Keep in Mind.....
Warning!: The Afterlife may not be as You Believe!
First, let me say that I'm no religious expert. I don't even go to church regularly. But I do think about things a lot. And it occurs to me that the afterlife, and God's true nature, may be far different from what any individual believes. And, my only advice here is, regardless of your religion, beliefs, or lack thereof, to keep a small part of your mind open to the idea that the afterlife may not be as you believe. Now, of course if it turns out that even our souls dissolve into nothingness at death and we cease to be in every sense of the term, then all this is moot. But if not, then consider:
What could the afterlife be like?
Many people who've had near death experiences have claimed to have been in a calm, and comfortable state of being, oftentimes seeing their lives played over and then bathed in a calming light, or similar things to this, before being 'sent back to life'. Did these people actually see a portion of the afterlife or did they experience illusionary effects that occur when one is near death? Though I don't know for sure, and I've never had such an experience, I tend to believe that they did actually see a portion of the afterlife. What happens beyond this? Do you become a ghost, moving effortlessly among the living, or are you reincarnated into a new life, or do you go to heaven, or hell? I don't know if there is a heaven or hell as an 'ultimate destination' so to speak. But I know one person who has seen a ghost. Not as an apparition, but in a shadow profile on a lit wall, where there was no person actually blocking the light. I trust this person, so I know that the story is true and, while I don't automatically believe every account of ghosts, reincarnation, ufo's, and other mysterious happenings, I don't discount them either, but rather take note of them believing that at least some of them could be true.
I also knew of a friend of one of my close, and also trusted, family members who swore that she'd been reincarnated several times, claiming one previous life as a philistine soldier. And she could recount dates and events from these lives in enough detail to validate her claims.
Many religious tenets say that their beliefs are the only true ones, but it may be that whether you become a ghost or are reincarnated, or go to an ultimate destination separate from Earth, may be a choice or may depend on the circumstances of your being when you pass on, or on some other factor.
And, with 30-70 billion human beings having lived and died so far, why are there not more visable ghosts or people who remember past lives? It may be that ghosts that are visable are rare, and the same with people who can remember past lives, and again, it could be due to a variety of factors, possibly including the fact that, even in these more enlightened times, we, that is, the living, may not be ready to accept the idea of seeing many ghosts or learning that many people we see have had past lives, or for people to learn of their own past lives. It could be a 'natural' or 'divinely' imposed protection of sorts.
Is there a Heaven or a Hell?
There may be a heaven and a hell, but no one knows for sure. Most religions recognize a heaven and hell in some form. They may exist, or they may not. It could be that heaven and hell are in the mind of the beholder after death and may also depend on what the afterlife is like. I can see that, if the afterlife simply means being a ghost that cannot physically affect things or people, including others in the afterlife, it may be a heaven for those who knew mostly fear and being victimized in life, as they see that they can no longer be harmed, and it could be a hell for bullies, criminals, dictators, despots, and anyone else whose main purpose in life was to oppressively control and abuse or harm others, as they could no longer do so in the afterlife. I believe that this could actually be a far worse hell for these kind of people than the fire and brimstone kind.
And what can God be like?
First, let me say that I believe in God, and I also respect the athiest's right not to believe in God. I believe in God because I see so many things that we did not create that work so perfectly in nature and the universe. And I also believe that there is life, including intelligent life in the universe. In fact, the two most profound and stunning discoveries that I could think of would be if we found that there was indeed, no god, or even an intelligence that created the universe, and that we found that we were indeed alone in this universe, a universe with more stars and planets than there are grains of sand on all the world's beaches! This would mean that there are many worlds for every individual person alive on earth today!
Assuming that there is a god, and that we do meet him (or her?) in the afterlife, here, too, we should keep an open mind. Many religions today profess belief in a good, benevolent, omnipotent, and loving god. I don't believe that God is both good and loving, and omnipotent and omniscient, because if he were, then the human condition, with all the gratuitous violence and mayhem, would not make sense.
God may have divine limits. Maybe there is a divine rule that says that the more intelligence a species has, the more likely it will have gratuitous violence. Like a package deal that even God cannot change. Such a god can still be loving and for goodness, but, like us with our own children, can only hope that goodness wins out through his teachings. Or, God may be abstract, creating life as his main function. What any species does with the gift of life is up to that species and the 'accessories', such as intelligence, or other abilities and strengths that it has. Or God may be more like that of the Aztecs, needing sacrifice of some kind. There may also be a communications gap, again one of divine power, that neither God nor man can get through, so as to find out what God really wants. God may even be more 'abstract', not conscious of what he does. Such a god may not know he is creating life, or worlds, and may not even be able to relate to us.
Again, all this is speculation and I truly do not know for sure what lies after death. Why do I say to keep all this in mind? Well, assuming that the soul never dies and that we keep our sense of ourselves in the afterlife, keeping an open mind can help lessen the shock should the afterlife or God prove to be different from your core beliefs. And it may be far stranger and different than anything anyone of us can imagine.
Please feel free to comment, especially if you've had, or know someone who'se had, any kind of paranormal experience. Thanks for reading!