when i was younger, i never really understood why heaven was described the way it was, or why people would want to strive to be in it. judaism paints a picture of lush, green expanses, with flowing waters and streams of honey and ambrosia. those familiar with renaissance paintings will have a good idea of what the descriptions are like. similarly, the christians have a timely portrayal of clouds and angels, harps and cherubs, and your obligatory God the Father, alongside Jesus, shepherding the people into a life of ease and prosperity. The muslims, have a similar depiction, though, that of grand and expansive castles, made of gold and jewels, which coincidentally house not only the persons themselves, but also their families and friends (?), who also have palaces of their own, in which prayers are held and merriment is had. oh, and let's not forget to toss into all the abrahamic interpretations a handful of beautiful (virgin) maidens (though i want to assume for the female counterparts, there will be lustful and glistening men of bronze, ivory or whatever it is flavour that catches your eye); perhaps more riches like mountains of gold and foods that will make connoisseur seem lacking and tasteless. (this is my favourite ice cream. recognise).
of course, the more practical or etymological amongst us will be quick to argue that these depictions are catered for the times and people they are preached to - and this makes a lot of sense to me. but for religions that should transcend time and place, age and bearings, i find it hard to fathom that a heaven or any semblance thereof can be so limited to those descriptions.
i believe that, the essence of heaven is that of an idyllic or utopian place. people. things and ideas. a perfect everything. and this is something that boggles me the most - is this a unified utopia, for each and all, to be made such that everyone can lounge and languish in the perfection that is God's ultimate reward (and arguably, test, as well). or is it catered to the individual? can there be a heaven of gourmet foods and tasteful wines, of extreme relaxation and pampered devotion, which accommodates for the hedonistic amongst us; but at the same time a heaven of culture and knowledge and exploration for the inquisitive? can there be one of merriment and company and inclusiveness for the socially apt, just as there would be one of solitude and peace for the introverted? do these have to be mutually exclusive?
the expanse of considerations are limitless, but the gist is that 'how defined is heaven, at least for the human mind?', and furthermore, 'how well does the translation and representation of heaven become for humanity?'. i cannot think that, if God, in his all encompassing powers, is able to create an infinity of idealisms (or ideals), he is not capable of creating them all at once and in the same existence. surely there must be a(n unfathomed yet) heaven that accommodates and speaks to all. and if not, just how well can there be cross compatibility between the different visions (or hopes) of heaven?
i do not think that religions (and we have not even discussed the alternatives outside abrahamic ones!) have yet portrayed sufficiently what haven is (to be). and i hope that there is such a thing, only that it is ill defined in holy scriptures with purpose of being enticing to the reader, but not exclusive to those with... different (deviant?) wants.
perhaps, if i hope for a heaven where all is not idyllic, i can be granted such? maybe, au contraire, i can hope for something like an easymode videogame, or a leisurely but intriguing book, or perhaps a mind blowing movie. the cruces of which are that they are all amazing, but different. or perhaps, i should just hope that there will be pegacorns and ninja zombies alongside death rays and time travel. i definitely would like that (as opposed to attending mass or jumaah or sermons, which are apparently all part of the utopian heavens). or perhaps God will have made me love for those things where i do not as yet.
oh, that's right, i didn't consider that i'd probably never set foot in any such heaven in the first place, huh? time to go pray or something.