Chapter 11: Collecting Pebbles on the Seashore of Life
But things continue - they are your projections. There are as many hells in the world - and as many heavens - as there are climates, because it will depend on the experience of your own climate. For a Tibetan, fire in hell will look almost like a heavenly gift. No, fire has no existence in hell, it is absolutely cold; you will be frozen to death by coldness. Fire exists in heaven. There, everything is warm.
Now, what do these concepts show? They show your mind, they don’t show anything about heaven or hell. Man continues in his dreams, in his projections.
If you die, you may be dying as far as your body is concerned, but your mind continues. In fact, the Buddhist approach is that the idea of heaven and hell has arisen because during his whole life a man projects, thinks, about the afterlife. And if he has been committing many crimes and sins, he becomes guilty; he feels that he is going to hell. He becomes very afraid. By the time he’s dying the fear arises: “Now there is no time left to put things right.” Now he is going into hell, and he has an idea of hell, of what hell is. So when a person dies, when he is free from the body, the projections become very real. He starts dreaming. So when a Hindu dies, certainly he dreams after death. Immediately he dreams either of heaven or hell; it depends. If he was a good man, virtuous, a worshipper, then of course he is very self-confident: when he dies, he knows that he is going to heaven. Immediately after death, the mind starts dreaming. The time between one death and another birth is used in dreaming.
You live in a dreamworld - exactly as you live in the night. What happens when your body relaxes and you go to sleep? - you start dreaming. You forget your body in your sleep. Sleep is a tiny death, a very mini-death. You forget your body, you don’t remember your body at all, you become just your mind; as if the mind is no more burdened by the body and the reality of the body. The mind is freed. There is no pressure on the mind of bodily reality, of objective reality. Mind is freed. Suddenly, you start dreaming. Of course, your dream is your dream; it has nothing to do with any reality whatsoever.
When you die this is exactly what happens, and it happens in a bigger proportion. Once you die all the pressure of bodily reality and objective reality disappears. The mind is free to dream. Even in sleep there is a burden, even in sleep you are connected with the body, but in death you are disconnected completely. Now the mind is completely free. Like a balloon, it starts rising into its projections. So if you have lived a bad life.. When I say “if you have lived a bad life,” I mean: if you think your life has been bad, if you have been taught that this life is bad.
For example, if a Jaina has been eating meat, he will suffer hell after his death - but not a Mohammedan, not a Christian, not a nonvegetarian who has never thought about it. He will not suffer hell. But a Jaina is bound to suffer hell. If he has eaten meat, his idea will make him guilty; the guilt will be there, the guilt will project. And he knows what hell is; the hell will be projected.