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- Exploring Religious Options
Is there life after we die?
Life is sweet and precious like the saying goes. And very often you see people doing everything in their power to try and live for as long as possible. Despite all human effort, life inevitably comes to an end at some point. This perhaps is why people go out of their way to try and have the best out it. One would think that since death has been part of the world we live in since the beginning of time, people should be less afraid of the uncertainty that surrounds loss of life. But the idea of dying is still as scary as ever.
One reason for fear is the lack of concrete knowledge of what lies beyond this life as we know it. Where do we go after we die? You have probably come across numerous theories about the afterlife. Some theories have religious foundation while others are largely based on cultural beliefs. Every society all over the globe seems to agree that there is indeed an afterlife. A life beyond our understanding; where our bodies have no place, where we can only exist as spiritual beings. Although the imaginations differ widely, the astonishing unanimous belief in life after death is overwhelming and can be argued as evidence for existence of an afterlife.
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Is it necessary to plan for life after death?
Where do we go when we die?
The most popular theory about where we go after death is taught by Christians and other religious scholars. Their teaching revolves around the existence of a heaven and hell where people will spend eternity depending on how righteously they live this first life. It is however not clear whether heaven or hell is located somewhere here on earth or in some other distant dimension or galaxy. Even attempts to visit space have not revealed much in this regard. The Bible itself does not seem to reveal a lot of information about what happens after we die, although it promises eternity. (May be God has his reasons for this)
The book of Corinthians gives a hint. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this scripture will be fulfilled. “Death is swallowed up in victory…” 1st Corinthians 15:54-57. For Christian believers this is evidence that when we die, these bodies we have will be transformed into bodies that will last for eternity. (And to me this means immortality.) Note that it says nothing about the soul leaving one body and going into another. Although this is promising, it is also controversial. This is because in almost all cultures, dead bodies are either buried or cremated. The end result is a destroyed body either by decomposition or by combustion. The question that arises is; what will be transformed into immortality? And at what point in time will this happen.
In Ecclesiastes 9:5, the bible states that “the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing. Their love, their hatred and their envy have now perished.” This means that when we die we cease to be aware of what is happening around us. Religion also suggests that at some point in time, life as we know it will cease and we shall enter into a phase of an eternal world. When and how this will happen is a mystery.
Other spiritualists argue that when one dies, the spirit (which forms the living entity of a person) lives his body and enters into a spiritual world. (The other world) this theory seems to imply that “the other world” in fact exists alongside us but we simply can’t see it with ordinary eyes. It is also thought that the spirits of the dead in the other world are constantly watching us and listening to our conversations and that once in a while influence activities in our world. This is why it is unwise to speak ill of the dead. People with special gifts of sight are thought to have the ability to see and communicate with the spirit people in the other world. Believers in this school of thought are usually seen attempting to consult the spirits for guidance through the special seers. Some people claim to receive communication from the dead through dreams, special revelations and manifestation. Could it be possible that the spirits influence some activities in our world? Do they listen when they are consulted? Do they have feelings and can be hurt when we speak ill of them?
Unlike the religious version of the afterlife, spiritualists don’t explain much about the other world. There is no suggestion that life in the spiritual world is fun and eventful or that it is a life of sadness and misery. This paints a picture of dormancy, blankness and oblivion. It therefore aggravates the fear for death even further, and gives the Christian version greater preference for majority of the population.
Despite this overwhelming belief in an afterlife, there is no comprehensive evidence of life after death. Where we go after we die remains a mystery that might never be solved in this life time. Even those who claim to have died or got a near death experience come back with differing tales of the afterlife experience. It will be a while before we can get a clear understanding of whether there is life after this that we know. It is possible however that what happens to one after they die depends largely on what they believe. This is because as of today, life after death is more of an illusion than reality. A phenomenon embedded in the mind and dependent on one’s strength of imagination. This could explain the contrasting stories told by people who claim to have died and resurrected. The fact is that when we die, the breath of life leaves the body, all senses shut down and we cease to be living. (This has been proven scientifically and is in agreement with the biblical writer of Ecclesiastes.) The body is buried, decomposes and ceases to exist. It is here that all importance should be focused. What happens beyond this point should be left for nature to resolve.