Death. The passageway to Heaven or Hell. A rebirth back into the world. A jump to the stars. The eternal oblivion. The almighty void. What is it? Can anyone be certain they know for sure? While there are numerous theories on what happens when consciousness ceases, very little can be known for sure. We can understand what makes the planets spin and the atom stay together, but know very little about what happens after this life. Many Western views like to think that this life is a deciding factor for paradise or punishment, usually Heaven or Hell. Eastern views however, tend to think this life leads to a rebirth or reincarnation. Atheist-type views claim that nothing exists, an eternal oblivion. None of these beliefs are factually certain, however, and cannot possibly be proven as of yet. This leads many to fear death and for good reason: it is the fear of the unknown. To alleviate this fear, two things must be seriously considered about the departure of this life.
The first consideration helps those that believe in a divine force. “Has everything in this life been taken care of?” is a question that should often be pondered. It must be decided if life, from beginning to present, if an individual has lived to their fullest potential. Has the individual been morally just? It must be decided if an individual is moral. If so, then there is little fear, for many world views that judge afterlife on morality would lead to a pleasant afterlife. If the individual has not been moral, they must repent. This would also lead to the outcome of paradise. Therefore, individuals believing in a divine force and morality will have a good outcome and need not fear death.
Another major fear of the afterlife is that there is nothing. This view of death leads many to think that the afterlife is darkness: a vast void where one waits for an eternity, no sights, no smells, no thoughts, nothing, darkness. But what is nothing? A common misbelief is that nothing indicates darkness. A blind person cannot see and therefore has not the faintest idea of what light or dark really is. If dark is not perceived by a blind person, then it cannot possibly be perceived after death. During sleep, does a person perceive darkness? Well, no, during sleep a person perceives almost nothing. When a person sleeps, it is almost as they do not exist for a period of time. So one must seriously consider the notion of what it would be like to fall asleep and never wake up. Few are fearful of sleep and would even go as far as to consider it peaceful. Those believing in nothing after death may also find some comfort in the idea of sleep.
Pondering these two ideas, an individual may find acceptance in the idea of death. While it may still be hard to find comfort, acceptance is better than fear. When morality is questioned, an individual can be relieved to await a pleasurable afterlife: whether it be Heaven, a good rebirth, or salvation. If an individual can accept falling asleep and never waking up, they await a peaceful eternity. Reflecting upon these two key points, some of the widely accepted theories of death may be accepted. Of course, to understand what really happens after death, first the entire question of life must be understood. Because there is no accepted definition of what it means to be alive, it is extremely hard to understand what happens when there is no life.
Parts of this piece were inspired by Alan Watts. Please leave a comment on your thoughts! Also, if you found this helpful be sure to share it. Thanks for reading and have a great day!