The concept of “heaven” is one that each individual needs to quietly revisit. For it is a goal so highly coveted, yet so misunderstood. In doing reflection, I realized almost everything I thought about it was wrong. And this misconception is what informs how we live on earth today. From the ground up it needs to be revisited. The thoughts below are not exhaustive of this theme, but just meant to indicate a new path of conceptual exploration.
For example, the average person believes heaven is filled with joys, endless pleasures, and boundless delights that the Almighty has prepared for us. A utopia we will inherit and indulge ourselves. The person reads scriptures and sees segments talking about “streets of gold”, and he just concludes it was the Almighty who paved these streets. So the underlying human attitude is the Almighty has prepared everything, smoothed the path, laid every brick, and conceived of everlasting entertainments that will keep us occupied and happy for all-time.
But this picture contradicts reality. It makes no sense, and is wrong. It is even lazy, presumptuous, and arrogant. Just consider: man inherited this earth as a primitive planet. It was his duty to cultivate and develop it if he wanted to find joys. We had to use the bounties of Nature under the guidance of the Almighty’s Will to build, to ennoble, to get to work. We had to earn our keep. It is our duty to cultivate this planet into a paradise that is pleasing to the Almighty, not for the Almighty to do that for us.
Why do we think heaven is any different? True joy and bliss is a consequence of performing a virtuous activity. Happiness and delight is the fruit of a service within a field of noble activity. Therefore, the bliss of heaven is the bliss of work! Therefore, heaven is a plane of eternal work!
It is the duty of the human spirit to work and labor joyously in heaven to the honor of the Father, to perpetually ennoble it so it remains pleasing to the Almighty, so it always resounds in the tones of deepest worship. It is the human spirit who is to work in the vineyard of the Lord and cultivate it eternally, and through that labor receive the wages of joy. Hence it is for man to work in paradise to the honor of the Almighty, to always serve His Will through activity and work, not for the Almighty to labor for the human spirit and to prepare everything for him like a servant! Those “streets of gold”? It is the human spirit who must use the bounties of Nature in heaven to pave it in honor of the Almighty!
Underneath our concepts of heaven today is just the craving for lazy self-indulgence and eternal ease in various forms, where the hosts of heaven serve us all day. We give it sweet words but it really amounts to the same thing. Our concepts are really just the rotten fruits of human imagination that has no connection with objective reality. We have decayed to such an extent that we say “RIP” when someone passes. Rest in peace! In other words, “take it easy”, “slow down”, “exert as little as possible”. But we should know it is the body that rests, never the human spirit. Joy never rests, it only increases in intensity. It is really high-time to reexamine our assumptions and false notions we have projected to everything, especially this notion of “heaven”.
Consequently, heaven must be a plane of eternal work! Virtuous, upbuilding, lively, and noble work. I guess that is why, even now, this earth can be a replica of paradise…if we had the right attitude and maturity. Not without reason do we hear “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. In our human laziness we just focus on the enjoyment word “heaven” and ignore the “done”. But the word “done” implies activity, work, labor, action. Thus, only the mentality of eternally vibrant and creative work can be conceivably connected to any realistic concept of “heaven”.
~Ikenna Q Ezealah