Heaven

Heaven

Overview
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological
Religious cosmology
A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

 or metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 term for the physical or transcendent
Transcendence (philosophy)
In philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey the basic ground concept from the word's literal meaning , of climbing or going beyond, albeit with varying connotations in its different historical and cultural stages...

 place from which heavenly beings (such as a Sky deity, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, angels, heavenly rulers, heavenly saints or venerated ancestors
Veneration of the dead
Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living...

) originate, are enthroned
Throne of God
The Throne of God is the reigning centre of the chief deity of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The throne is said by various holy books to reside above the Seventh Heaven called Araboth in Judaism.-Judaism:...

 or inhabit. It is commonly believed that heavenly beings can descend to earth or take on earthly flesh and that earthly beings can ascend to Heaven in the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 or in exceptional cases enter Heaven alive.
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Quotations

Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.

Richard Bach, in Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970)

I cannot be content with less than heaven;Living, and comprehensive of all life.Thee, universal heaven, celestial all;Thee, sacrjd seat of intellective time;Field of the soul's best wisdom: home of truth,Star-throned.

Philip James Bailey, Festus (1903)

If our Creator has so bountifully provided for our existence here, which is but momentary, and for our temporal wants, which will soon be forgotten, how much more must He have done for our enjoyment in the everlasting world?

Hosea Ballou|Hosea Ballou, as quoted in Biography of Rev. Hosea Ballou (1854) p. 261

Heaven will be inherited by every man who has heaven in his soul. "The kingdom of God is within you."

Henry Ward Beecher, in Life Thoughts: Gathered from the Extemporaneous Discourses of Henry Ward Beecher

To see a World in a Grain of SandAnd a Heaven in a Wild Flower,Hold Infinity in the palm of your handAnd Eternity in an hour.

William Blake in Auguries of Innocence|Auguries of Innocence (c. 1803)

A robin redbreast in a cagePuts all Heaven in a rage.

William Blake in Auguries of Innocence|Auguries of Innocence (c. 1803)

No coward soul is mine,No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:I see Heaven's glories shine,And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

Emily Brontë in "No Coward Soul Is Mine" (1848)

Heaven does not make holiness, but holiness makes heaven; because if you do not give yourself in sympathy to goodness, goodness cannot give itself in influence to you.

Phillips Brooks, in "The Gift And Its Return" in Sermons (1883), p. 275

All the way to Heaven is heaven because He said,"'I am the Way."

St. Catherine of Siena, as quoted in My God and My All: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi (1959) by Elizabeth Goudge, p. 107
Encyclopedia
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological
Religious cosmology
A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

 or metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 term for the physical or transcendent
Transcendence (philosophy)
In philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey the basic ground concept from the word's literal meaning , of climbing or going beyond, albeit with varying connotations in its different historical and cultural stages...

 place from which heavenly beings (such as a Sky deity, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, angels, heavenly rulers, heavenly saints or venerated ancestors
Veneration of the dead
Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living...

) originate, are enthroned
Throne of God
The Throne of God is the reigning centre of the chief deity of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The throne is said by various holy books to reside above the Seventh Heaven called Araboth in Judaism.-Judaism:...

 or inhabit. It is commonly believed that heavenly beings can descend to earth or take on earthly flesh and that earthly beings can ascend to Heaven in the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 or in exceptional cases enter Heaven alive. Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 place, a Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

, in contrast to Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 or the Underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

 or the "low places", and universally
Universal reconciliation
In Christian theology, universal reconciliation is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God.Universal salvation may be related to the perception of a problem of Hell, standing opposed to ideas...

 or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

, goodness, piety
Piety
In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue that can mean religious devotion, spirituality, or a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.- Etymology :...

, faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

, or other virtue
Virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

s or right beliefs
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 or simply the Will of God
Will of God
The will of God or divine will refers to the concept of God as having a plan for humanity, and as such desires to see such a plan fulfilled...

. Some believe in the possibility of a Heaven on Earth in a World to Come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

.

Etymology


The modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 word heaven is derived from the earlier (Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

) spelling heven (attested 1159); this in turn was developed from the previous Old English form heofon. By c. 1000, heofon was being used in reference to the Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 "place where God dwells", but originally, it had signified "sky, firmament" (e.g. in Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, c. 725). The English term has cognates in the other Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

: Old Saxon
Old Saxon
Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, is the earliest recorded form of Low German, documented from the 8th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in the Netherlands by Saxon peoples...

 heƀan "sky, heaven", Middle Low German
Middle Low German
Middle Low German is a language that is the descendant of Old Saxon and is the ancestor of modern Low German. It served as the international lingua franca of the Hanseatic League...

 heven "sky", Old Icelandic
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 himinn "sky, heaven", Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 himins; and those with a variant final -l: Old Frisian
Old Frisian
Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine and Weser on the European North Sea coast. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland also spoke Old Frisian but no medieval texts of this area are known...

 himel, himul "sky, heaven", Old Saxon/Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 himil, Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 hemel, and modern German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Himmel. All of these have been derived from a reconstructed
Linguistic reconstruction
Linguistic reconstruction is the practice of establishing the features of the unattested ancestor of one or more given languages. There are two kinds of reconstruction. Internal reconstruction uses irregularities in a single language to make inferences about an earlier stage of that language...

 Proto-Germanic form *Hemina-. In many languages, the word for "heaven" is the same as the word for "sky".

Entry into Heaven from Earth



Religions that speak about heaven differ on how (and if) one gets into it, either in the afterlife or while still alive. In many religions, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a "good life" (within the terms of the spiritual system) or "accepting God into your heart." A notable exception to this is the 'sola fide
Sola fide
Sola fide , also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and some in the Restoration Movement.The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone"...

' belief of many mainstream Protestant Christians, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept (believe and put faith in) Jesus Christ as one's saviour, and then Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of one's sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

s; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad "works" one has participated in; the bible teaches that man must be holy and perfect before seeing the Lord as recorded in , which is achieved through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, wiping every human being's slate clean, so they may enter the perfect presence of the Lord. Catholic Christians too speak of heaven as unattainable by even heroic human effort and having been "opened" by the death and resurrection of Jesus. They see heaven as promised by God as a reward for good works
Good works
Good works, or simply works, within Christian theology are a person's actions or deeds, contrasting with interior qualities such as grace or faith.The New Testament exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace:...

 made possible only by his grace, while "the works of the flesh" exclude from heaven.

The Rapture
Rapture
The rapture is a reference to the "being caught up" referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be caught up in the clouds to meet "the Lord"....

 is a reference to "being caught up" as found in 1 Thessalonians
First Epistle to the Thessalonians
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible....

 4:17, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord.

Results of exclusion from heaven



Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to another place, hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

, which is eternal in religions such as Christianity. Some religions uphold the belief that other forms of afterlife exist in addition to heaven and hell, such as purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

, though many hells, such as Naraka
Naraka
Naraka is the Sanskrit word for the underworld; literally, of man. According to Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism, Naraka is a place of torment, or Hell...

, serve as purgatories themselves. Some belief systems contain universalism
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

, the belief that everyone will go to heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity, and other religions believe hell to be the termination of the soul
Annihilationism
Annihilationism is a Christian belief that apart from salvation the death of human beings results in their total destruction rather than their everlasting torment. It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given...

. Some Christian denominations believe in an Intermediate state
Intermediate state
In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's "intermediate" existence between one's death and one's resurrection from the dead...

 between death and the Resurrection of the Dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

.

Egypt



In Ancient Egyptian faith
Egyptian mythology
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with a multitude of deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature...

, belief in an afterlife is much more stressed than in ancient Judaism. Heaven was a physical place far above the Earth in a "dark area" of space where there were no stars, basically beyond the Universe. According to the Book of the Dead
Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead is the modern name of an ancient Egyptian funerary text, used from the beginning of the New Kingdom to around 50 BC. The original Egyptian name for the text, transliterated rw nw prt m hrw is translated as "Book of Coming Forth by Day". Another translation would be "Book of...

, departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven, along the way to which there could exist hazards and other entities attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven. Their heart would finally be weighed with the feather of truth, and if the sins weighed it down their heart was devoured.

Canaanite and Phoenician views of heaven


Almost nothing is known of Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 (pre-1200 BC) Canaanite views of heaven, and the archeological findings at Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 (destroyed c.1200 BC) have not provided information. The 1st century Greek author Philo of Byblos
Philo of Byblos
Philo of Byblos was an antiquarian writer of grammatical, lexical and historical works in Greek. He is chiefly known for his Phoenician history assembled from the writings of Sanchuniathon.-Life:...

 may preserve elements of Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n religion in his Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea...

.

Hurrian and Hittite myths


In the Middle Hittite myths heaven is abode of the gods. In the Song of Kumarbi, Alalu
Alalu
Alalu is a god in Hurrian mythology. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He is also called Alalus.- Myth :Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu and went down in the underworld. Anu's son Kumarbi also defeated his...

 was king in heaven for nine years before giving battle to his son Anu
Anu
In Sumerian mythology, Anu was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, Consort of Antu, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as...

. Anu was himself overthrown by his son Kumarbi
Kumarbi
Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu , and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El....

.

Bahá'í faith



The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) as a specific place as symbolic. The Bahá'í writings
Bahá'í literature
Bahá'í literature, like much religious text, covers a variety of topics and forms, including scripture and inspiration, interpretation, history and biography, introduction and study materials, and apologia...

 describe heaven as a "spiritual condition" where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 is seen as a state of remoteness from God. Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh , born ' , was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He claimed to be the prophetic fulfilment of Bábism, a 19th-century outgrowth of Shí‘ism, but in a broader sense claimed to be a messenger from God referring to the fulfilment of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and...

, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has stated that the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate with them.

For Bahá'ís, entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá'u'lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: "The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother." The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá'í view of earthly existence: just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person's initial physical development, the physical world provides for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá'ís view life as a preparatory stage, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the current Manifestation of God
Manifestation of God
The Manifestation of God is a concept in the Bahá'í Faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets. The Manifestations of God are a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization...

, which Bahá'ís believe is currently Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh wrote, "Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved."

The Bahá'í teachings state that there exists a hierarchy of souls in the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

, where the merits of each soul determines their place in the hierarchy, and that souls lower in the hierarchy cannot completely understand the station of those above. Each soul can continue to progress in the afterlife, but the soul's development is not entirely dependent on its own conscious efforts, the nature of which we are not aware, but also augmented by the grace of God, the prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

s of others, and good deeds performed by others on Earth in the name of that person.

Buddhism


In Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 there are several heavens, all of which are still part of samsara
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

(illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 may be reborn in one of them. However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 and will undergo a different rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

 into another realm, as humans, animals or other beings. Because heaven is temporary and part of samsara, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 (Nirvana).

According to Buddhist cosmology
Buddhist cosmology
Buddhist cosmology is the description of the shape and evolution of the Universe according to the canonical Buddhist scriptures and commentaries.-Introduction:...

 the universe is impermanent and beings transmigrate through a number of existential "planes" in which this human world is only one "realm" or "path".

These are traditionally envisioned as a vertical continuum with the heavens existing above the human realm, and the realms of the animals, Hungry ghost
Hungry ghost
Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

s and hell beings existing beneath it. According to Jan Chozen Bays in her book, Jizo: Guardian of Children, Travelers, and Other Voyagers, the realm of the asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

is a later refinement of the heavenly realm and was inserted between the human realm and the heavens. One important Buddhist heaven is the Trāyastriṃśa, which resembles Olympus
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...

 of Greek mythology.

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 world view, there are also pure lands which lie outside this continuum and are created by the Buddhas upon attaining enlightenment. These should not be confused with the heavens as the pure lands are abodes of Buddhas, which the heavens are not and heavens are looked at "impermanent" places to be reincarnated in, as heavenly beings still have to die and be reincarnated into lower realms. This confusion can be made worse when writers use such words 'paradise' to denote such pure lands.

One notable Buddhist pure land is the Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

 of Amitabha Buddha. Rebirth in the pure land of Amitabha is seen as an assurance of Buddhahood for once reborn there, beings do not fall back into cyclical existence unless they choose to do so to save other beings, the goal of Buddhism being the obtainment of enlightenment and freeing oneself and others from the birth-death cycle.

One of the Buddhist Sutra
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

s states that a hundred years of our existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the thirty-three gods
Thirty-three gods
The ' heaven is an important world of the devas in Buddhist cosmology. The word ' is an adjective formed from the numeral ', "33" and can be translated in English as "belonging to the thirty-three [devas]"....

. Thirty such days add up to their one month. Twelve such months become their one year, while they live for a thousand such years though existence in the heavens is ultimately finite and the beings who reside there will reappear in other realms based on their karma.

The Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 word Bardo
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

means literally "intermediate state
Intermediate state
In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's "intermediate" existence between one's death and one's resurrection from the dead...

". In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 the concept has the name antarabhāva.

Chinese faiths




In the native Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 Confucian traditions Heaven (Tian
Tian
Tian is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese called god Shangdi or Di , and during the Zhou Dynasty Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi...

) is an important concept, where the ancestors reside and from which emperors drew their mandate to rule in their dynastic propaganda, for example.

Heaven is a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophies and religions, and is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi
Shangdi
Shangdi , also known as Di in Oracle Bone Inscription and Thirteen Classics, refers to the supreme god or a divine power regarded as the spiritual ultimate by the Chinese people from the Shang Dynasty. He controlled victory in battle, harvest, the fate of the kingdom, and the weather...

("Supreme Deity") and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 and the sky. The Chinese term for Heaven, Tian
Tian
Tian is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese called god Shangdi or Di , and during the Zhou Dynasty Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi...

(天), derives from the name of the supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

. After their conquest of the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 in 1122 BC, the Zhou people considered their supreme deity Tian to be identical with the Shang
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 supreme deity Shangdi. The Zhou people attributed Heaven with anthropomorphic attributes, evidenced in the etymology of the Chinese character for Heaven or sky, which originally depicted a person with a large cranium. Heaven is said to see, hear and watch over all men. Heaven is affected by man's doings, and having personality, is happy and angry with them. Heaven blesses those who please it and sends calamities upon those who offend it. Heaven was also believed to transcend all other spirits and gods, with Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 asserting, "He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray."

Other philosophers born around the time of Confucius such as Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

 took an even more theistic view of Heaven, believing that Heaven is the divine ruler, just as the Son of Heaven
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 (the King of Zhou) is the earthly ruler. Mozi believed that spirits and minor gods exist, but their function is merely to carry out the will of Heaven, watching for evil-doers and punishing them. Thus they function
as angels of Heaven and do not detract from its monotheistic government of the world. With such a high monotheism, it is not surprising that Mohism
Mohism
Mohism or Moism was a Chinese philosophy developed by the followers of Mozi , 470 BC–c.391 BC...

 championed a concept called "universal love" (jian'ai, 兼愛), which taught that Heaven loves all people equally and that each person should similarly love all human beings without distinguishing between his own relatives and those of others. In Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

's Will of Heaven (天志), he writes:
Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

 criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the teachings of Confucius. By the time of the later Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, however, under the influence of Xunzi, the Chinese concept of Heaven and Confucianism itself had become mostly naturalistic, though some Confucians argued that Heaven was where ancestors reside. Worship of Heaven in China continued with the erection of shrines, the last and greatest being the Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest...

 in Beijing, and the offering of prayers. The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Heaven, usually by slaughtering two healthy bulls as sacrifice.

Christianity


Traditionally, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 has taught "Heaven" as a place of eternal life
Eternal life (Christianity)
In Christianity the term eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death, rather than immortality. While scholars such as John H. Leith assert that...

 and the dwelling place of the Angels and the Throne of God
Throne of God
The Throne of God is the reigning centre of the chief deity of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The throne is said by various holy books to reside above the Seventh Heaven called Araboth in Judaism.-Judaism:...

, and a kingdom to which all the elect will be admitted. In most forms of Christianity, belief in the afterlife is professed in the major Creeds, such as the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, which states: "We look for the resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

, and the life of the world to come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

." In Biblical forms of Christianity, concepts about the future "Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

" are also professed in several scriptural prophecies of the new (or renewed) Earth
The New Earth
The New Earth is an expression used in the Book of Isaiah , 2 Peter , and Book of Revelation in the Bible to describe the final state of redeemed humanity...

 said to follow the resurrection of the dead — particularly the books of Isaiah and Revelation. The resurrected Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 is said to have ascended to heaven where he now sits
Session of Christ
The Christian doctrine of the Session of Christ or heavenly session says that Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven—the word "session" is an archaic noun meaning "sitting." Although the word formerly meant "the act of sitting down," it no longer has that meaning in...

 at the Right Hand of God
Right Hand of God
The Right Hand of God or God's Right Hand may refer to the Hand of God often referred to in the Bible and common speech as a metaphor for the omnipotence of God and as a motif in art...

 and will return to earth in the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

. Mary, his mother, is also said to have been assumed into heaven
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

 and is titled the Queen of Heaven
Queen of Heaven
Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians, mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches, to whom the title is a consequence of the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, where the Virgin...

. Many also believe Elijah and Enoch
Enoch (ancestor of Noah)
Enoch is a figure in the Generations of Adam. Enoch is described as Adam's greatx4 grandson , the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah...

 were taken into heaven. speaks of a War in Heaven between Michael the Archangel
Michael (archangel)
Michael , Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; , Mikhaḗl; or Míchaël; , Mīkhā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael...

 and his angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s against the Dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

 and his angels, which the Dragon and his angels lost and thus they were "thrown down to the earth", and though the term is not used in the text, they are generally referred to as the fallen angel
Fallen angel
Fallen angel is a concept developed in Jewish mythology from interpretation of the Book of Enoch. The actual term fallen angel is not found in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. Christians adopted the concept of fallen angels mainly based on their interpretations of the Book of...

s. In the 2nd century AD, Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 (a Greek bishop) wrote that not all who are saved would merit an abode in Heaven itself. One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man. The ancient concept of "Heaven" as a synonym for "skies" or "space" is also evident in allusions to the stars as "lights shining through from heaven", and the like.

The term Heaven is applied by the Biblical authors to the realm in which God currently resides. Eternal life
Eternal life (Christianity)
In Christianity the term eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death, rather than immortality. While scholars such as John H. Leith assert that...

, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in . That there will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears. Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 disobeyed God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 (see Original Sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

) so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 and thus a state of separation from God.

Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem
In the book of Ezekiel, the Prophecy of New Jerusalem is Ezekiel's prophetic vision of a city to be established to the south of the Temple Mount that will be inhabited by the twelve tribes of Israel in the...

 which comes from Heaven to the New Earth
The New Earth
The New Earth is an expression used in the Book of Isaiah , 2 Peter , and Book of Revelation in the Bible to describe the final state of redeemed humanity...

, which is generally seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another; in a number of sects this is taken as more literal than symbolic. Heaven will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer "loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind" and "loving their neighbour as themselves" (cf. , also known as the Great Commandment
Great Commandment
The Great Commandment, or Greatest Commandment, is an appellation applied to either the first, or both, of two commandments which appear in , and...

) — a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of present earthly life.

Hinduism



According to Hindu cosmology
Hindu cosmology
In Hindu cosmology the universe is, according to Hindu mythology and Vedic cosmology, cyclically created and destroyed.-Description:The Hindu cosmology and timeline is the closest to modern scientific timelines and even more which might indicate that the Big Bang is not the beginning of everything...

, above the earthly plane are six heavenly planes: 1. Bhuva Loka
Loka
Loka is a Sanskrit word for "world". In Hindu mythology it takes a specific meaning related to cosmology.-Hindu tradition:In the Puranas, and already in the Atharvaveda, there are fourteen worlds, seven higher ones and seven lower ones , viz...

, 2. Swarga Loka, meaning Good Kingdom, is the general name for heaven in Hinduism, a heavenly paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

 of pleasure, where most of the Hindu gods (Deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

) reside along with the king of gods, Indra, and beatified mortals. 3. Mahar Loka 4. Jana Loka 5. Tapa Loka and 6. Satya Loka.

In the Hindu Vaishnava traditions the highest heavan is Vaikuntha, which exists above the six heavenly lokas and outside of the mahat-tattva
Tattva
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning 'thatness', 'principle', 'reality' or 'truth'. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva is an element or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they...

 or mundane world. It's where eternally liberated souls who have attained moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

 reside in beautiful and eternally youthful human forms with Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

 and Narayana
Narayana
Narayana or Narayan or Naraina is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu, and in many contemporary vernaculars a common Indian name. Narayana is also identified as the original man, Purusha. The Puranas present divergent views on Narayana...

 (a manifestation of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

). Vaikuntha is divided into various realms where various avatars of Lakshmi-Narayana preside. These include the celestial Ayodhya where Sita
SITA
SITA is a multinational information technology company specialising in providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry...

-Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 preside, and the celestial Goloka
Goloka
Goloka is the eternal abode of Krishna, Svayam bhagavan according to some Vaishnava schools, including Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the Swaminarayan Sampraday....

 where Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and his various consorts such as Radha
Radha
Radha , also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava traditions of Hinduism...

 and Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

 preside. The liberated human souls or jiva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

s who live there engage in different types of relationships (Rasa (theology)
Rasa (theology)
Rasa is a Sanskrit theological concept specific to Krishna-centered bhakti traditions, such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The theological use of the word can be found early, about two thousand years before the Nimbarka or Caitanya schools of bhakti, in a phrase that Chaitanya traditions frequently...

 with the countless manifestations or avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s of Lakshmi-Narayana.

Islam


The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Regarding the concept of heaven (Jannah
Jannah
Jannah , is the Islamic conception of paradise. The Arabic word Jannah is a shortened version meaning simply "Garden". According to Islamic eschatology, after death, one will reside in the grave until the appointed resurrection on . Muslims believe that the treatment of the individual in the life...

) in the Qu'ran, verse 35 of Surah Al-Ra’d says, "The parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers. Perpetual is the fruits thereof and the shade therein. Such is the End of the Righteous; and the end of the unbelievers is the Fire." Islam rejects the concept of original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

, and Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. Children automatically go to heaven when they die, regardless of the religion of their parents. The highest level of heaven is Firdaus (فردوس)- Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

 (پردیس), to which the prophets, martyrs and other pious people will go at the time of their death.

The concept of heaven in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 differs in many respects to the concept in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Heaven is described primarily in physical terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled when asked. Islamic texts describe immortal life in heaven as happy, without negative emotions. Those who dwell in heaven are said to wear costly apparel, partake in exquisite banquets, and recline on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, wives, and children. In Islam if one's good deeds weigh out one's sins then one may gain entrance to heaven. Conversely, if one's sins outweigh their good deeds they are sent to hell. The more good deeds one has performed the higher the level of heaven one is directed to. It has been said that the lowest level of heaven is one-hundred times better than the greatest life on earth. The highest level is the seventh heaven, in which God can be seen and where anything is possible. Palaces are built by angels for the occupants using solid gold.

Verses which describe heaven include: , , , , .

Islamic texts refer to several levels of heaven: Firdaus or Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

, 'Adn, Na'iim, Na'wa, Darussalaam, Daarul Muaqaamah, Al-Muqqamul, Amin & Khuldi.

Jainism



The shape of the Universe as described in Jainism is shown alongside. Please note that unlike the current convention of using North direction as the top of map, this uses South as the top. The shape is similar to a part of human form standing upright.

The Deva Loka (Heavens) are at the symbolic "chest", where all souls enjoying the positive karmic effects reside. The heavenly beings are referred to as devas(masculine form) and devis(feminine form). According to Jainism, there is not one heavenly abode, but several layers to reward appropriately the souls of varying degree of karmit merits. Similarly, beneath the "waist" are the Narka Loka (Hell). Human, animal, insect, plant and microscopic life forms reside on the middle.

The pure souls (who reached Siddha status) reside at the very south end (top) of the Universe. They are referred to in Tamil literature as தென்புலத்தார் (Kural
Kural
The Kural is one of the most important forms of classical Tamil poetry. It is a very short poetic form, exactly in 2 lines, the first line consisting of 4 words and the second line consisting of 3. It should also conform to the grammar for Venpa...

 43).

Hebrew Bible



In the Hebrew Bible the heavens, Shamayim, are the abode of YHWH Elohim
Elohim
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or...

 (the God of Israel).

Rabbinical Judaism



While the concept of heaven (malkuth hashamaim מלכות השמים, the Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

) is well-defined within the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

, sometimes known as olam haba, the World-to-come, is not so precise. The Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one, which is probably derived from Greek thought, is that of the immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other, which is thought to be of Persian origin, is that of resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

.

Jewish writings refer to a "new earth" as the abode of mankind following the resurrection of the dead. Originally, the two ideas of immortality and resurrection were different but in rabbinic thought they are combined: the soul departs from the body at death but is returned to it at the resurrection
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

. This idea is linked to another rabbinic teaching, that men's good and bad actions are rewarded and punished not in this life but after death, whether immediately or at the subsequent resurrection. Around 1 CE, the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 are said to have maintained belief in resurrection but the Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

 are said to have denied it (Matt. 22:23).

Some scholars assert that the Sheol
Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

 mentioned in Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 38:18, Psalm
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 6:5 and Job
Book of Job
The Book of Job , commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, his challenge to God, and finally a response from God. The book is a...

 7:7-10 was an earlier concept than Heaven, but this theory is not universally held.

The Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 has many sayings about the World to Come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

, for example, "Rabbi Yaakov said: This world is like a lobby before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall."

Judaism holds that the righteous of all nations have a share in the World-to-come.

According to Nicholas de Lange
Nicholas de Lange
Nicholas Robert Michael de Lange is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Cambridge and is an ordained Reform rabbi...

, Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 offers no clear teaching about the destiny which lies in wait for the individual after death and its attitude to life after death has been expressed as follows: "For the future is inscrutable, and the accepted sources of knowledge, whether experience, or reason, or revelation, offer no clear guidance about what is to come. The only certainty is that each man must die - beyond that we can only guess."

According to Tracey R. Rich of the website "Judaism 101", Judaism, unlike other world-religions, is not focused on the quest of getting into heaven but on life and how to live it.

Kabbalah Jewish mysticism


In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens are listed alongside the angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s who govern them:
  1. Shamayim
    Shamayim
    Shamayim is the Hebrew word for "heaven"-Heaven in the Old Testament:Shamayim comes from shameh, a root meaning to be lofty. It literally means the sky."Shamayim" is a crucial concept in the Bible...

    : The first Heaven, governed by Archangel
    Archangel
    An archangel is an angel of high rank. Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Michael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism and by most Christians. Michael is the only archangel specifically named in the Protestant Bible...

     Gabriel
    Gabriel
    In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

    , is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve
    Eve (Bible)
    Eve was, according to the creation of Abrahamic religions, the first woman created by God...

    .
  2. Raquie: The second Heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael
    Raphael (archangel)
    Raphael is an archangel of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who in the Judeo-Christian tradition performs all manners of healing....

    . It was in this Heaven that Moses
    Moses
    Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

    , during his visit to Paradise, encountered the angel Nuriel
    Nuriel
    Nuriel, an angel in Jewish mythology, translates as "fire of the lord" and is the angel responsible for hailstorms.In Jewish legend, Moses encountered Nuriel in the 2nd heaven, when he issues from the side of Chesed , Nuriel manifests in the form of an eagle, an eagle that, when issuing from the...

     who stood "300 parasang
    Parasang
    The parasang is a historical Iranian unit of itinerant distance comparable to the European league.In antiquity, the term was used throughout much of the Middle East, and the Old Iranian language from which it derives can no longer be determined...

    s high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned out of water and fire." Also, Raquia is considered the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened.
  3. Shehaqim: The third Heaven, under the leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the Garden of Eden
    Garden of Eden
    The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

     and the Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna
    Manna
    Manna or Manna wa Salwa , sometimes or archaically spelled mana, is the name of an edible substance that God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert according to the Bible.It was said to be sweet to the taste, like honey....

    , the holy food of angels, is produced. The Second Book of Enoch
    Second Book of Enoch
    The Second Book of Enoch is a pseudepigraphic of the Old Testament. It is usually considered to be part of the Apocalyptic literature. Late 1st century CE is the dating often preferred...

    , meanwhile, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with Hell being located simply " on the northern side."
  4. Machen: The fourth Heaven is ruled by the Archangel Michael
    Michael (archangel)
    Michael , Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; , Mikhaḗl; or Míchaël; , Mīkhā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael...

    , and according to Talmud
    Talmud
    The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

     Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.
  5. Machon: The fifth Heaven is under the administration of Samael
    Samael
    Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil...

    , an angel referred to as evil by some, but who is to others merely a dark servant of God.
  6. Zebul: The sixth Heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Sachiel
    Sachiel
    In kabbalistic and Christian angelology, Sachiel is an archangel of the order of Cherubim. The meaning of his name is given as "the covering of God" and he is associated with the Zodiacal sign Sagittarius, the weekday Thursday, wealth and charity. While in most sources Sachiel presides over...

    .
  7. Araboth: The seventh Heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel
    Cassiel
    Cassiel is the Latin name of an archangel in post-biblical Judeo-Christian religion, particularly that of the Kabbalah. Unlike many other angels, Cassiel is known for simply watching the events of the cosmos unfold with little interference...

    , is the holiest of the seven Heavens provided the fact that it houses the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode
    The guf
    In Jewish mysticism the Chamber of Guf Hebrew for "body", also called the Otzar , is the Hall of Souls, located in the Seventh Heaven . Every human soul is held to emanate from the Guf...

     of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

Mesoamerican religions



The Nahua people such as the Aztecs
Aztec mythology
The aztec civilization recognized a polytheistic mythology, which contained the many deities and supernatural creatures from their religious beliefs. "orlando"- History :...

, Chichimecs and the Toltecs believed that the heavens were constructed and separated into 13 levels. Each level had from one to many Lords living in and ruling these heavens. Most important of these heavens was Omeyocan (Place of Two). The thirteen heavens were ruled by Ometeotl
Ometeotl
Ometeotl is a name sometimes used about the pair of god Ometecuhtli/Omecihuatl in Aztec mythology...

, the dual Lord, creator of the Dual-Genesis who, as male, takes the name Ometecuhtli (Two Lord), and as female is named Omecihuatl (Two Lady).

Polynesia



In the creation myths of Polynesian mythology
Polynesian mythology
Polynesian mythology is the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers...

 are found various concepts of the heavens and the underworld. These differ from one island to another. What they share is the view of the universe as an egg or coconut that is divided between the world of humans (earth), the upper world of heavenly gods, and the underworld. Each of these is subdivided in a manner reminiscent of Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

's Divine Comedy, but the number of divisions and their names differs from one Polynesian culture to another.*

Māori


In Māori mythology
Maori mythology
Māori mythology and Māori traditions are the two major categories into which the legends of the Māori of New Zealand may usefully be divided...

, the heavens are divided into a number of realms. Different tribes number the heaven differently, with as few as two and as many as fourteen levels. One of the more common versions divides heaven thus:
  1. Kiko-rangi, presided over by the god Toumau
  2. Waka-maru, the heaven of sunshine and rain
  3. Nga-roto, the heaven of lakes where the god Maru
    Maru (mythology)
    Maru is a Maori war god, especially well known in southern New Zealand where he replaces Tūmatauenga, the war god of the rest of New Zealand. Maru is the son of Rangihore and the grandson of Māui. Maru's image was brought to New Zealand by Haungaroa.-References:*R.D. Craig, Dictionary of...

     rules
  4. Hau-ora
    Hauora
    The Hauora, is a Maori philosophy of health and well-being unique to New Zealand.The Hauora has been compared to the four walls of a whare, each wall representing a different dimension. All four dimensions are necessary for strength and stability....

    , where the spirits of new-born children originate
  5. Nga-Tauira, home of the servant gods
  6. Nga-atua, which is ruled over by the hero Tawhaki
    Kaha'i
    Kaha'i is a handsome Polynesian demigod whose exploits were popular in many Polynesian mythologies.-Hawaii:...

  7. Autoia, where human souls are created
  8. Aukumea, where spirits live
  9. Wairua, where spirit gods live while waiting on those in
  10. Naherangi or Tuwarea, where the great gods live presided over by Rehua
    Rehua
    In Māori mythology, Rehua is a very sacred personage, who lives in Te Putahi-nui-o-Rehua in Rangi-tuarea, the tenth and highest of the heavens in some versions of Māori lore. Rehua is identified with certain stars. To the Tūhoe people of the North Island he is Antares. Others say he is Betelgeuse,...



The Māori believe these heavens are supported by pillars. Other Polynesian peoples see them being supported by gods (as in Hawai'i). In one Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

an legend, heaven is supported by an octopus
Octopus
The octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda. Octopuses have two eyes and four pairs of arms, and like other cephalopods they are bilaterally symmetric. An octopus has a hard beak, with its mouth at the center point of the arms...

.

Paumotu, Tuamotus



The Polynesian conception of the universe and its division is nicely illustrated by a famous drawing made by a Tuomotuan
Tuamotus
The Tuamotus or the Tuamotu Archipelago are a chain of islands and atolls in French Polynesia. They form the largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe...

 chief in 1869. Here, the nine heavens are further divided into left and right, and each stage is associated with a stage in the evolution of the earth that is portrayed below. The lowest division represents a period when the heavens hung low over the earth, which was inhabited by animals that were not known to the islanders. In the third division is shown the first murder, the first burials, and the first canoes, built by Rata
Laka
In Hawaiian mythology, Laka is the name of a popular hero from Polynesian mythology....

. In the fourth division, the first coconut tree and other significant plants are born.

Theosophy



It is believed in Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 of Helena Blavatsky that each religion (including Theosophy) has its own individual Heaven in various regions of the upper astral plane
Astral plane
The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical , medieval, oriental and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions...

 that fits the description of that Heaven that is given in each religion, which a soul that has been good in their previous life on Earth will go to. The area of the upper astral plane of Earth in the upper atmosphere where the various Heavens are located is called Summerland
The Summerland
The Summerland is the name given by Wiccans and other earth-based Neopagan religions and by Theosophists to their conceptualization of an afterlife.-General overview of Summerland in Neopaganism:...

 (Theosophists believe Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 is located in the lower astral plane of Earth which extends downward from the surface of the earth down to its center). However, Theosophists believe that the soul is recalled back to Earth after an average of about 1400 years by the Lords of Karma to incarnate again. The final Heaven that souls go to billions of years in the future after they finish their cycle of incarnations
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 is called Devachan.

Near death experiences



Many people who come close to death and have near death experience
Near death experience
A near-death experience refers to a broad range of personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body; feelings of levitation; extreme fear; total serenity, security, or warmth; the experience of absolute dissolution;...

s report meeting relatives or entering "the Light" in an otherworldly dimension, which share similarities with the religious concept of Heaven. Even though there are also reports of distressing experiences and negative life-reviews, which share some similarities with the concept of Hell, the positive experiences of meeting or entering 'the Light' is reported as an immensely intense feeling state of love, peace and joy beyond human comprehension. Together with this intensely positive feeling state, people who have near death experiences also report that consciousness or a heightened state of awareness seems as if it is at the heart of experiencing a taste of 'Heaven'.

Criticism of the belief in Heaven


Marxists
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 regard heaven, like religion generally, as a tool employed by authorities to bribe their subjects into a certain way of life by promising a reward after death.

The anarchist Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

 expressed this view when she wrote, "Consciously or unconsciously, most atheists see in gods and devils, heaven and hell; reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into obedience, meekness and contentment."

Many people consider George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his novel Animal Farm
Animal Farm
Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II...

to be a literary expression of this view. In the book, the animals were told that after their miserable lives were over they would go to a place in which "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges". Fantasy author Phillip Pullman echoes this idea in the fantasy series His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman comprising Northern Lights , The Subtle Knife , and The Amber Spyglass...

, in which the characters finally come to the conclusion that people should make life better on Earth rather than wait for heaven (this idea is known as the Republic of Heaven).

Some atheists have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor motivation for moral behavior while alive. Sam Harris
Sam Harris (author)
Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

 wrote, "It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it. [The] problem with this linkage between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to help other human beings when good reasons are available."

Literature

  • Works of fiction
    Fiction
    Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

     have included numerous different conceptions of Heaven and Hell. The two most famous descriptions of Heaven are given in Dante Alighieri
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

    's Pardiso
    Paradiso (Dante)
    Paradiso is the third and final part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and the Purgatorio. It is an allegory telling of Dante's journey through Heaven, guided by Beatrice, who symbolises theology...

    (of the Divine Comedy) and John Milton
    John Milton
    John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

    's Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

    .
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages...

    , a series by C. S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis
    Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

     offers a description of Heaven at the end of the sequence in the 'Last Battle', depicted as a lush green land surrounded by mountains under the rule of a lion Aslan
    Aslan
    Aslan, the "Great Lion," is the central character in The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven fantasy novels for children written by C. S. Lewis. He is the eponymous lion of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and his role in Narnia is developed throughout the remaining books...

    .
  • Elric and Eternal Champion
    Eternal Champion
    The Eternal Champion is a fictional creation of the author Michael Moorcock and is a recurrent feature in many of his novels.-About the Eternal Champion:...

    , two series by Michael Moorcock
    Michael Moorcock
    Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

    , is one of many who offer Chaos-Evil(-Hell) and Uniformity-Good(-Heaven) as equally unacceptable extremes which must be held in balance.
  • The Discovery of Heaven
    The Discovery of Heaven
    The Discovery of Heaven is a 1992 novel by Dutch author Harry Mulisch. It describes the intense friendship between two men and the mystical journey of another to return to Heaven the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments....

    , a 1992 novel by Harry Mulisch
    Harry Mulisch
    Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch was a Dutch author. He wrote more than 80 novels, plays, essays, poems and philosophical reflections. These have been translated into more than 20 languages....

    , claims heaven is located "at the end of the Big Bang
    Big Bang
    The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

     in negative space
    Negative space
    Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real"...

    ".

Film


Several works of written and filmed science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 have plots in which Heaven can be reached by the living through technological means. An example is Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 film The Black Hole
The Black Hole
The Black Hole is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions. The film stars Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine, while the voices of the main robot characters are provided by Roddy...

, in which a manned spacecraft found both Heaven (or another dimension) and Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 located at the bottom of a black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

.
  • Made in Heaven, a 1987 film which concerns two souls who cross paths in Heaven and then attempt to reconnect once they are reborn on Earth
    Earth
    Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

    .
  • What Dreams May Come
    What Dreams May Come (film)
    What Dreams May Come is a 1998 American supernatural drama film, starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Annabella Sciorra. The film is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, and was directed by Vincent Ward. The title is taken from a line in Hamlet's To be, or not to...

    , a 1998 movie that won an Academy Award for its depiction of heaven and hell as the subjective creations of the individual, was an essentially mystical interpretation of heaven, hell and reincarnation. It was based on the eponymous novel
    What Dreams May Come
    What Dreams May Come is a 1978 novel by Richard Matheson. The plot centers on Chris, a man who dies and goes to Heaven, but eventually descends into Hell to rescue his wife...

     by Richard Matheson
    Richard Matheson
    Richard Burton Matheson is an American author and screenwriter, primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. He is perhaps best known as the author of What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return, A Stir of Echoes, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and I Am Legend, all of which have been...

    .
  • Heaven
    Heaven (2002 film)
    Heaven is a 2002 Film directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. Co-screenwriter Krzysztof Kieślowski intended for it to be the first part of a trilogy , but died before he could complete the project...

    , a 2002 film that implies heaven can be reached the higher up one goes (in the film's case, in a helicopter).
  • Field of Dreams
    Field of Dreams
    Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama film directed by Phil Alden Robinson and is from the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella...

    , a 1989 film in which heaven is symbolized by a baseball field. Several players ask Ray if they are in heaven, but he assures them that they are just in Iowa. At the end, Ray asks his father if there is a heaven, to which his father replies that it is the place where dreams come true.

Television

  • In the South Park
    South Park
    South Park is an American animated television series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become famous for its crude language, surreal, satirical, and dark humor that lampoons a wide range of topics...

    episodes "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?
    Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?
    "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of the animated television series South Park, and 57th episode of the series overall. "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" originally aired in the United States on July 19, 2000 on Comedy Central. It is the first part of a two...

    " and "Probably
    Probably (South Park)
    "Probably" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the animated television series South Park, and the 58th episode of the series overall. "Probably" originally aired in the United States on July 26, 2000 on Comedy Central...

    ," it is revealed that Mormons go to Heaven while everyone else lives in Hell. Due to a war between Heaven and Hell in "Best Friends Forever
    Best Friends Forever
    "Best Friends Forever" is the fourth episode of the ninth season of the American animated television series series South Park. It was written and directed by co-creator Trey Parker and first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 30, 2005....

    ," God allows more people in.
  • In the American Dad!
    American Dad!
    American Dad! is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane and owned by Underdog Productions and Fuzzy Door Productions. It is produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television...

    episode "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever," Heaven is featured. Anyone who has done good in their life are flown from Limbo
    Limbo
    In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other...

     to the Gates of Heaven by a large griffin
    Griffin
    The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle...

     (which might be Ziz
    Ziz
    The Ziz is a giant griffin-like bird in Jewish mythology, said to be large enough to be able to block out the sun with its wingspan. It is considered a giant animal/monster corresponding to archetypal creatures. Rabbis have said that the Ziz is comparable to the Persian Simurgh...

    ). There was a reference that Jim Henson
    Jim Henson
    James Maury "Jim" Henson was an American puppeteer best known as the creator of The Muppets. As a puppeteer, Henson performed in various television programs, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for...

     tried to sneak into Heaven only for him and Kermit the Frog to end up in a flat rectangle prison (similar to General Zod
    General Zod
    General Zod is a fictional character who appears in comic books published by DC Comics, a supervillain who is one of Superman's more-prominent enemies. The character first appeared in Adventure Comics #283 , and was created by Robert Bernstein and George Papp...

     in Superman II
    Superman II
    Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors...

    ) as Kermit begs for them to be released. In "Rapture's Delight," it is revealed that Heaven sends the people to rooms called their own heaven in which they live the rest of eternity in a world where they are the happiest.
  • Heaven is featured in the Renkin 3-kyū Magical? Pokān episode "The Spell of Rebirth is a Trip Through Hell." Uma ends up sent to Heaven with a letter to God (portrayed by Keimie) that Uma has been banished from Hell for all eternity. Uma spends time in Heaven until she gets bored and takes God's option to restore Uma to life.

Documentaries

  • Heaven: Beyond the Grave. A&E Network
    A&E Network
    The A&E Network is a United States-based cable and satellite television network with headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London, Los Angeles and Stamford. A&E also airs in Canada and Latin America. Initially named the Arts & Entertainment Network, A&E launched...

    . (IMDB)
  • Mysteries of the Bible
    Mysteries of the Bible
    Mysteries of the Bible is a documentary television series that was originally broadcast by A&E from March 25, 1994 until June 13, 1998 and aired reruns until 2002. The series is about biblical mysteries and was produced by FilmRoos. The Discovery Channel and BBC also released a series of the same...

    : "Heaven and Hell". A&E Network.

Further reading

  • Smith, Gary Scott, Heaven in the American Imagination (Oxford University Press; 2011) 339 pages; draws on art, music, folklore, sermons, literature, psychology, and other realms in a study of how Americans since the Puritans have imagined heaven.

External links