A proper idea of religion will always remain obscure until we have gained a proper and precise idea of heaven and hell. Basically, heaven is seen as a most beautiful place to spend one’s eternity, while hell consumes its inhabitants in eternal fire and suffering. Those descriptions of heaven and hell are correct as far as they go. But more clarity is needed, otherwise our “worldly” understanding of these opposing spiritual realms will lead us to falsehoods.
For openers, heaven and hell are beyond time and space and therefore cannot be comprised of physical substances. The spiritual world consists of spiritual substances.
Spiritual substances are the “stuff” that generates the ideas, feelings, and dispositions of a person’s heart and mind. Therefore, we play a part in forming our specific eternal abode and environment from the life-choices we make and the values we adopt. The inner world of spirit gets its “geological” features from our life-choices.
The mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms of the spiritual world are all psycho-topological. The mineral kingdom represents the principles and life-choices people have made (the things we stand for). The plant kingdom consists of the ideas that take root and grow from these principles. And the animal kingdom of the spiritual world reflects the various qualities of a person’s love and motivations that lead us to act in certain ways.
Heaven consists of a beautiful realm whereby a man or woman’s thoughts and loves (spiritual substances) are ordered and oriented toward God and embrace mutual spiritual love. The extent and quality of person’s love to God and the neighbor form the various boundaries and parameters of one’s heavenly abode. People who share similar qualities of heart and mind live in similar heavenly societies. It is love that makes heaven a beautiful environment.
Hell consists of spiritual substances that have been oriented away from God and sincere spiritual love. Individuals who inhabit hell have fashioned their inner belief system to oppose God’s precepts and favor their own prudence and interests. Such individuals wish to dominate over others and covet things that are not theirs. Happiness eludes them.
(We all instinctively know of these differing spiritual geographies when we say that we are in a “good place” when we are happy or in a “bad place” when we are experiencing negative thoughts and feelings.)
So, without physical fire in the spiritual world, how would individuals who oppose God’s tenets “burn in hell”? In a nutshell, damnation and suffering in hell have two components. One component is that hell is a community of souls who hate each other and continually conspire to bring misery upon their neighbor. The second component of eternal torment is that their life-energies and spiritual substances have been organized contrary to God’s order. Since the Lord God perpetually sustains the life of those both in heaven and hell this influx of spiritual love is experienced and received differently according to one’s orientation. The inhabitants of hell live in the eternal fire of their own “burning” passions and can only experience God’s love as opposing their own and thus giving them great pain!