Examine Religious and Non-Religious Beliefs About Death and the Beyond
Examine religious and non-religious beliefs about death and the beyond. Across the world there are a multitude of different beliefs concerning death and the beyond. In Christianity there is the idea of rebirth into a soul body. Whilst in this soul body we are judged. This idea comes from the belief that all human beings are inherently sinful and therefore we must spend our lives trying to do Gods will and spread Christianity. All mankind falls short of the glory of God" We are judged upon all actions within our lives, and upon our beliefs, and if we are deemed worthy then we enter the kingdom of heaven, yet if we are deemed unworthy, then we are cast into the great river of burning sulphur, and into oblivion. There are multiple interpretations of what happens to those who are deemed unworthy. It is most commonly taught that eternal suffering and damnation is punishment for not believing in God, but many more modern christians believe that there is only heaven and nothingness.
You do not eternally suffer, but are punished with non-existence in any form. Islam and Judaism hold similar beliefs, although they do not believe that humans are inherently sinful, so they do not place such value in salvation or judgement, but still believe that in order to reach heaven, the blissful afterlife, you must believe in God, follow the scriptures and do good in the world. Another religious perspective concerning life after death is that of reincarnation. Hinduism and Buddhiusm both believe that reincarnation, 'transmigration of the soul' is what happens after we die.
Within Hinduism it is believed that our physical manifestations on earth are only a temporary state of a jiva (being) and that when we die we go to another world for a time to rest and recuperate before coming back to earth. In hinduism it is believed that at death there are two paths, the path of the sun, of the gods, and the path of the moon, of the ancestors. Those who tread the path of the sun never return, while those who tread the path of the moon return to be reborn again. To attain the path of the sun the soul is given numerous lives in which is overcome the inconsistensies and blemishes and become whole and pure.
It is said that even a yearning for being pure is something that obstructs us from the path of the sun. Buddhists have a slightly altered view of reincarnation, although still very similar. There is no concept of God within buddhism but, seemingly, in its place the concept of kamma. Throughout life we do good or we do bad and this gives us good or bad kamma. Buddhists believe that there is no permanent heaven or hell, there are temporary heavens and hells and when we die, depending on our kammic situation we go to a particular, and personal heaven or hell.
These temporary planes of existence are much like earth. On earth there are people who suffer much and enjoy little, there are people who experience much happiness and pleasure and suffer very little, and there are people who have reasonably equal amounts of both. That is how it will be for a limited time, before we are then given another body on earth. This repetitious process goes on endlessly unless one arrives at 'Right View' and makes a firm resolve to follow the Noble Path which produces the ultimate happiness of Nibbana.
Secular views concerning life after death are as widely various as religious. There are, ofcourse, athiests. Athiests believe that when you die, your brain activity ceases, and with that your conciousness ceases to exist, your body decomposes, and your remains continue the cycle of the natural world, with your body nourishing the environment around you and so on. They believe that this is all there is, when we die we are dead, and this often leads to athiests having a more "live life to the full" attitude, although this does not always lead athiests into moral living.
There are many non-religious people who believe in a spirit world. These beliefs follow no structured system and so are as varying and different and any mans ideas can be from the next mans. But generally it is held by many that after death your spirit enters the spirit world where it resides for the rest of eternity. Some people believe that the spirits of the dead can be contacted on earth, often by mediums and spiritualists. Another form of contact to the deceased is a ouija board. Some people believe that through the board questions can be put to dead spirits and answers can be given.
It is believed by some that the kind of spirits contacted during this ritual are harmless, that most deceased spirits that can be contacted are benign and usually have important information to share. Others believe that the only form of spirits that can be contacted are those on the lower astral planes, and these are the spirits who have passed away due to violent deaths or suicides. There are a few people in the world that believe they can achieve a physical and worldly life after death. This has led some people, only recently, to have themselves cryogenically frozen upon death, in the ope that one day mankind will have evolved the technology necessary to reanimate these frozen corpses and reenergize their brains so that they may live again. There are some people on earth that claim to have had near death experiences. Many religious and non-religious people claim to have these, religious people often connecting the bright light or cloudy vision witnessed as being whichever religion they have followed. For non-religious people this often leads them to a belief of a great white expanse or a ethereal place in which nothing but bliss is experienced.