Heaven can be defined in three ways. One way is the conception of creeds, as in Arabia, when the Bedouin came to the Prophet, and asked him, what is Heaven? he said, 'Heaven is a place where there are rivers of milk, tanks of honey, and emeralds and pearls and rubies and diamonds is to be found, and all that is good and beautiful is to be found there.' They said, that is the place we are looking for. And the Prophet said, that place you will only enter if you will do good. But if you will lie and thieve and rob you will go to the other place, then he showed the other place with all kinds of torture. That is the place which is taught to the ordinary man.
Then there is a Heaven which is reached above. What is above us is Heaven. The plane where we stand is the earth, and the plane to which we look forward is Heaven. And we all look forward to something, not only human beings, but also the earth is reaching upwards in the form of mountains and hills. The water is reaching upwards in the form of rising waves. Birds try to reach upwards by flying, and the animals try to reach upwards by standing on their hind legs. And in this way every creature is trying to reach upwards, though he does not know where he wants to, and what he wants to, reach. But he wants to reach upwards.
And when we look upwards what do we find? we find stars and the moon and the sun. And it is more pleasant to look at it than to look at the earth with all its beauties. And it is the climate in the Western countries which does not allow us to look at Heaven, but in the tropical countries you can sit for hours. That is the only thing which can lift you up, and make you free from all the worries of this dense earth. What do we see? We only see light. The light inspires us, attracts us, and gives us such a feeling of upliftment, what nothing can give. It shows us that light is the thing that we seek after, even light in its visible form, as we see in the Heaven. But that is symbolical Heaven, real Heaven is where there is no light that our eyes can see, but there is light that our soul can see. And that light is the Grace of God, that light is the soul's unfoldment, that light is wakening to the secret of life; and it is that wakening which is Heaven.
And there is a third description, which is description of Omar Khayyam. That the Heaven of each person is what gives him joy; as in the Vadan it is said: Whether you are at the top of the mountain or at the foot, if you are happy where you are, that is all that matters. If you are happy at the foot, you are just as much in Heaven as when you are at the top. And if you are happy at the top you are just as much in Heaven as when you are at the foot. It is the soul experiencing something, wakening to a certain consciousness, which give on a joy. And the joy comes as a fulfillment of life, and it is that joy which can be called Heaven.
A story is told that Moses was going to Mount Sinai and on his way he met a very pious person, who said to him, 'Moses, speak to God of me. All my life I have been pious, I have prayed to God, and I have had nothing but troubles and misfortunes.' A little later Moses met a man sitting in the street with a bottle of liquor. He called out, 'Moses! Where are you going?' Moses said, 'To Mount Sinai.' The man called out, 'To Mount Sinai? Then speak to God of me,' for he was drunk.
Moses went to Mount Sinai and he told God of the pious person whom he had met. God said, 'For him there is a place in the heavens.' Then he told God of the drunken man whom he had met. God said, 'He shall be sent to the worst possible place in hell.'
Moses went away and first he met the drunken man. He told him, 'God says you shall be sent to the worst possible place in hell.' The man said, 'God spoke of me?' and he was so overjoyed that he could not contain himself but began to dance, just as a poor man might be overjoyed if he heard that a king had spoken of him, even if the king had said nothing good of him. Then he said, 'How happy should I be that He, the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, knows me, the great sinner.' Then Moses told the pious person what God had said. He said, 'Why not? I have spent all my life in the worship of God and in piety, sacrificing all else in life; and therefore I am entitled to have it.'
Both the pious person and the drunkard died, and Moses was curious to know what had become of them. He went to Mount Sinai and asked God. God said, 'The pious person is in hell, and the drunken man is in heaven.' Moses thought, 'Does God break his word?' God said, 'The drunkard's joy on hearing that We had spoken of him has wiped out all his sins. The pious person's virtue was worthless. Why could he not be satisfied if We made the sun shine and sent the rain?
'No piety nor goodness can be equal to our gifts. You cannot buy them by piety and goodness and spirituality. It is Our grace. That man wanted to buy Heaven. It is too precious for all the piety that one can give for it. The other man, the drunkard, was content, he was resigned to Our will. That is the way to come to Us. It is they who attain to it.'
It is a great lesson. In the first place that our goodness and our piety cannot buy for us God's Grace or spiritual upliftment. It is good for us, that is all. But we cannot buy with it anything. It is too small a price for any great gift. It is a lesson, again, that resignation and contentment and to be conscious of one's own smallness and faults and humbleness, if there is anything that brings upon us Divine blessing, it is that which brings it.