Heaven Is Not A Retirement Destination

I recall an episode of The Twilight Zone TV series where a man of suspicious character is killed and suddenly finds himself regaining consciousness in the hereafter. He is greeted by a host, who has been given the special responsibility to see that all the dead man’s needs are taken care of. Everything works out perfectly—too perfectly. The dead man wins at everything he does.

After awhile, having everything go his way actually starts driving him crazy. He begs his host not to have everything rigged so that he always wins. Finally, he tells his host that he doesn’t deserve to be in such a perfect world and pleads to be taken to that “other” place. It is then, that he is informed that he is in that other place.

I am not implying that in hell one is waited on hand and foot, just that happiness cannot be obtained from such a one-sided scenario. Heavenly happiness must be something else.

We rarely contemplate what eternal happiness might actually consist of. Heaven is certainly the continuation of life in a more perfect realm. But how is life perfected and what constitutes living in blessedness to eternity? The answer to that question is in plain sight to all of us and simply involves a little reflection on what the dynamics of life already reveals. If we contemplate the bio-complexity of our anatomy, it becomes quite apparent that it is ordered and arranged according to mutual interrelatedness and interdependence. Organic unity (relational holism) comes from the harmony of shared utility. Individual cells serve the needs of the entire body and the body serves all the needs of the cells.

The same dynamics hold true for human society. The “glue” and quality of a nation, region, city, or small community is based on the quality of services and talents that are shared among its individuals. So the same divine patterning principle is being expressed by both bio-diversity and human diversity. Life is service. Life cannot be separated from duty.

This is why we often hear stories about people who die soon after retirement. These deaths often seem premature to us and puzzling. But staying engaged and useful to others seems to have real health benefits. The human mind falls apart if its energies are not engaged in challenging new activity (the devil’s workshop). So if life essentially consists of reciprocal utility, happiness in heaven must allow for such a sharing of talents to increase, intensify, and perfect itself through eternity. This is the exaltation of love.

Ironically, what makes hell a hell is work, and, what makes heaven a heaven is also work. But those in heaven do so for the love of serving others, while those in hell—who for selfish reasons will not work unless there is immediate personal profit—end up only being able to perform lowly menial tasks within God’s economic system of love.

Happiness is not one-sided or self-centered. In fact, our individuality finds itself the more we are in useful service to others. And this increases in heaven because our inner potentials are locked up in our spirit. The spirit is not material and therefore not limited within the constraints of space and time. So, our spirit’s inner potential can be continuously opened throughout eternity, as we strive towards greater usefulness. How else would a God of love create the universe?


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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1 Response to Heaven Is Not A Retirement Destination

  1. Kt Bnister says:

    I love this piece. We all are interconnected – or we should be. All too often, we give up on having happiness in our lives because we are a slave to negativity. Happiness is a choice. Suffering is a judgment. Bad things happen, but we must find the beauty in that bad. Because life is gonna throw you a curve, but strive to come out of the curve, and be ready for the next one.

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