Our heaven within us

While teaching us John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, one day our teacher made a very mysterious statement. “Dear students, all of us have our own different heavens,” said the learned teacher. He did not unravel the symbolic implications of his remark. Thus, like most of my classmates, I too was unable to latch on to the hidden meaning of his statement.

Born and brought up in a Hindu family, my ideas about heaven were crystal clear. I was taught at home that heaven is a blissful geographical territory situated somewhere in the divine world. The berth in this joyful place is only accorded to those human souls who maintain a very neat and clean karmic account during their fixed stay in this ephemeral world. So how then could there be many heavens was the baffling question? 

During all those college years I could not find the answer to this self-posed riddle. But as I advanced in the years, the school of life unravelled the mystery. Now, ten years later as a married woman, I have fully understood the symbolism in the statement of my teacher. 

My little son is transported into his own heaven when we buy him the toys of his choice. Our cherubic daughter experiences her heavenly delight the moment she begins to play with her smart dolls. Getting her dolls married several times a day offers her paradisiacal pleasures . Seeing my kids making a small playhouse with bricks and sand, I feel a unique sense of joy which is nothing short of the elation of heaven. But as we grow up, our heavens change. 

A hefty bonus is what my husband longs for. Unlike my son, he is not just content with a toy car. His heaven lies in a big SUV and the handsome incentive. My daughter’s dolls would hold my fancy when I was of her age. Now, costly diamond rings and bangles bring a cheerful heavenly smile on my face. These are the toys of the youth which differ dramatically from the toys of the childhood. But in true sense, during our stint in this world, we keep toying with life by indulging in various material gratifications . 

Now I can fully sense what my teacher wanted to convey that day. Heaven and hell are just two opposite states of our mind. Milton rightly remarks that mind is its own place; and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. Our real heaven is in our inner contentment. 

What if my husband cannot afford to buy an SUV, he can choose to make his heaven with our small family car. If our income does not permit me to roll in the luxury of diamonds, I should be content with whatever I have in life. The real joy and bliss of heaven can never be experienced by possessing a lot of wealth and material comforts. Human mind tends to flit from one object to another to derive happiness. But the expensive toys of our youth will hold no significance when we reach life’s twilight. Like our childhood toys, we will abandon them too. Unlike some outer geographical entity, our heaven lies only within us. 

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