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The Hell

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Hell in the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg(Hell in the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (around 1180).)

Hell is, according to many religions, a state of extreme suffering of the human spirit after its separation from the body, experienced pain after death by those who have committed crimes and sins in their earthly life. The definition of hell and its characteristics vary according to religion and are sometimes subject to different interpretations within the same religion. Thus, according to Buddhism, hell is primarily a state of mind of the individual subject to the desires and passions.

Mesopotamian origins

The first traces of hell are Mesopotamians (about 2000 years BC.): Akkadians and Sumerians believed in hell as a place where the dead are found. Their god of hell is Nergal and Ereshkigal is their goddess.

According to Judaism

Among the ancient Jews, as in other Semitic nations, the existence in Sheol was considered a ghostly perpetuation of earthly life, during which the problems of this earthly life came to an end. Sheol was designed as an underground place where the dead led a lethargic life. Later, the prediction of the prophet Isaiah of Judaism, in his satire on the death of the king of Babylon, was speaking in these terms to the tyrant: “There you are Sheol, in the depths of the abyss” (Isaiah 14 15), gave birth to the idea that there are multiple depths in Sheol, depending on the degree of reward or punishment deserved. Anyway for the Jews the notion of eternity in hell does not exist.

In Judaism of the Second Temple period, and in the intertestamental literature, Greek influence can be seen in the Jewish ideas of the remains of the dead:

  • The Jewish Hades – has become a place where the dead could be conscients.
  • Abraham’s bosom – a defined area of ​​Hades where the righteous await resurrection.
  • Hell – fire of the Last Day in the Mishnah.

Another vision of the Hell(Another vision of the Hell)

According to Islam

Hell, called Jahannam has seven gates and is intended primarily for unbelievers as supreme punishment.

Many passages of the Qur’an describe hell; for example :

  • Surah 78, verses 21-26: “Truly, Hell is a place of ambush, A dwelling place for the Taghun (those who transgress the boundry limits set by Allah like polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, hyprocrites, sinners, criminals, etc.), They will abide therein for ages, Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink. Except boiling water, and dirty wound discharges. An exact recompense (according to their evil crimes).”
  • Surah 15, verses 43-44. (43. And surely, Hell is the promised place for them all. [those who committed injustice]) (44 It (Hell) has seven gates, for each of those gates is a (special) class (of sinners) assigned.)
  • Sura 39, verse 71: “And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened (suddenly like a prison at the arrival of the prisoners). And its keepers will say, “Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves, reciting to you the Verses of your Lord, and warning you of the Meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say: “Yes, but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!””

The designations of the different degrees of the House of Perdition are all mentioned in the Qur’an but scattered in several suras and dozens of verses according to their content. Their order may be as follows, from the highest level (lesser punishment) to the lowest level (great punishment) in Al-Dahhak:

  1. The Fire of Jahannam interim destination for sinners Muslims
  2. Inferno interim destination for sinners Christians
  3. Houtama the provisional destination of sinners Jews
  4. The burning fire to renegades, of Iblis (Satan) and his followers, and the disbelievers jinn
  5. Saqar to the wizards, witches and those who bow down to the stars.
  6. Furnace to the disbelievers,
  7. Abyss to hypocrites, Pharaoh and his companions, and people who disbelieved after the miracle of Îsâ table (Jesus).

According to Buddhism

In Buddhist tradition passed by Tibetans, hell is one of six modes of the sphere of passions. Traditional cosmology describes the underworld 18 hells: 8 hot hells, 8 cold hells, peripheral hell and ephemeral hell. It is said that rebirths in these hellish conditions are induced by negative acts produced under the influence of anger.

 By whom and how were the weapons of hell created?
Who made its blazing floors?
And from where are its flames?
Sakyamuni taught
“All these are born of the deluded mind.”
(Shantideva, Bodhicaryavatara.)

Yanluowang (閻羅 王) (King Yanluo) is a Chinese god of Buddhist origin, guardian and judge of hell. It is a secondary deity also present in Japan under the name of Enma.

Zen Buddhist Master Deshimaru said: “Hell is not found in another world, there exists in our mind.”

According to Hinduism

According to Jean Herbert, a French Indianist, “hell and paradise are considered in India as temporary places of residence where we will go in some cases to collect the reward for our good and our bad deeds that have not yet borne fruits.” A paradise that is eternal is a contradiction” [according tp Vivekananda], even for hell. Some texts, taken literally (eg Bhagavad-Gita, I, 44), suggests otherwise, but all the commentators and, what is more important, all the sages are adamant. This non-eternal nature is explained in particular by two logical considerations. The first is that since these stays have a start, they must, like everything that has a beginning to an end too. The second is that the actions that a man is able are necessarily limited, finite, and can not be endless, their consequences can not have the character of infinity that they do not have themselves. The duration of the punishments and rewards of these human actions is necessarily limited and proportional.”

According to modern esotericism

According to modern esoteric, ie the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov and many others there, there is, after the death of the physical body, survival of some subtle bodies, then reincarnation after a longer or shorter time. Hell, or more precisely purgatory, would be a time of purification after death, in which the entity would get rid of that is still keeping the earthly world while becoming aware of the mistakes it committed in during his life on earth.

According to Aïvanhov

Aïvanhov written: dying, you leave “various body you must release you after each other: first the physical body, and then, some time later, a week or two, the etheric body; Then, the astral body, and there is a lot longer, because in the astral plane, there are piled passions, desires, all lower feelings. And this is hell: the astral and lower mental mental body where we should spend some time to purify themselves. Then you release the mental body, and that’s where Paradise begins with the first heaven, the second heaven, the third heaven. Tradition says that there are seven. And this is the man’s return to Earth, the birth of the child.”

According to Allan Kardec

According to the founder of spiritualism, hell is not a circumscribed place. Hell refers to the state of suffering in which the spirits are imperfect because of personal shortcomings that have not yet corrected. This state is not eternal and depends on the will of the spirits to progress.


Jewish Kabbalah

When a person passes the tree of life of the Jewish Kabbalah, we must note that it is not without peril. Whether upright or upside down (the quilots), particularly in reverse, there are ten hells corresponding to ten Sephires of the tree of life. In fact the first hell of the tree of life happens three days after it has passed the reverse. These ten hells are described as best he could by Milosz, the poet and philosopher, in his work, in the end, “The Coach Stopped in the Night.”


“”Hell is other people” has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations. But what I really mean is something totally different. I mean that if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because. . . when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves, . . . we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself someone else’s judgment always enters. Into whatever I feel within myself someone else’s judgment enters. . . . But that does not at all mean that one cannot have relations with other people. It simply brings out the capital importance of all other people for each one of us.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, Commentary on No Exit, 1964

Popular wisdom

The term “Hell is paved with good intentions” means that the will to do good sometimes results in contrast to the expected result.

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