A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Last Judgement

I woke up this morning with a curious question in my mind: could the Last Judgement be real? ( I couldn't remember what I had been dreaming but I wasn't feeling particularly negative. ) In my ignorance of Christianity, I don't even really know what the Last Judgement is. I've never read about it in the Bible but I've seen many paintings of it and I know it is what it says, the day when all souls are judged by God as either going to heaven or going to hell. Before I became ill I'd never seriously considered it, I wasn't a Christian. I was trying to become a Buddhist. I didn't believe in the existence of hell but the illness itself, at its worst, had the feel of being a Last Judgement. I have one memory of actually being put in hell for a short time that felt like ages. It was absolutely terrifying, total torment. Other times during my psychotic experience came close to that time. The experience was so bad that I've blocked out most of the memory of it. I can't describe the hell that I lived through, even though several years have gone by since then, it's still too close. But I want to, I want to remember, to acknowledge what I somehow managed to survive and I want to tell people about the experience.

The idea of hell is not very strange. There's hell on earth and has been hell on earth from the beginning barring some idea of an initial garden of eden. I think we all try to numb out the fact that people are experiencing hell every second we're alive. It's certainly not just the 45 or 50 million people suffering from schizophrenia who have experienced personal hell. I'm inclined to say that all of us at some point in our lives experience hell. Despair, desolation, terror, ours and others, is perpetual. Yes, that's not the end of the story. The other side is joy, hope and love. The heaven part to the hell part. But is there an actual place where all the torment experienced on earth gets concentrated? That is a truly dreadful thought but the voices have shown me that it's possible to squeeze all the heaven out of oneself, it's possible to be Godless. At some points I was nearly so, almost without love, almost in utter isolation with what I'd have to call a kind of evil. But I still felt fear and the fear ruled me. And in some way, I believed in my innocence. Also, always there were voices that helped me through the worst of it and got me back on dry land again after nearly drowning.

From my perspective life is not an either/or proposition as the Last Judgement implies. Life on earth is about the intermingling of heaven and hell and most of us are not at either end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle. Life is not static, but fluid and we fluctuate over time, sometimes in heaven and other times in hell but mostly in a heaven/hell composite. But the goal we all want is heaven, isn't it? A place, an experience of harmony and balance--yin with yang. Everything in its proper place and no ill will and most of all, no pointless suffering for ourselves and all beings. Can such a place exist when there is so much suffering, or is it a place for temporary visiting, only to return like another Buddha to try to heal the world that's been left behind?

But back to the my initial question on waking: could the Last Judgement be real? All I can say is I hope not. I hate the idea that at the end of time (and I'm not sure what that means) some souls will be saved and others will be perpetually tormented forever. Forever! That is really a sick idea, worthy more of the devil than of God. It sounds like a tale to scare children (when that used to be the fashion) than a description of an eventual reality. I guess I'm a Utopian at heart. I want every single one of us to be saved with no exceptions. Punishment and hellfire is not the way to heal sickness and that's what I see evil as, sickness. I don't really believe in pure evil. I believe even in the worst situations and people, there's a touch of true goodness. I also want to believe that heaven will be brought to earth someday, through God and through persistent, good hearted individuals.
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