Heaven, or the heavens, is a common religious, cosmological, or
transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits, saints,
or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live.
According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can
descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to Heaven
in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter
Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a
Paradise, in contrast to
Hell or the
Underworld or the "low places",
and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings
according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith, or
other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe
in the possibility of a
Earth in a World to Come.
Another belief is in an axis mundi or world tree which connects the
heavens, the terrestrial world, and the underworld. In Indian
Heaven is considered as
Svarga loka, and the soul is
again subjected to rebirth in different living forms according to its
karma. This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves
Nirvana. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities,
outside the tangible world (Heaven, Hell, or other) is referred to as
2 By religion
2.1 Ancient Near East religions
2.1.3 Canaanite and Phoenician views of Heaven
2.1.4 Hurrian and Hittite myths
2.2 Bahá'í Faith
2.3.1 Different Heavens
22.214.171.124 According to Anguttara Nikaya
126.96.36.199 Tibetan Buddhism
2.4 Chinese faiths
2.6.1 Brahma kumaris
2.9.1 Yahwism (
Iron Age Judaism)
2.9.2 Rabbinical Judaism
Kabbalah Jewish mysticism
2.10 Mesoamerican religions
2.11.2 Paumotu, Tuamotus
2.12 Sikh Religion
4 Criticism of the belief in Heaven
6 Postmodern views
7 Representations in arts
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
The modern English word heaven is derived from the earlier (Middle
English) heven (attested 1159); this in turn was developed from the
Old English form heofon. By about 1000, heofon was being used
in reference to the Christianized "place where
God dwells", but
originally, it had signified "sky, firmament" (e.g. in Beowulf, c.
725). The English term has cognates in the other Germanic languages:
Old Saxon heƀan "sky, heaven",
Middle Low German
Middle Low German heven "sky", Old
Icelandic himinn "sky, heaven", Gothic himins; and those with a
variant final -l:
Old Frisian himel, himul "sky, heaven", Old
Old High German
Old High German himil, Old Saxon/
Middle Low German
Middle Low German hemmel, Dutch
hemel, and modern German Himmel. All of these have been derived from a
Proto-Germanic form *Hemina-.
See also: Category:Conceptions of heaven
Ancient Near East religions
See also: Religions of the ancient Near East
Main article: Ancient Mesopotamian religion
The ancient Mesopotamians regarded the sky as a series of domes
(usually three, but sometimes seven) covering the flat earth.:180
Each dome was made of a different kind of precious stone.:203 The
lowest dome of heaven was made of jasper and was the home of the
stars. The middle dome of heaven was made of saggilmut stone and
was the abode of the Igigi. The highest and outermost dome of
heaven was made of luludānītu stone and was personified as An, the
god of the sky. The celestial bodies were equated with specific
deities as well.:203 The planet
Venus was believed to be Inanna,
the goddess of love, sex, and war.:108–109:203 The sun was her
brother Utu, the god of justice,:203 and the moon was their father
Ordinary mortals could not go to heaven because it was the abode of
the gods alone. Instead, after a person died, his or her soul went
Kur (later known as Irkalla), a dark shadowy underworld, located
deep below the surface of the earth. All souls went to the same
afterlife, and a person's actions during life had no impact on
how he would be treated in the world to come. Nonetheless,
funerary evidence indicates that some people believed that
the power to bestow special favors upon her devotees in the
Main article: Aaru
In Ancient Egyptian religion, belief in an afterlife is much more
stressed than in ancient Judaism.
Heaven was a physical place far
Earth in a "dark area" of space where there were no stars,
basically beyond the Universe. According to the Book of the Dead,
departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven, along
the way to which there could exist hazards and other entities
attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven. Their
heart would finally be weighed with the feather of truth, and if the
sins weighed it down their heart was devoured.
Canaanite and Phoenician views of Heaven
Main article: Canaanite religion
Almost nothing is known of
Bronze Age (pre-1200 BC) Canaanite views of
Heaven, and the archaeological findings at
Ugarit (destroyed c. 1200
BC) have not provided information. The 1st century Greek author Philo
of Byblos may preserve elements of
Iron Age Phoenician religion in his
Hurrian and Hittite myths
Further information: Hittite mythology
In the Middle Hittite myths,
Heaven is the abode of the gods. In the
Song of Kumarbi,
Alalu was king in
Heaven for nine years before giving
birth to his son, Anu.
Anu was himself overthrown by his son,
Main article: Bahá'í Faith
Faith regards the conventional description of
hell) as a specific place as symbolic. The Bahá'í writings describe
Heaven as a "spiritual condition" where closeness to
God is defined as
Hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God.
Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has stated that the
nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond
comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will
retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical
life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate
For Bahá'ís, entry into the next life has the potential to bring
Bahá'u'lláh likened death to the process of birth. He
explains: "The world beyond is as different from this world as this
world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of
its mother." The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the
Bahá'í view of earthly existence: just as the womb constitutes an
important place for a person's initial physical development, the
physical world provides for the development of the individual soul.
Accordingly, Bahá'ís view life as a preparatory stage, where one can
develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next
life. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined
by the current Manifestation of God, which Bahá'ís believe is
Bahá'u'lláh wrote, "Know thou, of a truth,
that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will,
assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved."
The Bahá'í teachings state that there exists a hierarchy of souls in
the afterlife, where the merits of each soul determines their place in
the hierarchy, and that souls lower in the hierarchy cannot completely
understand the station of those above. Each soul can continue to
progress in the afterlife, but the soul's development is not entirely
dependent on its own conscious efforts, the nature of which we are not
aware, but also augmented by the grace of God, the prayers of others,
and good deeds performed by others on
Earth in the name of that
Main article: Buddhist cosmology
Buddhism there are several Heavens, all of which are still part of
samsara (illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma may be
reborn in one of them. However, their stay in
Heaven is not
eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma and will
undergo rebirth into another realm, as a human, animal or other being.
Heaven is temporary and part of samsara, Buddhists focus more
on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment (nirvana).
Nirvana is not a heaven but a mental state.
Buddhist cosmology the universe is impermanent and beings
transmigrate through a number of existential "planes" in which this
human world is only one "realm" or "path". These are traditionally
envisioned as a vertical continuum with the Heavens existing above the
human realm, and the realms of the animals, hungry ghosts and hell
beings existing beneath it. According to Jan Chozen Bays in her book,
Jizo: Guardian of Children, Travelers, and Other Voyagers, the realm
of the asura is a later refinement of the heavenly realm and was
inserted between the human realm and the Heavens. One important
Heaven is the Trāyastriṃśa, which resembles Olympus of
Mahayana world view, there are also pure lands which lie
outside this continuum and are created by the Buddhas upon attaining
enlightenment. Rebirth in the pure land of Amitabha is seen as an
assurance of Buddhahood, for once reborn there, beings do not fall
back into cyclical existence unless they choose to do so to save other
beings, the goal of
Buddhism being the obtainment of enlightenment and
freeing oneself and others from the birth–death cycle.
One of the Buddhist sutras states that a hundred years of our
existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the
thirty-three gods. Thirty such days add up to their one month. Twelve
such months become their one-year, while they live for a thousand such
years though existence in the heavens is ultimately finite and the
beings who reside there will reappear in other realms based on their
The Tibetan word
Bardo means literally "intermediate state". In
Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva.
According to Anguttara Nikaya
Here the denizens are Brahmās, and the ruler is Mahābrahmā
After developing the four Brahmavihāras, King Makhādeva rebirths
here after death. The monk Tissa and Brāhmana Jānussoni were also
For a monk, the next best thing to
Nirvana is to be reborn in this
The lifespan of a Brahmās is not stated but is not eternal.
The lifespan of a Kāmāvacara is not stated but is not eternal.
Here some denizens are kings that came from human lives as being
The Anguttara Nikaya says that on the 15th day, the Cātummaharaja
gods look down to earth and see if the humans are still paying
reverence to mother, father, samanas and brahmanas.
Bimbisāra (the king of Magadha), and Pāyāsi (the king of Kosāla)
were reborn here.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 9,216,000,000 years.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 2,284,000,000 years.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 9,216,000,000 years.
The ruler of this
Indra or Shakra, and the realm is also
Each denizen addresses other denizens as the title "mārisa".
The governing hall of this
Heaven is called Sudhamma Hall.
Heaven has a garden Nandanavana with damsels, as its most
Ajita the Licchavi army general was reborn here. Gopika the Sākyan
girl was reborn as a male god in this realm.
Any Buddhist reborn in this realm can outshine any of the previously
dwelling denizens because of the extra merit acquired for following
the Buddha's teachings.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 36,000,000 years.
Anāthapindika, a Kosālan householder and benefactor to the Buddha's
order was reborn here.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 576,000,000 years.
The denizens here have a lifespan of 1,444,000,000 years.
There are 5 major types of Heavens.
Akanishtha or Ghanavyiiha
This is the most supreme
Heaven wherein beings that have achieved
Nirvana live for eternity.
Heaven of the Jinas
Heavens of Formless Spirits
These are 4 in number.
These are 16 in number, and are free from sensuality.
These are 6 in number, and contain sensuality.
Main article: Tian
Oracle script for tian, the character for
"heaven" or "sky".
In the native Chinese
Heaven (Tian) is an
important concept, where the ancestors reside and from which emperors
drew their mandate to rule in their dynastic propaganda, for example.
Heaven is a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophies and
religions, and is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi
("Supreme Deity") and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for
nature and the sky. The Chinese term for "Heaven",
Tian (天), derives
from the name of the supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty. After their
conquest of the
Shang Dynasty in 1122 BC, the Zhou people considered
their supreme deity
Tian to be identical with the Shang supreme deity
Shangdi. The Zhou people attributed
Heaven with anthropomorphic
attributes, evidenced in the etymology of the Chinese character for
Heaven or sky, which originally depicted a person with a large
Heaven is said to see, hear and watch over all men.
affected by man's doings, and having personality, is happy and angry
Heaven blesses those who please it and sends calamities
upon those who offend it.
Heaven was also believed to transcend
all other spirits and gods, with
Confucius asserting, "He who offends
Heaven has none to whom he can pray."
Other philosophers born around the time of
Confucius such as
an even more theistic view of Heaven, believing that
Heaven is the
divine ruler, just as the Son of
Heaven (the King of Zhou) is the
Mozi believed that spirits and minor gods exist, but
their function is merely to carry out the will of Heaven, watching for
evil-doers and punishing them. Thus they function as angels of Heaven
and do not detract from its monotheistic government of the world. With
such a high monotheism, it is not surprising that
Mohism championed a
concept called "universal love" (jian'ai, 兼愛), which taught that
Heaven loves all people equally and that each person should similarly
love all human beings without distinguishing between his own relatives
and those of others. In Mozi's Will of
Heaven (天志), he writes:
Heaven loves men dearly not without reason.
Heaven ordered the
sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven
ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to
Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the
five grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy
Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys,
and arranged many things to minister to man's good or bring him evil.
He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the
wicked, and to gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage
in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the
people's food and clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the
present." Original Chinese:
Mozi, Will of Heaven, Chapter 27, Paragraph 6, ca. 5th Century BC
Mozi criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the
teachings of Confucius. By the time of the later Han Dynasty, however,
under the influence of Xunzi, the Chinese concept of
Confucianism itself had become mostly naturalistic, though some
Confucians argued that
Heaven was where ancestors reside. Worship of
China continued with the erection of shrines, the last and
greatest being the
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the offering of
prayers. The ruler of
China in every Chinese dynasty would perform
annual sacrificial rituals to Heaven, usually by slaughtering two
healthy bulls as a sacrifice.
The Assumption of the Virgin by
Francesco Botticini at the National
Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels,
each with different characteristics.
Christianity has taught that
Heaven is the location of
the throne of
God as well as the holy angels, although this is
in varying degrees considered metaphorical. In traditional
Christianity, it is considered a state or condition of existence
(rather than a particular place somewhere in the cosmos) of the
supreme fulfillment of theosis in the beatific vision of the Godhead.
In most forms of Christianity, heaven is also understood as the abode
for the redeemed dead in the afterlife, usually a temporary stage
before the resurrection of the dead and the saints' return to the New
The resurrected Jesus is said to have ascended to heaven where he now
sits at the
Right Hand of God
Right Hand of God and will return to earth in the Second
Coming. Various people have been said to have entered heaven while
still alive, including Enoch,
Elijah and Jesus himself, after his
resurrection. According to Roman Catholic teaching, Mary, mother of
Jesus, is also said to have been assumed into heaven and is titled the
Queen of Heaven.
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew frequently uses the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven",
where the other
Synoptic Gospels speak of the "kingdom of God", one of
the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
Revelation 12:7-9 speaks of a war in
Heaven between Michael the
Archangel and his angels against
Satan and his angels, after which
Satan and his angels are "thrown down to the earth".
In the 2nd century AD,
Irenaeus of Lyons recorded a belief that, in
accordance with John 14:2, those who in the afterlife see the Saviour
are in different mansions, some dwelling in the Heavens, others in
paradise and others in "the city".
While the word used in all these writings, in particular the New
Testament Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos), applies primarily to
the sky, it is also used metaphorically of the dwelling place of God
and the blessed. Similarly, though the English word "heaven"
still keeps its original physical meaning when used, for instance, in
allusions to the stars as "lights shining through from Heaven", and in
phrases such as heavenly body to mean an astronomical object, the
Heaven or happiness that
Christianity looks forward to is, according
to Pope John Paul II, "neither an abstraction nor a physical place in
the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity.
It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen
Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit."
Main article: Hindu cosmology
Attaining heaven is not the final pursuit in Hinduism as heaven itself
is ephemeral and related to physical body. Only being tied by the
bhoot-tatvas, heaven cannot be perfect either and is just another name
for pleasurable and mundane material life. According to Hindu
cosmology, above the earthly plane, are other planes: (1) Bhuva Loka,
Swarga Loka, meaning Good Kingdom, is the general name for heaven
in Hinduism, a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where most of the Hindu
Devatas (Deva) reside along with the king of Devas, Indra, and
beatified mortals. Some other planes are Mahar Loka, Jana Loka, Tapa
Loka and Satya Loka. Since heavenly abodes are also tied to the cycle
of birth and death, any dweller of
Hell will again be
recycled to a different plane and in a different form per the karma
and "maya" i.e. the illusion of Samsara. This cycle is broken only by
self-realization by the Jivatma. This self-realization is Moksha
The concept of moksha is unique to Hinduism and is unparalleled.
Moksha stands for liberation from the cycle of birth and death and
final communion with Brahman. With moksha, a liberated soul attains
the stature and oneness with
Brahman or Paramatma. Different schools
such as Vedanta, Mimansa, Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, and Yoga offer
subtle differences in the concept of Brahman, obvious Universe, its
genesis and regular destruction, Jivatma,
Nature (Prakriti) and also
the right way in attaining perfect bliss or moksha.
Vaishnava traditions the highest
Heaven is Vaikuntha, which
exists above the six heavenly lokas and outside of the mahat-tattva or
mundane world. It's where eternally liberated souls who have attained
moksha reside in eternal sublime beauty with
manifestation of Vishnu).
In the Nasadiya Sukta, the heavens/sky Vyoman is mentioned as a place
from which an overseeing entity surveys what has been created.
Nasadiya Sukta questions the omniscience of this
After Kalyug, there will be the heaven(created by Shiv) in Bharat, in
Narayana are King and Queen.
Main article: Jannah
Qur'an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those
who do good deeds. Regarding the concept of
Heaven (Jannah) in the
Qu'ran, verse 35 of Surah Al-Ra’d says, "The parable of the Garden
which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers. Perpetual is
the fruits thereof and the shade therein. Such is the End of the
Righteous; and the end of the unbelievers is the
Islam rejects the concept of original sin,
and Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. Children
automatically go to
Heaven when they die, regardless of the religion
of their parents.
The concept of
Islam differs in many respects to the concept
Judaism and Christianity.
Heaven is described primarily in physical
terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled when asked.
Islamic texts describe immortal life in
Heaven as happy, without
negative emotions. Those who dwell in
Heaven are said to wear costly
apparel, partake in exquisite banquets, and recline on couches inlaid
with gold or precious stones. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company
of their parents, spouses, and children. In
Islam if one's good deeds
outweigh one's sins then one may gain entrance to Heaven. Conversely,
if one's sins outweigh their good deeds they are sent to hell. The
more good deeds one has performed the higher the level of
is directed to. It has been said that the lowest level of Heaven, the
first one, is already over one-hundred times better than the greatest
life on Earth. The highest level is the seventh Heaven. Houses are
built by angels for the occupants using solid gold.
Verses which describe
Heaven include: Quran 13:35,
Quran 18:31, Quran 38:49–54, Quran 35:33–35,
Quran 52:17–27, Quran 78:31–34.
Islamic texts refer to several levels of Heaven:
Firdaus or Paradise,
'Adn (Eden), Jannatun-Na'iim (heaven of delight), Ma'wa (refuge),
Darussalaam (home of peace), Daarul-Muqaamah (home of permanence),
Al-Muqqamul Amin (the secure place) & Jannattul-Khuld (heaven of
According to the
Ahmadiyya view, much of the imagery presented in the
Qur'an regarding Heaven, but also hell, is in fact metaphorical. They
propound the verse which describes, according to them how the life to
come after death is very different from the life here on earth. The
Quran says: "From bringing in your place others like you, and from
developing you into a form which at present you know
not."[Quran 56:62] According to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder
Ahmadiyya sect in Islam, the soul will give birth to another rarer
entity and will resemble the life on this earth in the sense that this
entity will bear a similar relationship to the soul, as the soul bears
relationship with the human existence on earth. On earth, if a person
leads a righteous life and submits to the will of God, his or her
tastes become attuned to enjoying spiritual pleasures as opposed to
carnal desires. With this, an "embyonic soul" begins to take shape.
Different tastes are said to be born which a person given to carnal
passions finds no enjoyment. For example, sacrifice of one's own's
rights over that of other's becomes enjoyable, or that forgiveness
becomes second nature. In such a state a person finds contentment and
Peace at heart and at this stage, according to
Ahmadiyya beliefs, it
can be said that a soul within the soul has begun to take shape.
Main article: Jain cosmology
Structure of Universe per the Jain Scriptures.
The shape of the Universe as described in Jainism is shown alongside.
Unlike the current convention of using North direction as the top of
map, this uses South as the top. The shape is similar to a part of
human form standing upright.
Loka (heavens) are at the symbolic "chest", where all souls
enjoying the positive karmic effects reside. The heavenly beings are
referred to as devas (masculine form) and devis (feminine form).
According to Jainism, there is not one heavenly abode, but several
layers to reward appropriately the souls of varying degree of karmic
merits. Similarly, beneath the "waist" are the Narka
Human, animal, insect, plant and microscopic life forms reside on the
The pure souls (who reached Siddha status) reside at the very south
end (top) of the Universe. They are referred to in Tamil literature as
Iron Age Judaism)
See also: Yahweh
The term for Heavens in the
Tanakh is shamayim, located above the
firmament (a solid, transparent dome which covered the earth and
separated it from the "waters" above). Yahweh, the
God of Israel,
Heaven or in the "
Heaven of Heavens" (the exact difference
between these two, if any, is unclear) in a heavenly palace. His
dwelling on earth was
Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which was a model
of the cosmos and included a section which represented Heaven.
Main article: Olam Haba
While the concept of
Heaven (malkuth hashamaim מלכות השמים,
the Kingdom of Heaven) is much discussed within the Christian and
Islamic religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife, sometimes
known as olam haba, the World-to-come, is not discussed so often. The
Torah has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by
the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one,
which is probably derived from Greek thought, is that of the
immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other,
which is thought to be of Persian origin, is that of resurrection
of the dead.
Jewish writings[which?] refer to a "new earth" as the abode of mankind
following the resurrection of the dead. Originally, the two ideas of
immortality and resurrection were different but in rabbinic thought
they are combined: the soul departs from the body at death but is
returned to it at the resurrection. This idea is linked to another
rabbinic teaching, that men's good and bad actions are rewarded and
punished not in this life but after death, whether immediately or at
the subsequent resurrection. Around 1 CE, the
Pharisees are said
to have maintained belief in resurrection but the
Sadducees are said
to have denied it (Matt. 22:23).
Mishnah has many sayings about the World to Come, for example,
"Rabbi Yaakov said: This world is like a lobby before the World to
Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet
Judaism holds that the righteous of all nations have a share in the
According to Nicholas de Lange,
Judaism offers no clear teaching about
the destiny which lies in wait for the individual after death and its
attitude to life after death has been expressed as follows: "For the
future is inscrutable, and the accepted sources of knowledge, whether
experience, or reason, or revelation, offer no clear guidance about
what is to come. The only certainty is that each man must die - beyond
that we can only guess."
According to Tracey R. Rich of the website "
Judaism 101", Judaism,
unlike other world-religions, is not focused on the quest of getting
Heaven but on life and how to live it.
Kabbalah Jewish mysticism
In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens, Shamayim
(שָׁמַיִם), according to the Talmud, are listed alongside the
angels who govern them:
Vilon (וִילוֹן) or Araphel (עֲרָפֶל) The first Heaven,
Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to
the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve.
Raqia (רָקִיעַ): The second
Heaven is dually controlled by
Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this
Heaven that Moses, during his
visit to Paradise, encountered the angel
Nuriel who stood "300
parasangs high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned
out of water and fire". Also, Raqia is considered the realm where the
fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened.
Shehaqim (שְׁחָקִים, Shechaqim): The third Heaven, under the
leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the
Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden and the
Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna, the holy food of
angels, is produced. The Second Book of Enoch, meanwhile, states
Hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with Hell
being located simply "on the northern side".
Maon (מִעוּן): The fourth
Heaven is ruled by the Archangel
Michael, and according to
Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly
Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.
Makon (מִכּוּן, Makhon): The fifth
Heaven is under the
administration of Samael. It is also where the Ishim and the
Song-Uttering Choirs reside.
Zebul (זִבּוּל): The sixth
Heaven falls under the jurisdiction
Araboth (עֲרֵבוּת, Aravoth): The seventh Heaven, under the
leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven Heavens because it
Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves
as the realm in which
God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies
the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of
the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.
Main article: Aztec mythology
Nahua people such as the Aztecs,
Chichimecs and the Toltecs
believed that the heavens were constructed and separated into 13
levels. Each level had from one to many Lords living in and ruling
these heavens. Most important of these heavens was Omeyocan (Place of
Thirteen Heavens were ruled by Ometeotl, the dual Lord,
creator of the Dual-Genesis who, as male, takes the name Ometecuhtli
(Two Lord), and as female is named Omecihuatl (Two Lady).
Main article: Polynesian mythology
In the creation myths of
Polynesian mythology are found various
concepts of the heavens and the underworld. These differ from one
island to another. What they share is the view of the universe as an
egg or coconut that is divided between the world of humans (earth),
the upper world of heavenly gods, and the underworld. Each of these is
subdivided in a manner reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy, but the
number of divisions and their names differs from one Polynesian
culture to another.
In Māori mythology, the heavens are divided into a number of realms.
Different tribes number the heaven differently, with as few as two and
as many as fourteen levels. One of the more common versions divides
Kiko-rangi, presided over by the gods Toumau
Waka-maru, the heaven of sunshine and rain
Nga-roto, the heaven of lakes where the god Maru rules
Hauora, where the spirits of newborn children originate
Nga-Tauira, home of the servant gods
Nga-atua, which is ruled over by the hero Tawhaki
Autoia, where human souls are created
Aukumea, where spirits live
Wairua, where spirit gods live while waiting on those in
Naherangi or Tuwarea, where the great gods live presided over by Rehua
The Māori believe these heavens are supported by pillars. Other
Polynesian peoples see them being supported by gods (as in Hawaii). In
one Tahitian legend, heaven is supported by an octopus.
An 1869 illustration by a Tuomatuan chief portraying nine heavens.
The Polynesian conception of the universe and its division is nicely
illustrated by a famous drawing made by a Tuomotuan chief in 1869.
Here, the nine heavens are further divided into left and right, and
each stage is associated with a stage in the evolution of the earth
that is portrayed below. The lowest division represents a period when
the heavens hung low over the earth, which was inhabited by animals
that were not known to the islanders. In the third division is shown
the first murder, the first burials, and the first canoes, built by
Rata. In the fourth division, the first coconut tree and other
significant plants are born.
As per Sikh thought,
Hell are not places for living
hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not
exist otherwise. They refer to good and evil stages of life
respectively and can be lived now and here during our earthly
existence. For example,
Bhagat Kabir rejects the otherworldly
Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib and says that one can experience
Earth by doing company of holy people.
He claims to know the Lord, who is beyond measure and beyond thought;
By mere words, he plans to enter heaven. I do not know where heaven
is. Everyone claims that he plans to go there. By mere talk, the mind
is not appeased. The mind is only appeased, when egotism is conquered.
As long as the mind is filled with the desire for heaven, He does not
dwell at the Lord's Feet. Says Kabeer, unto whom should I tell this?
The Company of the Holy is heaven.
— Bhagat Kabir,
Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib 325, 
Main article: Theosophy
It is believed in
Helena Blavatsky that each religion
(including Theosophy) has its own individual heaven in various regions
of the upper astral plane that fits the description of that heaven
that is given in each religion, which a soul that has been good in
their previous life on
Earth will go to. The area of the upper astral
Earth in the upper atmosphere where the various heavens are
located is called Summerland (Theosophists believe
Hell is located in
the lower astral plane of
Earth which extends downward from the
surface of the earth down to its center). However, Theosophists
believe that the soul is recalled back to
Earth after an average of
about 1400 years by the Lords of
Karma to incarnate again. The final
heaven that souls go to billions of years in the future after they
finish their cycle of incarnations is called Devachan.
Criticism of the belief in Heaven
Emma Goldman expressed this view when she wrote,
"Consciously or unconsciously, most theists see in gods and devils,
heaven and hell; reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into
obedience, meekness and contentment."
Many people consider George Orwell's use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his
Animal Farm to be a literary expression of this view. In the
book, the animals were told that after their miserable lives were over
they would go to a place in which "it was Sunday seven days a week,
clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed
cake grew on the hedges".
Some have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor
motivation for moral behavior while alive. Sam Harris wrote,
"It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for
their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator
of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it,
or will punish you for not doing it. The problem with this linkage
between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to
help other human beings when good reasons are available."
In Inside the Neolithic Mind, Lewis-Williams and Pearce argue that a
tiered structure of Heaven, along with similarly structured circles of
Hell, is neurally perceived by members of many cultures around the
world and through history. The reports are so similar across time and
space that Lewis-Williams and Pearce argue for a neuroscientific
explanation, accepting the percepts as real neural activations and
subjective percepts during particular altered states of consciousness.
Many people who come close to death and have near death experiences
report meeting relatives or entering "the Light" in an otherworldly
dimension, which share similarities with the religious concept of
heaven. Even though there are also reports of distressing experiences
and negative life-reviews, which share some similarities with the
concept of Hell, the positive experiences of meeting or entering "the
Light" is reported as an immensely intense feeling state of love,
peace and joy beyond human comprehension. Together with this intensely
positive-feeling state, people who have near death experiences also
report that consciousness or a heightened state of awareness seems as
if it is at the heart of experiencing a taste of "heaven".
Omega Point (Tipler)
Representations in arts
Works of fiction have included numerous different conceptions of
Heaven and Hell. The two most famous descriptions of
Heaven are given
Dante Alighieri's Paradiso (of the Divine Comedy) and John Milton's
The Chronicles of Narnia, a series by
C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis offers a description
of heaven at the end of the sequence in the 'Last Battle', depicted as
a lush green land surrounded by mountains under the rule of a lion
Elric and Eternal Champion, two series by Michael Moorcock, are two of
many that offer Chaos-Evil(-Hell) and Uniformity-Good(-Heaven) as
equally unacceptable extremes that must be held in balance.
In The Discovery of Heaven, a 1992 novel by Harry Mulisch,
heaven is located "at the end of the
Big Bang in negative space".
The Green Pastures, shows it as a wide open cotton field.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan, shows it as an airfield and Mr. Jordan is
God in disguise.
A Guy Named Joe, shows it as a military air base.
The Horn Blows at Midnight, shows it as a dream.
A Matter of Life and Death, shows it in black and white.
Heaven Only Knows, shows it as an office.
Carousel, shows it where Billy lives.
The Story of Mankind, shows it as an courtroom.
Bedazzled, shows heaven at the end.
Made in Heaven, a 1987 film concerning two souls who cross paths in
heaven and then attempt to reconnect once they are reborn on Earth.
All Dogs Go to Heaven, a 1989 Metro Goldwyn Mayer film
Field of Dreams, a 1989 film in which
Heaven is symbolized by a
baseball field. Several players ask Ray if they are in heaven, but he
assures them that they are just in Iowa. At the end, Ray asks his
father if there is a heaven, to which his father replies that it is
the place where dreams come true.
What Dreams May Come, a 1998 movie that won an Academy Award for its
Hell as the subjective creations of the
individual, was an essentially mystical interpretation of heaven, hell
and reincarnation. It was based on the eponymous novel by Richard
Little Nicky, also shows
Heaven when Nicky visits his mother who is an
The Twilight Zone had a few episodes that showed
Heaven which were:
"A Stop at Willoughby"
"Cavender Is Coming"
South Park episodes "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" and
"Probably", it is revealed that Mormons go to heaven while everyone
else lives in hell. Due to a war between heaven and hell in "Best
God allows more people in.
American Dad! episode "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever",
heaven is featured. Anyone who has done good in their life is flown
Limbo to the Gates of
Heaven by a large griffin (which might be
Ziz). There was a reference that
Jim Henson tried to sneak into
heaven, only for him and Kermit the Frog to end up in a flat rectangle
prison (similar to
General Zod in Superman II); as
Jim Henson begs for
them to be released Kermit states "you will bow down before me son of
The Simpsons episode "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest
Star" when Bart and Homer became Catholic, Marge imagines herself
in Heaven, which is split into two parts. First there is Catholic
Heaven, full of Irish, Italian, and Mexican people where everyone is
partying, including Bart, Homer and Jesus. Then there is Protestant
Heaven, where people play croquet or tennis.
Black Mirror episode "San Junipero", the
consciousnesses of the dead can be uploaded into a virtual reality
system, where they can live in a beautiful resort city (called "San
Junipero") as their younger selves forever. Living people can visit
San Junipero for trial periods but are limited to five hours a week,
until they decide to undergo euthanasia and be permanently uploaded.
Heaven: Beyond the Grave. A&E Network. (IMDB)
Mysteries of the Bible: "
Heaven and Hell". A&E Network.
Kane Brown released his Fourth Single Heaven, which was released on
October 5, 2017 from his Self-Titled Album called Kane Brown Deluxe
Servant of God
^ "Life After
Death Revealed - What Really Happens in the Afterlife".
SSRF English. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
^ The Anglo-Saxons knew the concept of Paradise, which they expressed
with words such as neorxnawang.
^ Barnhart (1995:357).
^ a b c d e f Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea (1998), Daily Life in Ancient
Mesopotamia, Daily Life, Greenwood, ISBN 978-0313294976
^ a b c Lambert, W. G. (2016). George, A. R.; Oshima, T. M., eds.
Ancient Mesopotamian Religion and Mythology: Selected Essays.
Orientalische Religionen in der Antike. 15. Tuebingen, Germany: Mohr
Siebeck. p. 118. ISBN 978-3-16-153674-8.
^ Stephens, Kathryn (2013), "An/
Anu (god): Mesopotamian sky-god, one
of the supreme deities; known as An in Sumerian and
Anu in Akkadian.",
Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, University of Pennsylvania
^ Black, Jeremy; Green, Anthony (1992), Gods, Demons and Symbols of
Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, The British Museum
Press, ISBN 0-7141-1705-6
^ a b c d Wright, J. Edward (2000). The Early History of Heaven.
Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 29.
^ a b c d Choksi, M. (2014), "Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the
Afterlife", Ancient History Encyclopedia, ancient.eu
^ Barret, C. E. (2007). "Was dust their food and clay their bread?:
Grave goods, the Mesopotamian afterlife, and the liminal role of
Inana/Ištar". Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions. Leiden, The
Netherlands: Brill. 7 (1): 7–65. doi:10.1163/156921207781375123.
^ Attridge, Harold. W., and R. A. Oden, Jr. (1981), Philo of Byblos:
The Phoenician History: Introduction, Critical Text, Translation,
Notes, CBQMS 9 (Washington: D. C.: The Catholic Biblical Association
^ Harry A. Hoffner, Gary M. Beckman - 1990
^ Sabatino Moscati Face of the Ancient Orient 2001 Page 174 "The
first, called 'Kingship in Heaven', tells how this kingship passes
Alalu to Anu, ... was king in Heaven,
Alalu was seated on the
throne and the mighty Anu, first among the gods,"
^ Moscatti, Sabatino (1968), "The World of the Phoenicians" (Phoenix
^ "The Phoenicians".
^ a b c d Masumian, Farnaz (1995). Life After Death: A study of the
afterlife in world religions. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.
Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.
Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 157.
ISBN 0-87743-187-6. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.
Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 162.
ISBN 0-87743-187-6. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
^ (but no soul actually goes through rebirth; see anatta)
^ "The Jivamala -
Salvation Versus Liberation, The Limitations of the
Paradise or Heavenly Worlds".
^ Herrlee Creel "The Origin of the
Deity T'ien" (1970:493-506)
^ a b Joseph Shih, "The Notion of
God in the Ancient Chinese
Religion," Numen, Vol. 16, Fasc. 2, pp 99-138, Brill: 1969
^ Homer Dubs, "
Theism and Naturalism in Ancient Chinese Philosophy,"
Philosophy of East and West, Vol 9, No 3/4, pp 163-172, University of
Hawaii Press: 1960.
^ a b "21 July 1999 - John Paul II". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
^ Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of
Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006.
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew by R.T. France (21 Aug 2007)
ISBN 080282501X pages 101-103
^ Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, book V, chapter XXXVI, 1-2
^ "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English
^ "G3772 οὐρανός - Strong's Greek Lexicon".
^ Mirza Tahir Ahmad. An Elementary Study of Islam.
Publications. p. 50. ISBN 1-85372-562-5.
^ a b c d Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986
^ Pirkei Avot, 4:21
Judaism 101: Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife".
^ "Some people look at these teachings and deduce that Jews try to
"earn our way into Heaven" by performing the mitzvot. This is a gross
mischaracterization of our religion. It is important to remember that
unlike some religions,
Judaism is not focused on the question of how
to get into Heaven.
Judaism is focused on life and how to live it."
Olam Ha-Ba: The
World to Come
World to Come
Judaism 101; websource 02-11-2010.
^ The Seven Heavens in the Talmud.(see Ps. lxviii. 5).
^ "ANGELOLOGY - JewishEncyclopedia.com".
^ The Legends of the Jews I, 131, and II, 306.
^ The Legends of the Jews V, 374.
^ Ginzberg, Louis. Henrietta Szold (trans.). The Legends of the Jews.
Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909–38.
^ Craig, Robert D. Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology. Greenwood
Press: New York, 1989. ISBN 0-313-25890-2. Page 57.
^ Young, J.L. "The Paumotu Conception of the Heavens and of Creation",
Journal of the Polynesian Society, 28 (1919), 209–211.
^ Singh, Jagraj (2009). A Complete Guide to Sikhism. Unistar Books.
p. 271. ISBN 978-8-1714-2754-3.
^ "Sri Granth: Sri Guru Granth Sahib".
^ Leadbeater, C.W. Outline of
Theosophy Wheaton, Illinois, USA:1915
Theosophical Publishing House
^ Goldman, Emma. "The Philosophy of Atheism". Mother Earth, February
^ Opinions: Essays: Orwell's Political Messages by Rhodri Williams.
^ Background information for George Orwell's
Animal Farm Archived
2006-11-15 at the Wayback Machine. at Charles'
George Orwell Links.
^ The Atheist Philosophy Archived January 13, 2007, at the Wayback
^ Quote by Albert Einstein at Quote DB.
^ Sam Harris at the 2006
Beyond Belief conference (watch here Archived
May 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.).
^ Jorgensen, Rene. Awakening After Life BookSurge, 2007
^ Simons, Marlise (31 October 2010). "Harry Mulisch, Dutch Novelist,
Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
^ Orthofer, M. A. The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World
Fiction. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231518505. Retrieved
10 February 2017.
^ Pinsky, Mark I. The Gospel according to The Simpsons, Bigger and
Possibly Even Better! Edition: With a New Afterword Exploring South
Park, Family Guy, & Other Animated TV Shows. Westminster John Knox
Press. ISBN 9781611644371. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
^ VanDerWerff, Todd. ""San Junipero" is Black Mirror's most beautiful,
most hopeful episode yet". Vox. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
Black Mirror Recap:
Heaven Is a Place on Earth". Vulture. Retrieved
10 February 2017.
Smith, Gary Scott,
Heaven in the American Imagination (Oxford
University Press; 2011) 339 pages; draws on art, music, folklore,
sermons, literature, psychology, and other realms in a study of how
Americans since the Puritans have imagined heaven.
Look up heaven in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heaven.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Heaven
Wikiversity has learning resources about Seven Heavens
Heaven on In Our Time at the BBC.
Catechism of the Catholic Church I believe in Life Everlasting
Explanation of Catholic teaching about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory
Catholic Encyclopedia: Heaven
Jewish Encyclopedia: Heaven
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
Heaven and Hell
In Films, Heaven’s No
Paradise New York Times, Wed. July 22, 2009
Heaven: A fool's paradise, The Independent, April 21, 2010
Heaven and its Wonders and Hell. From Things Heard and
Seen (Swedenborg Foundation, 1946)
Maps of heaven at the "
Hell and Heaven" subject, the Persuasive
Cartography, The PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University Library
7 Heavens and 7 Earths
Throne of God
Garden of Eden
Kingdom of God
Garden of Eden
Jannah (and Jabarut)
Tír na nÓg
Myth of Er
14 planetary systems
Happy hunting ground
Land without evil
Well of Souls
List of mythological places
Conceptions of God
God and gods
the Bahá'í Faith
Shield of the Trinity
Trinity of the Church Fathers
God in Christianity / in Islam
Godhead in Christianity
Latter Day Saints
Great Architect of the Universe
Oneness of God