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Author Topic: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?  (Read 2243 times)

Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah

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Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« on: February 14, 2014, 01:33:19 am »
Something that I am not used to when encountering many Pagans is the disassociation of divine punishment in regards to the afterlife. Dharmic metaphysical concepts like samsara(rebirth) are added into very odd folk traditions such as Nordic based mythology for example. Being a Muslim before becoming a pagan did not feel weird to me as scholarly examined research has provided that the historicity of an afterlife was common for pagans regardless the extent of it. Reincarnation in the general context it is used now is not though.
  I am not criticizing the believe on reincarnation but I am criticizing the dislike towards divine retribution. Perhaps my Islamic frame of mind is still present and this is debatable but I feel as if many modern pagans are reforming paganism into something it never was.
  I am not against reincarnation as I do believe you have the right to worship what you want and choose your own 'afterlife' but it should not become a social rule amongst the many that the few must live up to something without objective basis. If you are familiar with any mythology at all you should know that deities have no issues with retribution or divine punishment. Being a Semitic Pagan this is more applicable for me you could say.

So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.

I should mention that I truly believe that death is the end of limitations for consciousness so in this sense the continuation of consciousness you choose is entirely up to you as divinity and humanity is very much associated with a medium(the human mind) and a dual reflection of both states.

HarpingHawke

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 01:58:58 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793


So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.


 
I'm just gonna focus on what's quoted, if that's okay with you.

I try to apply myself to my deities' standards every day. Honestly, I don't always live up to them, and that's something I'm still learning how to do; as you probably know, it's something everyone is still learning how to do.
I believe I go to an afterlife where I can stay until I decide I can handle reincarnation. Or I get pushed--I really can't know for sure. The life I live next depends on how I live in this life, and that can be Divine punishment/reward enough! ;)
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 02:07:57 am »
Quote from: HarpingHawke;139796
I'm just gonna focus on what's quoted, if that's okay with you.

I try to apply myself to my deities' standards every day. Honestly, I don't always live up to them, and that's something I'm still learning how to do; as you probably know, it's something everyone is still learning how to do.
I believe I go to an afterlife where I can stay until I decide I can handle reincarnation. Or I get pushed--I really can't know for sure. The life I live next depends on how I live in this life, and that can be Divine punishment/reward enough! ;)

 
Fine with me :).

  I am not trying to pressure others and say they are lesser pagans because even I am theologically flexible. I just dislike the newer theistic movements which try to appear as "better" than the 2 primary Abrahamic religions we have today. Usually this includes getting rid of salvation, dogmatism, inclusiveness, violence, immorality, HELL or even heaven in favor of more "fluffy" things as I call it.
  Nothing is wrong with this intention but it should not make people fearful of having spiritual/religious exploration instead of choosing what is nice in hopes it makes you look superior. I just wish to see pagans or theists or any kind to not compromise on religious facts in favor of subjective interpretation(hate that word). People must remember that no dogma means no method of universal intellectual attack.

Ghostlight

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 05:58:50 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.

 
I find it interesting that you only focus on divine retribution and ignore divine reward, because people who reject the former usually also don’t believe in the later. At least not in the sense of divine justice as a sort of trial and sentencing. Yes, I don’t fear to be punished for my “evil” deeds, but I also don’t hope to be rewarded for my “good” deeds. I think this is a very important point, because too often these discussions make it all about peoples’ fears and completely ignore their hopes, thinking that people only reject the idea of divine retribution so they don’t have to be scared, and ignoring the fact that they also have no paradise or whatever to hope for.

We are sort of used to divine retribution being used as a threat to keep delinquents in check, but I think that’s too narrow minded. I believe that divine justice (which divine retribution is part of) is supposed to be comforting. We like to think that good people will lead good lives and bad people will lead bad lives. Unfortunately, reality is different. So we hope that there will be justice eventually, that the good will be rewarded and the bad will suffer appropriately. It’s a comforting thought.

But as comforting as it may be, I don’t believe in it anyway for various reasons. For a start, I don’t believe in a soul, at least not in a modern western sense. I don’t believe that when I die I’ll just step out of my body and still be the same full person that I am now. There is plenty of evidence that the way our body works is essential for what kind of person we are (e.g. people whose personality changed drastically after being struck by lightning or suffering brain injuries). So I find it unlikely that we can leave our body behind and still be the same. And while I’m open to the idea that part of me may live/move on in some way, I’m not sure to what extent this part even could be punished or rewarded.

Another reason is that I don’t think there is such a thing as objective, universal justice that applies to every creature in the universe equally. I do believe that there is a larger cosmic balance, but I don’t think it has much to do with the fate of individuals. Not to mention that “good” and “evil” are subjective terms that every culture, even every person, defines differently. People are often too quick to believe that their god(s) agree with their personal sense of morality and that their god(s) will dish out rewards and punishment based on what they personally perceive as “good” and “evil”.

And lastly, I’m not even sure about the nature of the divine and the gods and if they’re even interested in punishing individuals. Not to mention that the idea of divine retribution isn’t universal to all faiths and cultures or inherently linked to an afterlife. Take the Norse for instance. The only divine intervention after death seems to be that one half of fallen warriors go to Odin’s Valhalla and the other half gets to hang out with Freya. How exactly the rest spend the afterlife is uncertain. Sure, considering Norse warrior culture, there may be some degree of judgment involved here (in the sense of “good warrior” = “good person”, see my comment on different definitions of “good” and “evil” above), but apart from that the Norse really didn’t seem to expect to be formally judged by their gods after death. Certainly not in the way it happens in Abrahamic religions or, say, the Egyptian’s weighing of the heart. So while they believed in an afterlife, it doesn’t seem to be based on virtue or “punishing the wicked” or anything like that.

Phew! That turned out much longer than I intended. I guess my main point here is that what kind of afterlife (or lack thereof) people belief in is way more complicated than just fear of punishment. It really depends on their view of life, the universe and everything.

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 07:29:42 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793

So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation?


 
Reincarnation is an afterlife. This is one of my after lifes,  I have been to Hell, I have been declared dead (medicaly) more than once, spiritually dead, and there were times I was not here.

I believe all is a manifestation of that which created creation, and once created it can be changed, but not annihilated or uncreated, (to do that would uncreate everthing, which is not permitted at this time).

That which I call MY GOD, has told me what is desired of me.  The problem is what people think I should be doing to satisfiy their idea of their God(s) wants, and needs.  By all means they are free to follow what they believe, execept when it concerns me.
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RandallS

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 07:50:13 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.

Except for the exceptionally favored or disfavored by the Gods, the Hellenic afterlife is dull and sunless. Not something to look forward to, but not anything like the hell of Christianity.

As for letting a deity know I am completely under his/her whims, no thank you. I am a free moral agent and will not abandon that to anyone else -- deity or otherwise. Of course, I don't believe that deities are necessarily all-good and all-knowing, if I knew they were, I'd likely rethink this.
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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2014, 09:45:22 am »
Quote from: Ghostlight;139803
I find it interesting that you only focus on divine retribution and ignore divine reward, because people who reject the former usually also don’t believe in the later. At least not in the sense of divine justice as a sort of trial and sentencing. Yes, I don’t fear to be punished for my “evil” deeds, but I also don’t hope to be rewarded for my “good” deeds. I think this is a very important point...


I think this is a very important point, too.
 
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793

So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims..

 
My path emphasizes that we are on earth to learn to be human and everything that comes with our life we are currently living.  Therefore, I focus on this and not on punching a ticket into some happy afterlife or avoiding eternal damnation.  I don't know what happens after life.  I can't even begin to contemplate it, really.  I think about it sometimes, and was actually struggling with it yesterday in the context of so many different traditions have such a varied view on it and with my new path I am not as certain like I used to be.  But life is for living, and I choose to focus on this instead of what happens after.

Specific to punishment...I was formerly Christian, and even then I couldn't understand the concept of Hell.  Why would a god who is supposed to be loving willingly let a person's soul be tortured for eternity?  It made no sense to me, and I'm coming to understand the modern Christian concepts of Hell were not exactly the same afterlife concepts presented in the bible.

My ideals of independence are important to me.  I'm not completely under anyone's whims, deity or otherwise.  I respect them, I may choose one or more to worship, and if one or more calls me to do their work I will give them a serious listen.  But I'm not afraid of saying "no" if need be.

Jack

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2014, 11:19:37 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.

 
Aside from what's already been said about reincarnation including a kind of afterlife, there are belief systems in which reincarnation is predicated on meeting standards of morality and behavior - Hinduism and Buddhism come to mind. Lord Yama would probably be a bit put out if you suggested his afterlife didn't count because reincarnation was an option. ;) You're holding up a false dichotomy there.
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Megatherium

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 11:41:59 am »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail?


As a (sort of) Heathen, the idea of “divine retribution” is not something to be avoided, rejected or ignored. It is fundamentally incompatible with the basic worldview.

Firstly, Heathenry contains a strong focus on this life and meeting your obligations and responsibilities to those who have obligations and responsibilities towards you. Living to achieve a specific goal or state in the afterlife is simply not relevant.

Secondly, the role of deities is vastly different for Heathens than it is in Abrahmic religions. Deities are not considered to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnibenevolent, or even necessarily that concerned with human affairs. “Divine retribution” for poor moral conduct would be a rather strange idea, divine retribution for “incorrect theological beliefs” would be incomprehensible.

Thirdly, I think I would be reasonably accurate to say that ancestors rather than Gods are the beings that are most important in your life/afterlife. Rather than “divine retribution”, one would be seeking to avoid living a life that would leave behind a reputation for dishonesty, cowardice, sloth, etc.


Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
...but I feel as if many modern pagans are reforming paganism into something it never was.


To add the idea of “divine retribution” to Heathenry would actually be the exact process of “reforming it into something it never was”, specifically by grafting on Abrahmic ideas of punishment.
 

Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.


Your path is far more deity-centric than mine. My obligations are to my family and ancestors. If a Gods “whims” required me to violate those obligations than that would be the end of my relationship with that particular deity.
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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2014, 01:02:54 pm »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
I am not criticizing the believe on reincarnation but I am criticizing the dislike towards divine retribution.


I don't have any particular interest in incorporating something like divine retribution into my religious beliefs; it's not a form of borrowing from Christianity I'm particularly interested in.

Quote
If you are familiar with any mythology at all you should know that deities have no issues with retribution or divine punishment.


Some do, some don't.

Quote
So why do some of you reject the afterlife in favor of annihilation or reincarnation? Are you afraid that if you applied yourself to a deities' standards you would fail? I myself have no issues letting a deity know that I am completely under his/her whims.


I think that moral behaviour which is motivated by getting a cookie when dead is spiritually void, and that focusing on an afterlife is a failure of basic responsibility that I have as a consequence of being an embodied entity.

In short, I do not "reject" an afterlife, but I do think that overinvesting in it - including by being more concerned with divine reward or retribution than the work of the embodied world - is something of a character weakness.
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Freesia

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 02:23:51 pm »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139793
Something that I am not used to when encountering many Pagans is the disassociation of divine punishment in regards to the afterlife.


 
Not all of us were brought up within a religion that we dropped in favor of Paganism. I was brought up as an atheist and I am still without a personal deity or pantheon. I do not deny the existence of deity, I haven't felt the need to seek out any in particular. However, as a young child I knew that I lived before in previous bodies. I believed in reincarnation before I was aware of the theological concept. I have had numerous encounters with spirits, ghosts, and entities entailing my belief that there is more to afterlife then "next body."

Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2014, 03:55:20 pm »
Quote from: Ghostlight;139803
I find it interesting that you only focus on divine retribution and ignore divine reward, because people who reject the former usually also don’t believe in the later. At least not in the sense of divine justice as a sort of trial and sentencing. Yes, I don’t fear to be punished for my “evil” deeds, but I also don’t hope to be rewarded for my “good” deeds. I think this is a very important point, because too often these discussions make it all about peoples’ fears and completely ignore their hopes, thinking that people only reject the idea of divine retribution so they don’t have to be scared, and ignoring the fact that they also have no paradise or whatever to hope for.

We are sort of used to divine retribution being used as a threat to keep delinquents in check, but I think that’s too narrow minded. I believe that divine justice (which divine retribution is part of) is supposed to be comforting. We like to think that good people will lead good lives and bad people will lead bad lives. Unfortunately, reality is different. So we hope that there will be justice eventually, that the good will be rewarded and the bad will suffer appropriately. It’s a comforting thought.

But as comforting as it may be, I don’t believe in it anyway for various reasons. For a start, I don’t believe in a soul, at least not in a modern western sense. I don’t believe that when I die I’ll just step out of my body and still be the same full person that I am now. There is plenty of evidence that the way our body works is essential for what kind of person we are (e.g. people whose personality changed drastically after being struck by lightning or suffering brain injuries). So I find it unlikely that we can leave our body behind and still be the same. And while I’m open to the idea that part of me may live/move on in some way, I’m not sure to what extent this part even could be punished or rewarded.

Another reason is that I don’t think there is such a thing as objective, universal justice that applies to every creature in the universe equally. I do believe that there is a larger cosmic balance, but I don’t think it has much to do with the fate of individuals. Not to mention that “good” and “evil” are subjective terms that every culture, even every person, defines differently. People are often too quick to believe that their god(s) agree with their personal sense of morality and that their god(s) will dish out rewards and punishment based on what they personally perceive as “good” and “evil”.

And lastly, I’m not even sure about the nature of the divine and the gods and if they’re even interested in punishing individuals. Not to mention that the idea of divine retribution isn’t universal to all faiths and cultures or inherently linked to an afterlife. Take the Norse for instance. The only divine intervention after death seems to be that one half of fallen warriors go to Odin’s Valhalla and the other half gets to hang out with Freya. How exactly the rest spend the afterlife is uncertain. Sure, considering Norse warrior culture, there may be some degree of judgment involved here (in the sense of “good warrior” = “good person”, see my comment on different definitions of “good” and “evil” above), but apart from that the Norse really didn’t seem to expect to be formally judged by their gods after death. Certainly not in the way it happens in Abrahamic religions or, say, the Egyptian’s weighing of the heart. So while they believed in an afterlife, it doesn’t seem to be based on virtue or “punishing the wicked” or anything like that.

Phew! That turned out much longer than I intended. I guess my main point here is that what kind of afterlife (or lack thereof) people belief in is way more complicated than just fear of punishment. It really depends on their view of life, the universe and everything.

 
I never said I deny divine reward, it is not my topic though as I have met no person who is a theist and denies divine reward

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2014, 04:18:50 pm »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139850
I never said I deny divine reward, it is not my topic though as I have met no person who is a theist and denies divine reward

 
I find that whenever statements like that are made, someone comes along to prove them wrong almost immediately.
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Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2014, 04:57:55 pm »
Quote from: Jack;139815
Aside from what's already been said about reincarnation including a kind of afterlife, there are belief systems in which reincarnation is predicated on meeting standards of morality and behavior - Hinduism and Buddhism come to mind. Lord Yama would probably be a bit put out if you suggested his afterlife didn't count because reincarnation was an option. ;) You're holding up a false dichotomy there.

 
I am not creating a false dichotomy here, you are. You are assuming I deny reincarnation when I said that every sort of afterlife is plausible. I am only interested in why so many pagans choose reincarnation over the more typicall received afterlife supported by the origin of the pagan practice.
I am fairly certain that Nordics, Sumerians, nor Greeks(mostly) associated the concept of reincarnation as an afterlife nor did many know of it.

Maybe I am just being a purist and going under the assumption that if you pick something you should stick with it in its' purest form. I am not a great eclectic :ashamed: I admit

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Re: Divine Punishment in the afterlife?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2014, 05:05:11 pm »
Quote from: Shaykh Sha'ir Abdullah;139860
I am not creating a false dichotomy here, you are. You are assuming I deny reincarnation when I said that every sort of afterlife is plausible. I am only interested in why so many pagans choose reincarnation over the more typicall received afterlife supported by the origin of the pagan practice.
I am fairly certain that Nordics, Sumerians, nor Greeks(mostly) associated the concept of reincarnation as an afterlife nor did many know of it.

Maybe I am just being a purist and going under the assumption that if you pick something you should stick with it in its' purest form. I am not a great eclectic :ashamed: I admit

 
You say choose, like people were formally presented with a set of options. I would say that people do not 'choose' their afterlife in any explicit sense. Knowledge and justification for the afterlife/reincarnation flow on from the general philosophy of the religion and it's practices. In this way, the afterlife is essentially the logical conclusion of a religions principles. It is not something that is chosen per se.

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