Does hell exist? Good question. I’ve met a number of people, particularly many good-hearted folks who lean toward New Thought beliefs, that believe in an afterlife but not in hell. After years of study, however, I’ve come to the conclusion lower levels of the spirit world actually do exist, and might be described as hell, but that people aren’t sent to those realms against their wills to be punished for evil deeds committed in this life.
It’s not that simple, so let me explain.
I'll begin by relating some of what Dr. Louise Ireland-Frey (1912-1914) had to say in her book, Freeing the Captives: The Emerging Therapy of Spirit Attachment (Hampton Roads, 1999) because her credentials are strong. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Colorado University, had a Master of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and a medical degree from Tulane University.
Dr. Louise Ireland-Frey spent a full career as a medical doctor and psychiatrist before, at the age of 67, she began using hypnotism to help those who suffer past-life trauma. She also used it to detach earthbound spirits who were causing trouble for her patients. She said that when her clients were regressed to a previous life and come to the death experience terminating that lifetime, it was possible to continue the regression past the physical death and on into the after-death state. Similarly, when she contacted earthbound entities—those who may or may not have attached themselves to a living person—she can also ask them to recall the circumstances of their physical death. Dr. Ireland-Frey used an intermediary to make this contact. Essentially, she hypnotized someone, either the patient she was trying to help, or a willing assistant, and had the hypnotized individual “channel” the earth-bound entity.
Using this procedure she earned that a person’s consciousness typically floats above his or her body for a short time after death. The disembodied consciousness usually feels free and light and relieved, and it senses it can go wherever it seems to be drawn. Atheists and others who don’t believe in an afterlife, however, often become confused and stay around their bodies, or haunt a particular location or building, and become “earthbound.” But most souls are drawn through what seems a tunnel and into the light. This light is perceived as alive and sentient, a Being of Light who welcomes the personality with understanding, kindness, and love.
She says that in fact most people find themselves going to a state that is peaceful and beautiful. Only an occasional person reports a chilly, lonely, or horrifying, hell-like experience.
A person who is heavy with negative emotions and undesirable habits such as rage, cruelty, greed and so forth may be too negative to be attracted to the light, and will turn away, perhaps not even perceiving it, and go to a “place”—a vibrational frequency, or “dimension”—that is appropriate to its nature, i.e., dark and heavy. Ireland-Frey says souls are a little like substances suspended in water, the “heaviest” after death sink to the lowest astral levels, the “lightest” float to the upper levels, and the rest find the appropriate levels in-between.
Recently, I’ve been watching a series of videos on YouTube produced by the Swedenborg Foundation, called “Off the Left Eye.” Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was a Swedish scientist and theologian who claimed to have had a spiritual awakening at age 53 that allowed him to travel back and forth between the spiritual dimensions and the physical world.
According to Swedenborg, if I’ve understood correctly, seven levels of the spiritual world exist, and we end up in the one that best suits us in terms of how evolved we are spiritually. If we truly love God and our fellow humans, as Jesus said to do, and we do so because we want to, we end up on the highest level, living, working, and playing among others like us.
The degree of love toward fellow humans that inhabitants feel declines in degrees from there. The fouth level, the middle one, seems to be the most comparable to the earth plane we live on now — sort of in between heaven and hell. It’s interesting that in Eastern thought, this world is seen as "Middle Earth," a place suspended between heaven and hell.
The lowest of the seven levels is populated by souls that truly hate others and want to harm them. “Bad dudes,” as someone I won’t name would say. Ironically, perhaps, they aren’t there to be punished, they are there because it’s where they feel most comfortable. Sounds like a place ISIS terrorists and Nazi leaders of the Third Reich who set up and ran the death camps would be happy and belong.