You speak with such assurance. Both you and Simayan. Do you mean to say that this is your understanding? Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you? Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight. Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.
Well, actually, this was one of the first questions I had coming into Orthodoxy, as I had come to the conclusion by my own rational thinking that heaven and hell could not be literal places. Therefore, I asked my priest how Orthodoxy viewed heaven and hell, and I received the answer I passed on to you and the rest on this forum.
I make no claim to be an expert; what I share here is my informed opinion, based on what I've learned from the Church and from my own studies. Sometimes I remember where I've learned a particular byte of knowledge, but usually it just becomes part of my paradigm, and I can't really separate one byte from another.
I apologize that I have offended you by my style, but as this is a discussion/debate forum, I usually take a stronger tone for purposes of furthering the argument. In argument truth is often revealed. My thesis may not be absolutely true, but by comparing it with an antithesis the truth will reveal itself. The stronger the theses, the easier this comparison is made. If I were to have said, "Well, I think probably that heaven and hell might have things which are sort of like levels, maybe, if I am not entirely incorrect, and I hope I'm not"--what sort of argument is that? That's the sort of thing which is said by a person with social anxiety disorder. No, I argue strongly, and even when I am wrong (which is pretty often), I have learned better what the truth is.