There is nothing after death. One moment you are and then you aren’t. There is no pearly gate to enter and no hot furnaces to take a warm dip in. There is nothing after death.
This sad truth however does not stop the various religions and cults to create their own fantasyland. If you live your life saintly you will get to spend eternity praising God. I don’t know why they would call it heaven. Some people do spend their life on earth praising politicians or movie stars or sportsmen or ideas. How would heaven be any different for them? Some belief systems give you the carrot of lots of carnal pleasure in heaven with the stick of burning eternity in hell if you do not do as the Book says. Some says that you will reach a stage of Nothingness if you live a good life. The truth is somewhat closer to this, you don’t have to be good to reach Nothingness. You will reach there auto-magically when you die.
In any case, my intent is not to criticize any set of belief. Everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe in. To paraphrase Voltaire, I may not agree with what you say or believe but I will fight for your right to not agree with me. Or I may not.
This lack of belief in afterlife does not stop me from creating my own fantasy heaven. Remember that you have to spend an eternity there and there are no modern conveniences like electricity or movies or Internet. Lack of internet should make it Hell but let us proceed without getting into the semantics. I am an introvert and as such I am more comfortable alone than with people. However I would stock up my heaven with people. Lots of interesting people.
The setting of my heaven would be a grassy knoll with some trees for shade. There is a clear stream flowing nearby and I can see fishes swim in it. The air is filled with songs of the birds. It would always be sunny with a mild chill. You would not feel the heat but you would not be cold either. Some days there would be a slight drizzle to fill the air with the scent of the soil.
I would not want my family or my friends there. Their presence there would imply that their time on the Earthly Dimension is complete and I would not want that. I would rather spend an eternity feeling the pangs of separation than have them there.
So my heaven would be filled with strangers. It would be filled with people I have never met during my employment with Earth Inc. It is not a crowded place though. Each individual is carefully chosen for a specific skill-set. Ideas. I would have originators of religions and destroyers of religions in my heaven. I would have Communists and Capitalists. I would have Fascists and Liberals. I would have Freedom Fighters and Oppressors. I would have Conquerors and Rebels. I would have Inventors and Destroyers. And I would want to spend my time understanding their ideas and what made them tick.
I would spend mornings listening to Jesus talk about his beliefs and I would ask Gautama Buddha what he thought about Jesus’ ideas. Some mornings we would talk about role of religion in a society and other days what they thought about the way modern humanity has perverted their teachings. Afternoons would be for weighty matters so that I can have a good sleep. So it would be up to the Aristotles and Kant and Nietzsche and Karl Marx’s of the world to talk about important things while I doze off.
Evenings would be spent with Alexander and Patton and Genghis and Che and Rommel and the re-enactments of great wars and battles. They would each argue how they would have fought a particular battle and changed history. Other days it would be the Storytellers who would entertain all of us with their stories. We would have Shakespeare read us Henry V. Some days it would be Tolkien who would give a talk on the economy of Middle Earth. Bear in mind that Keynes would be free to interrupt and expound on how the fall of the Dark Lord would have led to an increase in supply of weapons and consequent free fall in metal prices in Middle Earth version of commodities markets.
Nights would be spent listening to Mozart and Bach and Schubert and Vivaldi while I gaze up towards infinity and ponder about my life that was and the beauty of the world that is no longer mine.
Who will be in your heaven?