"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of Library."
Jorge Luis Borges
"The glory of the next world will never wear out."
"And the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass."
"If you seek to soar to heaven, make friends with all men.
Never harbor a grudge in your heart.
The joy of friendship is Paradise.
When you talk of enemies,
Thorns and snakes fill your heart."
"Heaven is whatever and whenever God wants it to be. More deeply, heaven is where God is, in the rose of fire that keeps opening dynamically in one eternal moment. We have loved the stars too much to fear the night. So shall every love every love more enkindle, until the cosmos coruscates with loving light, living more and ever more."
Till we Have Faces
"Now, what does Heaven desire and what does it abominate? Heaven desires righteousness and abominates unrighteousness....But how do we know Heaven desires righteousness and abominates unrighteousness? For, with righteousness the world lives and without it the world dies; with it the world becomes rich and without it the world becomes poor; with it the world becomes orderly and without it the world becomes chaotic. And Heaven likes to have the world live and dislikes to have it die, likes to have it rich and dislikes to have it poor, and likes to have it orderly and dislikes to have it disorderly. Therefore ye know Heaven desires righteousness and abominates unrighteousness."
Motse (468-401 BCE)
The Will of Heaven
"In every human being there is a special heaven whole and unbroken."
"We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven."
-Henry David Thoreau
"We dream much of paradise, or rather of a number of successive paradises, but each of them is, long before we die, a paradise lost, in which we should feel ourselves lost too."
Remembrance of Things Past
"Most of us find it very difficult to want "Heaven" at all-except in so far as "Heaven" means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise."
"But the true servants of God shall be well provided for, feasting on fruit, and honored in the gardens of delight. Reclining face to face upon soft couches, they shall be served with a goblet filled at a gushing fountain, white, and delicious to those who drink it. It will neither dull their senses nor befuddle them. They shall sit with bashful, dark-eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs of ostriches."
"Ye will not enter Paradise until ye have faith, and ye will not complete your faith until ye love one another."
Muhammed (Sayings of Muhammed)
"What is Paradise? Muhammad replied, "It is what the eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, nor ever flashed across the mind of man."
"Now was I come up in spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus, so that I saw I was come up to the state of Adam which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me, and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue. And I was at a stand in my mind whether I should practice physic for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the creatures were so opened to me by the Lord. But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam's innocency, even into a state in Christ Jesus, that should never fall. And the Lord showed me that such as were faithful to him in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell, in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues thereof, may be known, through the opening of that divine Word of wisdom and power by which they were made. Great things did the Lord lead me into, and wonderful depths were opened unto me, beyond what can by words be declared; but as people come into subjection to the spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty, they may receive the Word of wisdom that opens all things, and come to know the hidden unity in the Eternal Being....
"Faith in a heaven and in an ultimate reward for a good life does not owe itself to the Christian Fathers or to the Old or New Testament, but to the fact that evolution has pointed toward a better future for billions of years."
Arthur M. Young
The Reflexive Universe
"Historically , heaven is what it has been thought to be, and the concept was firm by the time of Dante. What heaven is spiritually and psychologically is more difficult to discern.
Every human from the beginning has one fundamental question that underlies his or her whole nature. The question is: Do you love me? That question is soon transformed-by genetics, by nurture, by original sin, or by existential neurosis-into: "Am I worthy to be loved?" or "What can I do to be worthy to be loved?" The young pilgrim soon seizes on answers provided by parents or society: I will be famous, I will be rich, I will wield power, I will intimidate others, I will be elected-or even, I will be the greatest victim or failure. In the process, we convince ourselves that we really will be happy (meaning we will be loved) if we achieve one of these goals. Often we persist in these delusions after experience has repeatedly proved them false. We continue to make the same mistake of trying to find in the limited and temporal the response that is found only in what is the real object of our desire. So falsely convinced, we make idols of our strength, our money, our fame, our power, or even some misery we claim as uniquely ours. Idols block our view of, our path to, reality. To the question: Do you love me? God and the cosmos reply resoundingly and forever: Yes. And to the question, What can I do to be worthy of being loved, the answer is: Open yourself to love, and return it. Everything else is an idol. Everything else is a veil, even a dirty rag, before our eyes. To seek our true happiness,, to seek our true selves, to find the true answer to the existential question we began with, we need to smash our idols, one by one. Then the illusion that "I " am the center of the cosmos ceases. It will absolutely and inevitably cease, whether death is finality or whether another life does exist. Either way, the self-flattery of self-importance will stop, dead.
Meanwhile there is pain. Whatever we do, we will experience pain. Love meets us and embraces us, saying, I know your pain, beloved; I know and feel it in myself; and I fill it and you with my melting love. Heaven is acceptance of love, which burns through and shines through the pain, transforming it. Love would rather go through hell than go to heaven without us.
Jeffery Burton Russell
A History of Heaven
"Heaven is whatever and whenever God wants it to be. More deeply, heaven is where God is, in the rose of fire that keeps opening dynamically in one eternal moment. We have love the stars too much to fear the night. So shall every love every love more enkindle, until the cosmos coruscates with loving light, living more and ever more."
…."There may or may not be a posthumous Kingdom of Heaven; but there is certainly, as Jesus insisted, a Kingdom of Heaven within us, accessible during life. Salvation in this inward heaven is a certain sentiment of personal integrity and fulfillment, a profoundly satisfying consciousness of being ‘in order.’ (In sua volonta e nostr pace.) For normal men and women a consciousness of having behaved in a, humanly speaking, meritorious fashion is, in many cases, a necessary pre-requisite to this salvation. But by no means in all cases. One can feel fulfilled and in order for no better reason than the morning happens to be fine. Salvation is a state of mind, is what we have in our consciousness, when the various elements of our being are in harmony among themselves, and with the world which surrounds us. To achieve this harmony, we may have to behave meritoriously-but equally we may not have to do anything of the kind. It is possible for us to be harmonized gratuitously-in orthodox language, to be saved by God’s grace.
Music at Night
Book: "The Book of Heaven: An Anthology of Writings from Ancient to Modern Times
By Carol Zaleski and Phillip Zaleski (teachers at Smith College)
Book: "Heaven" by C. McDannell & B. Lang
Book: "The Quest For Paradise: Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World's Myths and Religions" by J. Ashton & T. Whyte
"Heaven’s my destination."
Back to Chrestomathy Next Page