Trick Or Treat: What To Expect After You Die?
Halloween will be here again tomorrow! I'm pretty sure that thoughts about life, death, and the afterlife are widespread. What can you expect after death? Will you experience a bad trick or will it be a treat for you?
Of course, there will always be those don't believe that there's life after death, and while I don't agree with them, I respect their opinion.
But since it's nearly Halloween, I felt it would be a good time to talk about some of the most common beliefs that people hold regarding what happens after physical death.
To start off, here's a video by Victor Zammit, a retired lawyer.
He's been investigating the afterlife from a scientific point of view for a great part of his life. What he's been doing involves extraordinary research. He used to be an attorney, after all, and lawyers are known to be meticulous and careful about what they say.
8 Possibilities Raised By Victor Zammit About The Afterlife
Based on Victor Zammit's video, there are 8 things that could happen to you when you die:
1. Your true being separates from your physical body. You move on, with your consciousness intact, into the realm of light.
2. If you have unfinished business on the earth plane, you turn into a ghost and stay on the earth plane until you complete your mortal business.
3. If you are totally unprepared for death because of unforeseen circumstances (e.g., accident, murder, etc.), you hang around here on earth for an undetermined time, before you realize you are dead and move on the realm of light.
4. If you have no belief whatsoever in the afterlife, you enter a state of confusion and stay in that condition until you realize that there is indeed an afterlife and move on to that realm.
5. You are scared of exiting your human body, and turn into a benign ghost that stays on earth, afraid to move on.
6. You can turn into a poltergeist - a "noisy ghost" - until you realize there's no point in raising a racket here on earth because you have already died and there's nothing you can do about it, so you just have to pass over into the other realm.
7. Those who were extremely cruel have lower vibrations, and will stay in the lower realms for an unspecified long time. They can seek help, to eventually move into the higher realms.
8. Those who were extremely rigid in their religious beliefs, struggle with others like them to find liberation from such constricting beliefs. They can also seek help to move on to the higher realms.
These views of Victor's are more focused on life ending, and then "changing" or moving on into another kind of existence, which is no longer earthly.
But what about reincarnation?
Reincarnation: Kids Say The Darndest Things
Here's another video, posted by YouTube user Ryan O'Neill. The video, from a Fox8 News report, is about the case of James Linegar, a child who told his parents about his past life - with the most gripping details - as a World War II American fighter pilot, who was also named James.
Skeptics are easy to dismiss such claims about reincarnation as the product of the overheated imagination of a child, but the fact is, there are hundreds of other reincarnation accounts told by children from various parts of the world.
Are all those children's imaginations simply overheated too?
Do Not Pass Hell. Do Not Collect $200.
It's rare to find someone here in America who hasn't played, or at least heard of the classic board game known as Monopoly (trademark of the copyright owner). That game has made famous the phrase, "Do not pass go. Do not collect $200" referring to how, after a bad move, a player will not gain anything favorable, such as money and freedom to move around, and will instead go to jail.
There's a counterpart to that scenario, as far as what can happen after death is concerned.
That counterpart lies in the contradicting religious beliefs held by people who belong to different (although sometimes, even related) faiths.
The site Religious Tolerance puts some of the most common religious beliefs about the afterlife in clear perspective:
"Within Judaism and Christianity, different traditions, faith groups. and writers over the past few thousand years have proposed a variety of scenarios, covering the above options and more! All have based their beliefs on their interpretations of the Bible. Generally speaking:
- The Roman Catholic Church bases its belief on Heaven, Purgatory and Hell on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) and the 14 books of the Apocrypha, supplemented by church wisdom and teaching down through the centuries.
- Conservative and mainline Protestant denominations tend to base their belief on their literal interpretation of certain passages of the Bible, and their symbolic interpretations of others. They arrive at very different beliefs from the Roman Catholics because both groups select different passages to read literally. They also reach different conclusions based on how they interpret key passages.
- Liberal Christians generally believe that the beliefs of the authors of the Bible evolved greatly over the approximately one millennia during which the Bible was written. Thus, there is little internal consistency in the Bible about the afterlife. Some liberals remain undecided on the existence and nature of any form of afterlife.
- Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. are generally skeptical about the existence of an afterlife. Most see no evidence for any form of human consciousness existing after death. Findings of research into the internal workings of the brain seem to support this theory. However, a person's influence does live on in their children and in other lives that they have touched.
Faced with such a diversity of beliefs about life after death -- even within Christianity -- some people conclude that no faith group really knows what happens when a person dies. But most Christians hold tenaciously to the beliefs taught by their own particular denomination. Most followers of other religions also follow the teachings of their faith tradition. This satisfies the main requirement that many people have of their religion: to give them a sense of security in the face of an uncertain and frightening world and the inevitability of their personal death."
I feel that hell and purgatory do not exist.
Personally, I feel that hell and purgatory do not exist, especially when taken in the context of common human understanding of what is "hellish" - fire, brimstone, eternal torture and damnation, helped along by pitchfork-wielding demons with horns.
Besides, nearly every mainstream religion or faith claims exclusivity: that their religion or faith is the "only true religion" and therefore, only those who belong to their religion or faith will be "saved."
How can that be?
How can they all be correct in saying that they are the only ones who have a monopoly of the truth and salvation? That all others are doomed to damnation, just because they say so?
That's highly contradicting, isn't it?
Do The Crime, Do The Time... Or Get Annihilated
And then, there are also beliefs that are very individualized or personal. Here's an example from the Judaism 101 site:
Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.
Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion.
Isn't that fascinating? Such a belief structure allows for much leeway.
If you do something wrong, and you die, you can either 1) be punished, 2) be reincarnated over and over, 3) stay suspended until you get saved, or that 4) you get annihilated, doomed to nothingness.
Very democratic! Everyone has a say on what happens to them after death, even if they do share the same religion.
Nirvana Is More Than A Rock Band
As for heaven, there are also several concepts about it - the most common one probably having to do with cute and chubby angels flying around in the clouds - but one of the most striking to me is that which deals with the attainment of Nirvana.
Nirvana is more than a rock band, of course. In fact, to Buddhists, Nirvana is more than heaven.
Nirvana, at its most basic, describes achieving a state of not wanting (anything at all), and therefore freeing you from rebirth (and by implication, the pains and sorrows associated with material human life).
To me, that's just like losing one's self to find one's self.
Nirvana is not annihilation, it's not going to a place where you can experience rewards for having done good or what is right while on earth.
Rather, as the Buddha has put it, Nirvana is freedom from suffering. "Nirvana is the ultimate happiness."
Can you imagine that? Can you relate to it?
What do you think will happen to you after you die? Will it be a trick... or a treat? Share your opinions in the comments below!
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