- Stefania Pönitz
Are we in hell?
Are we in hell?
For decades, I have toyed with the idea that the world we live in is actually hell. It is not a reach for me as I was depressed from the ages of 10 to 18 and again since the age of 29 due to c-PTSD. As many know depression can be a hellish state of mind in which many philosophic questions are born.
An archaic hellscape is that of burning in eternal flames. This is not the symbolism that has intrigued me for all of these years however seemingly never-ending torture is something I have experienced for many years and that is where my question was born.
Our world is surrounded by a universe of darkness and debris. Debris in the form of meteors even though they can be filled with precious diamonds, can take us out at any time and we might not even see it coming. This alone suffices for me as exhibit A the darkness that surrounds us and B the debris, that yes, we are in hell.
There is still some pain left inside of me from the religious conviction that the suffering I experienced as a young child could only be due to God’s punishment for sins executed in previous lifetimes. It convinced me that I was a bad person and I could not escape my punishment whatever I did. It can be argued that this is a childish hell of my own making nevertheless constructing this false conviction into the structure of my being allowed the pain to last over 30 years and is, therefore, exhibit C.
A charmed life
Imagine a most charmed life with a loving and supporting family, friends, partner, and the perfect job for you. Still, you would face adversity but not the kind that shatters you into a thousand pieces. When you fall, you know that you remain loved, valued, and worthy by the ones closest to you.
As a charmed one, you would be aware that many of your fellow men do not lead similar lives. Every day there are kids, adults, and senior citizens around the world suffering from manipulations, scams, abuse, violence, war, illness, and poverty. The thought of that alone can put a damper on your shining soul. Sure, you are doing all you can to create a better world but it will never be enough to elevate everyone to the level of comfort and consolation that you have experienced. The agonies of the world do not have an immediate damaging impacting on your life yet you are not able to escape this cruel reality either.
However lovely a charmed life sounds, we all know it does not exist. Tragedy strikes every family. Exhibit D.
Sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuse against children must be amongst the most horrific occurrences taking place in the world each and every day. Millions suffer this faith every day. A hellish existence is their reality right now at this moment. What can these kids do to change their lives? Little hope remains for a better tomorrow for them. This has probably been going on for millennia. There are people that are 60 years old today and they are still suffering from what they went through as children. Some will have broken the cycle as adults and others will have through no fault of their own and purely as the only way to survive in the environment they have found themselves in continued the cycle of sorrow and suffering.
Born in pain
Nobody can ask a baby how it feels to be born but the mother giving birth is undoubtedly in pain. Life starts in pain and it often ends in pain. Exhibit E. For most mothers giving birth is the most rewarding experience of their life. Here we see that pain and suffering are not only bad things, in fact, it can also be a gateway to the most joyful, passionate, and fulfilling pursuit of life. When we have to go through intense pressure before reaping the rewards of life that could be considered beautiful as one leads to the other but it could also be viewed as hellish. The road to fulfillment is paved with pain, fear, and tons of frustration.
Against the odds, I have experienced glorious times. Times spend in love, times spend mending familial ties, times spend achieving ecstasy in meditation that goes far beyond sexual or drug-fueled experiences, times spend elevating others, and times spend partying. To lose that all for the second time around was devastating and it taught me that even if I manage to create another rebirth, I now firmly know that I can lose it all again in the blink of an eye.
Seeing your happiness, wealth, and health evaporate while the lives of your friends and family continue on a satisfying path. You should be happy for the other, we are taught. It is not all about you all the time, who has not heard that in a scolding tone? Our hearts are flexible and we want the best for others but what about us? How long are we able to be happy for others when we fall deeper and deeper into despair? When all of a sudden they look at you with pity and when you share about your life, "you are just being negative". Slowly but surely they all move away from you. Because your awful reality is a damper on their day and why should they have to bring themselves down? And why should we have to keep staring at their bliss in agony? In my opinion, there is nothing that describes hell more accurately than this dichotomy.
Do I believe we are in hell? I don’t. I think hell is just like heaven and purgatory realities on earth and they are not exclusively reserved for an afterlife. If there is any hope to be found in my darkness it is that these states of being are not eternal. Pain has a function, it is a warning sign. It tells us which way not to veer into. Our anger and rage tell us exactly where our personal boundaries are. Our fear reveals what we covet most. Hate, oh hate, is always born in our hearts because it were our hearts that were open, our intentions were good and maybe we even loved but somewhere along the way we were not appreciated. Happiness is our reward for following our heart’s desires, our passions, and our forgiveness for our deepest and darkest impulses.
If you need some cheering up after this gloomy post, check out the track Jones & Stephenson - The First Rebirth.