One of the big questions that comes up within my shifting beliefs is, “what happens when we die?” In the Christian tradition, if you believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he died for your sins, and was raised to life again, you get to go to heaven. Some Christian traditions believe that Jesus “saved” everyone, so all with go to heaven whether they believe in Jesus or not. In this view of heaven, you basically are who you are on earth, just perfect. Whatever perfect means? I have lots of questions and issues about this view, now. But maybe I’ll get into all those later.
There are some traditions where you are reincarnated. Some where you start out in a lower version of heaven and are moved up over time through various methods. And I know there are a myriad of beliefs about the afterlife similar to these, and some quite different. And who is to say that any of them is wrong? We don’t know. I’ve yet to get a letter from a friend or loved one who has died. In fact, I haven’t gotten any communication at all from folks that have died. So again, I’m not saying that any belief is wrong. We just won’t know for sure until we get there ourselves.
There are many that believe we simply cease to exist. It’s like going to sleep. We don’t know when we are sleeping, nor do we fret about being asleep. This view used to freak me out because I didn’t want to not exist anymore! Now, not so much. If this is the way it is, we won’t know that we are not existing. I now see the desire to keep existing as “myself” is more from the ego than anything.
Another view is that everything is an expression of “God”. Whatever God means to you. So all that can be seen and not seen is God, and it is me. So when my heart stops beating and my brain stops sending signals, my experience will change, but I’ll still be an expression of God, just a different kind of expression. This is similar to some things that Alan Watts talks about. I had a previous post, Watts Quotes, that goes into more detail. But here is a short excerpt that I like; “Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.” Taoism has a similar view. I’m fairly new to the study of Taoism, but I’m enjoying what I’m learning so far. These excerpts are taken from a website called Personal Tao:
Death illustrated from the Chuang-Tzu:
“Since life and death are each other’s companions, why worry about them? All beings are one.”
From a friend of the writer of Personal Tao:
“The Tao is simply logical. There’s no mysticism or need for invisible sky gods or some weird belief that you’re important enough to be reincarnated – you simply return to the Tao when you die. And you’re already there anyway, so what’s the big deal?”
I like that. You are already there anyway, so what’s the big deal? And like the title of my blog suggests, my beliefs subtly shift between some of these from time to time. I don’t believe that death is something that should be feared. I think that whatever it looks like after this phase of our existence, we won’t be disappointed.
Ps – if you want to read more of what I found on the Personal Tao website, here is the link: