How to Make our Lives Heaven Instead of Hell

I have heard the story of a land called Hell.

In this land the people are emaciated and famished. Yet, they are surrounded by bowls and bowls and platters and platter of luscious food. Why, then, are they ravished with hunger? Because, in this land called Hell, their arms can not bend and thus they can not carry even one morsel of food from the plates to their mouths. Their hands grasp fresh breads, ripe fruits, spoonfuls of hot stews. But, in this land of Hell, their bodies can not receive the nourishment of this, for it can not reach their mouths. Their stick straight arms wave wildly in air, desperately trying to figure out a way to carry the delicious food to their mouths.


The people in Hell cry out day and night. They futilely try to force their arms to bend. But the arms are rock solid straight. They try to eat directly with their mouths, but this is forbidden and they are beaten for it. So, they wither away eternity in this land of never-ending frustration, deprivation, and starvation.

I have also heard the story of a land called Heaven. In this land, as well, the people have only stick-straight arms. They, too, are surrounded by platters and bowls of scrumptious food which they can not carry to their mouths. Yet, in Heaven, everyone is plump, well-fed, satisfied and joyful. Why is this? If you look carefully you will notice that, rather than obstinately trying to bend their own unbendable arms, they have simply learned to feed each other…

This is, truly, the only difference between Heaven and Hell…do we stubbornly fight the will of God? Do we wrestle unsuccessfully each day with situations that can not be changed? Do we flail around, wildly and desperately, trying to change the unchangeable? Do we ignore our loved ones, our friends, our collegues who could help us immeasureably? Do we insist on suffering in silence, never asking for a helping hand from those near us? Do we watch others suffering and withhold our own help because we are so caught up in our own distress? If so, then we are living in Hell.

Or, do we assess the situation, look around and see how the situation can be improved? Do we graciously offer our hands and our help to others? Do we accept others' help when we are in distress? Do we take joy in "feeding others"? Do we spend time nourishing other's bodies, minds and hearts? Do we let ourselves be fed with love? Do we allow others to nourish us, rather than thinking "I can do it myself?" If so, then we are living in Heaven.

Too frequently in the world I see people who are living in the Hell of their own isolation, in the Hell of their own frustration, in the Hell of their own determination to change the very nature of the world in which they live.

This is the time of year, the holiday season, in which families and friends gather together, frequently after many months of separation. Too frequently, though, I hear people say, "Oh, I dread this time of year. I dread it when the whole family comes together" and then they continue on in a litany of complaints about this relative, that in-law, this friend. I have seen innumerable situations in which family members and friends could so easily put an end to another's pain. Yet, they won't. They don't want to be the one to offer, "here, let me feed you."

Or, in the opposite, but similar situation, I see so many people suffering who could be helped by their families and friends. Yet, they won't ask for help. They won't let others help them. They say, "I can do it myself." Their pride and ego will not allow them to say "will you feed me, please?" However, this is not the way it should be. When we gather with our loved ones, we must realize that it is they who can feed us when we are hungry, it is they who can alleviate our suffering, it is their love which will turn our lives from Hell to Heaven.

But, we must be willing to see the situation as it stands. If our arms are unbendable, we must accept that they are unbendable and then look for other ways to solve the problem. If we keep trying to change the unchangeable - in ourselves, in others or in the world - we will forever be frustrated and hungry - both in the body, in heart and in soul.

So, this holiday season, when the families and friends gather together. If you see someone suffering, be the first to offer your help. Put aside any grudges or complaints or judgments. Simply offer your hand in assistance. And, if you are in distress, ask for help. These are your closest family and friends. Put aside your ego and pride. See how they can help you and ask for that. Then, as you feed them and as they feed you, your lives will change from Hell to Heaven.

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