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Heaven

Basic knowledge-

In religion, Heaven is the English name for a transcendental realm in which it is believed that people who have died continue to exist in an
afterlife. The term "heaven" may refer to the physical heavens, the sky or the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond, the traditional
literal meaning of the term in English.

The term in English has also typically been used to refer to the plane of existence of an afterlife (often held to exist in another realm) in various
religions and spiritual philosophies, often described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity,
goodness, piety, faith or other virtues.

Etymology-

The modern English word Heaven derives from the word heven around 1159, which developed from the Old English heofon around 1000

referring to the Christianized "place where God dwells" but earlier meaning "sky, firmament"(attested from around 725 in Beowulf); this is

cognate with other Germanic languages - Old Saxon heban "sky, heaven", Middle Low German heven "sky", Old Icelandic himinn "sky, heaven",

Gothic himins, and existed in variation with a related word having an -l suffix: Old Frisian himel, himul "sky, heaven", Old Saxon/Old High

German himil, Dutch hemel, and modern German Himmel, all of which derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Hemina-.

Basic concepts-

While there are abundant and varied sources for conceptions of Heaven, the typical believer's view appears to depend largely on his religious

tradition and particular sect. Some religions conceptualize Heaven as pertaining to some type of peaceful life after death related to the

immortality of the soul. Heaven is generally construed as a place of happiness, sometimes eternal happiness. A psychological reading of sacred

religious texts across cultures and throughout history would describe it as a term signifying a state of "full aliveness" or wholeness.

In ancient Judaism some scholars asserted that Sheol (mentioned in Isaiah 38:18, Psalms 6:5 and Job 7:7-10) was an earlier concept than

Heaven, but this theory is not universally held. One later Jewish sect that maintained belief in a Resurrection of the dead was known as the

Pharisees. Opposed to them were the Sadducees who denied the doctrine of Resurrection (Matt. 22:23). In most forms of Christianity, belief in

the afterlife is professed in the major Creeds, such as the Nicene Creed, which states: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the

world to come."

In Ancient Egyptian faith, belief in afterlife is much more stressed than in ancient Judaism. Even so,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, 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.

The following are examples of the different terminology in the New Testament often considered to reference the concept of "heaven":

the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43), life (Matthew 7:14), life everlasting (Matthew 19:16), the joy

of the Lord (Matthew 25:21), great reward (Matthew 5:12), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:45), the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30), the house of

the Father (John 14:2), city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebr., xii), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12; D. V. holies), paradise (2 Corinthians

12:4), incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25), crown of life (James 1:12), crown of justice (II Timothy iv, 8), crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4)

In Buddhism there are several heavens, all of which are still part of Samsara (illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma may be

reborn[3] in one of them. However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma and will undergo a

different rebirth 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). In the native Chinese Confucian traditions Heaven (Tian) is an

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

Some faiths teach that one enters heaven at the moment of death, while others teach that this occurs at a later time (day of judgement). Some of

Christianity along with other major religions maintain that entry into Heaven awaits such time as, "When the form of this world has passed

away." (*JPII) One view expressed in the Bible is that on the day Christ returns the righteous dead are resurrected first, and then those who are

alive and judged righteous will be brought up to join them, to be taken to heaven. (I Thess 4:13-18)

Two related and often confused concepts of heaven in Christianity are better described as the "resurrection of the body", which is exclusively of

Biblical origin, as contrasted with "the immortality of the soul", which is also evident in the Greek tradition. In the first concept, the soul does not

enter heaven until the last judgement or the "end of time" when it (along with the body) is resurrected and judged. In the second concept, the soul

goes to a heaven on another plane immediately after death. These two concepts are generally combined in the doctrine of the double judgement

where the soul is judged once at death and goes to a temporary heaven, while awaiting a second and final physical judgement at the end of the

world.(*" JPII, also see eschatology, afterlife)

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. Heaven as a physical place survived in the concept that it was located far out into space, and that the stars were "lights

shining through from heaven".

Several works of written and filmed science fiction have plots in which Heaven can be reached by the living through technological means. An

example is Disney film The Black Hole, in which a manned spacecraft found both Heaven (or another dimension) and Hell located at the bottom

of a black hole.

Many of today's Biblical scholars, such as N. T. Wright, in tracing the concept of Heaven back to its Jewish roots, see Earth and Heaven as

overlapping or interlocking. Heaven is known as God's space, his dimension, and is not a place that can be reached by human technology. This

belief states that Heaven is where God lives and reigns whilst being active and working alongside people on Earth. One day when God restores all

things, Heaven and Earth will be forever combined into the 'New Heavens' and 'New Earth'.

[edit] Entrance into Heaven
See also: Salvation and Soteriology
Religions that speak about heaven differ on how (and if) one gets into it, typically in the afterlife. In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on

having lived a "good life" (within the terms of the spiritual system). A notable exception to this is the 'sola fide' belief of many mainstream

Protestants, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept Jesus Christ as one's saviour, and then

Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of one's sins; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad "works" one has participated

in.

Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to a place "without the presence of God", Hell, which is eternal. Some religions

believe that other afterlives exist in addition to Heaven and Hell, such as Purgatory. One belief, universalism, believes that everyone will go to

Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity believe Hell to be the termination of the soul.

Many people who come close to death and have near death experiences 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'.

[edit] In the Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) as a specific place as symbolic. The Bahá'í writings describe heaven as

a "spiritual condition" where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God. Bahá'u'lláh, 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 Manifestations of God, 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, 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 prayers of others, and good deeds performed by others on Earth in the name of that person.

In Bhuddism-

According to Buddhist Cosmology 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 ghosts 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 is a later refinement of the heavenly realm and accordingly was inserted between the human realm and the

heavens. One important Buddhist heaven is the Trayastri?sa which resembles Olympus of Greek mythology.

Additionally, in the Mahayana 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.

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 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 Sutras 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 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 word Bardo means literally "intermediate state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhava.

In Chinese Faiths
 
Chinese Zhou Dynasty Oracle script for Tian, the character for Heaven or sky.Main article: Tian
Heaven is a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophies and religions, and is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi ("Supreme

Deity") and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for nature and the sky. The Chinese term for Heaven, Tian (?), derives from the name of the

supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty. After their conquest of the Shang Dynasty in 1122 BC, the Zhou people considered their supreme deity Tian

to be identical with the Shang 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.[11] Heaven was also believed to transcend all other spirits and gods, with Confucius asserting,

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

Other philosophers born around the time of Confucius such as Mozi took an even more theistic view of Heaven, believing that Heaven is the

divine ruler, just as the Son of Heaven (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 championed a concept called

"universal love" (jian'ai, ??), 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.[12] In Mozi's Will of Heaven (??), he writes:

"I know Heaven loves men dearly not without reason. Heaven ordered the sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven

ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to regulate them. Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the five

grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy them. Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys, and arranged

many things to minister to man's good or bring him evil. He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and to

gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the people's food and

clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the present."

Original Chinese:

???????????????,????????,????;????????,????;??????,???????,???????;??????,????,???????;?????,???????;?????,???????,????????????,????????

Mozi, Will of Heaven, Chapter 27, Paragraph 6, ca. 5th Century BCMozi criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the teachings

of Confucius. By the time of the later Han Dynasty, 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 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.

In Christianity-

Christianity has taught "Heaven" as a place of eternal life, in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the elect (rather than an abstract

experience related to individual concepts of the ideal). The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life.

Roman Catholics believe that entering purgatory (a period of suffering until one's nature is perfected) cleanses one of sin and through enduring

this agony makes one acceptable to enter heaven. This is valid for venial sin only, as mortal sins can be forgiven only through the act of

reconciliation and repentance while on earth. Some within the Anglican Communion, notably Anglo-Catholics, also hold to this belief, despite

their separate history. However, in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, it is only God who has the final say

on who enters heaven. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, heaven is understood as union (Theosis) and communion with the Triune God (reunion

of Father and Son through love).

In Protestant Christian sects, eternal life depends upon the sinner receiving God's grace (unearned and undeserved blessing stemming from

God's love) through faith in Jesus' death for their sins, see atonement, his resurrection as the Christ, and accepting his Lordship (authority and

guidance) over their lives. Some Protestant sects also teach that a physical baptism, or obligatory process of transformation or experience of

spiritual rebirth, is further required. Also, Protestantism is divided into groups who believe in the doctrine of eternal security (once a person

becomes a Christian, s/he remains one forever, also referred to by the slogan "once saved, always saved") and those who believe that a person

who sins continually without any repentance or penitence was never saved in the first place. Some sects do believe that those who continually sin

can lose their salvation, though it is generally believed that it shows that the individual was not fully committed in the first place.

Early Christian writing-

From the early second century, we have a fragment of one of the lost volumes of Papias, a Christian bishop, who expounded that "heaven" was

separated into three distinct layers. He referred to the first as just "heaven", the second as "paradise", and the third as "the city". Papias taught

that "there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce a hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of

those who produce thirty-fold".

In the 2nd century AD, Irenaeus (a Greek bishop) wrote that not all who are saved would merit an abode in heaven itself.

Christians in the first century, such as Paul of Tarsus, believed that the Kingdom of God was coming to earth within their lifetimes. They looked

forward to a divine future on earth. After the Kingdom of God did not arrive, Christians gradually refined their hopes, so that they came to look

forward to a reward in heaven after death rather than to a reward in an imminent, divine kingdom on earth; while continuing to use the major

creeds' statements of belief in the Resurrection.

In Orthodox Christianity
 
Eastern Orthodox icon depicting Christ enthroned in heaven, surrounded by the ranks of angels and saints. At the bottom is Paradise with the

Bosom of Abraham (left), and the Good Thief (right).The teachings of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions regarding the

Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God, are basically taken from scripture, and thus many elements of this belief are held in common with

other scriptural faiths and denominations. Some specific descriptions of this Kingdom as given in the canon of scripture include— (this list is by

no means comprehensive):

Peaceful Conditions on a New Earth — Is. 2:2–4, 9:7, 11:6–9, 27:13, 32:17–18, 33:20–21, 60:17–18, Ez. 34:25–28, 37:26, Zech 9:10, Matt.

5:3–5, Rev. 21
Eternal Rule by a Messiah–King — Ps. 72, Jer 31:33–34, Zech 2:10–11, 8:3, 14:9, Matt 16:27, Rev 21:3–4
an heir of David, Is. 9:6–7, 11:1–5
Bodily perfection — No hunger, thirst, death, or sickness; a pure language, etc. – Is. 1:25, 4:4, 33:24, 35:5–6, 49:10, 65:20–24, Jer. 31:12–13,

Ez. 34:29, 36:29–30, Micah 4:6–7, Zeph. 3:9–19, Matt 13:43
Ruined cities inhabited by people and flocks of sheep — Is. 32:14, 61:4–5, Ez. 36:10,33–38, Amos 9:14
[edit] Eastern Orthodox cosmology
Eastern Orthodox cosmology perceives heaven as having different levels (John 14:2), the lowest of which is Paradise. At the time of creation,

paradise touched the earth at the Garden of Eden. After the Fall of man, paradise was separated from the earth, and mankind forbidden entry,

lest he partake of the Tree of Life and live eternally in a state of sinfulness (Genesis 3:22-24). At his death on the Cross, the Orthodox believe

Jesus opened the door to Paradise to mankind again (Luke 23:43), and the Good Thief was the first to enter.

Various saints have had visions of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the

dead: "…a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing are fled away."

In Roman Catholicism-

The Roman Catholic Church bases its belief in Heaven on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Old and New

Testaments) and also the books of the apocrypha and collected church wisdom. Heaven is the Realm of the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin

Mary (also called the Queen of Heaven), the angels[16] and the saints. According to the dogma of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin

Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory", which implies that heaven must have

some facility to support human bodies as well as souls or that the experience of heaven is to be understood as a spiritual (soul) experience while

still on earth.

The essential joy of heaven is called the beatific vision, which is derived from the vision of God's essence. The soul rests perfectly in God, and does

not, or cannot desire anything else than God. After the Last Judgment, when the soul is reunited with its body, the body participates in the

happiness of the soul. It becomes incorruptible, glorious and perfect. Any physical defects the body may have laboured under are erased. Heaven

is also known as paradise in some cases. The Great Gulf separates heaven from hell.

The Roman Catholic teaching regarding Heaven is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Those who die (generally understood as

physical death as opposed to "body level," ego identity) in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified, live forever (defined as

immortality of the body as opposed to eternal aliveness in the psychological sense). This perfect (divine) life with [God] (Father Deity rather than

concept of "perfect goodness") is called heaven. [It] is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme,

definitive happiness, full aliveness. The Catholic Church teaches that only those baptized by water (sacramental purification/internal cleansing),

blood (martyrdom for the Catholic faith), or desire (explicit or implicit desire for the sacrament) may enter heaven and those who have died in a

state of grace may enter heaven.

Upon dying, each soul goes to what is called "the particular judgement" where its own afterlife is decided (i.e. Heaven after Purgatory, straight to

Heaven, or Hell.) This is different from "the general judgement" also known as "the Last judgement" which will occur when Christ returns to

judge all the living and the dead.

It is a common Roman Catholic belief that St. Michael the Archangel carries the soul to Heaven.[citation needed] The belief that Saint Peter

meets the soul at the "Pearly Gates" is an artistic application of the belief that Christ gave Peter, believed by Catholics to be the first Pope, the

keys to Heaven.

As Heaven is a place where only the pure are permitted, no person who dies in a state of sin can enter Heaven. "Those who die in God's grace and

friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see Him as he is," face to face." (Catechism of

the Catholic Church §1023) "Those who die in God's grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal

salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church

§1054)

If one were baptized validly and then died, one would go directly to heaven (in the Roman Catholic belief, the sacrament of baptism dissolves the

eternal and temporal punishment of all sins). If one never committed a mortal sin and were absolved of all one's venial sins just before death,

one would go directly to Heaven.

Most people who would enter Heaven do so through Purgatory (or "process of purification"). In Purgatory, a soul pays off all temporal

punishment one deserved for the venial sins he committed in life without repentance. This does not always happen though. If one receives the

Sacrament of Penance validly, as well as gains a plenary indulgence, and dies, one would directly go to heaven. There are many ways to get an

indulgence, in various Papal decrees or publications. To receive a plenary indulgence, one must receive the sacrament of Confession validly, do

one's penance, validly receive Communion, say some specified number of Lord's Prayers, Angelic Salutations and Minor Doxologies for the

intentions of the Pope, and then perform some act of gaining the indulgence. Of course, one must remain free from all sin, mortal and venial,

while doing all these things.

[edit] In Protestant Christianity
The intermediate state (between death and the resurrection) is understood in diverse ways in Protestant Christian thought (see the article on soul

sleep), but the following is generally concluded about the eternal life which Jesus promised those who believe in him:

The term Heaven (which differs from "The Kingdom of Heaven" see note below) is applied by the Biblical authors to the realm in which God

currently resides. Eternal life, 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 Revelation 21:3. 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 disobeyed God (see original sin) so that mankind would

not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God.

Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ (the one thousand years)

on this earth, referred to in Revelation 20:1-10; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth, referred to in Revelation 21 and 22. This

millennialism (or chiliasm) is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman

Catholic Church after him.

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 which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is a seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with

one another. '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' (adapted from Matthew 22:37

-38) —a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of earthly life.

(The Greek "hê basileia ton ouranon", usually translated as "the Kingdom of Heaven", is indeed more literally "the rule of the skies (or heavens)",

with "the skies (or heavens)" being a codeword for God, reflecting the respect shown for God's name in first century Judaism.)

Within Christianity, there are several notable belief structures on the means by which Man may enter heaven. See:

Arminianism
Calvinism
[edit] Seventh-day Adventist
Main articles: Heavenly sanctuary and Seventh-day Adventist eschatology
The Seventh-day Adventist understanding of heaven is based on Biblical writings which set out the following:

That heaven is a material place where God resides.
That earth and all the animate and inanimate things therein and within its celestial space are products of God's creative work.
That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to live as a human being, but who "perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His

miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and

in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf."[20]
That Christ promises to return as a Saviour at which time He will resurrect the righteous dead and gather them along with the righteous living to

heaven. The unrighteous will die at Christ's second coming.
That after Christ's second coming there will exist a period of time known as the Millennium during which Christ and His righteous saints will

reign and the unrighteous will be judged. At the close of the Millennium, Christ and His angels return to earth to resurrect the dead that remain,

to issue the judgements and to forever rid the universe of sin and sinners.
"On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting

life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The

great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign

forever."[23] It is at this point that heaven is established on the new earth.
Jehovah's Witnesses-

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that heaven is the dwelling place of Jehovah God and his spirit creatures. Rather than the traditional view that all

Christians go to heaven, they believe that only 144,000 chosen faithful followers will be resurrected to heaven to rule with Christ over the

majority of mankind who will live on Earth.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-

The view of heaven according to the Latter Day Saint movement is based on Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as 1 Corinthians

Chapter 15 in the King James version of the Bible. The afterlife is divided first into two levels until the Last Judgement; afterwards it is divided

into four levels, the upper three of which are referred to as "degrees of glory" that, for illustrative purposes, are compared to heavenly bodies.

Before the Last Judgment, spirits separated from their bodies at death go either to Paradise or to Spirit Prison based on their merits earned in

life. Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgement. Spirit Prison is a place of anguish

and suffering for the wicked and unrepentant; however, missionary efforts done by spirits from Paradise enable those in Spirit Prison to repent,

accept the Gospel and the atonement and receive baptism through the practice of baptism for the dead.

After the resurrection and Last Judgement, people are sent to one of four levels:

The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level, with its power and glory comparable to the sun. Here, faithful and valiant disciples of Christ who

accepted the fullness of His Gospel and kept their covenants with Him through following the prophets of their dispensation are reunited with

their families and with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. Those who would have accepted the Gospel with all their

hearts had they been given the opportunity in life (as judged by Christ and God the Father) are also saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-Day

Saint movements do not believe in the concept of original sin, but believe children to be innocent through the atonement. Therefore, all children

who die before the age of accountability inherit this glory. Men and women who have entered into celestial marriage are eligible, under the

tutelage of God the Father, to eventually become gods and goddesses as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
The Terrestrial Kingdom's power and glory is comparable to that of the moon, and is reserved for those who understood and rejected the full

Gospel in life but lived good lives; those who did accept the Gospel but failed to keep their covenants through continuing the process of faith,

repentance, and service to others; those who "died without law" (D & C 76:72) but accepted the full Gospel and repented after death due to the

missionary efforts undertaken in Spirit Prison. God the Father does not come into the Terrestrial Kingdom, but Jesus Christ visits them and the

Holy Spirit is given to them.
The Telestial Kingdom is comparable to the glory of the stars. Those placed in the Telestial Kingdom suffered the pains of Hell after death

because they were liars, murderers, adulterers, whoremongers, etc. They are eventually rescued from Hell by being redeemed through the power

of the atonement at the end of the Millennium. Despite its far lesser condition in eternity, the Telestial Kingdom is described as being more

comfortable than Earth in its current state. Suffering is a result of a full knowledge of the sins and choices which have permanently separated a

person from the utter joy that comes from being in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, though they have the Holy Spirit to be with them.
Perdition, or outer darkness, is the lowest level and has no glory whatsoever. It is reserved for Satan, his angels, and those who have committed

the unpardonable sin. This is the lowest state possible in the eternities, and one that very few people born in this world attain, since the

unpardonable sin requires that a person know with a perfect knowledge that the Gospel is true and then reject it and fight defiantly against God.

The only known son of Perdition is Cain, but it is generally acknowledged that there are probably more scattered through the ages.

According to Hindu cosmology, above the earthly plane are six heavenly planes:

1.Bhuva Loka
2.Swarga Loka, a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where most of the Hindu gods (Deva) reside along with the king of gods, Indra.
3.Mahar Loka
4.Jana Loka
5.Tapa Loka
6.Satya Loka
Below the earthly plane are seven nether planes:

1.Atala
2.Vitala
3.Sutala
4.Talatala
5.Mahatala
6.Rasatala
7.Pataal
Below these are 28 hellish planes (according to Bhagavata Purana), below which is the Garbhodaka ocean with waters of devastation. Depending

on good and bad activities (karma) on an earthly plane, a soul either ascends up to enjoy heavenly delights or goes down to fiery hellish planes

depending on sins performed which are judged by the god of death & justice, Yama, who presides along the 28 hells. After the results of good and

bad deeds (karma) are delivered, souls return to the earthly plane again as human or animal depending on desires and karma. Thus the cycle of

birth and death.

Eternal liberation or freedom from the cycle of birth and death is called Moksha, which can be obtained only in human life by turning attention

inwards for uniting the soul with the Supreme Being (Parabrahman, Bhagavan, Ishvar, Krishna) through Yoga - Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga,

Bhakti Yoga etc.

Liberation (Moksha) is of five types as described in Puranas:

1.Sayujya: Merging into the oneness with the impersonal aspect of the Lord, and hence freedom from all material anxiety.
2.Salokya: Attaining residence in the eternal abode of the Lord, called Vaikuntha, beyond material universal creation, beyond the six material

heavens, a place where only surrendered devotees of the Lord go.
3.Saristi: Attaining same opulences as the Lord in His abode.
4.Sarupya: Attaining same beautiful form as the Lord in His abode.
5.Samipya: Attaining close association of the Lord in His abode.
This abode of Lord is briefly described in the Bhagavad Gita (15.6), "That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire

or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world". Further descriptions of Vaikuntha are in the Puranas where the Lord's

devotees reside eternally in loving relationship with the Lord.

Furthermore, Vaikuntha residency has following categories:

1.Shanta Rasa: In neutral relationship of great awe, reveration and constant thinking of the Lord.
2.Dasya Rasa: Serving the Lord personally to please the Lord as master and soul as servant.
3.Sakhya Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate friend (formal, informal, and many other types).
4.Vatsalya Rasa: Serving the Lord from a superior position as a caretaker (like motherly or fatherly relations).
5.Madhurya/Sringara Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate conjugal lover including all previous rasas, the most sweet of all, with many further

categories.
The Lord lovingly relates to every soul in a multitude of modes and varieties of relationships as desired by the soul. The Lord from there

sometimes descends into material universe, along with His associates, to redeem suffering souls and perform His pastimes. He comes either

Personally (Svayam Bhagavan) or as His part incarnations (kala, amsha) or sends His messengers/prophets. There are many incarnations of the

Lord mentioned in scriptures, 10 of which are famous, the most popular ones are Rama Avatar and Krishna Avatar.

[edit] In Islam
Main article: Jannat
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The Qur'an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Regarding the concept of heaven (Janna) 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."[Qur'an 13:35] Islam rejects the

concept of original sin, 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 (?????)- Paradise (?????), to which the prophets, martyrs and other pious

people will go at the time of their death.

The concept of heaven in Islam differs in many respects to the concept in Judaism and Christianity. 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/ if there sins weigh out there good deeds they are sent to hell. If they do not then the Prophet Muhammad

can ask God to erase one's sins. 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 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

Qur'an 13:35
Qur'an 18:31
Qur'an 38:49–54
Qur'an 35:33–35
Qur'an 52:17–27
Islamic texts refer to several levels of heaven:

Firdaus or Paradise
'Adn
Na'iim
Na'wa
Darussalaam
Daarul Muaqaamah
Al-Muqqamul Amin
Khuldi
[edit] In Judaism
Judaism 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."[26]

While the concept of heaven (malkuth hashamaim ????? ?????, the Kingdom of Heaven) is well-defined within the Christian and Islamic

religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife, sometimes known as olam haba, the World-to-come, is not so precise. The Torah 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,[26]

is that of resurrection. The Mishnah says, "This world is like a lobby before the World-To-Come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may

enter the banquet hall." 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. 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.[26]

It is the predominant view of Judaism, that the righteous of all nations have a share in the afterlife, the World-to-come.

Unlike other world-religions, Judaism is not focused on the quest of getting into heaven. Judaism is focused on life and how to live it.

In Kabbalah Jewish mysticism-

Jewish mysticism recognizes Seven Heavens.

In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens are listed alongside the angels who govern them:

1.Shamayim: The first Heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of

Adam and Eve.
2.Raquie: The second Heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this Heaven that Moses, during his visit to Paradise,

encountered the angel Nuriel who stood "300 parasangs 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 and the Tree of Life; it is also the

realm where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced.[30] The Second Book of Enoch, 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 , and according to Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the

Temple, and the Altar.
5.Machon: The fifth Heaven is under the administration of Samael, 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.
7.Araboth: The seventh Heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, 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 of all unborn

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

In Mesoamerica-

The Nahua people such as the Aztecs, 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, 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).

In Polynesia-

In the creation myths of Polynesian mythology 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's Divine Comedy, but the number of divisions

and their names differs from one Polynesian culture to another.

Maori-

In Maori mythology, 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 rules
4.Hau-ora, 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
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
The Maori believe these heavens are supported by pillars. Other Polynesian peoples see them being supported by gods (as in Hawai'i). In one

Tahitian legend, heaven is supported by an octopus.

In Theosophy-

It is believed in Theosophy that each religion (including Theosophy) has its own individual Heaven in various regions of the upper astral plane

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 (Theosophists

believe Hell 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 is called Devachan.

Criticism of the belief in Heaven-

Atheists reject the existence of heaven. Marxists 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 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's use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his novel Animal Farm 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, 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 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."

Pseudo-scientific ideas on the existence of Heaven-

The Omega Point is a term used by Tulane University professor of mathematics and physics Frank J. Tipler to describe an idea regarding what

he maintains is a necessary cosmological state in the distant future of the universe.

Tipler describes a final singularity and a state of infinite information processing as analogous to a god figure. This would be brought about by an

ultimate cosmic computer running a computer simulations of all the intelligent life that had ever lived (by re-creating simulations of all possible

quantum brain states within a master simulation).

According to Tipler's Omega Point Theory, as the universe comes to an end at a singularity in a particular form of the Big Crunch, the

computational capacity of the universe would accelerate faster and faster. In principle, then, a program run on this universal computer could

continue forever in its own terms, even though the universe would last only a finite amount of proper time--this simulation (virtual reality

environment) will, according to Tipler, be what is commonly referred to as Heaven. Dr. Tipler suggests that in this Heaven, each person will have

their own alternate universe that pleases them the most.

Researcher Anders Sandberg  has stated his view of this theory as: "Tipler claims that Omega will resurrect everyone into an immortal life in

what could only be called paradise."

According to George Ellis's review of Tipler's book in the journal Nature, Tipler's book on the Omega Point is "a masterpiece of pseudoscience ...

the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline", and Michael

Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating what he thought to be flaws in Tipler's thesis.