gabrielbranbury wrote:The way I see it, no matter how difficult and out of control a situation (mentally or otherwise) I find myself in, it can get worse. So I figure somewhere along that open ended spectrum of suffering is the edge of hell and beyond.
Do you see the heavens and hells described in Buddhist scripture as states of mind, or as physical places that are entered after death?I think this all has only symbolic meaning for you if you reject out of hand the idea that the causes and conditions which propel us through this life abruptly end with our death and no further ignorant consciousness arises in its wake.
I've tried to believe in an afterlife for the sake of Buddhism. I wanted the philosophy to fit well without stress, worry, or doubt. But I can't make myself believe in something that even M-Theorists would reject.
I see physical location as only a contributing factor in what sort of state of mind arises. I guess the answer to your first question is I dont really think its much of a relevant distinction. All I need to know about Heaven and Hell is how they relate to my experience. In other words, what is the most directly pragmatic distinction being communicated by the concept. Asserting or imagining the physicality or lack of physicality of future conditions is wasted energy.
I am not really certain how you relate to the word "believe". I dont really like to use the word too much myself. You say you have "tried to believe", but this doesn't make much sense to me. As far as Im concerned all you need to do is accept that you have no idea and do it without allowing this acceptance to blunt your desire to know for yourself. It also helps to accept that there are more realized beings than you (Buddha) who see reality in a way which defies the ability of language to adequately model for us. We need to put serious effort into using the conceptual models as a guide to see for ourselves. Certainly "wanting philosophy to fit" sounds a bit problematic. Fit with what? Fit with your assumptions about reality?
Set it aside and practice. If its like a gorilla with christmas lights all over and dancing around then I think it is clear you have not set it aside.
I wish you well