Editor’s Note: In theory, nothing is sure in life, but death and taxes. However, in America, if you’re wealthy enough, taxes may be avoidable ... but even members of the Trump family eventually die (even if it’s not soon enough). Ever think about what your demise is going to involve? I do, and I never really come up with a believable or rational outcome. I guess that’s why there are so many religions, all of which have no clue either.
Searching for the Afterlife
is an island in the setting sun,
was told by someone who’d heard it himself that the scariest three-word
sentence in the English language is, “You have cancer.” That’s certainly awful, but
I think I’ve heard worse. Recently, a cardiologist told me, “Your heart stopped.”
Those three words will raze whatever’s left of your youthful sense of
immortality, and focus your attention on the long soil siesta to come.
an afterlife, consciousness disappears when we die, and everything we’ve ever
experienced or might remember evaporates like mist. We also slowly vanish from
the world’s collective memory. For example, my paternal grandfather died
young, so I’m just about the last person on earth who still remembers him.
When I’m gone, he’ll disappear completely. There’s no immortality for the
optimistic — and my personal preference — is the Eastern (Hindu/Buddhist)
concept of reincarnation. It has the advantage of being scrupulously fair, in
that your next life is determined by how you live this one (the law of karma).
However, none of us seem to remember any of our past lives, so do they really
matter? The Zen question is, if something becomes forever unremembered, then did
it actually happen?
Some proponents of reincarnation claim you’ll view your past lives during the periods between them, like a series of “life-sized” videos. As pleasant as this might sound, the same conundrum persists — that series needs to be infinite, because, whether you’ve had three past lives or a million, if you eventually end up in a void of eternal forgetfulness, then your existence is no less annihilated and pointless. (Oddly, this doesn’t bother the Buddhists, who seem to look forward to and actually strive for obliteration of the self in nirvana or satori.)
heard pious folks declare we’ll all “bend the knee” and “praise the
Lord” for eternity, which makes heaven sound like an endless church service. But what
sort of god needs that much adulation? We’re above the ants, but we don’t
demand that they worship us. Jehovah, who’s infinitely greater than we are,
needs endless adoration from puny humans? He sounds like the Donald Trump of deities, and, after
a few years of that, the Lake of Fire might start looking pretty good. (No wonder Mark
Twain recommended “heaven for the climate, hell for the company.”)
Realistically, none of us knows any more about the afterlife than our Egyptian ancestors who built the pyramids, and any profession of faith can be shut down by a simple, two-word, imperative sentence: “Prove it.” So we might just as well envision whichever heaven makes us feel happiest, and, if the Lord truly loves us, maybe he’ll send us there.
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