“True Believers” and Hell

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern. (William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”) I recently offered this quote on my Facebook page and received this response from a friend of mine, “If the doors of perception were cleansed you would have something but it would not be a human being.”

When I read this response, a light bulb immediately lit up in my heart as I realized how astute this observation was. For this “Infinite” that Blake visited from time to time…perhaps too often…is a place to merely “visit” and not a place to live. But too often when people seek this “Infinite” and either arrive there, or get close enough to it to think they have, they become so intoxicated with their “success” and delighted with the “empty world of self-relatedness” (Paul Tillich) they have found that they refuse to leave. Those who refuse to leave and return to reality…this hum-drum world which is the only world we have…cease to be human and become some kind of “other-worldly” freak. One version of this…with which I am most familiar…is the typical Christian who is so “holy” that you wanta say, “Barf me with a spoon.” These are the “true believers” that Shakespeare had in mind with this description of many believers, “With devotions visage and pious action they sugar o’er the devil himself.”


W. H. Auden brilliantly described the misfortune of one who visits this “well of life” and refuses to leave, warning that:


…if he stop an instant there,

The sky grows crimson with a curse,

The flowers change colour for the worse,

He hears behind his back the wicket

Padlock itself, from the dark thicket

The chuckle with no healthy cause,

And, helpless, sees the crooked claws

Emerging into view and groping

For handholds on the low round coping,

As Horror clambers from the well:

For he has sprung the trap of hell.










One thought on ““True Believers” and Hell

  1. alohaleya

    it’s true – we are on planet earth to live our lives as human beings. i do seek these experiences of the infinite, the divine…because ultimately that is who we are, and i couldn’t stop myself from this searching if i tried…but i also know there’s plenty of time for all that, when i’m done being ‘aleya’ and fulfilling whatever purpose she’s meant to. hehe 🙂 thanks lew! aleya



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