Disclaimer: The author of this post is not a jobless, mentally challenged person. During the course of or after reading this article, whatever might give you an impression contrary to the above, is purely coincidental and just a figment of your imagination. Please!!
I’m sure that at some point in time or the other, we would have all heard about it….. that its the only irrefutable, indubitable truth in the whole world: the fact that all who are born, will die.
Most of mankind is in tune with this truth. Hardly do you ever come across someone, who claims that he won’t die!
I’m convinced too, that some day, I shall also – pass away; be no more; die!
But what really sets me thinking is: what happens after?
The fact that all those who actually know the answer will never be met by us, at least in this lifetime, only makes you painfully more curious.
Do we actually, based on our life’s deeds, get ushered into Heaven’s pearly gates, or descend to suffer in Hell’s lakes of fire? Would we be treated differently at various versions of the great beyond, as mentioned in our different religions (something like our marriage ceremonies: each religion with their different ones, all leading to the same end result)?
I have thought about this many a times and have always been astounded by the possibilities it can lead your imagination to (No, no! Don’t you dare think it! Go on; read the disclaimer once more).
By the time I reached my late teens, I had started weighing the religious values that were passed on to me by my elders, with common sense. The then immensely popular (but ludicrous) mythological TV serials and my vacillating teenage mind only added fuel to the fire, which eventually led to my conversion into a ‘spiritual’ (fashionable for non-religious).
Also, this greatly influenced my personal thoughts about this taboo subject.
There are many ways to look at ‘the beyond death’ question, although needless to say, they are all fabrications of our imagination and cannot be corroborated in any way.
If we were to look at it scientifically, all of the universe and its constituents are made up of energy; and as we all know, energy cannot be destroyed, it can only be transformed from one form to another. This leads to the question, if humans are also made of energy, what do we get transformed to, post death. Fairly easy answer: the Hindus get converted to heat energy on cremation; Christians and Muslims turn into food for the worms and bacteria, post burial, which subsequently is expended as energy by these creatures; and so on and so forth for other religions. For all practical and scientific purposes, like how we were born, from nothingness or unconsciousness to our senses, we would probably switch back to an unending unconscious state; like a TV being switched off!
However, this would the most boring, cruel and unimaginative end to this miracle called – Life. What would be the point of our existence? Why would we have a conscience? Why would we ever consider doing any good?
Or, look at it another way: Its like saying, this is what God will give Michael Jackson for creating music like he did and giving so much to generations of people! And, this is what is written for Mother Teresa for being one of the most extraordinary human beings of our time! Or this what Michael Jordan would get at the end of his life (who are we kidding…..Jordan IS God)?
Which brings us to the philosophical angle. There has to be some other purpose for our short stint here, on this planet. The Creator won’t put us through so many experiences and challenges in our life time, only to press the ‘switch off’ button one fine day. He or She surely has better work to do than just creating daily-life obstacles and challenges for us, as if we were His playthings, unless this whole ‘life’ thing was part of a bigger, longer journey. Not for the physical body, but for the intangibles like our spirit or soul or atma – what we also call conscience, conscious etc.
I think (at least I prefer to think) that this life is part of a longer journey. I think there is an ‘after life’ (yup !!).
The only reason why we are not evidently aware of this fact is because knowing about afterlife and the consequences of our deeds in this life will only make us more materialistic. We would then start doing good for selfish reasons, rather than whole heartedly for one another. Not knowing is the only way in which our pains and suffering can make us grow spiritually.
If for a moment we were to think the opposite and consider this life to be finite and to end at the instance of death, how would you explain the purpose of the birth of baby, who dies two days later? It serves no evolutionary (read scientific) purpose.
I think (prefer to) that these babies were too good in their past lives and were exempted from the tests and trials of living on this planet. In other words, they got double promoted to the next stage of life !!
To understand this more clearly, you can draw an analogy between sleep and death (though the latter being of a much greater scale and importance than the former).
Like sleep is a need to transit into the next day peacefully, healthily and more productively, death is a need to transit into the next part of our journey healthily, peacefully and more productively.
We all know how a lazily spent, unproductive day or some dreadful deed done, or for that matter, even day to day stress plays on our mind/ body and affects our sleep – rendering us irritable, less productive and not at peace the proceeding day. On the other hand, we would have all had days when we have truly worked our behinds off or done some seriously nice thing or have achieved some long elusive goal… remember how well you slept on those days and more importantly how good you felt the next day when you woke up!!
Exactly in the same way, maybe an un-empathetic, self-centered, uncharitable life might affect out ‘state of death’ and hence might affect our onward journey from there in a negative way. Similarly, a life comprising of good choices, principles and ethics gets a positive twist to its after life.
This is the closest I could get to understanding what various religions, in some way or the other, call Hell and Heaven.
I know many of you who read this would readily dismiss these wild ‘assumptions’, as there is no scientific proof for them. However, if only just for the sake of romancing these thoughts, we need to bear in mind that Science only believes in that which is measurable, repeatable and of understandable physical nature and mechanism. It is not all inclusive. There are many subjects it cannot and will never be able to explain, e.g. intuition, morality, ethics, human nature, empathy, faith etc.
By the way, I think this post is starting to get as serious and morose as the subject itself. Therefore, lets call it quits with some mood repairers – a few laughs.
But not so soon pals…. the jokes are about death and afterlife too!! Ha Ha !!
A man died and went to The Judgment. St. Peter met him at the Gates of Heaven and said, “Before you meet with God, I thought I should tell you — we’ve looked at your life, and you really didn’t do anything particularly good or bad. We’re not at all sure what to do with you. Can you tell us anything you did that can help us make a decision?”
The newly arrived soul thought for a moment and replied, “Yeah, once I was driving along and came upon a woman who was being harassed by a group of bikers. So I pulled over, got out my tire iron, and went up to the leader of the bikers. He was a big, muscular, hairy guy with tattoos all over his body and a ring pierced through his nose. Well, I tore the nose ring out of his nose, and told him he and his gang had better stop bothering the woman or they would have to deal with me!”
“I’m impressed,” St. Peter responded, “When did this happen?”
“About two minutes ago,” came the reply.
During their vacation and while they were visiting Jerusalam, George’s mother-in-law died.
With death certificates in hand, George went to the American Consulate Office to make arrangements to send the body back to the states for proper burial.
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law told George that the sending of a body back to the states for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000.00.
The Consul continues, in most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.00.
George thinks for some time and answers, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do.”
The Consul, after hearing this, says, “You must have loved your mother-in-law very much consdering the difference in price.”
“No, it’s not that,” says George. “You see, I know of a case years ago of a person that was buried here in Jerusalem. On the third day he arose from the dead !
I just can’t take that chance.