In fact, no major religion denies the continuation of life after death. They simply differ in the ‘small print’ of where and how this happens.
The Jews of 2,000 years ago acknowledged multiple lives: as noted in the Bible, they asked was Jesus not Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets? The Bible claims that Jesus himself stated (Matthew 11) that John the Baptist was Elijah, the Jewish prophet who had died some 840 years before the birth of Jesus.
Traditional Christians say we’re dispatched to heaven or hell. We enjoy one life on earth and our faithfulness during it determines our fate for the rest of eternity. In some sects, our destination is final; in others we are punished for various periods of time (often judged in millions of years) and then returned, repentant, to heaven. For several hundred years wealthy and influential Christians could shorten their assumed time in purgatory through the prior payment of large sums of money to the church.
Moslems believe in an after-life rich in milk and honey for the faithful. Special favours await those who are especially devout or martyrs to the faith.
Hindus understand life as an almost endless series of generally progressive lives. Some sects believe each person has as many as 8,400,000 lives developing from the most basic cell structure into a fully spiritualised human being. Others say we can pick and choose by our actions – as we sow thus will we reap.
Buddhists believe that those aspects of us that remain unresolved at death return again and again (the wheel of rebirth) until self-realisation is attained. Many Buddhist teachings restrict such self-realisation to men only but offer devout and obedient women the opportunity to reincarnate in their next life as men for this specific purpose.
Spiritualists believe we live many lives, each time growing in some aspect of our personality. They believe we can communicate with those who have passed over and that such communication is proof of the continuity of life. Thousands of psychics and mediums and hundreds of thousands of examples of communication with those who have passed over (many hundreds of those cases fully supported by scientific investigation) have now been published in the popular press and academic reviews.
All this data and all these teachings affirm the continuity of life. Commonsense supports this belief, too. Surely something as naturally beautiful and naturally intricate as a living human being wouldn’t be simply snuffed into oblivion after one short, often quite inconsequential, life.
The caterpillar moves into the darkness and returns as a butterfly. Mankind, indeed all life, surely does likewise. Equally logical is the need for one to leave one room in order to enter another. In metaphysical terms, to leave one body in order to experience life in another.
This act of leaving we call death: yet it is truly but a doorway through which we pass in order to embrace new experiences with fresh people in a changed environment.
Science supports this understanding, indicating that matter can be easily changed in form – sometimes quite radically – but never destroyed. Water may be solid, liquid, gaseous or even have its constituent atoms of hydrogen or oxygen separated, condensed and even split. Even so, that which constituted water, always still exists – albeit in a different form.
That which is, always is.
That which is you – the very core of your real being, that part of you that is beyond all perspectives, ages, statuses, illusions, genders, race, creeds and political allegiances – always is.
You always were and almost certainly always will be.
In dying we enjoy fresh life. Recognising this truth, the great task, really the only task, is to show absolute respect for this awesome and boundless wonder called ‘life’ by living it fully and lovingly!
An Affirmation: I am a divine aspect of the real, capable of conscious experience. I thus accept both the wonder of birth and the wonder of death as the same doorway leading always from one to the other.
More on this topic in a fortnight!
Blessings and Love,