The following is some of what I recently taught my wife and daughter about hell. For the most part it is a re-hash of things I had learned previously, but it does contain a couple of new concepts (new to me, at least), so I’m putting it on this blog.
The spirit world is the Earth’s spirit
When we speak of the spirit world, we are not speaking of a different planet made of spirit matter, but of the spirit body of our planet Earth. Latter-day saints are taught that “the spirit world is here” because the Earth’s spirit is still attached to its physical body, just as mortal, human spirits are connected to their physical bodies. The Earth’s spirit body, like all spirit bodies, conforms to the configuration of the physical elements that make up its physical body.
How the physical world is configured
The Earth’s physical body (the physical world) is a hollow, spherical shell that has north and south polar openings. The shell has inner and outer surfaces which meet at these two openings. At the exact center of the hollow is another spherical object, which is also a hollow shell that has its own polar openings, but much smaller in diameter than the larger shell that surrounds it. The smaller shell discharges plasma in glow mode, like an inner sun.
In appearance, the Earth is constructed as “a tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself”. When the Earth is stacked with other planets, a plasma column connects the planets through their poles, creating a visual display that looks like a tree. The “seed” of this “tree” is the small hollow shell found at the exact center of the larger hollow sphere.
Men live and walk upon the outer surface of the larger shell. They also walk upon the inner surface. Gravity (the Earth’s spirit) pushes all matter towards a point between the two surfaces of the shell. (Everything in the Universe is a push; there is no such thing as a pull.) So, a man walking on the outside of the shell will be pushed inward towards the inner surface; and a man walking on the inner surface of the shell will be pushed outward towards the outer surface. To each of these men, gravity is pushing them “down” even though “down” is in opposite directions for them. Almost all of the physical matter of the Earth is found within the larger shell and this is where most of the gravity is concentrated.
Above each surface side (inner and outer) there is an atmosphere, in which man and other creatures can live and breath. The atmosphere extends upward only to a certain distance. Above that, we find the apparent vacuum of space. In the case of the outer surface, this vacuum is called by us “outer space,” but in the case of the inner surface, the vacuum of space above their heads, it being above the atmosphere, might be termed “inner space.”
The inner sun is held in the very center of the inner space vacuum by gravitation. It is pushed equally in all directions towards the outer shell and thus is held stationary (or fixed) in the center of the hollow of the larger shell. However, just as the outer shell rotates or spins, so does the inner shell, though at a different rate.
To men living on the inner surface of the outer shell, the inner sun appears to be roughly similar in size to how the outer Sun appears to the men living on the outer surface. The outer Sun is exceedingly large, hot and radiant, yet very distant, and so appears kind of small to people on the outside of Earth, whereas the inner sun is miniscule by comparison, but fairly close to the inner surface; and so the inner and outer Suns appear to approximate each other in size.
The inner sun is not as brilliant or as hot as the outer Sun, so that the inner surface of the Earth’s larger shell is not scorched with heat and radiation, but is bathed in amounts conducive to human life.
Limit of gravity field is apparent limit of spirit world
The spirit world proceeds outward beyond the confines of the physical world, just like every other spirit body. The extent of the Earth’s gravitational field is the apparent extent of its spirit body. In other words, once something leaves the confines of Earth’s gravitational field, it has apparently left the confines of the spirit world.
The same principle of spirit encompassing element applies to all spirit bodies connected to physical bodies. The spirit body of a man, for example, contains the physical body of the man within its confines, and extends some distance beyond the physical element. It is incorrect, then, to say that one’s spirit body is entirely within one’s physical body. The reverse is the true nature and pattern of the Universe. Every spirit body surrounds the physical body it is connected to, the spirit matter of the spirit body surrounding each particle of the elements that compose the physical body and moving it around with a push. This is one of the reasons why sometimes people can “sense” the presence of another person without their physical senses apparently being involved (because an outer edge of a person’s spirit has come into contact with an outer edge of some other person’s spirit), or why those who see people’s auras say that they extend beyond the physical body, or how two celestial objects can interact with each other at a distance, etc.
The spirit world is divided into two parts
Just as the physical world is divided into two parts, a large outer shell and a small inner shell, so the spirit world has two parts, spirit prison (otherwise known as hell) and paradise.
Where everything is located
Paradise is located where the inner sun is found. Spirit prison (or hell) is found in the depths of the larger, outer shell. To men walking on the outer surface of the larger shell, as well as on the inner surface, hell is found below them, or below their feet. Hell is also called the underworld because it is underneath the surface of the Earth (deep within the larger, outer shell).
Spirit world hell is patterned after universal outer darkness
Outer darkness is that area outside of the inner sphere of light known as the created Universe. The boundary between outer darkness and the inner sphere of light is a lake of fire and brimstone “which ascended up forever and ever.”
The hell of the spirit world is also called outer darkness because it lies in the larger, outer shell of the Earth. When men die, their spirits go to “that God who gave them life,” meaning that they go to the inner sun (a god-star), which is the location of spirit world paradise. The righteous among them are received into paradise (see the gates of righteousness below), while the unjust spirits are cast out into outer darkness (hell).
Spirit world hell is a place of darkness and powerlessness. Gravity in hell is different than that at the surface, it being either largely reduced or altogether canceled out. Hell is the abode of Satan and his angels and is their base of operations. From there they travel to the two opposing surfaces of the planet where mortal men are found and tempt them to break God’s commandments. The departed spirits of men found in hell are subject to the spirit of the devil, who keeps them miserable like himself.
Spirit world hell is also surrounded by fire and brimstone (magma) or what the scriptures call hell fire or God’s “fiery indignation.” All these terms are descriptions of real things, as well as states of mind and heart.
The gates of hell
The scriptures speak repeatedly of “the gates of hell.” These gates are openings found upon the Earth that lead down to the physical location of hell. They include certain volcanoes, as well as cave systems that seemingly go on and on, and also holes and cracks in the earth that appear to be bottomless pits. They are found in various locations around the planet and are often called by the local population by some name indicating hell, such as Mouth of Hell, etc. No one typically tries to go down these apertures and cavities due to dangerous conditions, such as noxious gases, magma flow, utter darkness, fearful noises (which sound like the screams of the damned souls in hell), etc.
The gates of righteousness
The scriptures also speak of “the gates of righteousness.” These gates are the polar openings found upon the two shells that compose the physical world, or four gates total. Paradise, which is located within the inner sun, cannot be seen by those living on the outside surface of the planet. One would need to enter either the north or south polar opening (gate of righteousness) to view the physical location of spirit world paradise (the inner sun). In the same way, in order to actually enter into spirit world paradise, one would need to go through either the north or south polar opening (gate of righteousness) of the inner sun so as to be on its inner surface, where paradise is found.
The gates of righteousness are, essentially, “narrow gates,” hidden from the view of most people, or unknown or disbelieved to exist by almost all men. Few men find them. The gates of hell, on the other hand, are well-known, documented and often wide gates.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus
In Luke 16: 19-31 the Savior mentions “a great gulf fixed” between hell and “Abraham’s bosom” (the paradise of the inner sun). No one could pass from hell to paradise, nor from paradise to hell because of this gulf. The gulf is the space that exists between the inner sun and outer shell of Earth.
After Jesus’ death, He went to paradise and “organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.” (See D&C 138.) These messengers required power to cross the “great gulf fixed.”
Scriptures are both spiritual and temporal
As the above shows, many of the scriptural terms that we take to have strictly figurative or symbolic meaning also have a literal or physical counterpart. Or, as Nephi told his brothers Laman and Lemuel, the prophets spoke of things both temporal and spiritual.