Dallas Morning News;
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
A strong belief in heaven and hell is clearly a motivating factor in one's life. The strength stems from clarity and doubtlessness which powers the individual's mind or heart to take the bold steps with least hesitancy, boosting one's self confidence and productivity in whatever he or she chooses to do.
It is another thing whether the hell and heaven are real tangible things. To many the descriptions in the Bible, Quraan, Torah, Bhagvad Gita, Avesta, Guru Granth Saheb and other holy books are real. For many others it signifies the essence of justice and balance, the idea of heaven and hell are behavior modifiers to some causing one to be a good human to fellow beings.
Yet, to some heaven and hell are what we go through in our solitude as a consequence of our behavior; actions, words and thoughts. Every one ultimately wants freedom, nirvana, Mukti, Moksha, Nijaat and salvation from misery and pain and falls on one of the pathways.
Indeed, the leap of faith is both productive and destructive. It is dangerous when a few in the Middle East teach their children to believe that there is a greater reward for them with God for establishing their version of righteousness causing the 9/11 and other killings. It is dangerous when a few among the right-wingers in the West use the pulpit to teach their congregants that the Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus and Buddhist are cults and false religions.
Both these extreme groups believe that others have to be wrong for them to be right resulting in crusades, the Holocaust, genocides, massacres and other atrocities. What an irony of belief.
On the other hand, a majority of goodness we see in the world is because of the same strength of belief in hell and heaven that motivates people to do the right thing. They serve and care for fellow beings without distinction.
I believe (non-empirically) that the destructive men are less than 1/10th of 1% of any group of people, be it religious, ethnic, racial or other uniqueness. They are the insecure folks, and it is the duty of society at large to bring them into the fold of co-existence; a living heaven for humanity. These folks need assurance that no one is bent on destroying them.
Most of us are reluctant deciders, and more often than not, we find relief when someone else makes the call. Whether it is a decision about a family member where doctors have given up and make suggestions to go the hospice route, stop feeding or a painful decision to divorce, we are eager to hear a confident assuring voice that the decision is the best given the situation, lifting a huge burden off us.
This is precisely the function of religion that I admire. When we know there is injustice, and lost hope in humanity, a faith in God restores one's ability to hold us together and free us from anxieties and apprehensions.
Fifteen Texas Faith Panelists respond here at Dallas Morning News:
# # #
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Politics, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. Over a thousand articles have been published on the topics and two of his books are poised to be released on Pluralism and Islam. Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find all of his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com