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Opinion Op Ed 07 Feb 2016 DC Debate: Stephen&r ...

DC Debate: Stephen’s statement that there is neither heaven nor hell after life

Published Feb 7, 2016, 2:58 am IST
Updated Feb 7, 2016, 2:58 am IST
The belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, says Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking. (Photo: AP)
 Stephen Hawking. (Photo: AP)

Hawking is right, heaven is a myth

Stephen Hawking is right.  There is no heaven and no life after death; no after-life.  When you are dead, you are dead forever.  If you live for more time, you live in people’s memory.  If you did something that had a lasting effect on the lives of  a large number of people as, for example, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell (who discovered telephone), or Faraday (the discoverer of electricity) did” you will probably never be forgotten.


It is sad that so many people around the world believe in the idea of heaven and hell, and also in rebirth. There is not a shred of evidence though. They are a figment of human imagination “like a fairy tale”.

It is worth speculating the origins of the concept of heaven and hell, and life after death. Such belief puts pressure on you to do the right thing. Life in heaven, it is said, will meet all your unmet aspirations if you do the right thing in your lifetime. Similarly, if you believe in life after death and rebirth, you would surely not want to be born as a frog! So you will try your best to be good in your life. And if you are good in several of your lives, you will not need to be born again. You would become a permanent resident of heaven. You would achieve moksha!

In other words, those who believe in heaven and hell or afterlife are essentially weaklings who need such belief for them to be good and not to succumb to temptations. Unfortunately, the majority of people around the world fall in this category. There are also those who don’t need such crutches. They are the atheists!

Belief in heaven and hell and an afterlife is closely linked with belief in God and religion.  These beliefs are associated with a host of other irrational beliefs — for example in astrology, in ghosts, in soul.  There is no evidence in support of any of them. All evidences are against them.

Scientists today are generally non-believers or atheists. Science has progressed to a level that it stands out in direct contrast to religion and related beliefs. In 1975, 19 Nobel Prize winners and 173 other distinguished scientists signed a statement against astrology!

Unfortunately, irrationality is infectious. Once you believe in one irrational practice, you are led to another.  The burden of irrationality increases with time. It is this burden of irrationality that is the cause of conflicts around the world today. Not surprising, then, that religion has been the trigger for most conflicts in the last 75 years, be it the World War II, the Islamic fundamentalism-based terrorism or the Middle East crisis.

It is belief in heaven and afterlife that is exploited by godmen to take people for a ride.

P.M. Bhargava, The writer is a prominent scientist

What will happen After our death?.

There once was a yogi, who at the age 84 started telling people around him very confidently, “I am going to heaven.” People asked him, “Who told you so? Do you know what is in God’s mind?” The yogi replied, “I don’t care what is on God's mind. I know what is in my mind.”

Fundamentally, the seat of your experience is within you. If you’re in an overpowering state of happiness, that’s heaven. If you are in a state of absolute sorrow, that’s hell. Heaven is not a geographical space. Those who have made a hell out of themselves are saying there is another heaven. We have heard gossips about heaven and hell, but there is no certainty. If you think your loved ones who died are just lost, that you don’t know where they are after death, you will feel terrible. So, generally, most cultures spread the soothing feeling that when people die they go to heaven. If it is true that such a privilege will be conferred on you, why should you wait? Why not leave today? No, we have solaced ourselves with empty talk. Most people cannot digest death. If you are aware of your mortal nature, everything is put into its proper perspective. If you know you are a flower that blooms in the morning and dies in the evening, you would not miss a single flower on the way. Your fantasies will collapse, and rea
lity will rule. There are believers and non-believers. Both are on the same boat, arguing about something that they do not know. We are not sincere enough to admit, “I do not know.” But only when we are willing to see, “I do not know,” does the possibility of knowing arise.

So what actually happens after death? If I talk about anything which is not yet in your experience, you cannot understand it. The only option you have is to believe or disbelieve me. If you believe me, you will fool yourself because without really knowing, you will pretend to know. If you disbelieve me, you will destroy the possibility of knowing that which is not in your current experience.

Modern science has done many experiments to understand the nature of life and death. But this can be grasped only by experience. Do not try to think what happens beyond death. Only if your experience of life has gone beyond your mental and physical structures can you access this dimension. This is not a secret hiding somewhere “it is right here, right now. It is just that most human beings have never paid enough attention to the very nature of their existence. What we call as spirituality is an inner technology that can deliver you into a state of perception.

Enlightenment or self-realisation means just this: that you know the nature of your existence absolutely.

Jaggi Vasudev, The writer is Sadhguru, Isha Foundation