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The Afterlife Through Various Religions

Updated on June 16, 2014

What Happens Once We Die?

Is There Life After Death?

We all have our own opinions about what will happen to us after we die.

Will we be reincarnated? Will we go to some mystical place, such as heaven? Will we be punished for the harm we caused while living, winding up in the fiery pits of hell? Are we destined to live eternity rotting away in our graves?

Many of our beliefs regarding life after death are instilled in us depending on our faith. Others form their beliefs based off of experiences while living, or while watching someone they love pass away.

Most of us hope that death isn't the end of the road, but that is all we can do, hope.

Do You Believe in Heaven?

The Christian View of Life After Death

Although the concept of life after death varies between the different sects of Christianity, the general consensus is that those who live a life of faith are rewarded with eternity in heaven with a loving Creator, and that those who live a life of sin are doomed to an eternity in hell.

Heaven, according the Christian faith, is a wonderful place where we are freed from our sins, our suffering and our pain. Hell, on the other hand, is a fiery place filled with judgement and punishment.

Some followers of the Christian faith interpret the imagery of fire that is depicted in the bible literally - believing that those who end up in hell will experience the sensation of burning for all of eternity. Other Christians believe that the fire is simply a symbolic way of communicating severe punishment.

Different Beliefs of After Life Among the Christian Sects

Christian Sect
Heaven and hell are both real places. as is purgatory; faith driven people typically go to heaven, while sinners are sent to hell; souls who are not yet ready for heaven but who can be redeemed wait in purgatory until they can transcend into heaven
Orthodox Christians
Believing that heaven is the final resting place for those who live a faith driven life, they believe in a second coming of Jesus Christ, when all souls will receive a final judgement
A judgement day will come when Jesus Christ comes down from Heaven to judge the souls of all people, and will then be sent either to heaven or to hell; they deny the existence of purgatory
Reformed Christians
Heaven is a pain free place free from suffering; they deny the existence of purgatory and are split between literal and symbolic views of hell
Anglican Christians
After this life has ended, we exist in God's "time", for whom "one day is like a thousand years." Denying the existence of purgatory, they are split between literal and symbolic views of hell
Heaven is a place where those who are deserving are reunited with the saints; they deny the existence of purgatory and have split views of whether hell is literal or symbolic

Or Do You Believe in Hell?

Islamic View of Life After Death

The Islamic faith teaches that there is one God, known as Allah, and that the angels reside in heaven with a loving creator. They believe in a Judgement Day, when all people will be judged for their actions on earth.

Those who live a life a faith are rewarded by eternal life in heaven, known as paradise. Paradise is a physical, as well as spiritual place where followers get to enjoy eternity in the presence of a loving creator. Sinners are doomed to burn for eternity in the fiery pits of hell.

What the Hindu Faith Teaches About the After Life

Those who follow the Hindu faith are believers in reincarnation of the soul. While the body is temporary, the soul is eternal. According to the Hindu faith, death is not the end, but merely a cyclical process where the soul continues to become reincarneted until it is prepared for liberation.

Every time the soul is reincarnated, it gives the person a chance to learn from past experiences and avoid mistakes made in a past life. According to Hindu text, a liberated soul is forever free and untainted - even during the end of one world and the start of a new cycle of creation.

What Life Waits for Us Once we Die?

Life After Death

The Buddhist View of Life After Death

Buddhist teachings emphasize reincarnation - a continuous cycle where the soul leaves the body upon death, only to be reborn again in another form. This cycle of reincarnation allows the soul to continue improving upon itself, learning from mistakes made in prior lives.

The ultimate salvation for the Buddhist is known as Nirvana - a liberation from wordly cravings and the extinction of life on earth. Unlike Hindu followers, Buddhist followers don't believe in eternal souls.

Instead of eternal souls, individuals consist of a "bundle" of habits, memories, sensations, desires, and so forth. When combined together, this bundle deludes one into thinking that he or she consists of a stable, lasting self.

Following death, the spirit goes through a process known as bardos, after which it either enters nirvana or returns to earth.

Life After Death

Do you believe that anything happens to us after we die?

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Heaven and Hell in the Jewish Faith

Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death. Although the views of the afterlife are highly speculative among the Jewish faith, followers of Judaism do believe that the soul does not die along with the body.

Most Jewish followers believe that heaven is a place where souls go to reunite with loved ones, and that hell is eternal damnation - punishment for a life that lacks faith. Other followers of Judaism believe that death is when we return to the ground, from which they came.

"From ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Today however, most traditional Jewish movements accept the concept of the resurrection of the dead.

What Atheists Say About the Afterlife

Atheists have turned disbelief of a divine Creator into a belief system in itself. For the atheist or agnostic, science has become a religion in the sense that it is practiced by its followers who accept nothing else unless it adheres to conventional science as we know it today.

Atheism challenges religious and faith based systems. Most atheists believe that life ends when the body passes on, and that there is no such place as heaven or hell.


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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      7 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      In order to get 'feet through the doorway' the Roman Catholic doctrine based on fear used a sort of 'protection racket' to gain power.

      In Britain the Celtic church had already held sway for hundreds of years, being originally the belief brought in by the early Christian Romans and translated to Ireland (where St Columba began) through Padruig, better known as Patrick, taken by Gaelic pirates from where he lived in Cymru ('Wealas' - Wales - being the Saxon name. 'Wealsc' - pron. Welsh - was the Saxon name meaning 'foreigner' ). Luckily one of the Eadwards forbade the Inquisition entry to England or we'd have been as messed up as some others. Interestingly the Irish progression to the Roman Catholic ideology came about through the Norman 'takeover' of Ireland from the time of Henry II (take a look at my Hub-page on Richard fitzGilbert de Clare 'Strongbow').

      Hell comes from the Norse 'Hel', one of Loki's offspring by the giantess Angrboda. From the waist up she was a handsome, good looking woman, putrefied flesh from the waist down - accursed by the Allfather, along with her brothers Fenrir the wolf and Jormungand the world serpent. Those who did not deserve to go to Valholl were taken by Hel, but it was a yawning, cold chasm, a miserable hole. That's whyChristianity took off in the northlands: not so many gods to remember, and a place to go if you behaved yourself. I've gone backwards ('There's nowt so queer as fowk' - old Yorkshire proverb)

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      7 years ago from Bridgewater

      what a beautiful and powerful response, thank you Kathleen

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I was raised on a real Heaven and a real Hell. Over the years my view of Hell has been revised somewhat, but I still think it is basically separation from God, which is bad enough.

      I'm currently writing a novel set in Heaven, and I've wrestled with the knowledge that many people will take exception to my descriptions. But I figure, they really don't know any more than I do, and if they disagree strongly enough, they are welcome to write their own book!

      I believe Jesus is in Heaven in his resurrected body, and that makes it much more real for me than the idea that Heaven is just fluffy clouds and angels. I also believe when my Mother closed her eyes that last time, she opened them in a real place. That's Heaven enough for me.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      7 years ago from Bridgewater

      I myself am not Jewish, I don't really consider myself affiliated with any religion in particular, but I found that information on a reputable site (however I realize that doesn't make it correct necessarily). I appreciate you bringing this up and will look into it further so I can make sure that I have accurate information.

      My intention and hope was to get feedback from numerous different faiths so I could obtain more accurate info so I am glad you brought that up. I am going to go look into it now.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      7 years ago

      I myself wouldn't call atheism a belief system. It's just that one who is inclined to not believe in any Gods is also inclined to not believe in any supernatural things, kind of like people who all love the color purple are more inclined to have it in their home décor than people who don't. But there are some atheists who believe in ghosts and reincarnation and such. Shared opinions doesn't necessarily mean a doctrine. A doctrine is sort of an official stance; shared interests just show a like-minded thought process (which naturally brings them to the same conclusions about thing).

      Very interesting breakdown though, particularly of the different sects of Christianity.

      I've never heard of a Jew that believes in eternal damnation or punishment for a lack of faith; generally they believe sheol = grave, and gehenna = a neutral place where the wicked (not non-believers but actual wicked in actions) go temporarily - up to 12 months - to be purified (and it's not actually burning; it was an actual place outside Jerusalem that had been used for burnt offerings, so it's called 'the burning place'). So I was just curious, which sect of Judaism are you referring to that believes in eternal damnation and punishment for lack of faith? Thanks.


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