Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
So we are all saved, and we have to prepare ourselves when we do see God's glory? I thought we can't see the Father unless we go through Christ, and doesn't Christ talk about hell with teeth gnashing?
So hell as a state of being is what it feels like when we don't experience the love that God has?
I'm so confused on the Orthodox take on Heaven and Hell, can you help?
This is not the catechism teaching of the Orthodox Fathers, this is just my own personal interpretation from my experience in life.
Hell is not a place of eternal suffering, a punishment for sins. Either God can forgive us all, or none at all, but God is fair and just, and it is unjust to forgive one person and not another. This is why Jesus Christ told us that He did not come to condemn us, that Moses was already busy doing that. The Devils condemn us to guilt, Jesus Christ raises us up to life. We have plenty of seeming contradictions in the Orthodox. How did the Thief on the Cross find salvation without Baptism? Or any of the others whom miracles and healings were committed?
We must turn to Christ in our heart to understand these things, not the Holy Books, or the Canons, or the Hymnals, or the Church Fathers, or the Writings, or any such thing. God is real. We must turn to Him directly for Grace and Mercy and Faith.
Hell, in my experience, is a state of fear, dread, punishment, guilt, sorrow, tears and pain which we experience in the here and now, on earth, in our daily lives, when we glance away from God and look towards ourselves or other created things. Hell is the pain which Buddha identified when he said Life was suffering and pain. Only God can take away that pain and sorrow.
In Orthodox, we have the Divine Mysteries. Surely these can take us to Zion, into the Heavenly Gates of Eternal Life, but so can God entirely on His own without these mechanisms, for He is the Infinite God. But then what is the real purpose of these things? Why did I go to Liturgy yesterday and stand in His Real Presence, and why did I fall on my knees today at the Sixth Hour praying begging for mercy and consolation and Grace? Life is hard, life hurts, it skins knees, and breaks spirits, it even kills people! God, in His Divine Wisdom, gave us the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation/Anointing, Communion, Holy Orders, Anointing of Sick, etc etc so that we might find earthly, temporal Grace in our sorrow filled lives of pain, fear and apprehension. Where is the money going to come from? Will I meet my wife? Who will take care of my sick mother? How can I fix my car? Will the war(s) ever stop? What about greed? Guns, violence? etc etc
Life is a swirling illusion of pain, but the Mysteries save us. Our lives outside of the Divine Mysteries, are Hell itself. God, comes down from His Perfection, and lifts us up in His Will, in His Time, to perceive His Glory.
Now I know the books and even the red letters in the Gospel speak of eternal punishment, gnashing of teeth and what-not, but I just can't feel it. Of course, I do feel the pain of this temporary, transitional life, and further more I feel the heeling of the Divine Mysteries. The Church Fathers call what Freud discovered about our ego and pride as the "fractured minds" and God, through the Orthodox heals these fractures and makes us whole, unison, in His Spirit.
We can only know what we have here and now, the future is for God alone to reveal. Let us focus then on what we can reach, and pray to be lifted out of the Hell of here and now, and not even contemplate nor worry about any kind of hell or heaven to come. Heaven can be here, when you stand in the Presence of God, and so can Hell, when you even briefly look away, this is the mixed blessing of Free Will.