So, what did you learn down there?
“So, what did you learn down there?”
Sipping some very exquisite whiskey in a comfortable chair, I make no verbal reply.
“Ah, from your facial expression, it appears that you did not like what you learned on Earth.”
“Tell you what, one thing I learned that will not be forgotten is simply this: I do not wish to return to that world, or for that matter, any world similar to it.”
“Well, we need not discuss that now. You are here to enjoy your accumulated merits for as long as they last prior to taking on your next, shall we say, task or assignment.” My host smiles with those last few words.
“Then, kindly tell me more about this place, please.” I respond.
“Certainly. But, please remember to reflect on your experiences from your time on Earth. At intervals here, we review our guests’ lives and help them to gain insights from their actions and experiences on Earth in preparation for moving on.
“You are here in what might be termed by people on Earth as the Astral plane. It is not the ultimate objective. It is not “heaven”. As I said, enjoy your stay here and reflect on your life. This really is the place for introspection. One might think of it more as a retreat center than as an amusement park for adults.”
“None of the guests then are to be absorbed into the absolute good, the ultimate consciousness any time soon. All right. You’ve got my attention. This sure is good whiskey. Better than anything on Earth.”
“Everything here is of a finer quality, you might say, as we are on a different vibration, a finer frequency than the Earth plane is.
“You will have plenty of space while you are here, and you will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the other guests as that may be helpful to them and to you. We have much open or park like areas. There are also many places where guests can meet and talk and do other things. Much like on Earth, humans enjoy social interaction, and that takes place here often enough.
“We have a few libraries. And there are some masterpieces of science fiction not known on Earth.”
“Who wrote these works not known on Earth?”
“Various guests during their stay here.”
“I see. Yes, checking out the libraries will be of great interest for me.”
My host smiled. “Come. Let me show you the central map of this place and you can become familiar with it. You will see that there are many interesting and enjoyable attractions.”
Leaving the lounge, we go into a large area similar to an indoor shopping mall on Earth. Some fifty yards farther on we come to a large sundial looking object made of beautiful marble. On the horizontal surface, there is a color map indicating libraries, gardens, park or “nature” areas, swimming pools, eating/dining areas, residential quarters, etc. All very logical, all very earth like to serve the needs of individuals from Earth.
My host tells me: “If you require more information about an area, just pass your hand over it on the map and a recording will play telling you about it.”
My host begins to move away so as to leave me on my own recognizance.
“Wait, I see the dining areas indicated. I’ve even sampled your fine whiskey. Is it really necessary that we eat and drink here? I mean on this plane?”
He grins. “No, it is not actually necessary. But many guests are uncomfortable with the idea that they do not have to eat and drink while here. So, we let them engage in familiar and routine activities for them. As you know, humans have always been more sociable with each other when there is good food and drink at hand.”
“How will I find you?” I ask.
“Do not worry. When you need me, I or another will find you.” With that, my host, smiled serenely and left me.
The map captivated my attention for some time. Making use of the recordings for many of the areas, I became familiar with this place that was to be home for an indeterminate time. To accompany the voice describing each area, a video would play on the marble sundial’s surface temporarily overlaying the map.
The video on the swimming pools showed only young and healthy and happy women and men swimming and playing in the water, or eating and drinking and talking on the nearby lawn. (What sounded to be a young woman’s voice, invited the listener to join the fun and meet and interact with one’s fellow guests.) Curiously, the styles of swimwear were very similar to those on Earth when I left it, and revealed bodies in perfect form. There seemed to be no old age here, no disease, no deformity nor infirmity. As near as I could remember, my “death” had occurred in my sixties. Yet, glancing at my hands and arms, these were as I remembered them in my 20s! No wrinkles, no age spots, no gray hairs. The musculature was that of a young man, not an old one. As well, later in life surgical scars were not to be found. Amazing.
Abruptly and quite unexpectedly I laughed out loud for some time. I laughed until my sides actually began to hurt even in this world. No one was nearby to hear, but I would not have cared anyway.
2 sudden realizations hit me and the only possible response was to laugh joyously w/o inhibitions!
First, this may not be “heaven” but it clearly was one helluva an improvement over that miserable Earth. Big time improvement! A person could get used to happiness and the lack of sorrow. How refreshing to be accepted, if not loved, by others! No hate, no conflict, no trying to one up (or screw) each other over some petty goal or meaningless objective.
The other realization was that this male – female attraction thing is likely a universal “law” or something, as immutable as the law of gravity is when matter (mass) is present. That made me laugh as I thought of the clerics back on Earth that gave evidence of such animosity to heterosexual love not realizing it was not merely “carnal”, but was also emotional and psychological and reflected the complementarity of women and men (as God had designed us). Likely, clerics did not stop at this place after their time on Earth. Perhaps, they went on to “loftier” levels.
He had mentioned libraries and masterpieces of science fiction written here by gifted writers.
What other works might be there? Perhaps, works of profound truth and wisdom, not merely good fictional stories? I started in the direction of the nearest library, and made a mental note of where the swimming pools were located. At the proper time, seeing other “guests” in a relaxed and very casual setting would no doubt be welcome refreshment. And, perhaps they have exquisite pizza to enjoy.
. . . . end of essay . . . . . but see essay appendix for important related concepts . . . .
There appear to be five main ideas about what happens at death, or as some call it “transition”. (If you, dear readers, know of any others, please leave a comment and tell us about it.) These can be (briefly?) listed here and do not warrant a separate essay of their own. We will be moving on to other topics in the days ahead.
1. Physical bodily death results in the permanent cessation of consciousness. Death is the end. (Of course, we have already butted heads with atheists and reductionists and materialists in past essays on this one.)
2. Consciousness survives death, and one of four scenarios plays out.
2.a.1 One’s soul is immediately judged and one immediately goes to heaven (for all eternity), or to hell (for all eternity), or to a place of purgation to pay for sins that did not warrant eternal hell fire, often called Purgatory (for a limited time, upon release one goes to heaven for all eternity). As many Protestants reject the concept of Purgatory, we will say that this is the Christian view that not all Christians wholly subscribe to. Protestants are only one of the three main branches of Christianity – the other 2 are Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Churches (mainly Greek and Russian, but there are others mainly in Eastern Europe).
2.a.2 Bear with me here as I am not as familiar with this next scenario, but will try my best to represent it accurately. Some Christians believe that the Last Judgement at the end of the world is the only one that takes place. All souls are judged at this final judgement. Those who die prior to such final judgement are not conscious again until their graves are opened at the final judgement. This would mean that when you die, you lose consciousness until some future time when you will regain your consciousness (and your personal sense of identity and being conscious again) just in time for judgement with permanent destinations assigned appropriately. (In Catholicism, the Final Judgement judges those alive at the time of the world’s end, and basically confirms all previous individual judgements. Those souls still in Purgatory at the Last Judgement would be brought into heaven at that time.)
2.b.1 The first of 2 possible reincarnation scenarios. In India, with its ancient and profound Vedic Scriptures, many believe in a process of refinement or purification (or purgation of one’s spiritual and character defects and flaws). This is not done in a particular place, rather it is done over the course of many lifetimes. (The prospect of returning to this Earth for additional tours of duty is a sobering thought, is it not?) In this first reincarnation scheme, one’s soul returns to a body very quickly after death. There is no time spent on a different level or plane to review and scrutinize one’s experiences from the life just ended. Many people who believe in reincarnation subscribe to this view.
2.b.2 The second reincarnation scenario does allow for what we described in the main essay above, namely, a time for reflection upon, and integration of, one’s experiences in the life just ended so as to gain as much improvement in one’s spiritual character and level of consciousness as possible. This approach would seem to help one to make more rapid progress to the ultimate goal of final liberation from the birth-death-rebirth cycle. Then one would be outside the material universe and a permanent, eternal resident of the spiritual universe where there is no more “death”.
Many modern day “psychics” and others (many associated with so-called New Age beliefs) adhere to this last scenario or possibility. However, the last book that I read by Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) also seemed to take this up in one chapter and described a process where there is not immediate reincarnation based on the immediate execution of the law of karma. (The Psychic Being – Soul: Its Nature, Mission and Evolution (1989 India, 1990 USA, a posthumous collection of his writings, very challenging reading.) It would seem to help an individual if there is time for such reflection and integration. (The old paperbacks put out by Corgi Books and written by the Tibetan Lobsang Rampa in the 1950s and the 1960s adhere to this view of time between incarnations.) I should point out that some who believe in reincarnation also believe that after each life the individual goes either to a place of reward or a place of punishment for a time until their merits (from the life just ended) have been used up, or their sins atoned for and then they return to earth.
As to possible reincarnation in Christianity, the Second Council of Constantinople in 562 AD (late in Justinian’s reign) put an end to that. Origen, a third century Christian, had asserted the “pre-existence” of souls prior to their life on Earth. This council condemned that assertion. (Do not have a link handy, but if you do a search engine query on this, you can find one or more articles on this issue.)
After publishing, came across this essay by another WordPress blogger.
(end of appendix)
For me, the really important thing is spiritual evolution. That is what we should be striving for. Yes, I believe consciousness survives so-called death. And, if you hurt others or sin in other ways, you will have to pay a price for that at some point. But, this essay and its appendix are mainly presented to stimulate thinking. Hopefully, it was not too tedious to read through.
On a more earthly note for US readers, how about those Baltimore Ravens?! What an exciting NFL playoff game yesterday in (chilly) Denver. One team had to lose though. Both teams played hard, but the Ravens made more key plays. Having lived for several years in the state of Maryland (1970s), I still cheer for the Baltimore teams.
Thanks for reading!