- Definition: The life that comes after this one. Or does it? (Or doesn’t it?). The purpose of our existence, probably. Or is it? (Or isn’t it?).
“He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realised there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped there wasn’t an afterlife”
– Douglas Adams –
When I was a child I believed in heaven. What do you expect: I was raised a catholic. But my version of heaven wasn’t standard (is anything I do or think ever standard?). I fully, wholly, completely believed that in heaven we’d have to get up in the morning, go out and… cut trees. All day long. And then we’d go back to bed to find the same trees grown back the next day.
Come to think of it, it sounds more like hell…
I honestly don’t know where this idea came from, but when I think back to it the image is still the same as it was when I was in my kiddy shoes, so… It’s quite strong.
Recently I had a chat with somebody about the potential existence of an afterlife. My conclusion was there has to be something after death, why else would we be alive? If there would be no hereafter to recover from our lives and take notice of mistakes made, then we might as well all jump into the ocean right now and drown ourselves; our lives would be pretty worthless if there’s no higher meaning behind them.
My discussion partner simply shrugged and stated: “There’s nothing. We live, we die. We are part of evolution and that’s it.”
We then progressed by discussing the karma system. Now, I have followers from India and around and I reckon you know all about this topic, so please correct me if I am wrong.
My friend’s nephew, who’s travelling through buddhist Myanmar and befriended a monk, explained how we all get a life. The better we live it, the better karma we build, and after we die we eventually reincarnate. Depending on our good or bad karma we receive a new life that’s either better or worse than the one we had before. Once we’ve managed to live through all lives, building good karma as we go, we’ll reach nirvana and won’t have to come back any more.
My mother always told me a similar thing: we go through life to learn something, something big. We have to experience it all, and every side of life (meaning you’ll probably once be a murderer and once be a victim of a crime, or a warlord and a war victim. You get where I’m going here). From each life we gain knowledge and after we die we get prepared for the next adventure.
However, once you’ve been through it all, you get to stay in… Well, my mum and I call it heaven.
Personally, I think we’re also given tasks when we get to heaven. Maybe we have to look over a living loved one or make sure “new arrivals” are shown around, I don’t know. But I don’t think we get to rest on our laurels, that’s for sure.
I’ve been wondering about this afterlife-dilemma all week. But come to think of it now, there’s not a clear answer to it and there never will be. At least not for the living.
And why should I focus so much on what might or might not be, when there is so much around me that IS. So let’s all focus on our lives, on living them to the fullest, on helping those who can’t, for whatever reason. And let’s all just hope for an afterlife.
But if heaven exists, please let it be one where we won’t have to cut trees all day!