The world suddenly becomes apocalyptically chaotic, as the good are beamed up to heaven directly, while the rest fend for themselves, often fighting one another. At first hanging out to party hedonistically with his more of less equally indulgent friends, in a desperate scene, Craig decides to distract a demon to buy his friends time to escape. As he rationalises this life-endangering act, he says, ‘Maybe I deserve it. I’ve been shitty my whole life. Being selfish, only doing shit for me. Maybe it’s only right that the last thing I do on this planet isn’t for me. It’s for you guys.’ With all expecting him to be killed, he gets beamed up to safety instead. It is through self-sacrifice that we will save one another!
Seeing this, the guys figured out that being good was the way to redeem themselves. They almost immediately start to say niceties to one another about one another, before realising mere lip service did not work. They then plan to survive long enough to do enough good deeds to deserve being saved. While running away together, in another life-or-death scene, Jay repents to Seth of his misgivings towards him as a friend. Due to his confession, just as he almost gets killed, he is beamed up. He attempts to pull Seth up but they get stuck while ascending. Seth then decides to let go, to not hold him back. This self-sacrificial act thus enables him to be beamed up too.
For Buddhists, we already face natural karmic ‘judgement’ from moment to moment. Ascent to the heavens requires much good done, while it is not easy to happen to do great good at the last minute. This is why it is encouraged to be mindful of Amitabha Buddha’s meritorious name (Amituofo), to connect to his immeasurable compassion to reach his Pure Land, where enlightenment is guaranteed, thus transcending all heavens. Also, the only lasting heavens are the Pure Abodes, for those already close to self-liberation. Incidentally, the movie portrayed the heaven reached to still be hedonistic in nature, which makes it not fruitful for spiritual advancement!
A scene of James being a gleeful ‘sore winner’, who then falls to his doom was reminiscent of the spider thread story, here shared in brief… Once, there was an evil man called Kandata, thus suffering with many others in a hell. However, the Buddha recalled that he had done a single good deed. Once, he was walking through a forest when he saw a spider crawling along. Just as he was about to trample on him, he thought that small as he might be, he was still a sentient being, thus sparing his life. As a spider was spinning a web nearby, the Buddha lowered its thread into the hell. As Kandata was raising his head, he saw the silver lifeline shimmering in the dark.
While climbing it to escape, he realised that many others were clinging to the same thread below. Fearing that it will break, to send him falling back, he shouted at them to get off. Just when he yelled, it snapped… Though this is not a scriptural story, its key morals are sound…  There is no eternal hell due to limited evil done, even if great.  Even a small act of kindness is significant, just as words of great selfishness are.  Although all Buddhas are always looking out for ways to help us, we must create conditions to deserve help.  It is again best to be mindful of Amituofo directly, to be readily helped with his blessed golden rays of light. Kandata and company should keep trying!