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Author Topic: Thoughts on what happens when we die  (Read 2220 times)

Ghost235

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Thoughts on what happens when we die
« on: October 28, 2015, 09:42:14 am »
I'm writing this in Cauldron and in particular in this section because I don't have anywhere else to put it.  If it needs to be moved or out and out deleted, I would ask the moderators to send me a note saying that it was removed so I know not to look for it.  I apologize if this is inappropriate.

Ever since I turned around 35 or so(I'm 39 now) a good chunk of my mind has started drifting to a problem and the problem is this.  I've always thought about it but it went from a "splinter in my mind" to "a fist sized rock in my mind"

There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die.  The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*).  The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

For example,

1.    If you believe that the ancient Egyptians had it right then you should spend your time being ethical by their perspective as well as memorizing a lot of formulas and spending a lot of money on grave goods.
2.   If you believe that the Muslims are correct then you better get right with Allah and be a good Muslim.
3.   If you believe that the Baptists are right you better get right with Jesus and be a good Baptist.
4.   If you believe the atheists are right then you better utilize every second of this life and not do anything else because this is all you have.

Notice that for all of those the consequences of those beliefs to this life conflict with each other.  If you spend your time getting ready for Egyptian judgement then you will be a bad Muslim and Christian.  If you are a good Muslim then you aren’t spending time memorizing spells and getting ushabi made.  Because of this you can’t really “cover all of your bases”.

I have some speculations in regards to this, ideas about how not being grounded in a land of form can allow cultural variability to run wild, but no answers.  Any choice I make is an incredibly serious gamble with eternal consequences.
No pressure, right?
I don’t know if there is a question or an answer to the reader here.  I can say that from my understanding that a “midlife crisis” in some cases is trying to paper over or ignore this very thing.  Also, from my understanding it is temporary.  Statistically as people get older this becomes less and less of a worry.

Well, at least I'm not buying a Porsche and chasing 20 year old girls.

*For those that are curious, it is the Jack T. Chick version of Christianity.  Long story short, if God is omnibenevolent then he/she would make it crystal clear what is needed to get salvation and it would be beyond doubt what needed to be done in order to not suffer eternally.  It doesn't even begin to make sense, even a little bit.

RandallS

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 10:01:35 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601
Notice that for all of those the consequences of those beliefs to this life conflict with each other.  If you spend your time getting ready for Egyptian judgement then you will be a bad Muslim and Christian.  If you are a good Muslim then you aren’t spending time memorizing spells and getting ushabi made.  Because of this you can’t really “cover all of your bases”.

I have some speculations in regards to this, ideas about how not being grounded in a land of form can allow cultural variability to run wild, but no answers.  Any choice I make is an incredibly serious gamble with eternal consequences.

I follow the ways of the deities I follow with regard to the afterlife as that's all I can do. There are hundreds or thousands of different requirements for a good afterlife among the religions and cultures of the the world and as you note, most are incompatible. Also, I try to simply live the best life I can (as if the atheists were  correct) under the theory that trying to be a decent person is going to count with most deities.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 10:01:55 am by RandallS »
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Jainarayan

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 10:10:20 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601

There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die.  The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*).  The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

For example,

1.    If you believe that the ancient Egyptians had it right then you should spend your time being ethical by their perspective as well as memorizing a lot of formulas and spending a lot of money on grave goods.
2.   If you believe that the Muslims are correct then you better get right with Allah and be a good Muslim.
3.   If you believe that the Baptists are right you better get right with Jesus and be a good Baptist.
4.   If you believe the atheists are right then you better utilize every second of this life and not do anything else because this is all you have.


 
Something I picked up from someone elsewhere is that there are a multitude of Otherworlds ruled (for lack of a better word; maybe "managed") by different god/desses. If one is a follower of that particular god/dess or path, her (the other person) contention is that we go to the realm of the path and/or god/dess we follow.

For example, I am not Hindu (anymore), so the Hindu god Yamarāja would have no interest in me. Other Hindus believe they can go to the loka (world, realm) of the god they are devoted to: Vaikuntha for Vishnu, or Goloka for Vishnu in his form as Krishna. This is barring the cycle of reincarnation before making it to the god's realm.

Being Ásatrúar I would most likely be called by Hela, as average people usually are. Hel (the realm) is not like the Christian Hell; it's more like everyday life, being reunited with friends and relatives, not a bad place at all. ;) Hopefully, however, I'd be called by Thórr to go to his hall Bilskirnir (eating, drinking, friendly brawls: a good ol' boy place :)), but believing that is usually considered Special Snowflake Syndrome. Incidentally, reincarnation is not rejected by Germanic Heathenry.

There is a lot of UPG in this, and maybe even MUS, but I think it makes sense and is a nice way of reconciling the different beliefs in the afterlife.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Ghost235

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 10:46:41 am »
Quote from: Thorbjorn;181605
Something I picked up from someone elsewhere is that there are a multitude of Otherworlds ruled (for lack of a better word; maybe "managed") by different god/desses. If one is a follower of that particular god/dess or path, her (the other person) contention is that we go to the realm of the path and/or god/dess we follow.

For example, I am not Hindu (anymore), so the Hindu god Yamarāja would have no interest in me. Other Hindus believe they can go to the loka (world, realm) of the god they are devoted to: Vaikuntha for Vishnu, or Goloka for Vishnu in his form as Krishna. This is barring the cycle of reincarnation before making it to the god's realm.

Being Ásatrúar I would most likely be called by Hela, as average people usually are. Hel (the realm) is not like the Christian Hell; it's more like everyday life, being reunited with friends and relatives, not a bad place at all. ;) Hopefully, however, I'd be called by Thórr to go to his hall Bilskirnir (eating, drinking, friendly brawls: a good ol' boy place :)), but believing that is usually considered Special Snowflake Syndrome. Incidentally, reincarnation is not rejected by Germanic Heathenry.

There is a lot of UPG in this, and maybe even MUS, but I think it makes sense and is a nice way of reconciling the different beliefs in the afterlife.


Last thing first.  I am the dead last person to look squint eyed at UPG or MUS.  I mean, I see Freyja as someone who helps me maintain a monogamous commitment and that is just the tip of the UPG iceberg for me.  I have very little room to stand there.

Reincarnation actually brings up an unrelated point that I'll be posting about separately.  Thanks for reminding me.
 
In regards to your afterlife theory, it is pretty interesting.  Right now my theory is similar, actually.

I think that the way we perceive things as living beings is that we have a union of subject and object.  As it stands now the "object" is pretty solid and there are some things that can be said about it.  Everyone may have an opinion about it and experience it very differently but an orange is still an orange.  

I think when we die we are unmoored from that solidity.  The best example I can think of is dreaming.  I think that we go through experiences depending on our cultural imprints and where we "end up" depends on those cultural imprints.  Because we are dealing with highly mutable experiences that are unmoored from physical reality there is no "what really happens" in any practical sense.

Jainarayan

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 11:17:13 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181607
Last thing first.  I am the dead last person to look squint eyed at UPG or MUS.  I mean, I see Freyja as someone who helps me maintain a monogamous commitment and that is just the tip of the UPG iceberg for me.  I have very little room to stand there.

 
Don't misunderstand, I put a lot of stock into UPG. There are so many holes in our practice and lore from the 1,000 year break, it's hard to discount UPG. I have begun to use the disclaimer of UPG because there are areas of the interwebz (reddit and FB) where weenie-slappings are the norm for anything vaguely resembling UPG and not acknowledged as such. My tongue still has the marks on it from being pulled out and stomped on with cleats for some things I've posted. :rolleye::
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Sarah

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 11:18:29 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601


There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die.  The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*).  The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.


 
How I live my life has no bearing at all on what happens after death. I'm not trying to be a good person so I go to somewhere nice when I die. I'm trying to be a good person because that makes life better for everyone. When I was a Christian the fear of not being good enough for heaven paralysed me and actually stopped me fulfilling my potential.
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Darkhawk

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2015, 11:29:37 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601
The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

 
There is no reason to believe there is one which is "objectively true" in the first place, so I don't really find questing for it all that helpful.  There's no way of judging whether any of the stories are "true", and therefore it's entirely plausible to start from an assumption that they're all wrong, and I will find out - or not, depending - when it becomes relevant.

Basically, worrying about it strikes me as Pascal's Wager writ large, only you have to pick which system you're betting on as if it matters, which seems largely unlikely.

But consider:  suppose, for the sake of argumentation, there is a universal afterlife of some sort, and it takes the form of some sort of direct communion with the Source, if there is a Source.  (Just for the sake of argument.)  It is entirely plausible that all of the resulting stories can be related to this posited "fact on the ground": communion with the Source will be pleasant for those people whose behaviour is in accord, more or less, with the Source's preferences, and extremely unpleasant for those whose behaviour was not, and probably kind of blah for a bunch of people who were either middling or who are not down with communes.

I wouldn't expect people describing that sort of thing to all come up with the same terminology and imagery for it any more than I would expect that someone could write the One True Poem About Love and have everyone say "That's totally what that's like!" and nobody would ever write love poems again.

That doesn't solve the problem, though; that just bumps it back to "If there is a Source, what does it want?"
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Lana288

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2015, 11:47:03 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601
...Because of this you can’t really “cover all of your bases”.


Well, I personally think that there are either multiple afterlives, or only one afterlife that no one's gotten right yet- or there's none. In any case, as you said, you can't cover all your bases no matter how you go about it, so I just assume that if there's a god out there (beyond the ones that I know) it's a fair deity. So, y'know... I sort-of try to live my life well.
 
Quote from: Thorbjorn;181605
Something I picked up from someone elsewhere is that there are a multitude of Otherworlds ruled (for lack of a better word; maybe "managed") by different god/desses. If one is a follower of that particular god/dess or path, her (the other person) contention is that we go to the realm of the path and/or god/dess we follow.

 
I've subscribed to this theory a lot, honestly. I half-believe that when I die, Saule'll be the one to pick me up. Which may be a bit Special Snowflake of me (I have a terrible ego), but I find it hard to believe that she'd forget me. Or maybe I just really hope she won't forget me.

(You know, I just realized how often I talk about her- it seems like in every post- and I'm a little aghast. One track mind much?)

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 06:53:32 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601

There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die.  The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*).  The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

I believe I will never truly know the answer to this until I die.  So I just try to be a good person and enjoy my present life as much as possible.  I do try to tell my spirit that if I am to die, to remain calm.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 06:55:12 pm by LunaStar »

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2015, 04:14:47 am »
Quote from: Jake_;181611
I'm trying to be a good person because that makes life better for everyone.

 
This, right here, is all that's important.  

Last night my sister & I stood silent vigil while our mother passed beyond the veil.  Easily the hardest thing I've ever done.  Maybe it's just my darkened mood, but right now I fear there's just a big ol black nothing on the other side.  That there's no there there.  

Which imho makes Jake's point all the more salient.  Do good, not because you can, but because you should.  Life is just too unpredictable to do otherwise.  In that sense, the concept of afterlife (or even of eternal reward) is pretty damned irrelevant, because we won't be sure til we see it.  If we see it.
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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2015, 10:42:43 am »
Quote from: MadZealot;181639
Last night my sister & I stood silent vigil while our mother passed beyond the veil.  Easily the hardest thing I've ever done.  Maybe it's just my darkened mood, but right now I fear there's just a big ol black nothing on the other side.  That there's no there there.

 
May you be comforted, MadZ.

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2015, 03:41:29 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;181639
Last night my sister & I stood silent vigil while our mother passed beyond the veil.  Easily the hardest thing I've ever done.

 
Seconding what Kiya said.

(((MadZ)))

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2015, 08:41:42 am »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601
I'm writing this in Cauldron and in particular in this section because I don't have anywhere else to put it.  If it needs to be moved or out and out deleted, I would ask the moderators to send me a note saying that it was removed so I know not to look for it.  I apologize if this is inappropriate.

Ever since I turned around 35 or so(I'm 39 now) a good chunk of my mind has started drifting to a problem and the problem is this.  I've always thought about it but it went from a "splinter in my mind" to "a fist sized rock in my mind"

There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die.  The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*).  The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

For example,

1.    If you believe that the ancient Egyptians had it right then you should spend your time being ethical by their perspective as well as memorizing a lot of formulas and spending a lot of money on grave goods.
2.   If you believe that the Muslims are correct then you better get right with Allah and be a good Muslim.
3.   If you believe that the Baptists are right you better get right with Jesus and be a good Baptist.
4.   If you believe the atheists are right then you better utilize every second of this life and not do anything else because this is all you have.

Notice that for all of those the consequences of those beliefs to this life conflict with each other.  If you spend your time getting ready for Egyptian judgement then you will be a bad Muslim and Christian.  If you are a good Muslim then you aren’t spending time memorizing spells and getting ushabi made.  Because of this you can’t really “cover all of your bases”.

I have some speculations in regards to this, ideas about how not being grounded in a land of form can allow cultural variability to run wild, but no answers.  Any choice I make is an incredibly serious gamble with eternal consequences.
No pressure, right?
I don’t know if there is a question or an answer to the reader here.  I can say that from my understanding that a “midlife crisis” in some cases is trying to paper over or ignore this very thing.  Also, from my understanding it is temporary.  Statistically as people get older this becomes less and less of a worry.

Well, at least I'm not buying a Porsche and chasing 20 year old girls.

*For those that are curious, it is the Jack T. Chick version of Christianity.  Long story short, if God is omnibenevolent then he/she would make it crystal clear what is needed to get salvation and it would be beyond doubt what needed to be done in order to not suffer eternally.  It doesn't even begin to make sense, even a little bit.


I believe that I reunited with my family and my ancestors in the summerlands when I die. I don't know if being good will automatically make this scenario happen, but I know from my own personal experiences that there is life after death. I tend to be a good person (or as good as I can be) because of my own morality. I know that what I do effects not only myself, but the world around me.

I also believe heavily in Kharma or the rule of three (again I have seen this in action through out my life) so that is more motivation on my part to be a good person.

Materialist

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Re: Thoughts on what happens when we die
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2015, 04:24:56 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;181601
The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.


Perhaps objectivity is not so hard to find if we know what angle to use. Chicagoland is filled with ghosts; most are the result of murder. Another common folkloric motif is that ghosts are evil, whose purpose is to make life miserable. It is easy to interpret these beliefs as the after effects of one's life on society.

The grief felt by surviving family; the aching hole of never knowing what's happened to someone who's been kidnapped; and ingrained, subconscious, hereditary discrimination-like how school disciplinary measures are used to criminalize African-American children from the earliest of ages.

What happens after you die is known by those still living: every ill and kind word and deed will ripple through all those you've met, and those they will meet in turn. Perhaps it will only affect one family, or perhaps it will become the behavioral trait of an entire nation. Ensuring a good afterlife can thus be seen as really ensuring a good after-your-life for everyone else by living in a way that uplifts, not diminishes, the rest of humanity.

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