What happens after death?

JJM

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My Uncle has died recently. So I thought that I'd post a thread asking people about their personal beliefs about life after death. I'll post my own beliefs later if the thread takes off.


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I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
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Susma Rio Sep

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Four last things

Being brought up in Catholic educational institutions, although now a postgraduate Catholic, it has been drilled into our heads since our first Communion day, that there are four last things for every man:

Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.

For Catholics then everyone dies, and everyone right after death gets judged, and despatched to heaven or hell, in accordance to their merits or demerits during lifetime.

Just in case you are not really so very bad to get consigned to hell, and not so very good to enter heaven either; then there is purgatory where you might spend light years of torment to cleanse you for admission to heaven.

Salvation by faith alone, propounded by Luther for his own assurance of admission to heaven and preached to everyone who would be freed of the Catholic doctrine of good works, saves Protestants from the insolvable problem of how to really merit heaven, what merits are required as regards the quality and the quantity.

Susma Rio Sep
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste jjm,

thank you for the interesting post.

as you know, i try to present my beliefs in the most general manner possible, so as to represent most schools of Buddhism in my replies.

in the case of death and dying, however, the answers that i provide are particular to the Vajrayana.

in our tradition, death is actually quite a wonderful thing... for us, it represents the best opportunity for enlightenment, provided that one has trained properly to be able to deal with the experience as it unfolds.

briefly... we consider what are called "Bardo" which can be loosely translated as "states of becoming" to be things which people pass through as they are shedding the bonds of flesh. this can get quite technical, so i'll spare all of that and say it like this.

in our view... when a person is dying, they are presented with 2 outstanding opportunities for liberation. if they fail to recognize them and proceed into the Bardos, then they start going through the rebirth process, impelled by their ingnorance and their grasping for a body. in our view, as the consciousness is grasping for a form to inhabit, it is attracted to either the mother or the father... if you are a male, you were attracted to your mother. if you are a female, you were attracted to your father. of course... all of this seems quite automatic to the untrained consciousness.

now.. the Theravedans believe that rebirth is instantaneous... there are no Bardos and anything like that...
 

Susma Rio Sep

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Dying is a messy affair.

Vaj, you describe Buddhist death in a rather religiously rosy picture. But it's a belief.

I understand you had served as a soldier and maybe saw comrades dying. Now imagine these comrades you saw dying were Buddhists, would they have died with less trouble for themselves and for their loved ones? The fact of dying is messy affair all around.

For myself, I favor a quick instantaneous death, self-administered.

You might reach the same conclusion if you go to the hospital and witness how people dying die.

Doctors and religious ministers are two kinds of people who benefit from the dying process that is protracted in time and in discomfort.

Susma Rio Sep
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste su,

thank you for the post.

Susma Rio Sep said:
Vaj, you describe Buddhist death in a rather religiously rosy picture. But it's a belief.

obviously... since we are disucssing our beliefs. actually... i've summed it up so much that it barely is coherent from our point of view... but it gets quite technical and detailed which is counter-productive to conversation but quite useful for conveying information.

I understand you had served as a soldier and maybe saw comrades dying. Now imagine these comrades you saw dying were Buddhists, would they have died with less trouble for themselves and for their loved ones? The fact of dying is messy affair all around.

correct. i don't think that i understand "less trouble for themselves"... if you could clarify that i think that i could answer the question properly. as such, i'll just give it a go. if the soliders that i served with were Buddhists, then their understanding of death and dying wouldn't be the same as those that aren't. by virtue of this fact, the dying process for them wouldn't be as traumatic as it is for non-Buddhists, from our point of view.

For myself, I favor a quick instantaneous death, self-administered.

You might reach the same conclusion if you go to the hospital and witness how people dying die.

yes, i'm aware that you would rather commit suicide.

don't you think that last statement is a bit arrogant? you have no idea if i've been to a hospital or not, let alone volunteer in the hospice ward.

Doctors and religious ministers are two kinds of people who benefit from the dying process that is protracted in time and in discomfort.

Susma Rio Sep

you forgot the mortician, the cemetary, the newspapers, the casket makers et al. why single out physicians and ministers other than to display your prejudice against them? i don't understand it in the least... perhaps you can help me understand your view on this.
 

JJM

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I said I'd explain my version of life after death if the thread took off well 4 is enough for me. I am catholic but my views on death are slightly different. I think God wishes All people to enter heaven so after we die anyone who wishes may. But because God doesn't allow sin in heaven so in order to get there you have to completely give up sin. because I believe sin to be not excepting or acting upon God's opinion, those who do not wish to enter heaven by excepting and acting upon God's opinion can choose Hell. Hell isn't a firery torture pit. It is never described that way in the Bible. Hell is simply a place full of sinners with no rules and thus is chaos. Now I think it is described by people as horrible torment because it is always described by people who where particularly holy and would hate Hell. You never see Hell described by a sinner. Now because God will not take away our freedom of choice those who wish to enter heaven but cannot completely rid them self of sin at the very moment of their death go to purgatory. It is a purifying place but not a less severe version of Hell But more like a Rehab for sinners. If in Purgatory you can completely rid yourself of sin you can then enter heaven.

Just my thoughts

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I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
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StrandgecK

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JJM said:
I said I'd explain my version of life after death if the thread took off well 4 is enough for me. I am catholic but my views on death are slightly different. I think God wishes All people to enter heaven so after we die anyone who wishes may. But because God doesn't allow sin in heaven so in order to get there you have to completely give up sin. because I believe sin to be not excepting or acting upon God's opinion, those who do not wish to enter heaven by excepting and acting upon God's opinion can choose Hell. Hell isn't a firery torture pit. It is never described that way in the Bible. Hell is simply a place full of sinners with no rules and thus is chaos. Now I think it is described by people as horrible torment because it is always described by people who where particularly holy and would hate Hell. You never see Hell described by a sinner. Now because God will not take away our freedom of choice those who wish to enter heaven but cannot completely rid them self of sin at the very moment of their death go to purgatory. It is a purifying place but not a less severe version of Hell But more like a Rehab for sinners. If in Purgatory you can completely rid yourself of sin you can then enter heaven.

I dont know about any one else.. but I don't think I could not sin for eternity even if I did have a chance to try and stop, at least if I was still in a form resembling that of a human and tempted by all the same things.

I think, untill I'm dead and shown otherwise, that nothing happens.
 

JJM

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StrandgecK said:
I dont know about any one else.. but I don't think I could not sin for eternity even if I did have a chance to try and stop, at least if I was still in a form resembling that of a human and tempted by all the same things.

I think, untill I'm dead and shown otherwise, that nothing happens.

Well you wouldn't have all the same temptations because you’d be free from the weakness of your body. And all things are possible with Gods help you could if you wished. Maybe you need to ask yourself if you’d want to.

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I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
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StrandgecK

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Maybe you need to ask yourself if you’d want to.
I don't know if I want to.. because I have no clue what heaven is like. If it's floating aroud on a pretty cloud for eternity then no. But if it's a place where I can expand a thought to infinity with out temptations and the weakness of a body, yes. Or heaven could be something I can't even imagine.
 

suanni

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Please note: this is nothing but my belief/perception of things. But this, to me is a subject that can only be belief, we will not know until it is our time to go.
My belief is that we go to a place that resembles the condition that we most favour upon earth, with those friends and relatives who we have loved the most and enter it at an 'age' where we were most happy.
Your beliefs on 'Hell' JJ kind of mirror my own but I don't see the after-life in terms of heaven and hell. I see it as planes and there are many planes in my opinion. There is the earthbound plane, where those who have refused to accept that they have passed over or are fearing retribution linger and also those good spirits who feel they still have work to do (or refuse to leave a loved one until it is their time to go); hence ghosts/spirits.
Then there is the next plane, a plane where if we haven't followed the 'guidebook' that we are born with in our hearts we will go to repay for our misdeeds. It is here that those hurts we have committed upon others will be replayed upon us repeatedly until we have learned what we have done wrong. And IMO this sounds a more fitting torment to those who have committed abominable acts upon others.
Many will go directly to the next plane, a plane of pleasures. A plane that mirrors our ideals of a perfect world. In this plane we are capable of passing back to earth to assist those loved ones who are in trouble....or just fancy wandering but we're capable of flitting back and forth at will but never up over.
For those who are more spiritually attuned to the Maker they will go to the next plane and onwards (or upwards) until we get to be with the Maker.
Just a belief.
My deepest sympathies for your loss JJM. The death of a loved one is never easy.
 

Darkwolf

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JJM said:
My Uncle has died recently. So I thought that I'd post a thread asking people about their personal beliefs about life after death. I'll post my own beliefs later if the thread takes off.


___________________________________________________________
I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
Socrates
I believe that after death, your heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. If your heart is light, you pass into paradise where you can rest or reincarnate by your choice. You can also visit earth to see loved ones. If your heart is heavy with bad deeds and thoughts, you can not go to paradise. If you feel true sorrow for the bad you did, your heart is lightened and you can pass. I think this happens in most cases, as in death you can see much more clearly. Those who do not feel sorrow may be sent back to mortal life to learn and come to a better understanding. On those very rare occasions where someone not only does bad, but is actually evil, their heart is eaten by a demon that sits by the scales and their soul is destroyed.
 

JJM

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Darkwolf said:
I believe that after death, your heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. If your heart is light, you pass into paradise where you can rest or reincarnate by your choice. You can also visit earth to see loved ones. If your heart is heavy with bad deeds and thoughts, you can not go to paradise. If you feel true sorrow for the bad you did, your heart is lightened and you can pass. I think this happens in most cases, as in death you can see much more clearly. Those who do not feel sorrow may be sent back to mortal life to learn and come to a better understanding. On those very rare occasions where someone not only does bad, but is actually evil, their heart is eaten by a demon that sits by the scales and their soul is destroyed.
I know this has nothing to do with the post but do you worship Egyptian Gods or do you just believe in their afterlife scenario?

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I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
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Darkwolf

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JJM said:
I know this has nothing to do with the post but do you worship Egyptian Gods or do you just believe in their afterlife scenario?
Yep, I worship them. :) I'm Kemetic, a follower of ancient Egyptian religion. Some of my post on the afterlife is just my own beliefs and interpretation, but the judgement by weighing the heart is Kemetic.
 

Zenda71

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First, JJM, my condolences to you and your family.

I'm a Theravadin Buddhist. The scripture of the Tipitaka says, basically, we are reincarnated or pass into extinction. Personally, I believe death is an experience beyond description and that it is not helpful to discuss what happens "after". The Buddha considered questions such as "indeterminate questions" and chose not to answer them directly. I think this was wise since these questions usually cause more confusion than are helpful. (Besides, words are imprecise and talking about something as experiential as death is like explaining an orgasm ... what words could ever describe it?)

For more explanation on this, you can look here ... http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/avyaakata.html

With metta
 

arthra

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I also lost a dear Uncle last year about this time... and i felt very fortunate to talk with him before his passing... I gave him a water colour I had done that had a lot of warm colours in it of a ship at sea...andI think he enjoyed it!

Baha'is have an attitude about death that it is a Messenger of Joy:

"O SON OF THE SUPREME!

I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?"
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh
Part I--From the Arabic

So death to us is a release from the troubles and sorrows of this life and of course a confirmation of the reality of the spiritual worlds. When my uncle died he had suffered a great deal for years and so it was not in my mind a bad thing.

In the Baha'i Faith, it is taught that the soul begins at conception and while in the womb the body developes those limbs and faculties that will be needed in the life after the womb.... in this world or life, it is believed we are gaining experiences and developing our spiritual faculties in preparation for the next life. If we fail to develope these faculties, or spiritual attributes, then our progress in the next world will be very slow.

After death the soul ascends through the worlds of God and eventually will be in the presence of God conditioned of course on His mercy.

Baha'u'llah also revealed:

"If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station.... The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men."

We Baha'is do not focus a great deal on this subject of life after death but it is of course our goal to eventually come into the presence of God and be near Him. Heaven is a state of nearness to God and hell would be a condition of being far away from Him.

- Art
 

iBrian

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JJM, condolencies that a light may have been extinguished from your sky - may there be other stars to fill the darkness.

As to the question of death - based heavily on my own Near Death Experience - there is nothing after death that is remotely accessible to the human experience. There are no senses, merely experience - that of overwhelming love, of a kind that trascends all possible explanation and comprehension.

None of this after death experience can be understood in mortal terms any more than an ant can understand art history.

There is also no judgement of any kind for any being - as with nature, all human action has purpose and you cannot punish nature.

Judgement is an issue for human societies, not for the dead.

(This particular point scares the hell out of a lot of people who seem to think that if there is no punishment, there is no reason to not do wrong - I say still such hearts from their foolishness and let them understand the wisdom of selflessness).

Also - death itself into afterlife ("Heaven") is no more an ending than birth. Infinite stages of reality move in all directions (a meaningless concept after death). We move on as drops of consciousness, reuniting with the source, that in itself is like an ocean to be rejoined with - the great ocean that is the Consciousness of God. We part again to experience some other aspect of existence within the physical realm (and other places too strange to mention).

We are therefore the whole, the Mind of God experiencing It's own creation, exploring it's own realty, as we move through life to return to GodHead.

Every living thing is a part of this Ocean of Life - and even some things most people would not consider living.

This Ocean is God, Great Spirit, Prime Mover, Universal Consciousness, All Compassionate and Infinite Whole.

Heaven is a state of selfless co-existence within a wider state of Godhood, that frees us from these tiny restrictive shells we call the physical flesh.

Unbound your mind from the shell and it is impossibly huge, and the human experience impossibly small. All things held dear in human terms become entirely different issues beyond this life of ours.




Well, I guess you wanted an honest reply. :)
 

9Harmony

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JJM said:
My Uncle has died recently. So I thought that I'd post a thread asking people about their personal beliefs about life after death. I'll post my own beliefs later if the thread takes off.
As a Baha'i I believe the soul will continue to progress until it attains the presence of God. Our soul is like a bird and our body is like the cage, when the cage is broken the bird can fly unto the realms on high.

Here are a couple quotes to illustrate this concept...


"To consider
that after the death of the body
the spirit perishes
is like imagining that a bird in a cage
will be destroyed if the cage is broken,
though the bird has nothing to fear
from the destruction of the cage.
Our body is like the cage,
and the spirit is like the bird.
We see that without the cage
this bird flies in the world of sleep;
therefore, if the cage becomes broken,
the bird will continue and exist.
Its feelings will be even more powerful,
its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased.
In truth...
it reaches a paradise of delights
because for the thankful birds
there is no paradise greater
than freedom from the cage. "
Some Answered Questions: Ábdu’l-Baha, p 228
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"And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty." Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p 155


My sympathy for your loss.

Loving Greetings, Harmony
 

9Harmony

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I said:
As to the question of death - based heavily on my own Near Death Experience - there is nothing after death that is remotely accessible to the human experience. There are no senses, merely experience - that of overwhelming love, of a kind that trascends all possible explanation and comprehension.
Dear Brian,

I would be interested in hearing about your personal experience. If you care to share. If it's too personal, that's okay. Just thought I'd ask.

If it already exists somewhere on the forum, please direct me.

Loving Greetings, Harmony
 

iBrian

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9Harmony, thanks for asking - I don't believe that I have written of it on the forums. From what you have written of, though, I don't think there is immediate disagreement with the words of Baha'u'llah.

However, if I took the poetry and metaphor from the words of Baha'u'llah, and gave them straight and plain in language, for a modern audience, I'm not sure if most people would be so comfortable. People often insist of human terms of reference, and do not like considering an existence without them. :)

Soon, my friend. :)
 
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