if we could pierce the veil

They say that “ignorance breeds fear”.  That is certainly true regarding bodily death.  Note that I did not say end of being, yet many persons equate bodily death with end of being or a permanent dissolution or cessation of individual consciousness.

What if we could pierce the veil that separates us from the after death state?  What if we, the living, could truly know what lies beyond and outside of this life?

Our feature image might be interpreted as atomized souls in the darkness of ignorance.




If there were a way for people to know, truly know such that belief could become actual knowledge (if this were possible), would such knowledge once obtained serve to motivate us to change?  Possessing certitude about what lies beyond the veil, would we order our lives to the good?  Would we strive to live more loving, constructive lives?  But, alas, we know that living constructively and lovingly is quite challenging with so much conflict with other humans each and every day.

How will you choose to live the rest of your days not knowing what lies beyond the grave or the urn?

A discussion of the experiences of mystics and saints and other seekers throughout the ages and near death experiences (NDEs) is beyond the scope of this essay.  The materialist, the physical science minded person will likely assert that these experiences can always be explained by changes in bio-chemistry within the protoplasmic brain from various physical causes.

other related thoughts

Let us briefly consider 4 possible or postulated fates for the human soul post death.

seamless continuation of consciousness after the body, the shell, has been sloughed off  Many people believe in this postulated state, and not all are necessarily religious.  Many “New Age” enthusiasts believe in variants of this idea.  One may be in an intermediate state awaiting reincarnation and still retain one’s personal memories of the earthly life recently finished.  This “in between” time is used for more fully integrating the lessons learned through earthly experiences.  For some Hindus, the soul goes on from this world to either enjoy the fruits or blessings of his/her good deeds in a heavenly realm, or to suffer the pains warranted for his/her evil actions in a hellish world.  Once the karma, good or bad, is expiated or used up, the soul is then reincarnated into a new earthly life.  The individual soul is fully conscious during this time of reward or punishment.  The Catholic Church teaches of 2 judgements for the soul.  When one dies, his/her fully conscious soul is judged and goes to one of 3 destinations: Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. At the final Judgment, these personal judgments are essentially made known to all, and any remaining suffering souls in Purgatory are granted release and go on to Heaven.  The souls in Heaven are then reunited with a “glorified” version of the body they resided in while on Earth.

reincarnation based on the law of karma i.e. not random (you do reap what you sowed)  Here the soul transmigrates to the body of a baby (for some believers this takes place in utero, for others at the time of birth) rather soon after death.  With reincarnation, one’s past life memories are either lost or buried so deep in the psyche that these are hard to retrieve or access.  But, we are the sum or aggregate of our past beliefs and actions (thoughts, words and deeds).  For Buddhists, the process of reincarnation is said to be like the caterpillar who crawls (or slinks?) from one leaf to another leaf (i.e. a seamless and fairly smooth process that takes little time).  As the caterpillar’s hind or rear legs leave the one leaf, its whole body is now on the next leaf.  Thus, there is no intermediate time between incarnations.

resurrection (body and soul) at a much later time  This postulated state is favored by Protestant Christians.  It seems the least logical of the four but is based on their interpretations of various Bible verses.  A person’s soul or consciousness is suspended or dormant for an indefinite length of time until the Final Judgment.  During this interval, one is completely unaware of everything and may be thought of as being in a deep, dreamless sleep or comatose state, or as being “dead”.  Once resurrected, body and soul, one will reside in Heaven or in Hell forever and ever.

end of being  If known with certainty, this would give many hedonists some vindication and relief.  Shallow and self-absorbed as they are, they would continue to pursue pleasure selfishly with little restraint.  Our lives would seem to have no ultimate meaning here.  What a cruel jest on the part of the Universe!  Observe the candle or the match being blown out.  Watch the wispy smoky gas dissipate into invisibility.  Could that be an analogy for our consciousness at the time of death, rapidly fading to oblivion (as in extinction)?  If bodily death is also the termination of our individual consciousness, that would not by default mean that there is no God.  Atheists would not necessarily be proved correct if death is the end for us.

There would be some souls that would still choose to live loving lives even knowing there was nothing to come after their time on earth has expired.  Some persons have a giving, loving, caring nature that they cannot bury or discard.

copyright 2017 – larrysmusings.com


  1. My model is that framed by Gary Gordon and Randy Shugart, the Delta operators who volunteered to secure the second Black Hawk crash site in the Battle of Mogadishu.

    They did the right thing, regardless of the consequences. They died doing the right thing.

    Such is my pantheon of saints.

    1. Yes, there are individuals who do the right thing even when it costs them their lives. They do not hesitate to do so. Thanks Andrew for your thoughts.

  2. I am a Protestant, but I don’t understand why second coming prophecies would be confused with death. I was raised a Methodist during my very early years, became a Baptist when I was 10 (family reasons) and then lastly converted to the Episcopalian faith at thirty something with my step-father. All of that is totally irrelevant unless you want to throw in some college Bible courses and a normal person’s amount of outside reading except to give you a background on my perspective.
    Why would anyone think that, as Christians, we would lie in graves for decades or even longer before joining Jesus and God in heaven? None of the Protestants I know believe that. Can you give me a little reference or where that comes from? Enjoyed the read as always! 😊

    1. Not off hand, but that is what I have heard from some folks over the years. Do not be surprised as there are, at last count, some 28,000 Protestant denominations out there in the world – all arising in the last 500 years. (And, there are Christian Zionists who do not believe the Jews should be Evangelized.) To each his or her own, but some times common sense and logic are needed to temper one’s religious fervor.

      From your comment, it appears that you really moved around until you were 30 something. Hopefully, you are content now with your religious affiliation. Organized religion is needed but does have its problems. Best wishes.

      1. Baptists and Methodists are very similar (the joke is that one sprinkles the other dunks) but seriously, I was talking about this with my mother (91) and we have family all over the U.S. but mostly in the south, Texas and Florida. Between the two of us we cannot remember a single funeral where the comments and conversation did not center around the deceased being in heaven, being with departed friends and family, watching over the family left behind from heaven, being with Jesus and etc. It is such a strong belief and so strongly ingrained in the culture and the churches that I tend to think it must be a small regional belief.
        I hunted for my comparative religions book from college…but I think I am too old and either I have lost it or my daughter ran off with it. My dad graduated from Louisville Seminary and I have some of his texts but have not had time to climb up to top shelves to retrieve them. (We are talking the ones at the ceiling!)
        I don’t mean to be a problem, but you mentioned this before so somewhere somebody must think that most Protestants cling to that belief and for some odd reason that is disturbing to me.
        I do love what you write and enjoy your commentary. Please do not think I am criticizing, I would not. This is merely my experience and observation and I am a bad person to prod and question.

      2. catsNjammer:

        Do not think that I am disturbed or offended by your remarks and questions. I think it was the Worldwide Church of God through their magazine, The Plain Truth (back in the 1980s) that was making that belief of staying in the grave until the Final Judgement. That belief may not be mainstream Protestantism, but some believe it. Funny, I knew when I wrote that sentence that it would strike a nerve with some folks.

        However, I do have many areas of contention with many Protestants. For example: How can some of them rationalize abortion as being okay?

      3. That is a question I would like to join you on! Here I go being contrary again, but where I live, the churches all work together on everything from charities and homelessness to fighting gambling and abortion. Since Catholicism is a sizable minority, the Baptists usually are the ones leading the charge. But I think that is merely a function of numbers. We have a very strong working Christian/Jewish fellowship of churches and synagogues (includes all denominations, races and faiths who agree with the basic principles and goals), my opinion is that religious unity here is largely due to that. And although technically Catholicism is very different from most Protestant beliefs, in an area where there is little friction over religion; Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists – in my small city we have never really regarded Catholics as separate or different from other Christian religions.
        I love the Catholic Mass probably because it is not that different from the Episcopal tradition. However, most people I know are comfortable in just about any mainstream Christian service.
        Sorry I got off on the ramble, yes, when you wrote that sentence you had a sudden flash of the LOL (little old lady) in the south who would want to TALK about it! (Bless your heart, you have put up with enough from me!) I do want to tell you how much I appreciate you and how much I enjoy following your blog!

      4. “I love the Catholic Mass probably because it is not that different from the Episcopal tradition. ”

        A point of history: The Church of England broke from the Catholic Church at the time of Henry VIII. Thus, the Catholic Mass is older, although subsequent to Vatican II the Mass was altered (under Pope Paul VI) in ways that lessen the reverence for the Eucharist, sorry to say. Cardinal Newman was a great English Catholic in the 19th century. Many Anglicans or Episcopalians are converting to Catholicism as they are repelled by the liberal teachings of the Church of England in recent decades on various moral issues.

      5. Yes, I remember my Christian history courses from college. My professor was no pushover, but I enjoyed both semesters…..even though there were way too many essays involved in the whole process 😂

      6. I forgot to add that many liberal Catholics are pro-abortion. I honestly wish my Sociologist father was still alive to participate in this discussion. You would have liked him and he would have loved getting his teeth into these discussions!

      7. Yes, you are correct that many liberal Catholics are supporting the Culture of Death and are pro-abortion (although they may use the term “pro-choice”). The Catholic Church does not have many courageous bishops these days. These public figure Catholics who espouse the terrible moral evils of our day need to be publicly excommunicated by the bishops and this should have started happening in the late 1960s.

        Let us not overlook that many, too many Protestants are Christian Zionists. I now consider these to be counterfeit Christians. Jews ought to be evangelized. Christians need to stop being in thrall to this group (who are not even true descendants of the ancient Hebrews). In fact, when you read the Talmud you see just how vile these folks are in regard to what they think of Christ and Christians (as Martin Luther found 500 years ago when he read the Talmud).

      8. 😄 well, I think everything was more than a little crazy and a whole lot off track in the sixties. Much of my generation seemed to disconnect from reality and live in a cartoon. As we grew up, we just became more focused on self, more impressed with whatever we thought we knew and less wise, less educated and less open minded. We have turned away from God and it has hurt this nation as much as anything else……just my humble cent and a half.

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