I grew up thinking that Heaven was a place you attained after leading a virtuous life. And it was a magnificent venue with no lack – just complete and total bliss.

But it was conditional.

If life weren’t lived well, then Heaven would be barred. Instead, I’d be cast into a fiery pit of hell. Eternal damnation.

Talk about extreme opposites!

It was never very clear to me what the entrance criteria was for Heaven. Some people said it was based on your birth lineage. Others said it was dependent on how you lived your life and the amount of good deeds performed. And yet others suggested it was based on accepting a particular person as your savior.

But what I came to realize is that Heaven is not a destination. Nor is hell. Rather, they are both states of existence. And one of them is real, the other imagined.

Heaven is the non-dualistic, true reality of everything. We are all one and all part of this state. But we’ve dreamed a dream that we could be separate from that eternal oneness and seem to be experiencing duality in which bodies rule and drama captivates.

This line from A Course in Miracles sums it up perfectly: “Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery.”

Thankfully, we can make the choice in any moment to awaken from the pain and suffering.