Something i’ve wanted to do for a long time is post on John Lennon’s song, Imagine. What kept me from it was not wanting to make a really, really, long post. You’ve might have noticed I do like to keep things short! The solution — take it in parts.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
I used to have a love/hate relationship with this song. On one hand, I lauded Lennon’s idealism and desire for peace, but on the other, his antipathy to religion was quite off-putting to me until fairly recently.
Some years ago, I did come to imagine “no hell below us,” though. And that willingness to *imagine* and consider, eventually became a willingness to “re-examine the hell idea” in depth. I’m happy to report it didn’t survive the scrutiny!
A large number of people, however, are not yet able to earnestly question what they’ve been taught about “good” and “evil.” That in itself isn’t a problem. But those unquestioned presuppositions can become the source of great suffering. Large parts of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish world are engaged in open warfare at the time of this post. It’s fair to say that every entity involved in the fighting views itself as “good,” and their enemy as “evil.”
Lennon urges us to look at ordinary life, rather than philosophy or religion, for the direction on how to live. Ironically, this echoes the idea present throughout all the mystics that ethics is as simple as the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. Love your neighbor.
Is this raw atheism? Is there really “only sky” above us? Does “living for today” mean there is no afterlife? Not at all. I believe (yeah, I do have beliefs!) that there is far more to This than what is the visible world. (Really it’s far less, but I won’t get into that here!) But the thing is that we are only responsible for our interactions in this tangible world with each other, under the sky.
“Only sky” means that there is no heaven except at this moment, and no hell except at this moment, no life at all except the single moment we have to live now. The past and the future exist only in the mind. The only experience is the experience of the present moment.
And at every moment, we are constantly involved in creating heavens and hells for ourselves and each other. The eyes of the Father are not looking down upon us, so much as looking out through us… every one of us.