When you are in love, you think and say things to your partner like: “I will love you forever,” “I’ll never leave you.” Terms like forever and never are slippery. They are a source of anger if the romance fades for one person and the other says, “But you promised we would be together forever.” Forever and never are not about the future. Such words are really concerned with the depth of intensity in the present. “I will love you forever” means “I love you with all my heart and soul now.” Similarly, heaven and hell are said to be about “forever,” but they are really about right now. Heaven is intense joy and vision right now. Hell is intense unhappiness and bad fortune right now.

Heaven is not somewhere else. Heaven is an attitude toward our experience. Eternity is not a long time. Eternity is right now with all its intensity and immediacy. If we are conscious, we can live in eternity now, free from the pain of change and loss because we can rise to a higher perspective from which we can experience our entire life as a coherent and unified whole.

-- Toby Johnson