The daily litany of the COVID-19 death toll must have you pondering a little more about your mortality. And add that to the the imposed seclusion during two religions most Holy Days of Easter and Passover. This combination may have prompted you into more reflection about what happens after we die more than usual.
After reading many books, talking to hundreds of people and sitting in multiple dozens of classes and church services I’ve tried to understand what others believe and to distill it into a belief for me. After all of this pursuit of knowledge, though, the best understanding I’ve come up with is “There is a God and I’m not Him/Her.”
Exploring the Afterlife
The Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover holidays are natural cultural and religious seasons to ponder more deeply about the relationship we have with a Higher Power and our ultimate destination. Julia Assante’s book, The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death, encourages exploration of life after death to help us deepen our sense of purpose, reset our values and grow in awareness of our authentic selves. The affiliate link for the book follows.
There’s a section on past life regressions. Many people have an interest and belief in this topic. It is a basic tenet of several Indian religions. Greek historic figures also believed in it. In modern day, a spiritual seeker’s group called the Institute of Noetic Sciences explores it through scientific study. The people I met who believe in it are intelligent, reliable, responsible people holding jobs of status.
So many people still seem un-evolved, despite all of our technological advances. So, I have considered reincarnation as a satisfactory theory which relieves my frustration and confusion. It is a perspective which helps me comprehend as to what drives so many people to harm themselves and others through abuse.
The Advancement of Souls
To me, reincarnation seemed to make sense and explain the advancement of souls within the context of eternity, rather than the limited time frame of a lifetime, which is cut so short for too many people. If we are limited by just this one lifetime, than the perspective of an all powerful God changes into a negative view that He is a cruel and sadistic spiritual entity to develop human beings for His self-serving endeavors. But if we keep getting to reincarnate until we make progress or get it right, then I can feel comfort that the attachments I form with other humans in this lifetime might get to be continued in other lifetimes.
But my curiosity of reincarnation is dampened by the Christian church’s stance of delving into the occult. Because of being raised in a Judeo-Christian culture, my mind is more settled on the perspective of salvation through Jesus and, perhaps, the Catholic view of purgatory. We do get another chance and God will keep working with us and cleansing us until we can be fully in His presence.
God Saves Us All the Time So We Can Live
When my father died, a well meaning devout Evangelical Christian asked me if he had been saved. I didn’t know the answer to that question. The battles he had with personal demons might lead a person to think he wasn’t. But he studied the Bible A LOT. So, if fervency of study was any indication, then I think he was.
But except for the respective individual, no one can know that for another person. God is bigger than my limited mind and so just because I don’t recite the formula in the exact way that some people have stated it should be said, doesn’t mean God can’t translate it. It’s God’s Heaven not mine, so He makes the final determination of who gets in and who stays out. Deep down, I believe He is working all the time to make sure all of us get in somehow.
Before We Die, Let Us Live
One Tibetan Buddhist meditation exercise is to think about your own death as a way to bring your attention more fully back into the here and now. If you can stand to think about the eternity of death for any sustained time, then you might develop a capacity to more fully experience life, was the rationale behind that particular exercise.
Warren Zevon wrote a song called “Life’ll kill ya.” But until it does, maybe pondering death and the fragility of our time together can keep us alive.