I wanted to throw this question out to the ATS community. After much contemplation over my forty something years of existence on this little blue
ball called Earth I have come to the conclusion that we are all in Hell right now? First of all, I am a former Christian who after many years of study
left the faith and eventually became a follower of Buddhism and Taoism. I believe in reincarnation, Karma, and the Law of Cause and Effect. But, if I
was appointed as a new God or Devil and was assigned the task of creating a Hell to punish or purify living creatures I believe there would be no
better blue print for a hell than the one all creatures on this planet face everyday. (Read: Mark Twain's "Letters from Earth")
In Shin Buddhism, which was founded by a Japanese Buddhist monk who lived from 1173-1262 AD stated the following, "Hell is my only destination." For
me, personally, this too is my realization. The one path I have plunges me into hell and yet, at the same time, into birth in the Pure Land, to which
the experience of shinjin awakens me. Shinran expresses the existential sadness of falling into hell, but, at the same time he expresses his joy about
going to the Pure Land. Thus he says, with equal conviction, "Hell is my only destination" and "I am walking to the Pure Land".
Everyday we are surrounded by suffering and for every brief moment of pleasure we face an equal amount of suffering in one form or another driven by
selfish desire. But, I believe as we go through the cycles of birth and rebirth we are given the opportunities to realize that the highest form of
love is compassion for every living being, that all we know is an illusion, and that Nirvana or Heaven can be reached eventually.
Mark Twain’s Creed:
I believe in the God the Almighty.
I do not believe he has ever sent a message to man by anybody, or delivered one to him by word of mouth, or made Himself visible to mortal eyes at any
time or any place.
I believe that the Old and New Testaments were imagined and written by man, and that no line in them was authorized by God, much less inspired by
I think the goodness, justice, and mercy of God are manifested in his works: I perceive that they are manifested toward me in this life; the logical
conclusion is they are manifested toward me in the life to come, if there should be one.
I do not believe in special providences. I believe that the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws. If one man’s family is swept away by
a pestilence and another man’s spared it is only the law working: God is not interfering in that small matter, either against the one man or in
favor of the other.
I cannot see how eternal punishment hereafter could accomplish any good end. To chasten a man in order to perfect him might be reasonable enough; to
annihilate him when he shall have proved incapable of reaching perfection might be reasonable enough; but to roast him forever for the mere
satisfaction of seeing him roast would not be reasonable … even the atrocious God of the Jews would tire of the spectacle eventually.
There maybe a hereafter and there may not be. I wholly indifferent about it. If I am appointed to live again I feel sure it will be for some sane and
useful purpose other than to flounder about for ages in a lake of fire and brimstone for having violated a confusion of ill-defined and contradictory
rules said (but not evidenced) to be of divine institution. If annihilation is to follow death, I shall not be aware of the annihilation and therefore
shall not care a straw about it.
I believe that world’s moral laws are the outcome of the world’s experience. It needed no God to come down out of heaven to tell men that murder
and the other immoralities were bad, both for the individual who commits them and for the society that suffers them.
If I break these moral laws I cannot see how I injure God by it, for he is beyond the reach of injury from me-- I could e