Not a big fan of carrot and stick religion. “I’ll be good so I don’t burn for eternity!” “I’ll do right because I want to be rewarded someday!”
Be good because it feels great. Do right because it is the best way. Take care of others to see a smile on their faces, or at least to sleep better at night knowing you were the best human you could be.
Cultivate virtue because it leads to beauty, truth and peace. Develop compassion because it leads to happiness, for yourself and those around you.
Open your soul to the divine because what other way is there to live? Beyond reward and punishment, connecting to Spirit is truly being alive.
Oh my Lord, if I worship You from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship You from hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your own sake, do not withhold from me Your Eternal Beauty. — Rabia, from Essential Sufism, edited by James Fadiman & Robert Frager
“I love God so I can go to heaven!” That’s like my four year old telling me that he’ll love me if I’ll just buy him that shiny new toy.
“I do the right thing so I can go to heaven.” Yeah, and I’ll return your lost dog if you give me a reward. Shouldn’t you do the right thing because it’s the right thing, reward or not?
“I won’t hurt people so I can go to heaven.” Some kind of babyish extortion, that you won’t hurt God’s beloved children if God will let you through the pearly gates.
“I’ll put up with all the crap dished out to me because my reward is on the other side.” That’s a good way to waste a life. Don’t fight injustice, don’t face your problems, don’t tackle challenges or stand up to oppressors or otherwise put yourself in an inconvenient position. Just wait around like a passive tot for Mommy and Daddy to make it all better “later.”
And what if after you die God meets you on the other side and says, “Hey, I’ve got another somewhat challenging adventure I need you to go on…” Are you going to stomp your feet and wail, “But you PROMISED!!!”
Can we grow up, engage in the task at hand and quit jonesing for an eternal reward? Adults shouldn’t need such juvenile motivation.