The idea is that after death God judges the soul and determines whence it will go.
From a non-dual perspective we can find states analogous to heaven and hell. That is, that Self Realisation is a kind of heaven state, and separation is a kind of hell state.
We could say that oneness with God (or whatever name you prefer) is akin to heaven, while separateness from God is akin to hell.
A closer examination of this idea is revealing.
If we consider that the denser the ego, the more separate from Oneness a person is, then we would expect individuals bound in ego to be living lives with more suffering, and those less tightly bound to be happier.
By denser ego, it is meant that the sense of separateness is acute, so the ego becomes tightly bound, acquiring a “density” which could be said to be obscuring the light of the Self.
This isn’t to say that someone who, for instance has a terrible disease, is suffering because they are bound in the ego. It is saying that, given two people with the same disease, the one bound in ego will be suffering more.
The reasons for this are that for the person bound in ego the disease is more personal. It is not just happening, it is happening to “me”.
Also, the more tightly the ego is bound the more acute the fear of death. Death only effects the ego, so logically a substantial ego means greater suffering in the face of death.
Ego here does not mean the colloquial inflated sense of self importance, although it can manifest as that. Ego means the idea of being a seperate individual. And that may manifest in ways that include diminished self esteem, as well as inflated. The key is the element of separation.
A bound ego (I use the term bound, because it becomes like a tangled nest of fishing line, bound to itself) results in hellish experience. It is a driver of depression because it takes everything personally.
It may also result in violence toward others, lying etc, because extreme separation results in an exaggerated sense of self and other. This in turn can lead to extreme competition and and a perception of other people, or social groups being enemies.
Where the ego is lightly bound we find qualities often termed selflessness, generosity and giving.
This is also logical because a less developed sense of self (less “dense”ego) means it is easier to be nice to people. They’re not so resolutely “other”. Harmony surrounds these people.
This state is more heaven-like.
So, heaven and hell don’t need to be arbitrated by an external, separate “God” acting as a judge. They occur naturally through ignorance of Oneness.
Abuse, violence, hatred, racism, sexism, terrorism and bigotry are all crimes of separation. And separation is an illusion.
Love and peace, things most of us aspire to, arise naturally and effortlessly in Oneness.
Inclusiveness heals. Divisiveness wounds. The world today illustrates this clearly. Christ knew this when he said “Love your enemy” and “turn the other cheek”. How sad that these simple instructions are forgotten.
If people embraced others from different cultures right now, change would begin.
A little less like hell, a little more like heaven.