I once saw a ‘Twilight Zone’ half-hour which I thought was very insightful. A gangster, un-principled even by the standards of his colleagues, was shot to death during a crime. Crossing to the other side, he found himself in a posh apartment accompanied by a butler dressed in all-white street clothes. The place could not have been more to his liking. Beautiful women abounded, his liquor cabinet never wanting; turn on the TV? One of his favorite shows 24 hours a day. He also gambled: ponies, poker and pool; and he never lost, not once.
Then a strange thing happened: he grew bored with everything that had once amused him. In desperation, he turned to his butler and said, “I’m sick of this place! I want to the other place!”
“You mean Hell?”
The butler smiled and began to glow. “Why, sir, you’re already there!”So it turns out, for this individual at least, the punishment of his eternal damnation would consist of being bored forever. A subtle extraction that.
A thorough grounding in Human nature, it seems to me, would lead us to suppose equally boring, equally punishing would be multiple virgins, and singing praises all the day long. It would be the painful equivalent of grape jelly and peanut butter sandwiches three times a day… forever [although for this thought I lack scriptural advocacy]; we need challenge, growth, set-backs, learning, and the like.
I'm not sure what we need, but I am sure that although a non-stop hedonistic lifestyle might be great for weeks, months, or even years -- or in my case decades -- ultimately one would become bored, and worse still deeply unsatisfied. Whether in this life, or an afterlife, an important element of happiness is feeling fulfilled from within. The feeling that your life and all things have an ultimate purpose and you're a very important part of that purpose. That we are striving towards some goal -- some ultimate purpose. That gaining knowledge and understanding about the world and our place in it is part of this quest. And especially the development of an empathic identification with all other beings and realising we're all in it together.
Oops that very last part sounds like a David Cameron soundbite . . but anyway.
I would imagine that if there is an afterlife we will not be engaged in endless pleasures or any other endless behaviour which goes nowhere. Rather I would hope that we will grow and develop as spiritual beings. Perhaps the afterlife realm consists of different levels which we will ascend as our souls develop. This is not to deny there might be many pleasures to be experienced, but endless non-varying pleasures will become ultimately tedious.