Recent polls suggest that as many as nine out of ten people believe in the promise of heaven or the afterlife. But what exactly is heaven? Is there proof that heaven exists? Is it possible to communicate with departed loved ones? What is heaven like? Bestselling spiritualist author Theresa Cheung provides answers to ten of the most commonly asked questions about heaven.
1 Where is heaven?
Most believers these days don’t think of heaven as a place at all but a spiritual experience in which a person connects deeply to feelings of bliss and loving connection to everyone and everything in the Universe. Going to heaven is a never ending journey that our hearts can begin on this Earth and continue after our death.
Of course, many people still talk about ‘going to heaven’ as if it were a destination and this is understandable because it is a different dimension of reality that can’t be described or understood in human terms. In other words, it is a transcendent state of eternal bliss we can experience in this life but not be able to fully understand and become a part of until we cross over to the other side.
2 Does heaven really exist?
Lots of people today believe in the promise of heaven but others don’t and that is there choice. Scientists are starting to gather proof that it actually exists but since there is no definitive evidence yet it can only really exist if you believe it to exist. If you accept the reality of heaven it becomes your reality. Perhaps just believing or trusting in heaven could make it a reality when you die.
3 What is it like in heaven?
The brightness, beauty, bliss, peace and illumination have no words to describe them because they are beyond human experience. Sometimes people talk about glistening fields and meadows and flowers and trees that display colours not seen on Earth. There are also sparkling rivers and streams, enchanting birdsong and sweet music – but not the sorts of sounds heard on Earth.
Such a setting is very fairytale like but the overriding theme to all these idyllic descriptions is that everything feels more alive and vibrant. Many people have said that when they return to earth it feels as if their life on Earth is the dream and heaven the reality.
Another fascinating idea that frequently comes up is the idea that spiritual reality in heaven seems to match the spiritual awareness a person had when they were on Earth. So, if you live a life of love and good intentions you will experience beauty and light in the afterlife but if you live a life of selfishness then your afterlife will be more shadowy, grainy and darker making it hard to see anything with clarity.
4 Will I reunite with departed loved ones in heaven?
According to NDE accounts you will and not just loved ones, family and friends but people of all ages because, although we carry our individuality with us into heaven, in spirit everyone is interconnected.
Contrary to popular belief the existence of an afterlife where we are reunited with departed loved ones is perfectly logical. Just think about it. Modern science tells us that everything – you, me, this book, your mobile, your keys – consists of energy. Everything in the Universe consists of pulsating units of energy and the manner in which it pulsates determines how it will manifest on Earth. Is it so irrational then to believe that when our body dies, the energy that sparks us into life, the energy that creates our thoughts and makes our hearts beat, continues to exist? And is it such a stretch of the imagination to think that this energy could live in another realm of existence and continue to interact with the living?
5 Do our loved ones watch over us in heaven?
Yes, but only if we open our hearts and minds to them.
Remember, heaven is really a state of mind and not a place, and even on Earth we can live in heaven and feel the presence of departed loved ones. The choice is yours. The place your loved ones went to after death is not up there in the sky. It is around and within you, interpenetrating your life all the time. And those you have loved and lost are not far away looking down on you they are close by your side on earth, striving to help and guide you and loving you as they did before they crossed over.
6 What about angels?
Whenever there is talk of heaven there is also talk of angels. Angels are invisible messengers from heaven who serve only what is good, loving and pure within and around you. Sometimes they appear in traditional form, complete with wings and halo but most of us meet them in our dreams, thoughts and feelings or sense their presence in subtle signs or calling cards, like the appearance of a white feather. Angels may also manifest through the spirits of departed loved ones or through other people consciously or unconsciously guided by heaven.
Although angel experiences can vary significantly a tell-tale sign of their presence is a deep inner certainty, light and joy or feelings of peace and comfort that were not there before. Remember, the term angel is interchangeable with the term heaven and if your path to heaven involves encounters with angels they will inspire and transform your life in magical ways. You will not feel doubt, anxiety or anger. The glow of love is their calling card and you will feel comforted and warm in their presence.
7 What about prayer?
Many people do find great comfort and strength from traditional forms of prayer but prayer is really just a way of connecting with the force of goodness and love within around you. Your thoughts are a form of prayer and because heaven knows what goes on in your mind and your heart your thoughts can have great power.
If you aren’t convinced of the power of positive thinking one place to look is at recent studies conducted around the world that have shown the healing effects of prayer. If, as modern science believes, all matter and life consists of units of energy – including our thoughts – then it is feasible that through an intense concentration of thought in prayer, this energy can be directed to influence the well-being of others.
Sure, you could call this the power of positive expectation, rather than the power of prayer, but whatever you call it, it really does seem to work. And it doesn’t just work on other people. The power of reflection can work on yourself too. Just taking a few moments to pause and gather your thoughts can lead to moments of profound intuition, inspiration and illumination. Moments when we just sense, feel or know something we did not know and our thoughts triggers a connection with heaven.
8 I believe in heaven so why am I still afraid of dying?
This question goes quite literally to the heart of the matter. When the heart stops beating what happens? Even though the overwhelming feedback from people who have been close to death but come back to life is that the experience is peaceful and illuminating the uncertainty of it all, the not knowing is frightening.
Even when you sleep at night your consciousness leaves your body and travels to the world of spirit. In the morning some of the dreams you had may be recalled but whether you recall them or not it shows that every day of your life you are dying and living again whether you realise it or not.
Life is not killed by the death of your physical body. It is fear, anger, hate and guilt that can end life, not death. Despair of the heart and emptiness of the soul are what really kill and if you allow negative feelings and thoughts to take control you become one of the walking dead. In much the same way the spirit of a person whose heart is full of love and compassion will never die.
As such there is no death, only darkness without light and in the light there is no death, only goodness and love.
9 Are there animals in heaven?
Everything in the Universe consists of energy and animals are made up of that energy just as humans are so there is no reason why they should not survive death in the same way.
If you are an animal lover you will be acutely aware of the bond of unconditional love that can exist between human and animal. Love is boundless and connects every part of creation including animals. Love is also the language that heaven speaks and animals can teach us many important spiritual lessons about empathy, healing, happiness and the power of unconditional love.
10 If there is a heaven, why do bad things happen to good people?
On this Earth we live in linear time but when we die we cross over to spiritual time where everything is different. So we can’t understand why things happen as they do until we also live in spirit time. All we can do is live our lives in a loving and positive manner so when we finally cross over to the other side we leave this world a better place and can settle into our new spiritual home without fear, regret or guilt from our previous existence weighing us down and stunting our spiritual growth.
If this explanation doesn’t satisfy, let’s turn things on the head a by asking a question: What if you knew the answer? What if life’s greatest mystery was solved and you understood the reason why innocent people suffer?
The reality is that knowing the answer might be even worse than not knowing it. If you knew the answer you might come to a place where you accepted suffering – made your peace with it. You would not shed a tear when you see others in distress or lend a hand to help them because you understand what is going on. A good comparison is a woman going into labour. She may scream in pain but her family won’t be too distressed for her, they may even feel joy because they know why she is in pain and her cries of pain are a signal that the baby is ready to make its entrance into the world.
You see, the pain and suffering of others is easier to accept and deal with if you know why it is happening. However, as long as the ‘why do bad things happen to the undeserving’ question remains unanswered we refuse to accept that their pain is natural. We try to do all we can to help or ease the suffering of others. We believe that empathy, compassion and kindness can still make a difference.
Would we want to live in a world where there was no need for empathy, compassion and kindness?
Heaven on Earth
Remember, heaven is already here if you are awake enough to see it. Have you ever been astonished by the beauty of nature? Can you remember times in your life when you felt truly happy? Do you recall the first time you fell in love? Or the feeling of satisfaction you get from a job well done? The day your child was born? Has a song, book, poem or work of art ever taken you to a beautiful otherworldly place? Have you ever felt deeply peaceful and calm?
In each of these moments heaven was reaching out to you, merging with you. You probably didn’t recognise it as such at the time but what if you lingered in those moments a while longer and recognised them for what they really were – proof of heaven on Earth.
About the author
Theresa Cheung is a mind, body and spirit author who has written more than 100 books, including How to Find Heaven: Your Guide to the Afterlife.